One aspect of our updated “Best Pokemon by Type” page that may have shocked you is the 2/5 rating given to Grass-type’s meta viability. While Exeggutor and other Grass-types are certainly more useful than other Pokemon, the two star rating is a reflection of their long history of being 2nd best. When you think of the greatest Ground-type counters, Water-types such as Vaporeon and Gyarados come to mind. Rock-type raids beckon Water, Fighting, and Ground-types before Grass. Now that legendary Pokemon such as Raikou and Groudon have entered the game, Grass-types have been robbed of nearly every niche they had left.
With each generation released and each legendary unlocked, Grass-types have found themselves demoted from B list options to C in many raids, and the future does not look promising for them either. This said, Grass-types persevere in Pokemon GO as great, easily obtainable, non-legendary options for Water-type raids; most eminently Kyogre.
History of Grass-types
Grass-types had a great start in the beginning of GO, being the best offensive and defensive options against the all powerful Vaporeon, as well as adjunct counters to Ground-types. Vileplume at one point in time was a great defender! However, as more players became equipped with Dragonite, Grass-types started to fade out of favor on both ends. Gen 2 added in a breath of fresh air with the introduction of Blissey and buffed Solar Beam to monstrous base 180 power giving Exeggutor praise as an easily obtainable option for blasting down the pink wall. However, as players obtained more rare and powerful counters, Exeggutor slipped out of vogue; a common theme throughout the rest of its history.
The change to the gym system knocked it (and nearly all Pokemon) out of relevance both offensively and defensively, reducing time and resource consuming battles to a few quick sweeps. Soon after with the introduction of the raid system, Grass-types were brought back into style to use as Vaporeon soloists. Before they could relish the spotlight for too long, GO Fest brought in legendary raids. Unfortunately for Grass-types, the initial 4 legendary raids were exclusively against Flying-type Pokemon. By the time most populations met Suicune raids, they already had Zapdos and/or Raikou to compete with.
Grass-types always had a niche as the premier Water-type slayer, both resisting and dealing super effective damage to them. Only one other Pokemon rivaled their use: Zapdos. However, Raikou quickly changed that, taking away the last foot hold the group had.
Raikou’s legendary bulk caused it to take as much damage as Grass-types did against Water-type attacks, despite not having a resistance. This combined with the excessively powerful Wild Charge made Raikou unmatched in both DPS and TDO. Water-types had a new dad and it wasn’t green.
One Pokemon being replaced by a newer, stronger, and often legendary one isn’t too uncommon now with Tier 5 raids. However, Raikou marked the first time in Pokemon GO history where an entire type was eclipsed by one of another type - a type that ought to have less of an advantage than them. In this respect, things only got worse for Grass-types moving forward.
Groudon and Ho-Oh
Groudon presented new challenges for Grass-types. As with other Ground-type raids, Grass-types took a back seat to Water-type Pokemon by default. However, with Waterfall now available as a fast move, Gyarados was no longer a slightly bulkier, lower DPS option, but a straight upgrade to Grass-types. The threat of Fire Blast didn’t do their usage any favors either. The one place they had the opportunity to shine was against Solar Beam, but Ho-Oh took the spotlight with its very own Solar Beam!
Groudon’s Solar Beam was so powerful that a single resistance wasn’t enough for most Grass-types to survive. Across most scenarios, Venusaur was the only Grass-type with the fortitude to survive a charge move cycle as it had a doubled up, immunity tier resistance to Solar Beam. Ho-Oh on the other hand not only sported an immunity tier resistance to Solar Beam but legendary tier bulk to further back it up. Even at level 33.5, Ho-Oh had enough DPS and power to poise players for a 4-man clear or a comfortable 5-man clear against all of Groudon’s movesets, most notably against Solar Beam. Venusaur didn’t offer that opportunity.
With the existence of Solar Beam Ho-Oh and Groudon, Grass-types now had a new threat no one ever imagined: Pokemon with mismatched Grass-type DPS with better stats and unique resistances compared to Grass-types. Between the two Solar Beaming titans, Grass-types found themselves phased out of nearly every niche Water-types, Fighting-types, and Raikou left them. Their only advantage now rests in their ability to be caught in the wild up to level 35, requiring minimal stardust and candy investment.
As previously mentioned, Raikou completely dominates most Water-type Pokemon. However, since most trainers will usually power up only 1-2 iterations of a single legendary, you would believe being second best to one isn’t a bad place to be. Sadly, the introduction of other legendary options make them 4th or even 5th best in many raids.
While Grass-types hold a unique advantage over all non-Raikou Pokemon against Kyogre’s Hydro Pump set, they fail to measure up to the power of Groudon vs Thunder. Groudon shows them up again against Blizzard despite sharing a weakness, having no super effective fast moves, and a non-STAB Solar Beam. Mewtwo and Ho-Oh also take on the flurry of Blizzard with great resilience.
Without the recent change to game master that removed Dragon Tail from Kyogre’s movepool, the sea god itself had potential to tower over the Grass-types as a counter to itself. At the time of writing this article, Kyogre’s still only has Waterfall as its fast move. Should Kyogre receive Hidden Power at the last minute like Suicune did, it will raise from the depths to once again creep on the Grass-type’s niche vs Water-types.
The years have not been kind to Grass-types in Pokemon GO. While each update presented them with new opportunities to stand out, they found themselves constantly outdone in their roles by non-Grass-type Pokemon. With the advent of legendary raids bringing in new threats such as Zapdos, Raikou, Ho-Oh, and Groudon, Grass-types have been effectively outdone for the remainder of Gen 3.
Looking at the game master files for unreleased Gen 1-3 Pokemon, Latios threatens them further as a legendary Dragon-type with Solar Beam. While you may believe there is some hope as Celebi is a legendary / mythical Grass-type Pokemon, its current file in the game master doesn’t contain Grass-type attacks. Until we reach Gen 4, Grass-types are entirely eclipsed by Water, Fighting, and legendary Pokemon.
However, despite being constantly shown up, Grass-types can be viable. While many legendary Pokemon do their jobs better, Grass-types persevere by virtue of being non-legendary. For players just entering the game, or those without deep pockets of stardust and Rare Candies, Grass-types are the best they have for taking on Water-type raid bosses. Even for more affluent, veteran trainers, they will at least be in “Team B” Kyogre battle parties due to the limited nature of legendaries.