Gen 1 Lead Tier List

Just to clarify, this means how good they are in the lead position, not how good a pokemon that can lead happens to be in general. This is just my list, but feel free to post your own, or tell me what you think is wrong with mine. Note that the pokemon aren't ranked in order within a tier.





Everything else

S: Alakazam is the best sleep absorber in the game and doesn't have to switch out against any other common lead. The exception would be if the enemy lead has paralysis and you know they have a wrap team. This is probably the only time where you'd rather have your zam take sleep instead of paralysis. Jynx is the next best absorber, but has the perk of doubling up as a sleeper as well. Starmie is an inferior absorber to the previous two due to not being able to sleep on chansey, but can hit many common leads harder depending on what moves it runs and is considered an overall better pokemon that jynx.

A: Still solid leads, but inferior to S for one or two reasons. Eggy is a great pokemon in general, but not a good asborber. Hypno is a good absorber who doubles up as a sleeper, but is otherwise not that good of a pokemon. Leading with a pokemon that is good overall but a bad absorber is sub-optimal. This is because it means it either takes sleep and you get a bad or even sleep trade (if they also let a bad asborber take sleep) at best, or you're forced to switch when you could've just lead with an S pokemon and not wasted that turn switching.

B:Generally bad leads that can get a good trade if lucky. Those pokemon risk being OHKOd by crits just to land a sleep, which is not that big of a reward, especially if they sleep a good absorber. The main reason for leading one of the two grasses is to have a grass in your team that outspeeds eggy for the sleep. If wrap is allowed, bel is a poor lead but is a good overall pokemon.

C: Bad leads that probably shouldn't be used, but are used on rare occasions because they counter eggy. Moltres is in general an inferior pokemon to articuno (although it does have agility+fire spin), though it threatens jynx as well as eggy. These are bad leads because they are countered by switching and are otherwise not great pokemon. People who try this usually either value getting the first sleep, or are just bad.

D: Basically other random stuff that people do.
the fuck are you smoking

Venusaur is terrible. Ninetales and Dodrio are way better than Moltres as anti-Jynx leads since they don't have a 75% chance of getting slept before doing anything.

Also, Gengar isn't half-bad, seeing as it's the main reason all leads aren't Jynx.
Yeah I don't rate venusaur, but it has been used and is considered a niche lead.

I would happily lead my jynx against a gar. It is basically jynx's best lead MU apart from eggy when you factor in sleep trades.

Getting my jynx slept by gar is probably better than sleeping a lead zam in exchange for paralysis in the long-run.
Gengar is at least A, or even S.
Starm is not S
Wheres dodrio? Its at least B, maybe A
Starm's pretty damned good as a lead. It threatens Gar the same way Zam does (with like 1% less chance to crit, I suppose), without being as obvious a switch-in opportunity for Egg. The main disadvantage is that you have to switch out vs. Zam instead of engaging in a 30-turn Seismic Toss war or something, but since you have Egg anyway it's not a huge deal. I suppose it can't safely take sleep from Sing Chansey like Zam does, but that's not precisely the most common thing in existence.


World's Strongest Fairy
is a Forum Moderator Alumnusis a Community Contributor Alumnusis a Contributor Alumnusis a Past SPL Champion
A lead tier list is tricky because there aren't too many viable leads, it's all pretty matchup dependent, and you have three different classes of leads (sleeper leads, sleep absorber leads, crit-happy anti-leads) with divergent goals.
1) Starmie probably shouldn't be an S. It's a good lead but it just invites a switch to Chansey.
2) Gengar is at least an A, and in contention for an S as it's the fastest sleeper.
3) You say that
this means how good they are in the lead position, not how good a pokemon that can lead happens to be in general
and then later you say that
[Starmie is] considered an overall better pokemon that jynx
which should be irrelevant.
4) Where are the likes of Jolteon, Persian and Tauros? I'd pick them over an Articuno lead any day.
tauros and jolteon are bad ideas for leads. they're definitely not better than articuno because they have no notably "great" opening machups. plus they're better off saved for lategame. it'd be illadvised to hyperbeam jynx turn 1 with tauros but it's not such a big deal to do it with something like dodrio. even lapras is a better choice than those guys, which, btw, im surprised isnt on the list at all. persian seems OK and i wouldn't mind leading it as much as those two, but i'm not sure how ok

gengar is alright as a lead but much better as a non lead. i dunno what kind of effect that should have on a ranking? keeping a normal immunity a secret can be pretty useful and going one on one against any psychic type w hypnosis is a fucking stupid waste. i think he's ok at B (he feels like he's worthy of a B tier), but i might bump him up to A, just because of what pokemon are around him and what he's better/worse than; i would really personally never use him as a lead unless i had no other choice but i will essentially always have exeggutor so ya.

exeggutor is definitely S and starmie is definitely B, and gengar should probably be above starmie at least. and hypno.

never used dodrio myself and haven't thought too much about it, but on paper it does seem pretty solid as a lead.

i guess:

jynx - matches up well against egg, zam, hypno, and ok against gar. cant hurt starmie but w/e. starmie can't hurt it either without a water movie which i dont think lead starmie tends to have. and starmie can't freeze you but you can freeze it. lk is most reliable sleep move.
egg - matches up good against zam, ok against gar, and sleep powder is same as lk.
zam - scares off gar and takes sleep really well

gengar - fastest sleep but gets shit on by any other lead's stab psychics and hypnosis is shaky. pretty good against non-psychic niche leads like grasses, fire types, flying types, etc
hypno - good against zam, faster than egg, ok against gengar. hypnosis sucks ass but it takes sleep well and has stab psychic

dodrio - stab flying and normal and good attack and speed seem good against the top 2. dunno about the gengar and zam matchup.
starmie - blizzard is good for egg and psychic is good for gengar but doesn't take sleep too well and hypno/zam/jynx don't really care about it and chansey can come right in.
ninetales - smacks jynx and egg. anybody have any idea how much charizard does to those two off the top of their head?

dugtrio - alright against zam and gar and can sand attack i guess
lapras - good against egg.
articuno - lapras seems better against jynx/zam/ninetales/starmie but is marginally worse than articuno against egg, gar and...hypno? maybe? articuno lets a lot more stuff switch in ez
other fire types
other grass types

persian seems ok too like i said but not sure where i'd put it. probably low b or c
Last edited:
Egg's really not a good lead. Jynx sleeps it, Gar sleeps it, Mie can deal horrific damage or freeze it, and against Zam there's not a huge difference between leading Egg and switching it in turn 1.
it's certainly not as good as jynx, but to say it's "not good" is kind of silly. sleep powder is the most reliable sleep move you can use, and egg is easily better than gar, starmie, and hypno... also if gar and especially starmie were as common as zam, and hypnosis were not shitty as hell, that point would be worth more consideration. that's not to say it's a moot point or anything... maybe he should be below zam but he's definitely better than everything else. switching egg into zam means you have to take at least 1 more seismic toss. honestly, even though jynx is the best lead, it is not even a too common pokemon overall. the most common lead is probably zam by far (or at least it was when i played more often), in which case, egg can't be a very bad choice. but yeah, maybe below zam. but he's definitely a solid lead.
Okay, yes, Egg is decent against the zillions of people who mindlessly lead Zam.
No he's not.

You guys don't seem to be factoring in sleep trades.

The reason why zillions of people lead with zam is because it always forces at least an even sleep trade. Zam doesn't have to switch out against any common lead, which means it can always take sleep from the opposing lead. By having the best sleep absorber in the game take sleep, you will always get a positive sleep trade unless you happen to sleep their zam too (possibly jynx and starmie too).

Eggy is a bad lead because he's a bad asorber and he's slow. If your eggy gets slept, you can only get an even trade at best because you had a bad absorber get slept (assuming they're not retarted and let one of their normals get slept). So for eggy to get a positive sleep trade, he needs to sleep the opposing gengar or eggy without getting slept in return. Therefore if you always lead eggy the percentage of battles where you get a positive trade will be very low.

So if you want good trades with lead eggy, you'll have to switch out and let something like zam take sleep, but then you might as well have just lead with zam instead.

If you look at my tier list, it's ordered on what can force positive trades best. That's why the tier list goes absorbers>sleepers>anti-leads, because they force the best trades in that order without wasting turns switching unnecessarily.
Well, no, the best thing to have asleep is Gengar or Rhydon/Golem, because they still fulfill their MINDGAEMZ (and, in the case of Rhydon/Golem, Zapdos-walling) functions while asleep. Zam doesn't wall anything when asleep, because even Starmie and Chansey's non-STABbed attacks can get through it before it wakes, let alone physicals' attacks.
i think he is pointing to the fact that zam can stay in against anything that puts it to sleep and probably wake up and beat it/recover/whatever without having to worry. jynx is probably the worst to face in that sense, especially if it has rest.

but also, @Dre if you "just lead zam anyway" and your opponent happens to be leading zam... then you just go to exeggutor??? or like chansey or something to take para (dumb move) i guess? or if you know their team you can double switch or something? if you're leading egg vs zam, i would say 75% of the time if not more, zam will paralyze you. in which case egg won't be taking sleep regardless and you'll have something paralyzed to switch into certain potential sleepers, most importantly other exeggutors and gengar. and if your opponent busts out jynx or sing lapras or chansey or whatever after switching zam out then you'd better have a zam, starmie or gengar or something to take sleep from them anyway. i'm tellin you man, the egg isn't bad.

additionally. how do you guys feel about the rest of the list? where would charizard and persian fit in?
Last edited:
i was mostly going off of omanyte's suggestion there. as far as i can tell it only sort of serves to maybe scare off zam and jynx and some anti-lead things. but obviously it's pretty horrible against gengar. i guess putting persian to sleep feels kind of unfulfilling. i guess it kind of works in the same vein as dodrio in that it can scare off a couple of leads and you dont have to really worry what happens to it, but obviously dodrio is a lot better. overall i would probably not lead persian unless i had nothing better to lead with, which seems unlikely; or "for fun" or something i guess. either way, i'd probably put it in C myself, but i'm not sure how it compares to dugtrio, articuno and lapras. none of which are THAT good but at least there is a clearer sense of what they actually can and can't accomplish as a lead and why you'd use them, etc. even if it's not much
i was mostly going off of omanyte's suggestion there. as far as i can tell it only sort of serves to maybe scare off zam and jynx and some anti-lead things.
Won't scare off Zam, since Zam outspeeds and 2HKOs easily.

i guess putting persian to sleep feels kind of unfulfilling.
The issue is that if you've got 5 good mons and 1 bad mon, and they've got 6 good mons, and you take the sleep on a bad mon and sleep them back, now you've both got 5 awake good mons. You haven't gained anything by using a bad mon and then getting it slept that you couldn't have done by using a good mon and getting it slept.

This is why I say that the "best" thing to take sleep with, if you have to take it with something, is Gengar or Rhydon, because then you can have 5 good awake mons + 1 still-somewhat-useful sleeping mon. Alternatively, you can scrap that idea (because, yes, it IS risky) and just try to hurt them as much as you can when they do sleep you.

This is also why I don't really see the point of leading Zam. I mean, sure, it'll always take the sleep. But that's hardly a win for you, because Zam's awesome when awake and a sitting duck when asleep. I'd rather have something that can actually do something (other than Thunder Waving Egg and giving them a mon immune to sleep) before going down, which is why I think that lead Starmie is better in most cases.
Gengar is a terrible absorber because you will rarely, if ever catch explosions against good players because they know better than to boom when their boomer can only take one more hit.

Gengar and rocks can't realistically wake up on anything and recover off the damage, can't relieve spc drops, and can't absorb statuses from common status spreaders. Doing that stuff every battle is better than catching an explosion once every ten battles.

Shrapnel- If your zam is against their eggy, you don't paralyse it unless your sleeper can threaten it (eg. Jynx) or you have a wrap team. This is why lead zams should always run stoss, to troll the opposing lead until they take sleep.
Gengar is a terrible absorber because you will rarely, if ever catch explosions against good players because they know better than to boom when their boomer can only take one more hit.
If Gengar's made them more reluctant to boom, then... you've stopped them from Booming on Chansey or something else worth Booming on. This is still a win for Gengar.

You say that all these things "don't work against good players" because "good players" will predict it, but what you fail to take into account is that that prediction has a cost and can be exploited by counter-prediction. I mean, there was a log recently posted on 2K10 where a guy predicted that Rhydon would Body Slam his Chansey (predicting a switch to something else) and Countered it for a KO. The "obvious move" is obvious for a reason.


All generations forever.
is a Forum Moderatoris a Community Contributor
I agree with magic9mushroom about the booming. Second-to-last chance booming with eggy is quite popular (because of the false sense of security and the fact you still utilise eggy a bit).

Also, I completely agree that Starmie should be top. I think the fact that it's been used in top teams that have topped the PO RBY OU ladder is good evidence.


im the best
is a Pre-Contributoris a Past SPL Champion
I lead Tauros because I'm a MAN.

I should actually try that someday. Persian is worthless garbage lead, though. Dodrio is a good lead because it's faster than Jynx and OHKOs with Hyper Beam, 2HKOs Eggy if it misses Sleep Powder (and still cripples if it hits). Persian... doesn't have the power to threaten Jynx/Zam or type advantage on grasses. It also can't touch Gengar, though Dodrio would also probably like to avoid getting 2HKOed by Tbolt anyway.

Zam doesn't wall anything when asleep, because even Starmie and Chansey's non-STABbed attacks can get through it before it wakes, let alone physicals' attacks.
That's pretty much exactly why Zam is a good sleep absorber, because it can tank that shit long enough to possibly wake up. Starmie without Surf or SURPRISE HYPER BEAM, Chansey, Reflect Zam, etc. all take fucking ages to kill another Zam because lol368special, then when it does wake up it's faster for Recover.

The only problem is that Zam is basically a queen in chess AKA it's a fucking boss. That's the trade-off though, the generally best mon is also the best sleep absorber because it's the most likely to actually survive and wake up later. (Eggy, actually, but with low Speed and no recovery your options with it at low health are much more limited.) It leaves your "5v5" a little worse off but gives you better odds at having the 6v5 eventually.