Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald In-Game Tiers

By Fireburn. Art by Blue Frog.
  1. Introduction
  2. High Tier
  3. Middle Tier
  4. Low Tier
  5. Bottom Tier
  6. Untiered

Introduction

The best Pokemon is one who is obtained at the start of the game, can OHKO enemies off the bat, and only loses 1 HP when damaged. It also learns every HM, heals itself automatically, and has some neat ability to top it off. Such a Pokemon doesn't exist, of course, but this means that Pokemon closer to this ideal are the best.

The goal of this in-game tier list is to recommend a select group of Pokemon for an efficient run-through of the game. Those will be put in High tier. Very inefficient Pokemon will be put in Low tier. Pokemon who are neither efficient nor inefficient – for example, Pokemon who have an initial downside but can eventually perform as well as High tiered ones – are put in Middle tier. [the intent of this sentence was confusing but by skimming the list I came up with that description.

Pokemon are graded based on five factors: availability, raw stats, movepool, typing, and matchups against major in-game battles. Availability is a measure of how easy it is to obtain the Pokemon, and it ranges from very low (gift Pokemon) to very high (common "tall grass" Pokemon). It also takes into account the part of the game at which you are able to get the Pokemon. For example, a Pokemon could be extremely good, but he is worthless if you get him after every major battle. Raw stats affect the Pokemon's ability to KO others and to take hits in-game. Obviously, you want Pokemon with great stats, since that means they can easily KO many other Pokemon without fainting.

A Pokemon's movepool is the variety of attacks the Pokemon learns. Does it need a lot of TMs to have a good moveset? Can it learn a lot of HMs to help you navigate in the overworld? Does he learn powerful attacks of his own type? TMs are available but can only be used once. Giving items like Super Potions is fine because you can buy them and you have almost infinite money in the game. Giving a Pokemon a TM like the Dig TM in RBY cannot simply be assumed, as there is lots of competition for that TM. The less competition there is for a TM, the more likely it is that a Pokemon can get said TM. Pokemon with great movepools do not present much competition for TMs, allowing them to be used on other Pokemon (However, a buyable TM can always be assumed).

Typing and matchups go hand in hand. The optimal typing gives a Pokemon STAB on useful attack types while leaving it with few or no weaknesses. If a Pokemon is a dual type, his typing should complement it offensively and defensively. Typing also determines the major battles in which a Pokemon will be useful (major battles can range from Gym Leaders battles to Rival battles). Therefore, it is useful to use Pokemon with good type combinations that give them an advantage in most of the game's major battles.

Don't confuse an efficient run with a speed run. Speed runs are often segmented and recorded while manipulating luck through resets; these aim for the absolute fastest on-screen time, but the real time spent on them is much, much more. If you want to play through the game in a relatively low time frame, then you're looking for an efficient run.

A team is actually the most efficient (in terms of utility per team member) if it only consists of a single member; however, this tier list will assume a team size of around three Pokemon. Otherwise, the list would be extremely centralized around starters and early-game Pokemon while everything else would be too crappy to use. Also note when reading through this guide that some of the moves and abilities listed for a Pokemon may only be obtained by their evolutions. Some Pokemon may be placed in higher tiers due to their evolutions capabilities as well.

High Tier

Abra
Abra
Availability: Early
Stats: High
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Evolving him is somewhat difficult, but Alakazam's sheer strength and power makes it worth it.

Chinchou
Chinchou
Availability: Late
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Lanturn has passable stats and Water/Electric is an awesome STAB combo.

Electrike
Electrike
Availability: Early
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Fast and strong; Bite + Thunderbolt offers great neutral coverage.

Groudon
Groudon (Ruby Only)
Availability: Late
Stats: Excellent
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Comes late at a high level, but is incredibly strong and sweeps easily with Bulk Up + STAB Earthquake. Drought also removes its Water weakness and it has Fire Blast to crush Grass- and Ice-type Pokemon. In Emerald, it doesn't come until after you beat the Champion.

Kyogre
Kyogre (Sapphire Only)
Availability: Late
Stats: Excellent
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Comes late at a high level, but is incredibly strong and can sweep the Elite Four pretty much by itself with a moveset of Calm Mind / Ice Beam / Hydro Pump / Thunder (it comes with three of those moves). In Emerald, it doesn't come until after you beat the Champion.

Lotad
Lotad (Sapphire and Emerald only)
Availability: Very Early
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Dual STABs have great coverage without need for TMs, while his typing doesn't leave him with many weaknesses. It's easy to get as well.

Mudkip
Mudkip
Availability: Beginning
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Learns a lot of HMs, is bulky, and is strong. His dual STAB combo offers great coverage when coupled with Blizzard, which is an easily purchased TM.

Ralts
Ralts
Availability: Very Early
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Very strong, moderately fast, and has a pretty good movepool. Psychic + Thunderbolt is a good attacking combo to use, especially since Ralts gets Calm Mind as a level-up move.

Rayquaza
Rayquaza (Emerald only)
Availability: Late
Stats: Excellent
Movepool: Very Wide
Additional Comments: Hard to catch, but comes at a very high level and is extremely strong. Needs no TMs. In Ruby and Sapphire, it doesn't come until after you beat the Champion.

Shroomish
Shroomish
Availability: Early
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Slow, but Breloom is very strong and has a good movepool.

Skarmory
Skarmory
Availability: Mid-game
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Excellent typing lets it take many hits, and it outright walls a lot of the game's more deadly Trainers, such as Norman, Winona, Steven, Sidney, and Phoebe. You should also have the Steel Wing TM as soon as you find it, meaning that it can pull its weight very quickly.

Staryu
Staryu
Availability: Late
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Very Wide
Additional Comments: Very fast and strong with a great movepool. It comes a bit late, but training it is well worth it.

Taillow
Taillow
Availability: Early
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Reliable STABs, great early movepool, and extremely fast.

Tentacool
Tentacool
Availability: Early
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Good stats, but has a shallow level-up movepool. He's a great HM slave though. Tentacool and Tropius learn all of the game's HMs between each other.

Torchic
Torchic
Availability: Beginning
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Very strong with decent Speed; dual STAB upon evolution offers great coverage without need for a lot of TMs.

Treecko
Treecko
Availability: Beginning
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Very fast; a wide movepool coupled with decent offenses means it can take on most Pokemon. It learns a lot of useful moves through TMs.

Tropius
Tropius
Availability: Mid-game
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Best HM slave in the game.

Whismur
Whismur
Availability: Early
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Very Wide
Additional Comments: Good attacking stats and can utilize lots of easily replaceable TMs such as Fire Blast, Blizzard, and Thunder for wide type coverage and power.

Wingull
Wingull
Availability: Very Early
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: He has decent power, and Water/Flying is a good STAB combo. He learns Shock Wave which rounds off coverage nicely.

Zangoose
Zangoose (Ruby only)
Availability: Mid-Game
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Decent stats with a wide movepool; Swords Dance at level 10 is amazing.

Zigzagoon
Zigzagoon
Availability: Very Early
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Comes early, has a neat ability in Pickup, and is a great HM slave.

Middle Tier

Anorith
Anorith
Availability: Early Mid-game
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Pretty strong and can take a few hits, but is slow.

Barboach
Barboach
Availability: Early
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Not too hard to get; decent replacement for Swampert. However, it is slow and not overwhelmingly powerful.

Carvanha
Carvanha
Availability: Mid-game
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Very strong, but it is really frail and comes somewhat late.

Doduo
Doduo
Availability: Late
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Taillow comes first, but Dodrio is pretty good too with reliable STABs.

Feebas
Feebas
Availability: Late-Mid game
Stats: Above Average (after evolution)
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Milotic is a very powerful Pokemon, but Feebas is tedious to evolve and is notoriously difficult to catch.

Geodude
Geodude
Availability: Early
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Useful early game, but has too many weaknesses and is slow.

Heracross
Heracross
Availability: Late
Stats: High
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Comes late but is strong and has a good movepool.

Machop
Machop
Availability: Early Mid-game
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Needs TMs for move variety, but he is very strong.

Magikarp
Magikarp
Availability: Early
Stats: High
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: A pain to train early on and it doesn't get a good STAB to use with its high Attack, but Gyarados gets Dragon Dance and has great stats.

Magnemite
Magnemite
Availability: Mid-game
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Slow with a shallow movepool, but has good typing. Magneton is pretty strong and its typing is very useful against the Elite Four.

Makuhita
Makuhita
Availability: Early
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Needs TMs for move variety, but he is very strong. It also comes a earlier than Machop.

Marill
Marill
Availability: Early
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Bulky and very, very strong with Huge Power. It also leans strong moves such as Double-Edge and Rollout and it's quite useful as an HM Slave. However, Marill is veryslow and doesn't receive any good Physical STAB.

Meditite
Meditite (Ruby and Sapphire only)
Availability: Late
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Medicham is very strong, and his only drawback is that he comes late.

Numel
Numel
Availability: Early Mid-game
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Good dual STAB combo, but is hindered by a lot of common weaknesses and relatively low bulk. However, it still the best available Fire-types outside of Torchic.

Oddish
Oddish
Availability: Early
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: No good STAB until Petal Dance and Breloom is much better, but there aren't a lot of good Grass-types to choose from in this game.

Psyduck
Psyduck
Availability: Late
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Decent stats; decent Water-type if you didn’t choose Mudkip.

Regice
Regice
Availability: Late
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Difficult to get but it is very bulky and gets a nice BoltBeam combo. It can take on Drake pretty much by itself and is great against Wallace.

Slakoth
Slakoth
Availability: Early
Stats: Excellent
Movepool: Very Wide
Additional Comments: Truant is horrible, but Slaking has excellent stats and he can always employ a hit and run strategy.

Spheal
Spheal
Availability: Late
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: He comes late, but Water/Ice is a good STAB combo and Walrein is very bulky with decent offensive capabilities.

Spoink
Spoink
Availability: Mid-Game
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: He's slow and outclassed offensively by Gardevoir, but he's not a bad Pokemon by any means.

Vulpix
Vulpix
Availability: Late
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Comes late, but Flamethrower at only level 29 is awesome and Ninetales is pretty strong. Aside from Flamethrower, its movepool is really bad.

Low Tier

Absol
Absol
Availability: Late
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Its frail, comes late, and lacks a good STAB move.

Aron
Aron
Availability: Early
Stats: Average
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: It's very slow and has way too many crippling weaknesses.

Bagon
Bagon
Availability: Late
Stats: Excellent
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: It just comes far too late to be helpful in any capacity.

Cacnea
Cacnea
Availability: Mid-game
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Slow, has a lot of weaknesses, and is too frail to take repeated hits.

Castform
Castform
Availability: Late
Stats: Poor
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Its stats just don't cut it.

Corphish
Corphish
Availability: Late
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: It has a horrible level movepool - no good STAB options to make use of its higher Attack...honestly, Sharpedo is superior in every way.

Duskull
Duskull
Availability: Late
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: It has good defenses and a good typing, but it's slow, has poor offenses, and a horrible level-up movepool.

Grimer
Grimer
Availability: Mid-game
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Poison is a very bad attacking type offensively. It is also slow and requires TMs to have a varied moveset.

Gulpin
Gulpin
Availability: Early
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Poison is a very bad attacking type offensively. It is also slow and requires TMs to have a varied moveset.

Koffing
Koffing
Availability: Mid-game
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Poison is a very bad attacking type offensively. It is also slow and requires TMs to have a varied moveset.

Lileep
Lileep
Availability: Mid-game
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: It has an interesting type combination, but its offenses and level-up movepool just don't cut it.

Lunatone
Lunatone (Sapphire Only)
Availability: Mid-game
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Its stats are not terribly great and its typing isn't particularly useful.

Natu
Natu
Availability: Late
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Its good moves come too late and it's basically completely inferior to all of the other Psychic-types in the game.

Pikachu
Pikachu
Availability: Late
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Its movepool is mediocre and it is outclassed by Manectric offensively, unless you get a Light Ball one. Even with a Light Ball, Pikachu will be KOed by a light breeze.

Pinsir
Pinsir
Availability: Late
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: It learns no good STAB moves and is totally outclassed by Heracross.

Poochyena
Poochyena
Availability: Early
Stats: Below Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Useful early game but is too weak later on when enemies start using more powerful Pokemon.

Regirock
Regirock
Availability: Late
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: It is very difficult to get and isn't useful in any of the later battles.

Registeel
Registeel
Availability: Late
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: It is very difficult to get and is too weak to cause much damage.

Relicanth
Relicanth
Availability: Late
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: It comes late and has a terrible type combination that saddles it with a ton of weaknesses. It's also too slow to make use of its decent Attack stat.

Rhyhorn
Rhyhorn
Availability: Late
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: It comes too late to be of much help against any of the final battles, and its slow and burdened with many weaknesses.

Sableye
Sableye (Sapphire and Emerald only)
Availability: Early
Stats: Below Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Although it is very useful against Brawly and Phoebe, it has bad stats and a bad level-up movepool, which means it will be useless most of the time.

Seedot
Seedot (Ruby and Emerald only)
Availability: Early
Stats: Poor
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: It relies too much on TMs to have an acceptable movepool, and its stats don't cut it until you get the needed evolution stone, which comes way too late.

Shuppet
Shuppet
Availability: Late
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: It is slow and has a terrible movepool.

Slugma
Slugma
Availability: Mid-game
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Suffers from horrible typing and bad Speed; Numel is better in every way.

Snorunt
Snorunt
Availability: Late
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: It's very rare and comes very late. Stats are too mediocre to get any real mileage out of it.

Solrock
Solrock (Ruby and Emerald Only)
Availability: Mid-Game
Stats: Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Its stats are not terribly great and its typing isn't particularly useful.

Swablu
Swablu
Availability: Mid-game
Stats: Below Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: It has good typing, but its very poor stats rather let it down.

Torkoal
Torkoal
Availability: Mid-game
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Pained by poor Speed and a shallow movepool; totally outclassed by Numel.

Trapinch
Trapinch
Availability: Mid-game
Stats: Above Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Although Flygon is pretty good, its suffers from a horrible level-up movepool and generally subpar stats until it evolves for the final time.

Wailmer
Wailmer
Availability: Mid-game
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: It is slow, not overly strong, and by time you can get it you have already seen too many other good options for a strong Water-type.

Wurmple
Wurmple
Availability: Early
Stats: Poor
Movepool: Very Shallow
Additional Comments: Both of its evolutions are terrible and is only really useful for beating up Brawly.

Zubat
Zubat
Availability: Early
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: It's a pain to train early on thanks to its weak offensive options and is generally outclassed by Swellow.

Bottom Tier

Chimecho
Chimecho
Availability: Late
Stats: Below Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: It's very hard to find, and its horrible stats mean the payoff isn't worth it.

Clamperl
Clamperl
Availability: Late
Stats: Poor
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: It requires trade evolutions to even become useful.

Goldeen
Goldeen
Availability: Mid-game
Stats: Below Average
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: It has an alright movepool, but it suffers from bad stats.

Illumise
Illumise
Availability: Early
Stats: Poor
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Both its stats and movepool are uninteresting.

Jigglypuff
Jigglypuff
Availability: Late
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: It comes too late and its movepool is terrible without TMs.

Luvdisc
Luvdisc
Availability: Don't
Stats: Use
Movepool: This
Additional Comments: Words cannot begin to describe how horrible this Pokemon is.

Mawile
Mawile
Availability: Early
Stats: Poor
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Its stats are absolutely horrible.

Minun
Minun
Availability: Early
Stats: Poor
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: It has terrible stats and a terrible movepool.

Nincada
Nincada
Availability: Early
Stats: Poor
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Weak and frail - both possible evolutions fold to strong attacks.

Nosepass
Nosepass
Availability: Early-Mid game
Stats: Below Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: It's slow and has little offensive ability.

Plusle
Plusle
Availability: Early
Stats: Poor
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: It has terrible stats and a terrible movepool.

Roselia
Roselia (Ruby and Sapphire only)
Availability: Early
Stats: Poor
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Decent movepool, but hindered by its low Speed and frailty.

Sandshrew
Sandshrew
Availability: Mid-Game
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Its level-up movepool is positively horrendous.

Seviper
Seviper (Sapphire and Emerald only)
Availability: Mid-game
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Has high offensive stats, but is slow, weak defensively, and needs TMs to compensate for its poor level-up movepool.

Skitty
Skitty
Availability: Early
Stats: Poor
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Its stats are nigh unusable.

Spinda
Spinda
Availability: Mid-game
Stats: Poor
Movepool: Decent
Additional Comments: Its stats are nigh unusable.

Surskit
Surskit
Availability: Early
Stats: Poor
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Its movepool and stats are both quite forgettable.

Volbeat
Volbeat
Availability: Early
Stats: Poor
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Both it's stats and movepool are uninteresting save Tail Glow.

Voltorb
Voltorb
Availability: Late-Mid game
Stats: Average
Movepool: Shallow
Additional Comments: Its very fast, but its also rather weak and easily walled.

Wobbuffet
Wobbuffet
Availability: Late
Stats: Below Average
Movepool: Very Shallow
Additional Comments: It can only do damage by taking damage first, which is terrible in-game.

Untiered

Beldum
Beldum
Availability: End
Stats: Excellent
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Doesn't come until after you beat the Champion.

Latias
Latias
Availability: End
Stats: Excellent
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Doesn't come until after you beat the Champion.

Latios
Latios
Availability: End
Stats: Excellent
Movepool: Wide
Additional Comments: Doesn't come until after you beat the Champion.