It's got a wide attacking movepool. It's tied with Mew for the second-highest Base Stat Total in the game. It's the only fully-evolved Dragon-type in RBY, a type that sounds legendary on its own and that resists the STAB attacks of all three starter Pokemon. It's the final Pokemon used by Lance, the fourth member of the Elite Four. Clearly, Dragonite was intended to be some sort of legendary behemoth, the boss Pokemon to end all boss Pokemon, at least until the player found Mewtwo. However, in competitive usage, Dragonite is more likely to elicit groans and grimaces of irritation rather than the intended screams and wide eyes of terror. This is because Dragonite's power in OU does not derive from Hyper Beam, its massive base 134 Attack, its typing, or its diverse Special movepool. Rather, it's because of an annoying little move that its lowly first-stage evolution, Dratini, knows from the start: Wrap.
Wrap's mechanics differ drastically in RBY compared to later generations; the move has a mere 15 Base Power, but it prevents the opposing Pokemon from making a move while the Wrap user is locked into this move for 2-5 turns. Furthermore, the immobilized opponent cannot attack even during the turn the Wrap user switches out, providing a safe entry for another Pokemon. However, unlike in other generations, the opponent might switch out the Pokemon that is incapacitated by Wrap. Dragonite is the best Wrap user in RBY because it, unlike any other RBY Wrapper, also has access to Agility to make it faster than any other Pokemon in the game. If Dragonite gets lucky and hits all of its Wraps, it can totally sweep a team without the opponent even being able to move. This sounds broken, and indeed, some RBY players play with bans on Wrap and all other moves like it (Bind, Clamp, Fire Spin) because of their potential. However, Dragonite might always miss a Wrap or two, leaving it vulnerable to getting paralyzed or shellacked by an Ice-type move. It is this unreliability that prevents Dragonite from being considered a staple of RBY OU when Wrap is allowed. When Wrap is not allowed, Dragonite is barely worth mentioning in OU due to its lack of STAB, mediocre Speed, and disastrous 4x weakness to the ubiquitous Ice Beam and Blizzard.
Here it is, possibly the most annoying set in all of Pokemon history. It's more than just annoying, however; it's absolutely deadly if luck is on your side. Agility boosts Dragonite's Speed above that of any unboosted Pokemon in the game. It then proceeds to take advantage of Wrap's debilitating mechanics by repeatedly using the move to render any switch-in unable to move, while slowly whittling away at the opposing Pokemon's health. Wrap can even be used to immobilize Gengar, which is immune to Normal-type moves, although Gengar is unlike other Wrap victims in that it does not take damage while incapacitated by Wrap. It is, however, not easy to find a good moment to use Agility, due to the prevalence of Ice-type and paralysis-inducing moves in RBY. Switching into the occasional sleeping or frozen Pokemon lets Dragonite set up Agility safely, however. Otherwise, slow Pokemon such as Golem, Rhydon, Snorlax, and Exeggutor that lack Stun Spore are good options to switch in and set up on. Taking a hit from them, however, means that Dragonite is now OHKOed by unSTAB-boosted Ice-type attacks.
Once the opponent's Pokemon has been worn down to low enough health, Dragonite can use one of its other two attacking moves to secure the KO. Hyper Beam is generally the best option, as it is the strongest attack in Dragonite's movepool. Dragonite will usually be able to avoid Hyper Beam's incapacitating side effect as Wrap is meant to first put Pokemon in Hyper Beam's OHKO range. It lacks STAB, but comes from a base 134 Attack stat. Surf is the preferred option in the last slot as it guarantees an OHKO on the Rock / Ground types Golem and Rhydon. Blizzard can be used in its place to heavily damage Golem and Rhydon, but also to give Dragonite its best direct attack to use against Gengar. It also works as an alternative finishing move for Pokemon such as Zapdos and Exeggutor and, unlike Hyper Beam, does not force Dragonite to recharge if it does not OHKO.Team Options & Additional Comments >>>
Dragonite makes good use of Thunderbolt to hit Cloyster hard and dish out decent damage against Lapras on the switch in, both of which can scare Dragonite out with the threat of an OHKO with Blizzard. Thunder Wave can be useful against switch-ins that are typically difficult to paralyze, such as Gengar and Starmie, that Dragonite is bound to see. Body Slam blends damage with paralysis chance if you don't want to give up an attacking move for paralysis. Double-Edge is slightly stronger than Body Slam at the cost of not being able to paralyze and causing recoil damage. As finisher moves, both options have an advantage over Hyper Beam by not having to recharge if the opposing Pokemon is not KOed; the lower Base Power makes these moves unfavorable choices, however.
Checks and Counters
Gengar is the chief check as it's immune to Wrap and takes a pittance from any of Dragonite's other options. It doesn't really accomplish much against Dragonite, though, but will generally outlast non-Blizzard Dragonite one-on-one in a battle between unSTAB-boosted special attacks. Powerful Blizzard users, such as Lapras, Cloyster, Articuno, and, to an extent, Jynx, can all scare Dragonite out with the threat of an OHKO. The former three are very physically bulky and will be able to take several hits before dying, which makes it all the more likely that Wrap will miss at some point. Exeggutor and especially Slowbro are also very bulky and can threaten Dragonite with paralysis, but apart from that, they won't generally be able to handle Dragonite on their own. Chansey and Starmie are resilient with their instant recovery and usually carry Ice moves that can 2HKO Dragonite. These two can also paralyze Dragonite with Thunder Wave and force it to risk full paralysis in addition to Wrap misses. Note that Dragonite can use Agility again to completely ignore the Speed reduction from paralysis and resume being faster than all of your Pokemon. On the other hand, however, as full paralysis can also occur in the middle of a Wrap sequence, paralysis will severely limit Dragonite's potential. Its often even advised to go for the guaranteed paralysis with Thunder Wave instead of using an unSTAB-boosted Ice-type attack that will not OHKO.
Any Pokemon that has enough health to take Dragonite's Hyper Beam can switch in to this predicted finishing move to cripple or KO Dragonite. When the opposing Pokemon is in KO range from Hyper Beam, the Dragonite user is likely to use it instead of Wrap, to avoid the possibility of an untimely Wrap miss. Punishing a predicted Hyper Beam could give you the possibility of paralyzing or KOing Dragonite. However, proper prediction is required as Dragonite could continue using Wrap, which by itself still has a high success rate against the weakened opponent. Pokemon that resist Normal-type moves, such as Golem and Rhydon, might even be surprised by Surf, which will OHKO them.
It's important to note that, if given the chance, using the turn Dragonite uses Agility to cripple it is crucial. Even if you can only land one move that won't do much to Dragonite, such as Body Slam or Psychic, it may still be very rewarding later on, as it will increase the chances of any Ice-type move OHKOing Dragonite. In addition, Body Slam might also score paralysis, which will often ruins Dragonite's ability to effectively sweep.
If all else fails, you can try to stall it out of Wrap PP if you can count carefully to 32. Wrap is very weak and locks Dragonite into Wrap if it chooses to stay in, regardless of whether you choose to switch or stay in yourself. Thus, you can repeatedly switch out to force Dragonite to use more turns which read "Dragonite used Wrap!" and that therefore cost PP as opposed to the "Its attack continues!" turns that do not use PP. However, if you miscount and switch out after Dragonite has used its last Wrap PP, Dragonite will still be forced to use Wrap PP, but instead of forcing Dragonite to use Struggle, RBY glitches and rolls Wrap's PP counter up to 63 to allow it to use Wrap again, thereby rendering your stall for naught. This strategy works much more effectively if you have Golem or Rhydon on your team, as otherwise you will have to sacrifice at least one Pokemon before Wrap runs out of PP.