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As types go, Dragon has undergone a shift nearly as significant as the one that happened to Psychic since Generation 1, though in the opposite direction this time. It was generally considered a pretty terrible type in Generation 1 due to a complete lack of STAB moves, and things didn't really improve for it for quite a while. Then Generation 4 came around, and brought with it two very important changes. Outrage, formerly a weak 90 BP special attack, became an absolutely devastating 120 BP physical attack, turning physical dragons like Salamence, Dragonite, and Garchomp into stunningly powerful attackers. Also, Draco Meteor, a Dragon-type Overheat, was introduced. While moves like Overheat and Leaf Storm are generally overlooked, Draco Meteor is a metagame-defining move, obliterating essentially any non-Steel-type that it hits.
These two changes catapulted the Dragon-types in OU into the limelight, and Generation 5 definitely added to Dragon's notoriety. The addition of devastating new Dragon-types in Haxorus and Hydreigon has made the omnipresent Dragon type even more threatening, and the addition of Dream World abilities has turned the whole "Salamence outclasses Dragonite" situation completely on its head.
The first of the new Dragon-types, Haxorus has had a bit of a roller-coaster ride in OU. Its massive 147 base Attack garnered it a lot of hype as the biggest, baddest new dragon on the block, but when people actually started playing, that opinion changed fairly quickly. While its Attack is indeed sky-high, its 97 Speed and 76/90/70 defenses leave something to be desired. Before long, Haxorus had been forgotten, in favor of the many other Dragon-types tearing up the metagame. Dragonite had made its presence known, the Lati twins were wreaking havoc, and Haxorus just seemed slow and frail compared to its many colleagues. That's when it made its grand comeback through the discovery of the crushing power of the Choice Band set. Choice Band Haxorus has the bar none highest turn 1 damage output in the OU metagame, capable of ramming itself through all sorts of walls with ease. Even some of the most notable Steel-types in the metagame, such as Scizor, Jirachi, and some Ferrothorn, are taken down with 2 blows from Haxorus. On top of that, Haxorus also has access to Dragon Dance and Swords Dance, and its Mold Breaker Earthquake allows it to bust through some tough walls, especially Bronzong, which normally stands in the way of other Dragon-types. All in all, while Haxorus may not have the Speed of the Latis or the bulk of Dragonite, it makes up for it in spades with its absolutely devastating power.
Hydreigon is the other new addition to OU's Dragon-type roster. Where Haxorus uses incredible physical power to muscle through teams, Hydreigon instead uses its excellent movepool and versatility to blast through teams. Its unique Dark/Dragon typing gives it a reliable pair of STABs, as well as a powerful STAB Draco Meteor to use with its excellent base 125 Special Attack. It also has a special movepool for days, boasting Dark Pulse, Dragon Pulse, Fire Blast, Surf, Focus Blast, and Earth Power, all of which support Draco Meteor's devastating power by hitting Steel-types. It also has U-turn, allowing it to scout opposing switch-ins, and can even spread paralysis with Thunder Wave. On top of all that, it also has Levitate, letting it switch in with ease against the many Earthquake abusers in the metagame. It's capable of blowing through teams with Scarf variants, which act as lategame sweepers and all-purpose revenge killers, as well as U-turn scouting; Specs variants, which use its incredible power to drop the hurt on anything that decides to tangle with Hydreigon; or Expert Belt variants, which bluff one of the above two sets to abuse its excellent type coverage and massive power. While many looked at Hydreigon and saw a Pokemon outclassed by Latios, Hydreigon has certainly come into its own in the metagame.
While not new, Dragonite has certainly made excellent use of its new toy in the form of Multiscale. This ability, acquired through Dream World, makes Dragonite take half damage whenever it is attacked at full health, making it nearly impossible to OHKO. Couple this with a powerful priority option in ExtremeSpeed, a versatile movepool including a new STAB Hurricane, allowing it to abuse rain, and its already proficient Dragon Dancing skill, and Dragonite has made one hell of a splash in OU. Unfortunately, Multiscale is illegal with Superpower, so it can't play its original mixed role, but it's got more than enough new toys to make up for that. It can even abuse its excellent bulk with a set revolving around the new phazing move, Dragon Tail. With Thunder Wave providing paralysis, Roost allowing it to heal off any damage that it takes, and Dragon Tail knocking their team all over the place, Dragonite can certainly be disruptive to opposing teams on top of its other skills.
There are a couple Dragon-types that, while not exactly improved, are still relevant in this generation. Latios and Latias benefit from their new STAB move, Psyshock, allowing them to win CM wars and take down Blissey with ease, and they still have the same powerful Draco Meteor and STAB Dragon Pulse. Salamence is also fairly unchanged, as its Dream World ability is not yet released. Still, being the fastest physical Dragon Dancer gives it a niche, and it can also make improved use of a defensive set with Dragon Tail to augment its disruptive ability.
A special shoutout to Kyurem, the highest BST non-Uber Dragon. Despite its monstrous 660 BST and incredible stat spread, its secondary Ice typing and lacking movepool was not only enough to keep it out of Ubers, but also drop it all the way to UU, where it was tested and quickly banished to BL. Oh well, at least it's broken somewhere!
With all the incredible Dragon-types in OU, UU finds itself a little lacking. Still, there's enough Dragon power to manifest itself in UU. Kingdra and Flygon, formerly OU staples, now find themselves perfectly at home in UU, where they perform largely the same role that they always did in OU. Flygon is a top-notch revenge killer with Choice Scarf, picking off speedy opponents with ease and abusing its excellent roster of resistances. Meanwhile, Kingdra still abuses its solid bulk and typing to fire off strong STAB attacks with Specs or set up with Dragon Dance (and optionally ChestoRest, which is still excellent in Generation 5).
In addition to that, there are a couple junior dragons in UU that look to emulate the performance of their big brothers in OU, and have a new lease on life due to Eviolite, the hold item that lets NFEs compete with their fully evolved counterparts. Shelgon can abuse its Dragon typing and 65/100/50 defenses with Eviolite to set up a couple Dragon Dances and roll through teams with Outrage and its 95 base Attack. While Zweilous' 85 base Attack may leave something to be desired, Hustle gives it a 180 Base Power Outrage, which is absolutely devastating in a metagame lacking strong Steel-types. It augments that coverage with Crunch and Fire Fang, though all of the moves mentioned come with Stone Edge level accuracy thanks to Hustle, so Zweilous can still be a bit unreliable. Finally, there's Fraxure. While its movepool is essentially comprised of Dragon-type attacks and Dig, its 117 base Attack makes it a force to be reckoned with, especially if it can get up enough boosts from Dragon Dance or Swords Dance.
With its gigantic roster of viable Dragon-types, Ubers comes close to being "the Dragon metagame" in many ways. For the last 2 generations, all the cover legendaries have been partially Dragon-type, and their presence shapes the Ubers metagame in many ways.
Zekrom, the Black Dragon, is one hell of a force to be reckoned with. Its unique Electric/Dragon typing gives it a terrifying pair of STABs, especially with its 150 base Attack and 120 base Special Attack. However, the big deal is Bolt Strike, a 130 Base Power physical Electric-type move with 85% accuracy and a 20% paralysis chance. This move gives Zekrom the ability to devastate many teams, since Electric resistances are remarkably rare in Ubers. On top of that, it can pull out Draco Meteor to demolish Groudon, the most common switchin to Electric attacks. It also has a number of threatening sets: a wallbreaking Mixed Attacker that laughs at Groudon; a Choice Band set capable of powering straight through the bulkiest of walls; a Choice Scarf set that devastates faster Pokemon and offensive teams; or a Substitute/Hone Claws set that sets up for free on many of Ubers' most effective walls and cuts stall in half like a hot knife through butter. All in all, Zekrom is a monster in Ubers, and definitely not to be overlooked.
Reshiram, the White Dragon, is Zekrom's polar opposite. While Zekrom is all about physical power, Reshiram boasts incredible special power, as well as a completely unresisted pair of STABs in Fire/Dragon. Turboblaze, Reshiram's ability, acts as a Mold Breaker clone and allows its Fire attacks to damage Heatran, the only Pokemon to resist Fire and Dragon. Like Zekrom, it relies on its signature attack: Blue Flare, which is essentially Fire Blast with 10 more BP and twice the burn rate. However, due to Kyogre's existence, Reshiram has to be much more careful in Ubers, since it can't just fire off Blue Flares all willy-nilly. Still, while it has to be much more wary of weather, it still has a number of notable options that it can use. Choice Specs boasts monstrous power with two STABs that it can fire off at with impunity, and Choice Scarf is a powerful and speedy revenge killer and end-game cleaner. However, the real kicker is Flame Charge, which boosts Reshiram's Speed while still allowing it to switch moves. After a Flame Charge, Reshiram can tear offensive teams to shreds with either a full special set or a mixed set, both capable of muscling through opposing teams. In the end, while Reshiram takes a little more "care" to use, it's no less devastating when used right.
Beyond the cover legendaries, there are a couple Uber Dragons who have gotten a bump in Generation 5. Dragon Tail is huge for pretty much every Dragon in Ubers, since it allows defensive ones to be even more disruptive to opposing teams, especially Dialga and Giratina (both formes). Meanwhile, Latios and Latias have both lost Soul Dew, since it is currently completely inaccessible in the game and cannot be legally obtained. Rayquaza's still the powerhouse it always was, and its ability to outspeed the new cover legendaries is useful. Palkia's still the boss revenge killer and mixed attacker it always was, and Spacial Rend is just as rage-inducing as ever. Also, Garchomp makes its grand return to Ubers, still as effective as ever. It's got a new toy, though: Dual Chop, which lets it cut through Substitutes set up by other Dragon-types and prevent them from wreaking havoc on unprepared teams.
There's also Dragon-type Arceus, which now has access to its full might due to Gen 5's new rules on EVs, making it Ubers' fastest Dragon-type. As a Dragon-type it can threaten sweeps both physically and specially, and it does both equally well. On the physical side it's just as threatening as Rayquaza, but trading power for bulk and speed. As a Swords Dance user, it can outspeed Pokemon such as Palkia, Garchomp, and especially Lugia, which easily outspeeds Rayquaza and Garchomp and dispatches them with Ice Beam. As a Calm Mind user, its main competition is Giratina-O, trading Ghost's immunities and Levitate for Recover and superior Speed. After a couple Calm Minds, Dragon Arceus is extremely tough to take down, and any Dragon-types attempting to hit its main weakness risk getting caught by a powerful super effective Judgment on the switch. All in all, Dragon Arceus easily stands up to the other Dragon-types in the metagame, and is a non-negligible threat in Ubers.
Outrage - 120 Base Power - 100% Accuracy - Locks user in for 2-3 turns, confuses user at end of attack.
The gold standard for physical power in OU, an Outrage from Haxorus is pretty much the scariest thing most battlers can face, because when it comes, you'd better pray your Steel-type is nice and healthy, or something is getting KOed. That said, use at your own risk, because the lock-in can often mean the demise of its user, and the confusion aftereffect is no picnic either.
Dragon Claw - 80 Base Power - 100% Accuracy - No secondary effect.
As the much more reliable alternative to Outrage, Dragon Claw sees usage on Pokemon like Haxorus, Dragonite, and Salamence for sets that need a more reliable STAB that doesn't lock them in. However, Dragon Claw hits with only 67% of the power of Outrage, so keep that in mind when deciding which move to use.
Dual Chop - 40 Base Power - 90% Accuracy - Hits twice.
Haxorus' "signature move," this attack has a number of interesting uses. Its ability to hit twice allows Haxorus to blow straight through Substitutes, and is especially effective against Substitute Dragonite, since it can break its Substitute and then hit its health hard with the second attack. Garchomp also gets this move, and can use it in Ubers to hit Zekrom behind a Substitute, and even finish off a low HP Zekrom behind a Substitute.
Dragon Tail - 60 Base Power - 90% Accuracy - Target is forced to switch out after hit.
One of two new damaging phazing moves, Dragon Tail sees excellent use on Pokemon such as Dragonite, Gyarados, and Milotic, the latter of which appreciates access to a real phazing move. However, it's not without its downsides. While it can't be Taunted, it fails against Substitute, and its 90% accuracy can be a major letdown in clutch situations. Still, Dragon Tail is an excellent move, and really racks up the damage against teams.
Draco Meteor - 140 Base Power - 90% Accuracy - Lowers user's Special Attack 2 stages.
If Outrage is the gold standard for physical power, Draco Meteor comes close to being the same for special power. There's plenty of lethal Draco Meteor users flying around in Generation 5 now, from Hydreigon to Latios to even the rare Salamence, Draco Meteor makes any Dragon-type with a semblance of special attacking prowess incredibly tough to switch into.
Dragon Pulse - 90 Base Power - 100% Accuracy - No secondary effect.
Like Dragon Claw, Dragon Pulse is the "reliable alternative" to Draco Meteor. However, due to its underwhelming power, Draco Meteor is almost always the preferred alternative, as even after the drop Draco Meteor still does more damage over two turns. Still, Dragon Pulse is useful on Calm Mind Latios/Latias as a reliable attacking move, and can also be used on Specs variants as a reliable attacking option for end-game sweeps.
Spacial Rend - 100 Base Power - 95% Accuracy - High critical hit rate.
Still Palkia's signature move, still the #1 cause of hax rage in Ubers. Boasting 10% more power than Dragon Pulse but 5% less accuracy, Spacial Rend gives Palkia all the power it needs to muscle its way through Ubers, and as always, Dragon's excellent type coverage makes it a real workhorse in the Ubers metagame.
Dragon Dance - --% Accuracy - Increases user's Attack and Speed by 1 stage.
While there's hype around the "big new stat moves" like Shell Smash and Quiver Dance, Dragon Dance still keeps its place as one of the most fierce boosting moves in the game. Pokemon like Dragonite, Haxorus, and Gyarados can pick up a couple boosts, and if given time to set up, can easily blast their way through teams with ease.
While Generation 5 may be viewed as the "weather metagame," one look at the average team shows that Dragon-types are still large and in charge. With devastating new powerhouses like Haxorus and Hydreigon lurking around every corner, Generation 5 has secured the Dragon type's dominance for generations to come.
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