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Dragons, Dragons, Dragons. Remember how I said that OU is largely shaped by the Steel-types in the metagame last month? Here's why.
Back in RBY, Dragon-types were a joke. Wait, did I say "types"? I meant "type". Dragonite was the only Dragon-type in RBY, and its only Dragon-type move? Dragon Rage, which lacks STAB. Of course, that was when Psychics reigned supreme, and if you weren't Psychic, you pretty much weren't picked up. Of course, Game Freak had the good sense to nerf Psychic-types to kingdom come in Generation 2 and beyond, but Dragonite still didn't see any love. Kingdra was added in Generation 2, as well as a couple new Dragon-type moves, but mediocre power and terrible distribution still doomed them to failure. Generation 3 was much, much kinder to the Dragon-types. Salamence arrived on-scene, ready to make a splash in the OU metagame, and the first Dragon-typed Ubers showed up. Dragon Dance was also added, giving Dragon-types (and some others) a powerful boosting option outside of the traditional Swords Dance and Agility. However, Dragon-type moves were still exclusively special, and the most powerful one available was the incredibly mediocre Outrage, a 90 Base Power move that locked the user in. Very unappealing.
Then Generation 4 happened, and some Game Freak executive must have had the worst burst of nostalgia ever. "Hey, remember Generation 1, and how Psychic-types dominated everything? Let's do that again!" Pretty much every facet of Generation 4 has been dedicated to making Dragon-types as vicious as Pokemon-ly possible. The physical-special split meant that Outrage, which had now been boosted to a whopping 120 Base Power, could now be used in tandem with Dragon Dance to create a monstrous unstoppable sweeper. But why stop at Dragon Dance? Garchomp, the new 600 BST Dragon, didn't even need to boost its Speed! This meant that it could utilize Swords Dance along with its awesome dual STAB to rip apart everything in its path. On top of that, Draco Meteor, a Dragon-type Overheat, was introduced as a Tutor move for all Dragon-types. All three of the new BST 680 legendaries are part Dragon-type.
Gameplay-wise, Dragon has one major characteristic that makes it a fantastic type: its attacks are only resisted by Steel-types, who are extremely easy to pin down and eliminate. In fact, there are even Pokemon whose abilities are used solely to eliminate Steel-type Pokemon! The raw power of Dragon-type Pokemon and moves is a big part of why Steel-types are so prevalent in the metagame, and why prominent Dragon-types are being looked at as Suspects in the OU metagame.
Salamence is the #1 Dragon-type in OU right now, and it's clear why that is. Its base stats are fantastic across the board, with 95 / 80 / 80 defenses making it difficult to OHKO without a super effective move, and Intimidate lessens the blow from any physical attack it switches into. Offensively, 135 / 110 attacking stats give it the ability to pound opponents with powerful attacks both physically and specially. Combine this with an offensive movepool packed with solid options, and Salamence has 4MS in the best way possible: It's just so hard to decide the best way for it to horribly maim its opponents. It can sweep with Dragon Dance and Outrage/Dragon Claw, or it can wallbreak and generally terrorize opponents with a dedicated mixed set. Choice Scarf lets it revenge opponents, while Choice Band makes it incredibly hard to switch into, as it does massive damage even to Steel-types that are usually safe. Roost allows it to use its ability to make opponents flee in terror to heal up, and can be used on MixMence sets to let them pound away at opposing teams all day long. If you're looking to wreak general havoc on a team, look no further than Salamence.
However, before there was Salamence, there was Dragonite. While it lacks the Speed of Salamence, it makes up for it in a number of ways. Dragonite packs a number of tools that set it apart from Salamence, and as such, most "good" Dragonite sets will take advantage of these additional tools. Dragonite's access to Superpower gives it an option against Blissey that doesn't begin with the letter O and pretty much spells the death of Salamence against any competent team. ExtremeSpeed allows Dragonite to pick off weakened foes and punish opponents regardless of its mediocre Speed. Dragonite's superior defenses also make it much more effective in the role of "bulky Dragon Dancer", though it then has to compete with Gyarados, who has less Defense, but the same superior Special Defense as well as Intimidate and Taunt. That said, Dragonite still has all the tools needed to do massive damage to opposing teams, and is a reliable option, especially when used alongside Salamence to prepare for a sweep.
Flygon lived under the shadow of Garchomp for a very long time, but since Garchomp's banning, Flygon has been able to come into its own as an effective check to many top opponents. While it lacks the power of Salamence and Dragonite, as well as access to boosting moves like Dragon Dance and Swords Dance, it can still deal solid damage to teams by utilizing Choice Scarf or Choice Band to provide it with immediate Speed and power. Its Dragon-Ground typing gives it an excellent roster of resistances, and Levitate allows it to avoid the ever-present Earthquakes in OU. It resists Stealth Rock and is immune to Spikes and Toxic Spikes, making it incredibly easy to switch in regardless of opposing entry hazards. The powerful dual STABs of Outrage and Earthquake more than make up for its 100 base Attack, and a wide secondary movepool including Fire Blast, Fire Punch, ThunderPunch, Stone Edge, and the ever-useful U-turn makes it easy for Flygon to scout, revenge, and just generally deal damage to teams.
Kingdra's unique Water-Dragon typing gives it a set of dual STABs resisted in OU only by Empoleon, meaning that it is one of the few Pokemon capable of getting along with only its STAB moves for coverage. This is good, because Kingdra is one of those Pokemon that really doesn't have many attacking options outside of STAB and the general catch-all moves like Return. That said, Kingdra really doesn't need much to start wrecking havoc. Its typing gives it 4x resistances to Water and Fire, as well as neutrality to Ice, something other Dragon-types would kill for. Kingdra functions extremely well in the rain, with few opponents able to withstand its powerful rain-boosted Hydro Pump and Waterfall without also falling to Dragon Pulse or Outrage. It can also use its solid bulk to Dragon Dance up, using either a purely offensive spread to deal as much damage as possible as fast as possible, or use one of the fantastic RestTalk, Substitute, or Lum Berry sets to set up multiple Dragon Dances before sweeping outright.
Latias has finally passed out of the OU metagame, but for a very long time, she was the gold standard for special attackers in the OU metagame. Early on, she used Calm Mind sets to set up before sweeping with powerful STAB Dragon Pulses, but after a while, Latias transitioned into a Flygon-esque Choice user, abusing her excellent resistances and solid defenses to come in and fire off powerful STAB Draco Meteors. In the likely event that Blissey switched in, Latias could immediately Trick her Choice item onto Blissey, thus rendering her much less useful for the rest of the match, and making it easy to stall out her recovery move and eventually chip her to death. Eventually, this convinced a majority of voters to vote Latias Uber, in one of the largest surprises of the entire Suspect Test.
Flygon. Now I know what you're thinking... "Flygon? Really?" Indeed, Flygon can operate as an effective defensive Pokemon. With a solid defensive investment, Flygon can easily abuse its unique resistances to check opponents and stall them out while Toxic whittles away at them. Earthquake and Fire Blast cover Steel- and Poison-types who are immune to Toxic, meaning that unless your opponent is packing a powerful Ice Beam user or Dragon-type attacker, they'll have a hell of a time trying to break through Flygon. Meanwhile, Flygon can simply Roost off any damage dealt to it, and since its Ground immunity comes from Levitate, it won't lose that crucial Earthquake immunity like other Roosters.
Back before her banning, Latias was a defensive force to be reckoned with in the OU metagame. With her 80 / 90 / 130 defenses and key resistances to Fighting, Fire, Water, Ground, and Electric attacks, Latias could easily switch into attackers such as Heatran and Infernape and shut them down. Support moves such as Wish, Reflect, and Roar allowed her to support her team and also cause problems for the enemy team as soon as she came in, and she could also run Recover to heal off any residual damage she suffers. Defensive Calm Mind sets were also extremely effective, allowing her to set up on weak attackers and eventually clear out teams with a boosted Dragon Pulse.
Altaria is the lone Dragon in UU, and while it doesn't cause the splash there that Salamence and friends cause in OU, it is still more than capable of dealing its share of damage to unprepared teams. Its excellent bulk allows it to Dragon Dance with impunity against many attackers, and even off of its meager 70 base Attack, a boosted Outrage still tears up UU, especially with no Ground-immune Steel-types around to resist the combination. It can use Dragon Dance alongside Roost to set up on foes with ease, or it can use a RestTalk set to take advantage of the fact that a Sleep Talked Outrage does not confuse the user or lock it in.
Guess who! Again, Altaria is the only Dragon-type in UU, so your options are rather limited. That said, Altaria can check a number of top threats, such as Moltres, Blaziken, and Venusaur with ease, and then Roost off the damage and come in later to wall opponents some more. Its 75 / 90 / 105 defenses are solid in UU, especially with the increased frequency of Water-, Fire-, and Grass-type attacks. It also has a couple of neat options, such as Roar, Perish Song, Haze, and Heal Bell, which allow it to support its team extremely effectively by healing status, nullifying boosting attackers, or shuffling opposing teams around.
While Dragon-types definitely dominate the metagame in OU with their unparalleled power and huge movepools, Ubers takes this concept and runs with it. Dragon-types were completely non-existent in Ubers in RBY and GSC, but ADV and Generation 4 flooded the metagame with quality Dragon-type Pokemon, turning Ubers into "The Dragon Metagame" in many ways.
Latios and Latias are pretty much interchangeable in Ubers. While they may not be part of the big bad base 680s that normally rule Ubers, they do have a major edge: Soul Dew. By holding Soul Dew, they increase their already excellent Special Attack and Special Defense to incredible heights, allowing them to wall even ferocious Special Attackers such as Kyogre with ease and retaliate with Dragon Pulse and Thunder.
If Salamence sends shivers down your spine, Rayquaza just might scare you to death. It's got a massive 150 base Attack AND Special Attack, with acceptable 105 / 90 / 90 defenses and 95 Speed to back them up. On top of that, it's got the ability Air Lock, which renders many weather-reliant strategies useless. It also got access to Dragon Dance AND Swords Dance, along with a powerful priority move in ExtremeSpeed. In many cases, there's nothing scarier than looking at a Rayquaza all set up and ready to ravage your team.
Generation 4 was extremely kind to Dragon-types in Ubers. We'll start off with a controversial one. Garchomp was OU for a long time before eventually being relegated to Ubers, where it still makes its mark as one of the top threats in the metagame. The key to its success is twofold: first, Dragon/Ground typing is incredible no matter how you slice it, giving nearly unresisted dual STAB and a great spread of resistances; second, Garchomp's trolly 102 base Speed allows it to outspeed a significant portion of the Uber metagame, which centralizes around the common 90-100 base Speed benchmark. Garchomp can hit hard with Choice Band, revenge with Choice Scarf, or even take a crack at its old glory days with Swords Dance.
Dialga's real power is its incredible versatility. It can run any one of a massive number of sets, and any one of them will mess stuff up. Choice Specs allows Dialga to use its massive 150 base Special Attack and huge movepool to become a Special Attacking force that even Blissey would take quite a dent, due to its powerful Aura Sphere, Draco Meteor, and potentially sun-boosted Fire Blast. It can also run a support set with Thunder Wave and Stealth Rock, tanking hits with its solid defenses, or it can even take advantage of its (relatively) low base Speed with a Trick Room set, allowing it to bust through more offensive teams with ease. Finally, Dialga can run a vicious Bulk Up set, which can set up nearly endlessly on many walls and even some attackers before pounding the opposing team with boosted Outrages.
Palkia may not seem as versatile as Dialga in Ubers, but it's still got the power to bust up teams. It can take advantage of both Groudon and Kyogre with either its powerful STAB Surf or a sun-boosted Fire Blast, and its signature move, Spacial Rend, provides fantastic neutral coverage when used with either one. Its primary use is as a Kyogre check and general revenge killer with Choice Scarf, but it can also wallbreak with a Lustrous Orb bluff set, using its relatively lower 120 Base Attack, pound teams with Choice Specs, or even take a shot at some Bulk Up glory itself. With a solid base 100 Speed, Palkia outruns a fair portion of the metagame.
Finally, we've got Giratina. While the last two legends were definitely offensive powerhouses, Giratina takes things in the other direction. With incredible 150 / 120 / 120 base defenses and the excellent Ghost/Dragon typing, as well as its excellent support movepool and immunity to Rapid Spin, Giratina stands as an impenetrable bulwark against many top threats in Ubers. However, when it equips its signature item, the Griseous Orb, it goes from immovable object to unstoppable force in a heartbeat. Either of its STABs combine with Aura Sphere to provide unresisted coverage, and they also hit a huge portion of defenders in Ubers hard, especially when boosted by Calm Mind. Its typing, when combined with its new ability, Levitate, provides it with plenty of chances to switch in and start wreaking havoc. Whether it's being used as an attacker or a defender, Giratina is definitely not to be passed over 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 Salamence 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 any Salamence, Dragonite, or Flygon set that values reliability and the ability to seamlessly switch attacks over raw power. However, Dragon Claw hits with only 67% of the power of Outrage, so keep that in mind when deciding which move to use.
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. While its popularity has waned due to Latias' banning, it still sees use on Salamence and Dragonite to hit common physical walls that switch into OU's Dragons hard. However, its side effect will usually require its user to switch out after use, so be careful when you use it, especially on Stealth Rock weak Pokemon such as Salamence and Dragonite.
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 Pokemon such as Kingdra to hit Water-resistant opponents hard.
Spacial Rend - 100 Base Power - 95% Accuracy - High critical hit rate
Palkia's signature move, and 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
By boosting the user's Attack and Speed, Dragon Dance transforms even the tamest of Pokemon into lethal attackers. Its distribution isn't that great, but on Pokemon such as Salamence, Tyranitar, and Gyarados, it's the fastest way to set up a sweep, hands down.
If Steel is the "shield" of types, Dragon is most definitely the "lance". Its massive power combined with the quality of Pokemon who boast the type makes Dragon-types define the metagame just as much as the Steel-types required to resist it. Here's hoping Generation 5 changes things up somewhat...
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