Best Picks For Competitive Play, Ranked

One of the greatest aspects of Pokémon is that fans can approach it with different goals, especially when it comes to battling. Some play for the sense of adventure and story, while others play to catch ’em all and build an impressive shiny Pokémon collection. Meanwhile, other fans enjoy the thrill of competition and have worked tirelessly to build the perfect team.



The competitive side of Pokémon can be incredibly daunting, especially for those who don’t know which species are good in a competitive setting. However, building the perfect team isn’t as simple as loading up on the best of the best. There are other great Pokémon that are worth using for their skill set and how well they complement others in battle.

Updated on January 10, 2024, by Guillermo Kurten: The competitive Pokémon scene regularly fluctuates with each mainline generation of the video games. Especially now with over 1,000 unique species in the games as of Scarlet and Violet — including their two DLC expansions. There is a myriad of ways that players can tinker with different party compositions to mold their ideal competitive team. This list is being updated to streamline the useful information that makes these particular Pokémon species so effective in battle.


15 Hydreigon Offers Excellent Special Attack And Can Compensate For Its Weaknesses

Hydreigon's Pokedex entry in Pokémon Scarlet & Violet.

Ability:

Levitate

Tera Type:

Ghost-Type

Held Item:

Choice Specs

Nature:

Modest (+ Sp. Attack, – Phys. Attack)

Recommended Moveset:

Draco Meteor, Dark Pulse, Earth Power, Snarl

Related

10 Best Starter Pokémon In Competitive Online Play

Certain starter Pokémon, like Venusaur and Greninja, are especially strong companions to have during competitive online play.

Ever since it was introduced back in Gen V, Hydreigon has been on a roller-coaster journey in terms of its involvement in competitive Pokémon. The Dark/Dragon-type faces five overwhelming type weaknesses that can often counter with relative ease, but in the Gen IX meta, Hydreigon seems to belong once again.

The introduction of the Terastal phenomenon in Gen IX means Pokémon can change their typing, either in an attacking or defensive sense. Many types can suit Hydreigon, from the solid Steel type to Electric pairing nicely with its Levitate Ability to negate all weaknesses. Tailwind and Reflect can round out its usefulness beyond full-on offense.

14 Murkrow Is An Unexpected Hit In Competitive Settings

Murkrow flying in Pokemon Scarlet & Violet

Ability:

Prankster

Tera Type:

Ghost-Type

Held Item:

Eviolite

Nature:

Bold (+ Phys. Defense, – Phys. Attack)

Recommend Moveset:

Tail Wind, Sunny Day, Foul Play, Haze

Murkrow is a surprising name that continues to pop up on many teams in Gen IX competitive play. The Gen II Darkness Pokémon has always been a tricky encounter either in the wild or in Trainer battles, but its inclusion in the Gen IX meta is unprecedented. Murkrow’s Hidden Ability Prankster allows status moves to take priority, and it can’t be overstated how much of an advantage that can be.

Many Pokémon rely on boosting stats, but Murkrow poses the threat of Haze, which simply eliminates any stat changes. Murkrow can also double up as a Tailwind instigator, boosting its team’s Speed. Moves like Foul Play, Brave Bird, and even the likes of Flatter can round out a surprisingly handy Pokémon that is one of the best competitive Pokémon out there right now.

13 Annihilape Has Solid Defense And Versatile Offenses

Ability:

Defiant

Tera Type:

Steel-Type

Held Item:

Sitrus Berry

Nature

Adamant (+ Phys. Attack, – Sp. Attack)

Recommended Moveset:

Rage Fist, Bulk Up, Drain Punch, Protect

Annihilape is the long-awaited evolution of Primeape, and it doesn’t disappoint. Annihilape brings the mysterious yet formidable Fighting/Ghost-type combination and adds some serious bulk to its previous form. Annihilape’s interesting movepool throws up some intriguing possibilities and combinations, from Rage Fist, Shadow Claw, and Close Combat, to the various coverage moves.

Final Gambit is a terrific addition, as it causes the user to faint, but deals damage to its opponent equal to its substantial total HP. To cement Annihilape as one of the best competitive Pokémon out there, it also has the Hidden Ability Defiant, an instant counter to Intimidate Pokémon or anything that tries to reduce the Rage Monkey Pokémon’s Attack.

12 Maushold Is A Capable Support Pokémon

Maushold Family of Three in Pokémon Scarlet & Violet video game

Ability:

Friend Guard

Tera Type:

Ghost-Type

Held Item:

Safety Goggles

Nature:

Jolly (+ Speed, – Sp. Attack)

Recommended Moveset:

Follow Me, Protect, Feint, Super Fang

Related

20 Pokémon With Surprisingly High Base Stats

It’s easy to get complacent and stick with the same obviously effective Pokémon, but there are some that have much higher stats than people realize.

Amoonguss continues to be the best competitive Pokémon in terms of how useful it can be, but in Scarlet & Violet, there is a new support Pokémon in town named Maushold. The adorable Family Pokémon is made up of three or four mice acting together that shouldn’t be underestimated.

Maushold can be set up with its Friend Guard Ability protecting its team in the doubles format, with moves like Encore, Helping Hand, Follow Me, and Tidy Up helping its team. However, if Maushold is set up with its Technician Ability, its signature move, Population Bomb, can hit up to 10 times and can only be halted if it misses at any point. Regardless of the Ability being used, Maushold can still be one of the best competitive Pokémon.

11 Iron Hands Is A Sturdy Physical Battler

Iron Hands Stands At The Ready

Ability:

Quark Drive

Tera Type:

Grass-Type

Held Item:

Assault Vest

Nature:

Adamant (+ Phys. Attack, – Sp. Attack)

Recommended Moveset:

Fake Out, Drain Punch, Wild Charge, Volt Switch

Iron Hands may look like a futuristic relative of Hariyama at first glance, with a similar bulk and physical presence. Still, it can be a real nuisance for opponents as one of the best competitive Pokémon. Iron Hands is a powerful Fighting/Electric-type Paradox Pokémon and has such a promising movepool that various movesets can be used competitively.

Iron Hands’ Belly Drum tactics have value competitively beyond just being used in Tera Raids, as Drain Punch can simply heal back the sacrificed HP. Fake Out flinches an opponent when Iron Hands enters the battle, and Volt Switch can switch Iron Hands out of the battle while still dealing damage. Close Combat and Wild Charge are heavy-hitting moves for big STAB damage, while the likes of Heavy Slam, Play Rough, Fire Punch, and Earthquake offer considerable type coverage.

10 Chien-Pao Uses The Tera Type Mechanic To Shore Up Its Weaknesses

Ruinious Quartet Chien-Pao Legendary Pokemon Scarlet and Violet

Ability:

Sword of Ruin

Tera Type:

Dark- or Flying-Type

Held Item:

Focus Sash

Nature:

Jolly (+ Speed, – Sp. Attack)

Recommended Moveset:

Ice Spinner, Protect, Sucker Punch, Taunt

Now that Legendary Pokémon species have entered the competitive fray, the Ruinous Chien-Pao has been unleashed on the competition. Chien-Pao has Ice Spinner on hand to get through Psychic Terrain and Taunt to counter any Trick Room users. Chien-Pao’s Sword of Ruin Ability reduces the Defense of all Pokémon on the field, which can set the scene for it to run rampant with vicious offense.

Chien-Pao can either go with Dark Tera to give it further boosts to Sucker Punch, or it can go for Flying Tera, allowing it to work well with powerful Ground-type Pokémon like Great Tusk. Chien-Pao has six Type weaknesses when it hasn’t Terastallized, which is why a Focus Sash is always welcome. This item prevents the holder from being struck with a one-hit knockout — so long as they have full HP to start.

9 Chi-Yu Has An Arsenal Of Fire Attacks

Chi-yu ready for battle outside its shrine in Pokemon Scarlet & Violet

Ability:

Beads of Ruin

Tera Type:

Ghost-Type

Held Item:

Life Orb

Nature:

Timid (+ Speed, – Phys. Attack)

Recommended Moveset:

Heat Wave, Dark Pulse, Protect, Snarl

Related

10 Most Iconic Fighting-Type Pokémon

Several strong Fighting-type Pokémon have managed to stand out from the rest of the crowd.

While Chien-Pao lowers everybody’s Defense, its fellow Ruinous Legendary Pokémon Chi-Yu does the same with Special Defense. This allows the Legendary creature Chi-Yu to unleash relentless fiery offensive maneuvers on its opponents. These moves include Lava Plume, Heat Wave, and Overheat.

Chi-Yu can afford to sacrifice its Attack stat to bolster its more useful Speed while carrying Dark-type offense in Dark Pulse and Snarl. Chi-Yu is an ideal new Fire-Type Pokémon to let loose on the competitive scene, especially when given the Ghost Tera typing to make it defensively sturdier.

8 Palafin Is A Potential Powerhouse In Its Hero Form

Palafin switching into battle and activating its Zero to Hero ability in Pokémon Scarlet & Violet.

Ability:

Zero to Hero

Tera Type:

Water-Type

Held Item:

Mystic Water

Nature:

Adamant (+ Phys. Attack, – Sp. Attack)

Recommended Moveset:

Jet Punch, Ice Punch, Protect, Wave Crash

Palafin is one of the more unique designs and concepts of the new Pokémon introduced in Gen IX. Palafin starts the battle as a seemingly mediocre battler, but if it switches out at any point, it returns in its Hero Form, which has almost 200 more in total base stats.

Flip Turn can get Palafin out of battle and trigger this miraculous transformation, but sometimes a manual switch is better. After the transformation, Palafian can show off its newfound power with priority moves like Aqua Jet and Jet Punch. Everybody who has tried competitive Pokémon in Gen IX knows about this transformation and can try to prevent it, but regardless, Hero Palafin hits extremely hard and will always be a threat.

7 Dondozo & Tatsugiri Are A Unique Pairing In The Doubles Format

Abilities:

(Dondozo) Unaware, (Tatsugiri) Commander

Tera Types:

(D) Steel-Type, (T) Water-Type

Held Items:

(D) Lum Berry, (T) Choice Scarf

Natures:

(D) Adamant (+ Phys. Attack, – Sp. Attack), (T) Timid (+ Speed, – Phys. Attack)

Recommended Movesets:

(D) Wave Crash, Rest, Protect, Earthquake; (T) Muddy Water, Draco Meteor, Dragon Pulse, Icy Wind

Scarlet & Violet have introduced some cool and creative Pokémon in design and concept, and Dondozo and Tatsugiri rank among their wackiest. The Big Catfish Pokémon Dondozo is a tank by itself, but in competitive doubles, it can pair up with the tricky Tatsugiri to become even stronger.

Tatsugiri can jump inside Dondozo’s mouth thanks to the Commander Ability, hiding it from harm’s way while boosting each of Dondozo’s stats by two stages. There are creative ways to take this even further, such as having Tatsugiri die while in Dondozo, giving it a boost but also allowing another Pokémon to take the field. The concept is inventive and destructive, making Dondozo one of the best competitive Pokémon.

6 Gholdengo Is Well-Rounded In Both Singles And Doubles

Gholdengo in a field in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.

Ability:

Good as Gold

Tera Type:

Steel-Type

Held Item:

Choice Scarf

Nature:

Modest (+ Sp. Attack, – Phys. Attack)

Recommended Moveset:

Make It Rain, Shadow Ball, Recover, Thunder

Related

10 Most Iconic Fire-Type Pokémon

Fire-type Pokémon are typically one of the rarer types to find in the wild, so these impressive Fire-type Pokémon left a lasting impression on fans.

Gholdengo may be one of the more bizarre ideas and designs in the new Gen IX roster, but it also has quickly become a staple on the competitive scene. The Coin Entity Pokémon brings the exceptional Steel/Ghost-type combination with all its resistances and immunities while also boasting a formidable Special Attack stat.

Gholdengo’s signature move, Make It Rain, is essentially a Steel-type version of Overheat that packs a heavy punch on both opposing slots in the doubles format. Nasty Plot, Recover, and Shadow Ball flesh out an exceptional moveset that makes Gholdengo a menace and one of the best competitive Pokémon out there.

5 Iron Bundle Is Fast And Hard-Hitting

An Iron Bundle Paradox Pokemon appears in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.

Ability:

Quark Drive

Tera Type:

Ice-Type

Held Item:

Focus Sash

Nature:

Timid (+ Speed, – Phys. Attack)

Recommended Moveset:

Freeze-Dry, Icy Wind, Hydro Pump Protect

While Delibird is often in the conversations about the most disappointing and useless Pokémon of all time, it has a relative from the distant future, the Paradox Pokémon Iron Bundle. Iron Bundle has alarming Speed at 136, with an impressive 124 Special Attack to make it a dangerous opponent and one of the best competitive Pokémon.

Iron Bundle can frustrate with moves like Protect, Encore, Substitute, and Taunt, or it can hit hard with STAB Hydro Pump and Blizzard. Yet the Ice/Water-type Paradox Pokémon excels when it hits moves with additional effects and value. Chilling Water can lower an opponent’s Attack, and Icy Wind can do the same with Speed while hitting both opponents in a doubles format. Freeze-Dry even offers the possibility of freezing the target. Iron Bundle is quick and extremely dangerous, a must-have for a competitive team.

4 Flutter Mane Is A Special-Focused Powerhouse

A light blue Flutter Mane Paradox Pokemon in Pokémon Scarlet & Violet.

Ability:

Protosynthesis

Tera Type:

Water-Type

Held Item:

Choice Specs

Nature:

Timid (+ Speed, – Phys. Attack)

Recommended Moveset:

Moonblast, Dazzling Gleam, Shadow Ball, Thunderbolt

Flutter Mane is the ancient past relative of Misdreavus and a Ghost/Fairy-type Paradox Pokémon. As soon as Paradox Pokémon were allowed in competitive Pokémon, players seemed to instantly turn to Flutter Mane. Most of Flutter Mane’s 570 total base stats have been put into Speed, Special Defense, and Special Attack, making it extremely dangerous in battle.

Flutter Mane can bring the usual Protect and Taunt to be a general nuisance in saving itself from certain moves, but it also possesses some terrifying special-offensive moves. Shadow Ball and Moonblast hit for devastating STAB damage, while Dazzling Gleam is always a good addition as it has spread damage, perfect for the doubles format. Flutter Mane is only weak to Ghost- and Steel-type moves and has three immunities, easily making it one of the best competitive Pokémon.

3 Dragonite Is A Powerful And Versatile Team Player

Ability:

Multiscale

Tera Type:

Flying-Type

Held Item:

Clear Amulet

Nature:

Adamant (+ Phys. Attack, – Sp. Attack)

Recommended Moveset:

Protect, Extreme Speed, Tera Blast, Ice Spinner

While most other pseudo-legendaries have dropped down the pecking order within the most recent meta, Dragonite has risen once again. The Gen I Dragon Pokémon has always been on the edge of viability, but right now, it has enough versatility to be a utility player on any team.

The Multiscale Ability makes Dragonite take reduced damage while it has full HP, which should allow it to get rid of Psychic Terrain early on, thanks to Ice Spinner. Dragonite can then go Tera Flying and use Tera Blast for huge STAB damage, but an alternative is using Extreme Speed with the Normal Tera typing. Dragonite is the ideal answer to so many strong Pokémon on the competitive circuit.

2 Great Tusk Thrives With All-Out Offense

The Paradox and Titan Pokemon Great Tusk in Pokemon Scarlet

Ability:

Protosynthesis

Tera Type:

Steel-Type

Held Item:

Focus Sash or Choice Scarf

Nature:

Adamant (+ Phys. Attack, – Sp. Attack)

Recommended Moveset:

Headlong Rush, Earthquake, Close Combat, Rock Slide

When Paradox Pokémon were first introduced to competitive play, Great Tusk was often overlooked for the other options. However, the ancient past relative of Donphan now finds itself on almost every team in the current meta. Great Tusk is an offensive powerhouse, especially with an Adamant nature focusing on its Attack stat.

A Steel Tera gives Great Tusk more Types to resistance and more reliable defensive capabilities, while it brings an attacking moveset. Headlong Rush, Earthquake, Close Combat, and Rock Slide are all aggressive moves that establish Great Tusk as one of the best offensive options in competitive Pokémon.

1 Amoonguss Has Been Consistently Strong Since Gen V

Amoonguss attacks in the Pokémon anime

Ability:

Regenerator

Tera Type:

Fire-Type

Held Item:

Rocky Helmet

Nature:

Bold (+ Defense, – Phys. Attack)

Recommended Moveset:

Rage Powder, Spore, Pollen Puff, Protect

Amoonguss continues to be the unlikeliest of powerhouses on the competitive scene, but it still exists on most people’s teams. An Amoonguss with the Regenerator Ability can regain some of its HP when switched out, which is perfect for the latter stages of a battle. However, Amoonguss’ real value comes in its movepool. Protect, Pollen Puff, and Substitute can frustrate opponents, while Clear Smog acts as a focused form of Haze in eliminating a sole target’s stat buffs.

However, Amoonguss thrives on putting foes to sleep with Spore and commanding attention with Rage Powder. Then, if it ever comes up against another Amoonguss, the foe’s Spore and Rage Powder will not affect it, adding to its value in making predictions with switch-ins. The Paradox Pokémon Brute Bonnet also has a place on the competitive scene as an ancient past relative of Amoonguss, with the bonus of having STAB Dark-type moves.

Pokemon Scarlet Violet Temp Poster

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet

Platform(s)
Nintendo Switch

Released
November 18, 2022

Developer(s)
Game Freak

Publisher(s)
The Pokemon Company , Nintendo

Genre(s)
RPG

Multiplayer
Online Multiplayer , Online Co-Op

ESRB
E

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