Best Pokemon in Pokemon Go: Attackers & defenders for Gyms, Raids & PvP battles - Dexerto

Best Pokemon in Pokemon Go: Attackers & defenders for Gyms, Raids & PvP battles

Published: 24/Sep/2021 16:25 Updated: 6/Oct/2021 16:06

by Daniel Megarry


The hunt for the best Pokemon in Pokemon Go is always on for Trainers, with different attacker and defender recommendations for gyms, raids, and PvP battles in the League.

Niantic’s free-to-play mobile app Pokemon Go launched in 2016 and quickly became a worldwide phenomenon. While it’s not as popular as it once was, there’s still a loyal base of players who drop in every day to get their fix.

The game may seem simple enough at first glance, as you walk around the real world and catch various ‘mon to fill up your Pokedex, but there’s actually plenty of depth hidden beneath the surface for those who want to find it.


Nowhere does that show more than when heading into battle. With events such as the Season of Mischief and weekly Spotlight Hours offering chances to catch and power up some of the best Pokemon, it’s crucial to know your stuff.


Pokemon Go
Trainers should think carefully about the Pokemon they send into raids and gyms.

Best Pokemon in Pokemon Go

While the below Pokemon are all solid choices, the basics still remain: You’ll need to make sure your Pokemon has decent Attack, Defense, and Stamina IV stats by getting it appraised. Make sure to also spend time powering it up for maximum potential before letting it loose on the world.

Here are our picks of the best based on everything from stats, max CP potential, weaknesses, our own experiences with the game, and how well they’ll actually perform in battle.


Best attackers

Historically, Dragon-type Pokemon have been prioritized as the best attackers, and that remains the same to this day. There are plenty of them here, from Rayquaza to Dragonite, as well as some Legendaries including Mewtwo and Reshiram.

3: Rayquaza

Rayquaza Pokemon
The Pokemon Company / Bulbapedia
Rayquaza is a formidable addition to any Pokemon Go raid and battle team.
  • Fast Move: Dragon Tail
  • Charge Move: Outrage

As far as Dragons go, you won’t get much better than Rayquaza. Dragon-type moves are rarely resisted, making it a great all-around attacker with Dragon Tail and Outrage.

The ‘mon can also be utilized as a great Flying-type attacker if needed, thanks to its dual typing.

2: Deoxys

Deoxys Pokemon
The Pokemon Company
Sometimes speed is the key to victory.
  • Fast Move: Zen Headbutt
  • Charge Move: Hyper Beam

While its Defense and Stamina are very poor, this incredibly rare Mythical earns its place on the list for having the highest Attack stats of any creature in the game.


This sits at an impeccable 345 in its Normal Forme, and an astonishing 414 in its Attack Forme. The moves Zen Headbutt and Hyper Beam reign supreme.

1: Mewtwo

The Pokemon Company
Mewtwo is the most iconic Psychic-type Pokemon ever.
  • Fast Move: Confusion
  • Charge Move: Psystrike

As expected, the OG Legendary creature Mewtwo remains the best choice for attackers in Pokemon Go.

Using a combination of legacy moves Confusion and Psystrike, it’s a powerhouse, especially with a CP that reaches over 4,000. Get a Shadow Mewtwo, and it will deal 20% more damage.

Pokemon Go attackers list in 2021

Our top 10 picks for the best attackers alongside their best moves and type advantages in Pokemon Go are as follows:

Rank Pokemon
Fast Move Charge Move Strong Against
#1 Mewtwo Pokemon Go Mewtwo Attacker Confusion Psystrike Fighting / Poison
#2 Deoxys Deoxys Zen Headbutt Hyperbeam Fighting / Poison
#3 Rayquaza Rayquaza Dragon Tail Outrage  Bug / Dragon / Fighting / Grass
#4 Garchomp Garchomp Dragon Tail Outrage Dragon / Electric / Fire / Poison / Rock / Steel
#5 Machamp Machamp Counter Dynamic Punch Dark / Ice / Normal / Rock / Steel
#6 Reshiram Reshiram Pokemon Go attacker Fire Fang Overheat Bug  / Dragon / Grass / Steel / Ice
#7 Kyogre Kyogre Waterfall Hydro Pump Fire / Ground / Rock
#8 Lucario Lucario Counter Aura Sphere Dark / Fairy / Ice / Normal / Rock / Steel
#9 Rampardos Rampardos Pokemon Go attacker Smack Down Rock Slide Bug  / Fire / Flying / Ice
#10 Dragonite Dragonite Dragon Tail Draco Meteor Bug / Dragon / Fighting / Grass

As always, you’ll want to take typing into consideration. The Legendary Water-type Kyogre may feature on our list, for example, but it will always be impacted when going against a strong Electric-type or Grass-type opponent.


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Best defenders in Pokemon Go

If you want a Pokemon to leave at a gym in order to earn your daily coins, or you need a bulky option to send out first in battle and wear your opponents down, then get one of these defenders on your team.

Ultimately, you’ll be looking for a good combination of Defense and Stamina, the latter of which decides how much HP it has and how long it will be able to stay in a gym before needing to rest.

3: Metagross

Metagross Pokemon Go
The Pokemon Company / Bulbapedia
Metagross is super popular as a gym defender.
  • Fast Move: Zen Headbutt
  • Charge Move: Meteor Mash

The Steel/Psychic-type Metagross will do a brilliant job of defending gyms from Fighting-type attackers. It has great stats and a whopping 10 type resistances. With the charge move Meteor Mash under its belt, it will also deal some serious damage, extending its use beyond just being a defender.


2: Slaking

Slaking Pokemon Go Most CP
The Pokemon Company / Pokemon Fandom
Interestingly, Slaking has the highest CP of all currently available Pokemon Go.
  • Fast Move: Yawn
  • Charge Move: Play Rough

Sitting at number two of our top three is another Normal-type, Slaking. It has the highest max CP in the game with the potential to reach a whopping 5010 CP.

Its Defense stat may not be as good as Blissey or Snorlax, but its high CP, Stamina, and Attack stats should help ward off potential attackers.

1: Blissey

Blissey Pokemon anime
The Pokemon Company
This cute Normal-type can defend from the best of the best with insanely high stamina.
  • Fast Move: Zen Headbutt
  • Charge Move: Dazzling Gleam

As far as best defenders go, Blissey remains the best choice in Pokemon Go for any trainer. It has a ridiculous amount of Stamina (496) and a decent Defense stat (169), making it the perfect ‘mon to leave in gyms as it will simply sponge damage.

However, one downside to Blissey is that you’ll likely struggle to find much use for it outside of this scenario.

Pokemon Go defenders tier list in 2021

Our full list of our top 9 picks for the best defenders in Pokemon Go are as follows:

Rank Pokemon
Fast Move Charge Move Strong Against
#1 Blissey Blissey Pokemon Go defender Zen Headbutt Dazzling Gleam N/A
#2 Slaking Slaking Yawn Play Rough N/A
#3 Metagross Metagross Zen Headbutt Meteor Mash Fairy / Fighting / Ice / Poison / Rock
#4 Chansey Chansey Zen Headbutt Dazzling Gleam N/A
#5 Snorlax Snorlax Zen Headbutt Outrage N/A
#6 Milotic Milotic Waterfall Hyper Beam Fire / Ground / Rock
#7 Dragonite Dragonite Pokemon Go defender Dragon Tail Outrage Bug / Dragon / Fighting / Grass
#8 Togekiss Togekiss Charm Dazzling Gleam Bug  / Fighting / Dark / Dragon / Grass
#9 Gyarados Gyarados Waterfall Outrage Bug /Fighting / Fire / Grass/ Ground / Rock

Unlike many of the best Pokemon Go attackers we featured, the best defenders often aren’t Legendary. This means you should find it easier to catch one with decent stats and level them up to a high CP.

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Best Pokemon for PvP (Go Battle League)

There are three major Leagues to enjoy in the Pokemon Go Battle League: the Great League, the Ultra League, and the Master League. These rotate throughout each season, with only one appearing at a time, often alongside special cups like the Retro Cup or the Kanto Cup.

Each league has different restrictions, the main one being the CP limit. The Great League has a 1500 CP limit, the Ultra League has a 2500 CP limit, and the Master League has no limit. This means the best Pokemon for each League can be wildly different.

Great League

With a CP limit of just 1500, you won’t encounter many Legendaries in the Great League meta. You can find our complete Great League guide here, or check out our top three recommendations below.



  • Fast Move: Bubble
  • Charged Moves: Hydro Pump and Ice Beam

Azumarill has long been considered one of the best Great League contenders thanks to its impressive bulk and a diverse moveset that can help balance out its weaknesses. It’s an expensive beast to power up, but it’s more than worth it if you can afford it.

Galarian Stunfisk

Galarian Stunfisk

  • Fast Move: Mud Shot
  • Charged Moves: Rock Slide and Earthquake

Galarian Stunfisk isn’t the easiest Pokemon to get hold of, but if you can, it proves itself to be a surprisingly excellent fighter in the Great League. A unique Ground/Steel-typing means it’s resistant to most major Great League types, and is particularly good at defeating Fairy-types.



  • Fast Move: Dragon Breath
  • Charged Moves: Sky Attack and Dragon Pulse

It takes a massive 400 Candy to evolve Swablu into Altaria, but it’s definitely worth the effort, as it’s got bulk and impressive damage capability. Altaria’s only major flaw here is its double weakness to Ice-type attacks, but other than that, it’s very difficult to take down.

Ultra League

With a higher CP limit of 2500, the Ultra League is where the big players start to emerge, and Legendaries are now more common – as long as they remain below the limit. See our best recommendations below.



  • Fast Move: Lock-On
  • Charge Moves: Flash Cannon and Hyper Beam

The Steel-type Legendary is arguably the best choice for the Ultra League, as it has an incredible Defense stat and an insane amount of type resistances, so it can take loads of hits. Meanwhile, Lock-On has one of the fastest energy generations in the game, allowing Registeel to unleash some major Charge Moves.


Abomasnow Pokemon

  • Fast Move: Powder Snow
  • Charge Moves: Weather Ball (Ice) and Energy Ball

Abomasnow is one of the best performers in the Ultra League, thanks to its ability to take down some of the biggest threats like Swampert, Togekiss, and Giratina (Altered Forme). It does have a lot of weaknesses, but it makes up for that with great bulk and plenty of powerful moves that can be spammed.



  • Fast Move: Mud Shot
  • Charge Moves: Hydro Cannon and Earthquake

Swampert is a well-rounded fighter that acts as a brilliant counter for the Fire and Steel-types that dominate the Ultra League. Even better, its Water/Ground-typing means it only has one weakness, Grass. With the moves Hydro Cannon and Earthquake, it’s unstoppable.

Master League

In the Master League, all CP restrictions are removed, meaning you’ll need the help of XL Candy to win. We’ve got a more in-depth Master League guide here, or you can find our top recommendations below.



  • Fast Move: Dragon Breath
  • Charge Moves: Iron Head and Draco Meteor

Dialga is considered by many to be the reigning champion of the Master League, and it’s not hard to see why. It has an incredible amount of type resistances and a lineup of very powerful moves including Dragon Breath, Iron Head, and Draco Meteor that make it a force to be reckoned with.


Lugia Pokemon Go

  • Fast Move: Dragon Tail
  • Charge Moves: Sky Attack and Aeroblast

The Legendary Lugia is incredibly bulky and has some great moves, making it one of the top contenders in Pokemon Go’s Master League, especially if it has Sky Attack under its belt. Lugia is great as a counter to Kyogre, Groudon, Dragonite, and Togekiss, too.


Pokemon Go melmetal

  • Fast Move: Dragon Breath
  • Charge Moves: Wild Charge and Crunch

Melmetal is the most desirable Mythical creature in Pokemon Go thanks to its performance in the Master League. With great bulk, high damage output, and a massive amount of type resistances, it’s incredibly difficult to take down. Any Master League team will benefit from a Melmetal.

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That’s everything you need to know about the best attackers, defenders, and PvP champions in Pokemon Go. Want to be the very best as you try to catch ’em all? Check out these other cool guides:

How to get Best Buddy status | Current Raid Bosses | Best ‘mon in Go: Attackers and defenders | Pokemon Go Spotlight Hour | Arlo counters guide | Cliff counters guide | How to get free Remote Raid Passes | Sierra counters guide | How to catch Ditto | Shop: Items list, prices, box changes | IV and CP explained | Type chart: Strengths and weaknessesField research rewards and tasks | How to get Pinap BerriesList of free promo codes