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Top 10 Non-Legendary Original Pokémon (in Modern Battles)

In between "Pokémon" journeys, Jeremy enjoys working as a pharmaceutical chemist and campus manager.

The Strongest Original Pokémon

As iconic as the original Red and Blue Pokémon games were, battling was surprisingly different back then. Special Attack and Special Defense were combined into a single stat, so Special-focused beatsticks (like Starmie and Alakazam) reigned supreme back then. Attacks like Fire Spin and Wrap would prevent foes from counterattacking, held items and abilities didn't yet exist, and so on.

So, as the years pass, which of our classic companions have successfully endured combat's numerous changes? Discounting legendaries (who are often banned in tournaments), these are the ten best original Pokémon in competitive battles!

10. Gyarados

Type: Water/Flying

Gyarados is admittedly a risk since his quad weakness invites one-shots from Electric attacks. However, Electric isn't the most common offensive element, and if you employ Mega Gyarados, his weakness downgrades thanks to a new Water/Dark pairing.

Gyarados wields an impressive 540 stat total, emphasizing Attack and Special Defense. Since most Water moves are special, it an be tricky to make good use of your Water STAB (same-type attack bonus), but moves like Waterfall and Ice Fang offer respectable physical options. Throw in the great Attack-lowering Intimidate ability and some interesting tech options like Roar and Thunder Wave, and you have a surprisingly versatile combatant.

9. Alakazam

Type: Psychic

While Alakazam's base stat total is surprisingly low, it's actually quite impressive, as his low Attack should never come into play—utilize Alakazam as an indirect sweeper with his fierce Special Attack and Speed. In fact, as of this writing, he has the highest non-legendary non-mega Special Attack, can mega evolve, and has sweet coverage with elemental options like Grass's Energy Ball and Fairy's Dazzling Gleam.

Alakazam is admittedly a risk, as his low HP and Defense make him vulnerable to physical attacks, but often the gamble pays off, and you'll eliminate several foes before they can fight back. Plus, Psychic resists common Fighting attacks, giving him a decent chance to endure their blows.

8. Charizard

Type: Fire/Flying

Charizard's Fire/Flying suffers an unfortunate quad weakness to the commonly-seen offensive Rock element, so watch out for those Stealth Rocks and Stone Edges. However, beyond that Achilles heel, it's a strong pairing that negates Fire's weakness to Ground and offers several resistances.

Charizard is a fierce indirect sweeper, wielding impressive Special Attack and Speed, and he's one of few Pokémon to wield two separate mega evolutions. Mega Charizard X shifts to Fire/Dragon and wields brutal Attack as well as the Tough Claws ability, making him a daunting physical warrior, while Mega Charizard Y improves upon Charizard's regular typing/stats while harnessing the excellent weather-inducing Drought ability. Charizard has long been a fan favorite, and since Fire Pokémon keep improving (trumping newer Steel and Fairy types), he's only gotten better with age.

7. Alolan Persian

Type: Dark

We're fudging here, as regular Normal-type Persian didn't gain his Dark Alolan form until generation 7, but he's still technically the same Pokémon. And despite lackluster battle stats, Alolan Persian has seen some success in recent championships.

Like many Dark Pokémon, this feline's a tricky fighter, using the flinch-causing Fake Out to land some damage, then inflicting a bit more and swapping out with Parting Shot. This combo lets you continuously land instant-hit flinches, then swap (if your Speed is high enough) into something sturdier before you can take a hit. Plus, you can boost your resilience with the superb Fur Coat ability, which halves the power of physical moves used against you, or you can increase the damage of "weak" utility moves (power 60 or less) with the Technician trait.

6. Alolan Marowak

Type: Fire/Ghost

Last Alolan cheat, I promise. Marowak is normally a defensive Ground Pokémon who shifts to the unique Fire/Ghost pairing in Alola, offering a great amount of STAB type coverage. His twin types have five weaknesses, but seven resistances and two immunities, fortifying this sturdy combatant.

Marowakwields the exclusive Shadow Bone move, dealing accurate and potent STAB Ghost damage with a chance to lower a foe's Defense, Will-O-Wisp causes auto-burn status effects (and hits all adjacent foes), and Flare Blitz grants a powerful Fire STAB strike. The Lightning Rod ability gives a useful Electric immunity that also draws Electric moves, making Marowak a great partner in multibattles for allies like Gyarados.

5. Raichu

Type: Electric

While Raichu has an interesting Electric/Psychic Alolan form, his regular Electric mode sees the most competitive use, and it's a strong defensive type, only being weak to Ground. This helps him survive blows despite his poor defenses, and to compensate, he has great Speed and competent Attack and Special Attack, letting him switch between attack types as the situation warrants.

In addition to his offensive capabilities, Raichu bears some tricky techniques. Volt Switch deals solid damage and swaps out, letting you land some pain before retreating against a Ground-wielding foe, Nuzzle is an excellent guaranteed-paralyze move that also lands a little damage, and Fake Out is useful as ever. Held items like the Assault Vest can boost Raichu's Special Defense and help him survive, and if you receive a special event Pikachu, the Water move Surf offers nice coverage against Ground, Fire, and Rock Pokémon.

4. Gengar

Type: Ghost/Poison

While it's unfortunate Gengar lost his Levitate ability (which offered a useful immunity to Ground moves), he's still a formidable special sweeper. Cursed Body is a decent alternative ability, potentially disabling damaging moves used on him for four turns. Like Alakazam, Gengar evolves through trading and heavily emphasizes Special Defense and Speed, but he's slightly less frail, giving him a better shot against contact enemies.

Gengar's typing wields more resistances and immunities than it does weaknesses, he's not quad weak to anything, and he can mega evolve. For STAB, use Ghost and Poison moves like Shadow Ball and Sludge Bomb, and to counter Dark foes, try Fighting's Focus Blast (all of which are indirect). Dark Pulse offers a fierce Dark technique that may cause foes to flinch and hits all opponents (and allies) regardless of position in multibattles; use Protect and Detect to defend partners as Gengar strikes.



3. Arcanine

Type: Fire

While Arcanine possesses neither a mega evolution nor an Alolan form, his single Fire element makes him a safer bet than Charizard against Rock, and he bears a great stat total of 555, unusually high for a stone evolution Pokémon. They're well-balanced but slightly favor Attack and Speed, making Arcanine a fierce physical sweeper and good check against Steel Pokémon (who resist several elements).

Like Gyarados, Arcanine may learn the useful Intimidate ability, and his moveset often includes Flare Blitz, Helping Hand, and Roar, letting him swing hard, boost allies, or switch out enemies.

2. Kangaskhan

Type: Normal

If someone uses Kangaskhan, it's nearly always their team's mega evolution thanks to its mega form's excellent Parental Bond ability, which adds a second strike to damaging attacks for an additional 50%. Still used today, this was especially prevalent in the 2016 in world championship, where nearly every roster had a Mega Kangaskhan.

Kangaskhan's stats are well-balanced but favor Attack, and he looks slow but is surprisingly agile, often landing first blood. Fake Out and Double-Edge offer nice STAB moves while Fighting's Drain Punch and Dark's Sucker Punch help with coverage, especially before Sucker Punch's power was cut in generation 7.



1. Snorlax

Type: Normal

A common choice in the 2018 championships (and member of the winning team), Snorlax offers superb power without taking up your mega evolution slot. He's ridiculously slow, but this lets him allocate stat points in other areas, granting great Attack, Special Defense, and HP. He also enjoys useful abilities ranging from early-berry usage with Gluttony to Fire and Ice resistance with Thick Fat.

Competitive Snorlaxes can take different routes, from using the Belly Drum/Recycle/Gluttony combo to Rest/Sleep Talk to type coverage with Fighting's Superpower or Ground's High Horsepower. Throw in a last resort option with Self--Destruct, and you've got an excellent tank who hits back just as well as he absorbs damage. Ash's Snorlax also remains one of the strongest non-legendaries in the anime, a fitting testament to this lazy yet fierce bear Pokémon.

More of the Best Original Pokémon

With over 100 awesome original units, many of which have received mega evolutions, alternate abilities, or simply stat increases to stay relevant, Nintendo has done a superb job introducing new creatures while paying tribute to old, giving both new trainers and veteran masters a slew of powerful monsters to choose from.

Classics like Chansey, Electabuzz, and Magmar also later received non-mega evolutions that boosted their viability and are worth exploring, but for now, as we eagerly await Game Freak's next batch of collectable monsters, vote for your favorite original creature and I'll see you at our next Pokémon countdown!

© 2018 Jeremy Gill