The Best Pokemon From Unova For Competitive Play


amoonguss hydreigon excadrill unova pokemon good competitive battling

After some initial backlash during its lifespan, Generation Five has become one of the Pokemon community’s favorite generations, and Unova one of its favorite regions. The Pokemon it has produced have grown to be well-loved due to both their underrated designs and relative strength.

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Speaking of which, in terms of Pokemon in the competitive space, Generation Five has a chokehold on the game. In fact, Unova has so many good competitive Pokemon that Cobalion, Darmanitan, Haxorus, Krookodile, Scolipede, and Seismitoad have to be mentioned as honorable mentions that just missed the cut. The fifteen below that managed to make it consists of many heavy-hitters, unmovable objects, and matchup nightmares.

This list will not include Pokemon banned to Ubers or regional variants of Unova Pokemon.


15 Conkeldurr

What might be the best Guts wallbreaker in the game deserves its flowers. Conkeldurr has sufficiently utilized its super high Attack stat to dominate whatever tier it enters.

Being a Fighting-type certainly helps, as it’s completely juiced out the orange that is the Fighting-type physical movepool. Mach Punch is an especially important move in its arsenal to circumvent its lack of Speed, with Drain Punch and Close Combat as STAB alternatives, and Facade as a Guts go-to for brute force damage. Its subpar Special Defense is its biggest weakness, especially considering how specially potent its type weaknesses are (Fairy, Psychic).

14 Amoonguss

Long before its namesake became a meme, Amoonguss came onto the scene as a solid defensive Pokemon with excellent supportive abilities. Its rare access to Spore still makes it quite a desirable team member, with its ability to easily check Water-types being gravy.

Despite having mediocre defensive stats on paper, its high HP has made it a great defensive pivot, not to mention its options for longevity such as Synthesis. Its offensive power isn’t spectacular, but moves like Giga Drain and Foul Play tend to be useful on the right opponents.

13 Keldeo

Not enough has been said about Water/Fighting as an excellent offensive typing, and Keldeo molded its competitive prototype long before Rapid Strike Style Urshifu took off with it. Its makeup of 129 Special Attack and a movepool that includes a rare, competitively viable, special Fighting-type move remains dangerous to this day.

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In particular, the deadly attacking combo of Secret Sword and either Hydro Pump or Scald is best paired with either Calm Mind for set-up and/or solid coverage moves like Icy Wind or Air Slash. Either way, though, its somewhat mediocre Speed needs to be worked around.

12 Hydreigon

It’s distinctly more high-maintenance than other pseudo-Legendaries, but when given the right teammates and put in the right situation, Hydreigon can be just as dangerous as Dragonite, Garchomp, or Dragapult.

Not only does it pack some heat at 125 Special Attack, but it’s also quite versatile, both in terms of movepool and viable movesets. Its Nasty Plot set-up set and Choice item high-coverage sets have seen equal use, and speaking of coverage, you can find moves like Flamethrower, Earth Power, and Surf in its arsenal. Of course, considering its Dark/Dragon-typing, the almighty Fairy-types are most cruel to Hydreigon.

11 Excadrill

Excadrill has seen better days, but even in Generation Eight, it’s an excellent physical attacker. It sets a high standard for offensive Ground-types, boasting an unusually strong 135 Attack stat and several solid abilities.

That said, its best build is with the Sand Rush ability, turning what’s otherwise a high-maintenance attacker with a mediocre Speed stat into a blazing fast and dangerous sweeper. Earthquake and Iron Head deal big damage, with Rock Slide and Poison Jab providing solid coverage, and Stealth Rock and Rapid Spin useful support.

10 Mandibuzz

Few Pokemon are as tailor-made to be a defensive juggernaut as Mandibuzz, from the typing, to the stats, to the multiple defensive abilities. Fairy-type Pokemon seem to be its only true weakness, being the only type that packs enough special power.

Offensively, it’s not asked to do much in terms of pure damage, but it’s got a great utility toolbox. Knock Out is a solid enough STAB move with great functionality, and Foul Play can catch opponents gullible enough to keep a physical threat on the field. Its best asset move-wise is Defog, making it an excellent, prototypical support Pokemon.

9 Thundurus – Incarnate & Therian

Both of Thundurus’ formes find themselves in the weird position of being too powerful for some games, but too weak for others. It’s a tough place to be, but just looking at Thundurus in a vacuum, it’s a powerful special attacker in its own right.

Therian Forme is a stronger pure attacker with its 145 Special Attack, but Incarnate Forme is generally more battle-ready with its more balanced stats (in particular, adding to its Speed stat). Either way, both formes suffer from their inability to check Ground-types and a bizarre lack of viable STAB Flying-type moves.

8 Terrakion

Offensively astute Rock-types are a rare breed, but the Sword of Justice with the highest Attack stat breaks that mold. Rock-types are inherently at a disadvantage since their strongest viable STAB move is an 80% accurate crapshoot, but Terrakion is equipped in other areas to make up for it.

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For one, it’s also a Fighting-type, giving it tons more offensive potential than your regular Rhyperior or Aggron. Its STAB Close Combat packs some heat, and coverage moves like Earthquake and Megahorn complement it. Unfortunately, despite solid defensive stats, it’s quite vulnerable on that end thanks to its seven weaknesses.

7 Mienshao

Mienshao’s unique build has given it quite a bit of staying power in higher tiers since its debut generation. It’s far from your stereotypical pure Fighting-type, as it has so many more tools in its toolbox than others of that categorization.

It’s a rare offensive Pokemon with the Regenerator ability, and that’s given it some usage as a utility pivot, with moves like U-Turn and Knock Off in its sets. Purely on the attacking side, it’s decently fast and powerful statistically, with high-powered Fighting-type moves as its main source of offense and Poison Jab as a solid coverage move.

6 Victini

Despite having the same 100-across-the-board stats as other pixie Mythicals, Victini might have the most pure offensive potential of that bunch, thanks to hailing two strong offensive types and an extensive list of attacks in its movepool.

Chief among those attacks, of course, is V-create, packing a mind-bending 180 base power of sterling Fire-type offense. To play its role of wallbreaker best, teambuilders are counted on to give the Fire/Psychic-type the right set of coverage moves depending on what’s needed. It can pack both high-powered physical and special moves, though Zekrom’s signature Bolt Strike stands out as especially strong.

5 Bisharp

The poster child of stats not telling the whole story, Bisharp has carved out a career as an elite offensive Pokemon despite mostly mediocre stats and a particular lack of Speed. Call it happenstance if you will, but it’s how its typing has determined matchups against the meta’s strongest that makes it so viable.

Despite other STAB moves like Iron Head and Knock Off being stronger on paper, Sucker Punch is its primary weapon, relying on priority to circumvent the Speed discrepancy. Its raw 125 Attack isn’t otherworldly, though, so have either Swords Dance or a Choice Band prepared.

4 Tornadus-Therian

Tornadus in its Therian Forme is a unique mix of high, offense-oriented stats on an otherwise defensive build. Its pure Flying-typing and Regenerator ability give it tons of defensive potential, but its best stats are its 110 Special Attack and 121 Speed.

It fits snugly into the offensive pivot role, using its defensive makeup to switch safely into most matchups and its offensive strength to threaten opponents off the field. Its STAB Hurricane deals significant damage, U-Turn allows it to keep momentum on your end, and Knock Off, Defog, and Taunt are excellent support moves to have alongside.

3 Volcarona

Volcarona’s sometimes-mistaken identity as a pseudo-Legendary doesn’t just come from its extensive lore, but also its battling build, which has given it the reputation as one of the strongest offensive Pokemon of its generation.

Its 135 Special Attack and Quiver Dance incite fear from most opposing teams. Once set-up, it carries out its offensive onslaughts with a wide array of strong attacking moves, including Bug Buzz, a Fire-type attack of choice, and excellent coverage in Psychic and Giga Drain. As a bonus, it’s a rare non-Flying-type with access to Roost.

2 Ferrothorn

Ferrothorn’s build is so unorthodox and revolutionary, making it a no-brainer for one of the best, if not the best, defensive Pokemon of all time. It milks out every bit of defensive potential from that Grass/Steel-typing, with the help of its S-tier defensive stats.

While it’s not a potent attacker, it can be an offensive pest with its utility movepool. It’s a chip damage machine with moves like Stealth Rock, Spikes, and Leech Seed, and its exclusive Iron Barbs ability (occasionally compounded with a Rocky Helmet). It’s consistently used all that to pester and apply tons of pressure to opposing teams.

1 Landorus-Therian

By all accounts, Lando-T is a competitive battling Hall of Famer, as it’s known to appear on around 50% of competitive teams across most formats. It’s a bit more notorious in VGC circles, but it’s just as useful in the Singles meta.

It’s as popular as it is because of its sheer versatility. Aside from your typical STAB Earthquake, you never know exactly what moveset an opposing Lando is coming with. It could play a defensive utility player with Stealth Rock, Knock Off, and U-Turn, or an offensive juggernaut with Substitute, Stealth Rock, and coverage moves.

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