The bread and butter of the Pokémon series is types. This rock-paper-scissors battle style is simple enough for newcomers to understand, while deep enough to promote forethought and strategy during matchups. Thanks to the recent release of Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl as well as the upcoming release of Pokémon Legends: Arceus in January, Pokémon type matchups have gone under the microscope again as players prepare their teams for future exploration and competitive play.

Though type advantages have been extremely well balanced in the past few generations of Pokémon, the structure of types begs the question: is there a best type? Types aren’t responsible for all of a Pokémon’s power – stats, moves (and their types!), species, IVs and EVs, level, and evolutionary status make up a more complete picture of any individual Pokémon’s potential – but types are one of the fastest ways to gauge how well a Pokémon will perform against an enemy. Within each type, there are different informal designations: some Grass-type Pokémon might be attackers, while others might be tanks or status inflictors. Taking all of these conditions into account, including each type’s usefulness in a variety of situations and overall ability to sway a battle, here’s what we think is the best Pokémon type.

A quick history of Pokémon types

Before we get into our best type, it’s important to understand where types came from and where they’re going. Pokémon Red and Blue, the very first Pokémon games, contained 15 types: Normal, Fire, Fighting, Water, Flying, Grass, Poison, Electric, Ground, Psychic, Rock, Ice, Bug, Dragon, and Ghost. In this misty past of Generation I, Psychic-types were quite overpowered. They were only weak to Bug-type moves, which were extremely few and far between, and were completely immune to Ghost-type moves. This made it easier to blitz through the game with a strong Psychic-type like Hypno, who, as a pure Psychic-type, didn’t have any real exploitable weaknesses.

To help even things out, Generation II (Pokémon Gold and Silver) introduced two new types: Dark and Steel. Psychic-types were now faced with a hard counter in Dark-types, who could not only hit them with super effective Dark-type moves but were completely immune to Psychic-type moves themselves. Psychic-type moves were also weak against Steel-types, which lowered the powerful type’s attack potential even further. To put the icing on the cake, Ghost-types went from not affecting Psychic-types to being super effective on them, allowing powerful Ghost-type moves like Shadow Ball to take out even the hardiest of Psychic-types.

A similar event happened later on in series history. Dragon-types have always been rare and exclusive within the Pokémon world, often taking the title of “pseudo-legendary”, or a powerful, rare Pokémon that could almost be considered one of the game’s mysterious, one-of-a-kind legendaries. Dragon-types resist all three of the classic starter Pokémon types – Fire, Water, and Grass – which encourages players to build well-rounded teams and not simply rely on their starter. While Dragon-type moves are super effective only on other Dragon-types, these tough fighters’ power is so high that they can wipe out many Pokémon without the added benefit of a type advantage.

Starting in Generation VI (Pokémon X and Y), the brand-new Fairy type was added as a hard counter to this unbroken legacy of powerful Dragon-types. Fairy-types are completely immune to Dragon-type moves, and Fairy-type moves deal double damage to Dragon-types, making them an essential member of players’ teams for tricky Dragon fights. The designation “Fairy” has actually been in Pokémon for a long time: it’s one of the Egg Group categories each Pokémon has. Pokémon can only produce an Egg with another Pokémon of the same species or if they share at least one Egg Group with each other, one of which was Fairy.

Since the introduction of Fairy, there haven’t been any major shake-ups to the way types work in Pokémon, but that’s not a bad thing. It makes sense to keep types and matchups relatively stable so that players always know what to expect in certain battle situations.

Type predispositions

Earlier on, we talked about certain unofficial designations that Pokémon have attained: attacker (which can be split into physical attacker or special attacker), tank (can also be physical tank or special tank), and status inflictor. While these designations aren’t officially named by Game Freak, they do exist and describe how different Pokémon function best in battle. Many types are predisposed to certain designations; while this doesn’t mean that every Pokémon of a certain type fulfills that same role in battle – far from it! – there are more defense-oriented Pokémon in some types than there are in others, for example. (Note that from here on, I’m speaking in very large generalities.)

Fire-, Flying-, Fighting-, Electric-, Psychic-, Ice-, and Dragon-types are generally thought of as attackers. Many of them move fast, hit hard, and take out other Pokémon before they can even blink. Fighting- and Flying-types are usually physical attackers, while Electric-, Psychic-, and Ice-types are usually special attackers. Fire- and Dragon-types can go either way, particularly Dragon-types since they often also have great defense to go with their high attack stats. Pokémon like Blaziken, Charizard, Luxray, Mewtwo, Alakazam, and Garchomp belong in this category, though not all Pokémon of these types are attackers – Goodra and Grumpig are Dragon- and Psychic-type tanks, respectively.

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Some types fall into the defensive or “tank” category. Rock-, Ground-, Steel-, Dark-, and Poison-types typically occupy this category. Tanks are great at taking a lot of hits from other Pokémon, setting up defensive combos like inflicting damaging statuses then hiding behind Protect, and wearing down their opponent over time. The Normal-type Blissey is a classic tank simply because of its incredible defense stats and enormous amount of HP. Even if you hit it with a super effective Fighting-type move, it probably won’t do much other damage. Blissey can also learn a wide variety of healing and defensive moves, enabling it to stay in the fight forever.

Finally, certain types are status inflictors. Grass-, Bug-, and Ghost-types are great for putting enemies to sleep, paralyzing them, or otherwise incapacitating them, making battles much easier. Poison-types also deserve an honorary mention here, as many of their moves inflict the Poison status condition on enemies. While most Grass- and Bug-types aren’t necessarily known for their pure offensive power, their ability to lower enemies’ stats and keep them in the throes of status conditions presents a unique alternative way to conquer the Pokémon League – and your local tournament. Ghost-types are notable here because of moves like Curse, which deal a huge amount of damage over time, and Hex, which deals extra damage to Pokémon with a status condition.

If I didn’t mention a type here, it’s because it has no clear predisposition toward any of the “big three” categories. There are certainly exceptions within each one, but on the whole, you’re more likely to find Pokémon that fit these roles within the listed types. With that in mind, there’s only one question left to answer: what’s the best type?

The best Pokémon type

Based on the information we’ve gone over so far and the versatility of a type’s Pokémon in a variety of situations, I would say that Fairy is the best overall Pokémon type. It’s completely immune to Dragon-types, which gives it immense power over one of the other most powerful types in the series. Its only weaknesses are to Poison and Steel, neither of which is a primarily offensive type and have a lower than average amount of damaging moves. Besides pure Fairy-types like Sylveon, Fairy pairs with just about every other type in the game, meaning that you can balance out its weakness to Poison with a dual Psychic- and Fairy-type like Galarian Rapidash 0r Gardevoir, for example.

With the introduction of Fairy, Game Freak intended to shake things up, and they certainly did. Fairy-types can learn a wide variety of moves, including powerful attacks, stat-raising defensive moves, and self-healing juggernauts, giving them a high amount of versatility across categories and predispositions. While Fairy is a fairly rare type, it’s worth seeking out one of these powerful Pokémon with a secondary typing that suits you in order to protect your team from Dragon-types and boost their well-roundedness. This doesn’t mean that Fairy is perfect; it simply means that in the grand scheme of Pokémon, it’s got the best combination of type advantages and weaknesses, varied roles, and general versatility.

It will be interesting to see whether there will ever be any more new Pokémon types. As the series continues to grow and evolve – pardon the pun – new types could certainly keep things fresh down the road. Experiments have been done with types like Shadow in Pokémon XD and the ??? type that used to belong to the move Curse, but none have ever lasted as long as the standard set of types. Fairy might be the most powerful right now, but sometime in the future, another type may come in and usurp it from its throne. Only time will tell.