While every Pokemon fan has their own favorite Pokemon, few are as popular as starters. The first Pokemon that players have access to, starters grow alongside players on their journeys, always possessing three evolutionary forms. While it's not too common for starter Pokemon to be blatantly bad, its no secret that some are more useful than others.

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Though some starters may have glaring weaknesses, others may have the right stats, typing, and move pool to validate the inclusion on a competitive player's team. So today, we're going to look at the wide array of starters from Pokemon's past, and see which are the most useful in a competitive setting.

Updated by Paul DiSalvo on 6/30/2021: With the upcoming release of Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, many players are wondering which of Sinnoh's starters may be right for them. As all three starters within the Sinnoh region are powerful in their own right, toting quite different stats and utility, different players may want to base their starter selection off of what Torterra, Empoleon, and Infernape are capable of.

When evaluating the competitive viability of a Pokemon, there are many factors that must be accounted for. A key factor when analyzing a Pokemon is its stats, as they factor into how reliably a given Pokemon can use its moves, how potent said moves will be, and how much damage it may sustain before being knocked out. Additionally, while a Pokemon's typing dictates how many weaknesses it has and what moves will allow it to deal STAB damage, a Pokemon's access to certain moves and abilities can make a Pokemon with slightly subpar stats quite useful. Further

16 Torterra

  • HP: 95
  • Attack: 109
  • Defense: 105
  • Sp. Attack: 75
  • Sp. Defense: 85
  • Speed: 56

The only grass/ground Pokemon in the series, Torterra appeared as the grass-type starter in Pokemon Diamond and Pearl. While Torterra’s most glaring downside is its severe X4 weakness to ice, it’s an otherwise bulky Pokemon with a unique typing and interesting move pool, allowing it to fill unique niches in a player’s team. With access to physical offensive moves like Earthquake and Woodhammer as well as Stealth Rock and even Synthesis, Torterra is a sturdy but slow physical attacker.


15 Emboar

emboar pokemon
  • HP: 110
  • Attack: 123
  • Defense: 65
  • Sp. Attack: 100
  • Sp. Defense: 65
  • Speed: 65

A Fire/Fighting starter that made its debut in Pokemon Black and White, Emboar is designed to deal as much damage as possible, even at the expense of its own HP. It boasts a notably high attack stat and the Reckless ability, which boosts the damage of its attacks with recoil damage.

With this ability, Emboar makes great use of moves such as Flare Blitz and Wild Charge. Players using this Pokemon must bear its low speed in mind, to make sure that it can even connect with its high damage output and set up a potential sweep.

14 Venusaur

Pokemon Venusaur
  • HP: 80
  • Attack: 82
  • Defense: 83
  • Sp. Attack: 100
  • Sp. Defense: 100
  • Speed: 80

One of the original three starters from Gen 1, few Grass-types are as iconic as Venusaur. This Pokemon has solid special attack and special defense. However, of the main appeals to using Venusaur is its access to the Chlorophyll ability, which doubles its speed in the sun.

As Venusaur already has a base speed of 80, the ability allows it to access an absurd 160 speed stat. Players can also raise its attack with Growth, dealing absurd damage at high speeds with Solar Beam.

13 Incineroar

Incineroar in the anime
  • HP: 95
  • Attack: 115
  • Defense: 90
  • Sp. Attack: 80
  • Sp. Defense: 90
  • Speed: 60

Incineroar is a flexible Fire/Dark type starter that has access to the ever-useful Intimidate ability. Additionally, its deep move pool allows it to make great use of its high attack.

Gaining STAB (same type attack bonus) from Knock Off and Flare Blitz, Incineroar can cover additional bases with access to great moves like Earthquake. This allows it to reliably deal with a variety of types an opponent may be utilizing.

12 Sceptile

Pokemon Sceptile
  • HP: 70
  • Attack: 110
  • Defense: 75
  • Sp. Attack: 145
  • Sp. Defense: 85
  • Speed: 145

*Mega Sceptile stats shown

While a default Sceptile leaves much to be desired, Mega Sceptile is a phenomenal Pokemon with access to the rare Grass/Dragon typing. This covers for some of its weaknesses, and gives it an extra edge in battle.

With its stellar speed and special attack stats of 145, Mega Sceptile is capable of dealing absurd sums of damage and benefitting from STAB with moves like Dragon Pulse and Leaf storm.

11 Feraligatr

Pokémon Gen 2
  • HP: 85
  • Attack: 105
  • Defense: 100
  • Sp. Attack: 79
  • Sp. Defense: 83
  • Speed: 78

Feraligatr is the epitome of a Pokemon that is simple yet effective. An attack-focused Water-type, Feraligatr has access to the Sheer Force ability, improving the damage of all of its moves at the expense of removing all of their secondary effects.

This means that when using a Feraligatr, the objective is quite simple: deal as much physical damage as possible. When paired with Dragon Dance, which raises its user's attack and speed stats, Feraligater can snowball into a terrifying Sweeper against one’s opponents.

10 Chesnaught

chesnaught pokemon anime
  • HP: 88
  • Attack: 107
  • Defense: 122
  • Sp. Attack: 74
  • Sp. Defense: 75
  • Speed: 64

The Grass-type starter of the sixth generation of Pokemon, Chestnaught is a solid, physically oriented Pokémon that boasts Fighting as its secondary type. While not the fastest Pokémon around, it is capable of taking many physical blows, as well as dishing them out with moves such as Wood Hammer and Drain Punch.

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Chesnaught can notably learn Spikes. This pairs well with its bulk, allowing it to lay down a hazard without getting KO'd instantaneously if a player happens to be prioritizing support over offense.

9 Primarina

primarina pokeon
  • HP: 80
  • Attack: 74
  • Defense: 74
  • Sp. Attack: 126
  • Sp. Defense: 116
  • Speed: 60

Primarina is the Water-type starter of Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon, and currently has the distinction of being the only fairy-type starter Pokémon. Characterized by high special attack and special defense, Primarina can break through physical defenses with ease, using powerful water and fairy-type special attacks.

With access to moves such as Hydro Pump, Moon Blast, and even moves like Blizzard, Energy Ball, and Psychic, Primarina is capable of covering numerous type weaknesses as an offense-based special attacker.

8 Empoleon

empoleon anime pokemon
  • HP: 84
  • Attack: 86
  • Defense: 88
  • Sp. Attack: 111
  • Sp. Defense: 101
  • Speed: 60

An incredibly defensive starter that debuted in Gen 4, Empoleon's distinct Water/Steel typing can make it difficult to deal with. Paired with solid defenses, Empoleon can be rather tricky for an unprepared player to KO.

While somewhat slow, Empoleon has otherwise solid stats with high defense. This allows it to shrug off an opponent’s offense while utilizing a plethora of support moves such as Toxic, Stealth Rock, and even Roar. Between defensive typing and defensive stats, Empoleon is able to sustain several hits as it sets up various hazards for an opponent's team. It is even quite adept at stalling due to its access to defensive moves like Protect that help it stay around longer. When paired with a Leftovers, Empoleon can be a huge nuisance for opponents to deal with.

7 Infernape

Gen 4 Pokémon
  • HP: 76
  • Attack: 104
  • Defense: 71
  • Sp. Attack: 104
  • Sp. Defense: 71
  • Speed: 108

Another Gen 4 starter, Infernape is one of the many Fire/Fighting starters that the series has seen. Due to its high offensive stats and speed, Infernape is capable of serving as a mixed attacker, using both physical and special moves. This can allow a player to flexibly adapt on the fly and use attacks based on a foe's weaknesses.

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Infernape is even capable of learning both Swords Dance and Nasty Plot, allowing it to augment its already good offenses. As if this weren't all impressive enough, Infernape's great move pool allows it to cover a large range of weaknesses.

6 Swampert

swampert pokemon anime
  • HP: 100
  • Attack: 150
  • Defense: 110
  • Sp. Attack: 95
  • Sp. Defense: 110
  • Speed: 70

*Mega Swampert stats shown

First appearing in Pokémon Ruby and Pokémon Sapphire, Swampert is the final evolution of Mudkip. Between solid bulk, a defensive Water/Ground typing, and a high attack stat, Swampert totes both offensive and defensive viability.

Though Swampert is quite solid by default, it becomes a noteworthy addition to any team if it is wielding a mega stone. When this Pokémon mega evolves, it gets an astounding buff its attack stat, also gaining swift swim. This makes it absolutely incredible the rain, delivering devastating Earthquakes and Waterfalls before an opponent can counterattack.

5 Serperior

pokemon serperior anime
  • HP: 75
  • Attack: 75
  • Defense: 95
  • Sp. Attack: 75
  • Sp. Defense: 95
  • Speed: 113

The serpentine Serperior is unquestionably the most useful starter from the fifth generation. A mono-type grass starter, Serperior is a fast Pokémon that has access to the stellar Contrary ability that causes stat gains and nerfs to be reversed.

For example, while the powerful move Leaf Storm normally causes a Pokémon's offense to get worse the more it's used, Serperior uses this move to become even more deadly. As an already fast attacker, Serpior is a deadly sweeper to be on the lookout for.

4 Greninja

Ash Ketchum and his Greninja Pokemon
  • HP: 72
  • Attack: 145
  • Defense: 67
  • Sp. Attack: 153
  • Sp. Defense: 71
  • Speed: 132

*Ash Greninja stats shown

Greninja is the Water starter of Gen 6, and is one of the most blisteringly fast starters in the entire series. As a Water/Dark type, this Pokémon has access to interesting offensive options and can cover a solid amount of weaknesses.

While Greninja's speed and offensive capabilities are already quite good, its stellar alternate form, the "Ash" form provides it with absolutely incredible offensive stats and speed that is difficult to match. As far are water starters go, it's hard to compete with the incredible attack and speed combination that comes with Greninja.

3 Cinderace

tcg card errata energy error
  • HP: 80
  • Attack: 116
  • Defense: 75
  • Sp. Attack: 65
  • Sp. Defense: 75
  • Speed: 119

One of the most recent additions to this list, Cinderace is the Fire-type starter of Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield. Cinderace is a notably quick and potent offensive Pokémon that has access to an incredibly unique move in the form of Pyro Ball, which has a base power of 120.

Additionally, Cinderace's access to the Libero ability allows it to consistently deal extra STAB damage to opponents. As far as the meta of Sword and Shield is concerned, Cinderace is a stellar choice for those looking to use a fire-type in their team.

2 Rillaboom

Pokémon Sword and Shield battle Rillaboom
  • HP: 100
  • Attack: 125
  • Defense: 90
  • Sp. Attack: 60
  • Sp. Defense: 70
  • Speed: 85

Another Gen 8 starter, Rillaboom is the most useful grass-type starter Pokémon in the series. An immensely powerful offensive grass-type, Rillaboom's Grassy Surge ability allows it to create grassy terrain.

This pairs well with its access to the move Grassy Glide. Not only does the Grassy Terrain improve its strength, but also gives it priority in the manner of Quick Attack. This allows Rillaboom to potentially obliterate unsuspecting foes before they can even respond, functioning as a high-powered grass-type sweeper.

1 Blaziken

blaziken anime
  • HP: 80
  • Attack: 160
  • Defense: 80
  • Sp. Attack: 130
  • Sp. Defense: 80
  • Speed: 100

*Mega Blaziken stats shown

No other starter Pokemon has come close to reaching the heights of Blaziken. This powerhouse is doubtlessly the most dangerous starter Pokemon in the series. Blaziken is a stellar mixed attacker with many elements working in its favor.

Having access to the phenomenal Speed Boost ability and high physical and special attack stats, Blaziken is pushed even further over the edge by having an incredible mega evolution. When used in conjunction with Swords Dance, Blaziken has the potential to sweep an unsuspecting opponent's team. While an already powerful Pokemon in its own right, Blaziken's potency becomes absolutely absurd when paired with the Pokemon's Mega Stone.

NEXT: 10 Strongest Pokemon In Diamond & Pearl (Based On Stats)

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