By eco_politiq with assistance from 2180161
What’s that? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No- it’s a Flying-Type Pokemon! Flying is one of the most common (and useful) types in the game. With 56 fully evolved Pokemon sporting this type, it is the third most common typing after Water and Normal. With this expansive pool comes significant diversity as well: flying is the only type to have been paired with every single other type at least once. This makes it a potent type in the metagame for its diversity.
The flying type is a fairly balanced type, having only 3 weaknesses, an immunity, and having an offensive effectiveness of *2 against 3 types. The type was introduced in Generation I, with the release of Red and Green/Blue. It is one of the first types you encounter in every Pokemon game–who can forget the first time they ran across a Pidgey, Hoot-Hoot, Tailow, Staravia, Pidove, Fletchling, or Pikipek? Many flying types can run offensive or supportive roles, such as sweeping and cleaning up late-game, or being used to wall or defog. While it has options, it is plagued by a few common weaknesses, namely stealth rock, which can severely limit the longevity of many flying types.
By the Numbers
# of Pokemon with this type: 93
# of Fully Evolved Pokemon: 56
# of Mega Pokemon: 5
2x super effective against: Grass, Bug, Fighting
Effective against: Normal, Fire, Water, Fairy, Flying, Ghost, Dark, Dragon, Poison, Ice, Ground, Psychic
2x resisted by: Electric, Rock, Steel,
Ineffective against: None
2x weak against: Ice, Rock, Electric
Damaged normally by: Dragon, Fairy, Steel, Dark, Ghost, Water, Fire, Poison, Flying, Normal, Psychic
2x resistant to: Bug, Fighting, Grass
Immune to: Ground
- Mega Salamence
- Landorus (Both Forms)
- Mega Pinsir
- Mega Charizard Y
- Mega Aerodactyl
Physical- Brave Bird, Acrobatics, Aerial Ace, Wing Attack
Special- Hurricane, Air Slash
Status- Defog, Tailwind, Roost
Type in OU
Flying is an excellent defensive type that offers key resistances to Fighting, Grass, and Bug and an immunity to Ground. Being able to switch in and thwart your opponent’s Earthquake is invaluable in OU. The diversity of flying types means that a number of different ones fit easily into many playstyles.
Celesteela is without a doubt the most useful and annoying Flying type introduced in Sun-Moon. This Ultra Beast boasts incredible 97-103-101 bulk, making it both more physically and specially bulky than Skarmory. On top of that, 101 Attack and 107 Special Attack mean it is no slouch offensively, either, and allows it to make efficient use of a small, yet diverse, movepool. Being the only non-grass type to learn Leech Seed is a boon, too. Simply put, Celesteela is the ultimate defensive Flying Pokemon. It seems possible that Smogon will eventually give Celesteela the ban hammer due to its ability to fit effortlessly onto many different teams.
Like previous generations, Landorus-Therian maintains a strong presence in the OU ladder. It has a good defensive typing that leaves it weak only to Ice and Water. With well-rounded stats and Intimidate, it has the option to run either offensive or defensive sets effectively. Landorus is commonly seen as a stealth rock setter and defensive pivot on balanced teams, but a scarfed version is also common on more offensively inclined teams.
Mega Pinsir is also back and just as threatening as ever. While it has pretty much the worst defensive typing imaginable, Flying/Bug typing does give it opportunities to switch in and take advantage of Grass, Fighting, and Ground types. Its ability Aerilate sets it apart by turning its Normal type moves into Flying type ones; this means that it can wallop opponents with boosted Returns and pick off weakened foes with very strong Quick Attacks. A typical Mega Pinsir set will run these two moves along with Swords Dance and either Close Combat or Earthquake, depending on necessary coverage.
While Celesteela may be the shiny new Steel/Flying toy this generation, Skarmory still finds considerable use due to its niche in providing more overall utility than Celesteela. Access to Stealth Rock, Spikes, Whirlwind, and Defog make Skarmory a potent controller of entry hazards on both sides of the field. While a specially defensive set can be used, physically defensive sets are more common and useful.
Zapdos is again seeing a return to OU due to its ability to take on both physically and specially defensive roles. It has a great defensive typing, leaving it weak only to Rock and Ice, which are both very rare as STAB in OU; thus, Zapdos can usually tank one or two super effective coverage moves of either type in order to Defog. While its movepool is quite limited, especially considering it lacks a decent Flying STAB, access to Thunderbolt and Hidden Power Ice allow it to perform a makeshift BoltBeam combo. Volt Switch makes it a great pivot, while Heat Wave provides additional coverage.
While not technically new, Pelipper and Mantine both received important buffs that have made them OU worthy this generation. An increase in its base Special Attack (85 to 95) and newfound access to Drizzle make Pelipper a utility mon worth having around. It serves as an excellent pivot, being able to eat up Ground, Fighting, Water, and Fire attacks all day. Low speed and U-Turn make it possible to bring in rain sweepers like Kingdra and Kabutops safely. Mantine, on the other hand, benefits from a buff to its HP stat and newfound access to Roost, meaning it finally has reliable recovery. This finally allows Mantine to be on par with its Generation II counterpart Skarmory.
Gyarados, Dragonite, Salamence, and Tornadus–all once powerful contenders in OU–were initially UU this generation; however, UU moderators deemed them uncompetitive and banned them all to BL. Not much has changed for any of these mons: each is still able to run diverse sets that let them fit effectively on either offense or balance teams.
Mega Aerodactyl deserves a mention here, in spite of the fact that it remains in UU. This is because Mega Aerodactyl has unmatched power and speed, making it a worthwhile contender in the OU metagame for hyper offense teams. It remains hindered by the fact that it has, at best, a base 60 Flying type physical STAB, although Tough Claws provides a buff to both Wing Attack and Aerial Ace. The loss of Hone Claws as a TM move this generation has surely hurt its viability since a Sub-Claws set can now only be run from Generation VI transfer.
Finally, Thundurus is also worth mentioning. Once a powerful staple of OU teams, Thundurus is another victim of the intergenerational power creep. It has not yet been banned by Smogon’s UU moderators and is cementing itself as a powerful threat in that metagame. It also occassionally sees some use on OU, especially on rain teams where its star move Thunder really has an opportunity to shine.
Type in Mono
Flying is an excellent type to use in the Monotype metagame due to its diversity. Flying is the only type to have been paired with every single other type at least once. This means that when using flying, it is possible to use various combinations of offensive and defensive cores based on the types you find most useful.
In monotype, Flying types typically run either bulky offense or balanced. Hyper offense and stall playstyles are certainly viable, but they fail to make efficient use of some of Flying’s most favorable assets, specifically its nature as a good defensive typing. Most Flying teams in monotype consist of the Pokemon popular in OU: Celesteela, Mega Charizard Y, Skarmory, Landorus, Staraptor, Gyarados, Mega Pinsir, Mantine, Zapdos, Pelipper, and Thundurus all see considerable usage on Flying teams this generation. Because of Flying’s natural diversity, it is hardly ever worthwhile to make use of lower-tiered flying types like Dodrio, Fearow, or Swellow.
As with OU and Monotype, Flying has cemented itself as a top contender in the Ubers Metagame. Here, it benefits from the allowance of several incredibly powerful Pokemon.
Many people consider Mega Salamence to be the most broken Pokemon ever created, and I cannot disagree with this analysis. Take a look at its base statistics:
Sp. Attack: 120
Sp. Defense: 90
… absolutely ridiculous. Many people were quite pleased when it received a Quickban in Generation VI and similarly happy when Smogon maintained that ban for Generation VII. Especially when coupled with Intimidate to come in and simulate even greater physical bulk before Mega evolving, Mega Mence is very difficult to take down. Aerilate lets it slam opponents with Double Edge or Return, while good special attack allows it to run Fire Blast as coverage, too. Mega Salamence is undoubtedly a major contender in the Ubers metagame.
The other major Dragon/Flying contender in Ubers, Rayquaza has a wide movepool and great stats that make it a versatile offensive threat. On the special side, access to Energy Ball, Surf, Ice Beam, Flamethrower, and Thunderbolt give it great elemental coverage, and Draco Meteor provides a hard-hitting nuke against many opponents. It also has comparable offenses on the physical side, meaning it can run very strong Outrages. Extreme Speed permits it to act as a revenge killer against many weakened mons, giving it an irreplaceable niche in the Ubers metagame. Unfortunately, Mega Rayquaza is the only Pokemon so ridiculous as to be banned from Ubers, so its Mega Evolution sees no usage in standard play.
Lugia and Ho-Oh, the two “box legends” of Generation II, are also top contenders in the Ubers Metagame. Ho-Oh sees more usage than Lugia due to its superior offensive typing and access to Regenerator, but both can be formidable forces once they get momentum behind them.
Tips and Tricks
Not to be a broken record, but as stated multiple times in this post Flying is the single most diverse type in the Metagame. When team building mono Flying or even when using multiple Flying types on a standard team, defensive synergy should be considered. Many Flying Types such as Tropius and Delibird are simply unviable, and regardless of their ability to form type cores should not be used.
One important thing to note when using Flying types is their unavoidable weakness to Stealth Rock. Even Pokemon like Gliscor and Skarmory have at best a neutrality to this hazard; Mandibuzz and Mantine, now the most common Flying-type defoggers due to their ability to access the move in Generation VII, both take 25% damage when switching in. Thus, hazard control is absolutely essential.
Finally, when working with Flying types, it is a good idea to have something to eat Electric, Ice, and Rock type attacks. Excadrill is a good example of a partner for Flying types, since it is immune to electric, 4x resists rock, and can KO many ice types with Iron Head.
Flying types have changed very little in the generational change, gaining Celesteela as a top contender but adding buffs to once overlooked Pokemon like Pelipper and Mantine. Most of the strong flying types function the same as they have in the past, meaning they remain quite predictable. Still, the overall diversity of this type means that when facing Flying, one is rarely sure of what they will be up against. This is certainly an asset for the savvy player who wants to use Flying.