I’ve worked in the esports industry for more than a decade at this point, and through my many years of making content, I’ve never received more backlash than last week.
No, it wasn’t from TSM League of Legends fans or 100 Thieves VALORANT fans angry at me for criticizing their clubs. It was from Pokémon fans. Yeah, them.
With the introduction of the new Pokémon Scarlet and Violet titles to the mainline series, I thought I’d have a tad bit of fun by making a tier list of all the starters from the various generations. I thought I’d get a few negative comments, but instead, thousands of you analyzed my rankings and chastised me. You bullied me. Fans of Turtwig asked for my home address so they could probably hurt me for my low ranking of their favorite, silly turtle.
And while I will not retract my initial Pokémon starter tier list — Turtwig fans be damned — I will do you one better: I will try to redeem myself in the eyes of the readers by making another tier list. This time, I will rate the starters based solely on their final evolutions.
My world, as always, is final. Let’s get this redemption started.
As with my initial rankings, the first-generation has the nostalgia factor that no other line of Pokémon will have for me. It’s not my fault I am old and still hold onto my youth like it’s the last bastion of water in a dry, desolate desert.
Any-who, all three are going to the pantheon without much deliberation from me. My only wish is that Venusaur got more love due to Blastoise and Charizard obviously being on the cover of the Western editions of Pokémon Blue and Red, respectively.
Venusaur, Blastoise, Charizard: S-tier
OK, I pretty much hate all of these. Typhlosion is cool with me and can hang out with the O.G. starters on occasion, but the other two aren’t allowed anywhere near. Feraligatr has the ferocity of a plastic spork, and Meganium looks like a character in a Pixar ripoff that went straight to video.
Alright, I’m going to be straight up here: Blaziken might be the best starter evolution of the bunch. I have ties with the originals and all, but Blaziken is awesome. I remember as a kid seeing Blaziken for the first time in the anime and knowing that Ash was about to get his ass kicked in the Pokémon League.
While the other two aren’t terrible, like some of the Generation 2 final evolutions, they’re like the two normal-looking friends that are overshadowed by their more popular, more attractive friend.
Overall, a strong showing from the fourth generation. Though my blatant hatred of Turtwig clouds my opinion, its final evolution of Torterra is pretty cool. Again, I think the fire starter is the best of the bunch, with Inferape being awesome and Empoleon not too far behind.
What the hell were they doing in this generation? They all suck. I hate every one of them equally. Snivy was a high rank for me in the initial tier list, but what the hell is this? These make me hurt inside. I had forgotten how much I disliked all of these final evolutions for years and making this tier list brought back memories of disdain.
All of you, go away. I never want to see you again. I want to forget again. Let me forget, please.
Serperior, Emboar, Samurott: D-tier
Thank god, some eye bleach in the form of some actual good Pokémon. Following a disaster of a generation, all of these final evolutions are pretty clever design-wise and stand up with some of the best of all time.
Chespin was one of my most hated Pokémon starters in the original ranking, but his final evolution, Chesnaught, is fantastic in every way. Sometimes you do have to watch who you make fun of growing up — they might turn out to be the coolest of the bunch.
Decidueye is such an incredible design. The archer motif is original and crafted to perfection. Another grass starter going straight to the top.
For the other two, Primarina is terrible and was awful in all of its iterations, while Incineroar is just unoriginal and boring.
Finally, we end with the British region, where we got a James Bond-like spy, a football striker and a drumming gorilla. Although I don’t love any of them, I do give them credit for having some original ideas and executing them pretty well.
Out of the three, I’ll give the edge to Inteleon for being the most unique and having a slick design to go along with an adventurous idea.