All-Rounders have always been a little weird in Pokemon Unite. Every other class has a clear identity: Attackers attack, Defenders defend, Supporters support, and Speedsters are fast. All-Rounders…all-round? It seems to be a category for fighters that don’t fit nicely into the other categories, but more often than not they’re just weaker versions of Attackers and Speedsters with thicker bodies. Rather than offer a flexible pick, All-Rounders are too often jacks of all trades, but masters of none. Until Dragonite joined the roster this week, it seemed like that was never going to change.
The worst example of an All-Rounder with an identity crisis is definitely Charizard. Charizard started out as the bottom All-Rounder choice, but through various balance changes has gotten a lot better. Still, Charizard is an average Attacker, Defender, and Speedster rolled into one. Garchomp also suffers for trying to fill multiple roles, but I think of Garchomp as more of an underpowered Speedster than anything else. The same could be said for Lucario. All three Pokemon are fine choices, but there are other fighters that do what they do better.
The most popular, best-performing All-Rounders don’t try to do everything. Fighters like Machamp and Tsareena fit better into the bruiser/brawler category than All-Rounder thanks to their ability to hold the frontline and deal impressive burst damage. They feel like an important counterpart to the ADC-style ranged Attackers and have a clearer role both while laning and in team fights. These two feel like they belong in a separate Bruiser category rather than the catch-all All-Rounder category. I was starting to think we’d never see a fighter that could actually fulfill the All-Rounder roll as it's described, but then Dragonite swooped in yesterday and proved me wrong.
Dragonite is Unite’s first ranged All-Rounder, and the closest thing we have to a true all-around character. Depending on the build you make, Dragonite can either play like an ADC, a melee bruiser, a Speedster, or a Defender. And while, like Charizard, some of the things it can do are done better by other Pokemon, Dragonite has a unique playstyle and team synergy that actually makes it a worthwhile pick for any team comp.
Damage is still king in Unite, meaning Dragonite’s most powerful build is the one that plays like a carry. Both Dratini and Dragonair are devastatingly underpowered, but once you evolve into Dragonite at level eight and unlock both Dragon Dance and Hyper Beam, Dragonite becomes an incredibly powerful Attacker that can still defend well thanks to its large health pool and passive Multiscale ability, which grants damage reduction. Dragonite doesn’t quite have the range that Attackers like Pikachu and Decidueye have, but its mobility and defense stats allow it to stay in fights longer and play more aggressively. Dragonite’s Attacker build is just as viable as any other ranged Attacker.
But that’s not the only role Dragonite can fill. If you choose Extreme Speed instead of Dragon Dance, Dragonite becomes an effective melee brawler too. Pair ES with Outrage and you’ve got a bruiser that can keep up with Tsareena and Machamp (though I wouldn’t try to take Tsareena in a one-on-one). With Dragonite's Unite move and a Buddy Barrier equipped, you can play support and spam Unite moves to give bonus health to your allies, since activating it at close range only consumes about 20 percent of your unite gauge.
Dragonite still falls into the All-Rounder trap in some ways. Its mobility tools don’t make it as efficient or tricky as most Speedsters, and it doesn’t have the CC abilities it would need to be an effective Defender. In a lot of ways, it's still the middle road choice. Still, I love Dragonite because it lets me do things that no other Pokemon can do. Buffing Hyper Beam through consecutive uses of Dragon Dance is an engaging mechanic that also allows Dragonite to push the line forward in a way other Attackers just can’t. It's the most aggressive ranged character that's capable of tanking multiple enemies and stalling until your teammates can show up. That alone makes Dragonite a high-value pick, and the best example of what an All-Rounder can be.
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