Best Water Starters From All Pokémon Games (Ranked)

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When any Pokémon journey begins, you’re given a single choice: grass, fire, or water.

This is the most important decision you’ll ever make in Pokémon.

Your starter is your best friend. Your number 1. They start out with you, and most likely will be with you until the very end of the game.

So if you’re a fan of water, which starter is your best bet?

And not only that, but which one is the most effective competitively? Let’s find out!


8. Oshawott/Samurott

Samurott Pokemon anime screenshot

While Samurott is by far the worst water starter, it is by no means a bad Pokémon.

It has great mixed attack stats and awesome bulk, but is let down by its middling speed. It’s slow enough to be completely destroyed by most electric types, and just a little too fast to take advantage of Trick Room competitively.

However, Smaurott does have an awesome movepool that’s able to take advantage of its mixed attack stats.

Some highlights it can learn are hydro pump, ice beam, aqua jet, megahorn, and grass knot.

The only thing that really disappoints me about Samurott is its design.

It goes from being the adorable Oshawott to the really cool looking Dewott. This shows that we’re moving into more samurai territory, but instead we get a seal with a helmet and facial hair. I would have loved if Samurott was basically just Heihachi.


7. Sobble/Inteleon

Inteleon from Pokemon anime

I was surprised when Drizzile evolved into Inteleon.

I was expecting a more punk rock look, and instead we got an incredibly skinny James Bond. That being said, Inteleon is the definition of a glass cannon:

Really fast, really high special attack, pretty low everything else.

But what makes Inteleon really stand out is its ability: Sniper.

This makes every critical hit do 2.5x damage instead of 2x.

Combine this with Inteleon’s signature move Sniper Shot, the Scope Lens item, and a focus energy, and you have a guaranteed critical hit every turn.

This makes Snipe Shot have a guaranteed base power of 280!

While Inteleon is great in-game, and with only one gym leader it’s weak against, it is let down by its lack of variety.

Pretty much this is all you’ll be doing, and if your opponent has anything faster than it, it’s done. But inteleon is still a great way to make sure your opponents in game are shaken, not stirred.


6. Piplup/Empoleon

Empoleon Pokemon in the anime

Empoleon comes in with an awesome water and steel typing.

This combined with its great special defense makes it a fantastic utility Pokémon. Competitively, Empoleon can set up stealth rocks, defog away hazards, roar to transition opponents, and cripple opponents with Toxic.

Also, Empoleon has a great special attack

And Empoleon is a perfect user of Scald, a strong water attack that also has a chance to burn your opponent.

So why isn’t Empoleon higher on the list? Well, Empoleon isn’t that great in-game. It’s weak to 3 of the gyms. And the two Elite 4 members that it’s supposed to be strong against are just as strong against Empoleon!

All of Bertha’s team can finish off Empoleon if it doesn’t finish them off first, and Flint’s Infernape can easily take it out.

That being said, Empoleon is great! If you want a water type, you can do a lot worse than this penguin torpedo.


5. Totodile/Feraligatr

Feraligatr from Pokemon anime

Easily the scariest of the bunch, Feraligatr is an absolute beast.

Don’t let its mediocre stats fool you. This thing can devastate teams. This is because of a combination of things. Sorry, but we’re going to have to do some math here.

While its attack is a decently high 105, Feraligatr’s true power comes from Sheer Force.

Any move that has a secondary effect is increased 1.3x, but removes the effect. This also affects the Life Orb item which increases attacks by an additional 1.3x at the cost of 1/10th of your hit points.

This means the move Liquidation goes from a base power of 85 to 136!

Combine this with the move Dragon Dance and a decent defense stat, and you have one of the best late game sweepers for gen 2.

Feraligatr is just as effective in-game as well. While it’s only strong against two total gym leaders, its move pool allows it to be effective against just about all of them.

You could easily go all-in on this alligator.


4. Popplio/Primarina

Primarina Pokemon in the anime

I love the Primarina line.

I remember when a lot of people didn’t like Popplio because it was a clown that blew snot bubbles, but that just made me love it even more. Not to mention it gets the awesome dual typing of water and fairy.

Honestly, it’s a little bit tougher to justify Primarina in-game, as there aren’t any gym leaders in Sun and Moon.

However, we do have the 4 kahunas and the Elite 4.

So how many of those trainers does Primarina have an advantage over? 6 of the 8.

Primarina is easily the most useful starter in the Alola region.

Then how about competitively?

Primarina’s really good! It’s a bulky special attacker that has a great typing. With access to moon blast and hydro pump, it can hit just about everything for a ton of damage. Plus it has a perfect boosting move for itself: Calm mind.

The biggest thing working against it is that there’s another water/fairy type Pokémon introduced at the same time that just does the job better: Tapu Fini.

But this cannot take away from the fact that Primarina is one of the most useful starters in all of Pokémon.


3. Squirtle/Blastoise

Blastoise from Pokemon anime

The OG water starter is the definition of a little boy designing a Pokémon.

“How can we make this turtle cooler?”

“Give it guns.”


But you know what? It worked.

This thing is freaking rad. And when you think of a Pokémon using Hydro Pump, you think of Blastoise.

In game, Blastoise is pretty useful. It’s got an advantage against 3 gym leaders while only being weak to 2 of them.

This is fine, but where it really shines is in competition.

For a while, Blastoise was one of the best rapid spinners in the game due to its massive bulk. This was boosted up even more with its mega evolution and new ability Mega Launcher. This boosts all moves with aura or pulse in the name.

That means Mega Blastoise essentially gets STAB for Dark Pulse, Aura Sphere, and Dragon Pulse, plus a double boost for Water Pulse.

While Blastoise also gets an awesome looking G-Max, the best thing to happen for it in generation 8 is getting Shell Smash.

This is arguably one of the best boosting moves in the game, and makes Blastoise a terror.

Pokémon has come a long way since Blastoise was introduced. But this giant turtle has more than held its own over the years.


2. Froakie/Greninja

Greninja Pokemon in the anime

A lot of people are going to be surprised that Greninja is not number 1.

And I completely get that.

It’s unbelievably fast and has a high special attack. It has arguably the best ability in the game with Protean, too.

Protean automatically changes the user’s typing to whatever type matches the move it’s using. That means that every move gets STAB. It also has a huge movepool.

Not only that, but it has another incredible ability with Battle Bond.

This transforms Greninja into Ash Greninja, boosts its speed and special attack even higher, and provides a boost to its signature move Water Shuriken.

Water Shuriken is a multi-hit special move that also gets priority.

There are not a lot of Pokémon that can stand up against Ash Greninja. Easily the most competitively viable Pokémon on this list.

Then why isn’t it number 1?

Well, it’s not nearly as useful in its debut game as it is competitively.

Sure, Greninja has an advantage against two of the gym leaders and an Elite 4 member. But it’s also weak against four gym leaders! That’s more than any other water starter, and essentially half of the game!

Greninja is an incredible competitive Pokémon, but it leaves a lot to be desired in-game.


1. Mudkip/Swampert

Swampert - Pokemon anime screenshot

So I herd U liek Mudkipz? Me too!

This is not only my favorite line of starter Pokémon, but possibly my favorite Pokémon of all time.

I’ve survived many a Nuzlocke run because of this bad boy right here.

The final form, Swampert, makes for an incredible Pokémon competitively.

Its typing combined with strong defensive stats makes it a great utility Pokémon with stealth rocks or wide guard. Not only that, but Mega Swampert is one of the best rain sweepers out there.

Not to mention it’s also one of the swollest Pokémon you’ll ever see!

But what makes the Swampert line truly great is how great they work in the Hoenn region.

Swampert has an incredible water/ground typing, leaving it with only a single weakness: grass.

In all of the major battles of Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald, you will run into a total of 7 Pokémon that are grass types. Not only that, but Swampert has STAB advantage over 4 gyms and most of Stephen Stone’s Pokémon.

And Swampert is an incredible HM user, getting access to all water type HMs plus strength and rock smash.

Am I biased? Absolutely.

But you cannot argue that there’s any water starter that has as much utility competitively and in-game as the Swampert line.

And that’s what makes it the best water starter of all time.

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Jeremy Hanna

Jeremy Hanna is what happens when you put all of your points into constitution and charisma. An improviser and writer for The Completionist, Jeremy loves Pokémon, LEGO's, Wrestling, and Golden Girls. Follow him on Twitter and say hi! @JeremyHanna753