Welcome to The Bag.
Every week, I will graciously answer your questions about everything in the esports and gaming world. From the highbrow to the gutter, I will make sure to give you my honest, unfiltered opinion sponsored by absolutely nobody (yet).
Without further ado, let’s dive into the bag and see what we can pull out.
What is your honest opinion on the new Pokémon starters? — lucyx
OK, the rest of the mailbag is canceled. Next time, I will get to the questions about 100 Thieves, TSM and all the drama in esports. For this edition, I am scraping everything else I had planned to answer this question about the new Pokémon starters.
If you didn’t know, GameFreak announced its newest additions to the mainline Pokémon games: Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. While we can get into the actual naming of the games and their choice of Spain to be the inspiration for their new region at a later date, this is all about the starters.
To put things into full context, I can’t only give my opinion on the new starters but also their contemporaries. So, as any person with too much confidence in their opinion does on the internet, I will tier list all of the Pokémon starters from S-tier (the pantheon) to the bowels of garbage known as F-tier.
Also, I am only grading them on their initial forms without considering their evolved states. I don’t care how cool your dumb otter turned out to be in the end. It doesn’t matter here.
Without further ado, let’s get started in chronological order.
Bulbasaur: The Greatest of All Time. I couldn’t care less about your opinion, as this is my self-centered ranking. Bulbasaur is the best Pokémon ever invented. Everything went downhill after No. 1. (Grade: S)
Squirtle and Charmander: What are we doing here? I’m a man born in the 90s. These things were my childhood, and my taste for nostalgia means these original creatures will forever be above everything else. Spoiler alert: these will be the only S-tier selections in my list.
I’m not sorry about it. Go off and play Fortnite if you think your childhood starters were better. They weren’t. (Grade: S)
Chikorita: Not Bulbasaur, but still good. It’s way better than some of the ones that come later. And even though it’s not the original three, there’s some nostalgia at play here. Pokémon Silver was a banger of a game. (Grade: A)
Cyndaquil: I still don’t know what Cyndaquil is supposed to be about in the animal world, but it’s one of my favorite starters. (Grade: A)
Totodile: Not a Totodile guy. I know there is a genuine Totodile community out there, but I always found him a bit pretentious. Yes, I know it’s pretentious to call a Pokémon pretentious. Anyway, the water crocodile still has some nostalgia tied to it, so I can’t be too harsh. (Grade: B)
Treecko: If you haven’t noticed already, I am a grass starter kind of person. I’m not going to apologize for my inherent bias as a kid whose favorite color was green. Overall, though, Treecko was dope and deserves respect on his own. (Grade: A)
Torchic: In a world where we were ranking complete evolution lines, Torchic might be S-tier. This puny chick has one of the best final forms in the Pokémon universe. Alas, that’s not the ranking here, so it must go where it belongs. (Grade: B)
Mudkip: Before memes were memes, I remember kids in middle school thought Mudkip was like the funniest Pokémon ever to exist. For that reason alone, plus my hatred of middle school, I’m docking it points. (Grade: C)
Turtwig: I am a grass Pokémon loyalist and even I can’t defend this abomination. Go away, Turtwig. (Grade: F)
Chimchar: I like the simplicity of Chimchar. It’s a cheeky monkey who has a fire tail. Sometimes, you don’t have to think too outside the box to make something good. (Grade: A)
Piplup: I don’t have strong or negative opinions about this starter. Thus, it will go in the middle, where it belongs. (Grade: C)
Snivy: This is what a grass starter should look like, Turtwig. Sassy, sleek and a great design all around. You redeemed yourself, GameFreak. (Grade: A)
Tepig: I like but don’t love Tepig. It’s a cute design and all, but I don’t see how someone could pick it when Snivy is in the lineup. (Grade: B)
Oshawott: No, no, no. Get out. Oh, look, here’s a sad little otter clown thing trying to prey on my emotions. Go hang out with Turtwig at the bottom of the ranking, buddy. (Grade: F)
Chespin: We’ve reached the part of the rankings where I no longer have nostalgia ties holding me down. Chespin is the type of Pokemon that waves at the cool kids on the first day of school and gets stuffed in a locker. (Grade: D)
Fennekin: Vuplix called, Fennekin. They want their design back. (Grade: D)
Froakie: The only starter in this generation that I don’t despise. (Grade: B)
Rowlet: OK, I love this little owl thing. The leaf acting as a bow tie is ingenious. I bet GameFreak sold like ten billion of these things as plush dolls. (Grade: A)
Litten: They have officially started running out of ideas at this point. I don’t hate the design, but the name knocks it down a grade. (Grade: C)
Popplio: Didn’t you learn your lesson with the other clown water starter, GameFreak? Could you stop it? (Grade: F)
Grookey: I respect Grookey. No, they wouldn’t be my first choice to go on an adventure with, but I could hang out with them. (Grade: B)
Scorbunny: As the whole gimmick of this generation was supposed to be the United Kingdom and its culture around football, I give Scorbunny points for actually fitting the theme. A clever and excellent design with a name that doesn’t make me want to vomit. (Grade: A)
Sobble: Why the hell are all the new age water starters sad as hell? I get the whole tears made of liquid thing, but why are all these creatures depressed? (Grade: D)
Sprigatito: Good job, GameFreak, I’m sure kids are going to have a blast trying to pronounce this thing’s name. Overall, even as someone who picks the grass starter every generation, this is a lazy creation. (Grade: D)
Fuecoco: It’s a fire apple hippopotamus thing? Sure, at this point, let’s go with it. (Grade: C)
Quaxly: It’s a duck with a hairpiece. Honestly, I’m just glad it’s smiling and doesn’t look like it hates life. Just for that, it’s my favorite of the generation. (Grade: B)
About the Author
Tyler Erzberger is entering a decade of covering esports. When not traveling around the world telling stories about people shouting over video games, he’s probably arguing with an anime avatar on Twitter about North American esports.