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I am not talking about mega Salamence. Mega Salamence is banned in OU.

In Generations 5 and 6, a lot of people were saying that Salamence was just Dragonite but slightly worse. However, Salamence is now an entire tier (according to Smogon) higher than Dragonite, and it seems to outclass Dragonite for some reason. Does it have something to do with z-fly? If so, why is Salamence better at using z-fly? If you're going to give a reason why Salamence is better, then why did that reason not apply in earlier generations?

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I think it's just on how people use it...
Salamence has a better and wider move set than dragonite, and salamence's base statistics are more cut out for it
Can you name a specific move that's important to Salamence and can't be learned by Dragonite? As far as I know, their moves and stats are basically the same.
"Better move pool" please tell that to dragonite's elemental punches and extreme speed priority as well as not having to run fire blast with a naive nature to rid of ferrothorn

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Let's compare Salamence and Dragonite first:

Salamence
Salamence is the more offensive one, holding a base 135 physical attack stat, and a base 100 speed stat. It also has the potential to be a special attacker with its 110 special attack stat (although this really isn't favourable for Salamence.) Its abilities, however, are where Salamence has the upper hand any day. Having Moxie as a hidden ability allows it to set up 1 Dragon Dance and then go for a sweep while getting stronger with each KO. (again, this is why Salamence sets shouldn't be special attackers, unless they're going for the Intimidate ability that Salamence has.) Also, Salamence has a mega evolution, boosting its sweeping potential even higher and giving it another ability; Aerilate. Now, Aerilate coupled with Double Edge, Thrash, Giga Impact, Hyper Beam etc. gives any normal move STAB and boosts its power by 30% (I think). So, in other words, STAB Aerilate Hyper Beam has a approximate power of near 290 (if STAB is applied first) and a power of approximately 270 (if Aerilate is applied first). However, using Mega Evolution does mean that Salamence loses its ability to hold an item, so no Life Orb or Z Crystal strategies if you're planning on using Mega Salamence. (If you're playing by Smogon rules and not VGC, Mega Salamence is OU tier, while normal Salamence is BL tier.)

Dragonite
Dragonite is the more bulky one, with 91 base HP, 95 base Defense and 100 base Special Defense. It does have an astounding 134 base Attack stat, but its 80 base Speed stat is a bit lacking. This means that Dragonite does have the potential to Dragon Dance sweep, but it doesn't sweep as well as Salamence or Mega Salamence. Dragonite's 2 abilities (Inner Focus and Multiscale) are useful in some situations, but Multiscale is probably the more useful one as it allows Dragonite to live an Ice Beam and get a Dragon Dance off, then proceed to sweep the team. However, Dragonite is meant to be bulky, and while you could argue that Salamence can't live an Ice Beam from a decent Special Attacker, but who needs bulk when you can outspeed most of the Pokemon in your respective tier. ( Although STAB Ice Shard is a problem to Salamence).

So, overall, Salamence is better because it has more potential to sweep teams, and can also stop Physical Attackers in their tracks with Intimidate, and proceed to Mega Evolve, Dragon Dance, then sweep.

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First, mega Salamence is banned in OU. Does this change the answer? Second, the answer doesn't explain why Salamence was worse in Generation 6.
I'm not going to answer because this handles it fairly well. The primary reason it was used less than Dragonite in Gen 6 and 5 was due to Dragonite's ability to run a much wider range of sets such as Lum, Lefties, Fly Nite and Choice Band. Other than MegaMence, Salamence was more frail and was stuck to almost consistently running guaranteed sets such as Scarf and Life Orb. This made Salamence easier to counter consistently while oftentimes filling the same role, though more predictable than Dragonite.

In Gen 7 this changed almost purely because of Z-Fly and, as stated by Imaousama, it's potential to sweep teams. As stated in the smogon analysis, "Moxie, Dragon Dance, and a Z-crystal together have frightening synergy, allowing Salamence to outspeed and OHKO many common answers to it, starting an unstoppable snowball." (Overview, http://www.smogon.com/dex/sm/pokemon/salamence/ou/). So while it didn't get much more for variety, it now outclasses Dragonite in its ability to handle its checks and counters way more effectively.
That was the answer I was looking for, but I can't select it.
I didn't want to answer because I felt like this answer handled it well, but just needed some expansion on the previous gen part of your question and what was meant by "more potential to sweep teams"

Glad it helped though :)
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Both are great Dragon Dance Sweepers but I think I think the difference is in there Ability and Speed Salamence Can Be More of A threat with Moxie gaining +1 atk every kill, Dragonite however can be used as a sort of guaranteed set up (as long as stealth rock stays off the field) Sometimes Dragonite has to run jolly to outspeed relevant threats after 1 dragon dance which means not running adamant and sacrificing much needed damage. Dragonite also has the problem of being unable to eliminate threats with out any set up because of its mediocre base 80 speed
While as Salamence can remove much faster threats having a base 100 speed stat. Both have a pretty good movepool dragonite does have some tech for getting rid of faster threats in extreme speed and the elemental punches both have dragon claw and outrage as dragon stab some people use flyinium z + fly on both both have reliable recovery. However Salamence has a very good perk Mega Evolution It gains much more bulk than its frail base form (see below), Salamence gets boosted from a good 135 Base Atk to an even better 145 Base Atk and gains the ability Aerilate which turns normal type moves into flying and boost its damage by 1.2 in sumo (1.3 if in oras) which means normal type moves base damage get multiplied by 1.2 x 1.5 (STAB). Mega Salamence Then gets its speed boosted from an already good Base 100 to a base 120 which means salamence can now deal with faster threats like The Lati Twins, Gengar, Raikou, Starmie and so on.

Both Are Good In their own way
-If you want to sweep entire teams pick Salamence (which dragonite can do but has a harder time doing)
-If you need a safe way to sweep pick Dragonite

Stats,

Salamence
Hp: 95
Atk: 135
Def: 80
Sp.Atk: 110
Sp. Def: 80
Spe: 100
Abilities: Moxie, Intimidate

Mega Salamence
Hp: 95
Atk: 145
Def: 130
Sp.Atk: 120
Sp. Def: 95
Spe: 120
Abilities: Aerilate

Dragonite
Hp: 91
Atk: 134
Def: 95
Sp.Atk: 100
Sp. Def: 100
Spe: 80
Abilities, Multiscale, Inner Focus

Sources:
Salamence

Dragonite

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None really outclass each other lol and note to sumwun Smogon is based on usage not base stats and such it could just be that salamence is more popular than dragonite
First, mega Salamence has almost always been banned in OU. Does that change the answer? Second, the people who decided Dragonite should be UU got their statistics from very serious players, so simple popularity should't be a factor. Third, the answer doesn't explain why Salamence is worse than Dragonite in Generation 6.
None are really worse than each other they sort of fill different sweeping roles
Dragonite kinda needs dragon dance to sweep
Salamence can deal with faster threats like Both Zards and other base 100 mons without having to set up
Its ur tradeoff whether u you want a guaranteed dragon dance or a frailer faster mona
It's an objective fact that Salamence was used less in Generation 6 than in Generation 7, and vice versa for Dragonite. I asked why Salamence got better in Generation 7. If this answer doesn't answer the question, it's an incomplete answer.
It could be because salamemce used to have a hard time getting rid of bulky waters and bulky grasses introducing flyinium z made threats like venusar which it had trouble with in 6 gen now Super Sonic skystrike easily rids of most bulky waters and bulky grasses like tang,venu,fini etc and also back in oras salamence was in uu for almost the whole time it wasnt till very late oras tgat salamence was being tested and got moved to uu