Capture and Meltdown El Dragon I can see performing well, it’s the Incursion Dragon I’m worried about.
Late-game Dragon is pretty neato, but I think you’re simplifying it. Early game Dragon will have issues yeah, even like with the Shepard diving and whatnot. The clap has okay waveclear I guess, but that takes longer than regular melee combos, though it’s safer and unsafe compared to the regular combo because a. you won’t be in the middle of a wave, so you can run easily if you need to b. you are exposed for longer to the enemy, unless you’re behind a piece of cover
I think the problem we’re all forgetting is CC and squishiness. Even with max health gear, El Dragon’s wide frame (and to an extent, how some of the community sees him as a walking sack of xp, misinformed or not) makes him a prime target for cc and focus fire. The other assassin-harasser-yadadadas have the capability to launch CC from a safe range as well – think of Rath with Smash or Caldarius with Flashbang. Dragon has the Clothesline knockup, but that requires getting close and personal, and it only comes at level 4. Dragon’s overall in-your-face playstyle makes him very risky to play, as he is susceptible to stuns, slows, knockups, heavy AoE damage, sentry fire if a push is being made, and multiple other dangers on the battlefield. The other melee characters can deal with this all throughout the game in ways other than just running away, and i’m talking about level three here:
Rath: Taking fire? Catalyctic Smash, or use lifesteal to recover health, or crossblade slow so they can’t chase you.
Deande: Cloak or airkick to flee.
Attikus: Pounce, but only if you didn’t use it to initiate. It has a long cooldown, but I see most Attiki use Pounce to escape anyways.
Boldur: Chuck the axe and boldurdash away.
Gali: Walk backwards with your shield raised.
Phoebe: Phasegate, same deal as with Attikus though.
Dragon has Clothesline, but that has a longer cooldown. And again, his wide frame and low health makes him an easy target. If he gets hit a lot earlier in the game, he’ll have trouble catching up later.