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Analysis of Ideal IV Sets for Pokemon GO PvP

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Introduction

The idea of IVs are nothing new to the avid Pokemon Go player. While a rough idea of our Pokemon’s IVs is given to us in the game through the appraisal mechanic, there are more exact methods of defining your Mons exact IVs such as Calcy IV and PokeGenie. When all that mattered was PvE, the goal for IVs was getting as close to as perfect as possible and 15 attack. However, in this brave new world of trainer battles we must adjust the way we look at IVs and the idea of the “perfect Pokemon.” For an introduction to PvP mechanics, including a basic look at stat distribution, check out TForgery’s guide. 

“Perfect IVs”

Too often I hear people say their Pokemon has “really good IVs” for PvP and when I ask them what those IVs are they will say 100% or something in the 90s. While it is the case you want perfect or close to perfect IVs for Master league and some Pokemon in the capped leagues (such as Medicham and Sableye who max out below 1500), more often than not, especially in Great League, you are looking for something far different. Basically, CP, or Combat Power, is not as an accurate representation of your Pokemon will perform as Stat Product is. You should be looking for IVs that maximize Stat Product as much as possible relative to CP. This generally means low Attack IVs and high Defense and HP IVs.  

Breaking it Down

To understand why this is the case, we need to look at the formulas for CP and Stat Product. In Pokemon Go, CP is determined by the formula:

cpformula

Where:

  • Atk = (Base Attack + Individual Attack)
  • Def = (Base Defense + Individual Defense)
  • Sta = (Base Stamina + Individual Stamina)

While Stat Product is much more simply

  • Stat Product = Attack * Defense * Stamina

Where:

  • Attack = (Base Attack + Individual Attack) * CP_Multiplier
  • Defense = (Base Defense + Individual Defense) * CP_Multiplier
  • Stamina = (Base Stamina + Individual Stamina) * CP_Multiplier

The main takeaway is that increasing a Pokemon's Attack IV raises their CP faster than it does their Stat Product. This is to say the increasing Attack is “overcosted” in the CP formula relative to Stat Product. So, for PvP, you will often want an unbalanced set of IVs with low Attack and high Defense and Stamina. While breakpoints and bulkpoints relating to IVs can affect specific matchups, as a rule of thumb the goal in PvP is to to get the most stats possible on your Pokemon while keeping its CP below the league cap of 1500/2500. You can find more information on CP here and more information on Stat Product and other advanced statistics here.

A Practical Example

Let’s consider two Skarmory. Player A’s Skarmory has IVs of 1 Atk/14 Def/12 HP and hits 1498 CP at level 27.5. Player B’s has IVs of 15 Atk/3 Def/2 HP and hits 1498 CP at level 26.5. The fact that they have the same CP at different levels should be a major red flag. Those extra two power-ups confer Skarmory A a lot of extra stats that Skarmory B is missing out on. Skarmory A has a much greater Stat Product than Skarmory B and therefore we would expect Skarmory A to have a greater TDO and be a better overall battler.

WHY DOES THIS MATTER

If you’ve made this far, I’m very appreciative. You’re probably wondering if you should care, how much this matters, and what you should do about it. The truth is, a decent amount of the time it won’t matter, but when it does, the difference in IVs can be game deciding! In themed cups, where mirrors are more likely, IVs can turn a dead even matchup into a winning one. Let’s imagine that the two Skarmory from above were to face each other with one shield each. All other things being equal unless Player A messes up, Skarmory A will outright beat Skarmory B. Now Skarmory won’t have much health left and will get knocked out quickly by Player B’s next Pokemon, but this gives Player A a big counterpick advantage that will often be enough to win the whole battle. Imagine gaining such a big advantage just by having better IVs! Another example is Golbat vs Venomoth, a common and mostly even matchup from Twilight cup that could often be decided by which side had better IVs.

Even outside of these specific matchups, having more stats and living longer can make a huge difference. For strong but fragile Pokemon (sometimes known as Glass Cannons) or Pokemon with slow Fast attacks, getting off one more Fast move can often be the difference. Similarly, living long enough to get off one last Charge move, either taking a chunk off your opponents HP or forcing them to use a shield, can be a battle deciding tactical advantage.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, team composition, leads, and other strategic decisions regarding shield and energy use will play a far greater role in your success than your Pokemon’s IVs. And it’s not very realistic or necessary to obsessively grind for THE best possible version of every Pokemon you want to use, especially if it’s a rare, regional, or legacy Pokemon. That being said, there’s no reason, assuming the Pokemon is common enough, not to figure out IVs and plug them into an IV checker like this one to try and find a decent or even great version for battle!

UPDATE: Here is a really easy way to narrow down which of your Pokes might have good IVs for PvP with the new appraisal system. Hit appraise on one and then swipe through all the ones you want to check, favoriting the ones with low attack (less than the first mark) and high defense and HP (around or past the second marker). If this is too much and you really want to focus in on the best possible ones, then you can do the same process with 1*&2* in the search box as this will often catch most of your premium IV sets, though many fine ones will also be in the 0* range. After you have done this, circle back and check the IVs and corresponding stat products (again using this site) of the mons you favorited to see which ones are best for PvP!

I hope this has given you a better understanding of the role IVs play in trainer battles and how you can change the way you collect and evaluate Pokemon for PvP. Happy hunting and more importantly happy battling!

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