PvP Strategy

PvP combat is significantly different to the existing PvE combat is several ways.

For users who wish to skip the detail and see a list of high performing Pokemon for each league, click the buttons below. However we would encourage an understanding of why those Pokemon are strong and how to use them to form stronger teams.

The effects of a PvP cap are many and generally positive for the game:

  1. The diversity of viable Pokemon is drastically increased beyond those with 2500+ CP
  2. Moveset, typing and weather become much more significant and battling becomes more strategic and tactical. One anecdote under this theme is how haunter outclasses Gengar in the 1500 league because of superior move (Shadow Claw is not legacy for haunter).
  3. IVs, already of marginal value because of breakpoints/rounding become largely irrelevant, since for most Pokemon, you can just level up an imperfect version higher and achieve the same result as a low level with perfect IVs (discussed further below).
  4. Defensively orientated Pokemon will, all else being equal, perform better than offensively orientated Pokemon (discussed further below).


Expanding on point 3 above, IVs are generally not that valuable in PvP for the reason that one can often just level the Pokemon up higher and achieve the same net stat output. e.g. comparing two different Lugia, one with perfect attack IV and one with 0 attack IV:

Atk = (193 + 15) * [email protected] = 128

Atk = (193 + 0) * [email protected] = 128

The only effective difference between the two is that one costs less dust since it requires a lower level, however once there, for most Pokemon the 0% IV is in combat the same as the 100% IV. There are however two important caveats to this:

E.g. Venusaur is a strong 2500 league Pokemon, here are two alternative ways it fits under the CP cap:

Poke Lvl IVs Atk Def Stam Total CP
Venusaur 34.0 15-15-15 160 154 154 468 2487
Venusaur 34.5 14-15-15 160 154 155 469 2495

In this case having an imperfect IV is superior to a perfect IV since the stats, after scaling by the CPMultiplier, are higher for the imperfect. These are small differences, and in the grand scheme of things will be largely inconsequential when compared to picking a team with diversified types and strong moves, but such tiny differences may sometimes make a difference.

CP Formula

The decision by Niantic to use the CP formula is an interesting one. First and foremost it signals a clear intention for the CP formula to not only stay, but to stay fixed in its current calculation. By setting leagues with CP caps and knowingly have millions of players beginning to min/max teams at these caps, Niantic has effectively given up the ability to change the CP formula and the underlying Pokemon stats, without at least enduring community outrage that we aren't sure they have the appetite for.

Whilst we at Poke ASssitant appreciate the desire to make the game more approachable to a wide audience of players, we have always found CP a counterproductive and arbitrary oversimplification, and had always hoped it would one day be removed and the raw atk, def an stam stats simply put on display. PvP and the CP capped leagues has confirmed this will likely never be the case, so given this, what are the impact of the CP capped leagues? Let's start with the CP formula itself:

CP = (Base Atk + IV) * (Base Def + IV)^0.5 * (Base Stam + IV)^0.5 * Lvl(CPScalar)^2 / 10

By examining the formula it is clear to see why defensively orientated Pokemon perform so well in the CP capped leagues whilst attackers generally perform quite poorly: the attack stat is not square-rooted in the CP formula like defense and stamina. This means, all else being equal, a Pokemon who's stat pool is weighted more towards attack will hit the CP cap sooner and have less stats than a defensive Pokemon.

The difference is best seen in the extremes of the 2500 league when comparing the Pokemon with the highest and lowest attack stats in this league:

Poke Lvl IVs Atk Def Stam Total CP
Blissey 33.0 15-15-15 107 137 383 627 2482
Deoxys(Atk) 37.5 15-15-15 332 47 117 496 2487

Both Pokemon scrape in under the CP cap of 2500, however because Blissey has its stats weighted away from attack, it is able to fit much more stats under the CP cap than Deoxys in attack form.

Considering then that the damage a move does is scaled by (attackers atk / defenders defence), all else being equal, a Pokemon with a high portion of stats weighted into defence/stamina will win simply because it will be able to fit more stats under the CP cap and bring more stats to the battle. As a final example consider again two different Venusaur that fit underneath the 2500 cap:

Poke Lvl IVs Atk Def Stam Total CP
Venusaur 34.0 15-15-15 160 154 154 468 2487
Venusaur 39.0 0-15-15 155 160 160 475 2492

Here we see that despite the Pokemon being the same, the total stats that fit under the CP cap are vastly different and could be the deciding factor in a battle, with the higher health, higher defense Pokemon being the victor.

Given the above there are a few simple recommendations to give for PvP:

With CP capped, Pokemon types have become much more important in PvP and this has only been enhanced by the simultaneously increase in the type effectiveness multipliers. In addition, because there is a 50 second cooldown in changing Pokemon, whoever swaps a Pokemon first effectively leaves themselves open to being swapped on and stuck in a battle against a super effective combatant. Under these condition we propose a team building of "Force Swap and Counter".

Force Swap and Counter

Under Force Swap and Counter the goal is to (a) start with the Pokemon who has a high likelihood of forcing your opponent to swap their starting Pokemon out (b) having your remaining two Pokemon be counters to the weaknesses of your first Pokemon. In this way, the opponent is mostly like to get forced to swapping first, letting you swap second into a Pokemon that will be super effective against what they swapped into. There are two approaches to this:

Team score

To help find strong teams we created a team score, the calculations of which is detailed at the bottom of the PvP team builder page. In short, the score is driven up by high TDO Pokemon and teams without type weaknesses. What follows are some examples of teams that give high team scores and follow the strategy of "Force Swap and Counter"

Mon Type CP Lvl Attack Defense Stamina TDO DPS Quick Charge
Dragon Tail
Water Gun
Hydro Cannon
Vine Whip
Frenzy Plant
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Team Score: 134.0

The above team is one of the strongest possible teams available in the 2500 league using high DPO Pokemon and the "Force Swap and Counter" method to increase the likelihood of a win:

This is a great example of the "Force Swap and Counter" method we propose.

You can find further examples of high performing teams at the bottom of the PvP Team Builder


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