In Pokemon Go, PvP is divided into 3 Tiers based on the CP (“Combat Potential”) value listed on the Pokemon’s page in storage.
- Great League: Pokemon limited to below 1500 CP
- Ultra League: Pokemon limited to below 2500 CP
- Master League: No cap on CP
CP is calculated using the pokemon Attack Defense and Stamina stats, with a bias towards the Attack stat. In PvP however, Attack is not necessarily more valuable than anything else. As a curious result of this, Pokemon with higher Attack stats often are less desirable in non-Master League PvP due to their inflated stats making them less efficient users of the value-multiplier that is applied as you level up the Pokemon.
Battles can be accessed under the battle menu Icon
This menu is the homeplace of all combat-related game features now.
- Go Battle League (Explained Below)
- Challenge a in-person Trainer to a battle (with QR Code)
- Train with Gym Leader AI’s
- Create Battle Parties (for both PvP and Raids)
Forms of PVP
There are two main avenues of PVP (Player-Vs-Player) combat in Pokemon Go.
- Go Battle League: In-game player matchmaking and rewards system
- Silph Arena: Fan-created and maintained local tournaments.
Go Battle League
Participation in GO Battle League requires unlocking a GO Battle League set, which grants you access to play a “set” which is a series of 5 matches. Your first GO Battle League set is unlocked for free, and you can unlock future sets by walking 5 km. They only permit a maximum of 3 sets per day however. You can also skip some of the walking with pokecoins, but all players must walk a minimum of 2km before being given that option. The cost for the remaining 3k also linearly lowers as the remaining amount lowers.
There are two reward tracks, Basic (free) or Premium. These are just a sequence of 5 rewards you will get, Many of the rewards are pulled randomly from a pool, and will be different for different players. The matchmaking system accounts for more than your rank and is a distinct value that fluctuates as you win and lose matches. As your combat improves, so will the people you face! GBL Seasons will last a month, and during the season you are able to rank up through winning more battles, getting better and better rewards! Niantic plans to rotate what league is played each season, as of February 2020, it is Great League. At the End of Season, special Rewards are given to all players who participated in this season, but what they are will depend on their ranking.
Ranks and Ratings
Each season you will have a Rank that will build up from 1-10 as you play. While it relates to the matchmaking system. Once you achieve a Rank there is no way to go down,
From Niantic’s Help Page:
Ranks 1–3In ranks 1–3, you can improve your rank simply by playing matches, regardless of whether you win or lose.
Ranks 4–6Trainers in ranks 4–6 can improve their rank by winning battles; losses don’t count against one’s progress.
Ranks 7–9 Trainers who reach ranks 7–9 can see their rating, a number that indicates one’s performance in GO Battle League relative to other Trainers. Trainers in ranks 7–9 are matched with other Trainers according to their current rating for more competitive matches.
To reach higher ranks in this category, you must increase your matchmaking rating. Losses won’t downgrade your rank, but they do lower your matchmaking rating, so you’ll need to maintain a relatively high win-loss ratio to increase your rank.
Rank 10 Rank 10 is the highest attainable rank. Trainers who reach rank 10 can continue defeating other Trainers in Go Battle League to increase their matchmaking rating.
What Makes a Pokemon Good
CP is determined by 3 things.
- Base Stats – The Attack, Defense, and Stamina values of your Pokemon’s species (with a bias towards Attack).
- IV Values – The particular additional stat points, added onto individual pokemon. Visible in-game.
- Level – Represents how “trained” or “powered up” your pokemon is. Represented by the white curve directly below the CP value. Scales to your Trainer Level +2. Caps at Level 40 (normally). Is squared before being multiplied into CP.
If you are starting from scratch, there are a couple of aspects of Pokemon that all come together to determine if it’s good in PvP, and in what Tier.
- Fast Move – The first listed attack, can and should be used constantly in combat by tapping the screen to “charge” your Charge Moves energy.
- Some Fast Moves have incredibly high Damage on their own, but don’t charge well (such as Razor Leaf), some charge incredibly fast but have low Damage (such as Psycho Cut), and some moves are busted and have both (Counter and Shadow Claw).
- Charge Move(s) – Stronger attacks. You can unlock a second one for a high stardust/candy price. Can be “shielded,” (I.e negate an opponent’s Charge Move’s damage) twice per game.
- Once the move charges, you need to hit the button to activate their damage minigame. The Type of the attack will determine what the minigame is, and a pattern of bubbles will appear on the screen for a few seconds. You can see all minigames here: [link]
- You can save up energy above the needed amount. Critically, energy stored up is saved if your Pokemon switches! Meaning the more you pop by swiping, the higher your damage will be.
- Some Charge Moves take a low amount of energy to use quickly. These are “shield breakers,” because they are effective at punishing players who defend with shields early. Allowing more powerful attacks, later on, to go unchallenged. 3 bar charge moves are typically the moves you want for this.
- Typing – The Type of your pokemon determines what moves you are weak to and has implications for how you perform in the meta.
It’s more than just having the right pokemon though, you need to understand how the game works to use them well. PvP Trainer Battles have a handful of unique mechanics. You only get 3 Pokemon, and they must be unique.
- Stat Changes – Some moves have the ability to change you and your opponents Attack and Defense stats. This is directly carried over from how the moves work in the console game. This effect only applies to PvP, not Raid Battles.
- Shielding – You are given 2 “Sheilds” per battle. These are 2 times you can negate damage from a dangerous Charge Move! You are given roughly a 5-second prompt window to activate it after a Charge Move is declared. However, the game won’t tell you what the Charge Move is before forcing you to decide. So there is an element of bluffing and mind games with when to use them. Shielding will not negate the stat-changing effects of moves, just the damage.
- Switching – In the bottom right menu, you can switch between your 3 Pokemon. This is advantageous if the matchup is extremely bad, or if you want to save your Pokemon for later. Which often comes up at the beginning of matches if you get unlucky with your lead against theirs. However, there is a lengthy cooldown on switching so they must be used sparingly. Consider, if you switch your opponent may immediately switch to a different pokemon to maintain advantage anyways. There’s a lot of strategies you can use with switches, however. If you get the timing right, you can switch pokemon right before they fire a charge move, changing to a pokemon who can take the blow better. You can also switch a pokemon out moments from death as a feint that they were knocked out, only to drop them at the end with a charge move.
If you need practice you can do PvP with an Ultra Friend or Best Friend if you go to their profile (in the friend’s list) and challenge them. You can also fight anyone in person under the Battle menu. The game also provides it’s own AI you can train against in all of the Leagues (although they only shield in Master League). Team Rocket Grunts are another option if you want to start getting your feet wet with something slightly more difficult. Team Rocket Executives are probably the best in terms of actually covering their weaknesses and teaching preparation and strategy. This is no substitute for practice against real people, however.
Building your Team – Great League [Under Construction]
if you are a long time player and have maintained a practice of just keeping the highest CP pokemon you have, you’re in luck, many of them are likely competitive for PvP.
Heres a list of Pokemon who it’s possible you’ve accumulated without knowing about it. All level 35 or so.
- LV 30+ Azumarill (Bubble + Ice Beam / Play Rough)
- L30+ Medicham (Counter + Any Moveset)
- L30+ Wormadam (Bug Bite + Rion Head / Bug Buzz)
- L30+ Dragonair (Dragon Breath + Aqua Tail / Wrap)
- L30+ Alolan Rattata (Bite + Crunch / Hyper Fang)
- L20 Machamp (Counter + Cross Chop / Heavy Slam)
Heres Pokemon that are decently common to begin collecting for evolution. The First Number for the CP Range is when you can be certain the pokemon will evolve below 1500. The second number is the maximum cp where it’s still “possible” the pokemon will evolve below 1500, but not certain:
- Swablu – CP <551 / 616
- Marill CP <435 / 338
- Hoot hoot CP <431 / 501
- Nosepass CP <653 / 716
- Clefairy CP <656 / 711
- Jigglypuff CP <478 / 564
- Kingdra CP <545 / 600
- Skorupi CP <559 / 617
- Meditite CP <657 / 726
- Shieldon CP< 812 / 864
- Onix CP <622 / 684
- Barboach CP <530 / 592
These Pokemon are pretty hard to find, but they are scary to face and something to look out for.
- Deoxys (Defense) – This mon is incredible, but it is unable to be traded. If you do not already have one, there isn’t any way to get one (as of February 2020).
- Cresselia – Similiar usefulness, but the only way to get it’s CP below 1500 is to have it lower via trading. From Raids the IV floor is so high that you need to get it from someone else, ideally at a low friendship level (which is also more expensive in stardust).
- Meganium, Venusaur, Umbreon, Blastoise, Swampert, Blaziken – Community Day movesets are wanted, and you will need to wait until December to evolve for them.
- Bastiodon – Shieldon is uncommon.
- Trophius – Region Locked to South America Region.
- Uxie – Region Locked to Asia-Pacific Region.
- Jirachi – You only get one, from a time-consuming quest, and if you already powered it up you are out of luck.
- Lucario – Riolu are a very rare hatch, and if the IV’s are good it will evolve too strong.
- Skarmory / Alolan Marowak – Much more common than the rest, but still a bit of work
There are a couple of ways to be efficient with resources.
The stardust cost to get extra Charge Moves on pokemon varies! 10K ones are the cheapest. All Starters and baby pokemon have 10k second move costs.
Babies are of particular note, because many of their evolved forms have more expensive costs, meaning it is more efficient to get a second charge move while pokemon are babies. This is important for: Togepi, Tyrogue, Smoochum, Elekid, Magby, Chingling, Riolu, and Azurill. If you want a second charge move on your Hitmons, Lucario, and Azmaril, do it when they are a baby.
Other Pokemon with 10k costs that are good in Great League: Ivysaur, Venusaur, Blastoise, Beedrill, Pidgeotto, Clefable, Wigglytuff, Golbat, Meganium, Noctowl, Munchlax, Blaziken, Lairon, Aggron, Altaria, Whiscash, Grotle, Torterra, Empoleon, Bibarel, Wormadam, Cherrim, and Crustle.
You can reduce the power up cost by purifying shadow pokemon, as well as getting lucky pokemon. Purification also discounts second charge moves and candy costs.
- In Gym Leader Battles ties count as wins, but in PvP battles, Ties count as losses.
- Clicking the “ENCOUNTER ?” button in GO Battle League rewards shows all available Pokémon encounters!
- the berry silhouette reward is a pool of rewards beyond just berries. Including TMs and Sinnoh Stones.