Trainer Battles Academy: Best IVs for PvP

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Understanding how IVs work in Pokémon GO is not easy. Back in the day, when PvP wasn’t a feature in Pokémon GO, all you had to do is to catch high IV Pokémon. Later on, people started to worry about breakpoints and bulkpoints in order to save some stardust, but that was just about it. However, since PvP was implemented, things have shaken up a little bit.

At this point, you have probably heard that good Pokémon for PvP IVs are those with a low attack stat. And while that is mostly the case, there are plenty of situations when that is not true. Furthermore, there are other factors to consider. In this short guide, we will try to explain when that statement applies and what other factors you should consider when you want to invest in a specific Pokémon for PvP purposes. Keep in mind that this guide is designed for those leagues with a CP cap. In Master League, a 15/15/15 is going to be the desired IV spread 100% of the time.

Pokemon GO Trainer Battles Guides

General Overview of Ivs

If you’re an active user on social media and you like PvP content, you have probably heard or seen trainers mentioning stuff like “Got this rank #4 Swampert for Great League”. Rank #4? What does that mean? Well, GO Stadium has a wonderful table with all the PvP IV spreads for each Pokémon, sorted by a metric known as the “stat product.” Our example will be a 1/13/13 Skarmory for Great League. So… let’s do the math.

Pokémon ATK IV DEF IV STA IV Level Max CP (GL)
Skarmory Steel Flying 1 13 13 27.5 1499

As you may know, base stats are different from the actual effective stats that a Pokémon has at a specific level. This particular Skarmory has a Max CP for Great League of 1499 at level 27.5. What are its effective stats at that level? Let’s see. First of all, the base stats are calculated by importing the stats from the main series games. Skarmory’s stats in the main series games are 65/80/140/40/70/70 (HP/ATK/DEF/SP.ATK/SP.DEF/SPEED). By using these stats, the following set of formulas can be used to compute the base stats in Pokémon GO:

Base ATK, DEF and STA formulas in Pokémon GO

If we use the formulas above with Skarmory’s stats, we get a Base Attack of 148, a Base Defense of 226 and a Stamina of 163. Higher and lower are just the highest stat of both attacks or defenses. Those are the stats you will see in our database too:

Skarmory base stats in Pokémon GO

Okay, we have the BASE stats. But how do IVs and levels influence the CP or the effective stats for a specific PvP league? Here is where things get interesting. The following formulas can be used to determine the effective stats (and CP) at a particular level:

IVs - Base Stats
Formulas used to compute stats and CP at a specific level

If you want to know more about Combat Power mechanics, you can check out this article with a few examples in it. We’ll consider the CPM value for level 27.5 (0.70054287), but there are discrete values for each level (and half level), and the tables can be found online. Let’s crunch the numbers:

IVs - Combat Power Mechanics
Skarmory example at level 27.5

Alright, now we have the effective stats for that specific IV distribution… but how do we know what’s the best IV combination? Is there a specific best combination or ranking? Let’s discuss the best metrics in the next section.

Stat product – the best metric overall?

In my opinion, there is NO absolute best metric when it comes down to PvP IVs. The “best” one we have currently, or at least the one that is used the most, is the stat product. So how does it work? The following screenshot is taken from GO Stadium PvP IV Spread tool (full credit to their tool), which is probably the best tool out there as of now:

IVs - GO Stadium PVP IV Spread Tool
GO Stadium’s PVP IV Spread tool (full credit to them:

Assuming the minimum IV possible is 0 (from a wild catch), there are 4096 potential IV combinations. If we multiply the 3 effective stats at level 27.5 (ATK, DEF & STA) for our combination of IVs (1/13/13), we get a total stat product of 2149579. This number alone does not mean anything, but it is equal to 99.84% of the “best” stat product. Does that make it the 4th best combination in ALL situations? Absolutely not! But overall, it’s a good metric.

If you’re wondering why the “TOP 10” IV combinations share the fact that they have a low ATK IV, it’s pretty easy to understand when you look at the CP formula from the previous section. Think about an empty container where you want to put some balls (IVs). Space is limited, and your “attack balls” are much bigger than your defense and stamina balls. If you want to fit as many balls as possible, you will prioritize the smaller balls. This will get you more bulk. That’s because in the formula I mentioned in the previous section, the attack has a bigger influence than the other two stats. Higher ATK IV = “inflated CP” = lower level achievable below 1500CP (this isn’t the case in Master League, where there are no CP limits, and you always want 100%IV Pokémon).

Although the stat product is a good metric, there are certain situations where specific IV combinations work better than the ones listed above. So let’s take a look at them.

Breakpoints and bulkpoints

Breakpoints and bulkpoints are not only important in PvE (gym battles & raids), but also in PvP. However, there is one huge aspect to consider: You DON’T generally know your opponent’s IV spread.

In most situations, maximizing the stat product is the best way to go, but in some specific battles, breakpoints and bulkpoints can make the difference. Imagine your Pokémon with 0 ATK IV deals 6 damage for each fast move, but it could deal 7 damage with 1 ATK IV. The 1 ATK IV Pokémon will probably not have the highest stat product, but perhaps the tradeoff between this extra attack iv and the bulk “lost” is worth the investment if a specific matchup is key in the current meta. Similarly, reaching a specific bulkpoint can be needed to win a certain matchup.

Pokémon that max below the CP limit

If a specific Pokémon maxes out below the CP limit for that league, then you always want the 100% variant of that Pokémon. For example, Medicham and Sableye both max out below 1500CP. Thus, you want both hundos.

IVs - Medicham Hundo
100% IV Medicham for Great League

In those cases, the 100% IV variant will always have the highest stat product too.


Overall, IVs matter, but there are plenty of other aspects to worry about and focus on if you want to win a PvP battle. Choosing a good lead is one of them, knowing when to switch is another one, understanding the meta and predicting what your opponent might have on the back is important too, team composition and synergy are also relevant and last but not least, IVs. And don’t forget that fully charging your charge move with the new mechanics can end up being more important than IVs too!

Maximizing the stat product is generally the most important aspect IV-wise for leagues with a CP cap (Great and Ultra League). Having great PvP IVs can be beneficial in plenty of scenarios but especially in a mirror match or any situation where victory can go right down to the wire. I hope you found this short guide useful, if you think we missed something do not hesitate to let us know in the comments section. And good luck in future tournaments!

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