The importance of the Mega Evolution system in the Candy XL grind

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Trainers have been leveling up their megas ever since the Mega Evolution rework update went live a couple of months ago. As announced in the official Dev Diaries blog post by Niantic, one of the main perks of the new Mega Evolution system is a boost to the amount of candy XL you can get when you catch Pokémon.

While Niantic doesn’t really show the exact numbers (the game only mentions “Great Candy XL chance” and “Excellent Candy XL chance”), some people have been hard at work trying to figure out the exact multipliers and boosts.

Data found in the network traffic in the game showed that Great = 10% and Excellent = 25%, but we’ll see how these numbers work later.

Mega Evolution in Pokémon GO
Mega Evolution in Pokémon GO

Candy XL basics: catching

Trainers from the Silph Research Group published a great article where they take a closer look at Candy XL rewards from catching Pokémon.

Their key findings where:

  1. Higher level Pokémon give more Candy XL
  2. The Candy XL rate is likely broken into distinct level ranges (i.e. L1-14, L15-19, …)
  3. A binomial distribution (weighted coin flip) can be used to describe the distribution of Candy XL received from catching Pokémon

So the tl;dr would be that higher level Pokémon should be prioritised when farming candy XL. But that’s not always possible, especially without weather boost. And that’s where Megas come into play.

The coin flip theory

Imagine you’re trying to catch a level 1 Pidgey. Following the key findings above, you shouldn’t be expecting to get Candy XL. Whenever you catch a Pokémon, the game “flips a coin” 3 times. But that isn’t a regular coin, it’s a “weighted coin”.

And what the h*** is that? Well, imagine that coin is “tricked”, which means that one of the two potential outcomes (heads or tails) is more likely than the other.

Mega Charizard X

Let’s go back to the Pidgey catch screen. You just throwed an incredible curveball excellent throw and hit the Pidgey. Bullseye! Now the game will do the 3 coin flips I mentioned earlier:

  1. Does the player get a Candy XL? Yes/No
  2. Does the player get a Candy XL? Yes/No
  3. Does the player get a Candy XL? Yes/No

But since we aren’t flipping a regular coin, that Yes/No distribution ain’t 50%/50%. That’s why it’s a “weighted coin flip”. And under what criteria does the game define the Yes/No rates? By the level of the Pokémon just caught.

In other words, the % of one of these coin flips being “Yes” is higher if you catch a high-level Pokémon. That’s why higher level Pokémon give more Candy XL.

Estimated Candy XL rates

Silph Researchers also tried to estimate the exact Candy XL rates and the level-based distribution. In order to do that, they collected data on over 16.000 catches during their investigation, which is a decent sample size.

The following Table shows their findings (again, FULL credit to the Silph Research Group):

Estimated Candy XL rates per level (source: TSR)
Pokémon level Probability per flip Candy XL per catch (3*Prob. per flip)
1-14 1/100 3/100
15-19 1/20 3/20
20-22 2/20 6/20
23-25 3/20 9/20
26-30 4/20 12/20
31-35 6/20 18/20

As shown in the table above, the probability per flip (and hence, the candy XL per catch) increases as a function of the level of the Pokémon you just caught. Getting a Candy XL from a L31-35 catch is almost guaranteed.

Mega Evolution boosts

Now that you know how the basic catch Candy XL mechanics, it’s time to analyse the Mega Evolution boosts.

u/hnedka is the author of this post on reddit where they analyze the Mega Candy XL boosts after catching 124 non-weather boosted Wingull during Spotlight Hour while having a Level 2 mega-evolved Gyarados.

Their results (Level 2 Mega) can be seen below, combined with the table above just to make things easier to understand:

Estimated Candy XL rates per level (source: TSR + u/hnedka), L2 Mega active
Pokémon level Pokémon caught Probability per flip Probability per flip WITH L2 MEGA active Candy XL per catch (3*Prob. per flip) without mega Candy XL per catch (3*Prob. per flip) WITH L2 MEGA active
1-14 67 1/100 1/100 + 0.1 0.03 0.33
15-19 18 1/20 1/20 + 0.1 0.15 0.45
20-22 13 2/20 2/20 + 0.1 0.30 0.60
23-25 15 3/20 3/20 + 0.1 0.45 0.75
26-30 11 4/20 4/20 + 0.1 0.60 0.90
31-35 0 6/20 6/20 + 0.1 0.90 1.20

And for a Level 3 Mega the rates would look even better:

Estimated Candy XL rates per level (source: TSR), L3 Mega active
Pokémon level Probability per flip Probability per flip WITH L3 MEGA active Candy XL per catch (3*Prob. per flip) without mega Candy XL per catch (3*Prob. per flip) WITH L3 MEGA active
1-14 1/100 1/100 + 0.25 0.03 0.78
15-19 1/20 1/20 + 0.25 0.15 0.90
20-22 2/20 2/20 + 0.25 0.30 1.05
23-25 3/20 3/20 + 0.25 0.45 1.20
26-30 4/20 4/20 + 0.25 0.60 1.35
31-35 6/20 6/20 + 0.25 0.90 1.65

As shown in the tables above, the + 0.1 and + 0.25 boost (“Great chance” and “Excellent chance” in the game) for level 2 and level 3 megas is insane. And really noticeable when you catch lower level Pokémon.

Mega Evolutions in GO Battle League

Let’s go back to the CP 10 Pidgey you caught earlier. If you have a Level 3 Mega Pidgeot active when you catch it, the average amount of Candy XL for that catch would go up from 0.03 (no mega evolution active) to a whooping 0.78 Candy XL per catch. It’s still not guaranteed, but the boost is quite significant, don’t you think?

And while this might not seem like a big deal for a CP 10 Pidgey, it really makes the difference during Community Days, Spotlight Hours and events with rare spawns

The following tweet by the PvP streamer ThoTechtical sums it up pretty well:

He was able to grind 418 Mantine Candy XL in 378 catches. And all of that without weather boost! Having a Level 3 mega active really made the difference.

It’s also worth mentioning that since you only get the mega boost when catching Pokémon that share typing with the active mega, dual-type Mega Evolutions are much better investments.

Parting words

Here’s the tl;dr of the article:

  • Mega evolutions are one of the best (if not the best) methods to grind Candy XL. Start leveling up your megas asap if you want to maximize the amount of Candy XL you can get!
  • Having a Level 2 or Level 3 mega active during Community Days, Spotlight Hours or events with rare spawns may come in handy
  • Higher level Pokémon give more Candy XL. The Mega evolution boost to the amount of Candy XL obtained per catch is more noticeable when you catch lower level Pokémon (since higher level Pokémon already have a decent rate)
  • Since you only get the mega boost when catching Pokémon that share typing with the active mega, dual-type Mega Evolutions are much better investments

And that’s it! I hope you found the article informative, and if there’s anything you’d like to add please feel free to let us know in the comments section down below.

Thanks again to the Silph Research Group and u/hnedka for their data!

Happy hunting,

Kratos.

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