Player-vs.-player (PVP) battles have given Pokemon Go a new dimension. They’ve also added another layer of confusion. Recently, I had conversations with two hardcore Pokemon Go trainers and was surprised to learn that they only use Pokemon with perfect individual values (IVs) in PVP battles. While that makes sense in no-limit Master League, there are several cases where perfect Pokemon are suboptimal in Great League and Ultra League.
The issue is combat power (CP) — a nebulous stat created by Niantic (and a number that too many players focus on). Great League has a CP cap of 1,500, while Ultra League has a CP cap of 2,500. Due to how CP is calculated, there are many Pokemon that would be more effective with a 0 attack IV than a 15 attack IV.
To help you understand this issue, let’s take a look at the formula used to calculate CP.
CP = (Attack * Defense0.5 * Stamina0.5 * CP_Multiplier2) / 10
The quick-and-easy takeaway is that attack counts far more than defense and stamina. Having a max attack IV of 15 will make you hit the CP caps in Great League and Ultra League faster. In many cases, the ideal IVs for Great League and Ultra League are closer to 0/15/15 (attack / defense / stamina) than a perfect 15/15/15.
Let’s use Giratina as an example, since it’s a fantastic Pokemon for both Master League and Ultra League. A 15/15/15 Giratina is obviously what you want in Master League. For Ultra League, a 0/15/15 Giratina will serve you better than a perfect one. Since attack is weighted so heavily in the CP formula, having a 15 attack Giratina will cause you to hit the cap at a lower level. Having a 0 attack Giratina will allow you to level up more, giving your Pokemon more hit points (HP). This allows a 0/15/15 Giratina to take more damage, take advantage of its fantastic defense, and still inflict enough damage to outlast the opponent.
Sometimes, But Not Often, You Want Perfection
There are exceptions, of course. There are a number of PVP-relevant Pokemon with low CP ceilings. Medicham is a brilliant Pokemon for Great League battles and has a max CP of 1,431. Blastoise is a strong choice for Ultra league battles and has a max CP of 2,466. In both of those cases, you want perfect IVs for the best performance.
Some trainers have a hard time wrapping their heads around the fact that a 0/15/15 Pokemon can be effective. I’ve heard people erroneously claim that those Pokemon inflict no damage. That’s not true at all. I’ve also heard some claim that a 15 attack IV means “you win faster.” Yes, a 15/15/15 Pokemon will do more damage than a 0/15/15 one, but for many Pokemon the additional damage does not outweigh the benefits of being at a higher level and having more hit points.
To make sure you’re using the best Pokemon you can for PVP battles, I highly recommend using resources like Pokebattler to learn the ideal IVs for your Pokemon for Great League and Master League battles. Remember, just because a Pokemon is perfect doesn’t necessarily mean it’s perfect for those leagues.