ByMichael Mitchell, writer at
Former Staff Writer for Now Loading. Currently tweeting things here:
Michael Mitchell

Pokemon GO provides numerous opportunities to catch the same Pokemon over and over and over. Thankfully, the game rewards you for doing so — catching multiple Pokemon is the only way to evolve and power up existing Pokemon. But sometimes, it can be hard to determine what Pokemon to evolve or power up. This is made especially confusing if you start to factor in size or abilities (though we do have a guide to help you out and make a little sense of those stats).

Thankfully, the folks over at The Silph Road have been hard at work determining what makes a Pokemon a good one.

If you want a TL;DR rundown, we've discussed the Top 10 Pokemon by stat already, but if you like knowing the science behind Pokemon GO's numbers, this is the post for you!

Today, we'll be going over what IV is, how important moves are to Pokemon, and just how exactly The Silph Road has put together its rankings of all the Pokemon.

Need a refresher on Pokemon GO? Be sure to check out our Pokemon Go overview guide as well as our in-depth tips for beginners and as well as experts.

Via The Silph Road.
Via The Silph Road.

What is "IV"?

If you take a gander over at the Silph Road's subreddit, you'll notice posters constantly referencing something called Individual Value, or "IV." What makes IV such a hot topic is that it's determined by completely hidden stats, but will still have a big effect on your Pokemon.

In a great ELI5 on the topic, the top poster explains that IV is determined by Stamina, Attack, and Defense — which are not stats the game ever explicitly shows you — and in turn, acts as a multiplier for the stats you do see. So if you're looking to upgrade two of the same type of Pokemon, IV will help you determine which is the better investment.

For example, you may have a Psyduck with 400 CP and another with 300 CP. At first glance, you'll want to power up/evolve the one with 400 CP. But if it turns out the IV on the 400 is very low and the IV on the 300 is near perfect, the 300 CP will actually be the better one to power up or evolve (and yes, IV does not change with evolutions!)

Via The Silph Road.
Via The Silph Road.

How do I determine what my Pokemon's IV is?


No, really, figuring out IVs is not something that can easily be done by hand, thankfully IV calculators exist! In order to make the process easier, several individuals have made different forms of IV-calculating software. The above image comes from The Silph Road's website, which has a very handy tool for a quick glance at a Pokemon's IV. Keep in mind, different IVs can sometimes create the same Stamina/Defense/Attack combination, so existing software will not be 100% accurate.

For example, if you use the Pokemon GO IV Calculator App for Android, you'll get a list of possible IVs based on what data you input. If you power up your Pokemon and do the process again, you'll narrow down the possibilities. As redditor LastSasquatch explains:

"There are a lot of combinations of IVs that can produce some sets of CP and HP at a given level, but the subset of these which also produce the new values for CP and HP at the next level is generally going to be much smaller."

The software for calculating IVs is updating pretty often, and the whole process in general is relatively new, but if you want to get a rough estimate of your Pokemon's IV, The Silph Road's calculator is simple and quick to use! For curiosity's sake, I used data for my Clefable above and got the following results:

Of course, science always finds a way to take data one step further and complicate matters. Because of this, IV isn't the only thing you'll want to look at before bragging to all your friends just how much better your Pokemon is than theirs.

Abilities are more important than IV

As I've gone over before, the same Pokemon can have different abilities. And while IV is a good measurement of a Pokemon's value, it actually has less of an impact on fight performance than abilities. The reason for this is that each ability has an inherent damage per second (DPS) value. Thankfully, both The Silph Road and reddit user __isitin__ have come up with lists of abilities and their corresponding DPS.

A good rule of thumb: only evolve Pokemon with powerful moves. The Silph Road's breakdown lists all abilities by DPS and sorts them by fast or slow, while __isitin__'s list over on github lets you examine all available abilities by Pokemon and displays which abilities are strong/weak against potential battle targets. If that's a lot to take in, don't worry — we'll help break it down a bit.

For example, using the github page, you can see that if you have a perfect-IV Hypno but it has Confusion, it's not going to beat a mediocre-IV Hypno with Zen Headbutt. This is because the DPS on Zen Headbutt is nearly double that of Confusion's. It's worth noting that because these are user-calculated rankings, the numbers are not exact.

The Silph Road's DPS numbers differ from __isitin__'s, but both offer almost the exact same ratio. So while you may not be able to tell what the exact DPS for your Pokemon is, you can still use either list to determine if your Pokemon has a good subset of abilities.

Via __isitin__'s github page.
Via __isitin__'s github page.

So how do I actually tell if I have a good Pokemon?

Keeping in mind this is all for the hardest of hardcore players, determining if you have a good Pokemon is a multi-step process. The first is checking which abilities your Pokemon has of the ones available to it. __isitin__'s github page is perfect for this, since all you have to do is select your Pokemon to see a list of available abilities. In almost all cases, the consensus right now is that a perfect set of abilities far outweighs any IV.

With your Pokemon narrowed down by move set, the second step is to calculate the IV. This will give you a good comparison for Pokemon that both have strong moves. As I've mentioned, there are a few different tools to help do this — they won't all give you the exact same results, but as long as you're consistent with which software you use, you'll be golden.

The last step is more of an optional one, but still worth keeping in mind. After all, if you have a roster of the "strongest" Pokemon but don't have any variety, you'll be an easier target than Brock's all-Rock-time Gym was for my Squirtle back in Pokemon Blue.

Via The Silph Road.
Via The Silph Road.

There's no black-and-white rule for this one, but it's important to be aware of your roster. Be diverse: if you have a lot of Psychic moves, additional Psychic moves won't help. If you have an Attack-heavy roster but no Defense-based Pokemon, you'll want to aim for those.

The Top 10 lists from The Silph Road are excellent and a huge display of just what exactly the community can do when it puts its minds together. If you want a quick-and-dirty way to determine if you have a good Pokemon, go check out the list. If you want a more detailed analysis of the ins and outs of your Pokemon, hopefully this has helped you further understand the game!

Lastly, keep in mind a lot of this is still an ongoing effort! Be sure to keep checking back with Now Loading for more updates, and definitely stop by The Silph Road subreddit — those guys and gals have done incredible work and will surely have posts of all magnitude to help you out!

After reading this, how do your Pokemon rank? Do you need to work more on your IVs or your move sets? What's your best Pokemon? Let us know below!

[Source: The Silph Road]


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