Pokemon 101: Stats


Last time, in Planning My Team, we discussed the VGC 2018 (VGC18) format, and began looking at the various archetypal pillars. Of teams currently seeing play, Sun is going to be the main focus of the Pokemon 101 Team Building discussion. Sun teams have been a tried-and-true win condition over years of Pokemon, so where better to begin.

While we may want to dive right into selecting members for our team, there are a few topics worth discussing before doing so. Get ready to learn some Pokemon math, and how it applies to the competitive game!

Stats? Like the Ones On My Screen?

When you select a Pokemon in your party, you’re presented with a clean and easy to read summary sheet. Though these stats are being displayed to you just as past games do (a simple number for each of the Pokemon’s six stats), there’s a lot going on behind the scenes that you may not be familiar with. Lucky for us, the most recent Generations have done a great job at teasing the behind-the-scenes work, allowing us to estimate things without relying on pen and paper.


When looking at this stat view above, we are presented with six numerical values (HP/Atk/Def/SpA/SpD/Spe). Each of these stats determine how effective a Pokemon is in that area. Pokemon with a high Attack stat will excel at using Physical moves, while Pokemon with high Special Attack will excel at using Special moves. Though these stats are a main concern when battling, the values you see are actually a combination of three different numbers:

  • Base Stats
    • These are unique to the species, and will always be the same within a species
  • Effort Values (EVs)
    • You train these stats onto your Pokemon
  • Individual Values (IVs)
    • These are rolled when you come across a Pokemon via encounter or breeding

We’ll get more into these values in our next discussion!

How Do My Stats Affect Me?

When two Pokemon battle, their stats will be one of the main factors at play. Every attack is calculated using offensive and defensive stats, and Speed decides which Pokemon moves first. As such, it is beneficial for us to understand exactly which stat is impacting which part of the battle.

  • Health (HP)
    • HP equates to how much Health your Pokemon has. This is the health number you see in battle, and what determines how much damage your Pokemon can take before being Knocked Out.
  • Attack (Atk)
    • Attack decides how much damage your Physical moves will hit for. Different moves scale differently off of your Attack stat, but this is a simple explanation of the value.
  • Defense (Def)
    • Defense reduces the damage taken by Physical moves. You’ll want to assign your defensive stats based on which type-weaknesses your Pokemon has and the most popular Pokemon of those types being used.
  • Special Attack (SpA)
    • Like Attack, Special Attack decides how much damage Special Attacks will hit for.
  • Special Defense (SpD)
    • Similar to Defense, Special Defense will protect the user from Special Damage attacks, lessening the blow when dealt to your Pokemon.
  • Speed (Spe)
    • Speed plays a major role in battle, deciding which Pokemon will move first. This is one of the most important factors in competitive Pokemon, as going second may very well end up in a knockout by your opponent.
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Landorus-Therian’s Base Stats


Speed is the one area we’ll dive a little deeper into here, because it’s an important one to understand right off the bat. At the start of a turn, once all players have selected their moves, all four Pokemon will be sorted by their speed stat highest to lowest. Once sorted, the Pokemon will attack round-robin from first to last. If a Pokemon is KO’d during the turn, attack priority will skip over their position in the list on to the next Pokemon.

In the event of a Speed-tie, where two Pokemon have identical Speed stats, there is a 50% chance that your Pokemon will move first. To avoid Speed-tying a Pokemon of the same species, trainers will often try and make sure their Pokemon has one or two Speed stat points higher than the most common build in the metagame.

Any Speed modifications that occur during the turn will not impact move priority for that turn, but will be reflected on the next. For example, if Charizard activates its Mega form enabling Harsh Sunlight, a Venusaur on the field will not have its position modified due to Chlorophyll. On the next turn, Venusaur’s speed will be doubled as a result of Chlorophyll, but that will be the first visible instance of its Speed change.

Some awesome community members put in work each season to determine the various Speed tiers among the meta. Level 51 (@levelfiftyone) threw together a spreadsheet at the beginning of VGC 18, which can be found here. This table compares your Pokemon’s Speed against another in the list to determine which will move first in a battle.

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As you spend more time playing competitively, you will begin to remember some of these values off the top of your head. A user on Reddit (@robyn_herbert) produced a very useful set of flashcards which are great for learning the various Speed tiers of the meta. These flash cards may be found here (but you don’t need to stress over them yet).

Final Words

While this may be a very simple overview of the stats that make up a Pokemon, these ideas are some of the foundations of competitive battling. In the next discussion, we’ll look at where these stats come from, and how we can control their outcomes.

Do you have any questions about your Pokemon’s stats? Curious how these stats play a part in VGC 2018? Leave a response below!


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