Effort Values make up a large portion of a Pokemon’s “total stats.” Mostly hidden from the game’s interface, EV’s exist for all 6 of the main stats (HP/Atk/Def/SpA/SpD/Spe) and each range from 0-252 per stat. For a simplistic calculation of EV’s, once a Pokemon has reached level 100, it will receive 1 stat point for every 4 EV’s allotted into that stat. As EV’s max out at 252 per stat, this means a Pokemon can receive up to +63 points to a single stat at level 100, and +31 points at level 50. That’s a large chunk!
As of the most recent games, we are provided with a rough-view of a Pokemon’s EV’s in game. When navigating to their stat sheet in the Pokemon menu, you may press Y to switch to a view consisting of blue and yellow graph shapes, around the hexagonal stat chart.
The yellow shape in the center is your Pokemon’s base stats, while the arms reaching out further display the Pokemon’s invested EV’s from 0-252. When an EV reaches max at 252, it locks in, and displays sparkles around the stat text (ie. HP, Attack, etc.).
While each stat will cap out at 252 EV’s allotted, a Pokemon has it’s own overall cap of 510 (these are important numbers to remember). Before getting into building an EV spread, you should know the common notation for a Pokemon’s EV’s. Following suit with a Pokemon’s stats HP/Atk/Def/SpA/SpD/Spe, EV’s are written out as 0/0/0/0/0/0, where each EV value corresponds to a main stat in order.
Based on this, a simple/common EV spread consists of maxing out two different stats at 252 each, and placing 4 EV’s into a third outlier stat. This balance of EV’s will allow a Pokemon to excel in two areas, such as Speed and Physical (0/252/0/0/0/252), or Special Attack (0/0/0/252/0/252). An EV spread like this is common in sweeper Pokemon, when you want them to simply outspeed as much of the field as possible, while hitting as hard as possible. Of course, neglecting any sort of HP or defensive EV’s will force your Pokemon into a glass-cannon role, where it needs to kill first or be killed.
Though I mentioned a very simple EV spread above, this should not be taken as the norm. EV’s are used in competitive play to survive or KO very specific threats you expect to encounter in play, as well as ensuring you win Speed ties versus similar base Speed Pokemon. To be effective in building complex EV spreads, the player must be well versed in the format, so that they know exactly which Pokemon will cause trouble for their team. Once a threatening Pokemon is chosen, you will next plug the threat, and one of your Pokemon into a damage calculator to begin fine-tuning the EV’s.
For example, let’s look at the common matchup between Incineroar and Metagross-Mega. Due to typing matchups, a 252 Attack EV Incineroar’s Flare Blitz has a 68.8% chance to OHKO (one-hit knock out) Metagross-Mega, otherwise a guaranteed 2HKO. We can obtain this information by plugging our Pokemon into the calculator, clicking on a move, and looking at the resulting output formatted like so:
252+ Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Metagross-Mega: 146 (94.1%) – 174 (112.2%) — 68.8% chance to OHKO
Unfortunately, as good as this matchup may look for us, if we look at the Speed matchup between these two, an Incineroar with 0 EV’s invested in Speed calculates out to 80 Speed at level 50. On the other side of the field, common Metagross-Mega builds utilizing 252 EV’s in Speed end up at 178 Speed meaning this isn’t event a contest.
Luckily, this doesn’t mean the end for our Incineroar as there are often means to overcome this deficit. A recurring partner for Incineroar through our current meta has been Zapdos, a Pokemon commonly equipped with the move Tailwind. Tailwind provides a 2x multiplier to our team’s Speed stat for the next 5 turns of the battle when used. What this means is that our Incineroar now has 160 base Speed, up from 80. Getting closer to our target of Metagross-Mega’s 176 Speed!
From here, we now need to find a way to make up at least 19 Speed so that we are faster than the opponent’s Metagross-Mega. Plugging Incineroar into the damage calculator we can now being placing EV’s into the speed stat, until it reaches 90 Speed (180 when 2x’d by Tailwind). Experimenting, we’ll find that an EV investment of 76 into the Speed stat brings us up to the magic number 90.
As mentioned earlier, with 252 EV’s invested in Attack, this puts us at a 68.8% chance to OHKO Metagross-Mega. When looking at where our new 76 Speed EV’s should come out of, we can tune other stats a bit to take a look. Due to our cap of 510 total EV’s per Pokemon, 76 Speed and 252 Attack mean only 182 EV’s left to invest in other stats. At this point, we need to decide what our most important stats are, and which others we will skimp on. If we reduce Attack down to 182 EV’s, we now only have a 37.5% chance to OHKO Metagross-Mega (which, if it is one of our team’s largest threats, this may not be acceptable). Alternatively, we could look to skimp on another EV like HP/Def/SpDef, keeping our 252 EV’s invested in Attack, and instead utilizing less investment into some of the defensive traits.
There is no right answer here really, and this is often why pros will keep their exact teams secret before large tournaments. EV investments are a very laborious task of trial-and-error, alongside estimation and prediction. While investing 252 EV’s into two stats, and 4 into another will get you started out in competitive play, as you progress you will want to start tuning things for yourself like we’ve covered here.
While this may be a lot to take in at once, hopefully reading through this will help you begin to decipher the underlying world of Pokemath! While we haven’t covered how to train your EV’s in this article, simply understanding them will be enough to get you started playing on Pokemon Showdown. If you want to get right into things and begin training EV’s on your 3DS, check out this great article from Trainer Tower on how to get started!