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Competitive Pokemon guide for Pokemon Scarlet and Violet

Posted on February 25, 2024 by in Guides, Switch

competitive pokemon guide Scarlet Violet

Today, we’ll be walking you through the process of making your favorite Pokemon ready for battles with a competitive guide. This aspect has existed for as long as the franchise has – but with each passing generation, Game Freak and the Pokemon Company have made competitive battling more and more accessible. IVs, EVs, leveling up, held items, and much more are involved. 

What Pokemon should you pick?

Competitive Pokemon guide

What we’ll go over first for our Pokemon competitive guide is that before you start preparing your team for battle, you’ll need to decide what kind of battle to prepare for. There are three main categories here: VGC, an official format that focuses on doubles; Smogon singles, which uses a unique tiering system; and just battling against your friends however you like. Regardless, if you’re new to competitive Pokemon battling, you might want to pick your moveset from one of Smogon’s strategy Pokedex entries as a starting point. There are over 1,000 Pokemon now, and it’s difficult to know which moves to run on which creature – especially when you’ve only got four slots to choose from.

It’s also hard to know which Pokemon are “good” and which Pokemon are “not so good”. Some excel in a singles format, whereas others do better in doubles. Some Pokemon – Flutter Mane is a great example – are excellent in any kind of format. Generally speaking, Pokemon with high base stats, useful Abilities, and lots of moves to choose from work best in battles – though there are a few exceptions to this rule. If you’re playing VGC or Smogon singles, the objective is to win – but if you’re playing with your friends, your objective might just be to have fun instead. In that case, you can use any Pokemon you like – pick your favorites.

If you’re looking to get one of your Pokemon ready for battle, you’ll first need to catch the one you want to prepare. If you want a Shiny Pokemon to fight your friends with, you can check out our Shiny Breeding guide or Shiny Sandwich Hunting guide to hunt the Pokemon you want. Once you’ve obtained it, feel free to move on to the next section. If you don’t specifically want a Shiny Pokemon to battle with (or if the Pokemon you want to fight with can’t be obtained Shiny), you can just catch one from the wild instead. As a reminder, there are a few Pokemon in Scarlet and Violet that currently cannot be Shiny under any circumstance: Koraidon, Miraidon, Chien-Pao, Wo-Chien, Chi-Yu, Ting-Lu, Ogerpon, Okidogi, Munkidori, Fezandipiti, Walking Wake, and Iron Leaves. Gimmighoul and Gholdengo were available as part of a Shiny Raid event, but at the time of writing this is currently inactive (and they cannot breed).

What are EVs?

Even if you’ve never done competitive Pokemon battling before, you’ve probably heard of EV training, which is the next stop on our Pokemon competitive guide. Basically, a Pokemon has six stats: HP, Attack, Defense, Sp. Attack, Sp. Defense, and Speed. Every time your Pokemon defeats a wild or trainer Pokemon, it gains an EV in a specific stat. When that stat gains 4 EVs, it increases by 1. For example, Wattrel yields 1 Speed EV when defeated. If your Pokemon defeats four Wattrel, its Speed stat will increase by 1. A Pokemon’s stat can only gain 252 EVs for a total increase of 63 points. Furthermore, a Pokemon can only have 510 total EVs – which means you can max out two of its stats, while a third one can get 6 additional EVs. Some movesets recommend more specific EVs so a Pokemon can better counter a specific threat.

The absolute best way to EV train a Pokemon only works if you’re rich. Visit any Chansey Supply store and you’ll be able to buy HP Up (HP), Protein (Attack), Iron (Defense), Calcium (Sp. Attack), Zinc (Sp. Defense), and Carbos (Speed). When your Pokemon drinks one of these, its corresponding stat receives 10 EVs. If you purchase 26 of them, you can fully EV train a Pokemon’s stat in an instant. Unfortunately, money is tough to come by in Scarlet and Violet at the time of writing – your best bet is farming the Academy Ace Tournament with an Amulet Coin or roaming the Asado Desert looking for sparkling objects (and then selling them afterward).

What are IVs?

Yup, it gets even more complicated. We’ll next cover IVs for our Pokemon competitive guide, which are a system completely separate from EVs. Each of your Pokemon’s six stats has an individual value between 0 and 31. Compare a Pokemon with 0 HP IVs to a Pokemon with 31 HP IVs, and the latter will have 31 more points in HP. As a result, you’re going to want your Pokemon to have maxed-out IVs if you want it to perform best in battle. Ideally, your Pokemon should have maximum IVs plus a fitting set of EVs (effort values) as mentioned earlier.

Fortunately, you can buy Bottle Caps at Delibird Presents and then visit a man in Montenevera next to an Abomasnow. He will Hyper Train one of your Pokemon’s stats in exchange for a Bottle Cap, which will max the stat of your choosing to 31 IVs. The catch is that your Pokemon must be at least Level 50, however, so keep that in mind before you go ahead and use a Bottle Cap.

How about held items?

You can buy most held items from different Delibird Presents locations. They’re a little expensive, but they’re incredibly useful. Most of the time, your Pokemon is going to want to hold an item – there are very few scenarios (if any) where no item is better than one item. We’ve written a list of each notable item you can buy from Delibird Presents and what it does. If the item you see below isn’t in stock at the store, try either progressing further in the game or going to a different branch of the store (they have locations in Mesagoza, Levincia, and Cascarrafa).

  • The Ability Shield prevents its owner’s Ability from being changed or nullified. Generally not too useful in competitive, but great for Tera Raid Battles — the raid bosses can temporarily disable your Pokemon’s Abilities, which hurts Pokemon like Azumarill (Huge Power) and Heatran (Flash Fire) who rely on their Abilities in certain instances.
  • An Air Balloon makes its user immune to Ground-type moves. When they’re hit by an attack, however, the balloon pops and stops protecting its user from Ground-type moves. Great on Steel-types – you’ll sometimes see this on Gholdengo or Heatran.
  • The Assault Vest increases its user’s Sp. Defense by 1.5x, but only lets them use attacking moves. Decent on physically strong, bulky Pokemon who could use a Sp. Defense boost – Tyranitar, Iron Hands, and Ting-Lu are a few good examples.
  • Choice Band, Choice Scarf, and Choice Specs increase the user’s Attack, Speed, and Sp. Attack by 1.5x, respectively. In exchange, however, the user can only use the first move they select. These are excellent items and generally only work on offensive Pokemon.
  • The Covert Cloak is best in doubles, but it has some niches in singles as well. Basically, it prevents its user from suffering secondary effects from attacks that hit it. The user won’t ever be burned by Fire Punch, paralyzed by Nuzzle, or flinched by Fake Out (which specifically is why this item is good in doubles). It also stops Garganacl’s Salt Cure.
  • The Eviolite increases its user’s Defense and Sp. Defense, but only if they are a Pokemon that can still evolve. Great on Chansey and Porygon2, who have great defensive stats, but gimmicky on most other Pokemon.
  • A Focus Sash works great on fast, frail Pokemon like Ribombee or Spidops (who isn’t fast, but is still frail). Basically, a Pokemon with a Focus Sash is guaranteed to live one hit — as long as said hit isn’t a multi-strike move like Rock Blast or Bullet Seed. This gives your Pokemon at least one turn – generally, you run Focus Sash on Pokemon with moves like Stealth Rock or Spikes to guarantee that they go up.
  • Heavy-Duty Boots are best in singles, and if you’re playing in a Smogon tier, they’re almost a requirement for certain Pokemon. This item makes its user immune to entry hazards, allowing them to come in on Stealth Rock, Spikes, Toxic Spikes, and Sticky Web unaffected. You’ll be switching much less often if you play doubles, so Heavy-Duty Boots generally aren’t used there.
  • Leftovers restore a little bit of the user’s health every turn. Great on almost every Pokemon in singles – especially more defensive ones.
  • A Light Clay extends the duration of Light Screen, Reflect, and Aurora Veil. Used mostly on Alolan Ninetales with Snow Warning, who can then immediately set Aurora Veil to protect its teammates with a 1.5x defense boost for 8 turns.
  • A Life Orb is a great all-purpose item that works best on offensive Pokemon. It deals slight recoil damage every time the user attacks, but it increases both of their offensive stats by 1.3x. If you’re using a Pokemon that really wants to have access to its coverage moves (and thus you don’t want to use a Choice item), Life Orb works great.
  • The Loaded Dice makes a Pokemon’s multi-hit moves strike opponents at least 4 times. Great for Pokemon like Brute Bonnet or Torterra who use moves like Bullet Seed or Rock Blast. You could also go with Baxcalibur and Icicle Spear, too. Don’t use this item on Maushold with Population Bomb, however — the move hits up to ten times, so a Wide Lens works better there.
  • A Quick Claw is gimmicky, but it grants its user a 30% chance of moving first regardless of its speed stat. Of course, this item only works 30% of the time, so you’ll generally want to use a different item that works 100% of the time. Still, worth considering if you want to use something fun against your friends.
  • The Rocky Helmet deals damage to opponents who make contact with its user. Contact moves are generally only physical attacks, so a Rocky Helmet pairs well with physically bulky Pokemon like Landorus or Ting-Lu.
  • The Weakness Policy is usually better in doubles. When the user is struck by a super-effective move, this item activates and increases their Attack and Defense. There’s no guarantee that the user will survive said super-effective attack, however. In doubles, you can use a partner to hit your Pokemon with a weak super-effective move to ensure it survives.

What about natures?

With EVs, IVs, and a held item taken care of, you’re getting close to making your Pokemon battle-ready. But something else we need to cover for our Pokemon competitive guide is natures. Each Pokemon has a nature, and each nature increases a stat by 10% and decreases another by 10%. If you look up some movesets for Pokemon, chances are it’ll include a recommended nature. Here’s a quick chart of every nature in the game and which stat it increases and decreases.

  • Adamant: +Attack, -Sp. Attack
  • Bashful: No change
  • Bold: +Defense, -Attack
  • Brave: +Attack, -Speed
  • Calm: +Sp. Defense, -Sp. Attack
  • Careful: +Sp. Defense, -Sp. Attack
  • Docile: No change
  • Gentle: +Sp. Defense, -Defense
  • Hardy: No change
  • Hasty: +Speed, -Defense
  • Impish: +Defense, -Sp. Attack
  • Jolly: +Speed, -Sp. Attack
  • Lax: +Defense, -Sp. Defense
  • Lonely: +Attack, -Defense
  • Mild: +Sp. Attack, -Defense
  • Modest: +Sp. Attack, -Attack
  • Naive: +Speed, -Sp. Defense
  • Naughty: +Attack, -Sp. Defense
  • Quiet: +Sp. Attack, -Speed
  • Quirky: No changes
  • Rash: +Sp. Attack, -Sp. Defense
  • Relaxed: +Defense, -Speed
  • Sassy: +Sp. Defense, -Speed
  • Serious: No change
  • Timid: +Speed, -Attack

Generally speaking, certain kinds of Pokemon tend to run certain natures. Offensive Pokemon run Attack, Sp. Attack, or Speed-boosting natures. Defensive Pokemon often run Defense or Sp. Defense-boosting natures. It really depends on the kind of Pokemon you’re raising. If your Pokemon’s nature isn’t the one you want, you can buy Nature Mints at Chansey Supply stores.

Finishing touches for our competitive Pokemon guide

Just a few more things and you’re all done. As mentioned earlier, your best bet starting out is just looking up a moveset on something like Smogon. It’s totally okay to make your own too – but if you’re new to competitive battling, it might just be easier to start with an existing recommendation. When your Pokemon’s EVs, IVs, item, and nature match the moveset you chose, there are just two more things to consider.

First up is the Pokemon’s Ability. Depending on the species, a Pokemon can have two normal Abilities and one Hidden Ability. If your Pokemon’s Ability doesn’t match the moveset’s, you can change it. Use an Ability Capsule to change a Pokemon’s Ability to its other one or an Ability Patch to change to its Hidden Ability. Unfortunately, Ability Patches are hard to come by – they’re a 1% drop chance from 6-Star Tera Raid Battles. There are 7-Star Raid Battle events that drop every so often, however, and most guarantee an Ability Patch on your first clear.

Thanks so much for reading our competitive Pokemon guide. Overall, though, we’ve just barely scratched the surface of competitive Pokemon battling. We hope this served as a good starting point for those of you looking into Pokemon mechanics for the first time.

Which Pokemon are you raising right now? Feel free to let us know down below – and if you have any questions on how to prepare one of your Pokemon for battle, you’re welcome to leave that here too.

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