Pokémon GO PvP Guide

pokemon go pvp

Posted on February 3rd, 2020, 10:56 PM by Terry Kim

Updated on February 3rd, 2020, 10:56 PM

A single post for you to read and learn all the basics needed for Pokémon GO's newly launched PvP!

PvP launched in Pokémon Go! Here is a general guide for the people who haven't spent a lot of time on it, and would like to read up on how to be better, and win against players around the world!

The basics

How it works

This newly added mode of PvP - global matching and rating system - works in sets of 5. You start by signing up for a GO Battle league set, a set of 5 matches. Your first set will be initially unlocked, and each further set can be unlocked by either advancing to the next rank, walking 5 Kilometers after your set is finished, or paying a variable amount of Pokécoins - the cost of which decreases along with the remaining distance needed to unlock the next set for free. This payment cost starts at a 200 coins, appearing once you have walked 2km since the last match of the previous set- only to steadly fall.

Each match within the set functions independently, and you can leave and adjust your battle party anytime you are not in a direct match itself.


There are no special rules - they are mostly similar from your typical Pokémon GO battles; This means no Ditto or Shedinja. Sorry folks! However, legendaries and mythic Pokémon are definitely included, so you can pick out whichever legendary you would like to use.

Also, for players that aren't used to PvP at all, PvP happens in "turns" that just happens fast, and do not stop for you. Each move has "how many turns" it takes to use. Look up the information on wiki-like sites, like Gamepress! And remember, madly tapping as fast as you can will not make your attacks go any faster than it already can.

Rewards and Tiers

You can earn one reward per match won within the set (premium battles, from sets started with premium passes, give better rewards).

Rewards include: Stardust / Rare Candy / Charged TM / Pokémon Encounter / Mystery item

Ranks 1-3

  • Rank1: Your starting rank
  • Rank2: Complete 5 battles
  • Rank3: Complete 5 more battles

Available encounters: Snorlax, Snivy, Tepig, Oshawott, and Machop - with Snorlax being the first encounter.

Ranks 4-6

  • Rank4: Complete 5 more battles (total: 15)
  • Rank5: Win 5 new battles
  • Rank6: Win 7 more battles (total: 12)

Available encounters: Scraggy, Meditite, Skarmory - with Scraggy being the first encounter.

Ranks 7-10

  • Rank7: Win 10 more battles (total: 22)
  • Rank8: Battle rating of 1800+
  • Rank9: Battle rating of 2100+
  • Rank10: Battle rating of 2700+

Available encounters: Lapras, Shieldon, Deino, Larvitar, Litwick


The current season is for Great Leagues only, lasting until Feb 10. It will be followed by Ultra League, from Feb 10 to Feb 24, then Master League, from Feb 24 to Mar 9.


Team composition

Your team should compose of ones that complement each other, by covering for each other's weaknesses. Flygon, Lugia, and Bastiodon would be one example, where Flygon's double weakness to ice & weakness to fairy will be covered by Bastiodon, Bastiodon's double weakness to fighting and ground ould be covered by Lugia's double resistance to fighting and ground, while Lugia's weakness to rock, ice, and electric would be covered together by Bastiodon and Flygon. This would leave only three uncovered weaknesses, dark, water and ghost- across the entire team, and other members can still switch in without being hit for super effective!

Better picks for Pvp

Pokémon great for Raid and Gym battles are not guaranteed to be great in PvP. In fact, for CP-capped leagues (Great & Ultra), ones with lower Attack values are preferred, due to the way CP is weighted. 1 Attack counts as ~9 CP, while 1 Defense or 1 Stamina counts as ~4 or 5 CP. For this reason, Lugia is a more preferred pick than Ho-oh, and Deoxys-D more preferred than any other form. Also, this means that a low-attack, high-defense&stamina mon is usually preferred, barring special cases!

Also very important is its move-typing. Unlike Raids, uniform-type movesets are less desirable in PvP. A fast attack of one type, and charged moves of at least one different type is preferred, so that you can have super-effective coverage against multiple types. Some pokémon pack charged moves that would be supereffective against what would normally be considered a counter to them, like the Azumarill - with Ice Beam, to threaten grass-type attackers.

Once you have considered the type-relations you want, you will want to know what moves you will want to have. Some moves are strictly better than others. Shadow claw is better than Astonish in all aspects, and Hydro cannon makes most moves pale in comparison. Look at its energy cost/generation, and its damage output (The game itself doesn't do a very good job, you will likely want outside information like CalcyIV, linked below). In general, fast moves with high Energy-per-turn are preferred, while charged moves with low energy cost and high damage-per-turn are preferred.

If you have little clue about what is a good party, and don't have many PvP-ready mons under your belt, try out the cheaper 'popular picks' first: This would include pokémon like Swampert, Flygon, Altaria, Venusaur, Clefable, Deoxys-D, Alolan Muk, Lucario. You can expand out, to fit your needs, from these picks!

Look out for the following moves:

  • Fast moves: Snarl, Lock-on, Spark, Shadow claw, Counter, Dragon breath, Mud shot
  • Charged moves: Hydro cannon, Frenzy plant, Blast burn, Avalanche
These are common-enough moves that are valued for their high EPT and DPT combinations for fast moves, and high DPE with low energy cost combinations for charged moves.

Advanced Tactics


Shield-baiting is a tactic where you charge up more energy than you need for your low-cost move, then proceed to use your low-cost move, so trick the enemy into using their shield for a move that is considered 'not worth shielding'. Common use of this move would include Flygon faking Dragon-claw into Earth power's energy timing, or Alolan Raichu's Thunder punch into Psychic's timing.

Last-minute switch-outs:

Charge your energy in one fight, then proceed to switch out to a different pokémon (preferably one that resists the move that the enemy is about to use) the moment you think the enemy will use the charged move. This brings the benefit of defending effectively and making it difficult for the enemy to track when your saved charged-move will arrive, but has the drawback of allowing the enemy for a free switch to react to your defensive switch-in.

Under-charging your charged move

This is a risky tactic, that can only work if you know your moveset and the enemy stats very well. Should you be able to 'control' your charged move to a performance (0-nice-great-excellent), you may land your charged move, then proceed to finish them off with one or two fast move hits. While this may seem trivial, there is much to gain here, as you will be facing the next opponent with energy generated from the previous one, making room for a faster charged-move followup. Use with caution, though!


Gather enough energy to use two charged moves back-to-back. A situational tactic that can be very effective, by adding pressure and unknown variables to the enemy.

High-attack-IV shieldbreakers

Swampert, Flygon, Alolan Raichu, and the likes are well-known shieldbreakers. You will likely encounter similar mons, that will compete with you for the first charged move. If the moves happen on the same turn, the move priority will go to the pokémon with the higher total attack. For this purpose (albeit mostly limited to mirror-matches or identical EPT/Ecost matchups), one may consider raising a high-attack shieldbreaker.

Useful Links

Calcy IV (Android)

Offers move details - including but not limited to: EPT/DPT, DPE/Damage, move pool, a specific pokémon in your box's performance in relation to CP cap, and projected CP when evolved.

PokeGenie(Android, IOS)

Offers less functions than Calcy IV, but is available on more platforms.

Pokébattler (Web)

Provides optimal counters for matchups, based on each condition set by the user. Very informative, and a great tool in finding counters for certain pokémon, or looking up ideal party setups.

Thesilphroad (Web)

A research-oriented site that brings quite a bit of insight to unaware readers.

Pokémon type chart

A quick visual tool to choose what type your enemy is, and be provided with its resistances, weaknesses, and the associated multipliers.