When beginning in VGC the amount of knowledge that you will have to learn to become a great player can be extremely intimidating. With data points such as EVs, IVs, meta predictions, speed tiers, damage reduction etc it can be hard to focus on which of these is most important to learn to get started on your VGC journey.
So today I will be going over the top 5 data points I believe are the most important, and most beneficial for absolute beginners to focus on first thing.
The type chart is extremely important for obvious reasons, all Pokémon types are weak to some, resist others, and some types are even immune to other typing’s. Knowing how these types interact is a fundamental part of competitive Pokémon and should be the first thing you work on learning about.
If you have Heatran on the field vs your opponents Duraludon you may be tempted to use a fire type move such as heatwave due to Duraludon’s steel typing. However Duraludon is also a dragon type which resists fire thus negating its weakness to fire and making your heatwave deal neutral damage. Instead you would want to use earth power with Heatran to exploit the fact that Duraludon’s steel typing is weak to ground and not resisted by its dragon typing making this a much better option even though it may not seem like it at first glance. This is just to give an example as to why knowing how the 18 different typing’s interact with each other is so important to your success in the long run.
Knowing the speed stat that your opponent’s Pokémon can reach compared to your own is a highly important piece of data to know. If you go into a match and you are unsure if your Kyogre can out speed your opponents Landorus then you may make nonoptimal plays due to that lack of knowledge.
Learning speed tiers is something that may seem highly intimidating as there are so many Pokémon, and knowing their min speed, max speed, and max speed with neutral nature is a lot of data to learn. I agree that at first this is a tricky thing to learn, however, over time of working on EV spreads, and playing on pokemonshowdown and comparing stats it will become easier. Also as you begin to build a base of Pokémon speed knowledge you can use that to more easily learn future speed tiers. For example if you learn that base 90 speed Pokémon hit a minimum of 85 speed with a hindering nature and 0 speed IV, hit 142 speed with max speed neutral nature, and hit 156 speed with max speed beneficial nature, than you can just start learning which Pokémon are base 90 speed and linking that previously learned data to these new Pokémon. And continue for other base speeds.
You can also use this data to learn the speed stat of Pokémon with similar speed stats such as Landorus-T who has a speed stat of 91, using the previously learned speeds of the base 90 Pokémon you can now add 1 point to each speed tier and remember what speed stats base 91 Pokémon hit.
Now unfortunately this won’t be reliable for all Pokémon as there is a jump in speed stats called the “bump” which I won’t get into in this article and instead will link you to posts where you can learn about the bump. TLDR of the bump is that at certain speed stats a Pokémon will gain 2 stat points instead of 1 for the EV investment. An example of this is Hydreigon (base 98 speed) to Urshifu (base 97 speed), max speed Urshifu hits a speed stat of 163, as to where max speed Hydreigon hits a stat of 165. Now if you used the previous method of adding 1 speed stat to Urshifu’s 97 speed you would think Hydrigon hits a speed stat of 164, but due to the bump Hydreigon hits a speed stat of 165.
I know that was likely complicated if you are not aware of the bump previously, but this is not something you need to worry yourself too much about yet, but if you would like to learn more you can check the EV training guides I have linked in the VGC improvement library. I just wanted to show you that in most cases you can use previously learned speeds such as the base 90 Pokémon to more easily remember base 91-97 speed Pokémon, but due to the bump it’s not going to be reliable for all Pokémon, but there are many advanced mechanics which you will learn over time and they won’t be as complicated as you may think!
Secondary Effects Chances
Many moves in Pokémon have secondary effects, and knowing the chances that these secondary effects may happen can come into play when deciding your moves.
For example let’s say you have a Suicune on the field vs your opponents Hitmontop, you know that you are unable to KO this Hitmontop without a critical hit (4.17%) and if you do not land this critical Hit then you get KOd by Hitmontop’s close combat. So instead you identify that you can use scald and have a 30% chance to burn your opponent, decreasing their damage output which will allow you to survive and KO with the second scald. In this scenario you have a much better chance of winning by pressing scald and potentially getting a burn than you do by landing a critical hit.
Another potential scenario where you are 1v1 with a Landorus-T on your side up against your opponent’s last Pokémon. You used earthquake last turn and saw it did just barely under 50% damage lets say 49%. You are considering if you should earthquake again and see if you get a better damage roll to get the remaining 51% to get the knockout or if you should use rock slide betting on the 30% chance to flinch your opponent and put them in range to where the next earthquake will 100% KO. Now let’s say you are unsure about the damage calcs in this scenario so you are assume that you have a 50/50 (50%) at KOing your opponent with earthquake vs your 30% chance to flinch with rock slide, well with the uncertainty of the situation you assess that it’s better for you to take the 50% chance to KO instead of the 30% chance to flinch due to the higher chances you win the game.
Now these scenarios are a bit abstract, but they do come up where banking on secondary effects is your best play, and in those situation you will want to be able to identify which option will provide you with the highest % chance to win the game.
S.T.A.B vs Super Effective Damage Boosts vs Weather Boosts
S.T.A.B stands for same type attack bonus. S.T.A.B provides you a 1.5x boost to your damage output when using a move that is the same type as the user.
Super effective hits are when you use a move on a Pokémon who’s weak to that move’s type. For example using a fire move on a grass type Pokémon.
This will give you a 2x damage boost to your move if one of their typing’s is weak to that move and the other does not resist. Super effective moves will do 4x damage if both of the Pokémon’s stats are weak to that move’s typing.
The 4 weathers in Pokémon are hail, sun, rain, and sandstorm.
Sun: increases fire types moves damage by 1.5x and decreases water type moves damage by 0.5x
Rain: Increases water type moves damage by 1.5x and decreases fire type moves damage by 0.5x
Sandstorm: Rock type Pokémon gain a 1.5x boost to their special defense stat
Knowing these damage modifiers are going to be very important when deciding which moves are going to be the most effective for you to use in a given scenario. Make sure to compare the base damage of each move to calculate which move will end up being the strongest choice.
This is the most advanced data point to learn which is why I’m listing it last. Using damage calculators such as the ones on pikalytics are a crucial tool to improvement in VGC. You can use damage calculators to improve your EV spreads, or judge how much damage you can expect to deal to opponents Pokémon. Learning how much damage you can expect your attacks to do will greatly increase your quality of play and decision making. Although this is a bit difficult to learn at first, if you use the damage calculator consistently you will begin to slowly learn how much damage your moves will do. I wouldn’t recommend you focus on this fully until you master the previous data points but I do recommend you mess around with the damage calculator while practicing and start to get used to it and you will along the way gain knowledge on damage calcs.
Thank you for reading today’s article! If you enjoyed please give this post a share, or consider checking out my social media for more VGC improvement content. You can find my twitter here, YouTube here, and my twitch channel here. I hope you enjoyed and I wish you a fantastic day!