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Slowly but surely, Pokémon lowered the bar for entry in competitive battling. In Scarlet & Violet, it’s easier than ever before to enter the competitive world. But the game doesn’t really explain everything that a competitive player needs to know. There’s simply too much information for the game to include, information that would be useless to the average player.
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If you want to get into the world of competition and don’t want to immediately fail and get discouraged, then you’ll have to do some homework. Don’t worry, the foundations for competition never change. IVs, EVs, Natures, and Abilities are constants through the Pokémon games. The biggest changes longtime players have seen are new Abilities and easier ways to get perfect IVs. So if you’re starting now, know that once upon a time, you had to run around and hatch at least 500 eggs to get the Pokémon you needed. Now, we have Bottle Caps. Be thankful.
There are a few key terms you should know before you even think about hitting that battle button. Obviously, you should know your type strengths and weaknesses. But beyond that, things get a little murky. Math and Battle Studies are the most helpful classes at the Academy for learning the basics. Math teaches you about critical hits, type effectiveness, STAB, and move accuracy. Battle Studies summarizes the difference between Physical and Special moves, and explains the types of battles available to you through the PokéPortal.
Beyond that, you’re on your own. The game won’t explain breeding mechanics or how to unlock Hidden Abilities. It barely explains why you should hold onto Pomeg Berries and not sell them all. So here’s the basics to get you started on your competitive battling journey. Hope to see you in the next battle season!
IVs & EVs
Individual Values (IV) are the fixed base stat of your Pokémon. Once you complete the main story of Scarlet & Violet, you’ll unlock the Judge Function. First introduced in Gen VII, the Judge Function allows you to view your Pokémon’s IVs without running to a random person to tell you. It’s amazing. IVs are passed down through breeding, which is how most people choose to get their Perfect IV Pokémon. Now, you can use Bottle Caps to change one of your Pokémon’s IVs.
Effort Values (EV) refer to how the base stats grow. This is why the Pokémon you train from a lower level are typically stronger than Pokémon you catch in the wild. You can change these by using Berries, Feathers, and Vitamins. They are also naturally acquired during battle, both with Trainers and wild Pokémon. Once upon a time, you’d have to spawn Horde Encounters. No more.
IVs and EVs could be their own 10-page essays in full MLA format. You can read more about IVs and EVs here. And yes, it is shorter than a 10-page essay. You’re welcome.
A Pokémon’s Nature determines how its stats grow. Currently, there are 25 Natures in the game. While this may seem a bit excessive, think about it this way: in competition, all Pokémon are set to the same level. This means that any and all variations in stats can make or break your battle. Every little bit counts, and that includes how Nature interacts with your Pokémon. Natures can be passed down through breeding.
Every Pokémon will have an Ability. For example, your starting Fuecoco will most likely have the Blaze Ability. However, some Pokémon have a Hidden Ability. For Fuecoco, that Hidden Ability is Unaware. Typically, Hidden Abilities are better for competitive battle. However, this is on a very case-by-case basis. In the age of the internet, it’s much easier to figure out what the best Ability is for Raichu as your primary attacker (probably Static). Abilities can be passed down through breeding.
Abbreviated from Same-Type Attack Bonus, this refers to a damage boost you receive when a Pokémon uses a move that’s the same type as it. For example, if Charizard used Flamethrower, STAB would apply. STAB increases the move’s damage by x1.5, or 150% if your brain works better that way.
In Scarlet & Violet, Terastallized Pokémon receive STAB for both their Tera type and any type they had before Terastallizing. So if you have a Lucario – Fighting/Steel-type – and the Lucario Terastallizes into a Fire-type, it will still keep STAB for its Fighting and Steel moves and gain STAB for Fire moves.
But let’s say that Lucario Terastallizes into a Fighting-type. The same rules apply to the Steel-type moves – they keep their original STAB. However, Fighting moves receive an additional x0.5 boost, bringing STAB up to x2, or 200%.
That all plays into what strategy you want to try for competition. Would you rather have more options and throw your opponent a curveball? Or do you take the increased damage by keeping the Tera Type the same?
As discussed above, take your Pokémon’s Tera Type into account. Introduced in Gen IX, this is a new mechanic even longtime players are adjusting to. When you Terastallize a Pokémon, you temporarily change its Type. Unlike previous region phenomena, like Mega Evolution and Dynamaxing, Terastallization lasts until the Pokémon faints or the battle ends, whichever occurs first. The only major restriction is that after Terastallizing, you need to go to a Pokémon Center to recharge your Tera Orb…unless you’re in Area Zero. Because, you know. It’s Area Zero.
In addition to opening up your Pokémon’s super effective moves, you can change your Pokémon’s weaknesses. Let’s take that Lucario from earlier, the one with the Fire Tera Type. Typically, Lucario is weak to Fire due to its Steel-type. However, by Terastallizing Lucario into a Fire-type, you eliminate that Fire weakness while Lucario is Terastallized. But you do open up Lucario to weaknesses it didn’t originally have. Now, Lucario is weak to Water-type moves. As a Fighting/Steel-type, Water did the normal amount of damage.
Not to worry, because your Pokémon’s Tera Type isn’t permanent! After beating the Medali Gym and basking in the glory that is Larry, you can access the Treasure Eatery. You just need 50 Tera Shards of the type you want. You can get Tera Shards through Tera Raids or by simply picking them up throughout Paldea – they can appear both as a Pokéball or a sparkle on the ground. This gives you the option to experiment with Terastallizing your competitive team.