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XY/ORAS Singles Competitive Battling Guide: Effort Values and EV Training

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Expert FPS Player
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Once you've bred your team, it's time to train them. Training for competitive battle isn't anywhere near as simple as just levelling up your Pokemon, however it has been made a lot more simple than it used to be in Gen VI thanks to a little thing known as Super Training, that can quite easily be found in that lower screen of yours.


So if you're a newcomer to this you're probably wondering what difference Super Training actually makes and how it works. Put simply, every time you defeat an enemy Pokemon in-game, you not only get experience points which are quite visible, but you also get something known as Effort Values, or EVs, which the game doesn't mention, at least not outright. Each Pokemon gives specific EVs to specific stats; for example, KO'ing a wild Pikachu will give you 1 EV to your Speed stat. Worth noting that the EVs given by a Pokemon are determined entirely by the Pokemon's species; a Lv.3 Pikachu will give 1 Speed EV and so will a Lv.100 one. Each Pokemon can have up to 252 EVs in a given stat, and as many as 510 EVs in total. This allows you to put the full 252 EVs into a maximum of two of your stats with 6 EVs left over. At Lv.100, 4 EVs in a stat will increase that stat by 1, and a Pokemon will need more EVs in a given stat to get that +1 increase the lower its level is. By controlling which of your stats receive EVs and which do not, you can to some extent control which of your Pokemon's stats become highest as they level up, base stats permitting – no amount of EV training in Attack will ever make physical Alakazam viable for example since his Base Attack value is extremely low.


Anyway, we won't be KO'ing hordes of Pokemon to train EVs here, because the aforementioned Super Training provides a far quicker and more efficient means of controlling your EV spreads on your Pokemon. You will need to do some tutorial training in order to unlock the main part of Super Training, but this doesn't take long at all and is good for introducing you to something you will be doing a lot if training an entire team. Now, I'm not going to teach you how to play the minigame since it speaks for itself, what I will do is teach you the significance of what Super Training provides and how to make the most of it.

Basically, Super Training lets you directly put EVs into your stats, control which stats receive EVs and how many they get. You'll notice there are training exercises for each individual stat; while the minigames for each stat vary a little, the overall premise and the end results do not. There's a difficulty setting for each stat as well: Easy, Medium and Hard basically. The Easy training exercises give 4 EVs in the stat you select, Medium gives you 8 EVs and Hard gives you 12 EVs. Although it may sound daunting, Hard isn't really all that difficult to complete, and in order to make the most of Super Training it'll be the only difficulty you use for the most part so you can quickly get 12 EVs per game into your stat. Beating a minigame for EVs will also get you a punching bag item that can be used to give you more EVs in the stat you just EV'd up with your minigame, or sometimes provide a different effect such as doubling the amount of EVs you receive in the next minigame, making the next minigame easier in some fashion, and some bags can even remove every EV from one of your Pokemon if you make a mistake and need to start again from scratch. There's a lot of numbers being tossed around here but EV training via Super Training will very quickly make sense as you progress through it and will become very simple as you do it more often.


That's actually the easy part. Knowing where to put all those EVs is the hard bit, since there are a lot of ways you can EV train your Pokemon to maximize their potential and also modify their stats based on what your team needs the most. Some EV spreads are very simple, and these kinds of spreads are more what you should be looking for when you're first starting out. Alakazam for example: His highest base stats are in Sp.Attack and Speed, and his moveset has him most suited for being a very fast attacker focusing on special attacks like Psychic and Shadow Ball, which means you will need to put the maximum 252 EVs into his Sp.Attack and Speed stats to maximize his offensive potential. On the flip side, a Pokemon like Goodra has very high Sp.Defense, so if you wanted to maximize his ability to tank special attacks you would aim to put 252 EVs into his HP and Sp.Defense. However, this is where it starts to get a bit more complicated.

Goodra's highest stat is Sp.Defense, however his Sp.Attack is also pretty good. You could max out the Sp.Attack stat instead if you wanted a Goodra more tiered towards doing damage to the opponent and it would certainly be viable. Goodra's Speed stat however is quite mediocre, so Goodra could put the rest of his EVs into HP to become a bulky attacker who can take some hits and hit hard back in return. Note that we didn't put the remaining EVs into Sp.Defense even though it is the highest stat Goodra has; this is because it's usually better to maximize HP over a defensive stat when maxing out an offensive stat since it cushions both of Goodra's defenses, whereas just dumping all the EVs into Sp.Attack and Sp.Defense would leave Goodra rather weak against physical attacks since none of your EVs offer any boost to any of the stats that help defend against physical damage.

Of course, you don't have to max out your stats with your EVs at all. Sometimes it can be beneficial to spread the EVs out a bit more, but only if you have a specific reason for doing so. For this example, we'll use Gyarados. Gyarados has a Base Speed value of 81. Speed is what I like to refer to as a “binary” stat; literally, whoever has the higher Speed stat will go first in a turn. Doesn't matter if the faster Pokemon's Speed is higher by 1 or 100, that Pokemon will go first assuming no speed modifications have been done to either Pokemon. Because of this, it can be convenient to add a few EVs into Gyarados's Speed even on sets focused on making Gyarados a bulky attacker. As an example on how this can help, Cresselia has a Base Speed of 85, putting it slightly ahead of Gyarados assuming they have the same EVs, IVs and nature. However, most Cresselia don't run EVs in Speed at all, and never have a Speed-boosting nature as Cresselia is a very defense-oriented Pokemon. Assuming IVs are the same and neither Gyarados or Cresselia have a nature that affects their Speed stat, 36 EVs into Gyarados's Speed at Lv.100 would let it outspeed any Cresselia with 0 EVs in Speed since it'd put Gyarados's Speed stat 1 point higher than Cresselia's. Then you can shove the rest of the EVs into Attack and HP in order to get the bulky attacker set you were after the whole time.

This kind of variation to your EV spread can be used in a defensive manner as well. For this example, we're going to use Skarmory and Garchomp. We have a Skarmory, who typically runs 252 HP and 252 Defense due to its massive Base 140 Defense value. Even after boosting its Attack stat with Swords Dance, A 252 HP/252 Attack Garchomp can't do much to Skarmory switching in on it if Skarmory switches in on Garchomp's first Swords Dance, and Garchomp can be removed from the field with Whirlwind to negate its stat boost. Skarmory's Sp.Defense however is quite low and Garchomp can learn Fire Blast, which can kill Skarmory in two hits even with no training in Sp.Attack for Garchomp: if the first hit comes in when Skarmory switches in, Garchomp can immediately pick off Skarmory switching in the following turn. However, at Lv.100, taking 92 of those EVs from Skarmory's Defense and putting them into Sp.Defense instead makes Skarmory durable enough that that same Garchomp can't ever KO Skarmory with just two Fire Blasts unless it has a damage-boosting hold item, and most Garchomp tend not to carry those, plus since Skarmory's base Defense is so high, this doesn't really take much away from Skarmory's physical durability. This is just a hypothetical example (very few players use Fire Blast on Garchomp) but it does show how a small tweak to EVs can add an edge to an EV spread that can allow you to cover for something you wouldn't have been able to deal with using a simple 252/252 spread to your two best stats. This side of EV training is quite complicated, and it's not a side I would advise you focus on if you're a beginner, but it is worth acknowledging that stuff like this can be and is done by more experienced players, and as you improve and become more experienced yourself you can start applying this approach to your EV spreads as well once you know what you need to cover for on your team and how best to do it.
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