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Pokémon GO: Shadow Boost in PvP

There is a lot of excitement and hype around Pokémon GO’s new mechanic, the Shadow Boost (also known as Shadow Bonus), and its impact on PvE. How effective is the Shadow Boost in PvP? Below I will explain, from a macro perspective, why the Shadow Boost is not always a boost for PvP. But first, we need to go over some PvP vocabulary.

PvP Vocabulary

Combat Power(CP)

Most Pokémon GO players are familiar with the term CP but here is a refresher: CP is an aggregate statistic that represents how powerful any specific Pokémon is based on their IVs (Individual Values), base stats and level. 

CP Formula: CP = (Attack * Defense^0.5 * HP^0.5)/10

With the above formula we can see that Niantic’s CP formula heavily weights the attack stat which is why Battlers do not use CP as a measure of a Pokémon’s strength in CP capped leagues.

Stat Product

Stat Product is a Battler’s take on CP. Battlers recognize that all three stats contribute equally to a Pokémon’s effectiveness in battle. 

Stat Product Formula: SP = Attack * Defense * HP

Stat Product is the standard Battlers use to measure a Pokémon’s strength. 

Sum of Stat

Sum of Stat is straightforward, we add the raw statistical values of a Pokémon’s Attack, Defense and HP.

Sum of Stat Formula: SoS = Attack + Defense + HP

While not used as much as Stat Product I feel Sum of Stat is important for Battlers to review as we take a deeper look into getting the most out of our Shadow Pokémon.

Break/Bulk Points

Break and bulk points are numerical values that a Pokémon’s individual Attack or Defensive stat must hit to change the amount of damage the Pokémon either inflicts or takes from a given attack. Top tier Battlers sometimes look for specific IV (individual value) spreads to hit specific break or bulk points to alter their Pokémon’s matchup against another specific Pokémon.

Shadow Boost

Now to cover the math behind the Shadow Boost. The shadow boost increases a shadow Pokémon’s attack by 20% and decreases its defense by 17%. The shadow boost does not alter a Pokémon’s CP which allows Battlers to alter the stats of their Great League Pokémon beyond IV spreads.

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Putting it Together

Giving a Pokémon the Shadow Boost allows trainers to reach for offensive breakpoints while minimizing losses to Stat Product and general usefulness that normally occurs when chasing offensive break points.

Here is the formula to help illustrate how much the Shadow Boost impacts stat product:

Shadow SP = (Attack * 1.2) * (Defense * 0.83) * HP

To simplify this let give each of the stats a value of 1:

Shadow SP = (1 * 1.2) * (1 * 0.83) * 1
Shadow SP = 0.996

When looking at the stat product a Shadow Pokémon is always 0.4% less effective than a normal Pokémon of the same species with the same IV spread. This is where we need to revisit the sum of stats to better measure the impact of the shadow boost on a given Pokémon.

Here is the formula for the impact of the Shadow Boost on the sum of stats:

Shadow SoS = (Attack * 1.2) + (Defense * 0.83) + HP

Here is an example using a max stat product Dusclops and Exeggutor:

Normal Dusclops = 103.9 + 196 + 106
Normal Dusclops = 405.9

Shadow Dusclops = (103.9 * 1.2) + (196 * 0.83) + 106
Shadow Dusclops = 393.36

Normal Exeggutor = 134.4 + 94.2 * 0.83 + 132
Normal Exeggutor = 360.6

Shadow Exeggutor = (134.4 * 1.2) + (94.2 * 0.83) + 132
Shadow Exeggutor = 371.47

By measuring the changes in each Pokémon’s sum of stat Battlers are able to measure the raw statistical gains or losses their Pokémon get with the Shadow Boost. 

By merging the negligible effect Shadow Boost has on stat product and the wide range of effects it has on the sum of stats I come to my Shadow Theory.

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PLH’s Shadow Boost Theory

Before even looking at movepools we can surmise which Pokémon are more likely to benefit from the shadow boost and which are more likely to be hampered by the shadow boost. The winners of the Shadow Boost are Pokémon with an attack stat equal to or greater than their defense stat and the losers are the Pokémon whose attack stat is lower than their defense stat.

I come to this conclusion because the raw stat gains and losses correlate with potential break and bulk points gained and lost through the attack buff and defense debuff. This means Pokémon like Exeggutor are likely to gain more offensive break points than the defensive bulk points it will lose. On the other hand, Pokémon like Dusclops are likely to lose more defensive bulk points than the offensive break points it loses.

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Shadow Boost In Practice

Now that all the math is done how do Shadow Pokémon operate in practice? Most notably, they are less forgiving of mistakes than their non-shadow counterparts, this goes for both users of the Shadow Pokémon and their opponents. Hard hitting fast moves like Confusion and Charm become far more punishing and force opponents to react quickly to bring in a Pokémon that resist the attacks. Not to be outdone spammers like Mud Shot/Dragon Claw, Flygon that quickly force opponents into shielding energy efficient attacks as those small moves represent significant damage. If you are a Battler like me who enjoys the challenge of maximizing glass cannons I strongly recommend bringing your favorite Shadow Pokémon to your next tournament.

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