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How To Win Gym Battles In Pokémon GO – Pokémon Battle Tactics

Winning gym battles in Pokémon GO takes preparation, cunning, quick reflexes and discipline. If you want to be the best, you’ll have to duel with other Pokémon masters in your area. Here’s how you can win your gym battles and defend your territory in Pokémon GO.

Which Pokémon team should I choose?

Before you hit level five it’s best to focus on catching and evolving Pokémon so you can level up as quickly as possible.  But once you get to level five it’s time to pick a team.

There are three teams to choose from: Team Instinct (yellow), Team Mystic (blue) or Team Valor (red). Once you’ve made your choice, this will be your team for the duration of the game. It’ll also decide which gyms you can join and which gyms you can battle. So when you pick your team you should consider which team holds the gyms near to where you live or work. That way you might find it easier to join a gym and earn extra experience.

At the moment team choice does not affect anything else. We suspect this might change as Niantic may have special team events and Pokémon for the different teams further down the line.

Pokémon types and optimum match-ups

Now we get into the stat heavy battle analysis part of your journey to Pokémon mastery. There are 16 primary Pokémon types in Pokémon GO. These are:

Bug Dragon Electric Fairy
Flying Fighting Fire Ghost
Grass Ground Ice Normal
Poison Psychic Rock Water

Some Pokémon, like Charizard, combine two or more elemental types. Each type has certain strengths and weakness. So, for example, you would not want to pit a Charizard against a Blastoise as fire Pokémon are vulnerable against water Pokémon.

For a full list of what each Pokémon is vulnerable too, take a look at our Pokémon types feature. It’s quite useful before you embark on a gym battle so you can avoid any potential mismatches. But here is a general summary of what each Pokémon type is generally strong or weak against.

Pokémon Type Strong Against Weak Against
Fire Steel, Ice, Bug, Grass Water, Rock, Ground
Water Fire, Electric, Grass Water, Ground, Rock
Grass Fire, Ice, Poison, Flying, Bug Water, Ground, Rock
Electric Ground Water, Flying
Normal None Fighting
Ground Fire, Electric, Poison, Rock, Steel Water, Grass, Ice
Rock Fire, Ice, Flying, Bug Water, Grass, Fighting, Ground, Steel
Fighting Normal, Ice, Rock, Steel Flying, Psychic, Fairy
Ice Grass, Ground, Flying, Dragon Fire, Fighting, Rock, Steel
Poison Grass, Fairy Ground, Psychic
Psychic Fighting, Poison Fire, Flying, Rock
Bug Grass, Psychic Fire, Flying, Rock
Flying Grass, Fighting, Bug Electric, Ice, Rock
Dragon Dragon Ice, Dragon, Fairy
Fairy Fighting, Dragon Poison, Steel
Ghost Psychic, Ghost Ghost

But the single most important stat to bear in mind when you're fighting against other Pokémon, is CP. CP stands for Combat Power. It’s a base level statistic denoting your Pokémon’s overall attack strength. There is also a stat called HP, or Hit Points which denotes how much damage your Pokémon can take before it dies faints.

Each Pokémon is assigned a CP value when you try to capture them. The value appears before you throw your Pokéball above each mons' head. The CP stat is a good way to decide which Pokémon you want to evolve at the early levels, where experience is more important than anything else. Once you hit the higher levels, the Pokémon you catch will generally have a higher CP, which is obviously useful for battling.

If the Pokémon you are fighting against has much higher CP, then it is highly likely that you will lose. If the matchup is close, then your Pokémon's type is all the more important. Above are generally the best matchups you can make with your Pokémon. If you want to check specific Pokémon for strengths and weakness, check our Pokémon Types, Strengths and weaknesses feature.

Your Pokémon are keeping secrets from you

If you want to really get into the nitty-gritty of battling in Pokémon GO, there is actually an additional set of hidden statistics known as IVs or Individual Values. There are three IVs tied to a single Pokémon: attack, defense, and stamina and they can affect the underlying strength of two similarly leveled Pokémon by a significant amount.

Using various online tools, you can work out approximately how powerful (within a specific range) your Pokémon's IVs are. Knowing which of your collection is worth investing all that hard earned stardust into could be the deciding factor in that next gym battle.

Checking out the enemy

Once you have surpassed level five it’s time to start scouting out the opposition, so head to your nearest gym and check who is currently holding it. When you tap on a gym you are given several different values to consider. The value in the top left of the screen is the gym's prestige level, which we will talk about in depth later. You'll also see information surrounding the Pokémon defending the gym and if there are multiple Pokémon at one gym, swiping left will take your through each Pokémon from weakest to strongest.

Here you will see the CP level of the Pokémon currently defending the gym and the levels of the trainers currently in control of the gym. The two most important things to pay attention to are the opponent Pokémon’s CP level and the elemental type of the enemy Pokémon. If your Pokémon has a slightly lower CP than your opponent's, but it’s strong against your opponent’s elemental type, you could still win the match.

As a rule however, if you battle another Pokémon with a much higher CP, your opponent will emerge victorious. You should also watch out as gyms can be defended by several Pokémon, so you may have to fight more than one. Just because the first match-up is in your favour, the second one might not be…

Taking over Gyms

If you’ve found a gym under the control of a rival team then it’s time to start thinking about taking over and stacking up those Pokécoins. If you’ve scouted out your opponent and the match-up is favourable, it’s time for action!

But before you jump in, there are a few things to bear in mind. Firstly, if the gym has multiple defenders you need to have a couple of Pokémon that are battle ready, with good CP numbers. You will most likely have to fight more than one battle here.

You can have six Pokémon in your battle roster in Pokémon GO. When one of your Pokémon runs out of HP (Hit Points) it faints, so the next Pokémon in your list then faces off against your opponent. This is where match-ups really come into play. If you're fortunate enough to have several really strong, high CP Pokémon you can just about scrape through to victory, but most users will have to think very carefully about match ups. So make sure that you've selected the best Pokémon roster for taking over a particular gym before engaging them.

Boosting your Pokémon’s stats

Before starting your epic battles against other local Pokémon trainers, you’ll need to make sure that your Pokémon are strong enough to compete.

We’ve discussed how CP, or Combat Points, are an indicator of how much damage your Pokémon can dish out. But if you have been levelling up as a trainer and capturing a load of Pokémon you have probably built up quite a reserve of two things, one called Stardust and the other is candy specific to your individual Pokémon.

You receive Stardust when you catch Pokémon as well as candy specific to the Pokémon you’ve just caught. You can get extra candies by transferring duplicate Pokémon back to Professor Willow. Candies can be used to evolve Pokémon but once you’ve reached max evolution level with your Pokémon you can use candies and Stardust to increase their CP.

You should save your power-ups, both candies and Stardust, for Pokémon that have a naturally high CP level to begin with. But always evolve the Pokémon before powering them up with Stardust, if that’s an option.

Defending Gyms

Once you’ve picked your team you can join a friendly gym if there's a slot open. The number of slots available is dictated by the amount of prestige that gym has (the value in the top left when looking at a gym). A gym can accommodate up to ten Pokémon at once, provided it's level 10, which requires 50,000 prestige - the highest amount currently attainable.

It’s easy to assign one of your Pokémon to defend a gym. First just tap the gym and then tap the symbol at the bottom left hand side of the screen, a Poké ball with a '+' icon beside it.

You may get very lucky and find an unclaimed gym. Unclaimed gyms are marked in grey on a map and you can move into them straight away. However, unclaimed gyms are about as rare as a Gyarados so you’ll be lucky to come across one at all.

Once you’ve assigned your Pokémon to the gym, it will also increase the gym’s defence and give it some prestige. As your gym improves you will get extra slots for new trainers to store Pokémon in the gym.

If a Pokémon master from another team wants to take over your gym they must beat all the trainers at your gym to claim it as their own. If you manage to stop them that also increases the gym’s overall prestige level. You’ll also gain XP as your Pokémon train and defeat Pokémon from opposing teams at rival gyms.

Pokémon GO Battle Tactics

Pokémon GO does not have a battle system as in-depth as the traditional Pokémon games on Nintendo consoles, which is possibly part of its overall appeal. But there are some tactics you’ll need to bear in mind if you’re going to take over gyms or defend your own gym.

Battles generally boil down to two key factors. Landing normal attacks to power up your special attack and dodging your opponent’s attacks. To perform your basic attacks all you have to do is tap the opposing Pokémon. As you land attacks, a blue bar begins to fill up at the top of the screen next to your Pokémon’s CP stat.

Once the blue bar is full, it’s time to unleash your Pokémon’s special attack. To perform a special attack all you have to do is tap and hold. It’s not very complicated but timing is more crucial here than anything.

Dodging attacks is also very simple. All you do is keep an eye on the opposing Pokémon and swipe left or right to dodge incoming attacks when the edges of the screen flash yellow. There isn’t much more to it than that! However, bear in mind if you do take damage and your Pokémon faints, it will be replaced by the next Pokémon in your battle roster.

You cannot heal Pokémon during a battle. Once you’ve either successfully taken or defended a gym, you can heal your Pokémon using potions. You can usually get potions at random from Pokéstops. To revive any fainted Pokémon you’ll have to use a Revive which will revive your fainted Pokémon and restore half of their HP.

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