A Beginner's Guide to Distributing EVs

This is a guide I had previously written on another site, but I thought it might be useful here. This is a guide I wrote to EVing efficiently. Some things that I feel could be improved:

*The tone is not very formal in some parts
*I think it could use a Conclusion

Some notes:

*The damage calculations are taken from this calculator:
I'm not sure how reliable it is but I don't have access to the calculator I usually do
*The original guide had a "magic speed numbers" section where it showed some key speed ev benchmarks for Pokemon to hit, but it was incomplete and wasn't the focus of the guide, so I left it out. In its place is the section currently there, which was written somewhat hastily



Most of you know what EVs are. For an introduction to EVs, read this article by Doctor Mudkip:


That guide introduces EVs, and explains the easiest ways to EV train in-game. However, that is not the focus of this guide. Instead, this guide focuses on efficiently distributing your limited EVs and making fine-tuned EV spreads.

Many of the EV spreads in the Strategy Pokedex analyses are as simple as maxing two basic stats, usually Speed and an offensive stat on sweepers. In some, the EVs section consists of little more than telling you which two stats to focus your EVs in. However, that is not the case with all Pokemon. Pokemon like Bulky Gyarados or Defensive Latias need the right balance of Speed, bulk, and offenses, making them quite tricky to EV for. Another example would be mixed attackers like Salamence, Infernape, or Tyranitar, who need to have enough Special Attack and Attack while carrying just enough speed without going overboard.

So how do you make EV spreads for these Pokemon? One way is to max one stat, then place 128 EVs in two other stats. Another would be to spread it evenly with 168 in two stats and 172 in the third. However, none of these ways are likely to produce any efficient or particularly effective EV spreads.

This guide will help explain the best ways to make EV spreads for Pokemon when it's not as simple as putting 252 EVs into two stats. "Ideal Speed Numbers", stat distribution, and efficient defensive EVs will go a long way in

Ideal Speed Numbers

"Ideal Speed Numbers" are key benchmarks to hit with your speed so as to outspeed certain threats while reserving EVs for other stats. It can be useful for conserving your limited supply of EVs if you only need to hit 270 speed to outspeed Adamant Heracross, but be warned; giving your sweeper slightly lower than 252 Speed EVs will risk being outsped if your opponent uses the same Pokemon.

How exactly do you EV your Pokemon to outspeed a certain threat? It's quite simple, really. On a calculator, put in your Pokemon's max Speed (with the desired nature), then the speed of the Pokemon you intend to outspeed, then subtract one. Multiply the remainder by four. Then subtract the product from 252, and you are left with 1 speed point more than the Pokemon you wish to outspeed.

Here's the formula, if that sounded confusing.

e = 252 - ((p - o - 1) * 4)

In this formula, variable "p" is your Pokemon's max speed, variable "o" is the the speed of the opponent you intend to outspeed, and variable "e" is the amount of speed EVs you should invest to reach the desired speed.

If this sounds confusing, I assure you, it is not. Let's look at an example with Impish Gliscor. In this example, we want Gliscor to outspeed Lucario.

Gliscor's max speed with an Impish nature is 289. Lucario's max speed with a Adamant or Modest nature is 279. So subtract 279 from 289 and you have a remainder of 10.

289 - 279 = 10

Subtract one from that and you are left with 9, then multiply by 4 to get 36.

10 - 1 = 9
9 * 4 = 36

Now we subtract 36 from 252, and we are left with a number of 216 EVs.

252 - 36 = 216

So if tieing base 95 Pokemon doesn't concern you, 216 Speed EVs is a good benchmark for Gliscor to outspeed Lucario and other base 90 Speed Pokemon, and everything lower.

If you intend to use a nature which boosts your Speed, there is a slight change to the formula. The 10% stat increase in natures is applied after Speed EVs, so to calculate the necessary amount of Speed EVs, divide the opponent's speed by 1.1. This leaves you with a formula of

e = 252 - ((p - (o / 1.1) - 1) * 4)

If you intend for your Pokemon to hold a Choice Scarf to reach the necessary Speed, divide the opponent's speed by 1.5.

e = 252 - ((p - (o / 1.5) - 1) * 4)

If you intend for your Pokemon to hold a Choice Scarf and have a nature increasing speed, simply divide the opponent's speed stat by both 1.5 and 1.1.

EVing Defensively

Have you ever looked at Smogon’s Blissey analysis, and wondered why it suggested 252 EVs be put into Defense? Isn’t that a waste? It’s a special wall, right, so why not put them into special defense?

The reason is that Pokemon is a game of multiplication, not adding. Giving Blissey’s respectable SpD stat 252 EVs will allow her to take special attacks roughly 20% better, which is a rather lot. However, with that massive 682 HP stat, she can take heavy, heavy special beatings (which isn't as reliable this generation, but that's beside the point). Placing those 252 EVs into defense, however, will allow her to take physical attacks roughly 95% better, which is a major difference.

So you've noticed that Wobbuffet has been allowed on the Shoddy ladder! You want to use it, so you put it in your team builder. You want it to take both physical and special hits, so you immediately max HP. This is a highly inefficient distribution of EVs.

Wobbuffet has a gargantuan HP stat, maxing at 584, while its defenses are comparatively puny. You'll want to immediately max these out, because the SpD and Def stats will appreciate the roughly 40% increase, while the HP gains only an approximate 12% increase.

Now, before I continue, for a rough estimate of a Pokemon's walling capabilities, simply calculate HP*(Sp)Def. This is crude, but quite accurate, and will allow you to compare the effectiveness of EV spreads.

Let's take Shuckle, for example. You want it to sponge physical hits, so you give it a Bold nature with 252 Def EVs. So its physical walling ability shall be

181*614 = 111,134.

Now let's compare that to a Shuckle with a Bold nature and 252 HP EVs.

244*551 = 134,444.

134444 is about a 20% increase from 111134, which shows a lot about correctly distributing your EVs.

Why is this the case? It's elementary math, really. When you multiply a factor by a percentage, the product will increase by that percentage. If you have 100 HP and 100 SpD and you double your HP, your Defensive and Special Defensive walling capabilities will double as well.

This is a good rule of thumb, when investing EVs into defensive stats: max out the lower stat first. If you can only spare 192 EVs for Skarmory's defense, put all of them in HP. When creating defensive EV spreads, the idea is to make your defensive stats as close together as possible.

EVs, Nature, and Stat Distribution

For most Pokemon, the choice of nature seems obvious. Physical sweepers are Jolly, special walls are Calm or Careful, etc. However, there is an often overlooked aspect in choosing a nature, and that is in stat distribution. Let's look at an example with SubPunch Gengar.

One possible nature and EV spread is

Lonely Nature
EVs: 112 Atk / 176 Spe / 220 SpD

Assuming max IVs, this would yield stats of

HP: 261
Atk: 216
Def: 156
SpA: 296
SpD: 241
Spe: 300

However, this is an inefficient use of the EVs/nature. Let's build a more efficient spread.

First, we start off with 508 EVs. The 220 SpD EVs are necessary for Gengar's Substitute to survive Blissey's Ice Beam, so we have 288 EVs remaining for speed and attack. 300 Speed is an ideal Speed number to achieve to outspeed neutral-natured base 100 Speed Pokemon. The goal is to achieve the the highest stat with your combination of EVs/nature, so can you guess what went wrong with the original spread?

It's all in the choice of nature. Gengar has a low attack, so increasing it by 10% will not be as much of a stat change as increasing Gengar's respectable speed by 10% is. This all goes back to "Pokemon is a game of multiplication". If we go with a Hasty nature over Lonely, you can invest fewer EVs to get the stat to 300, and focus more on attack, which, given Gengar's low attack stat, is more useful than increasing by 10%.

We now have an EV spread of

Hasty Nature
EVs: 52 Spe / 220 SpD / 236 Atk

This yields the following stats:

HP: 261
Atk: 225
Def: 156
SpA: 296
SpD: 241
Spe: 300

As you can see, we have gained 9 Atk points and lost absolutely nothing in return. It's all about smart stat distribution.

Other Tips / Notes

So far, all the basics have been covered. The most important things have been covered. However, there are still a few tricks to use to reach key benchmarks and preserve EVs.

EVing for Correct HP

If you've played on Shoddy (which I'm sure you have), you'll notice that Hail, Sandstorm, Leftovers, and Black Sludge all increase or decrease your health by 6% each turn. This is not the case. To be precise, Leftovers restores 6.25% every turn, which equals 1/16 of your maximum health. To ensure that you restore your health by exactly 6.25% every turn, make your HP divisible by 16. Doing so is very simple.

For those of you who aren't very calculator-savvy, to make sure your health total is divisible by 16, do the following steps. First, look at max HP for level 100. Subtract 63 from that (for EVs), then subtract 31 from that (for IVs). Add on your Pokemon's IV total, then add (invested EVs/4). Divide that by 16. If the answer is round, you have perfect Leftovers recovery. If it is not an even number, ignore everything left of the decimal, then subtract the remainder from 1. Multiply the remainder by 16, then multiply the product by four, then add that to the amount of EVs you inputed at the start.

Here is an example. Let's say you want a tanking Hariyama to counter Weavile. Having read Section 2, you look at Hariyama's massive HP stat and think it wiser to max out Defense, so you give it a 252 Def / 252 Atk / 4 HP EV spread. So its HP stat is 430. Divide that by 16 and you get 26.875. Now subtract 1 - .875 to get .125. Multiply that by 16 to get 2. Multiply that by 4 to get 8. Now add 8 HP EVs to your current EV spread, so you get something looking like 12 HP / 252 Def / 244 Atk.

Here is the formula for making your HP divisible by 16:

e = (4)(16)(1 - (h / 16 -n)) + c

In this formula, variable "h" is your HP stat, variable "n" is h / 16 rounded down, and "c" is the current EVs placed in HP.

What are the advantages of maximum Leftovers recovery? If your HP isn't divisible by 16, your health regained each turn will be rounded down. Hariyama with 4 EVs replenishes 26 HP each turn, while Hariyama with 12 EVs replenishes 27 HP each turn. So essentially, 4 HP Hariyama recovers approximately 6.05% each turn, while the 12 HP Hariyama recovers exactly 6.25% each turn. What does this mean? Let's take a 12 HP Hariyama and a 4 HP Hariyama, lowering the 12 HP Hariyama's defense by 4 EVs to make their defenses approximately equal.

Weavile's Expert Belt Aerial Ace will do 148 - 175 (34.42% - 40.7%) to both a 4/252 and a 12/248 Hariyama.

With Leftovers recovery, 4/252 Hariyama's net damage taken will be approximately 28.37% - 34.65%.

Now a 12/248 Hariyama will be taking 28.01% - 34.26% net damage with Leftovers recovery.

Is this a major difference? Of course not. You'll be increasing its staying capabilities by very low percentages, hardly noticable at all, and to top it all off, Hail/Sandstorm renders this point moot. The main reason to not aim for maximum Leftovers recovery is that the 1 HP you gain is not enough to make up for the loss in defenses, as the percentage net damage of HP taken is far more important than the actual number.

2HKOing / OHKOing Key Targets

Particularly in the case of mixed sweepers or "tanks", oftentimes it can be difficult knowing what is too little and what is too much when investing in offenses. The goal is to hit a balance that lets the Pokemon do its job offensively while saving EVs for other stats. One way is to find certain threats that the Pokemon is designed to beat, then, using a damage calculator, guess-and-check until you find the stat that allows you to always OHKO or 2HKO the opponent, or OHKO/2HKO on average. Two examples of this are mixed Infernape and mixed Dragonite, whose Attack EVs allow them to always OHKO Blissey with Close Combat and Superpower respectively. This is especially helpful on mixed attackers like the two aforementioned examples, generally focus on their hard-hitting Special attacks while using a strong physical attack just to break Blissey.

Once you've found your desired benchmark, calculating the amount of EVs needed is almost identical to calculating the Ideal Speed Number.

e = 252 - 4(m - t)

In this equation, variable "m" is the max stat your Pokemon reaches, and "t" is the stat you intend for it to reach.

If your Pokemon has a nature that increases the offensive stat it is using, use the following formula.

e = 252 - 4((m / 1.1) - t)

If your Pokemon holds a Life Orb, use the following formula.

e = 252 - 4((m / 1.3) - t)

If your Pokemon holds Choice Band or Choice Specs, use the following formula.

e = 252 - 4((m / 1.5) - t)

It's important to note that, no matter what you set your attacking EVs to, it's likely going to be an arbitrary number, so don't go for the bare minimum by setting it at low enough to just 2HKO Blissey with a physical attack, for example. Unless this is early-game and there are no entry hazards up, the opponent is likely to not be at full-health, and it's always nice to give your attacks a little more kick.

Building a Custom EV Spread

In this section, we will apply all of the sections into a specific example, that being Zapdos. As you know, Zapdos is a very versatile Pokemon with well-rounded stats, allowing it to fill many roles. For our example, we'll be looking at a physical tanking Zapdos.

Ideal Speed Numbers

Generally, when deciding an EV spread, the first thing you want to decide is Speed.

We want Zapdos to outspeed Adamant Lucario, but nothing faster than that concerns us. Since Zapdos still needs defense, HP, and special attack, we'll want to conserve our EVs. To do so we'll EV our Zapdos to hit 280 speed, just enough to outspeed Lucario without going overboard.

e = 252 - 4(299 - 279 - 1)

e = 252 - 76

e = 176

So with a Bold nature, Zapdos needs 176 EVs to outspeed Lucario. Our tanking Zapdos thus far has an EV spread of

Bold Nature
EVs: 176 Spe

2HKOing / OHKOing Key Targets

Even though this is listed later in the analyses, it's important to note that when you're using a Pokemon that needs Speed, offenses, and defenses, defenses should generally be decided last when creating an EV spread if you're not reaching a specific benchmark to avoid a OHKO or 2HKO. The reason for this is that to increase Speed and offenses, you only invest in one stat, but when investing in defenses you have to spread EVs between two stats, so you need to know exactly how many remaining EVs you have to decide how best to place them.

If you're aiming for a key defensive benchmark, then the opposite is true.

In this case, what we're aiming for is to ensure that Zapdos always OHKOs Lucario (4 HP / 0 SpD) with Heat Wave, factoring in Stealth Rock and 1 turn of Life Orb recoil. So Zapdos needs to do a minimum of 86.875, or to be precise, 245 damage.

The minimum Special Attack needed for Zapdos to achieve this is 302 Special Attack.

e = 252 - 4(349 - 302)
e = 252 - 4(47)
e = 252 - 188
e = 64

So Zapdos needs 64 Special Attack EVs in order to reach our benchmark of OHKOing Lucario with Heat Wave. Thus far our EV spread is

Bold Nature
176 Spe / 64 SpA

EVing Defensively

We have 268 EVs left to invest in Zapdos' defenses. In this instance, we are going to ignore Zapdos' decent Special Defense and focus entirely on its Defense. With a Bold nature and no EV investment, Zapdos has Defense and HP stats of

Defense: 226
HP: 321

In this case, it's clear that with such a massive difference in Defense and HP, the way to miximizing Zapdos' bulk is to max Defense, then throw the remaining EVs in HP. We now have an EV spread of

Bold Nature
16 HP / 252 Def / 64 SpA / 176 Spe

EVs, Nature, and Stat Distribution

I hope that 176 Speed with a Bold nature jumped out at you as horribly inefficient, especially with Zapdos' Base 100 Speed being significantly greater than its 85 Base Defense. In this case, we're going to test and see if running a Timid nature would be more efficient than running a Bold nature.

With a Timid nature, only 80 Speed is required to give Zapdos 80 Speed. This means that we now have 96 extra EVs to place in Zapdos' defenses. In this case, this means placing all of them into HP, with Defense already being maxed out. This new spread, 108 HP / 252 Def / 64 SpA / 80 Spe Timid, gives us defending stats of

HP: 348
Def: 269

This gives us a walling ability of 93,612.

The original spread, 12 HP / 252 Def / 64 SpA / 80 Spe Bold, gives us defending stats of

HP: 324
Def: 295

This gives us a walling ability of 95,580.

So the original spread takes physical hits approximately 2.1% better than the second spread.

However, this does not mean that the original spread is automatically better. While the original spread takes physical hits by about 2% better, the second spread takes special hits about 7.4% better. This is often the case with custom EV spreads; there isn't one objectively superior EV spread. Though this is primarily intended to take physical hits, Zapdos also makes a decent switch-in to the likes of Rotom-A, Celebi, or bulky waters (though it should avoid taking status from all of them), and the extra special walling capabilities is appreciated in that regard.

In this case, you would have to make a choice; 2.1% increase in physical walling capabilities, or 7.4% increase in special walling capabilities?


If there is anything that can be improved, please tell me. I also think the guide needs to be checked for awkward English/phrasing.
but be forewarned
Replace "forewarned" with "warned".

giving your sweeper slightly lower than 252 speed EVs will always result in losing in against itself if your opponent has the same Pokemon.
Rephrase this to something like "giving your sweeper anything lower than 252 Spe EVs means you risk being outsped by your opponent if he/she uses the same pokemon as yours".

How exactly do you EV your Pokemon to outspeed a certain threat? It's quite simple, really. On a calculator, put in your Pokemon's max speed (with the desired nature), then the speed of the Pokemon you intend to outspeed, then subtract one. Subtract the remainder by four. Then subtract the product from 252, and you are left with 1 speed point more than the Pokemon you wish to outspeed.
Personally I find this formula to be rather confusing(or at least the way you describe it) so if it's not too much to ask would you mind rephrasing this(or just write it as a "real" formula kinda like what X-Act does) or better yet add examples to this.

The reason is that Pokemon is a game of multiplication, not adding.
Replace "adding" with "addition".

Giving Blissey’s respectable SpD stat 252 EVs will allow her to take special attacks roughly 20% better, which is a rather lot.
Switch out "which is a rather lot" to something like "which is rather a lot".

which is a major difference.
"which makes a huge difference".

Now, before I continue, to roughly tell a Pokemon's walling abilities,
Switch out "to roughly tell a Pokemon's walling abilities" to something like "to have a rough estimate on a pokemon's walling abilities".

This is rough, but accurate,
"This is rather crude, but is actually quite accurate,".

physical hit-taking
"Walling" over "hit-taking" cause it sounds better xD.

If the answer is round,
"a whole number" over "round".

If it is not an even number, ignore everything left of the decimal, then subtract the remainder from 1. Multiply the remainder by 16, then multiply the product by four, then add that to the amount of EVs you inputed at the start.
Rephrase this e.g. after subtracting 1 by the decimal figure it's not called the remainder it's actually called quotient(iirc) either way just nitpicking really.

hardly noticable at all,
"noticeable" over "noticable".

Let's look at an example with SubPunch Gengar.
"of" over "with".

As you can see, we have gained 9 Atk points and lost absolutely nothing in return. It's all about smart stat distribution
Remove "have" also it's 225 on the Atk stat you wrote 221.

There are a couple of things I skipped which sounded wrong but I wasn't sure what to change with them. Thanks.


be the upgraded version of me
is a Site Staff Alumnusis a Team Rater Alumnusis a Forum Moderator Alumnusis a Community Contributor Alumnusis a Tiering Contributor Alumnusis a Contributor Alumnus
hey, I don't know if you're still working on this umbarsc, but it's a great guide for newcomers trying to learn EVs. You can add a few more sections though.

For instance a section for guaranteeing sweepers a 3HKO / 2HKO / OHKO on certain walls or tanks with or without residual damage from SRock and / or Sandstream. This is especially helpful on mixed sweepers who would have to invest their EVs on both offenses as well as Speed, and is also helpful for tanks who would prefer minimizing EV investment on offense for enhanced Defense, such as a Metagross trying to have enough offense to 3HKO a Skarmory / Forretress with Hammer Arm if that's even possible.

On a flip side, designing the defensive spread to survive certain hits also adds efficiency in EV distribution, because you can use spare EVs to focus on its offensive capabilities as well. This comes in real handy when you have a Sleep Talker that needs to at least be able to survive 3 turns of possible onslaught before being able to heal again (again taking account SRock and Sandstream is also important). By knowing this, EVs can be saved to enhance the overall defense or invest on offense / speed. Sweepers having the capability to survive an attack of their counter that usually kills them could mean a big difference of biting the dust or survive an additional turn to retaliate with a KO and sweep. Some spreads are out there to even survive a certain number of hits from the Sweepers common switch-in. For instance, the CB Metagross shown in the Uber Guide’s Sample Uber Team is designed to take 5 hits from a standard Uber Blissey’s Thunder and to survive a Latias’ Thunder to KO it back. Going over how much EVs are necessary to OHKO ~ 3HKO are essential imo.
I kind of forgot about this, but I recently "re-discovered" it, and made some major changes (reworked a few sections and added an entirely new one), and updated it for Platinum. There are still a few outdated parts, but most of it seems good now.

Also, I would appreciate it if a mod changed the title to "A Beginner's Guide to Distributing EVs". Thanks.
In the section "2HKOing / OHKOing Key Targets" you list the example Zapdos' spread as "Bold Nature 176 Spe / 64 Spe" when I think you mean "Bold Nature 176 Spe / 64 SpA".
This thread is great.
I really feel that a lot of people new to competitive Pokemon will learn a lot from this once it gets posted in the Smogon Articles section.
I also believe that this article could use a conclusion paragraph of some sort to wrap things up, though.
I really liked this guide, I personally learned a quite a few elements myself. In addition, I think that before this set goes on the site, you should add a index for it, so it seems more presentable.

Anyway, excellent guide!