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Best Pokémon to evolve and power up in Pokémon Go — Updated for new Gyms!

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Best Pokémon to evolve and power up in Pokémon Go — Updated for new Gyms!

Pokémon Go has revealed the big Gym redesign and here are the Pokémon you want to evolve and power up to attack, defend... and raid it!

There's a new Gym system coming to Pokémon Go and a lot's changing. Instead of 10 Pokémon per Gym, now your team can only place six. Instead of making giant pink Blissey walls, now your team can only have one of each kind of Pokémon per Gym. And CP ranking is no longer a thing. Now the Pokémon on Gyms will be stacked in order of when they joined.

But with a greater Gym system comes the need for greater diversity on Gyms. Sure only six slots means many will still default to the Big Seven, but if you don't have a wide Pokédex to draw from, or type matching becomes more important, other Pokémon may ultimately serve you better.

With that in mind, and with the new Gym system on its way, here's what you need to know!


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The Mon-ificent Seven Gym Defenders

The number of Pokémon on a Gym may have been reduced to six and the CP stacking may have been replaced with first-come, last-fought, but CP still plays a major role in Pokémon Go's new Gym system because it still defines how well your Pokémon can attack and defend, and how long they can be sustained even when losing motivation.

That means a max CP of 3000 or more will still be a benefit. And that means the Big Seven are still the Big Seven. (Donphan and Espeon can also reach 3000 CP, but just barely. That makes it far less likely they'll sit high up on Gyms.)

Tyranitar — Max CP 3670

Like something out of Godzilla, Tyranitar is a Rock/Dark-type Pokémon that packs a Dragonite-style punch. With CP that soars over 3700, Tyranitar will last on a lot of Gyms, even when losing motivation. And with the Iron Tail Crunch moveset, it'll do a lot of damage while it's there. (Just watch out for its double weakness against fighter types!)

Tyranitar, due to its stats, is also a good attacker if you have one off-Gym at the time.

It'll cost you 25 Larvitar Candies to evolve Pupitar and 100 more to get Tyranitar.

Catch or hatch:

  • Larvitar

Catch or evolve:

  • Pupitar
  • Tyranitar

Dragonite - Max CP 3581

Dragonite ruled the Gyms and players desires in Pokémon Go Gen 1. Everyone scoured water environments for the rare Dratini spawns — and rarer Dragonair spawns — to accumulate enough Candy to evolve. And the Mt. Moon biomes, as hinted by Clefairy spawns, for the occasional Dragonite spawn itself. And we're going to keep doing it too. With its new Dragontail Outrage moveset, Dragon is more powerful as ever in the game and a few new Gen 2 Pokémon aren't going to change that! (Though it's still double weak against ice-types.)

Due to its stats, Dragonite is also a powerful attacker if you have one not committed to a Gym at the time.

It takes 25 Dratini Candies to evolve a Dragonair and 100 more to get a Dragonite.

Catch or hatch:

  • Dratini

Catch or evolve:

  • Dragonair
  • Dragonite

Snorlax - Max CP 3355

Snorlax doesn't have any evolutions, at least not yet. (Spoiler: There's a baby Munchlax coming in Gen 4!). But that doesn't make it any less powerful. There are, in point of fact, few Pokémon as well rounded when it comes to both attack and defense as Snorlax. It doesn't quite have the HP of Blissey, but it has a higher CP potential, and that means a higher buffer for motivation.

It's old Zen Headbutt Body Slam moveset might be legacy now, but Zen Headbutt Hyper Beam works as well as ever.

Catch or hatch:

  • Snorlax

Rhydon - Max CP 3300

Rhydon received a significant boost in late 2016, with Pokémon Go's updated formula pushing its potential up above 3000 CP. That's made it much more popular in Gyms. So has its singular ability to outlast Snorlax in most matchups, especially with the Mud Slap Stone Edge moveset. (Only slightly offset by a double weakness to water and grass.)

It takes 50 Rhynhorn Candies to evolve a Rhydon.

Catch or hatch:

  • Rhynhorn

Catch or evolve:

  • Rhydon

Gyarados - Max CP 3281

Gyarados is much more powerful now than it was when Pokémon Go launched, the updated formula shooting it up over 3000 CP. Because Gym position is CP based, that's made Gyarados a common tenant.

It's new Dragon Tail Hydro Pump or Outrage movesets has only made it more so. (On the negative side, it's double weak against electric attacks.)

It takes 400 (!) Magikarp Candy to evolve a Gyarados.

Catch or hatch:

  • Magikarp

Catch or evolve:

  • Gyarados

Blissey - Max CP 3219

Chansey already had high enough HP to make it a wall. Blissey is like Chansey on Hulk-serum, so that makes it a super-high HP fortress. Dazzling Gleam is the best defensive charge move but put any Blissey on a Gym and friend and foe alike will hate you, as they throw Pokémon after Pokémon at Blissey trying de-motivate it. And it better be high damage-per-second (DPS) 'Mon as well, because time runs out in Pokémon Go after 90 seconds. Yeah, it's fun and frustrating to be a wall.

It takes 50 Chansey Candy to evolve Blissey.

Catch or hatch:

  • Chansey

Catch or evolve:

  • Blissey

Vaporeon - Max CP 3157

Eevee are so common in some areas that almost everyone has access to a high-level Vaporeon or several. It can get to 3000 CP, though barely, but at any significant combat power, it's a force to be reckoned with. (Even if it's weak against grass.) Because it's a split evolution (Rainer trick aside), you won't always get a Vaporeon, but when you do, watch out world. It's power and ubiquity are game changing. Especially with the Water Gun Aqua Tail moveset.

It takes 25 Eevee Candy — and some luck — to evolve Vaporeon.

Catch or hatch:

  • Eevee

Catch or evolve:

  • Vaporeon

Next Best Defenders

Since Pokémon Go has cracked down on the number of Blissey, Snorlax, and other top-tier Pokémon that can go on a Gyms, that means you may want to start evolving and powering up a far more diverse lineup of defenders! That's especially true now that CP doesn't determine position anymore!

Note: Heracross, with a max CP of 2938, should also be on the list. Since it's a regional only available in South America, however, I'm not including it at this time. Certainly, use it if you have it. Especially if you have it with Counter and Close Combat

Donphan - Max CP 3022

Donphan is often dismissed as a lesser-Rhydon. But if none of your higher CP Pokémon can go on a Gym, that's not a bad thing. Unless you have a Donphan with nearly perfect stats (IV), you probably won't be able to boost it over 3000. But you should be able to get it close.

Just like Rhydon, Donphan is weak against water and grass, but otherwise it's the next-best defender to have in your lineup. Especially if you have the Counter and Play Rough moveset.

It takes 50 Phanpy candy to evolve Donphan.

Catch or hatch:

  • Phanpy

Catch or evolve:

  • Donphan

Espeon - Max CP 3000

Vaporeon was the toughest Eevee-lution to come out of Gen 1. While no Gen 2 can touch it, Espeon comes the closest. Psychic instead of water-type, it hits hard and is particularly effective against fighter-type attackers like Machamp. Only an absolutely perfect stat (IV) Espeon can hit 3000 CP, and it's weak against dark-types like Tyranitar. But it can get closer than most. Just hope for the Confusion and Psybeam or Future Sight movesets.

You need 25 candy and to walk Eevee as a buddy for 10 KM and then evolve during the day time to get Espeon. (Here's how to evolve multiple Eevee into Espeon.)

Catch or hatch:

  • Eevee

(Espeon doesn't spawn and so can't be caught — it can only be evolved.)

Golem — Max CP 2916

Golem is often considered a second-rate Rhydon. But, when you need to look beyond Rhydon, second can quickly become first. Though Golem can't reach 3000 CP no matter how perfect its stats, and it shares Rhydon's weaknesses to grass and water, it can also dish out almost as much damage. Especially with Mud Slap with Rock Slap or Stone Edge movesets.

It takes 25 Geodude candies to evolve Graveler and 100 candies more to evolve Golem.

Catch or hatch:

  • Geodude

  • Catch or evolve

  • Graveler

  • Golem

Exeggutor — Max CP 2916

Exeggutor has all the makings of a preeminent defender — only its sub 3000 CP holds it back. Still, it gets closer than most, and if more powerful Pokémon become unavailable, it could make one heck of a comeback. Although weak against the top fire-types like Flareon and Charizard, it still packs an amazing psychic punch against top attacked like Machamp and Vaporeon. Especially if it has the Extrasensory and Solar Beam movesets (or, even better, the legacy Confusion and Solar Beam movesets).

It takes 50 Exeggcute candies to evolve Exeggutor.

Catch or hatch:

  • Exeggcute

Catch or evolve:

  • Exeggutor

Flareon - Max CP 2904

The other original Eevee-lution that used to be almost as common as Vaporeon on Gyms, Flareon was de-powered (nerfed) in late 2016 along Arcanine and the other fire-types. Thanks to its lingering CP max, which in a perfect specimen can max out just over 2900, Flareon could be poised for a comeback. Especially considering roughly a third of all attempted Vaporeon evolutions will end up as Floreon anyway... Weak against rock, ground, and water, which comprise a majority of many players' arsenals, it can still pack a punch. Especially with the Fire Sping and Flamethrower or Overheat movesets.

It takes 25 Eevee to evolve Flareon.

Catch or hatch:

  • Eevee

Catch or evolve:

  • Flareon

All-around ace attackers

Unlike prestiging your own team's Gyms, it makes no difference if you use lower CP Pokémon when attacking Gyms held by opposing teams. That means you can often use the biggest, baddest Pokémon in your dex to power your way through. Call them generalists if you have to, just call them often.

Dragonite to counter Vaporeon and pretty much everything else

While Tyranitar has eclipsed Dragonite in terms of pure CP, Dragonite is still the best generalist attacker in the game. Outside Lapras, few Pokémon can survive its onslaught, and Vaporeon is particularly susceptible to its attacks. It's best defensive moveset also doubles as its best offensive moveset — Dragon Tail and Outrage.

It takes 25 Dratini Candies to evolve a Dragonair and 100 more to get a Dragonite.

Catch or hatch:

  • Dratini

Catch or evolve:

  • Dragonair
  • Dragonite

Tyranitar to counter Snorlax, Espeon, and more

Tyranitar isn't quite the thunder lizard Dragonite is on offense, but it's close. Excellents stats mitigated only slightly by less damaging moves and less optimal typing, it can still power its way past almost any attacker. That's especially true of Snorlax and psychics like Espeon. Best if you get the Bite and Crunch or Stone Edge movesets.

It'll cost you 25 Larvitar Candies to evolve Pupitar and 100 more to get Tyranitar.

Catch or hatch:

  • Larvitar

Catch or evolve:

  • Pupitar
  • Tyranitar

Blissey, because tanks gonna tank

Blissey wouldn't be an exceptional attacker but for her incredible durability. The same massive HP advantage that makes Blissey a wall on defense makes it a steam-roller on offense. It's slow, but given enough time, she can win almost any encounter simply by outlasting her opponents.

Just make sure you have plenty of max revives or max potions for when you need them!

It takes 50 Chansey Candy to evolve Blissey.

Catch or hatch:

  • Chansey

Catch or evolve:

  • Blissey

Queens and kings of the counter

Type matching remains critically important when attacking Gyms. While you can power through almost any defender with a Dragonite, Snorlax, or Tyranitar of sufficient power, doing so quickly and efficiently still requires some strategy. And knowing the best counters means you have something to fall back on when your big guns are down.

Machamp to counter Tyranitar, Snorlax, and Blissey

If you can build up one of the new Machamp's with Counter Dynamic Punch, you can do some serious damage against the double week Tyranitar. Snorlax and Blissey are only single-weak against fighting, not double weak, but for tanks like those, take weak when you can get it. If you don't have Counter Dynamic, Karate Chop Cross Chop will still give you STAB (same type attack bonus) and take advantage of the weaknesses in many of the top defenders.

Catch or hatch:

  • Machop

Catch or evolve:

  • Machoke
  • Machamp


Lapras to counter Dragonite

Lapras has recently been downgraded (nerfed) by Pokémon Go but it's still the most tank-like ice fighter in the game, and ice is double effective against Dragonite. So, you'll want to have at least a few good Lapras with Frost Breath and Blizzard available at all times. Other double ice moves are fine, if not quite as damaging, as well.

Catch or Hatch:

  • Lapras


Vaporeon to counter Rhydon

Sure, Rhydon is double weak against grass types, so if you have a really good Exeggutor or Venusaur already, use it. But Rhydon is also double weak against water, and if Vaporeon is on your defender list, double duty as an attacker is twice as efficient. You really want Water Gun Hydro Pump on offense, but its such a little aqua-tank, almost any moveset will do.

Catch or hatch

  • Eeevee

Catch or evolve:

  • Vaporeon


Jolteon to counter Gyarados and Vaporeon

Electric attacks are not only double effective against Gyarados but effective against Vaporeon, so that makes your Jolteon even more efficient since you can use it to counter both instead of or in addition to building up a strong grass type like Exeggutor or Venusaur. Thunder Shock and Thunderbolt, Thunder Shock and Discharge, and Volt Switch and Thunderbolt all work great, but the other combos will work in a pinch as well.

Catch or hatch:

  • Eevee

Catch or evolve:

  • Jolteon


Bonus Blissey beaters

Blissey, by virtue of her immense HP, is a veritable pink wall on Gyms — tough and time-consuming to get through. Blissey is so tough, many attackers simply can't beat her within the 90 second time limit. Sure, the big bads, Dragonite and Tyranitar can power through, as can Rhydon and even Machamp if it has the right movesets and doesn't miss the dodge. But, you'll likely need to go deeper to take out Blissey, and definitely to take out multiple Blissey.

Exeggutor to counter Blissey

While Exeggutor's relatively low CP all but eliminated its role as a defender, the advent of Blissey and the new Gym system may just give it come-back. The combination of resistance to some types of Blissey quick attack and the ability to unleash the super-damaging Solar Beam have once again made Exeggutor the go-to for many attackers. The same is true for Snorlax.

You really need Solar Beam, though. Preferably Confusion and Solar Beam or Extrasensory and Solar Beam, but Zen Headbutt and Solar Beam works too.

(Exeggutor with grass-type moves is also useful against Vaporeon and Rhydon, if the moveset gods don't give you psychics.)

Catch or hatch:

  • Exeggcute

Evolve:

  • Exeggutor

Flareon to counter Blissey

Late last year, Pokémon Go knocked the big fire-types down a peg. Blissey, though, has allowed at least one Flareon to shine again. That un-nerfing comes courtesy of the Fire Spin and Overheat moveset. (Though you can use Fire Spin and Fire Blast or Flamethrower as well in a pinch.)

Flareon isn't sturdy enough to last, especially if you don't dodge, but can do a lot of damage relatively quickly. And that's what you need.

Catch or hatch:

  • Eevee

Catch or evolve:

  • Flareon

Should you evolve first, or power up first?

Evolve first, power up second. It's tempting to power up first, because instant gratification is instant, but it'll cost you less Stardust in the long run to evolve and the strategically power up only your best or favorite Pokémon.

Long story short, you never know what moveset you're going to end up with until you evolve (see below). And even though you can get Training Machines now and teach your Pokémon new moves, the better moves you get up front, the less you'll have to hunt down TMS.

So, gGet the evolution out of the way and you'll know exactly what you're spending your precious Stardust on and can make a more informed decision.

Should you evolve and power up right away or wait for better Pokémon?

The longer you wait, the better chance you have of catching or hatching a base Pokémon with higher stats (IV). The higher the stats, the higher the potential CP of you eventual Pokémon evolution. So, it makes sense to wait as long as you can before evolving. For example, if you're going for a third stage evolution, don't do the second stage right away. Wait and do both the second stage right before you're ready to do the third stage. That way, if you get a higher stats later, you can evovle that one instead. You're not stuck with your earlier evolution.

In other words, don't evolve Dragonair until you're ready to evolve Dragonite because you could get a much better Dratini by the time you get to 125 candies than the one you had at 25 candies.

And even if you get to 125 candies, if you don't have a Pokémon with high stats (IV) to evolve, you can keep waiting until you do.

Great... but how do you get enough Candy to evolve?

To evolve you need Candy. A lot of it. The amount you need starts small but grows as you get to higher levels. Candy also has to match the Pokéman family you want to evolve or power up. So you need Larvitar Candy to evolve to Pupitar and Tyranitar, and you need more Larvitar Candy to power up Tyranitar as well.

  • 3 Candies per base-level Pokémon caught in the wild.
  • 5 Candies per second-level Pokémon caught in the wild.
  • 10 Candies per third-level Pokémon caught in the wild.
  • 1 Candy per Pokémon transferred to the Professor.
  • 5 to 15 Candies per 2 KM Egg hatched.
  • 10 to 21 Candies per 5 KM Egg hatched.
  • 16 to 32 Candies per 10 KM Egg hatched.
  • 1 Candy per Buddy distance walked.
  • 6 Candies per base-level Pokémon caught in the wild while using a Pinap Berry.
  • 10 Candies per second-level Pokémon caught in the wild while using a Pinap Berry.
  • 20 Candies per third-level Pokémon caught in the wild while using a Pinap Berry.

How do you know which specific Pokémon to evolve?

If a Pokémon is particularly rare you might not have much choice as to which one you evolve. If you live in a place where Eevee spawn every few minutes, though, deciding which one(s) to evolve can be trickier. That's where appraisals come in.

Appraisals are how Pokémon Go surfaces the hidden IV stats of the game. All Pokémon have these three stats: stamina, attack, and defense. You can get a good idea of where your Pokémon ranks by having your Team Leader appraise your Pokémon.

How to appraise your Pokémon in Pokémon Go

Ideally, you want to evolve the Pokémon with the best appraisal. Those will be the ones with the highest stats and, eventually, the highest CP.

  • Instinct: Overall, your [Pokémon looks like it can really battle with the best of them!
  • Mystic: Your [Pokémon] is a wonder! What a breathtaking Pokémon!
  • Valor: Overall, your [Pokémon] simply amazes me! It can accomplish anything!

If the appraisal calls out one stat, it's great. If it calls out two stats, it's terrific. If it calls out all three stats, it's likely perfect:

  • "It's HP is its strongest feature."
  • "I'm just as impressed with its Attack."
  • "I'm just as impressed with its Defense."

If you get one of those, it's an all-star, must evolve, must power up, must show off!

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Once you evolve, how do you know which specific Pokémon to power up?

Note: Pokémon Go has now changed the movesets and damage metrics several times, including twice in the week following the Gen 2 launch. That's led some people to stop worrying about movesets as much, since you can literally spend tons of time, Candy, and Stardust powering up an ideal Pokémon only for it to become substandard with one tweak of the formula. Others, though, look at changing movesets and damage as a way to start their armies anew. If you don't care about movesets, power up the highest CP Pokémon you have and make it as high as you can. If you do care, wait until you get the moveset you want, then max it out.

This is where movesets come in. Arguably, movesets are the most important and frustrating aspect of the Pokémon Go Gym system. A moveset is exactly what the name implies — the set of quick and charge moves available to your Pokémon. The bad news is, movesets are determined at random when you evolve. No matter how great your starting moves, how high your initial CP, or how good your appraisal, the moment you tap the evolve button you're putting your Pokémon's fate in the hands of chance.

That's not as doom-and-gloom as it sounds. A 3000 Snorlax with a "bad" moveset like Zen Headbutt and Earthquake is still a 3000 Snorlax! But a 3000 Snorlax with an ideal moveset like Zen Headbutt and Hyper Beam is even better.

Also, now that Training Machines have been introduced into Pokémon Go, you'll be able to teach a great Pokémon with bad moves better moves.

Either way, it's still worth waiting for ideal movesets — evolved or trained — before powering up but for especially rare Pokémon that can take a long time and there's no way to know if your next hatch, catch, or evolution will be any better.

How do you get enough Stardust to power up your Pokémon?

To power up you need more Candy but you also need Stardust. Stardust is generic. You can use any Stardust you got from any source on any Pokémon you want. The amount you need starts small but grows as you get to higher levels. So, how do you get as much Candy and Stardust as possible to power up as much as possible?

  • 100 Stardust per base-level Pokémon caught in the wild.
  • 300 Stardust per second-level Pokémon caught in the wild.
  • 500 Stardust per third-level Pokémon caught in the wild.
  • 500-1500 Stardust per 2 KM Egg hatched.
  • 1000-2100 Stardust per 5KM Egg hatched.
  • 1600-3200 Stardust per 10 KM Egg hatched.
  • 500 Stardust per Pokémon, per Gym, per 21 hours.

To evolve a Magikarp into a Gyarados takes 400 Dratini Candy. To power up a Gyarados to over 3000 CP could take another 112 Magikarp Candy and 120,500 Stardust or more.

To evolve a Dratini into Dragonair and Dragonite takes 125 Dratini Candy. To power up a Dragonite to over 3000 CP could take another 70 Dratini Candy and 80,000 Stardust or more.

So, catch, hatch, walk, and claim as much Candy and Stardust as you can.

Any other questions on Pokémon Go evolution or powering up?

Have any other questions about evolving Pokémon or leveling them up? Let us know in the comments.

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