"Pokemon Go" PvP Trainer Battles Guide

Updated on December 13, 2018
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Sigbog is an avid Level 40 "Pokémon GO" player and raider with lots of knowledge and experience to draw from.

PvP Trainer Battles Have Arrived!

It's finally time for head to head Pokemon battles!
It's finally time for head to head Pokemon battles!

PvP Has Finally Arrived!

The long-awaited PvP mode has arrived in Pokemon Go. Often considered one of the core components of original Pokemon, this feature has been asked for by players even before the game launched. Now that it's here, I'll cover everything you need to know.

  • Is combat different and how does it work?
  • Who can I battle and how do I battle them?
  • Are there rankings or leagues of any sort?

Core Combat

The core combat is not an entire re-work of the existing Pokemon Go combat system as many may have preferred. However, it is meaningfully different and offers a few new twists to make things more compelling than mindless tapping.

  • You assemble a team of 3 Pokemon. You can build multiple pre-sets similar to how parties currently work. This will keep the battle short.
  • Pokemon can now unlock a second charge move. This means you can build a team that offers a little more responsiveness and strategy to optimizing against your opponent. You have to unlock this second move for each Pokemon via stardust and candy.
  • Charged moves can be tapped to charge up to deal even more damage after use. You'll have to tap rapidly after initiating a charged move to boost its damage. This is new, and seems to be mostly in place to give your opponent a chance to decide if they wish to shield the attack or not rather than offer some new way of increasing damage.
  • Opponents can shield most of the damage of your charged move twice per battle. You'll be given the option to protect against a charged move twice. Again, this is introduced to add strategic depth by enabling you to try and overcome what may otherwise be a hard counter.
  • Battles are timed. If the time runs out, the trainer with the most Pokemon or most remaining HP wins. (Please let's hope Blissey is not viable!)
  • Battles do not hurt your Pokemon. You won't need to use potions or revives afterwards!

Overall combat seems to be slightly more engaging, but not fundamentally different. I'm not the most enthused by it, but there's seems to be enough in place to get a feeling of excitement while playing.

Screenshots from Battles

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Charging up a move for MewtwoProtecting against a charged move
Charging up a move for Mewtwo
Charging up a move for Mewtwo
Protecting against a charged move
Protecting against a charged move


When facing trainers, you have several options of who you can face; you can choose to battle from:

  • Your Team Leader as a practice, from which you can earn rewards once a day.
  • Any Ultra or Best Friends, regardless of where they are so if you need rewards and there are no nearby players to duke it out with, just battle your friends!
  • Nearby Trainers. This one is tricky. You can identify nearby trainers similar to how you find nearby Pokemon, but you must scan their QR code to initiate a battle. That means you must interact with them, no ghost fighting from a distance. The combat will be up close and personal.

Overall I'm intrigued by this. I'm glad they implemented PvP at a distance so we can stay engaged even when we're not next to someone. However, this is a big shift away from their philosophy. Basically, nothing has been introduced to Pokemon Go that can function without having to go out and meet people, so this is an interesting move. I also hope people will stay level-headed during PvP and not create any toxicity. However, I expect the reward structure and rankings to not reinforce something overly aggressive or competitive.

Battle Tab & Training Screens

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Training against Blanche
Training against Blanche
Training against Blanche


There are 3 main leagues you can choose to fight in. Each league carries with it its own CP limit on Pokemon.

  • Great League - Max Pokemon CP of 1500
  • Ultra League - Max Pokemon CP of 2500
  • Master League - Max Pokemon CP of 10000

It will not reduce the CP of selected Pokemon if they are above those caps. Instead, you cannot pick Pokemon of higher CP than those figures. So you'll need to have various teams prepared for different strengths if you aim to participate in multiple leagues.

It is currently unclear what the relationship between league play and rewards is as well as whether or not there is a larger ranking system at play or if this is simply a mechanism to find a mutually agreed to "fair" match regardless of the level of player.

League Screenshot


Unlocking a 2nd Charge Move

Along with this new pvp mode, trainers can now unlock a second charge move for their Pokemon. This will add a bit of depth to the combat in allowing you to prepare multiple moves for various situations. However, it does cost both that Pokemon's candy and stardust.

The candy and stardust cost varies by the tier of the Pokemon. This tier is effectively the same as the buddy distance, and you can refer to the chart below for full details. The cost will not vary based on when you do it, meaning you can unlock a 2nd charge move on an unevolved Pokemon for the same price as the evolved version of it. And of course, the 2nd move does stay unlocked after evolution though it gets randomized as usual. It also appears not all Pokemon can unlock a 2nd charged move, but it seems only ones that only have one move available to them such as Magikarp or Wurmple.

You do not get to pick the unlocked charge move, but if you use a charge TM, you do get to select which move you wish to re-roll.

2nd Charge Move Cost Chart

The cost charge for unlocking charge moves compared to buddy distance. The one exception is that starter Pokemon also cost 10k stardust and 25 candy instead of 50k/50 as their walking distance implies.
The cost charge for unlocking charge moves compared to buddy distance. The one exception is that starter Pokemon also cost 10k stardust and 25 candy instead of 50k/50 as their walking distance implies.


The reward structure is still being figured out. However, the big news Niantic has shared is that this will be a meaningful source of Sinnoh Stones. With Sinnoh Stones creating 11 different evolutions, being able to have a reliable source of them is going to be huge. If you want more details on Sinnoh Stone Evolutions, feel free to check out my Sinnoh Stone guide.

Thus far it is confirmed that rewards are limited, you can't just keep battling over and over to rack in rewards. Normally you get a small amount of stardust such as 1000 or 500, but have a chance to get a Sinnoh Stone. More details will be added as they are figured out.

© 2018 sigbog


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