Best Pokémon to evolve and power up in Pokémon Go — Updated for Gen 2!

Pokémon Go has revealed the game's big Gym redesign — here are the Pokémon you want to evolve and power up to battle in them!

Pokémon Go has completely changed the Gym system. Pokémon are no longer ordered by CP but by when they enter a Gym. There's no longer room for ten defenders, only six. You can only have one of any kind of Pokémon in a Gym at any given time. Also, any Pokémon over 3000 CP will now lose motivation at a rate of 10 CP an hour. Pokémon under 3000 CP will only lose motivation at a rate of 1 CP an hour. In other words, it's a whole new Gym game, and it largely requires whole new Pokémon to defend them.

MUST READ: Here are the best Pokémon to evolve, TM, and power up for Battle Raids and beating Raid Bosses

The top three tanks

In the old Gym system combat power (CP) was all that mattered and Tyranitar, Dragonite, Gyrados, and Rhydon rode high. No longer. Now hit points (HP) are what's important. Make no mistake, almost anyone of almost any level can quickly and easily take down a Gym now. But there are a few Pokémon that can make it take longer and make attackers work harder.

Blissey

When Blissey arrived as part of Gen 2, she didn't have high enough CP to sit at the very tip top of Gyms but she had high enough HP to serve as a big, pink wall wherever she did sit. Now that CP doesn't matter any more and HP is all that matters, Blissey fully takes on her title as the new queen of defenders. And that's not just with her best move, Dazzling Gleam, but with any more.

Evolve: 50 candies from Chansey to Blissey.

Best movesets: Pound or Zen Headbutt + Dazzling Gleam.

Snorlax

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 him any less powerful. There are, in point of fact, few Pokémon as well rounded when it comes to defense as Snorlax. It doesn't quite have the HP of Blissey, but since you can't have multiple Blissey in a Gym anymore, you're going to want a Snorlax as well. Especially if you have the legacy Body Slam move.

Best movesets: Zen Headbutt + Heavy Slam (Zen Headbutt + Body Slam).

Useable movesets:

Chansey

Chasey is a slightly less tanky version of Blissey, which still makes it more tanky than almost all other Pokémon in the current game. In other words, Chansey is a big, pink wall... jr. And since CP doesn't matter anymore, neither does Chansey's lack of CP. All that matters is her phenomenal HP.

Best movesets:

Useable movesets: Zen Headbutt + Dazzling Gleam.

The next best defenders

Because you can only have one of each kind of Pokémon in a Gym now, it's not uncommon to come across a Gym with empty slots, but with Blissey, Snorlax, and Chansey already taken. When that happens, you need to fall back to the next best defenders.

Steelix

Steelix always had great defensive potential but the old, CP-based system never let him show it off. Now, Steelix can defend with some of the best of them — and look awesome while doing it.

Evolve: 50 Onix candies + Metal Coat from Onix to Steelix.

Best movesets: Dragon Tail + Heavy Slam.

Lapras

Lapras is back, baby! After being an early defensive favorite, Larpas' lack of CP — and a subsequent loss of CP — put it out of contention in the old Gym system. Now that CP isn't the be-all, end-off of Gym defense, Lapras' tankiness brings it back into play. (Especially because the even more powerful, and legendary, Articuno can't be placed into Gyms.)

Best movesets: Frost Breath + Blizzard or Ice Beam

Vaporeon

Maybe not in everyone's top six, but since Eevee have been abundant in most areas, and Vaporeon can only barely make it to 3000 CP, odds are high you'll have one and it won't be over the current high-drain threshold. That makes Vaporeon, which is still both tanky and punishing, the pragmatic choice for rounding out the next best defenders.

Evolve: 25 Eevee candies — and some luck — to evolve Vaporeon.

Best movesets: Water Gun + Hydro Pump or Aqua Tail

The Left Overs

If you don't have any of the new top defenders, or you don't have enough of them to sit in the up to 20 Gyms you can now be in at a time, here are some other Pokémon that make the cut. Some are previous top tier defenders that now, by virtue of their high CP, don't fit as well in the new system. Others are previous also-rans that, because the CP stacking is over, now have a new lease on the defending life. Just remember, holding a Gym is now near impossible if someone else is intent on taking, so these are more fillers than defenders.

  • Muk with Poison Jab + Gunk Shot
  • Dragonite with Dragon Tail + Anything
  • Gyarados with Dragon Tail + Anything
  • Rhydon with Mud Slap + Stone Edge
  • Slowbro or Slowking with Confusion + Anything
  • Umbreon with Snarl + Anything

All-around ace attackers

New optimal defenders require new optimal attackers to take them out. Unlike defending, though, the new CP cap doesn't apply on offense. That means, if you have maxed out Dragonite, Tyranitar, or Vaporeon from the old Gym system, they still have value — as a wrecking crew.

Generally, type matching is more effective for the first and even second round when you're taking a Gym. By the third round, generalists are just faster.

Dragonite

While Tyranitar has higher CP, it also has more weaknesses, and that leaves Dragonite at the top of the best generalist attacker list. 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.

Evolve: 25 Dratini candies to Dragonair, 100 more to Dragonite.

Best movesets: Dragon Tail + Outrage or Hurricane

Tyranitar

Tyranitar isn't quite the thunder lizard Dragonite is on offense, but it's close. Excellent stats mitigated only slightly by less damaging moves and less optimal typing, it can still power its way through many defenders. That's true of tanks like Blissey, Chansy, and Snorlax, using Bite + Stone Edge, especially if they have Psychic moves Tyranitar resists. Pure Psychics will be hit even harder by Bite and Crunch.

Evolve: 25 Larvitar candies to Pupitar, 100 more to Tyranitar.

Best movesets: Bite + Crunch or Stone Edge

Queens and kings of the counter

Type matching remains critically important when attacking Gyms, especially for the first and maybe second rounds. While you can try to power through almost any defender with a Dragonite or Tyranitar, you might also lose a lot of lizards — and revives and potions — that way. Taking down Gyms 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 Machamp with Counter + Dynamic Punch, you can do some serious damage against the double week Tyranitar. Snorlax, Lapras, Blissey, and Chansey are only single-weak against fighting, not double weak, but for tanks like those, take weak when you can get it. (Several of those are also high level Raid Bosses, making Machamp even more valuable.)

Evolve: 10 Machop candies to Machoke, 100 more to Machamp.

Best Movesets: Counter + Dynamic Punch.


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.