On Developing Speed Tiers Throughout a Metagame

Hey there Hat Lovers!

Today, I’m going to discuss a topic I’ve been thinking a fair bit about lately. One of the most common frustrations I see from people trying to learn the game is understanding how people come up with complicated EV spreads. It really isn’t obvious where the EV spread  92 HP / 4 Def / 252 Atk / 4 SpDef / 156 Spe for Adamant Mega Charizard X comes from. I’ve contemplated writing an article about coming up with complicated EV spreads, but realized many of them are generated first by speed requirements. In order for someone to understand where those requirements come from, we need to use a metagame approach.

For a really helpful article on the many speeds Pokemon can reach, see Scott’s Speed Tier article on Nuggetbridge.com!


  1. Don’t think in EVs, think in stats

  2. Base Speed vs. Max Speed Stat

  3. Centralizing Pokemon or Speed Stats

  4. Example: Adamant Mega Charizard X

  5. The Evolving Metagame

What I’ll be doing is focusing on why you would invest 156 Speed EVs into Charizard X. Where did that number come from? Why not 0 Speed EV’s? Why not 252 Speed EV’s? Why don’t people just make their Pokemon as fast as possible? The answers to all this and more below! So let’s dive right in!

1. Don’t think in EVs, think in stats

The most important thing you should get out of this article is to realize that these EV spreads reflect stats that a Pokemon has at level 50. The spread 92 HP / 4 Def / 252 Atk / 4 SpDef / 156 Spe, means nothing until it’s translated into:


Charizard X – Adamant Nature


92 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 156 Spe

Stats at Level 50

165 HP / 200 Attack / 132 Defence / 135 Special Attack / 106 Special Defence / 140 Speed

What this spread accomplishes is not having 156 EVs in Speed, it’s having a 140 Speed stat at level 50. So whenever you see an EV spread that isn’t 252/252/4, first look at the speed and see what speed they reach. That will answer a lot about the goals of the Pokemon and the spread.

Remember: the question is not “why 156 EV’s,” it’s “why 140 speed?”

2. Base Speed vs. Max Speed Stat

So why do we want to reach 140 speed? Well, that puzzle is far more complicated. Just to make sure we’re all on the same page, I’ll take a second to explain base speeds vs. max speeds.

Take a look at this article on speed tiers I mentioned earlier. Notice how there is one column listing the Pokemon’s Max Speed Stat, and another listing its Base Speed? Well, the Base Speed is yet another number people use that translates into a Pokemon’s Max Speed Stat. The important part about Base Speeds is that they are not affected by a Pokemon’s nature. For example, scroll down on that page and find the “Middle of the Pack” section. It should look like this:

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 10.53.06 AM


Notice how multiple Pokemon are listed as having a Base Speed of 100, and a Max Speed Stat of 167 with a Positive Nature (a nature that boosts their speed)? Well, scroll down a bit further and find these Pokemon again. Who am I kidding? I’ll do it for you.

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 10.55.25 AM

Notice how the Base Speed column lists the same value, “100,” but the max Speed column is different. This is because the Max Speed Stat of 152 describes the Speed of these “Base 100” Pokemon when they are using a Neutral nature (i.e. not a speed-boosting nature). So Base Speed describes a Pokemon’s potential Speed stat when using different natures. Their actual Speed stat relies on what nature you use, and how many EVs you invest.

3. Centralizing Pokemon or Speed Stats

So back to that question, why does Mega Charizard X want to have 140 speed? This number seems pretty random, given that Charizard is a Base 100 Speed Pokemon, just like the others up there. Wouldn’t it be better for Charizard to at least try to tie the other Base 100 Speed Pokemon? Otherwise it just loses in speed every time!

While that may be true, a lot of players shy away from coin flip situations. If you do invest 252 EVs into Speed and give Charizard a X a Jolly nature, the best you’ll get when facing the mirror is that 50% of the time you’ll go first, and 50% of the time you’ll go second. That doesn’t seem like a good return on our EV investment.

Instead, what players do is look for Pokemon that are slower than their Pokemon, and figure out what Nature and how many EVs they need to use to make sure they at least out-speed the things that are guaranteed to be slower than them. This decision is completely up to the player! Go back to that Speed Tiers article and follow along with me. You closed it didn’t you? Here it is again.

So let’s say you’re using a Base 100 Speed Pokemon like Mega Charizard X or Mega Kangaskhan. You don’t want to flip coins at the Max Speed Stat, so at what point do you say “I’ll just make sure I’ve got 140 Speed and call it a day.”

And that is where the idea of these centralizing Pokemon or Speed stats comes from! For instance, there are loads of Pokemon with a Base Speed of 100. This is why Garchomp has such a great speed stat. It is just fast enough to guarantee that it out-speeds all the Base 100 Pokemon. Being able to out-speed such a large group containing threats like Mega Kangaskhan, Mega Charizard, Salamence, Zapdos, and more is extremely useful!

But what are other groups of Pokemon that are important to outspeed?

And finally, we’ve come to the metagame part of this article. This question has no simple answer. It really depends on what Pokemon players are using, and what speeds they set them at. However, there are trends I can describe in a metagame that will be useful to you! Usually, players identify a major metagame threat and make sure they at least outspeed that threat. This is generally a Pokemon that is either extremely prevalent, or is such a pain that you want to make sure you have answers in case you run into it. I have examples for both of these!

50aa7-garchompIf there is one Pokemon that has been an ever-present force in the game over the last few years, it’s Garchomp. Garchomp’s Base 102 Speed completely defined speed tiers throughout 2012-2014. To have a truly “fast” Pokemon, it had to be faster than Garchomp. Additionally, Pokemon could use moves like Dragon Dance to raise their speed to out-speed Garchomp, or Icy Wind to lower Garchomp’s Speed to their level. This latter group gave rise to a speed tier at 114 Speed. Because of this, Dragon Dance Tyranitars used a Jolly Nature and were sure to have at least 114 Speed, so that at +1 Speed you reached 171 Speed; just faster than Garchomp’s 169 Speed. Cresselia, a common Icy Wind user, was also sure to reach 114 Speed to out-speed Garchomp when Garchomp was at -1 Speed.

Because Cresselia was so common, many Pokemon began to settle around 115 Speed trying to out-speed Cresselia. Soon enough, to avoid speed-ties with other Pokemon, players started to raise their Speed stat to 116, and then 117, and so on.

Garchomp is still a defining force of the metagame; most Pokemon slower than Base 102 don’t bother investing maximally in Speed because of Garchomp. But if you aren’t going to outspeed Garchomp in the XY metagame, where do you stop?

Garchomp and Cresselia were an example of a very common threat, but what about a less common, but still annoying one? There is one Pokemon that has completely defined a lower Speed tier in XY, and that Pokemon is Smeargle. Smeargle has Base 75 Speed, and as such hits a maximum Speed stat of 139. Because no one wanted to be Dark Voided without putting up a fight, players have made sure that their Pokemon have at least 140 Speed.

And with that, we’ve come to our example, Charizard X!

4. Example: Adamant Mega Charizard X

So, as a reminder, here is the EV spread for Charizard X that I posted earlier. The goal of this spread is to reach 140 Speed and out-speed Jolly Smeargle.


Charizard X – Adamant Nature


92 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 156 Spe

Stats at Level 50

165 HP / 200 Attack / 132 Defence / 135 Special Attack / 106 Special Defence / 140 Speed

Essentially what this spread does is it maximizes your attack stat, and gives you enough speed to outspeed Jolly Smeargles. The rest of the EVs are put into HP and then 4 EVs in each defence. This is a very common type of “specialized” EV spread. If you ever see a Pokemon investing in one attack stat and then a bunch in speed and dumping the rest into HP, there probably isn’t more to it than “Max attack, outspeed slower stuff, and the rest can go into bulk (because why not?)”

So, what’s more to this example outside of out-speeding Smeargle? Well… Charizard X is famous as a Dragon Dance user as well. So while out-speeding Smeargle is nice, we will also want to think of what a +1 Speed Charizard will reach. One good, fast Pokemon to outspeed is Mega Manectric. People like bringing Mega Manectric against Charizard teams because it’s good against Charizard Y, which is the most common form. It will also Intimidate, which helps out when it turns out to be Charizard X! As such, it’s nice to be able to out-speed Mega Manectric, even if it’s only to protect your team’s partners. A Timid Mega Manectric has a 205 Speed stat.

So, what speed does 140 Speed Charizard X hit after a Dragon Dance? 140 * 1.5 = 210 Speed. Hooray! Charizard already out-speeds Timid Mega Manectric! So our job is done right?

Well… sure. I guess it is. We’ve accomplished our goals of out-speeding Smeargle at normal Speed, and out-speeding even the fastest relevant Pokemon in the metagame (an argument could be made for Mega Aerodactyl though). But…

5. The Evolving Metagame

Here’s the thing. Everyone else is thinking the same thing you are. They want to out-speed Jolly Smeargle too. So while Charizard X is probably plenty fast after a Dragon Dance, before a Dragon Dance you might be unfortunately slow compared to a lot of other Middle-of-the-Pack-Speed Pokemon. For instance, Smeargle has 75 Base Speed. That means anything faster than 75 Base Speed will likely settle around 140 Speed as well. And there are a ton of Pokemon with ~80 Base Speed. For example, Blastoise (78), Venusaur (80), Gardevoir (80), Mamoswine (80), Goodra (80), Chandelure (80) and Gyarados (81). On top of that, any Pokemon slower than Base Speed 100 is very likely going to settle around this mark, so Kingdra (85), Nidoking (85), Lucario (90), Modest Hydreigon (98) are likely going to hover around 140 Speed. Even a bunch of Base Speed 100 Pokemon (like our Charizard X) are going to opt for the power of an Attack-boosting nature instead of having Speed-ties, and are likely to sit around 140 Speed.

This sort of result seems obvious in hindsight, but is never so obvious at the start of a metagame. For one thing, people don’t really know what is popular yet before any tournaments have happened! So there’s no chance for a Pokemon like Cresselia to carve a niche at 114 Speed yet, or a Pokemon like Smeargle to threaten anything slower than 139 Speed.

Because of this, Players often just settle for simple 252 Attack /252 Speed EV spreads at the beginning of a metagame. After all, if you don’t yet know what are the biggest threats to watch out for, the best way to prepare can often be to just try and out-speed whatever you might face. One safe assumption, due to the sheer number of Pokemon in the Base 100 Speed Tier, is that any Pokemon slower than Base 100 Speed is not as likely to be using 252 Speed EVs.

However, given enough metagame development, or after a major tournament like Regionals, players will talk 85147-smeargleabout their teams online and in person. Word spreads, and soon enough everyone is EV’ing their Pokemon to out-speed the major threats that showed up. In the case of Smeargle, players hit 140 Speed to out-speed Smeargle after the infamous “Khan Artist” duo (Kangaskhan + Smeargle) established itself as a major threat online. After Regionals, everyone knew how menacing Khan Artist could be. Any Pokemon that were not previously investing in Speed began to invest to reach 140 Speed. Additionally, any Pokemon that were fast, but not as fast as Garchomp, began to drop from their 252/252 spreads and settle at 140 Speed.

Soon enough, speed ties were everywhere again. But this time, players could do something about it. Often players start out being cute and running 1 or 2 Speed stats higher than the new tier. Most people want to hold on to their newfound bulk. Much of the time, Players also recognize major attacking threats, and can EV their Pokemon to survive attacks 100% of the time. For instance, Charizard Y started out at 252 SpA / 252 Spe this year. But soon enough, players realized that Charizard Y could survive a Garchomp Rock Slide with enough investment in bulk. Charizard Y could even still out-speed Smeargle! This Bulky Charizard could also survive a Timid Mega Manectric Thunderbolt. My point is, it’s not like Players want to give up on surviving such important benchmarks, so most people only use as much speed as they feel is necessary.

Over the course of the year, Players went from 140 Speed to about 143 one by one. Randy Kwa wrote a report about Timid Blastoise reaching 143 Speed, which helped hype up 144 as a Speed stat. Modest Hydreigon was sitting around 143 with other Pokemon, and started to creep up again. Base Speed 80 Pokemon like Jolly Mamoswine, or Base 81 Jolly Gyarados could reach 145 and 146 respectively. Soon enough, 147 Speed became a new Speed stat for anyone fearing Mamoswine or Gyarados.

Not all players care about Mamoswine or Gyarados, so by no means should you expect all Mid-speed Pokemon to be at 147 now. But some players, and some Pokemon do. Likewise, Modest Hydreigon can reach 150 Speed if it wants to, but it needs 20 HP and 60 Defence to survive Garchomp’s Dragon Claw 100% of the time. Any extra Speed EVs players used had to come from that important Defensive benchmark.


Almost a full year since the start of XY, you’ll find Middle-of-the-Pack Pokemon with Speed stats anywhere from 140-147. Once players start investing near 252 Speed EVs again, they start using the mentality of:

“What’s more important? An extra 3 HP, or reaching my maximum Speed Stat?”

Base 100 speed is fast, but not faster than Garchomp. What starts as a concentration of Pokemon at 252 Speed EVs at the start of the metagame transforms into many Pokemon concentrating around a lower Speed stat. Soon enough, speed ties break out, and players start Speed creeping each other until they’re almost all the way back to 252 Speed EVs again. But at that point, there’s a much greater diversity of Speed stats that Pokemon might have, depending on the player and what benchmarks they see as important.

It’s my hope that this review of Speed stats and how they can develop has been insightful! I know a lot of newer players find this sort of topic overwhelming and complicated. What I’ve tried to do in this article is break a year of metagame Speed development down and explain step by step what goes into Speed tiers over time. At the end of the year, there’s no right answer to what Speed a Pokemon should be. But hopefully you now feel informed enough to make your own decisions about Speed stats in a metagame!


Crawdaunt out


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