Is it competitively viable to use an un-evolved Pokemon?

  • Is it competitively viable to use an un-evolved Pokemon? Robotnik

    I've decided to give competitive battling a crack after visiting PAX Aus and having a lot of fun cheering on the winners of the Championships held there. I've downloaded the battling simulator, Pokemon Online and after watching a few videos and reading some tutorials, I'm starting to put together a test team.

    What I would like to know, is:

    • Is there any real advantage gained when using an evolved Pokemon?
    • Is an evolved Pokemon generally more powerful than a lower evolution? i.e. assuming all else are the same (EVs, IVs, Natures, Movesets etc) will an evolved Pokemon always win against it's un-evolved counterpart?

    I ask because Pokemon Online provides a nice little base-stats dialog box when selecting Pokemon (see below). Why would someone choose Charmander over Charmeleon? Assuming of course:

    • Charmeleon can have the same moves that Charmander learns (after evolving)
    • Charmeleon can have the same Nature/Ability as Charmander

    Note: I left Charizard out as he is Fire/Flying and it could be argued that you don't want the flying portion of him.
    Note 2: (As if you don't).

    I've also read the answers on What advantage do I get by evolving my Pokemon?, but they seem to specifically deal with Singleplayer - i.e. evolving based on the movesets etc you can gain/lose. This is not a problem with Pokemon Online, as you can change moves at will without having to wonder whether holding off evolving is a good idea.

    charmander charmeleon

  • There is generally no competetive reason to use Not Fully Evolved pokemon outside of the Not Fully Evolved and Little Cup tiers (where fully evolved and/or high level pokemon are expressly banned). NFE is it's own category and the fully evolved pokemon only are in the other tiers largely because stats almost exclusively get higher (there are exceptions but they're limited to a select few evolutionary families).

    In addition, NFE pokemon also have theoretically more limited move sets; a stage one pokemon can only learn moves from their first evolution (plus egg moves). A stage 3 evolution has 3 stages of evolutions' moves that it could have learned, plus egg moves. Again this depends on the family, but in some cases a full evolution can give access to particularly useful moves. For example it lets every pokemon that can learn TMs have access to Hyper Beam (full evolution is a requirement for the TM), though ironically Hyper Beam isn't actually a great move competetively.

    The stat boosts are often quite significant and are the main reason not to use lower-level pokemon, but the reduced moveset is also limiting. As an example of the stat difference, look at the average stats of Dragon types for overall and fully evolved Pokemon. Note that the "overall" stat is actually skewed higher than a "not evolved" distribution would be, and powerful pokemon with a single evolution (including several legendaries) skew the distribution as well, yet fully evolved pokemon still have a clear advantage.

    Bulbapedia has some evolution related tier exceptions listed as well; in these cases a lower form of evolution is advantageous, albiet usually in specific situations (for example a Pikachu holding a Light Ball can have higher special attack than a Raichu of the same level).

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