The arrival of Legendaries in Pokémon GO has been a source of both joy and frustration for players. It’s awesome that they’re finally in the game, but when many players have run into the daunting task of actually beating them and catching them, it’s been a bit of a hair-pulling experience in many ways.
Getting together the 8-10+ people you’ll usually need to take down a Legendary in the first place might be tough, but past that, it’s catching them that seems to be confounding players the most. At baseline, Legendaries have an incredibly low base capture rate of just 3%. That means if you throw a ball and it hits with zero bonuses, you will only catch them with 3 out of 100 balls, and you usually won’t get many more than 10 per attempt.
But this creates a situation where players land a few “Great!” throws and are fuming as to why the Legendary Pokémon broke out of five balls or so. But if you stop and look at the math with all the bonuses you actually need to give you the best chance of capture, it’s a bit daunting, and explains why Legendaries might be running away from you constantly. The chart above was made by /r/TheSilphRoad user Epimetheos that perfectly illustrates what I’m talking about here.
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As you can see, the situation is….a bit bleak. Even with an excellent curveball throw with a gold medal (nearly impossible to hit for the vast majority of players), that means you will still get a breakout 75% of the time.
Clearly, the best way to increase your odds is by switching from a regular throw to a curveball, as it’s a flat 2x boost to your capture chance. But as anyone who has tried to perfect curveballs knows, unless you’re a pro, it’s a recipe to miss completely while a straight throw is often a more reliable hit.
Being able to use Golden Razzberries on these Legendaries as well is another huge factor, so I would recommend farming those from lesser raids and using them every single time for Articuno, Lugia or the other two birds that will be showing up soon. No berry to Golden Razzberry will bump your chances from 2-4% to 6-10% by itself.
And while all this looks fairly depressing, remember that it is per throw and your total odds of coming away with a Legendary catch will increase if you perform consistently throughout the encounter. Accuracy counts for a lot. For instance, if you have a golden badge and use a Golden Razzberry, even 7 normal hits means you have a 44% chance to capture by the end. If you do the same and can land Great Curveballs, that skyrockets to a 77% chance with 7 hits. So it may not be as dire as that initial chart may suggest.
Still, it’s a tough road and an uphill climb. Learning tactics like the curveball or tracking down capture badges never really seemed thatessential to Pokémon GO, but that’s definitely not the case now, as during your extremely limited Legendary capture opportunities, you absolutely have to make the most of them, or go home disappointed. If you’ve been striking out, hopefully this has provided some context as to why.