Get Started in the GO Battle League in Pokémon GO: Overview, Tips, and Rewards

You've encountered lots of Pokémon, mastering the fine art of the Curveball along the way. You've participated in all of Professor Willow's research tasks, expanding your knowledge as you discover more Pokémon. You've evolved your Pokémon using every available item from Sun Stones to Glacial Lure Modules and everything in between. You've challenged Legendary Pokémon in raids, studying up on their weaknesses along the way. You've powered up your Pokémon using Stardust, Candy, and XL Candy.

Now what?

After all that effort, what's the next step on your path as a Pokémon GO Trainer? How can you prove that your Pokémon are the very best they can be, while increasing your understanding of Pokémon?

It's time to enter the GO Battle League. Pit your knowledge and skill against your fellow Trainers for glory, Stardust, Pokémon encounters, and other rewards worthy of your time and skill.

Getting started in the GO Battle League might seem intimidating initially, but the fast-paced battles are fun—you'll find yourself picking up the experience and knowledge to battle like a pro. Continue reading to learn everything you need to know to get started and quickly rise through the ranks, from how the GO Battle League's system works to what you should consider when building your team. You'll be a seasoned battler in no time!

How to Unlock Battles

You can access the GO Battle League by tapping the Poké Ball icon at the bottom center of your screen. You'll see the Battle option in the middle of your screen on the right side. Tap the Battle option—and welcome to the GO Battle League!

When you enter the GO Battle League, you'll be able to choose between two reward tracks: Basic Rewards and Premium Rewards. As indicated by the name, Premium Rewards offer better prizes for winning battles but require a Premium Battle Pass for each set of five battles. Once you've selected your rewards track, you'll be able to battle! Each time you battle, you can choose between a set of leagues and cups, which change throughout a GO Battle League season. In each battle format, you'll assemble a team of three Pokémon, with different formats allowing different CP ranges. In some cases, a themed cup might limit which Pokémon you can include on your team.

Once you select which league or cup you want to battle in, you'll select a team of three Pokémon and get matched with another Trainer competing at a similar rank. Even if you're just getting started, you won't have to worry about battling a Trainer who has already racked up lots of GO Battle League wins.


How to Build a Balanced Team for Trainer Battles

Assembling a team for Trainer Battles in the GO Battle League can be challenging, given the vast variety of available Pokémon and attacks. To improve your odds of winning, you should select a team of Pokémon that compensate for one another's weakness. For example, you wouldn't want to enter a Trainer Battle with three Pokémon that are weak to Fire-type attacks and risk having your entire team defeated by a single Charizard. In this case, you it might be wise to include a Pokémon that's strong against Fire-type Pokémon as well.

It's also crucial to consider which Pokémon your opponents are most likely going to use. Each league has some Pokémon that are favored by a lot of competitors. If you're a fan of these Pokémon, you may want to feature them in your own teams. But whether or not you use the most popular Pokémon, it's important to make sure you have Pokémon on your team that can also oppose these popular Pokémon. For instance, Dragon-type Pokémon—like Dragonite, Dialga, and Giratina—are popular in the Ultra and Master Leagues, so many Trainers use Pokémon like Gardevoir or Togekiss with a Fairy-type Fast Attack to gain an advantage against Dragon types. Pay attention to the Pokémon you find yourself encountering frequently in Trainer Battles, and make sure you're prepared to defeat them.

Wondering how to keep track of your Pokémon once you've decided which teams are best for each league? Make use of Pokémon GO's tagging feature to organize your Pokémon.


How to Pick Pokémon Perfect for Trainer Battles

If you're just jumping into Trainer Battles after focusing on Raid Battles, it's a good idea to supplement the Pokémon you've already powered up with ones more focused on Trainer Battles.

Many Trainers have used their resources to power up Pokémon that can quickly dish out damage to beat the clock in Raid Battles. In Trainer Battles, you should value a more even distribution between offense and defense. Trainer Battles in the GO Battle League are a race to defeat three Pokémon before your own three Pokémon faint, so taking less damage is just as valuable as dealing more.

Another key element to consider is that not all Fast Attacks charge energy at the same rate. Pokémon with Fast Attacks that quickly charge energy can dish out their Charged Attacks sooner, pressuring the opponent into blowing through their two Protect Shields. For example, Swampert is widely used because it can rapidly charge energy using its Mud Shot Fast Attack.

Different Pokémon excel within different leagues, so you'll want power up a Pokémon as close as you can to the maximum CP for the league you want to use it in, such as 1,500 for the Great League or 2,500 for the Ultra League.


How to Increase Your Rank and Rank Rewards

Everyone begins their GO Battle League journey at rank 1. You'll progress through the early ranks just by completing battles, regardless of whether you win or lose. But you'll soon find that it's necessary to win battles to continue moving up in the ranks. When you reach the higher ranks, you'll be able to see your rating, which is a numerical representation of your performance. If you're shooting to be one of the best, set your sights on Legend rank—the highest rank achievable in the GO Battle League.

Currently, the GO Battle League is comprised of 24 ranks: 1–20 are numbered, with the next four ranks being Ace, Veteran, Expert, and then Legend.

Ranks aren't just aesthetic; as your rank increases, you'll receive better rewards for winning battles. For example, increasing your rank will allow you to encounter different Pokémon in GO Battle League reward encounters—you'll even be able to earn encounters with Legendary Pokémon as you rise to the top. If you use a Premium Battle Pass to enter on the Premium Rewards track, you'll need fewer wins in order to encounter these Pokémon.


League Rotations: Great League, Ultra League, Master League, and More

Trainer Battles in Pokémon GO have three core leagues, each of which has its own CP cap. The GO Battle League often features only one of these leagues at a time, rotating between them periodically during each season. You'll have to master battling in each league to keep a steady flow of rewards coming in. While the strategy of Trainer Battles is the same no matter which Pokémon you're using, the Pokémon that experienced Trainers tend to favor vary substantially from league to league.

Each new GO Battle League season kicks off with the Great League, which is the easiest league to get started in because only Pokémon with 1,500 CP or less can participate. In the Great League, Pokémon that have relatively low maximum CP compared to other species can thrive due to this league's low CP cap. You won't frequently see Pokémon like Azumarill, Medicham, and Altaria in the other two leagues, but in the Great League, these Pokémon can dominate.

The Ultra League caps the CP of participating Pokémon at 2,500. You'll start seeing more Legendary Pokémon in the Ultra League, especially more defensively inclined Legendary Pokémon like Registeel, Altered Forme Giratina, and Cresselia, which have lower maximum CP than some of the other powerhouse Legendary Pokémon. But don't let the presence of these Legendary Pokémon fool you—plenty of other Pokémon are excellent performers in the Ultra League, too. Many of the first partner Pokémon with Community Day–exclusive attacks, such as Venusaur with Frenzy Plant and Swampert with Hydro Cannon, are also popular choices in this league.

The Master League allows any Pokémon to participate, regardless of its CP. As you might expect, Trainers in this league trend toward Pokémon with high maximum CP. Pokémon that shine in this league are often also great choices for Raid Battles, too, so you'll get lots of value from powering up Pokémon like Mewtwo, Kyogre, Groudon, and Origin Forme Giratina to their maximum power. However, some Pokémon that aren't such popular picks for Raid Battles are also powerful competitors in the Master League: Dialga and Altered Forme Giratina are both key contributors, for example.

In addition to the three core leagues—Great, Ultra, and Master Leagues—each season features themed cups. For example, a Master League Classic will often feature Pokémon with no max CP but exclude certain Pokémon. An example of a themed cup is the Element Cup, which features Fire-, Water-, and Grass-type Pokémon. These cups vary from season to season, offering some fun variety along with an opportunity to mix up your battle lineups.


How to Prepare for Battle: Training, Second Charged Attacks, and TMs

Since every Trainer is competing with the same restrictions, it's important to get as much as you can out of your Pokémon to avoid leaving them at a disadvantage. In addition to the species of Pokémon you select, there are two other main factors to consider: the CP of your Pokémon, and the Fast and Charged Attacks available to them.

CP is simple on the surface but surprisingly tricky to optimize. CP is a representation of a Pokémon's power, so you'll generally want your Pokémon's CP as close to the maximum CP permitted for whichever league you'd like to use it in. Each individual Pokémon's CP can differ from others of that Pokémon's species due to its stats, which you can see by appraising it.

By tapping the POWER UP button on a Pokémon's profile, you can see how much your Pokémon's CP would increase if you proceeded to power it up. By tapping the + icon, you can see how close to a league's CP limit you can power the Pokémon up to, as well as how much Stardust and Candy you'd need to use to get there.

The Attack stat influences a Pokémon's CP more than Defense and HP do. Some Trainers are very particular about their Pokémon, opting to use Pokémon that have lower Attack and higher Defense and HP to get a little more overall power at a lower CP. It costs a lot of Stardust to power up primo Pokémon, so make sure you're sure which Pokémon you'd like to power up before you invest.

Teaching your Pokémon a second Charged Attack can cost a lot of Stardust and Candy, but it offers your Pokémon a major competitive edge. A second Charged Attack gives you the ability to take an opponent by surprise, cover for a Pokémon's weakness, or trick an opponent into using or saving a Protect Shield at the wrong time.

Finally, it's important that your Pokémon has the right Fast and Charged Attacks for your strategy. Perhaps you want your Pokémon to know attacks that are super effective against a Pokémon you're concerned about, or maybe you just want to maximize your Pokémon's damage output with attacks of its own type. Pokémon with a type that matches its attack type receive a same-type attack bonus causing it to deal an additional 20% damage, which can make a significant difference in a close battle. Either way, it's worth using a few Fast TMs and Charged TMs so that your Pokémon knows the attacks you want. You wouldn't want to find yourself narrowly losing a battle because your Pokémon didn't know the right attacks!

You can acquire four types of TMs in Pokémon GO: Fast TMs, Charged TMs, Elite Fast TMs, and Elite Charged TMs. Elite Fast TMs and Elite Charged TMs are much rarer and should be used thoughtfully, as they allow you to choose which attack you'd like your Pokémon to learn. Before using an Elite Fast TM or an Elite Charged TM, research the different attacks available to your Pokémon and which are considered the most powerful. For special attacks that aren't normally available to a Pokémon outside of events like Community Day events, you can use an Elite Fast TM or Elite Charged TM to teach the Pokémon that attack.

If you're interested in learning more about how to master Charged Attacks and Fast Attacks in the Pokémon GO Battle League, check out the tips in this guide.


How to Train outside the GO Battle League

Normally you can participate in five sets of five GO Battle League battles each day. Participating in as many battles as possible each day is a great way to learn and to earn rewards, like Stardust and TMs, that will help you prepare your Pokémon for future battles. You can also battle outside of the GO Battle League, which can provide you with great opportunities for practice.

You can battle against friends by tapping your avatar icon in the bottom left corner of the screen. Then, tap FRIENDS in the top right corner. When you tap on a friend's name, tap BATTLE to send them a battle challenge. You can also battle Team Leaders Spark, Candela, and Spark by tapping BATTLE and scrolling to the bottom to TRAINING.

GO Battle Nights offer another great opportunity to participate in more battles and earn even better rewards. During GO Battle Nights, you can participate in 20 five-battle sets—for a total of 100 battles. And, depending on the event, you may earn additional rewards like triple Stardust for competing and winning. The next GO Battle Night is August 26, 2021, from 6:00 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. local time. Stay tuned for details on future GO Battle Night events.


GO Battle!

We hope this overview helps you get started, but to become the very best in the GO Battle League, you'll have to learn some things through experience. Take the time to get a feel for which Pokémon seem to fare best in the first spot on your team, when to use your Protect Shields, and when to switch your Pokémon (after you switch your Pokémon, you'll have to wait a long time before you can switch again).

If you have Premium Battle Passes, don't be afraid to use them if you feel confident at your current rank. The difference in rewards is significant, especially if you don't win all five of your matches. You'll get more than twice as much Stardust as you normally would, and you'll have a much easier time getting the valuable Pokémon encounter reward.

Good luck in your pursuit of Legend rank, Trainers! Keep checking Pokemon.com for news and strategy about Pokémon GO and other Pokémon games and apps.

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