Pokemon Go Esports Shows The Perfect Way To Improve GBL

I haven’t played Go Battle League seriously in a hot minute. I’m not entirely sure why that is, but Pokemon Go’s PvP mode is riddled with bugs, suffers from unbelievable lag, and doesn’t offer a lot of variety. Oh, another Nidoqueen? Stunfisk? How original.

The thing I dislike most about Go Battle League in its current format is the element of chance that’s involved. Put simply, if you lose your opening matchup, you have to make some incredibly big-brained plays to win the match. There are ways around it, but using up your first switch-out just because you’re at a type disadvantage is a huge hurdle to overcome. After all, if your opponent has a counter to your safe switch then you’re stuck in battle until you’re a ‘mon down.

However, Pokemon Go esports presents a different format. Instead of selecting a team of three and relying on a lucky matchup, every participant selects a team of six ‘mons and chooses three to go up against their opponent – both players having seen both teams. It’s not dissimilar to VGC, Pokemon’s most popular esports format, which sees players bring teams of six, four of which will take to the field in each battle of a best-of-three format.

This all but eliminates the RNG of hopping into a battle and keeping your fingers crossed that your opponent doesn’t hard-counter your whole team. It adds multiple layers of strategy, too, as you might have to rethink a switch if you know for sure that your opponent might have brought a counter to it.

Choosing from a squad of six Pokemon also shakes up the meta somewhat. Sick of seeing Powder Snow Walrein? Bring a Scrafty. You don’t even have to choose it in your three battlers, it will scare all but the most ballsy of opponents out of picking their Walrein. This also allows you to build around off-meta Pokemon. Pick your favourite buddy, even if they’re not that good, and build a team of six around countering its counters. Imagine your opponent’s surprise as you sweep with a Falinks. Imagine yours as you scrabble to try and counter a particularly fearsome Lickilicky when your Fighting-type will be immediately taken down by a flier and a Psychic-type combo.

There are some downsides to this format, however. It takes a lot longer, for starters. At the moment, you can play 25 battles in Go Battle League every day, and that’s doable for the most dedicated players because of the speed you can get into battles and the quick 3v3 action. If there was a timer like in raid lobbies (especially if it’s unskippable like raids), it would turn a lot of players off, especially those who were hoping for a quick match. The extra layer of strategy could also turn a lot of casual players away from PvP completely.

So what’s the answer? How do you eliminate RNG but keep the drop-in-and-play nature of Go Battle League intact? You create two leagues.

GBL already has multiple formats and themed leagues, but this would be different. When you click on the battling tab, I want two options. Quick Battle, which would be the current GBL format with themed leagues, the Little Cup and so on, for casual players and people who just want to complete challenges and whatnot. Alternatively, you could opt for the Ranked Ladder, where you have to use a team of six, picking three for each battle.

Is it overly convoluted to have two separate modes for Pokemon Go PvP? Maybe, but that doesn’t stop Pokemon Sword & Shield. At present, anyone wanting to compete in Pokemon Go esports has to arrange their own practice battles with friends and share custom teamsheets with each other, because the mode they compete in isn’t available to play in the game. How baffling is that? It makes no sense at all, and for those of us who would like a bit more of a challenge – or at least a fairer fight – it would be a welcome addition to the game.

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