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Pokémon Go Battle League: Everything you need to know

Pokemon Go Battle League Announcement
(Image credit: Niantic)

Whether catching new Pokémon or battling raids, Pokémon Go is largely a solo or cooperative play game, but for those willing to really challenge themselves, there is the Pokémon Go Battle League. This PVP arena allows players to battle each other with teams of select Pokémon all to climb the ranks and earn incredible rewards. 

Seasons in the Pokémon Go Battle League

(Image credit: Niantic)

We here at iMore have everything you need to know to get the most out of the Pokémon Go Battle League, and be sure to check out our best Pokémon Go accessories, so you can be fully equipped on your Pokémon Journey!

The Pokémon Go Battle League is divided up into seasons that stretch three months. Each season provides players with a new chance to test their mettle and vie for a spot at the top. The tenth season of the Pokémon Go Battle League kicked off on Monday, November 29, 2021 and will conclude February 28, 2022.

Great, Ultra, or Master League in the Pokémon Go Battle League

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The Go Battle League is divided into three different Leagues: Great, Ultra, and Master League. These are set up the same as Trainer battles and Team Leader Training before with CP caps:

  • The Great League allows for Pokémon up to 1,500 CP and will run November 29 through December 13; January 10-24; and February 21-28.
  • The Ultra League allows for Pokémon up to 2,500 CP and will run December 13-27; January 24 through February 7; and February 21-28
  • The Master League has no CP limits and will run December 27 through January 10; February 7-21; and February 21-28.

Each League is featured separately before rotating to the next League. This means you can usually only participate in one League at a time, but you have the opportunity to participate in all three Leagues. However, all three leagues are also available during a final week, in which players can choose any league they wish to battle.

Additionally, the Leagues have Remix and Classic versions with additional restrictions:

  • The Great League Remix allows for Pokémon up to CP 1,500 and bans the top 20 used Great League Pokémon; it runs from November 29 through December 13.
  • The Ultra League Remix allows for Pokémon up to CP 2,500 and bans the top ten used Ultra League Pokémon; it runs from December 13-27.
  • The Master League Classic has no CP limits, but bans any Pokémon powered up with XL Candy; it runs from December 27 through January 10.
  • The Ultra League Premier Classic allows for Pokémon up to CP 2,500 and bans Legendaries, Mythicals, and Pokémon powered up by XL Candy; it runs from January 24 through February 7.
  • The Master League Premier Classic has no CP limits but bans Legendaries, Mythicals, and Pokémon powered up with XL Candy; it runs from February 7-21.

Cups in the Pokémon Go Battle League

In addtion to the various leagues, the Pokémon Go Battle League also holds cups. These themed special competitions have different restrictions than the standard leagues.

For season ten, the following cups will be featured:

  • The Holiday Cup allows Pokémon up to CP 1,500 and is restricted to Normal, Grass, Elecric, Ice, Flying, and Ghost types; it runs December 16-3.
  • The Sinnoh Cup allows Pokémon up to CP 1,500 and is restricted to Pokémon numbered 387-493; it runs January 10-24.
  • The Love Cup allows Pokémon up to CP 1,500 and is restricted to specific red and pink Pokémon (see below); it runs February 7-21.
  • The Johto Cup allows Pokémon up to CP 1,500 and is restricted to Pokémon numbered 152-251; it runs February 21-28.

The following Pokémon are allowed in the Love Cup:

  • Charmander
  • Charmeleon
  • Charizard
  • Vileplume
  • Paras
  • Parasect
  • Krabby
  • Kingler
  • Voltorb
  • Hisuian Voltorb
  • Electrode
  • Goldeen
  • Seaking
  • Jynx
  • Magmar
  • Magikarp
  • Flareon
  • Ledyba
  • Ledian
  • Ariados
  • Yanma
  • Scizor
  • Slugma
  • Magcargo
  • Octillery
  • Delibird
  • Porygon2
  • Magby
  • Torchic
  • Combusken
  • Blaziken
  • Wurmple
  • Medicham
  • Carvanha
  • Camerupt
  • Solrock
  • Corphish
  • Crawdaunt
  • Sunny Form Castform
  • Kricketot
  • Kricketune
  • Trash Cloak Burmy
  • Trash Cloak Wormadam
  • Magmortar
  • Porygon-Z
  • Rotom
  • Tepig
  • Pignite
  • Emboar
  • Pansear
  • Simisear
  • Throh
  • Venipede
  • Scolipede
  • Krookodile
  • Darumaka
  • Darmanitan
  • Dwebble
  • Crustle
  • Scrafty
  • Autumn Form Deerling
  • Shelmet
  • Accelgor
  • Druddigon
  • Pawniard
  • Bisharp
  • Braviary
  • Heatmor
  • Fennekin
  • Braixen
  • Delphox
  • Fletchling
  • Fletchinder
  • Talonflame
  • Clefairy
  • Clefable
  • Jigglypuff
  • Wigglytuff
  • Slowpoke
  • Galarian Slowpoke
  • Slowbro
  • Galarian Slowbro
  • Exeggcute
  • Lickitung
  • Chansey
  • Mr. Mime
  • Porygon
  • Cleffa
  • Igglybuff
  • Flaaffy
  • Hoppip
  • Slowking
  • Galarian Slowking
  • Snubbull
  • Corsola
  • Smoochum
  • Miltank
  • Blissey
  • Whismur
  • Skitty
  • Milotic
  • Gorebyss
  • Luvdisc
  • Cherubi
  • Sunshine Form Cherrim
  • Mime Jr.
  • Happiny
  • Lickilicky
  • Munna
  • Musharna
  • Audino
  • Spring Form Deerling
  • Alomomola
  • Spritzee
  • Aromatisse
  • Sylveon

Move changes for season ten of the Pokémon Go Battle League

The following moves are being implemented or changed beginning with season ten:

  • Rock Tomb: guaranteed to lower the opposing Pokémon's Attack in trainer battles; can be learned by Magcargo, Sudowoodo, Lairon, Aggron, and Claydol
  • Pound: damage reduced from five to four in trainer battles
  • Bug Buzz: damage increased from 90 to 100 for Wormadam's, Vespiquen's, and Yanmega's Bug type Charged Attack options in trainer battles, gym battles, and raids
  • Body Slam: can be learned by Donphan
  • Shadow Ball: can be learned by Noctowl
  • Incinerate: can be learned by Magcargo
  • Lock-On: can be learned by Octillery

How to enter the Pokémon Go Battle League

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The Pokémon Go Battle League has its own icon on the main menu screen now. Just click Battle, and you're in. Normally, any player can enter and complete their first five Battles for free. After completing those first five Battles, however, Players are supposed to have to earn additional Battle Sets. Because of the global pandemic, Niantic has suspended walking requirements. Additionally, players can play up to 20 sets per day for a total of 100 battles per day.

Basic vs. Premium Rewards in the Pokémon Go Battle League

For players who have the extra PokéCoins (or have a healthy stash of Premium Battle Passes - previously known as Premium Raid Passes,) there is an option to earn better Rewards for winning Battles. At the beginning of each Pokémon Go Battle League Set, you can choose between Basic and Premium Rewards. These Rewards include Berries, Stardust, TMs, and Pokémon Encounters.

The Pokémon you can encounter do not change between Premium and Basic, but they do get better as you rank up. Your first encounters for certain Ranks are guaranteed. For season ten, the Pokémon reward encounters and some of the other rewards are inspired by Lysandre, the boss of Team Flare from Pokémon X and Pokémon Y:

  • Rank 1: Guaranteed encounter with Pyroar.
  • Rank 1+: Possible encounters with Bayleef, Quilava, Croconaw, Spinarak*, Chinchou*, and Azumarill.
  • Rank 3: Pikachu Libre inspired avatar items.
  • Rank 6: Guaranteed encounter with Mienfoo.
  • Rank 6+: Possible encounter with Mienfoo.
  • Rank 10: Pikachu Libre avatar items.
  • Rank 11+: Possible encounters with Noctowl, Forretress, Shieldon*, Stuntank, and Frillish.
  • Rank 16+: Possible encounters with Larvitar*, Scraggy, and Rufflet*.
  • Rank 19: An Elite Charged TM plus an Elite Fast TM as an end-of-season reward.
  • Rank 20+: Encounter the Legendary Pokémon currently appearing in raids.
  • Ace Rank: Lysandre inspired gloves.
  • Veteren Rank: Encounter with Noibat; Lysandre inspired shoes.
  • Expert Rank: Encounter with Deino; Lysandre inspired pants.
  • Legend Rank: Encounter with Pikachu Libre; Lysandre inspired jacket and pose.

Pokemon 025 Pikachu Cosplay Libre

(Image credit: The Pokémon Company)

As mentioned, Pikachu Libre is a guaranteed encounter once you reach Legend Rank. For those who aren't familiar, Pikachu Libre is a special Cosplay Pikachu from Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire. She is dressed like a Lucha Libre wrestler and knows the Fighting Type move Flying Press, one of the strongest moves to come to Pokémon Go. While Pikachu Libre will be available in other ways in future seasons, for now you still have to reach Legend Rank to get her.

Battles in the Pokémon Go Battle League

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Battles within the Go Battle League are set up the same way as Trainer Battles and Team Leader Training Battles. You select three Pokémon and will be matched up with another Trainer at random. The Battle begins with your first Pokémon against your opponent's first Pokémon, and until a Pokémon is sent out, neither Trainer knows what the other has brought with them. If you're lucky, the Pokémon you've chosen will have a Type advantage, or at least not be weak against the other Trainer's choice. There are definitely some Pokémon better suited for these Battles than others, but there isn't a single Pokémon that cannot be countered, so there's a fair bit of luck involved in winning these matches.

To learn more about which Pokémon you should focus on for the Pokémon Go Battle League, see our Pokémon Go Battle League Prep Guide.

Like other Battles within Pokémon Go, you'll mostly be using your Fast Move until you've built up your Charged Move, which will involve hitting several bubbles on the screen to determine how strong it hits. Each Trainer will have two Shields they can deploy against any Charged Move, but dodging isn't really an option like it is in Raids. Whichever Trainer's Pokémon faint first loses. The winner will move up in Rank, as well as get an increase to their Matchmaking Rating. The loser won't lose Rank, but in higher Ranks, you can lose points in your Rating.

Moving up Rank and Rating in the Pokémon Go Battle League

(Image credit: Niantic)

Speaking of Rank and Rating, the way that you increase your Rank and Rating is by completing Battles and winning Battles. The following requirements must be met to increase your Rank:

  • Rank 1: Starting Rank.
  • Rank 2: Complete five additional Battles.
  • Rank 3: Win three additional Battles.
  • Rank 4: Win four additional Battles.
  • Rank 5: Win five additional Battles.
  • Rank 6: Complete five additional Battles.
  • Rank 7: Win seven additional Battles.
  • Rank 8: Win eight additional Battles.
  • Rank 9: Win nine additional Battles.
  • Rank 10: Win ten additional Battles.
  • Rank 11: Complete five additional Battles.
  • Rank 12: Win 12 additional Battles.
  • Rank 13: Win 13 additional Battles.
  • Rank 14: Win 14 additional Battles.
  • Rank 15: Win 15 additional Battles.
  • Rank 16: Complete five additional Battles.
  • Rank 17: Win 17 additional Battles.
  • Rank 18: Win 18 additional Battles.
  • Rank 19: Win 19 additional Battles.
  • Rank 20: Complete five additional Battles.
  • Ace (Rank 21): Reach 2,000+ Rating.
  • Veteran (Rank 22): Reach 2,500+ Rating.
  • Expert (Rank 23): Reach 2,750+ Rating.
  • Legend (Rank 24): Reach 3,000+ Rating.

The following Ranks include unique rewards:

  • Rank 5 will earn mystery items.
  • Rank 10 will earn Stardust.
  • Rank 15 will earn Rare Candies.

Training outside of the Pokémon Go Battle League

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For those who have noticed that Nearby Battles and Team Leader Battles are no longer where they used to be, don't worry. You can still battle your friends in PVP Battles, and you can still Train against the Team Leaders: Blanche, Candela, and Spark. Once inside the Battle Menu, swipe down to the bottom, and you'll find your QR Code, along with a button to Scan a Battle Code for a Nearby Battle and Training options with each of the Team Leaders. You can also still Battle your Ultra and Best Friends from their profiles in your Friend List. These PVP and NPC Battles are a great way to practice for the real deal and still grant rewards all their own. However, your Rank and Rating won't be impacted by any of these Battles, and you won't get the Go Battle League Rewards from them either.

Setting Battle Parties for the Pokémon Go Battle League

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Another thing you can do to prepare for your next Battle is set Parties. Pokémon Go allows you to set up multiple Parties for each League (as well as for Gyms and Raids.) This lets you pick out specific Pokémon ahead of time. When you go to Battle in the League, your chosen Party will be there waiting for you so you won't have to wade through your hundreds of Pokémon to find the specific Tyranitar you want to bring. This is especially useful for players who have multiple of the same type of Pokémon for different purposes.

Earning Go Battle League Sets in the Pokémon Go Battle League

(Image credit: Niantic)

Until further notice, walking will not be required to unlock Battle Sets

Battles in the Pokémon Go Battle League come in five Battle increments called Go Battle League Sets. The first of these Sets is free, but each Set after that has to be earned and/or purchased. To earn a Go Battle League Set, you need to walk five KM, but you also have the option of paying Poké Coins to speed this up. Even if you pay to Battle early, you still need to walk at least 2 KM, so players who sink lots of money into the game will still have to work for their Battle Sets.

Players can earn up to five Sets each day. However, each Set requires walking another 5 KM, so participation really requires keeping active and playing a lot. You can see your progress towards earning your next Set in the Battle Menu, and the app also notifies you when you've earned another Set.

Legendary Encounters in the Pokémon Go Battle League

Trainers who reach Rank 20 or higher will be able to encounter the current Legendary Raid Pokémon as Reward Encounters.

Previous Seasons in the Pokémon Go Battle League

  • The first preseason ran from January 29, 2020, through March 13, 2020.
  • The first season ran from March 13, 2020, through May 11, 2020.
  • The second season ran from May 11, 2020, through July 27, 2020.
  • The third season ran from July 27, 2020, through September 14, 2020.
  • The fourth season ran from September 14, 2020, through November 9, 2020.
  • The fifth season ran from November 9, 2020, through November 30, 2020.
  • The sixth season ran from November 30, 2020, through March 1, 2021.
  • The seventh season ran from March 1, 2021 through May 31, 2021.
  • The eighth season ran from May 31, 2021 through August 31, 2021.
  • The ninth season ran from August 31, 2021 through November 29, 2021.

Battle time

Pokémon Go's Battle League offers plenty of exciting opportunities for competitive players. You'll want to bring your best Pokémon into each fight and you'll rank up in no time. Be patient as some battles wil be trickier than others. But you've got this!

Casian Holly has been writing about gaming at iMore since 2019, but their real passion is Pokémon. From the games to the anime, cards and toys, they eat, sleep, and breathe all things Pokémon. You can check out their many Pokémon Go and Pokémon Sword and Shield guides and coverage here on iMore.

With contributions from