It seems strange to write about something I’m actively not doing, but I feel like my thoughts may resonate with a lot of people. Despite the second season of the Go Battle League having come out back in June, I haven’t played a single match. I just don’t want to. And the reasons why are obvious.
I have no interest in the GBL
None at all. I haven’t played a single match this season and I genuinely don’t care. The only time I hit the Battle button is when I’m getting the Battle With Your Buddy heart for my current buddy, or setting up squads in advance for a raid. And even then, the parties I have aren’t for PvP, they’re for raids. And the GBL parties? They’re just the Pokemon that can beat the Team Leaders the quickest.
The whole PvP battling though? Completely ignored. I just don’t want to play it.
All the reasons why are the same.
The GBL is stressful, laggy and prone to problems. Even if you do everything right, sitting there with a high speed internet connection with your perfect set of Pokemon (last available March 2019), you can still be blatantly screwed over. There are little bugs and glitches everywhere, that can easily turn a winning game into a losing one. A hint of lag can do anything from making you do less damage to a charge attack doing no damage. In some matches, missing a single fast attack can cost you the game.
But that’s assuming that you win the complete tossup of who goes first. It’s a complete gamble as to who wins that starting match-up. Yet somehow, with so many Pokemon, we see the same faces over and over, particularly in Ultra and Master League. Except you still can get messed up by the fact that required Pokemon are expensive.
You think getting an Altaria for Great League is bad? Try getting a good Dialga for PvP. Dialga hasn’t been around since early 2019 (at the time of writing) and Origin Form Giratina has been MIA for ages. And say good bye to all your stardust and candy, because you tend to want a second move on PvP Pokemon and get them to higher levels, something that isn’t required for raids.
We also constantly get new PvP-related Pokemon with exclusive moves. Gengar with Shadow Punch is a hugely useful Pokemon now, but only if you have both Shadow Punch and a second move. The last few Community Days have all been the same. At the same time however, new event Pokemon overshadow the old stuff, in a way that makes them noticeably less effective.
In Raids and PvE content, your Rhyperior is still a great rock-type attacker even if it doesn’t have Rock Wrecker. Your Moltres without Sky Attack is fine. All these Pokemon can be supplemented by others. You might only have one Rock Wrecker Rhyperior but you can also use Terrakion, Rampardos or Tyranitar. If you don’t have a Kyogre, you can get away with using an army of Swamperts and Kinglers instead, and none of them have to have great IVs or anything too fancy. You can’t really do this in PvP, you need the right IVs and the right moves.
It takes far too long
I think the bigger issue is that the GBL is a massive time sink. Sure, everything in Pokemon Go is a massive time sink, but GBL is particularly bad. Every fight takes forever, because the Go Battle League favours tanky, high defense Pokemon. Even in Great League, matches just drag on and on! I mean, of course they do! Pokemon like Skarmory, Altaria and Registeel are nothing but bulk. And they’re the most common picks.
But to make the most out of the GBL, you have to play a lot. And playing a lot takes… more time than you’d think. Between the battles themselves and all the loading screens and victory screens, you can’t get much done quickly. And you can’t often do one game and call it a day, because you only get rewards after 5 games (or up to 15 games if you can’t win). Compared to, for example, a raid, sure, you have the 2 minute lobby, but the rest of the fight is somewhat quick and you get your reward right at the end.
I am not alone in this regard.
Loads of people are skipping on the Go Battle League. And even MORE people skip out when the only league available is Master League. Sure, people are playing it, but in all the Pokemon Go communities I visit, the opinion seems… dull. Everyone’s all very “meh” about it all, assuming they even play.
There ARE plenty of things you can do to make PvP more enjoyable. Bringing back Legendaries for example would bring some players back, but they would immediately stop playing as soon as the Legendaries go away (or turn into unwanted ones like the Genie Trio). But there are plenty of core issues that remain unaddressed, putting off casual and hardcore players alike.
But we also have a… a vast, undefined something that just makes the GBL feel bad. Until players and Niantic can work out what that is, GBL will always be… weird…