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Pokémon Go’s team leader designs spark new loyalties — and tensions

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Are you for or against Spark?

It’s been well-established by this point that there’s an odd one out of Pokémon Go’s three factions. Based on their initial descriptions, Team Valor is strong, Team Mystic is smart and Team Instinct is ... yellow? Fun-loving? Overly self-confident? It’s safe to say that 66.6 percent of Pokémon Go players have a good time piling on Team Instinct, for whatever reason, to the point where Team Instinct hate is Pokémon Go’s biggest meme.

With yesterday’s first glance at what each group’s leader really looks like, however, the joking around has reached a fever pitch. Niantic Labs CEO John Hanke debuted the character designs for Candela of Team Valor, Blanche of Team Mystic and Spark of Team Instinct, and fan art has poured in faster than a player can choose a side.

As Pokémon Go’s most fervent fans will tell you, Candela and Blanche are pinnacles of brains and beauty. Candela is a strong role model for Valor-ites, while Blanche is enigmatic, increasing the allure for her Mystic followers.

Spark, on the other hand, is kind of a bro, less concerned with smarts and more into memes and fashion. At least, that’s the way his fans — and detractors — will tell it.

But now that we actually know what Spark looks like, many have rushed to his side to defend him as Pokémon Go’s resident loving, sweet boy, with a fondness for Pokémon, dabbing and dabbing Pokémon. (Even Niantic Labs CEO John Hanke is a Team Instinct member.)

Others still have taken their newfound appreciation for Spark to another level, calling out the good looks of (and admitting their crushes on) the face of Team Instinct.

In a way, it’s as if Pokémon Go’s biggest questions have shifted from "Which starter will you choose?" and "Which team will you join?" to "Who’s the hottest gym leader?" and "Are you pro- or anti-Spark?"

There are no right answers. Well, maybe there’s one. The true winner of Pokémon Go is the one who realizes that all three of the gym leaders — who, thus far, aren’t actively competing against each other in the game, making these so-called rivalries complete works of fiction — are great. Yes, you pledge allegiance to one team in Pokémon Go, but no one’s asking you to sign away your heart to just one leader.

We’ll learn more about these powerful cuties in future updates, according to Hanke at San Diego Comic-Con.