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Pokémon Go’s player-vs-player Battle League starts first season next week

Great, Ultra, and Master Leagues are playing until then to close out the mode’s ‘preseason’

Promotional image for the Pokémon Go Go Battle league, showing Ho-Oh, Swampert, Skarmory, Luchador Pikachu, and Umbreon. Image: Niantic
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

The first season of Pokémon Go’s Go Battle League, the mobile game’s player-versus-player mode, gets going next week, Niantic announced Thursday. Players who reached rank 4 during the game’s “preseason” of beta testing and balancing will get a reward to start the season.

Officially, Go Battle League season 1 begins Friday, March 13, at 1 p.m. PDT. When it launches, the Great League will play from the season kickoff until Friday, March 27. That will be followed by the Ultra League, until April 10; then the Master League until April 24; and finally, all three leagues will be playing from Friday, April 24, to Friday, May 1. The league start/stop times are all 1 p.m. PDT. Season 2 begins May 1, Niantic said.

The Great, Ultra, and Master Leagues are available to close out the preseason from now until March 13, with Darkrai as a rare reward encounter this weekend. Darkrai will be available from Friday, March 6, at 8 a.m. to Monday, March 9, at 10 p.m. (user’s local time). Once season 1 begins, Altered Forme Giratina will be the rare reward encounter over its first weekend, from 8 a.m. Friday, March 13, to 10 p.m. Monday, March 16 (again, user’s local time).

Players who reach rank 4 during the preseason will get a Premium Battle Pass with the rest of their end-of-preseason awards. When the first season begins, Niantic says players will notice adjustments to the league’s rewards, with ranks 2 and 3 requiring a set number of victories to pass to the next rank. Previously, rank advancement was gated beginning at rank 4.

The encounter rewards are also changing for season 1; Niantic spelled out that structure, plus a couple of special events over the next two weeks, in a note to the community.

Players have been asking for PvP play in Pokémon Go since its July 2016 launch. The preseason began back in January.

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