Today we take a brief break from all the simulations and movesets and deep analysis that tend to make up JRE articles, and with something simpler but perhaps even more important. Rather than looking at the Pokémon that make up the various metas throughout the season… I want to look at the actual season itself. Because this season’s schedule is actually pretty notable and unique in several ways. So let’s dive in to some of the good, the bad, and the ugly from GBL Season 16.
So I tried to think of a number of ways to display this season’s full schedule, including fancy tables, but in the end I think the best way is just to poach the schedule from Pokémon GO’s own website.
Now let’s start picking at it, beginning with what are some legit positives that I’m happy to see.
Rotating Leagues all season long. Many have asked for this in the past. It’s refreshing to not be “stuck” in one particular League too often and give everyone something to look forward to, with their favorite League never being more than two weeks away throughout the season. There’s something for everyone here, spread pretty evenly throughout the season.
Less required Master League. For budget players like me (and many, MANY others), it’s nice that Master League — while still available every three weeks — is only the sole Open format available for just two weeks of the season. The other two weeks it’s around, it features alongside Great and Ultra Leagues. Perhaps Niantic does recognize how difficult it is for most of the playerbase to build a Level 50 Master League team.
Halloween Cup! The very first Limited meta ever in GBL, and remains among the most beloved and overall best in terms of variety and balance. The Ultra League version was more of a mixed bag (looking at you, Giratina), so it’s nice to see we get two week of the OG Great League version this year.
Two-week Cups. This one isn’t viewed positively by everybody, I recognize that. But I have heard many complaints — often in replies to my own “Nifty Or Thrifty” Cup meta overviews! — that it’s difficult to justify building some of the more Cup-specific Pokémon for what is often just a single week of use. At least when we are tempted to build such things THIS season, we know we’re getting at least two weeks of use out of it.
Five weeks of 4x dust rewards! We’re in the middle of the first of these at the time of this writing, September 15-22, but we also get full weeks of 4x stardust rewards October 6-13 (with all three Leagues available), October 27-November 3 (Halloween Cup and Master League), and then the last two weeks of the season (November 17-December 1).
For the second season in a row since GO Battle Nights/Days/Weekends were introduced, Season 16 features just one single such event, a GO Battle Weekend October 7-8. Season 15 also featured just one such weekend, whereas every season from Season 8 to Season 14 featured at least two separate GO Battle Days/Weekends. Not everyone participates or plays all 100 sets available even when they do, but these days and the bonuses that go along with them (new research, new avatar items, no IV floors for Pokémon encounter rewards, dust bonuses, and — up until Season 14 — Legacy moves) have been very popular with many players, so to see them slowly receding and — in a trend that started last season — featuring paid timed research is troubling. Here’s hoping these are expanded again next Season, and perhaps a return of the special Pokémon encounters and/or Legacy move unlocks that were so popular from Seasons 10-13.
Also, as one final ugly note: Season 16 started about two and a half weeks ago. At the time of this writing, the official GBL Season 16 blog post still wrongly (I think it’s wrong, at least, but who can tell anymore? 🤷♂️) indicates that Master League Premier and Single-Type Cup are the formats during GO Battle Weekend, when it should be Open Great/Ultra/Master Leagues. Last season’s GO Battle Weekend was MLPC and Single-Type Cup, so this seems a simple but head-shaking copy and paste error. (More on the irony of mentioning ML Premier in a short bit.) Maybe go and fix that after you read this, Niantic?
In a season in which every Cup is around for two weeks, you want those Cups to be popular ones that people will enjoy playing, yes? While they certainly have their fans, I think it is fair to say that neither Psychic Cup nor Electric Cup are among most players’ favorites. Single typing Cups tend to be VERY condensed metas where only a very small handful of picks are truly viable (see: Flying Cup, Fighting Cup, etc.), forcing players to either acquire/build things they normally wouldn’t invest in or often just get blown out for a few days. Psychic and Electric Cups are no different, with 4-5 core Pokémon that will show up on nearly every team. Yes, I’ve made a second “career” out of finding diamonds in the rough in formats like them, but even I know you’re generally going to be looking at a very short list of things on opposing teams.
Again, they have their proponents among the playerbase, but not many. An entire third of this season is either Psychic Cup or Electric Cup, and I don’t get the choices. So many popular past metas to choose from (Retro Cup, Willpower Cup, Color Cup, one of the Regional Cups, etc.) and THIS is what we’ve arrived at? It’s like you don’t know us at all, Niantic.
And again, I know there are legit fans of Catch Cup, and good for them. But there are also a LOT of players that want nothing to do with it. Building a whole new team of stuff with potentially bad PvP IVs, even if we already have a much better version of those same Pokémon, just because we can’t use anything that wasn’t caught during the season? To many, that doesn’t sound like the best use of our time or precious resources, and so they skip it for whatever other format is going on that same week. Last season (and in several other past seasons), I have personally implored Niantic to at least run all three Open Leagues alongside Catch Cup to give us flexibility that week. So this season… Catch Cup is the ONLY format available during its week. It’s the second to last week of the season, when many players will still be fighting hard for Legend rewards and Pikachu Libre, and the one and only option that week is a format that many players skip whenever given the opportunity. This decision makes less than zero sense to THIS writer, at least. How about you, dear reader?
But don’t just take my word for the “bad” Cups remaining ahead of us. Nearly 300 of your fellow players felt the same way in a poll conducted on this topic, with well over half choosing “none of the above” when asked to vote for Psychic Cup, Electric Cup, or Catch Cup.
No Premier? So the last GBL Season to feature the much-loved Classic formats (Pokémon cannot be leveled up beyond Level 40) was Season 13, the Season of Mythical
Tickets Wishes. When this was announced, there was a statement from Niantic that went along with it:
“Trainers, as Candy XL has continued to become more accessible thanks to Candy XL becoming available at level 31 (rather than level 40) and Rare Candy XL being a potential reward for completing in-person raids, we will be retiring the Classic Cup format after this Season. We will be running Premier Cups more frequently in future Seasons instead.”
Now, looking at this season’s schedule… where is Premier? It doesn’t appear at all. And in fact, going back to the last couple seasons, the Season of Rising
Prices Heroes featured only one week of Master League Premier (April 26th to May 3rd, alongside Open Great League), and the Season of Hidden Routes Gems also featured just one week of Master Premier (June 29th to July 6th, alongside the Single-Type Cup). So there has been only one week of Premier each season since that pledge about “running Premier Cups more frequently in Seasons ahead”, and no Ultra League Premier at all.
In the Season of Mythical Wishes, in which the removal of Classic was announced, each Premier Cup (Ultra and Master) was run once. So to reiterate, we had as many weeks in that season as we’ve had in the THREE Seasons since. We have officially had Premier Cups less rather than more often. And that, my friends, is what we call uuuuuuuugly.
Alright, that’s all I got for today. I suppose it is worth noting that this marks Article #490 in my Pokémon GO PvP analysis “career”, so the countdown is officially on for #500. (And potential retirement? Hmmmm.) #491 will be analysis on the upcoming Community Day, which I’ve begun working on, but until then, you can always find me on Twitter with regular PvP analysis nuggets or Patreon, if you’re feeling extra generous.
Thanks for your faithful readership over that long track record of analysis articles, Pokéfriends. Stay safe out there, happy battling, and catch you next time!