In-depth analysis of GO Battle League rewards

One of the best aspects of the GO Battle League is the amount of useful rewards you can get. Stardust, TMs, Sinnoh Stones, Pokémon encounters and rare candies are all waiting for you if you can prove that you’re a good battler.

We are now in the Season 2 of GO Battle League. Every season brings new changes to the pool of GBL rewards, and the purpose of this article will be to do an in-depth analysis of these changes made between seasons and their consequences.

GBL Rewards

The pool of rewards is well known by everybody. Each set that you play will consist in 5 games (up to 15 if you are not able to win any of them, thanks to the “Battle until you win” mechanic). After that, the rewards will be reset and a new set will start. Before starting a set, you have to pick either the Free track of rewards or the Premium one. The order of the bundles changes for each one, more info here. For each win in a set, you will get access to a reward bundle.

According to the vast majority of battlers, the best rewards you can get from those bundles are rare candies and Pokémon encounters (aside from the stardust at the end of each set).

Pokémon encounters

The pool of Pokémon available through GBL rewards has been changed a couple of times. Let’s take a look at them in the following infographics:

First, let’s start off with the Preseason pool:

Moving on to the pool of Season 1:

And finally, the current pool in Season 2:

Alright, let’s begin with the analysis:

  • Rewards are cumulative. This means that a Rank 10 battler will still be able to encounter the Unova starters. Is this good? Not too much, to be honest.
  • The pool is quite dense at higher ranks, which can be a problem. Purging the encounter pool at the higher ranks would be a welcome change for sure. Encountering a Skarmory (with bad PvP IVs, a Unova starter or a non-Meteor Mash Metagross after a 5-0 sweep at Rank 10 is not the best feeling in the world). In fact, some top-tier players did not have a Rufflet after hundreds of games in Season 1.
  • These encounters do not/cannot learn their exclusive moves (unless you use one of the coveted Elite TMs). If you could evolve the Larvitar you just got to a Smack Down Tyranitar, the rewards would be much more interesting. Pokémon with exclusive moves would be a wonderful addition to the encounter pool and a brilliant way to help new trainers that do not have for example a Frenzy Plant Meganium for Great League, a Blast Burn Charizard for Ultra League or a Meteor Mash Metagross for Premier Cup.
  • Niantic have done some interesting changes, such as removing Meditite and Machop from the pool, which is really good and proves that they care about the quality of the encounters. On the other hand, the Unova starters are still there and some Pokémon such as Scraggy are a bit difficult to get for less skilled trainers.

Moving the Pokémon encounter reward to the 3rd spot instead of the 4th one is nice, but with the current pool it’s not that good of a change due to the reasons detailed above.

Rare candies

The fact that you can get rare candies without raiding is one of the best things that happened for rural trainers that cannot raid very often. And not only for them. I consider myself lucky as I am part of a more or less active raid group and have access to rare candies if I need them. And when they added rare candies to the rewards you can get from GBL, I was more than happy with the update.

Well… one of the changes that were made when Season 2 launched is the fact that you now require 4 wins in a set if you want to unlock the rare candy bundle. On the other hand, you now have to win 3 times instead of 4 to get a Pokémon encounter. As compensation for this change, the amount of rare candies you can now get from each bundle has been increased from 2 to 3. But winning 4 times out of 5 is indeed not an easy task… and the best way to look at how the change impacts the amount of rare candies that you win is by doing an in-depth analysis, which you are about to see. Was the change good if you care about rare candies? If you want the short answer: absolutely not, it was a huge nerf.

Inspired by the analysis made by u/Jason2890 on reddit, the probability of winning a certain amount of times in a set has been calculated. In the long run, a MMR/Elo system will place you where you belong according to your skill, so the win/loss ratio will be close to 0.5 (which means a 50% win rate).

Basing the analysis on that win rate, the following calculations were done:

Let’s consider a binomial distribution under the assumption of a 50% win rate. In Season 1, you needed to win at least 3/5 games to get rare candies. Now (in Season 2), you need to win at least 4/5 games to get rare candies.

  • In Season 1, you averaged 1 Rare candy per set (50% chance of winning at least 3 games and 2 RC per bundle = 1 RC on average per set).
  • In Season 2, you now average 0.5625 Rare candies per set (18.75% chance of winning at least 4 games and 3 RC per bundle = 0.5625 RC on average per set).

Let that sink in. Even after increasing the number of rare candies per bundle from 2 to 3, the fact that this bundle is now placed in the 4th spot (meaning that you need to win at least 4/5 games in a set) makes it an overall nerf of roughly 44% (!). If the most valuable reward bundle for you was the rare candy one, I’m sorry but this is the truth.

The binomial and normal (it’d be more accurate if the sample size was bigger) distributions can be seen in the following plot:

But don’t worry, I have also calculated some alternatives that might solve this problem:

  • If you keep the rare candy bundle in the 4th spot as it is now, the amount of rare candies that should be given to more or less maintain the 1 RC on average per set is 5.33 (it can be calculated from a simple rule of three with the 18.75% chance mentioned). So 5 RC per bundle would be enough to compensate the placement in the 4th spot instead of in the 3rd one.
  • If you move the RC bundle forward, the amount of rare candies per bundle could be lowered. Let’s say you move it to the 2nd spot, 1 RC per bundle would be almost enough to guarantee a 1 RC on average per set.
  • Getting rare candies if you to the Premium track route is VERY difficult (as you need to win ALL 5 games). Making them more accessible (even if the amount of RC per bundle was lowered) would be a welcome change by many, for sure.

Legendary encounters

For a given period of time, legendary encounters were available in GO Battle League. If rare candies in GBL rewards was a FANTASTIC change for rural players who cannot raid, being able to get legendary Pokémon from GBL Rewards was even better! But as always, there was some controversy. Why though?

Well, legendary Pokémon are usually hard to catch due to their low base catch rate. This means that on average, you will need plenty of balls to catch them. And not only rural players but also players on lockdown did not have access to plenty of balls to catch them. And if you cannot catch the encounter, you cannot stack it and move on to the next set of battles, thus some players were a bit frustrated. A simple solution might be to raise the base catch rate of legendary encounters, but that did not happen.

Instead, legendary encounters were removed from GO Battle League, and of course that change wasn’t welcome by many either. Legendary encounters were a wonderful addition, especially now that we haven’t had a legendary Pokémon in research boxes for a very long time. Once the lockdown measures are softened and the situation improves in many countries, being able to get legendary encounters from GBL would for sure bring a lot of trainers back to GBL.

Conclusions

Alright, that’s it! I hope you liked the analysis, if you have anything to say feel free to comment down below or on Twitter. You will find me there too.

Let’s sum up some of the most relevant points discussed in the article:

  • Tweaks to the pool of Pokémon encounters are good for the game. However, the main problems with the current pool is the fact that it is cumulative and many Pokémon are not “good enough” to appear at higher ranks. Adding exclusive Pokémon or Pokémon capable of learning exclusive moves would for sure be a great addition to the game
  • The changes made regarding the bundle of rare candies imply a very significant nerf not welcome by many. Rare candies are a very valuable resource and the current nerf makes it harder to get them and power up good stuff to use in GBL or in raids.
  • Seeing changes and tweaks between seasons (such as the most recent move update) is great for the game. It proves that Niantic cares about game balance and helps to shake up the meta a little bit, preventing it from being stale.
Kratos

Pokémon fan since 2000. Played every single game without exception. I'm an engineer, a tech lover and also a big sports fan. Science is my religion :)

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Kratos

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