Thankful For The Journey: A Look Back (and Forward) After 500 JRE Articles

🎼 The Road goes ever on and on

♬ Down from the door where it began.

♫ Now far ahead the Road has gone,

♪ And I must follow, if I can….

Every Pokémon game, series, and film has always been about the journey, and the friendships made and personal growth achieved along the way. Sometimes the journey is brief, sometimes it seems like it will never end (looking at you, Ash Ketchum), but in the end we’re all headed to an eventual finish line. Heck, even Ash’s journey has now ended, albeit after 26 years.

So might five hundred Pokémon GO analysis articles be the right time to hang it up? I’ll save you the drama and suspense with a Bottom Line Up Front right here and now… no, I’m not stopping after today. Maybe a “soft retirement” which has already kinda begun, but we’ll talk about that. The short answer is that ol’ reliable JRE will still be here tomorrow, and still analyzing the game. Perhaps a little differently, maybe a little less frequently, but I’m not going anywhere yet. I’m only 21 years behind Ash and wanna close the gap a bit more. 😂

If you will forgive me, I want to wax nostalgic a little bit before mapping out where we go from here. After all, as I said, it’s about the journey, right?


Some of this you may have read or heard before in past milestone celebration articles or during various podcast interviews over the years (including my first with a podcast in pre-war Ukraine 💙💛), but I do think I need to briefly discuss my own GO journey. It began on July 30th of 2016, brought on board by my wife who started a month earlier on Day 1. She’s a teacher and saw it as a way to connect with her students who were all abuzz about it (as most of us were back then!), and I finally joined her. Letting my secret out: I had never done anything Pokémon prior to GO. No card game, no video games, no anime or movies. I was aware of Pokémon, of course, but had never dabbled. Part of that is likely because I was born in 1980 (yes, I am old, thank you for noticing) and thus my friends and I had already “aged out” of Pokémon to some degree when it started to take off… we just had other interests. But dangit, if the wife was playing, then I figured I should too, especially a game that we could play while walking about the neighborhood or local parks with our kids and dogs. For a time, even a couple of my kids got their own accounts and played on their tablets. I met many local new friends through the game and we had a vibrant and active community, and I loved that aspect of it. Then of course came events where we could gather, and then Community Day a few months after that, and then raids and EX raids which all brought out and grew the community further. I was there for all of it, though even then I was somewhat “thrifty” with my stardust and candy investments and tried to, say, raid Tyranitar with things like Poliwrath or under leveled Machamps rather than necessarily build up a fully maxed team of the best counters.

And then, of course, came PvP. For me and many other players, including my local community, PvP arrived with some lead time ahead of COVID-19, in January of 2019 with The Silph Arena. As I like to say it, when GBL (which arrived a year later in January of 2020) was still just a twinkle in John Hanke’s eye. The Arena offered monthly Cup formats put together by a fully volunteer team. I missed out on the very first Cup, but my local community had a major tournament arranged for the second (called Twilight Cup), and I was still slow to engage and as we entered the later half of February 2019 (and the final days before the tournament itself), I finally decided to get off my duff and prepare.

And thus my “second career” began….


Most of you know me as that PvP writer/analyst guy, a unique “content creator” when nearly all my fellow Pokémon GO analysts utilize streaming or video or audio media to share their findings and their thoughts. But I never planned that or even intended that. It just kind of happened, and it started as I ventured into PvP as a humble and very green player.

Again, I had never played any previous Pokémon games, so I didn’t have an innate understanding of typings or super effectiveness (or perhaps even more importantly, non-effectiveness) or any of that. Obviously I had accumulated a working knowledge through raiding with my community, but translating that to PvP was quite a different beast. While a raid boss has a set typing and set moves you have to prepare for, a PvP meta comes with a wide swath of possible encounters to prepare for.

While I had not played Pokémon trainer battles before, I HAD played a lot of fantasy sports, football in particular. And as I prepared for each week’s matchups to assemble my fantasy teams, I decided to apply the same strategy to prepare for the PvP tournament, considering the meta that I was venturing into and how to prepare for what I was most likely to face. That meant putting together some spreadsheets and weighing my options. How to account for terrors of the time like Drapion and Toxicroak and especially the blue terror bunny Azumarill. In the end, it paid off, as I won that initial tournament on the back of still-not-popular-yet Victreebel. I was hooked, and quickly got to prepping for the next month’s Silph Arena meta.

It was also around this time that I discovered the Silph Arena subreddit. (I had already hopped onto The Silph Road in my pre-PvP days.) As I again dove into spreadsheets of data and matchup analysis, I started to think: why not share this on Reddit? This led to my very first full-fledged PvP article and the first of MANY “Nifty Or Thrifty” meta/budget analysis articles to follow over the following five years. Eventually I branched out and started some spotlight articles (the first I remember was on the brand new Power-Up Punch) which eventually became a series on its own as I also polished Nifty Or Thrifty into a form more recognizable today. (It really hasn’t changed all that much since then, except for eventually discovering the amazing PvPoke which has been my go-to primary resource ever since. Much love, Matt! 💛) And yadda yadda yadda, if you want the following and incredibly rewarding journey that followed, much of it is actually in my 100th article for your reading pleasure. Trying NOT to make this all about me.

I have had some humbling and amazing experiences since then. Dronpes himself reaching out and essentially bringing me aboard. A Silph Meetup Badge and logo of my own (which I still use today!). The founder of GO Hub reaching out and making me part of that team of delightful colleagues. Fantastic podcast interviews with fantastic folks, including that one from across the world in the Ukraine. What a humbling experience THAT was! Reaching out to Michael Steranka when many of us barely knew who he was and him saying yes to a long and enlightening interview that gave us all an incredibly rare (especially at the time) window into Niantic’s true mindset. And as time has gone on, meeting more and more of my fellow players, to the point now that people seek me out at events like the last two years of GOFests. I am so very blessed and deeply grateful for what this journey has brought me.

All of this for a guy that’s really not all that special or interesting, a dad of three kids with an hour-long commute to an average job (that has NOTHING to do with writing, by the way) living in an average town in an average part of the world. There’s really nothing that makes me stand out, except that I decided to share what I found as I marched along my own Pokémon GO journey in this new “region” of PvP I had discovered. And I found my passion, and yes, perhaps my gift. Just as I had been able to connect with many wonderful trainers locally and eventually around the globe, so I was able to connect with the growing PvP community, traveling along with them as we learned and grew in our knowledge of the game together. And that I never lost sight of, and it became my goal every time I wrote: to service not only those experienced in the game and its mechanics, but those still early on in their own journey, still discovering the game or coming back to it after long detours from the path. Many have reached out over the last five years and 500 articles to thank me for that… for leaving no player, wherever they are along their journey, behind. For trying to make sure I always catch ’em all!


Obviously a lot has happened in and out of the game over that time, and not all of it good. The world and Pokémon GO itself were fundamentally, forever changed with the COVID-19 pandemic. We as players have changed along with it, priorities shifted irrevocably by events throughout the world and very close to home. 7+ years of Pokémon GO and 5 years of PvP is a long time, representing a significant chunk of many of our lives. Some communities have come back, some have not. PvP itself has both grown (Play! Pokémon tournaments around the world show that brightly!) and shrunk (the sad end of The Silph Arena and many local tournament scenes and communities tied to them). The pandemic and various tragedies around the planet have pulled many away from the game entirely as new priorities have risen up in their lives, or things just as simple as growing up and having a family and new friends to spend time with (as has happened to me!).

That’s not good or bad, per se, it’s just the reality we live in. And for me personally, it has meant many changes over the year especially. I’ve written about the abandonment of #HearUsNiantic promises, the remote raid pass nerf, the clunky rollout of Elite Raids, the rising costs of keeping up in the era of XL Candy, and other frustrations. Each one of these chips away at the soul a little bit, reducing enjoyment of the game and lessening the communities built up along that journey. For me, that meant less time playing, less time joining in with the community, and closing of my wallet. I’ve become an increasingly vocal critic of many decisions like this that, in my opinion, diminish the game and harm the community. That has annoyed some, I know, but I do it because I love the community and want the best for ALL members of it, and I am proud for what I have been able to put out there, utilizing the platform given to me by the same people I have tried to serve not just with greater knowledge of the game, but by taking their concerns directly to those who have the ability to enact change. To Mike Steranka, to the company on the whole.

Nifty Or Thrifty: Fossil Cup PvP Analysis

But again, for me personally, it has meant less time interacting with the game. The only money I’ve spent in the game at all this year was for a basic ticket to NYC GOFest… but even that was because of the community. I am so thankful for all the players I have met over the years, and astounded at how far we’ve all come. Despite it all, the myriad of issues with the game and the changing times of the world and our personal lives, this community keeps me coming back. I’ve said it many times in the past, but it bears repeating: I do what I do for all of YOU, dear friends. New players and veterans, kids and Singaporean grandmas, we all have this game and our passion for it in common. My most rewarding experiences are not personal accomplishments in the game, but the friends I have met along the journey.

All that to get to where things go from here.


I prefaced this whole thing by saying I’m not stopping… but I would be lying if I said I haven’t thought about it, especially of late. My life HAS changed drastically as my kids grow (one high schooler now and two soon to be!) and their own journeys move forward at breakneck pace. Their own groups of friends expanding, their own activities becoming more and more frequent, all of which is fantastic. But their lives have mostly moved beyond Pokémon GO already, their accounts created years ago as we roaming parks and trails together as a family all but abandoned. My wife, the whole reason my journey began in the first place, stopped playing during the pandemic too. My own playing time has dropped more and more, getting nowhere close to completing the Timed Research for a second Master Ball, and even breaking the daily streaks multiple times throughout the year because I simply forgot to pick it up and do the basics.

My old local community dried up a while ago as we all moved forward through life, and while the awesome locals at the closest major city (not all that far away) are still going, many of the faces even there have changed. WE have all changed. And that’s not a bad thing, but it does mean that what we once had is forever gone, faded into happy memories. All this is more body blows to my own waning enthusiasm about the game… the best moments in it seem more and more to lie on the path behind, not ahead. And as much as I have tried to not let this creep into my enthusiasm for analyzing and writing materials to help my fellow players who I dearly love, it’s been impossible to keep completely separate. As I have played more sporadically over the last year, so at times have I fallen into ruts in my writing. I imagine it’s been noticed here and there, and for those gaps, I do sincerely apologize.

PvP Analysis on Golisopod, Buzzwole, Mimikyu, Toxapex and more!

It is now love of the community even more than actual game that keeps me going. That gets me to look into all the events and new releases and rebalances and get myself in front of the keyboard. Often that passion still floods right back as I find things that I KNOW will help people, that other analysts may not find or dig deep enough to uncover, little tidbits that can give players the edge in battle. But not always. Sometimes, increasingly more frequently as the game and life have changed, it does feel like a chore. But one I still willingly and happily do because it’s for YOU. Many journeys still continue, some are still barely started, and if I can increase their knowledge and joy as the community has done for ME so many times, and sometimes speak up on their behalf and seek their betterment at points along the way, how can I NOT give back in the way I’ve been given opportunity to do?

I am flabbergasted that all these years and 500 freaking articles later that people keep coming back for more, that they keep thanking me. Me? I’m just a simple guy that discovered I can write a little bit, fill a niche that nobody else seemed interested in filling. It is ME that is thankful, that I’ve met so many wonderful folks and had these connections and experiences that I would have NEVER had otherwise. I am truly honored and blessed that I’ve been able to be a part of so many others’ journeys. So many stories from people I’ve met about how I’ve helped them, kept them in the game, brought them into PvP where they never had an interest before, and through that met their own new group of fellow players and friends.

So no, I’m not leaving that behind. I don’t know what the future holds, how long I can keep this going as time becomes more and more filled, or how many ideas or insights I have left to provide. But I love this community — I love all of YOU — too much to give it up, even if I’ve given up more and more of the actual game that brought us together. As long as I can help people discover the joys that are there in the game, to get their own journey moving forward towards whatever still awaits, to give back what you amazing folks have given me, my journey will continue.

To that end, getting specific, I am going to try and highlight new challenges in the game, and new opportunities to grow communities: grassroots PvP. Yes, The Silph Arena is sadly gone, but new communities have coalesced in its wake. My last article before this one highlight just one of those, and I plan to do more. (For example, I’m already working on an analysis of the December Flash Tournament meta, Arctic Cup. Looks like a lot of fun!) I think whatever role I can play in lifting up those grassroots movements is, in many ways, the culmination of my PvP journey. Another way of giving back to the experiences and players that have given me so much for so long. It is where I’d like to devote some time in the future, to keep the community growing and thriving and passionate.

That all said, I do recognize I am somewhat fighting against the tide. I can’t create more time, and I can’t miss out on my kids’ lives as they grow and approach a point where they in many ways leave ME behind. I cannot promise the frequency of analyses that I’ve delivered in the past, with 4-5 articles in rapid succession some weeks. I imagine some of you have noticed I have already slowed down, a little bit at least. Hence the pondering of a “soft retirement”, staying in the loop but posting less, writing less. Maybe skipping coverage of an event entirely here or there. Not what I want, but may be what the future dictates. I hope not though!

I’m still here, and hope to still be for a good long while to come. Five hundred more articles? I guess we will see! In immediate terms, a new season is about to arrive and the blood still starts pumping and the passion still comes flooding back at times like these, waiting to see what’s over the horizon and how we’ll get there together. What we’ll have to talk about, what I’ll have to write about, what ways I can continue to help as I am able, to give back.


It is so appropriate that we hit this milestone during the Thanksgiving season, as no matter how much longer the journey goes, I will forever be thankful for how far we’ve come. Thank you all for your many kind words over the years, for your encouragement, for your support and enthusiasm, for telling me how I have helped you in your own journey. For looking forward to what this simple fellow is able to keep pushing out, five hundred times now. I am deeply grateful and always will be. Thank you, my friends.

I don’t want this little milestone to be all about me. So I want to extend my thanks to PvPoke for being the foundation ALL of us PvP content creators rely on, to my friends and colleagues at GO Hub for taking me in nearly three years ago, out of the blue, and making sure the vast Pokémon GO community was able to (hopefully!) benefit from my analyses, to The Silph Road and The Silph Arena for being such a huge part of many of our journeys, and to my local playgroup and friends that got me started on this amazing journey over the last several years. The memories and friendships I’ve made along the way will forever be a part of me. This community is awesome and I continue to be so blessed to be a small part of it. 💙

And thank YOU, faithful readers and Pokéfriends, for your encouragement during our long journey together thus far. To the journey yet to come! 🍻

I am always happy to chat on Twitter where I post other GO analysis nuggets, or Patreon if that interests you. (It’s never been about that, though… that’s just an extra.) But until the next stop on our journey, Pokéfriends, Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate, and do be safe out there as you travel. Catch you next time!

Author & tags

PoGO/PvP Investigative Journalist, GO Hub and Silph Arena/Road Contributor, amateur cook, author of 'Nifty Or Thrifty' and 'Under The Lights' article series and #PvPfacts!

Further reading

Popular today

Latest articles

Support us

Buy GO Hub merch

Get your very own GO Hub t-shirt, mug, or tote.