How to Battle in Pokémon GO: Team Leaders, Trainers, Gyms, and Raids!

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Philippe Gloaguen
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There's no doubt that one of the most fun elements of Pokémon GO is the battles. The mechanic was released in late 2022 and added a competitive aspect that was missing from the game. A little over a year later, the game already has official battles between coaches tournaments.

To battle in Pokémon GO, you need to reach the levels:

  • 5, to battle in gyms, against team leaders and in raids.
  • 10, to battle other trainers (PvP), against Team GO Rocket.

Check below how to participate in each of these battles and see what their rules are!



How to battle team leaders

Upon reaching level 5 you will have the option to join one of the 3 teams of trainers in Pokémon GO: Wisdom, Valor and Instinct. Doing so will unlock battles against the leaders of these teams, which is one of the first ways to fight in the game and also a great way to train.

To battle a team leader you just need to go to the main menu of the game, select "Battle", then scroll down the next screen to the bottom until you find the "Training" section and then choose between Blanche, Candela or Spark:

After defining your rival, select "Train". On the next screen you will have to choose in which League the battle will be fought. We'll talk about that right below.

How to battle other trainers (PvP)

There are three ways to battle other trainers:

ranked battles

The latest version of PvP in Pokémon GO. The GO Battle League offers ranked battles where players can compete against others from around the world in exchange for rewards. The more wins, the higher the rank and the bigger the prizes. To access it, just enter the game's main menu, choose "Battle" and, on the next screen, select "Battle" in the desired mode: basic or premium. The only difference between them is that premium offers better rewards.



After choosing the mode, you will be redirected to a battle against another player around the world.

Battling nearby Trainers

To fight other players, you must first be close to the person you want to battle. Then just go back to the "Battle" menu and instead of choosing one of the team leaders, select "Challenge a Trainer". This will trigger your camera for you to scan the opponent's QR Code (Battle Code) and send an invite to the fight. Alternatively, you can show your code for the other person to scan:

Battling against ultra friends

It is also possible to battle other Trainers remotely, other than through the GO Battle League. However, the function is only unlocked between people who have reached the ultra friendship. In these cases, you just need to access your friends list, choose the rival and select the "Battle" button:

Once the invitation has been accepted by the challenged person, the challenger must decide in which League the duel will be played.

Battle Leagues in Pokémon GO

To make all Pokemon relevant, Niantic created three Leagues for both Trainer and Team Leader battles. In these two types of battles, the League must be chosen by the challenger before the duel begins.

Each League has a maximum CP limit, which ends up including or excluding certain pokemons. Are they:

  • big league: The weakest League in the game, capped at 1500 CP. It is unlocked once you reach level 5.
  • ultra alloy: the average League, capped at 2500 CP. It is unlocked as soon as you get three pokemons with over 1500 CP.
  • Master League: The strongest League, no PC limit. It's unlocked as soon as you get three Pokemon with over 2500 CP.

The division between Leagues gives a lot of variety and fun to combats, as it allows not so strong Pokemon to be used in weaker Leagues. For example, if you have a 1498 CP pokemon, you definitely shouldn't use it in the strongest Leagues, but it could be a great choice for the Great League. Likewise, a more experienced player will be able to duel a novice player in a fair fight in the weaker Leagues, as he will not be able to use his strongest Pokemon.



Battles against Team GO Rocket

Team GO Rocket is the group of villains in Pokémon GO. They invade random pokestops and prevent you from getting the normal amount of items there. Whenever you spin a PokéStop invaded by them, you'll be able to choose between dueling a member or just running away. By defeating them, you will have a chance to capture the first or second pokémon used by the villain.

Battle Rules in Pokémon GO

All battles against Team Leaders, Trainers and Team GO Rocket follow the same rules:

  • Each participant uses 3 chosen pokemons before combat.
  • Each participant is entitled to 2 shields that can be used to defend charged attacks.
    • Team GO Rocket recruits do not use shields.
    • Team Leaders only use shields in Master League.
    • The leaders and boss of Team GO Rocket (Arlo, Sierra, Cliff, and Giovanni) always use their shields at the first chance.
  • Each participant can change Pok√©mon (among the 3 chosen before the fight), but must wait 60 seconds to change again.
  • The participant who clears the Health Points of the 3 opposing pokemons wins.
  • Battles between Trainers and against team leaders do no damage and do not KO Pokemon.
  • Battles in gyms and raids (see below), and against Team GO Rocket deal real damage and can also KO your Pokemon.

Combat Mechanics


The combat mechanics in Pokémon GO are quite simple, so the difference between winning and losing is decided in the details:


  • Each pokemon has, by default, a fast attack and a charged attack.
  • To use an agile attack, just press anywhere on the screen. The speed at which you need to tap the screen varies depending on your Pokemon's attack animation.
  • Each agile attack grants an amount of energy to your pok√©mon, gradually filling the "bar" of the charged move. Once filled, you can use the attack whenever you want.
  • When using a charged attack, the player will need to tap on various moving icons on the screen. These icons move in a fixed pattern that only varies depending on the element of the attack (eg any fire charged attack will have the same pattern). The more icons tapped, the more damage the charged attack does.
  • It is possible to gather energy even when the bar is already full on the screen. This is for stacking charged attacks to use them all at once.
  • The strength of attacks varies depending on the Pok√©mon's CP and IV (individual values), weather bonus, attack animation speed, attack set, and attack type. To learn which elements are super effective against others, check out our complete guide to Pok√©mon GO pros and cons!
  • Some attacks have special properties that modify attributes of the user or target pokemon (increasing attack or decreasing defense, for example).

Battles in gyms

Gym battles are a little different than battles between Trainers, Team Leaders, and Team Go Rocket, and have some rules of their own:

  • Battles take place in gyms scattered around the city. To participate in one, just enter a gym controlled by a rival team on your team. It is not possible to battle in gyms controlled by your team.
  • When attacking a gym, you will face Pokemon left there by other players. They will fight automatically through the game's artificial intelligence.
  • The gym battle mechanics are the same, with the exception of charged attacks, which are used here automatically when pressing the corresponding button. It is therefore not necessary to follow the movement pattern of the attack icons.
  • It is possible to dodge in gym battles. To do this, just slide your finger left or right just before receiving a blow. The more accurate the dodge, the less damage your pokemon will receive.
  • When you defeat a defending pok√©mon, it will lose part of its health, which here is represented by Combat Points. Depending on the amount of CP remaining in the pokemon, it may be necessary to defeat it several times until it is taken out of the gym.
  • A Pok√©mon's CP in a Gym steadily decreases over time, even if it is not attacked.
  • After removing all the defenders from the gym, control of the place will be yours and you can leave a defending pokemon. This is the only way to earn in-game coins without spending real money.
  • It is not possible to actively defend a gym. You can only leave the pokemon in place and it will automatically fight without your participation. When he is killed, you will receive a notification that he has returned to your stock.

raid battles

Raid battles are very similar to gym battles (they have the same mechanics, including dodging), with the difference that the attacked pokémon does not belong to any player. Raid Bosses are randomly distributed throughout the city's gyms. To learn more, check out our complete Pokemon GO raid guide

Now that you know the basics of Pokémon GO battles, learn what the best attacks in the game are!

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