Pokémon Go teams: A complete guide to choosing a Pokémon Go team, the differences between Mystic, Instinct, Valor, and their leaders – and whether you can switch teams.
By now, you've almost certainly got Pokémon Go, signed away a good few hours of your life catching Pokémon and levelling up, and now it's on to level 5 and a big decision – it's time to choose a team!
But which to choose? Does it really make much difference? Will you miss out if you choose one team over another? All good questions, for which the game provides little in the way of answers.
You're lucky we're here aren't you? Here's everything you need to know about Pokémon Go factions, the team leaders, and pretty much anything else worth being informed about.
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What are teams in Pokémon Go? Mystic, Instinct and Valor explained
While much of the game is concerned with hunting Pokémon and adding them to your Pokédex, there's also a more competitive aspect to Pokémon Go. Once you hit level 5 and you tap on a gym, you'll be asked to choose between three different factions: Mystic (Blue), Instinct (Yellow), and Valor (Red).
Once you've picked a team, it will determine several things. First of all, whenever you battle for control of a gym – plenty of which are dotted around the landscape – you'll claim it for your team if you win. Once you claim the gym, other members of your particular faction can stash their own Pokémon in the gym alongside yours, to help defend it.
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Beyond that, at least at this point, that's really all there is to choosing a team. The system doesn't seem to affect anything other than the gym ownership at the moment.
However, there have been some rumours suggesting that the teams will ultimately be tied to the three legendary Pokémon birds – Articuno, Moltres, and Zapdos. None of these are available in-game yet, sparking speculation that developer Niantic will add in the creatures at a later date and make them available to players depending on which team they're on.
As you will see when choosing a team, each faction has a mascot, all of which bear a close resemblance to one of the legendary birds. If the rumours are true, and Niantic is planning to make the birds available based on your choice of faction, it remains unclear how this will work. Could it be that which ever team owns the most gyms will have a chance to catch their beast first? We'll have to wait and see. It could all be rubbish, of course, but it's something to bear in mind when deciding which team deserves your talents.
Pokémon Go Teams – Which is best?
As we said earlier, at this point, choosing a team doesn't seem to affect much else than what colour a gym turns when you win it. That said, we are expecting the team system to be developed as the months go by, and if the rumours about the legendary birds being tied to specific factions is true, which team you choose could depend largely on which bird you want to snag once they eventually show up.
Although at this point there's very little to make choosing a team a big deal, there is some information worth knowing about.
Firstly, you may be the type who likes the idea of aligning yourself with the underdog, in some sort of symbolic act of nobility, or lending your services to whichever faction has amassed the most members. In which case you might want to check out some stats before deciding.
Adobe recently conducted some research, using social mentions to get an idea of which team was most popular. The result was that team Mystic came out on top, with 45% of all social media discussion devoted to the Blue faction. Elsewhere, Team Valor (Red) came in second with 32%, and Instinct (Yellow) managed a mere 25%. Of course, this isn't anywhere near official, but if you were wondering which one to choose, Adobe's 'research' might help tip the balance.
You might also want to see which team your mates have joined. If you have a group of people from the same team, you can all meet up and try to take down gyms together. Once you claim a gym, you can then spar against one another to build up your Pokémon's CP, or character points. It's a handy way of ensuring your roster of beasts stays tough enough to compete in the wider Pokéverse, so it's worth checking with your friends before you decide on a team, to see which side they have sworn allegiance to.
Meanwhile, at San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) this year, we were introduced to the team leaders for each faction. When the game first launched, the team leaders were represented by silhouettes. This was due to the fact that Niantic didn't quite have the finished designs ready to introduce at the time the game launched, so they were held back for a few weeks.
But now that the final designs have been unveiled, let's take a look at how the teams differ.
Team Instinct (Yellow)
Colour – Yellow
Leader – Spark
Mascot – Zapdos
Guess what Team Instinct is all about? If you're invested in this game enough to care about the ideology behind these factions, the impulsive among you will be glad to head that Team Instinct is all about going with your gut. Led by Spark, who has been mercilessly torn apart on social media for his leather pants – and what looks to be an off-putting level of enthusiasm, judging by the pose he's pulling – the team will appeal to the more lively members of the Pokémon Go community.
Is there any actual useful information to know about this group? Well, it's apparently the least popular team so if you want to help balance out Pokèmon Go's factions, you might consider signing up to the Yellow side. There's also the fact that this group's mascot looks a lot like legendary Pokémon Zapdos, so if you're holding out for this rare electric beast, you should probably enlist in the Instinct ranks just as a precaution.
If you fancy checking out the Team Instinct subreddit, you can find it here. Currently it has close to 25,000 members, so help to pad out the numbers and sign up if you want to see the Yellow team better represented. It's like social justice for video games. There's bound to be a hashtag already.
Team Mystic (Blue)
Colour – Blue
Leader – Blanche
Mascot – Articuno
The most popular team according to Adobe's research, Team Mystic is presumably designed for the more stoic trainers out there – those who face peril without flinching; those brave souls who will stand in a Tesco car park for hours trying to capture their local gym.
This faction is headed by the ever-mysterious Blanche, and seems to be aligned with the legendary Articuno, judging by its mascot – a bird with powers as icy as the look on Blanche's face. There's a subreddit here for those who have enlisted in Team Mystic, and it currently has close to 30,000 members. If you want to join what is seemingly becoming the clear favourite, say yes to Blanche's offer and go Team Mystic.
Team Valor (Red)
Colour – Red
Leader – Candela
Mascot – Moltres
For the most noble Pokétrainers out there, Team Valor has proven to be more popular than those wretched Yellows, but not quite as attractive an offering as Blanche and her team of Mystics. These guys are led by the fiery Candela, who doesn't look like she's messing around in the depiction below. If you're a no-nonsense type, head over to Valor to find fellow competitive trainers.
And, if you're also holding out for a chance to bag the elusive Pokémon, Moltres, you should also swear your allegiance to Valor, as its mascot is almost certainly based upon the legendary fire bird. Whether it means you'll actually get the creature, again, remains unclear. But it's worth signing up to the red side if you want to ensure every chance of calling Moltres yours one day.
You can find Valor's subreddit here, along with its 16,000 trainers.
Pokémon Go Teams – Can I switch teams once I've picked one?
Put simply, no. Once you pick a team, at least for now, you are stuck with it. You can always create a new account and sign up for a different team that way, but you'll obviously be without your current line-up of Pokécreatures and will have to work your way back up the levels.
If you currently use your Google account to sign in, you can either use a new one to create a different account, or sign up through the Pokémon Trainer Club. It has been reported that this second method will leave you more open to the infamous server issues which have caused the game to crash regularly since its launch, however.
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It also doesn't look like Niantic plans to introduce a team-switching feature any time soon. We're expecting to see Pokémon trading, more gym functionality, and new creatures added in the near future, but no team jumping.
This could change of course, but for now it seems traitors have not been catered for in Pokémon Go.
That's all we've got on the teams for now, but we'll be updating this article as more information becomes available, so stay tuned.
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Which team did you choose? Do you have any further insights into the various factions? Let us know in the comments.