Although Pokemon Go has been the most recent and most significant success for the pocket monster franchise, it's so much bigger than that with its animated shows, trading cards, and much much more. One of the most notable aspects of the franchise is the mechanics surrounding battles that every medium has to offer. It's been almost three years since Pokemon Go launched, and the giant has only just introduced a PvP system. By no means is the concept as in-depth as video games for the Switch etc. but there's now a push to bring the game into the esports realm.
Kieng Iv is the man pushing to bring the Pokemon Go esports to the world after he won the Pokemon Go invitational as the World Championships this year.
In an interview with GamesRadar Kieng states "PvP came out in December 2018, eight or nine months ago," and "I started really getting into it in January. And, you know, I just really enjoyed battling and helping people get better. I actually really didn't think it was going to be an esport until I went down to the Safari Zone in Singapore."
It's not just about hitting the screen
He continued to say that he "knew Pokemon Go PvP was a very watchable esport." It might feel like loads of tapping the screen during a battle if you're not a trainer that takes note of shield baiting and matching types accordingly. “I want to be the very best” is regarded in a whole new manner when we think about Pokemon Go as an esport. We only have to take the scale of the world championship event this year as an example to see the potential of the game entering the esports realm.
Pokemon Go has something that other Pokemon games don't, and that's the real time battle system. We're normally used to seeing a turn-based battle concept, so there's plenty of room to develop on this mechanic. It doesn't come down to Pokemon having the highest CP to come out on top, and there's a lot more to it than that. Kieng says, "There were 12,000 or 13,000 people watching the stream initially," and that "In the chat, they were like, 'oh, why are we watching this? Why are we watching 'tap, tap, tap, swipe, swipe, swipe?' But by the end of the stream, they were at the edge of their seats wondering who was going to win."
Friends that go into battle could work like this
"Pokemon Go is different to most other games because it encourages you to go outside and meet people, and I understand the friendship mechanic is very important to the game as they want to make sure people meet each other. But I think a healthy balance between that and allowing remote battles [is needed]. I suggested some ideas like if you're not Ultra friends, you can do a maximum of five battles with any friend. So if you meet someone at a tournament, in those 30 days [before becoming Ultra Friends] you can battle up to five times with that person. You still have an incentive to get to Ultra Friends, but it still allows people to battle."
But would there be enough of an audience?
Kieng commented, saying, "I kind of draw an analogy to basketball. There's so many basketball fans but if you hand them a basketball and ask them to shoot 100 free throws, they couldn't even come close to the basket. But they still really enjoy watching it. So I think there's a lot of people that play Pokémon that wouldn't even think about ever doing PvP, but understand the excitement and the fast paced nature, and how tables can turn." It certainly sounds as though the audience is already there and waiting, with the proof being in places like the Go Stadium Discord server for starters. "I have a lot of optimism around how far this can come along. There's still many steps that need to be taken to make this an esport but I think we have the right people and enthusiasm in place."
If Pokemon Go enters the esports realm, will you be jumping in on the action? Let us know in the comments below.