Rivals are an important aspect of Pokémon lore. Where would Ash and Pikachu be without the constant (and amusing) threat of Jessie, James, and Meowth? That’s right. Ash’s journey wouldn’t be nearly as exciting or rewarding without his ongoing rivalries, both with Team Rocket and other Trainers.
In mid-April 2021, the first-ever Rivals Event arrived in Pokémon GO. The event brought new Pokémon, a new (sort of) Legendary raid boss, and lots of fighting-type spawns. Now, the first rule of Fight Club might be don’t talk about Fight Club, but we gotta talk about this event. Let’s roll with the punches and break it down.
The whole event was based on the concept of rivalry with many punchy pairings such as Hitmonchan and Hitmonlee. Niantic really needed to bounce back after the backlash from the previous event and the controversy surrounding flower-crown Happiny. Thankfully, this event shifted the focus away from Eggs and more on to catches and raids. 40,000,000 raids, to be exact (more on that later).
It was a bit of a shame that our rivals didn’t make an appearance during the event. Niantic has disabled Team GO Rocket Grunts at PokéStops and in balloons due to a recurring bug that causes the game to crash. Well, it’s not like Team GO Rocket to permanently throw in the towel, so I’m sure they’ll be back soon. Maybe.
The spawns for the event were good overall, although it felt like the amount of Litleo was unnecessary (and a bit random). The Nidoran duo were also in abundance despite the fact they have now been featured in numerous events. However, it was nice to hunt down new Pokémon in the form of Skrelp and Clauncher, and pretty much every other spawn had its shiny form available. Hitmonlee and Hitmonchan are relatively new shinies and haven’t had much of a spotlight since the Kanto Tour. For Trainers that did not participate in that event, shiny hunting the punching and kicking duo was a lot of fun. Zangoose and Seviper were also spawning everywhere, giving Trainers the chance to catch a Pokémon from outside of their region without having to travel.
Most of the spawns also had big catch circles, making excellent throws significantly easier. This was great for XP grinding and for Level 49 Trainers that needed to complete 999 Excellent Throws as part of their level-up task.
The main bonus for this event was supposed to be increased Team GO Rocket activity, but the feature was broken and disabled for the entire event. A Rival Event without rivals? Eek.
However, the event also featured a Global Challenge. Trainers had to work together to unlock double Catch Stardust. The challenge? Completing 40,000,000 raids. No, you read that right. Forty million raids.
The requirement left a bad taste in many Trainer’s mouths. Why did players have to raid to earn an event bonus? Double Catch Stardust is nothing new or revolutionary. Many other events have featured the bonus without requiring Trainers to use 40,000,000 raid passes collectively.
Now, I’m pretty sure that Niantic picked the target amount, knowing it was achievable based on daily raiding statistics. It would be interesting to know how long Niantic predicted it to take us to complete the Global Challenge and whether we achieved it quicker or not. Did the incentive of double Catch Stardust encourage us to raid more or not? Either way, players only received the bonus for less than 2 days. Was it worth the huge collective effort? No, not really.
There were several event-themed research tasks that awarded Pokémon, including Skrelp, Clauncher, Hitmonlee, and Hitmonchan. The event tasks were fairly easy, but PokéStops were dominated by ‘Catch 3 fighting type Pokémon, rewarding a revive or potion. The research tasks for Hitmonlee and Hitmonchan were too rare, especially for rural players. However, the tasks were easier than the previous event.
Considering that Niantic wanted us to do 40,000,000 raids, they didn’t give us many exciting options. Most of the non-Legendary raid bosses were available in the wild, except Timburr, so the main focus was on 5* raiding.
Therian Forme Landorus made its debut in 5* raids at the beginning of the event. The strange-floaty-tiger-thing did not receive the optimum move-set we were hoping for, but it is still a fantastic ground-type attacker. It is also ranked 1 in the Master League. Watch out, Dialga. Niantic probably knew that there would be a bit of a raiding lull and hoped the opportunity for double Catch Stardust would incentivize us. Did it work? Without access to Niantic’s data, I guess we’ll never Nosepass.
After the controversy over flower-crown Happiny during the last event, the egg situation during the Rivals Event was much quieter. There were no egg-exclusive Pokémon for this event (praise Arceus). The Pokémon in Eggs reflected the wild spawns with the addition of Elekid, Magby, and Machop.
The Rivals Event was overall pretty good. The spawns were great, with new Pokémon and lots of shiny checks. It was a shame that Team GO Rocket was a no-show and that the Global Challenge had such a high target. Overall, this event scores a decent 6/10. The next event in Pokémon GO is Sustainability Week, so let’s hope that scores a little higher.