Pokémon Go's long-awaited player-versus-player Battle League rolls out this week via a preseason trial. As expected, it's a semi-regular tournament with in-game rankings and rewards.
By earning wins against other players and levelling up your rank, you'll earn Stardust, items and Pokémon encounters. The higher the rank, the better your rewards. Pikachu Libre - a wrestling-themed Pikachu seen in various other games - is one of the prizes, along with various themed avatar items.
We also now have confirmation of how the feature will be monetised. To begin with, you'll get five matches for free. After that, you can earn five more matches by walking 5km - which you can do a total of three times a day.
Alternatively, you can pay via PokéCoins to top up your 5km of walking (though only if you've already walked at least 2km). How many PokéCoins will this cost? We don't yet know, though the amount will decrease as you get closer to your next 5km total.
Finally, there will be a Premium reward track accessible by using a Premium Raid Pass (now retitled as a Premium Battle Pass). This will offer more in-game items, and lower the number of wins before certain Pokémon encounters. It will not affect your rank.
According to developer Niantic, Battle League's preseason is live now, though access will roll out gradually based on account level. It will rotate through battles in the game's three leagues beginning with Great League now, then Ultra League on Monday 10th February, then Master League on Monday 24th February, all at 9pm UK time. Great League will then cycle back on Monday 9th March.
This preseason period will be used to "optimise and balance" the game - so it'll be interesting to see how all the above pans out during this time and what changes Niantic eventually makes. We're keen to give it a go and get a feel for how fair it all feels.
Our dedicated Pokémon Go Battle League page can provide further explainers on ranks, seasons, rewards and more.