The Pokémon Go battle league comes with plenty of rewards for every player of any level to earn. Even if they are not the best players in the game, there are several useful rewards given at every level. For example, any player who has reached at least rank four has the opportunity to catch a random Pokémon if they win four games out of five in their rank. For a limited time, these random Pokémon encounters include legendary Pokémon, such as Darkrai, and soon, Giratina (Altered Forme), and then potentially other legendaries. Because these highly sought after rewards are offered at a lower rank, some players have taken to rank tanking.
Rank tanking is when a high-ranking player goes out of their way to lower their overall ranking. They do this because other trainers at a lower-ranking are much easier to fight. A trainer who is at rank four is much easier to fight than a trainer at rank eight. So, stronger players are attempting to lower their ranking to fight weaker trainers, guaranteeing their opportunities to encounter a legendary Pokémon. While the encounters are random, it increases their chances of receiving the reward to have that chance.
Is rank tanking important? It’s important for developers Niantic to do something about, which it likely will once Pokémon Go‘s first season happens. The first season of the battle league starts on March 13. At this point, they may take into account the type of rewards that go into the game to prevent this type of behavior. The battle league’s first season will likely feature a variety of rewards for players who remain at the highest rankings. We know about a handful of the rewards, such as having the opportunity to capture a Libre Pikachu at rank 10, or encountering Rufflet at rank seven, a Pokémon making its debut in the first season before its initial debut at an upcoming Safari Zone.
For now, rank tanking will continue to occur, potentially preventing lower-ranking Pokémon Go players from participating in some of the higher-tier rewards offered in the game. It’s not guaranteed to happen, and some players may never encounter a powerful trainer meant to be a higher ranking if they’re at a lower level. But it is happening, and it’s likely Niantic will address this in the future. We’ll find out when the first season arrives on March 13.