It's been a few long years since Pokémon Go's massive launch summer in 2016, and from the start players have wondered whether they'll ever be able to battle each other's teams online.
It was only last year, though, that developer Niantic finally said the feature was coming, in the form of the 'Go Battle League'. Now, at long last, the update is rolling out to players worldwide, in a stop-start manner, letting them battle each other remotely for the first time.
In fact, Niantic has already had to pause the rollout to make sure that the feature doesn't tank its servers and stop players from connecting.
Trainers, to ensure a smooth feature launch and prevent server issues, we have temporarily paused the rollout of GO Battle League. We will provide updates as soon as we are able.— Pokémon GO (@PokemonGoApp) January 29, 2020
Nonetheless, battling in the Go Battle League is now a live feature for many. You'll qualify for the league by default, with five battles to play, but can earn five more battles by walking five kilometres. That threshold is available three times a day, so if 15 kilometres sounds chill to you, have at it. If you're not able to be as active as that, though, you can top yourself up after the first two kilometres using PokéCoins.
As you play in the league, your wins will earn you Stardust, other items and indeed Pokémon encounters, including the chance to meet Pikachu Libre, a luchador-themed Pikachu variant.
Players will also be able to purchase a Premium Battle Pass to get their hands on more rewards and items while battling.
The battles will rotate through different league levels in-game to give players a chance to try it out during this apparent "pre-season" phase of the feature, which Niantic says will allow it to tweak and balance the system for maximum fun and fairness.