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Pokemon GO Guide: How To Become a Gym Leader

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Ever dreamed of being a feared gym leader? Here's how to steal gym's from the opposing teams and work with your Pokemon to make that fantasy come true in Pokemon Go.

Pokemon Go may not have an official release date yet, but Niantic and Nintendo have confirmed that the game will arrive before the end of July, so the countdown is on. The extensive field tests wrapped up on June 30, so all that is left to do now is wait and anxiously refresh the app store in hopes that the augmented reality mobile game will appear on the newly-released section. For players who weren't a part of the Pokemon Go beta and haven't played Niantic's previous game, Ingress, there is some homework that can be done to catch up.

In Pokemon Go, players don't actually need to fight Pokemon in the wild in order to get them weak enough to catch. Instead, catching a Pokemon usually requires properly throwing the on-screen Pokeball at the adorable creatures. The game wouldn't be Pokemon without some battling though and that's where the gyms come into play.

For those who have played Ingress, Pokemon Go's gyms are very similar to Ingress' portals (we know this from field testing and leaked gameplay footage). Each player selects a team to join at the beginning of the game (yellow, red, or blue) and one of the main goals of the game is to keep as many gym's as possible under your team's control. Gyms are usually located at points of interest in the real world like a statue, a plaque, or maybe even a coffee shop. They'll appear on the map color-coded based on which team is currently in control of them. A grey gym is currently uncontrolled and can be claimed by whichever team reaches it first. Gyms look like towers on the map and will be easy to spot.

Once you find an enemy controlled gym, the first step is to check and see if your squad stands a chance. In this game, Pokemon are ranked by CP (combat points) rather than levels, so, for example, you obviously won't want to take your level 200 CP crew in against a gym where the leader has a CP of over 1000. Gyms are protected by a leader (the trainer who has the Pokemon with the highest CP) and multiple other trainers that must be defeated and kicked out before the leader. The higher a gym's Prestige level, the more trainers there are to defeat.

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If your Pokemon are up to the task, you can then begin battling the defending trainers one by one (from lowest CP to highest CP) and kicking them out of the gym with each victory. Check back for a future game guide about how the combat system shakes out. As each trainer is ejected, the gym's prestige level is reduced slightly. Once the gym is cleared out of trainers to battle, you'll be kicked out as well. Continue returning to the gym and the Prestige level will eventually drain down to zero and the gym will appear grey (unclaimed) on the map. At this point, you'll be able to claim the gym and leave one of your powerful Pokemon behind to protect it while you're not around (similar to resonators in Ingress). Other trainers on your team will be able to come by and leave Pokemon as well to increase the Prestige level and help protect the territory.

Keep in mind that this gym is now a target for members of the opposing teams. Checking back and seeing how the gym is holding up is another agenda item to add to your rotation of tasks in Pokemon Go. Don't be surprised if stealing gyms is very difficult for you at the game's lower levels, but it will become a valuable skill and a great way to earn experience once your Pokemon are strong enough and up to the task.

Good luck out there, trainers!

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Which team do you plan on joining? Do you have any theories about when the game will launch? Let us know in the comments.

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Pokemon Go is expected to release on iOS and Android devices sometime before August.

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