Team Instinct is, by most available metrics, the smallest of Pokemon Go’s three factions. They are, if nothing else, numerical underdogs. It’s a role many of its members have embraced.

The reaction to Instinct’s recently revealed leader, Spark, is the latest chapter in the team’s come-from-behind saga. People are calling him a doof, a slob, and a meme lord. He’s an obnoxious bro, an oblivious meathead, a guy who’s accidentally stumbled across an article or two from renowned MRA hive Return of Kings and gone, “You know these guys really make a lot of sense.”

But members of Team Instinct see him differently. He’s enthusiastic and fun. He’s all heart and determination. He loves everybody, even as they mercilessly tear him limb-from-limb, Guy Fieri hair-from-scalp.

To hear Team Instinct tell it, theirs is the team that will ultimately conquer with the help of camaraderie and teamwork because, well, they don’t exactly have numbers on their side.

Members are willing to admit, though, that they don’t always triumph. Sometimes that’s because they’re dealing with insurmountable odds:

Other times it’s because they’re too dang nice and trusting:

Team Instinct members can also get pretty... intense about their affiliation. For instance, here is a rap:

And I’ll let this one speak for itself:

They also really love to be all edgelordy and tell everyone that there’s no shelter from the storm, often with Game of Thrones font:

In the past 24 hours, however, there’s been an increasing number of people saying they wish they picked Team Instinct, because Spark is weirdly endearing. People who’ve been Instinct all along find it so delicious that they’re worried their perfect Spark abs might morph into schadenfreude beer bellies.

So yeah, Team Instinct is happy to play the underdog. They like to think themselves friendly and well-meaning, even if they’re also prone to bursts of melodrama and anti-anyone-who’s-not-Team-Instinct sentiment. They identify with other frequently made-fun-of groups like Hufflepuff from Harry Potter.


Basically, Team Instinct is what happens when an underdog emerges pretty much from the get-go, in a team lineup otherwise devoid of strong identifiable characteristics. The concept of “underdog” is the core of Team Instinct’s identity, rather than just a part. I do, however, find it a bit funny that they’re now represented by the only white dude in the gym leader line-up.

But I digress. It works for them, because on some level, everybody secretly loves the idea of the underdog. Being an underdog—back against the wall, all odds against you—is its own kind of fantasy. It’s a fiction people sometimes create for themselves even when it’s not true because nothing inspires feelings of conviction and camaraderie quicker than the idea that the world is against you. It all feels so heroic and just—sometimes on occasions when it’s not. Even losses are small victories. Maintaining a healthy sense of perspective, though: that’s the hard part.