Pokemon Go players have the option to join teams. Unless you join a team, you won’t be able to join a gym and train your Pokemon. If collecting them is all you want to do, you can sit teams out but you’re missing out on more than half the fun of the game. If you’ve just started playing Pokemon Go, you can see on your profile that the ‘Team’ section is empty and tapping it appears to do nothing. There are no options for selecting a team and no directions at that either. Here’s a brief walk through on how to pick and join a team.
Step 1: Level Up. To join a team, it is important that you reach level 5 first. Players that are below level 5 cannot join teams.
Step 2: Find a gym. It doesn’t matter which team has control of a gym and it doesn’t matter if you have a Pokemon ready to train or fight. Joining a team requires none of that. Find a gym and get near enough to it so that it opens up. When it does, Professor Willow will introduce you to his three assistants, each of which lead their own teams. The teams all value certain qualities but at the end of the day, no team has any advantage over the other. Once you select a team, you cannot change it (yet).
Step 3: Tap the team it is you want to join and you’re in.
When Do Teams Matter?
Teams matter when you want to join a gym. A gym that is controlled by team Mystic can’t be joined by a player that belongs to team Valor. If you want to join a gym but none are available with an open slot and controlled by the same team that you’re on, you will have to battle for turf and kick the other team out. Gym ownership is the only place where teams matter but because gyms are where you train your Pokemon, the teams can thus be very important.
If you’re looking to join a gym right away and don’t care much for the team you pick, look at what color a gym is. If it is Yellow, it belongs to Instinct, if it’s blue, it belongs to Mystic, and red belongs to Valor. Join the same team as the gym and you will be able to join it if there is a slot open.