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Pokémon Sword and Shield’s most elusive Pokémon caught in just 10,679 tries

The rarest little tea cup of them all

an image of a pink floating tea cup Pokemon, Sinistea, in Pokemon sword and shield Image: Game Freak, The Pokémon Company/Nintendo via The domiNATION
Ana Diaz (she/her) is a culture writer at Polygon, covering internet culture, fandom, and video games. Her work has previously appeared at NPR, Wired, and The Verge.

After 10,679 encounters, countless hours of grinding, and an entire year of hunting, streamer Dominick “DOM1NaT0r” Hanson has finally hunted down one of the rarest shiny Pokémon in Pokémon Sword and Shield: an authentic shiny Sinistea.

Shiny Pokémon or “shinies,” are versions of the creatures we know and love, except with a different color palette. They have long been prized by fans for their rarity. Even then, some shiny Pokémon are rarer than others. This little pink teacup called Sinistea is among the rarest in Sword and Shield.

Just what are the odds of tracking one of these little creatures down? Well, that’s actually hard to say. In Sword and Shield, there are two forms of Sinistea: an authentic form and a counterfeit form. You can tell an authentic Sinistea from a fake one because it has a small blue swirl, a mark of authenticity that proves the creature is the rarer form. Rare Pokémon hunters have found that the authentic form seems to have anywhere from 1-in-10 to a 1-in-100 chance of appearing in the wild, under normal circumstances.

The math gets tricky here but Hanson said that with his method — which he used to maximize his chances of seeing one — he estimated that he had roughly a 1-in-909,090 chance of encountering the Pokémon. It was almost a one-in-a-million shot, but these odds didn’t deter him, and on Wednesday, he finally found one.

What would drive a player to spend a year seeking this cursed porcelain, you ask?

Hanson told Polygon over Twitter that he spent all that time looking simply because Sinistea is his “favorite Pokémon introduced in Pokémon Sword and Shield” and that having a shiny authentic one would be “cool” to him. According to the official Pokédex entry, the ghost type “is said to have been born when a lonely spirit possessed a cold, leftover cup of tea.”

Of course, a person could just simply cheat and create one of these Pokémon and add any old Pokémon into the game. But to Hanson, that’s beside the point. “People all the time ask why shiny hunters don’t just hack shinies in,” Hanson said, “but it’s way more rewarding to grind them out and even crazier things can happen like getting one with the rare mark!”