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Have you noticed the different responses when catching Pokémon? Most of the time there is a ring that shoots out. Sometimes however there are fiery wisps that go up from the Pokémon.

Any idea what this means?

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    In any of these cases, does the pokeball shake once instead of 3 times? – Vemonus Mar 30 '17 at 22:39
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The animation with fiery wisps going up is the critical catch animation. In this case, the Ball will have shaken only once. A critical catch increases the chances of catching a Pokemon substantially, but has no other effect.

The ring going out with 3 stars flying outwards is the normal catch animation. In this case, the Ball will have shaken three times.

Any other animations, including the Ball only shaking once without the wisps or no animation at all (just the "Great!"), are visual errors caused by connectivity issues.

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