How to build a strong team early on in 'Pokémon Sword and Shield'

Or... how to git good

Pokemon Sword and Shield

As hapless trainers across the world begin their Pokémon Sword and Shield journey, a question arises: What Pokémon should these trainers catch along the way? Who should join your team of elite Pokémon? Conversely, how can you escape the hell of accidentally capturing six Skwovet? So what Pokémon should you fill your initial team with? Well, we’ve got some suggestions for you!

Before we begin, it’s worth noting that all mentioned Pokémon are available in both Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield. So no matter which version you bought, we’ve got you covered.

[Also read 👉 How to build a strong team for Pokémon Sword and Shield’s mid-game gyms]

Get a Pokémon with the same types as the starter you didn’t choose

At the start of the game, every trainer makes a huge choice — deciding which starter you want with you on your journey to becoming a Pokemon master. The first three gym leaders, starting with Milo the Grass-type leader, are weak to one of the basic starter types: Grass, Fire, or Water. Make sure that you have all three in your party. For example, if you initially choose Scorbunny, gather one water-type and a grass-type for your team. The same logic continues for if you choose Grookey or Sobble. Make sure to fill your gaps.

For a good fire Pokémon, try catching Vulpix on Route 3 or within the Wild Area’s Sunny Area. Additionally, a Fire Stone can be found early on by Motostoke’s riverbank.

For a water-type, pick up Chewtle, who will later learn a few helpful dark-type moves. Chewtle is available on Route 2.

Also on Route 2, there’s Seedot, an incredible grass-type Pokémon that will prove to be a boon throughout your time playing, especially after they evolve into Shiftry.

Just catch two of these in addition to your starter Pokémon and your team will be prepared for the first three gyms.

The rest of your team in Pokémon Sword and Shield

Of course, you’re prepared for Pokémon Sword and Shield’s initial challenges, but it would be best to future-proof your squad. As implied with Chewtle and Seedot, Route 2 is home to many elite Pokémon early in the game, including Rookidee — this generation’s early flying-type Pokémon. Like its predecessors, Pidgey and Starly, Rookidee learns plenty of powerful flying moves. It will later evolve into Corviknight, a fearsome flying force of nature, that also learns a few steel moves.

Zigzagoons are flush on Route 3, and not quite special enough to enumerate on this list, however, stick with one for a while to get a very special Pokémon. Obstagoon, the Pokémon that Zigzagoon evolves into at Level 35, learns some incredible moves. Invest in Obstagoon early on to make Pokémon Sword and Shield’s latter half a breeze.

Finally, you should look out for Electrike as your team’s electric Pokémon. They can be found on Route 4. Having an Electrike present will make the second gym a cakewalk.

If you’re having trouble early on, catching one of these Pokémon will definitely save you a headache or two.


Pokémon Sword and Shield is currently available in stores.

Media via Nintendo