After completing the main story of Pokémon Sword and Shield and becoming the Galar region’s champion, trainers can challenge others around the world in online ranked battles. This competitive system lets players enter a series of special battles to earn points, reach different tiers, and receive rewards like Gold Bottle Caps.
The competition is fierce, and players have already devised special combinations of Pokémon to enhance their chances at winning. Sword and Shield is less than a month old, so tactics are sure to change as the scene matures. Still, many of these strategies already honed in on some of the best Pokémon in the game.
For starters, all legendary and Gigantamax Pokémon are banned from ranked battles, due to their superior stats. Even so, there are still plenty of supremely powerful creatures to stack your team with and sweep online opponents under the rug.
Here are six of the most commonly used Pokémon in Sword and Shield’s ranked battles at the moment.
This Dragon-Ghost type was introduced in Generation 8 and has already become a competitive staple. The deadly combination of its 142 Speed and 120 Attack makes the arrow-headed dragon a valuable attacker.
Dragapult recommended Natures are: Jolly, Naive, or Adamant. The first two will further boost its speed, while the third increases its attack.
Give it a Choice Band to ensure one-hit KOs on defensively weak Pokémon. The item will boost physical Attack by 50 percent, but only allows Dragapult to use one move. Teach Dragapult Dragon Darts, U-Turn, Fire Blast, and Draco Meteor to make the most out of its base stats.
Dragapult is so common in ranked battles that it’s become necessary to run a counter, which is where Mimikyu comes in. The Ghost-Fairy type is immune to Dragon-type attacks and its Disguise ability protects it from one attack per battle. This allows players to set up with attack-boosting moves like Sword Dance for free.
Its recommended Natures are Adamant and Jolly. The first will boost its relatively low base attack, while the second compliments its strong base Speed.
Give it a Life Orb to further increase its Attack by 30 percent, which combos with Sword Dance. Teach Mimikyu the following moves to make the most out of its strengths: Play Rough, Shadow Sneak, Sword Dance, and Will-O-Wisp.
Former Video Game Championships world champ Wolfe “Wolfey” Glick has come up with a strategy using the Water-Dragon type’s signature move, Fishious Rend, which can potentially devastate opponents. If Dracovish uses the move first, its attack doubles to a base of 170, which is already stronger than most moves in the game. But Wolfey explained in a tweet that it can become even more powerful.
Its recommended Nature is Jolly, to ensure Fishious Rend lands first.
Give it a Choice Band to further boost its physical attack stat by 50 percent. You’ll want to teach Dracovish the following moves: Ice Fang, Fishious Rend, Earthquake, and Leech Life.
Toxtricity’s unique Poison-Electric typing gives it access to a wide array of moves, like Toxic, that make him especially effective against powerful Water-types like Dracovish. It can also learn Gear Shift, a rare move that increases its Attack by one stage and its Speed by two, which can make it a powerful sweeper.
Its recommended Natures are: Timid, Adamant, Modest, or Mild.
Give it Choice Specs to greatly boost its special attack, in exchange for only letting it use one move. You’ll want to teach Toxtricity Discharge, Sludge Bomb, Boomburst, and Volt Switch.
2. Galarian Darmanitan
The main draw to Galarian Darmanitan is its Zen Mode hidden ability, which causes it to become a Fire type with 160 Attack and 135 Speed when it’s brought below 50 percent health. This is complemented by its normal ability Gorilla Tactics, which acts like a free Choice Band, making the Ice and Fire type extremely lethal.
Its recommended Nature is Jolly to boost its 81 Speed, which is often not enough to go first.
Give it a Choice Scarf to further boost its speed, as its attack is already increased by its Gorilla Tactics ability. Teach Galarian Darmanitan Flare Blitz, Icicle Crash, Earthquake, and U-Turn to get the most out of him.
The Flying-Steel type fills the role of a powerful defender when going up against formidable opponents like Dragapult. By teaching it moves like Iron Defense and Roost, it can soak up damage to effectively wait out a Dynamax state and let you counter later in the battle.
Its recommended Nature is Impish to further boost is physical defenses.
Give it Leftovers to let it gradually increase its HP in battle. Teach Corviknight Roost, Iron Defense, Brave Bird, and Substitute to make it an absolute tank.
Pokémon Sword and Shield is out now for the Nintendo Switch.