Pokémon Sword and Shield: A guide to competitive battling
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In the past, people thought of Pokémon games more as single-player RPGs than competitive PvP games. Pokémon Sword and Shield have done a lot to make the franchise more competitive. These games include ranked ladders with tiers, leaderboards, seasons, and rewards representing a new level of sophistication for the series. In Pokémon Sword and Shield, players can compete in casual battles, ranked battles, and official online tournaments through the Victory Station (VS) menu. Once the player has a party that is in line with the rules of whichever mode they choose to play, they can queue up for battles. This competitive battling guide will help you reach the top.

Party rules

  • No duplicate Pokémon
  • No duplicate held items
  • Pokémon will be set to level 50.
  • Pokémon cannot have moves or abilities that they cannot obtain legally in the game.
  • Zacian, Zamazenta, and Eternatus are not allowed.
  • Only specific Gigantamax Pokémon will be allowed. (This list will change each season.)

Players with a legal party can participate in competitive battles. Casual battles can be used for practice and will not impact a player’s rank. Ranked battles are where the real competitive action is at. There are two ranked ladders: singles battles and doubles battles. In singles battles, players get to choose three of the Pokémon from their party to go one on one against the opponent’s Pokémon. In doubles, players choose four Pokémon and send two out at a time. These ladders are separate, and playing battles on one will not impact the rank of the other.


Players who are serious about competitive battling and want to go “pro” should look into the Pokémon Video Game Championships, or “VGC”. VGC battles are doubles battles with the same rules as ranked doubles battles in-game. Players can compete in live events around the world for a chance at getting invited to the 2020 Pokémon World Championship in the United Kingdom. These events can be found on Pokémon‘s official event locator.

Getting started with competitive Pokémon Sword and Shield

To get started with battling, players first need to get a party together. There are two ways of doing this in Pokémon Sword and Shield. Players can put their party together themselves, or they can rent parties online that were made by other players. Players who want to rent a party online need a code. There are plenty of competitive YouTubers and streamers that have put their party up for rent.

Those that are looking to put a party together themselves will need to learn about breeding. Run-of-the-mill wild Pokémon won’t cut it in competitive play. Pokémon need to have the best possible stats and move sets to be competitive. Stay tuned for a comprehensive guide to breeding in the future!

Pokémon Sword and Shield battling and rewards

Now it’s time to step into the arena. Go to the VS menu, enter the Battle Stadium, choose a format, and battle! There are 11 ranked tiers. Winning matches will grant progress towards the next tier, whereas losing matches will lose progress. Winning and losing consecutive matches will increase gains and losses.

Players will earn rewards at the end of each season based on where they finished on each ladder. These rewards are going to be battle points and battle items. Players who reach higher tiers will receive better rewards.

Be sure to stay tuned for when the seasons change because the rules will likely change as well. Stay tuned for more news and guides on competitive Pokémon at Daily Esports.