Pokémon Sword and Shield: A Competitive Battling Guide

Pokémon Sword and Shield: A Competitive Battling Guide

Welcome to my guide for getting into competitive Pokémon. If you are anything like me, simply completing the playthrough doesn’t satisfy your cravings for collecting and battling Pokémon. This is where PvP comes into play.

While competitive Pokémon is extremely rewarding, it can be intimidating if you’re new to it. Competitive battles are vastly different from the battles you face in the playthrough, and there is a lot to learn. Here’s how to get started. 

Beat the game and unlock the “Judge” feature

Before even considering queuing up for battles in Pokémon Sword and Shield, it is important to have a competitive party. Pokémon found in the wild, or even in raids, generally won’t cut it. You will need the “Judge” feature to check how good a Pokémon really is. 

To unlock this feature, you need to beat the playthrough and unlock the Battle Tower. Once you have done this, beat the first three tiers of the Battle Tower and Leon will unlock it for you. 

Decide on which format to play 

Before getting a party together, it is important to decide which format you want to play. There are two ranked battle formats in Pokémon Sword and Shield, singles and doubles. Each format has different rules and metagames, so it is important to tailor your party to the format you hope to play.

If you have aspirations to compete in official Pokémon tournaments, also known as Video Game Championships or VGC for short, I would heavily advise getting into the doubles format. It may seem counterintuitive since a majority of playthrough battles are singles, but VGC battles are always doubles. If you want to play singles battles, however, there is certainly nothing wrong with that!

Know the rules of the format

If you have never played competitive Pokémon before then there are a few things you need to know. First off, competitive battles always follow the “set” format, which means that you will not have the opportunity to see what Pokémon your opponent is sending out and switch your own out. 

Secondly, in the Battle Stadium and VGC, you are not allowed to have any duplicate Pokémon or held items in your party. There are no restrictions like this in a standard playthrough. 

Finally, when you find an opponent, you both see each other’s parties, and you will get to choose three Pokémon in singles, or four Pokémon in doubles, out of the six to fight. In doubles, two Pokémon will be sent out at a time. 

A full list of the rules for each format can also be viewed in the game by hitting X, opening the VS menu, clicking “Battle Stadium, and scrolling to “Download Rules”. This menu is also where you can queue up for casual and ranked battles. 

Charizard fighting in a competitive pokemon battle.

Getting a party together

In Pokémon Sword in Shield, you have two options for choosing a battle party. You can use a party that you have assembled yourself, or you can use a rental party that someone else has created. 

If you want to go straight in without worrying about making a party, rental parties are the way to go. To use a rental party, all you need is a code. These codes can be found all over the internet. Many popular YouTubers and streamers also make their parties available to the public. 

I personally believe making your own party is far more rewarding and teaches you more about the game, but it does take a lot of knowledge. A competitive Pokémon should have a competitive nature, ability, and competitive Individual Values (IVs) and Effort Values (EVs). 

The easiest way to do this is through breeding. However, Pokémon Sword and Shield have introduced a number of other ways to get perfect Pokémon. 

If that sounds confusing or difficult, don’t worry, it’s not so bad once you get the hang of it. I will be doing a full write up on how to get a competitive party that will be available soon, so make sure to stay tuned for that! 


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