The Pokémon Sword & Shield competitive scene has changed wildly since its start in November 2019. From the introduction of old legendary and mythics to banning and restrictions, it’s been a mixed meta to say the least. The result is an ever-evolving roster of best competitive Pokémon in Sword and Shield.
In this article, we’ve put together a tier list of the most notable Pokémon (definitely not all of them — that would make this way too long), and rank the top ten picks. Keep in mind that since this article was written during Series 9, so it might not remain quite as accurate during future series!
Tier List: Best Competitive Pokémon in Sword and Shield
This tier list looks a little different than most — since there are simply too many Pokémon to reasonably list in a tiered ranking, we’re simply going with a numbered list. Pokémon in the first category (Tier 1) are the absolute best, and those in the last (Tier 5) are good, just…not as good. We also haven’t listed the Pokémon in each tier in any particular order, meaning that all the picks in Tier 1 are on pretty equal footing.
Top 10 Competitive Pokémon: An Analysis
Up next is an analysis of the top 10 picks from our tier list. I’ll detail why each Pokémon is great in a competitive setting, from their basic moves to their role on a larger team.
Glastrier is one of the most effective physical sweepers in the game. It takes advantage of its slow speed through STAB moves like Avalanche that deal double damage if the user has been hit first, and can also abuse Trick Room. Moves like Swords Dance are also incredibly good on Glastrier, since its defensive stats are good enough to allow it to potentially take a hit without dying.
Tapu Fini benefits from an excellent spread of defense and special defense, allowing it to function as a strong support Pokémon. It frequently uses Surf and Moonblast as its main STAB moves, and has the incredible move Nature’s Madness. Nature’s Madness halves the target’s HP, and since only the Tapu Pokémon can have it, it’s very rare. Having Misty Surge as an ability also adds to Tapu Fini’s arsenal, allowing it to set the terrain for its team without having to Dynamax.
Venusaur (w/ Torkoal)
Venusaur is incredible thanks mostly to its ability Chlorophyll. Chlorophyll boosts its user’s speed in sunlight, so Venusaur is almost always paired with a Pokémon with the Drought ability. Outside of Chlorophyll, Venusaur is also an excellent G-Max pick. G-Max Vine Slash move is essentially a more powerful Leech Seed. In the sunlight, Venusaur is an absolute monster. Plus, paired with Torkoal, it’s among the best Pokémon for doubles in Sword and Shield.
Galarian Moltres is a fast special sweeper with a great move pool. It’s weak to several types, so a Weakness Policy is usually a must-have. After Weakness Policy activates, Galarian Moltres can easily one-shot any Pokémon it wants to. Fiery Wrath and Air Slash are both great STAB moves, and since G. Moltres is Dark/Flying, it has access to a wide variety of other STAB moves if you’re not into those two.
Single-Strike Urshifu is one of the top physical sweepers, specifically thanks to its Fighting typing. Being able to use Close Combat and Counter sets it up with two of the best physical attack moves, and its high Speed and HP accompany this nicely. Choice Band or Focus Sash are the main items used on Urshifu, with Choice Band being the pick for more standard builds and Focus Sash for those who want to take full advantage of Counter.
Rillaboom has been one of the strongest Pokémon in Sword and Shield from day one. Its combination of the Grassy Terrain ability and the move Grassy Glide makes for a devastating physical bomb, and its other moves are nothing to overlook, either. Typically paired with a Choice Band, Rillaboom is excellent for one-hit KOs. It is one of the best and most well-rounded physical attackers this series.
Dragapult is one of the fastest, most deadly, and overall best Pokémon in Sword and Shield. Since it frequently uses Phantom Dance, actually hitting it with a move is a nightmare, and there’s a chance its Cursed Body move will deactivate any attacks that hit anyway. Dragapult’s abilities are some of the best, having access to Clear Body, Infiltrator, and the aforementioned Cursed Body. It’s been one of the most formidable Pokémon ever since the competitive scene got started, and I don’t see that changing at any point.
Landorus (Therian Form)
Therian Landorus can be built as either a physical sweeper or a tank, but the physical build is more prominent in my experience. It usually takes Choice Scarf, then attacks with one its STAB move, Earthquake, or Rock Slide. Intimidate makes it very difficult to kill with physical attacks, and a solid Sp. Attack stat makes it difficult to defeat in general. Therian Landorus has been an all-star since its arrival in Sword & Shield, even when restricted Pokémon are allowed back into the meta.
Ever since Coalossal’s G-Max form has been allowed, it has become one of the strongest Weakness Policy users in the game. Its G-Max ability G-Max Volcality is essentially the rock version of Venusaur’s G-Max Vine Slash. Having this on a rock type is very strong and allows Coalossal to play differently from its rock-type peers. It can use Burn Up to get rid of its fire typing if necessary, and has access to other incredible moves like Stone Edge and Solar Beam. Coalossal is my personal favorite G-Max Pokémon right now.
Regieleki is the master of speed, outspeeding almost every Pokémon in the game without even needing a Choice Scarf. While it might not have the most varied moveset, the moves it does have are the most annoying kind to defeat. Thunder Cage traps opposing Pokémon while damaging them, and the combination of Reflect and Light Screen lowers the blow from any type of move that comes through. Having a Regieleki on your team is one of the best ways to ensure a victory. Regieleki is the best competitive Pokémon in Sword and Shield right now.
Become a High Grounder
Building your own Pokémon team is a fun and rewarding experience. There are infinite ways you can build your team, and the Pokémon listed here are only the start. Be sure to leave a comment with your favorite team composition, and follow us on social media for more rankings like this!