The next year for competitive Pokémon promises to be the biggest yet, with Sword and Shield arguably the most accessible entry in the franchise in years.
As the best strategies begin to emerge, certain monsters become reliable regulars in the competitive scene – with this year’s VGC tournaments dominated by Rayquaza and duos like Xerneas and Groudon.
So which Pokémon will dominate in 2020? While players are still in the process of finding out the best strategies, we asked pro players James “Jamesspeed1” Baek, Aaron “Cybertron” Zheng and Paul “ralfdude90” Ruiz who they believe will rule the roost.
You can check out our updated list of essential Pokemon here.
Grimmsnarl is the final evolution of Impidimp (Picture: Nintendo/Game Freak)
This dual-type dark and fairy Pokémon is the final form of Impidimp. The changed speed mechanics in Sword and Shield, which cause speed to be calculated on the fly over the beginning of a turn, make his flexibility with abilities and attacks a prized choice.
Jamesspeed1: “With how the new speed mechanics work, you can give it the ability Prankster and Thunder Wave. This allows your team to potentially out speed your opponent’s Pokémon in the turn and go for the Thunder Wave into your opponent too.
“It also gets access to dark and fairy type moves which is a really strong combination in general. It has a really high base attack.”
Dracovish is one of Sword and Shield's fossil monsters (Picture: Nintendo/Game Freak)
An extinct Pokémon resurrected by combining a fossilized fish and fossilized drake, Dracovish is a dual-type water and dragon who possesses some of the strongest moves.
The move Fishious Rend is a key player in all this. If the user strikes first over your opponent, the move is doubled in power to 170. This is before any potential stat boosts too, with the ability Strong Jaw allowing a 50% boosts to bite attacks too.
Ralfdude90: “If you give Dracovish a Choice Band and provide some speed control option, you can even one-hit knockout resistances – that's not even counting the possibility of being boosted by the rain weather as well.”
Duraludon doesn't have any evolutions (Picture: Nintendo/Game Freak)
One of the most coveted Pokémon in Sword and Shield is Duraludon; a dual-type steel and dragon dinosaur who can move surprisingly fast considering its weight.
As another dual-type, its move-set is expansive and powerful. It also possesses a Gigantamax form which has the exclusive G-max move Depletion, which inflicts huge damage on opponents.
Whimsicott is a Generation Five Pokemon (Picture: Nintendo/Game Freak)
With Sword and Shield excluding certain Pokémon from play, its allowed others from past generations to rise in competitive circuits.
One of these is Whimsicott introduced in Pokémon Black and White, a dual grass and fairy type which evolves from Cottonee. Considering it can combine the Prankster ability and move Tailwind, which boosts the speed of the entire team, Whimsicott’s presence on the competitive scene looks to be even larger than past years.
Cybertron: “Whimsicott is a Pokémon I’ve seen on so many teams. It was always good throughout the year, it had good tournament results, but it wasn’t on every team. It’s not on every team now but it’s certainly more meta-defining than it was previously.”
Dragapult is a flexible Pokemon (Picture: Nintendo/Game Freak)
This dual dragon and ghost type Pokémon is the final form of Dreepy. It offers enormous flexibility in its moves, ranging from ghost, dark, psychic, bug, to dragon attacks.
It’s also highly resistant to a range of types (poison, bug, fire, water, grass and electric), making it a versatile beast in both attack and defense.
Corviknight was one of the Pokemon revealed first from the latest generation (Picture: Nintendo/Game Freak)
The final form of Rookidee is also used as fast-travel transport throughout the Galar region, although he might also become a favourite on competitive teams next year through his defensive strength.
With move Bulk Up, which raises the user’s attack and defense stat simultaneously, it can become a surprisingly stubborn force. It’s also one of the few Pokémon whose Gigantamax form is permitted in the competitive scene next year.
Ralfdude90: “I really think Corviknight will increase in usage as the format develops.”