Watchog’s Meta Watch: 4 Pokémon that will rule the Sword & Shield meta

SWSH Meta Predictions
Champion Leon

Pokémon Sword and Shield have shaken up the competitive scene in dramatic fashion; Gens 3 and 6 might have made some Pokémon unavailable at launch, but they didn’t outright remove over half of the Pokédex and major mechanics introduced in the two prior installments! Alongside the introduction of many powerful new Galar-native contenders, this chaos presents opportunity for previous all-stars and current has-beens to take centre stage once more.

With this in mind, we’ve identified just a small handful of Pokémon who we reckon could see a dramatic uptick in usage in the coming months, along with the circumstances that enable them to put their qualities to good use. This article won’t necessarily touch upon the most popular existing species, or Pokémon who are very obviously going to be great – you don’t need me to tell you that Toxapex is going to remain a stellar pick on most teams!

This article also isn’t going to discuss the exciting new Dynamax and Gigantamax mechanics. At time of writing we’re still learning a lot about what these mechanics actually do and when and where they can be used, so watch this space for future analysis of these new forms!

Tyranitar

Tyranitar has almost always been either an outright dominant or anti-meta force in competitive play; the fact that it continued to be so in as hostile an environment as Pokémon Showdown’s Gen 7 OU is testament to its incredible assets.

This being the case, what do you think happens when you remove titans such as Scizor, Landorus, Garchomp, Celesteela and the Tapu family from play, and dial down the overall power level by removing Mega Evolutions and Z-Moves? What happens when you introduce a slew of interesting new Ghost and Psychic types, including a Ghost pseudo-legendary? What happens when you take away Chansey and Blissey, leaving a gap in the market for a special wall? The answer: you create an unbelievable playground for a tremendously bulky and terrifyingly potent Rock/Dark type.

Tyranitar won’t miss the dominance of powerhouses such as these.

One of Tyranitar’s hallmarks has always been versatility. Though it feels the loss of Pursuit more keenly than perhaps any other Pokémon, the Armour monster is still capable of running an astounding variety of sets, ranging from Dragon Dance, to Assault Vest, to a specially-based lure set; it even makes for a great Stealth Rock setter. Tyranitar may not appreciate the retention of the musketeer legends or the emergence of new threats such as Barraskewda and Cinderace, but the Godzilla of Galar has overcome such forces before and will do so again.  

We’ll go so far as to say that, at some point in the coming months, Tyranitar will be among the top three most-used Pokemon in Sword and Shield OU. Don’t forget to remind us if we’re wrong!

Hippowdon

Hippowdon immediately created a reputation for itself as a defensive all-star when it arrived on the scene in Gen 4, with monstrous defensive stats, reliable recovery, Stealth Rock and phasing moves. It’s also far less passive than many similar walls, with a reasonably powerful STAB Earthquake.

The sand hippo has enjoyed less success in more recent years with increasingly powerful attackers stretching its capabilities to the limit, especially on the special side. Other Pokémon such as Skarmory and Ferrothorn have offered intense competition with access to stackable Spikes, relegating Hippowdon to UU play.

Sword and Shield may yet offer a chance to change all this. As mentioned before, many of the most powerful offensive Pokémon of recent formats are not present in Galar, and Skarmory can no longer challenge Hippowdon for a team slot. It’s not hard to foresee a meta developing where threats such as Dragapult, Cinderace and Terrakion are held in check by Bertha’s behemoth – could sand yet see a re-emergence as a major playstyle?

Mamoswine

You may have picked up on the author’s fondness for physically-based Rock and Ground types by now, but that doesn’t mean that Mamoswine isn’t a very dangerous force with a STAB combination that threatens many top-tier foes (including several on this list). Now that Scizor and Technician Bullet Punch are out of the way, we shouldn’t be surprised to see Mamoswine rise up from UU as an anti-meta dark horse and premier priority killer.

Mamoswine’s ability to smash a wide variety of types with a high 130 base Attack means it’s almost a dead cert that the Twin Tusk Pokémon will see plenty of competitive play; no matter which Pokemon come to dominate the metagame, it’s highly likely that some combination of Earthquake, Icicle Crash and Superpower will make them cry (it’s worth noting that these moves also provide great coverage against both Toxapex and Ferrothorn, which you can bet your Budew will be a very popular defensive core)! It can also pick off powerful setup sweepers such as Flygon with the game’s most potent Ice Shard. A good HP stat means Mamoswine isn’t a complete glass cannon, though an astounding number of weaknesses means it will often be performing hit-and-run duties rather than attempting to sweep by itself.

It’s often overlooked, but Mamoswine even has a way of circumventing bulky Water types that would often check or counter it. Though it comes from a decidedly mediocre base 70 Special Attack, Freeze Dry is still a STAB move that hits for super-effective damage against some species that only take neutral damage from Mamoswine’s other attacks, such as Pelipper.

Gengar

It might be obvious to many that the OG Ghost will continue to terrify teams in Galar, but it’s worth bearing in mind that the loss of Levitate in Gen 7 robbed Gengar of a vital immunity and rendered it vulnerable to Spikes, ultimately seeing it drop to UU in Gen 7. This still hasn’t changed, and Galar contains a wealth of viable Ghosts to choose from along with a host of relevant Dark types, so what merits Gengar’s inclusion on this list? Nasty Plot.

Gengar’s high Speed and fantastic Special Attack have always enabled it to take out weakened opponents with ease, but it is often reliant on prior damage or super-effective coverage to rack up wins; Sludge Wave is decently powerful but resisted by many Pokémon, and Shadow Ball’s great neutral coverage is undermined by a measly 80 base power. Nasty Plot changes all this, giving Gengar the means to break through healthier targets. It won’t lack for opportunities to set up, either; the Shadow Pokémon still possesses some very relevant resistances and is an adept user of disruptive moves such as Disable and Will-O-Wisp, giving it space to set up a Substitute and begin to sweep away. A resurgent Gengar could well be another factor behind Tyranitar’s potential omnipresence!

A single notable caveat is that Gen 8 has brought with it some very fast and very powerful new entrants. New foes with base Speed stats over 110 means that for Gengar, Modesty is not so much a virtue as Timidity – it simply cannot risk being outsped by such threats.

Dishonorable mention: Blastoise

Get outta’ here!

This one needs to be addressed because it’s going to be very popular, despite likely being mediocre – Blastoise now has access to Shell Smash. Non-Mega Blastoise has struggled for years to gain differentiation beyond being a bulky spinner with the ability to phase. Now, with one of the game’s most powerful high-risk-high-reward setup moves at its disposal, you can bet many fans will be desperately attempting to make offensive sets work, with some combination of both Hydro Pump and Ice Beam and a third attacking slot filled by Earthquake, Aura Sphere or another form of coverage.

Unfortunately, 85 base Special Attack is extremely average, even when doubled. Blastoise is simply going to be unable to break through many dedicated special walls (especially fellow bulky Water-types, which it will struggle to hit super-effectively). Life Orb is almost certainly an absolute prerequisite on such a set, and recoil, reduced defenses and full vulnerability to entry hazards means a Blastoise that isn’t knocking out a Pokémon with every attack is going to go down very quickly indeed. Seriously, just use Cloyster – it might not have much higher offensive stats, but dual STAB and access to the incredible Skill Link Icicle Spear make it a far superior choice.

Dear readers and angry Blastoise fans, do you agree? Do any of the Pokémon above feature on your planned competitive teams? Take them for a spin and give us plenty of kudos if we’re right, and barrack us if we’re wrong! You can do so via the Discord server!

  1. Y’all really did this without so much as mentioning any of the new mons huh?
    Also, nasty plot hydreigon

  2. Team update 8 badges!
    Dreepy finally evolved!!!!!
    Newt the Intelleon
    Azarath the corviknight
    Nova the centiskortch
    Jubilee the Toxtricity
    Rumpel the Grimmsnarl
    Drakloak(May need help with nickname. Was thinking possibly saphira. Any other suggestions?)
    All of them are level 51

  3. i was kinda hoping to see some new mons on this list? but good to know who to keep an eye out for 🙂

  4. Just caught a Gigantamax Corviknight with it’s hidden ability Mirror Armor. Makes up for all the bad luck I’ve had tonight

  5. I only have 4 badges but man am I loving this game. It’s just pure fun. Was kind of hoping this article would review some of the new Pokemon as I’m not quite familiar with all their potential yet.

  6. I just can’t find Applin 🙁 – does anyone have a spare? I got Sword so can provide you with an exclusive? (or whatever I’m capable of getting haha)

  7. Anyone can trade me either the fish fossils or the “Vish” Pokemon? I can give you a Darumaka, Deino or Jango-o for each.

  8. What about Mimikyu? In 3 vs 3 matches is a complete beastm I have been decimating the Battle Tower with the Rental Mimikyu.

  9. So, Eternatus’ signature move is Dynamax Cannon, a Cannon, which means the meme was right, the third Legendary was the Gun legendary.

  10. All these Pokemon listed in the article are trumped by the ultimate King of Dynamax: Snorlax. Belly Drum and then Dynamax, and Snorlax Is an unstoppable killing machine (until dynamax ends)

  11. I hate the IV checker and the whole IV breeding and EV training is gonna be a bitch again
    Text is just so informal opposed to USUM pentagon I just hate it, also I need a 6IV ditto asap which is next to impossible without cheating and without the bean isles you can’t just send The Pokémon for the day and have them ready

    It’s just gonna be a whole lot of work again

    1. Pokejob Seminars serve the same function as the Lise Aphun EV training regimes. They also are affected by Power items and Pokerus.

  12. Okay I might be stupid but is there any visual indicating specifically if you have 252 Ivs in a stat like there was in gen 7? Like it sparkles when full in SuMo

  13. About to get Zacian, but have to stop cause I’m in class now :/
    But I still can share my team

    Chameleo the Intelleon lvl.59
    Sizzle the Centiscorch lvl.59
    Macintosh the Flapple lvl.60
    Punkster the Toxtricity lvl.58
    Hamill the Grimsnarl lvl.58
    Boppo the Grapploct lvl.57

  14. Why is the switch so unnecessarily complicated? We just found out the online membership only applies to one profile and not the console. My partner was trying to do some online things, and it didn’t work. It’s ridiculous that you have to buy multiple memberships on one switch.

  15. Is it me or are Dusk Balls better for Max Raids than Ultra Balls (as long as you do them at night)? I have had about 5 pokemon bust out of the Ultra ones, but I since I started using the Dusk Balls nothing has broken free.

  16. It was snowing in my wild area yesterday yet I had NO RAIDS but every den was glowing red. Is there like a time thing when raids dont appear?

    1. They replenish with time. If you have a Wishing piece tho, you can activate the Nests for a Max Raid. You can get at least one wishing piece a day by doing the Championship Cup.

  17. There’s a new thing about Square sparkle and Star sparkle shiny ‘mon but I really don’t think I care. If I’m getting a shiny it’s more for the colour difference. They change the sparkle animation so much anyway. And I am not gonna go through whatever hell it is to get a specific sparkle. Also my one capture so far seems to have both.

  18. Court change is an interesting variation on defoging or rapid spinning. Might give Heavy Duty Boots Cinderace a nice niche in competitive.

  19. F*ck GF for making two different kinds of Poulteageist

    Like it took a half hour to find a Sinistea and I can’t evolve it cause the only thing npc’s will give me are cracked pots when mine requires chipped

    1. It’s a nice Easter egg though, and it’s cute seeing Polteageist with the little stamp on the bottom.

  20. My writing is coming together idea wise, but one big issue. I’ve decided that characters will have Monotype teams, but we all know that multiple types are more popular and some are less popular.

    Any ideas for promoting diversity without forcing unwanted types?

  21. I love how Raihan has his Rotom Phone floating around in his battle animations and how he poses for it when throwing the pokeball for Dynamax.

  22. Sorry monkeyfuzz, I hope this isnt a mistake, but I saw that thing decimate our team with waterspout last time and I think these shields need to go asap

  23. What are everyone’s team and trainer cards currently?!

    Jeff’s Shield Team:
    Drizzile
    Corvisquire
    Thievul
    Yamper
    Dottler
    Zigzagoon
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b63ad4b85f84aa65f20ce66695ba38517605a8dd6c71780afe34f75c3a9e8be6.jpg
    Currently just received his first badge and gearing up to carry on to the next phase of his adventure.

    Aurora’s Sword Team:
    Raboot
    Eldegoss
    Chewtle
    Wooloo
    Magikarp (to evolve)
    Dottler https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/38abfa8d8e718464be53f985ea39a4c9e6ba986b9e019f76bfd7cdac94f817bf.jpg
    About to go take on Milo to earn her first gym badge.

  24. Jeeze that may have been the most brutal raid battle I’ve done so far. Thanks Monkeyfuzz!

    For a second there I thought Boltund was going to ko itself with recoil

  25. With the recent reveal of SwSh Spirits coming to Smash on the 21st, it may seem we’re not getting a new Pokemon rep as DLC. I don’t think this disqualifies them entirely (Though there’s still not any Three Houses or Astral Chain Spirits), but it seems a bit weird that they’d release some now if they have a Pokemon rep in mind. But like I said before, I don’t think this means no Gen 8 rep. If we do get a Gen 8 Mon, I could see it being Cinderace considering that seems to be the Starter they’re pushing the most considering Go has Scorbunny. If not them, then maybe Inteleon or maybe even Obstagoon. Hell, maybe we’ll a Mon from a previous Gen to switch things up. What do you guys think?

    1. I think it only totally rules out the Pokemon they introduced as spirits, but it is super weird Sword and Shield got spirits when Three Houses and Astral didn’t

  26. Hhhh.
    Max Raid battles are so… awful.
    There’s absolutely no way for the player’s own choice or “strategy” to matter when there are anywhere from four to seven other choices being made at complete random by the AI on both sides.

    The fact that the boss can clear literally any status, stat reductions, stat boosts and Abilities it wants, all in one move, without even taking up its actual actions for the turn completely removes any pretense of “strategy” or “challenge” – the only thing the feature allows you to do is “attack for as much damage as possible.”
    In theory, you could theoretically try using something like Life Dew to heal your partners instead, but in practice, against strong enough bosses, Life Dew just doesn’t heal enough to help you stall even a single extra turn – it’s not even a viable strategy! And that’s not to mention that I can do enough damage to trigger the barrier in a single hit, so nothing is as productive as just doing that and then having everyone attack directly until the barrier goes back down.
    And then as if to emphasize this, the barrier itself straight-up blocks everything except direct damage (couldn’t it be like Disguise at least, making things with side effects interesting to use? making anything but damage play a role would make the feature immediately more interesting than it is now, but of course not), so you can’t even try to benefit temporarily from status or stat drops if you wanted.

    But aside from the complete lack of strategy, diverse options and incorporation of player input…
    The boss itself doesn’t even have AI.
    In the mandatory raids that were part of the postgame “story” (and by the way, these were still not at all challenging and not at all fun for the reasons I’ve described, but they were at least tolerable purely because you didn’t have all of the awful AI partners and could take the last three solo), the Stow-on-Side Dusknoir wasted three moves whittling down my Cramorant with Max Phantasm, Shadow Punch and Ice Punch before abruptly revealing that it had Thunder Punch all along only after I was in range of a KO from any of its four moves. And then the Circhester Froslass just straight-up used Psychic on my Dark-type.
    And I know this isn’t even just a “nerf” just to make the mandatory ones easier, because I’ve been hunting Gigantamaxes and this Butterfree has repeatedly used Giga Drain on the partner Hawlucha and Dhelmise despite having Flying STAB and having no qualms with using it other times.
    The fact that the AI partners regularly make awful decisions (like using Feather Dance… on a special attacker… when the barrier was already up at the start of the turn and it was impossible for it to take effect) is one thing. I absolutely hate that this was how they decided to push multiplayer on us, but I at least understand the idea – there’s at least a passable, half-formed thought process to follow.
    But the fact that the boss itself is completely random is downright insulting. Is this seriously the only way Game Freak could find to make them “suspenseful?” Not to mention that they repeatedly called these “challenging” – what the heck were they talking about?

    Everything about this is frustrating, fun-sucking and RNG-based.
    And this isn’t what it means to have a “challenging” battle.
    I hate this mechanic more than I hate anything else in this game.
    (And it’s our entire postgame!)

    I’m glad everyone else seems to be having fun with Sword and Shield, but it’s been a mess for me since I started playing, and I think I’m just going to stick with Gen VII instead of giving this game any more of my time. I’ve basically 100%ed all of the (finite) content anyway – it’s just the Pokédex, the Battle Tower and catching this last Gigantamax, and I don’t honestly have any motivation to pursue any of those at this point.
    I’ve considered writing a bigger post about my opinions on the actual campaign, if only because I disagree with most of the other people I’ve seen criticizing the game – I think a lot of people seem to be focusing on issues that really aren’t worth it, while there are a lot of problems I did find significant, and I haven’t seen anyone do them justice… But honestly, I’d rather just detach myself from it entirely.
    I don’t really want to come off as trying to convince everyone else not to like it – most of you are happy right now, and I’d rather you stayed that way!
    So, uh… yeah, this is probably the only ramble I’m gonna make, unless anyone is actively interested and asks me to talk about it.
    This one was necessary, though.
    This one was very necessary.

    1. Consider using the friends list. But yeah offline the implementation is awful.

      It is strategic tho

  27. I finally caught an Eiscue this morning after a grueling hour-long search! I’m interested in breeding it and trading in exchange for a Stonjourner if anyone was lucky enough to find one. Let me know if you have one on hand.

  28. I managed to snag a 4IV Ditto
    But i feel very hallow without all my tools

    Back in USUM i was on top of everything, i had all the breeding tools, every item at my disposal and was cranking out perfect competitive pokemon by the day but now i feel like a lvl 1 Crook having to rebuild his empire from the ground up

  29. Can you breed a ditto to make more ditto? I wonder how feasible it would be to pass IVs down to baby ditto.

  30. So, writing has been a massive struggle trying to reduce Pokemon overlap. Not just for individual species, but for over representation of certain types and regions.

    Sorry to be a bit annoying, but could anyone interested put down their absolute favourite Pokemon and then what town/region they’d want their character to be from? I’d prefer if people chose the regions closest to their irl nations but that’s just personal taste and I don’t mind you going with whatever resonates with you best.

    What I’m thinking is that two of your Pokemon are restricted to your region’s regional dex (the latest incarnation, and non-Galarian Cross-Gens will count for any dex their prevos are in too) whereas a third is of any region of your choice. I’d like to hear some feedback about that.

    By ‘regional dex’, it’s as simple as ‘in that region’s dex’ and not ‘introduced in that Gen’. So, if you’re Galarian and want a Ninetales, Copperajah, and a Crobat, Ninetales and Copperajah count as your two Galar choices and Crobat is your foreign choice. Galarian and Alolan forms of Pokemon count as Galarian and Alolan choices respectively.

    1. Also, all three choices can be from your home region. If you do that for a region that isn’t Galar (mostly to reduce Galarswelling), then you might get a special treat uwu

    2. Anville Town, Unova (It’s close enough to a suburb in PA I guess and I already love it there)

      Reuniclus, Heracross and Flygon (Due to BW2, but if you’d prefer BW replace them with Darmanitan and Samurott)

  31. What is this new, rare, wierdest shiny thing? Apparently there is a very rare chance of getting a different kind of shiny?

  32. If I could have about 5 minutes of your time, here are the cover art and first 3 pages of my comic book, Clash Avenue – Book 1: The Iron Dragons

    https://gikie.artstation.com/

    Thank you all for the support! I’m, hopefully, going to squeeze out 2 more pages this weekend, but with Thanksgiving closing in, I can’t make any promises.

  33. So there is gonna be a massive protest in my country due to the government’s incompetence and general unpopularity, it’s gonna be so massive that the city is getting militarized and both work and my classes have been suspended….. Which can only mean….

    Dynamax Raids the whole day!

    Add me
    SW -4010-0460-1076

  34. Morpeko deadass has one of the best movepools in the game until you realize its missing the moves it needs most

  35. I’ve just discovered that G-Max Copperajah’s G-Max move sets up a steel variant of Stealth Rock.

    Which means that certain pokemon can be KO’d from full health just by entry hazards.

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