Do you have what it takes to take on the world?
Pokémon Sword and Shield have been out for a few months now and pretty much everyone has completed the main story and the Pokédex, but the game still has much more to give. Being on the Nintendo Switch and with access to the Switch Online membership, players can now battle each other out and climb a ranked tier system to see who is the best of them all! The question is: are you ready to partake in Ranked Battles?
Starting an actual Ranked Battle is easy, you open the main menu in the game and click the VS option. There you have to options, Battle Stadium and Live Competition. Battle Stadium is where you can play against other players in either Ranked Single Battles or Double Battles, but Live Competition will have limited time competitive events (Like the Galar Beginnings event that took place in December). Playing ranked battles is difficult because it is here that hardcore Pokémon Trainers battle it out and the game even keeps track of the number of battles you have done, including your win/loss ratio.
Climbing the rank is very similar to climbing the Battle Tower, you start at Rank 1 and the more battles you win, you gain progress points to get to the next rank You even get BP and items as you play Ranked Battles, so just another small incentive to try it out! However, if you lose battles you lose progress and must win the regain the progress lost. As a player, you normally battle against other players of the same rank, so your skill levels are somewhat similar. As you win battles and gain experience, so do the challengers, so winning battles at higher ranks become more difficult.
Getting ready to take on this aspect of the game is actually easy as well. Once you have beaten the main game you gain access to the Battle Tower in Wyndon. There has everything you need to make sure that your Pokémon become the best they can be. First, it is best to get to Rank 4 in the Battle Tower to unlock the Judge Function to see if the stats of your Pokémon are the best they can be. If they are not, you can use Bottle Caps to Hyper Train your Pokemon so that their base stats are maxed out, but you can only Hyper Train Pokemon once they are level 100. These Bottle Caps are obtained through participating in the Battle Tower and can be purchased there for 25 BP. Next, getting your Pokémon to level 100 will not take too much time either because the party should usually be around level 60 when you beat the main game, but players can also get Rare Candies and EXP Candies through Pokémon Raids out in the Wild Area. That being said, competitive Pokémon battles lower all Pokémon participants to level 50 but getting to max level is ideal so that your Pokémon can know the higher level attack moves and be Hyper Trained.
Once all that is settled, assemble your team! You can register six of your Pokémon into a team to battle online. However, you cannot use all of them in one battle. Before the battle begins, you have a short amount of time to look at your opponent’s team and you pick three Pokémon to take on in a Single Battle or four in a Double Battle. So, decide on a team that can cover a wide variety of Pokémon because it is at this time you can choose the right Pokémon for the job. You can pick new Pokémon each battle, but only pick the from the teams you have registered.
Beginning to battle online may at first become disheartening, but like many great things in life, this can be a great learning experience. You can learn new strategies, see interesting combos, and discover the great capabilities of your favorite Pokémon! The first Ranked Season ended December 31st, but the second Ranked Season began January 2nd and will run through January 31st. The season resets once it ends, meaning your rank and win/loss ratio revert to zero and must climb all over again. This is a great way to really test your skills as a Pokémon Trainer, and Sword and Shield have made it very easy to begin playing competitively. It is in the nature of the game to be competitive, and we learn this through the gym challenge, so it is great to continue this competitive nature through ranked battles. I hope that we all as players try out this feature of the game, and I hope to see you all on the field!