While the Pokémon universe is present in pretty much every genre of gaming these days (even MOBAs aren’t safe thanks to the upcoming Pokémon Unite) sometimes for the best competitive experience you’ve got to go back to basics: A good old fashioned, no nonsense, Pokémon battle.
Pokémon Sword and Shield gives fans the opportunity to flex their competitive muscles against one another in not only monthly competitive seasons but also in Ranked Series, which have ever changing rulesets for players to compete within.
It’s now time for Ranked Series 8, which kicked off on February 1 and concludes on April 30. Series 7 broadened the pool of competitive Pokémon after Series 6’s restricted meta, and the next series looks to continue in the same vein and add more Pokémon to the mix. The addition of more legendary Pokémon – albeit with restrictions – that you can find in the Crown Tundra DLC means that a bunch more powerful Pokémon both old and new, will shake up the meta.
In this guide, we’re going to briefly go over some of the important rules and restrictions for Ranked Battles newcomers, which Pokémon are eligible for Season 8, and which Pokémon look to define the meta for the next few months.
When is Pokémon Ranked Series 8?
Pokémon ranked Series 8 began on February 1 and ends on April 30.
Pokémon Ranked Series 8 ruleset
For those new to competitive play in main series Pokémon games, you’ll first need to know what the rules and regulations are for Ranked Battles
While the entire 27-page VCG rulebook goes into every possible nook and cranny of competitive play, including what will happen to you if you’re caught cheating, we’ve cherry picked the important rules for Ranked Series 8 that you need to know.
Series 8 continues to be a double battle format, meaning you and your opponent will each start with two Pokémon on the field. You pick a team of six Pokémon, which is then shown to to the other player, and visa versa. You must then select which four Pokémon you want to take into battle with you, based on your opponents lineup of ‘mons.
Ranked Battles Series 8 is coming to #PokemonSwordShield! Starting February 1, Trainers will be able to use one restricted Pokémon when they jump into a Ranked Battle!
— Play Pokémon (@playpokemon) January 26, 2021
Ranked single battles are also available with a separate ranked ladder for you to climb. However, double battles are the main competitive format.
Series 8 will have a format never before seen in competitive Pokémon, with the use of one restricted legendary Pokémon permitted on each team. In previous years, the format has either had two restricted legendaries permitted, or none.
Along with one of these powerful restricted Pokémon, players have access to all Pokémon in the Galar, Isle of Armor, and The Crown Tundra Pokédexes.
Pokémon you bring into battle must have been acquired in Pokémon Sword or Shield, or you can use Pokémon from previous games that you’ve transferred in via Pokémon HOME – but they must have the Battle Ready symbol next to their name (this essentially means that any moves not featured in Sword and Shield have been forgotten).
You can enter eligible Pokémon of any level but all of them are automatically levelled up or down to Lv 50 to make the battle fair.
Like in the main game’s battles, you are allowed only one Dynamax/ Gigantamax per match.
While there are plenty of other rules to uphold competitive integrity, these are the basics you need to know before going in for a Ranked Series battle.
Ranked Series 8 banned Pokémon and eligible Pokémon
For Pokémon Ranked Series 8, players have a massive pool of Pokémon to choose from to form a powerful team. Essentially, all Pokemon apart from mythical Pokemon (e.g Mew) are fair game, but you can only have one restricted legendary in your team at a time.
These are the Ranked Series 8 eligible Pokémon:
- Galar Pokedex: #001-#397
- Isle of Armor Pokedex: #001-#210
- The Crown Tundra Pokedex: #001-#210
- Raikou, Entei, and Suicune
- Hoenn region starters (Swampert, Blaziken, and Sceptile lines)
- Latias and Latios
- Uxie, Mesprit, and Azelf
- Tornadus, Thundurus, and Landorus
- Alola region starters (Incineroar, Primarina, and Decidueye lines)
- Tapu Koko, Tapu Bulu, Tapu Fini, and Tapu Lele
- All Ultrabeasts
- One of the following restricted legendary Pokémon: Mewtwo, Lugia, Ho-Oh, Kyogre, Groudon, Rayquaza, Dialga, Palkia, Giratina, Reshiram, Zekrom, Kyurem, Xerneas, Yveltal, Zygarde, Cosmog, Cosmoem, Solgaleo, Lunala, Necrozma, Zacian, Zamazenta, Eternatus, and Calyrex.
In short, pretty much any Pokémon available in the Generation 8 games, plus a few extras, are eligible for Series 8. Now that Sword and Shield’s main legendaries have entered the game, the only exceptions are some mythical Pokémon.
These are the banned Pokémon for Ranked Series 8:
- The following mythical Pokémon: Mew, Celebi, Jirachi, Victini, Keldeo, Genesect, Diancie, Volcanion, Magearna, Marshadow, Zeraora, Meltan, Melmetal, and Zarude.
Strongest Pokémon in Ranked Series 8
It’s still very early to tell, but there are already a lot of candidates that trainers are hyping up to be Ranked Series 8’s strongest Pokémon.
Series 7 was dominated by new Pokémon introduced in The Crown Tundra DLC, including Regieleki and one of the new legendary horses, Glastrier. We expect these Pokémon to continue to be popular in Series 8. Plus, returning Pokémon such as Garchomp and Landorus will likely continue to be popular choices in ranked play, as will some of the strongest Pokémon banned in Series 6 like Incineroar or Dragapult.
Elsewhere, the likes of Dracozolt, Urshifu, and Gigantamax Lapras are all established threats which will continue to be dangerous in Series 8.
Then, you have the addition of the 24 restricted legendaries – almost all of which will be immensely strong in battle.
From early competitions between pro players, Zacian (in its Crowned form) and Kyogre are the most popular restricted legendary picks so far, but we’ll update this once the meta begins to settle.
Pokémon Ranked Battles tiers
For ranked play in Pokémon Sword and Shield, there are five different tiers that players work their way through. Each tier is reached when you hit a certain level.
These are the tiers for Pokémon ranked play:
- Beginner (Level 1-3)
- Poke Ball (Level 4-6)
- Great Ball (Level 7-9)
- Ultra Ball (Level 10)
- Master Ball (Max level)
Remember, there are separate ranking systems to climb for both single and double battles.
So that’s everything you need to know about Ranked Battles and Ranked Series 8 in Pokémon Sword and Shield. If the meta or rules begin to change throughout the Series, we’ll be sure to update this guide. Happy battling!