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 kicks 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 kicks off at 20:00 PST, January 31 (23:00 EST, 04:00 GMT, February 1).
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.
Pokémon Ranked Battles Series in #PokemonSwordShield is only a few days away from getting started!
— Play Pokémon (@playpokemon) October 28, 2020
Ranked single battles are also available with a separate ranked ladder for you to climb. However, double battles are the main competitive format.
Series 6 banned 16 extremely strong Pokémon for being too popular and dominant in the competitive meta, but the likes of Tyranitar, Incineroar, and Togekiss returned in Series 7 and will stay for Series 8.
Along with these powerful Pokémon, a whole host of legendaries will be eligible for Ranked Series 8.
Pokémon you bring into battle must have been acquired from the Galar region in Pokémon Sword or Shield, or Pokémon from previous games that you’ve transferred in via Pokémon HOME 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 but a few Pokémon from the main Galar region Pokédex from Sword and Shield, plus the Pokédexes from the two DLC expansions Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra, are fair game.
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 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, Dragapult, and Venusaur.
Rillaboom continued to be a thorn in every player’s side in Series 7, and we expect that to continue into Series 8. The addition of Groudon will hurt it, but its natural bulk combined with Grassy Terrain will help it survive even super-effective hits.
Speaking of which, the newly available legendary Pokémon will see a lot of play, especially early in the series. While it would be fun to see Zacian and Calyrex fight it out on the ranked ladder, it’s more likely that we’ll see Xerneas sweep entire teams after setting up a Geomancy. Beware of combinations with Follow Me Pokémon like Whimsicott or Ally Switch shenanigans from the likes of Dusclops.
Garchomp, Landorus, Crobat, and more feature in our rundown of The Crown Tundra’s best Pokémon, so you can read up on them in that guide. Now that all legendaries are allowed in Series 8, check it out for some hot Xerneas tips.
Elsewhere, the likes of Dracozolt, Urshifu, and Gigantamax Lapras are all established threats which will continue to be dangerous in Series 8.
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!