Pokémon Sword and Shield Ranked Battle Series 10 rules have been announced, and players have only a month to prepare. With the removal of Dynamax and the reintroduction of restricted legendary Pokémon, Video Game Championship players are stranded in unfamiliar waters. Given its novel nature, Pokémon Series 10 predictions will form the basis of early team crafting.
Many of the Pokémon who dominated Series 8, including Groudon, Kyogre and Calyrex, will be returning to the meta. Meanwhile, strategies that rely on Dynamax or Gigantamax will see a drop in usage. Among these are pokémon like Coalossal and Dracozolt, who rely on Dynamax to boost their defense and accuracy respectively.
It goes without saying that these are predictions and do not guarantee changes to the metagame. The Pokémon Sword and Shield meta can be wild and unpredictable, which is exactly what makes competitive Pokémon so exciting. Unfortunately, it also makes it difficult to prepare for the upcoming Series on short notice. This guide is meant to help you in your early team building in order to assess upcoming threats and prepare for drastic shifts in strategy. Here are my Pokémon Series 10 predictions!
Predicting the Series 10 Metagame
Undoubtedly, we are moving towards a bulk-oriented metagame. The current hyper-offense trends are very closely linked to Dynamax, which allows frail Pokémon like Pheromosa and Dragapault to tank a few extra hits. With the mechanic gone, however, glass cannon archetypes will have a hard time finding a foothold. No doubt glass cannon sweepers will remain part of the metagame, but they are likely to take a back seat in Series 10. Unfamiliar metagames also inspire safe team building, which means that the early Series 10 teams will likely be more defensive than their mid-season counterparts.
Despite the fact that bulky Pokémon and stall strategies are likely to be on the rise, there will still be an overwhelming amount of offense in Series 10. With the return of restricted legendary Pokémon, you can expect every team to use one of the 24 available. Premier choices to fill this spot are Shadow Rider Calyrex, Xerneas, Groudon and Kyogre. Other legendary Pokémon like Dialga and Yveltal, however, are likely to find themselves on the outskirts.
Centralizing Pokémon: Urshifu and Zacian
Urshifu is a powerful Pokémon and has been a staple in every Ranked Battle Series since its introduction. Both Rapid Strike Urshifu and Single Strike Urshifu are top choices, although Rapid Strike Urshifu is likely to be more common in Series 10. Its multi-hit Surging Strike attack allows Rapid Strike Urshifu to break through Substitute without sacrificing damage.
Both forms of Urshifu have a unique ability; Unseen Fist. This allows Urshifu’s contact moves to hit through protecting moves like Detect, Protect and King’s Shield. In previous seasons, a Dynamax Pokémon’s Max Guard has been a useful answer. In a metagame without Max Guard, however, Urshifu is likely to be an extremely centralizing Pokémon.
Although not as strong as Urshifu, Zacian is also likely to be formative to the new meta. Its signature move, Behemoth Blade, doubles in power against Dynamaxed opponents. That might sound like a nerf, but the doubled power simply cancels out the defensive boosts of the Dynamax. Zacian’s Intrepid Sword ability boosts its attack as soon as it enters the fray, further raising its legendary stats. Since Zacian lacks the ability to Dynamax, it’s at a huge advantage in Series 10. Zacian has always been a meta-forming Pokémon, but with Dynamax off the field, it will be stronger than ever before.
Although Zacian looks quite strong for Season 10, it is the lesser of two evils. Zacian is very vulnerable to Incineroar, whose Intimidate ability cancels out Zacian’s Intrepid Sword. Incineroar also has access to Parting Shot, which allows it to further cripple Zacian. Zacian is also less than keen about facing Groudon and its sun team allies due to its Fairy/Steel typing. Urshifu, on the other hand, has fewer weaknesses to cancel out its strength. For that reason, most teams will benefit from 1 of the 2 Urshifu forms.
Restricted Legendaries Return: Calyrex, Xerneas, Groudon and Kyogre
Although not quite as centralizing as Urshifu and Zacian, there are other restricted legendary Pokémon who are likely to take center stage in Series 10. Among them are the two fused Calyrex forms; Ice Rider and Shadow Rider.
These Pokémon hit like trucks, with Ice Rider Calyrex working best under Trick Room and Shadow Rider Calyrex fitting a more standard sweeper archetype. Shadow Rider and Ice Rider Calyrex were both important to the Series 8 metagame and are likely to see a resurgence in Series 10. Shadow Rider Calyrex, in particular, has a very strong multi-hit STAB that could be difficult to contend with.
Xerneas was an underwhelming choice in Series 8. It relies on the Power Herb + Geomancy combination to gain +2 to its Sp. Atk, Sp. Def and Speed. In Series 8, Dynamaxed Pokémon had no issue shrugging off Xerneas’ damage and hitting back hard. In the Season 10 meta, however, there is no Dynamax to worry about. This strategy is likely to return in full force.
Lastly, Groudon and Kyogre. These two giants use the same base strategy but come in different flavors. They set up the sun or rain, proccing the weather-related abilities of their teammates and reducing the power of moves that would hit them super effectively. Whether teams have always had a place in the meta, and Groudon and Kyogre are the best setters around. Pokémon like Barraskewda, Charizard, Kartana, Tornadus and Venosaur are likely to be among their teammates.
Other Top-Tier Picks: Incineroar, Thundurus, Rillaboom and Regieleki
In a meta without Dynamax, everything we’ve known since the release of Pokémon Sword and Shield has been turned on its head. Support Pokémon, bulky Pokémon and Pokémon with pivot and speed control will all be central to the Series 10 meta.
Incineroar and Rillaboom both have access to the move Fake Out and to powerful damage reduction abilities. Respectively, Intimidate and Grassy Surge. Intimidate reduces the attack of enemy Pokémon on the field, while Grassy Surge sets up healing Grassy Terrain and weakens the move Earthquake.
Both Pokémon have been popular since the introduction of their hidden abilities, making them staples of every Series since. In addition, both of these Pokémon get access to pivot moves. These come in the form of Parting Shot and U-Turn, which allow them to switch out with an added effect. All of these things make them powerful leads with the toolset to weaken opposing physical attackers.
Thundurus found a niche to occupy in several Sword and Shield competitive metas, using the Defiant ability to punish opposing intimidate users and Dynamax Pokémon. In Series 10, however, Thundurus is likely to return to using the Prankster ability. Thundurus has powerful speed control with priority Thunder Wave and can still hit hard in the rain. Regieleki fills a similar niche, using the move Electroweb to drop opponents’ speed and force chip damage. Be aware, however, that this Electric-type move will be useless on Ground-types like Groudon and Landorus.
Returning Moves: Tailwind, Fake Out, Weight-Based Moves
With the removal of Dynamax from the Series 10 meta, Pokémon on the field won’t be able to avoid flinches as easily as before. Dynamax Pokémon cannot flinch, which prevented moves like Fake Out from reaching the popularity they once had. Fake Out has a +3 priority, meaning it usually goes before other moves. It’s guaranteed to flinch the foe, but it does have a steep downside. Fake Out can only be used on the first turn a Pokémon is on the field. Rillaboom, Incineroar, Urshifu and Gothetelle are likely to carry the move in Series 10.
In a similar camp, moves that deal damage based on the opponent’s weight would fail when used on a Dynamax Pokémon. For this reason, Heat Crash, Grass Knot, Heavy Slam and Low Kick haven’t seen much usage in Sword and Shield. Pokémon like Celesteela, Whimsicott and Galarian Zapdos may choose one or more of these moves to help deal damage to incoming restricted legendary Pokémon.
Lastly, Tailwind. This move doubles the Speed of all Pokémon on the ally’s side of the field for 4 turns. Tailwind has seen reduced usage the past few Series, thanks to Max Airstream. The Max move could be used by any Pokémon with a Flying-type attack and raised the speed of the user and their ally. Unfortunately, this move is unique to Dynamax Pokémon. Because Max Airstream is no longer an option, we are likely to see Pokémon like Tornadus and Whimsicott use Tailwind as an alternative form of speed control.
Series 10 Upcoming Cores
Cores are combinations of 2-3 Pokémon that form the backbone of a specific strategy. Pokémon that are part of a team’s core are often thrown into combat or left on the sidelines as a team. It can be difficult for one Pokémon to execute its strategy alone, and in some cases, even impossible. For that reason, cores are the basis of most team building in competitive Pokémon.
In Series 10, we’ll be seeing a lot of cores return from Series 8. You can expect each team’s restricted legendary Pokémon to be part of their Series 10 cores, as these Pokémon are central to the entire team. There will be exceptions, but they will be few and far between.
Calyrex Shadow Rider + Indeedee/Tapu Lele
Calyrex Shadow Rider, or Calyrex-S, is a very intimidating Pokémon. It is immune to Fake Out, boasts two abilities and doesn’t mind Intimidate. It gets access to Expanding Force and Astral Barrage; both STAB moves capable of hitting all Pokémon on the opposing side of the field. To get the best use from Calyrex-S, you’ll want to pair it with a Psychic Terrain setter. This protects Calyrex-S from 4X super effective priority moves and allows it to get the most use from Expanding Force.
Female Indeedee is the more defensive of the two premier options. It gets access to redirection moves, like Follow Me and Ally Swap. It also learns Fake Out, although, in Psychic Terrain, it will only affect non-grounded opponents. Compare and contrast, Tapu Lele. Tapu Lele is a glass cannon sweeper, using its own Psychic Terrain to punch through walls with ease. Both Pokémon rely on the Psychic Surge ability and set up Psychic Terrain when entering the battlefield. Female Indeedee will probably be the more common of the two, thanks to its strong support nature.
Kyogre + Tornadus Incarnate
Kyogre and Tornadus Incarnate are a core as old as time. Kyogre’s Drizzle ability sets up the rain, boosting water-type attacks. It also enables Tornadus Incarnate’s Hurricane to bypass its 70% accuracy, making it a 120 base power STAB move that cannot miss. Combined with Kyogre’s Origin Pulse, which has 110 base power and hits all opponents, this pairing has some overwhelming special damage. Kyogre also has the option of using the move Water Spout, which does damage based on Kyogre’s remaining HP.
Tornadus Incarnate is able to provide support for Kyogre as well, thanks to its Prankster ability. Granting priority to Tailwind means Kyogre gets to move sooner, while Taunt prevents opponents from using their status moves to maneuver their side of the board. Together, these two Pokémon become a potent weather-based combo likely to resurge in Series 10.
Groudon + Charizard + Venosaur
As the best sun setter in the game, it’s only natural that Groudon would be paired with weather abusers. Both Charizard and Venusaur fill this role exceptionally well. These three Pokémon don’t share any types, share few weaknesses and have many resistances. You’ll also have Ground, Fire and Poison-type moves on deck to handle some of the most common competitive Pokémon types. Three-Pokémon cores can be unstable due to their complexity, but this one has the capacity to deal some real damage.
Charizard’s access to the Solar Power ability allows it to sacrifice 1/8th of its HP per turn in order to power up its Special Attack. Without its Gigantamax, Charizard is almost locked into a glass cannon sweeper archetype. It’s very likely to faint if hit by any strong move, so the HP sacrifice is often worth the damage increase. Charizard’s fire-type attacks are further boosted by the sun, allowing it to execute a powerful Heat Wave that hits all opponents.
Venusaur is generally a slow, bulky Pokémon. It has access to moves like Leech Seed and Sleep Powder, which disrupt enemy Pokémon and can help to force a switch from opposing players. Its Chlorophyll ability also allows it to double its speed in sunlight. Fast, bulky support is very rare in Pokémon, meaning Venusaur can wreak havoc if allowed to run rampant on the field.
Urshifu + Gothitelle
This is probably the most unusual core on this list. This duo functions best not as a pair on the battlefield but as a hit-and-run combo that locks down the opponent’s ability to maneuver. Urshifu, as we’ve already established, is likely to be a very strong Pokémon in Series 10. Its signature ability allows both forms to bypass Protect. This means that opponents are pressured to switch Pokémon out if they dislike the matchup against Urshifu.
Gothetelle is here to prevent that from happening. Its ability Shadow Tag stops opposing Pokémon from switching out as long as Gothetelle remains on the field. Some Pokémon can still escape by using moves like Volt Switch and Parting Shot. Similarly, Ghost-type Pokémon and other Pokémon with the ability Shadow Tag are immune to this holding effect. The goal is to pivot these two Pokémon in and out of combat, holding targets for Urshifu in place and walling out opponents.
Wow, finally a list that’s actually good and truthful! You clearly have a good understanding of the meta, which I find impressive. Awesome work!