The competitive scene in Pokemon Sword and Shield can feel baffling and unforgiving to newcomers. Whilst you blitzed through the main story with your team, they seem to fall short in online battles. Even when facing a team that seemingly consists of similar pokemon, yours seem to be slower and weaker. Rest assured, this is not a case of bad luck as the game randomly conspires against you. It’s simply a matter of numbers that the base-game avoids teaching due to it being unnecessary to conquer the league. For you see, the meta for online battles is far more complex, relying on numbers you didn’t realise factored into things. However, rest assured that things are not hopeless. With the help of this guide, you will understand how to enter the competitive scene through these accessible methods. Prepare to understand the steps of competitive pokemon breeding in Sword and Shield.
1. How Does Competitive Pokemon Breeding Work in Sword and Shield?
First and foremost, you need to understand how breeding works in the game. Before you learn the ins and outs of competitive pokemon breeding in Sword and Shield, you need the basics. Primarily, you need to locate the two day-care facilities available to you within the game. The buildings are fairly recognisable once they come into view, located on Route 5 and in the Wild Area. You will notice a npc stood outside each day care, and it is they that will offer the centre’s service. Simply speak to the npc and ask to leave two different pokemon at the day care. If they are of opposite genders and can breed together, you will soon return to find an egg. You will know an egg is available for pick up when the npc outside the day care folds their arms.
Talk to the npc once their arms are folded and they will offer you the chance to take the egg from them. Once you accept, add the egg to your party and run around until it hatches into a new-born pokemon. The number of steps is determined by the pokemon; however, there is a means of speeding up the hatching process. If you have a pokemon in your party with the ability flame body, the egg will hatch quicker. An easy choice for a pokemon with this ability is something like Coalossal, Talonflame or Volcarona. Of course, you might be wondering why bother with the hassle of breeding when you could simply catch stronger pokemon? Well to answer that, we now need to dive into the mechanics the base-game neglects to teach you.
2. Individual Values (IVs)
What are IVs?
Unless you have completed the main game, you won’t have access to the easiest means of identifying these stats. But first, to explain what IVs are, they are ratings for how well your pokemon’s stats progress. In other words, they determine whether your Pokemon is actually reaching its full potential in the 6 primary stats. You will likely have already seen these stats listed as:
- Special Attack
- Special Defence.
However, the number you see next to the stat might not be an accurate reflection of the maximum it could be. In order to know this for yourself, you will need access to the IV Checker from the Wyndon Battle Tower. This is a special reward you will receive upon beating Leon there for the first time in the post-game.
Upon defeating Leon, you will be gifted the IV checker, allowing you to view a pokemon’s IVs in your PC. Simply highlight the chosen pokemon in the PC box and press the + button to display its IVs. You will know you are looking at the right thing if you notice words such as “Best” next to the 6 stats. The word next to the stat indicates your pokemon’s current potential in the stat. In increasing order, your pokemon’s IVs can either be:
- No Good
- Pretty Good
- Very Good
As a rule, you should be aiming to have the pokemon obtain an IV rating of “Best”. Obtaining a best rating will allow for its max stat potential, although it will need EV training for higher stats. EVs are another hidden type of stat that is important, but it takes place after the breeding process. EV training should not be overlooked before online battles, and can be explained by series veterans.
Breeding For Better IVs
Competitive pokemon breeding in Sword and Shield is one of the few ways to obtain perfect IVs for your team. While it is possible to fix a Pokemon’s IVs through hyper training at the Battle Tower, this method is quickest. Breeding is also cheaper, as you can get your perfect pokemon without it costing quite so many BP (Battle-Points). If you breed two Pokemon together, the new born will be given randomized IVs. This is not ideal, but it’s not impossible that you could get a very lucky roll. Thankfully, this is not the method you need to rely on, as a more reliable technique awaits. All you need to do is simply pay a visit to Hammerlocke’s Pokemon Centre and buy a Destiny Knot. This will cost you 10 BP from the female npc next to the counter. You can earn those BP battling at the Battle Tower.
The Destiny Knot has a secret function when it comes to competitive pokemon breeding. If one of the parent-pokemon is holding this item when placed in the day care, it passes on IVs. More specifically, it passes down 5 of the parents’ IVs to the offspring. This means 5 randomly selected stats between both parents, not a set 5 from just one. This means you will want the parents to have a good mix of IVs with “Best” ratings. The more “Best” IVs the parents have, the more likely the child will have a full set. However, you may have noticed it transfers 5 IVs, but there are 6 stats. Unfortunately, the final stat is still randomized. If you hatch enough eggs, eventually one is bound to have a complete perfect set. You may have to chain breed, gradually increasing the parents’ stats before you get the perfect pokemon.
3. Natures in Sword and Shield
Another important attribute you pokemon possess is its nature. Although you might have noticed this information in your pokemon’s summary, it is easy to dismiss it as flavour text. The pokemon’s nature is described to be 1 of 25 natures, describing its general behaviour. What you might not have realised is how these natures actually impact your pokemon’s stats. Each nature has a positive effect on one stat whilst negatively impacting another. For example, the “jolly” nature will give a bonus to the speed stat in exchange for a weaker special attack. This can be observed when viewing your pokemon’s stats, as red text implies a bonus whilst blue implies a weakness. As such, understanding what your pokemon would benefit from in advance can help you choose a preferable nature.
The issue you will initially encounter in regard to natures is the fact that they are randomised. You can change them with mints brought rather expensively for 50BP at the Battle Tower. However, competitive pokemon breeding in Sword and Shield can allow for ideal natures very cheaply. Much like with the Destiny Knot, a single item can fix the issue of randomisation. A parent pokemon with the nature you want can transfer it to the child if they hold an Everstone. If the item is equipped before being placed in the day care, their nature is guaranteed to be inherited. As such, careful planning in advance can ensure you have perfect IVs and the right nature in a single offspring. The Everstone can be found on some mossy stones in Turffield, or randomly found by the Wild Area’s Digging Duo.
4. Egg Moves
Breeding For Egg Moves
A significant aspect of competitive pokemon breeding in Sword and Shield is creating pokemon capable of surprising your opponents. As you continue to battle online, you will find more players with in-depth knowledge of each pokemon’s capabilities. This includes being able to predict the potential move pool in your pokemon’s roster. However, you may be able to use this against them by having your pokemon strike with an unexpected move. To do this, you are going to want to seek moves outside the ones your pokemon will naturally learn. The most common means is to use a TM or TR, items that can teach moves to compatible pokemon. On the other hand, these items are limited in what moves that can introduce to your pokemon. To gain some of the most beneficial and unconventional moves for your pokemon, you will need to have them learn egg moves.
Egg moves are attacks and skills that can be transferred between pokemon during the breeding process. Egg moves are not unique moves outside of those you will typically encounter, but they are inheritable. This means a pokemon can be born possessing a move from its parents, including ones outside those it learns naturally. For example, a Snorlax does not learn the move “Curse” as it levels up, despite being a very useful skill. However, if one of the parents has this move, there is a chance the offspring will be born with it. This will usually require the breeding of two different species of pokemon to get these unnatural moves. You cannot just breed two random pokemon, as they still need to belong to the same egg group.
Sword and Shield’s New Egg Move System
However, you might hatch a unique pokemon that lacks the desired egg move, such as shinies or perfect IV newborns. In situations like this, Sword and Shield have become much more accommodating. You can still use the day care to transfer egg moves between two pokemon staying at the nursery. So long as they are the same species, egg moves are now transferred from spending time together. In this case, the gender of the pokemon does not matter, only that they are the same species. Additionally, you will first take the desired pokemon to the “move deleter” in any pokemon centre. You will have this npc cause the pokemon in question to forget a move so that they only know three moves. By clearing up a move space, this allows for the egg move you seek to be transferred.
You may have realised that to use this method, you still need to breed a pokemon with an egg move. The requirement of them being the same species means one will have learnt an unnatural move at birth. This method only serves as a means of correcting a mistake for pokemon that missed out on the egg move. So, for example, your Snorlax is born without the curse move, but it’s a rare shiny. Simply breed another Snorlax that does have the move, then put it in the day care with the shiny. Make sure the shiny has forgotten at least one move to free up a space first. Then return shortly after putting them together to check if the move has transferred.
5. Hidden Abilities
Competitive pokemon breeding in Sword and Shield can give you a decisive edge through the use of hidden abilities. However, this is perhaps one of the most difficult mechanics to take advantage of due to its rarity. First, abilities are unique attributes that pokemon are born with that provide advantages in battle. Although it might sound similar to natures, abilities are dependant on the species of pokemon. Each species typically only has one to two potential abilities it can be born or caught with. Some are more advantageous than others, and can determine which move set it better for your individual pokemon. For example, Corviknight has two potential abilities: “Pressure” and “Unnerve”. There is a random chance that the pokemon will be born with either ability. However, there is an extremely rare hidden ability that this pokemon can possess instead.
Hidden abilities are often extremely beneficial and can turn your pokemon into competitive monsters. The most common means of encountering a pokemon with a hidden ability is to capture one in Max Raid Battles. In the case of Corviknight, its hidden ability is “Mirror Armour”, bouncing back stat lowering effects at the enemy. Once you have caught a pokemon with a hidden ability, you can breed it with a chance of passing on the ability. This is not a guarantee, with roughly only a 60% chance of success. Furthermore, there is currently no means of unlocking a hidden ability for a pokemon born without it. As such, your best chance for a pokemon with all the above-mentioned benefits, and a hidden ability, is breeding.
Going All In
Each method mentioned in this guide serves to give your pokemon a boost to its competitive performance. However, for the best result, you should aim to mix all of the techniques into one. This will take some planning in advance, but it can result in a champion being born. While all except hidden abilities can be corrected after hatching, getting it right prior will save you time and BP. So, grab your Destiny Knot and Everstone, find your natures and egg moves, and head to the day care. And once you’ve trained your new born prodigy, you will notice the difference at once on the competitive stage. Furthermore, with the Crown Tundra DLC right around the corner, soon you will have even more possibilities for your competitive roster.