With every new generation of Pokemon come new changes, and Sword and Shield certainly had its fair share of them. In addition to a plethora of new Pokemon to catch and train, the changes in the new generation has improved some previously forgotten Pokemon and brought them into the competitive spotlight.
In this article I’ll go over five Pokemon that went from zero to hero in the latest installment of the monster battling series. This will be focused on improved Pokemon in the official VGC doubles format.
I doubt anyone would be surprised to hear that Butterfree saw almost no competitive play in prior generations. Yet despite it’s underwhelming battle prowess, this bug type has been a fan favorite since the very beginning of the series. This changed in Sword and Shield – now in addition to stealing our hearts, Butterfree has been stealing wins as well.
Butterfree received a Gigantamax form with the move Gmax Bufuddle. This move will give both opponents one of three status conditions: sleep, paralysis, or poison. In addition, the introduction of the Dynamax mechanic made the sleep status condition more valuable. Being able to waste your opponents precious few Dynamax turns quickly shifts the tides of battle. There are few better Pokemon for spreading sleep than Butterfree. Its ability Compound Eyes turns the normally inaccurate Sleep Power into an almost-guaranteed hit.
This butterfly has a few other tricks up its sleeve as well. It can support its allies by redirecting attacks away from them with Rage Powder, or healing them with Pollen Puff. Butterfree was even seen on the team of Simone Lim who used it to win the 2020 Oceania Championship Junior Division.
Who’s that Pokemon? I mean really, who is it? Durant had been largely forgotten since its debut in the Black and White games. It is fast and has a good attack stat, but if you want to use a bug and steel type Pokemon, why not just use Scizor? Well, not only is there no Scizor in this game, but Durant benefits quite a bit from Dynamaxing. Durant has the ability Hustle. This gives a sizable increase in attack, but at the cost of lowered accuracy. The risk versus reward of this ability was generally considered too great, until now.
When a Pokemon Dynamaxes, their moves gain perfect accuracy. This means a Dynamaxed Durant gets all the benefits and none of the downsides of Hustle. It may still be very vulnerable to any fire move, but anyone not prepared for this little ant will soon find their team quickly cut down.
Anyone remember this smoke-billowing fire turtle from Pokemon Sapphire and Ruby? Well it’s back and ready to make a name for itself. In the last generation of Pokemon, Torkoal was blessed with the ability Drought, which allows it to automatically set up sunny weather when it enters the field. Unfortunately, it lived in the shadow of Mega Charizard Y who also had Drought and was ridiculously powerful to boot.
Now that megas are no longer around, Torkoal has its moment in the sunlight. Sunny weather increases the damage of Fire type attacks while also lowering the damage of Water type attacks. Torkoal may have underwhelming offensive stats, but it does get Eruption, the most powerful Fire type attack in the game. Combine this with the sunny weather, and Torkoal becomes a powerhouse that can clear the field of opponents in one turn.
Here is another popular Pokemon from the original games. Lapras has had a few moments in the spotlight thanks to how incredibly difficult it can be to kill. Unfortunately, Water type is the most popular type in the game. This means Lapras had a lot of competition for a spot on a team.
However, in Sword and Shield this fan favorite earns a spot among the most improved Pokemon thanks to its Gigantamax form. A Gigantamax Lapras has the move Gmax Resonance. This will reduce damage dealt to Lapras’s team for 5 turns. You thought Lapras was hard to kill before? Well now with Gigantamax it can double its health in addition to this damage reduction.
A lot of Lapras even opt to wield a Weakness Policy. This item greatly increased Lapras’s offensive power if hit with a super effective move. Now not only is it taking barely any damage from super effective attacks, it actually gets a boost against opponents that try.
The award for most improved Pokemon in Sword and Shield has to go to Togekiss. This Pokemon was barely seen at all in past tournaments. However, according to the Pokemon statistics site Pikalytics, Togekiss is currently used on over 40% of teams competing in tournaments. How did this flying fairy raise to the top so quickly? Well, Togekiss probably benefited the most from the controversial dex cut. There are simply less Pokemon that can do the many things Togekiss can do.
It can take a lot of hits and it can hit back hard. It can be geared toward dealing damage or supporting its team. Togekiss may be the most popular Pokemon at the moment, but when you see a Togekiss on the opponent’s team you can never quite be sure what it’s up to. The one constant on a Togekiss is the move Follow Me. This allows it to take a hit for its teammate. Togekiss is so bulky that it can usually take these hits with plenty of life to spare.
You may not know what you’re in for with Togekiss, but we do know one thing – your opponent probably has one.
That’s our list for most improved Pokemon in Sword and Shield. If you’re thinking about getting into competitive Pokemon yourself, be sure to check out our guides. We even have on on Togekiss to help you jump right into the action.