5 tips to reach Masterball Tier in Pokemon Sword and Shield

Competitive Pokemon is incredibly fun. However, it can be frustrating to feel that you’re stuck and unable to climb. There’s no need to give up hope, though. Masterball tier is obtainable to anyone. Coming out on top in Pokemon is all about knowledge.

To help you on your quest, here are five tips to help you get reach the highest tier on the Pokemon ladder. Keep in mind that this guide is focused on the online doubles ladder for Sword and Shield.

Use Protect on more Pokemon

Whenever I check out the teams I play against at the beginning of every season, it’s not uncommon to see no Pokemon running Protect. I can certainly understand being hesitant to use Protect. It takes up one of only four moves slots. That’s one less coverage move for the Pokemon. However, the benefits often far outweigh this.

Protect is important for stalling out various things. For example, you could stall out Tailwind, Trick Room, Screens, Dynamax, Weather, or Terrain. Getting these conditions out of the way can often put you in an advantageous situation. It also allows you to scout out what opposing Pokemon are going to do. You can even use it to minimize damage to one of your key Pokemon while a threat is eliminated. The applications for Protect are endless.

In Masterball tier, you will see it all the time. I would suggest you try to have at least half your team equipped with Protect or something equivalent.

Masterball Tier

Have a plan for common threats

When building a team you are going to have to take into account what people are running on ladder. Does your team have an answer for things like Sleep Powder Venusaur, Trick Room Rhyperior, or Gigantamax Lapras? In Pokemon it is not possible to prepare for every situation. This can be particularly frustrating since the ladder is only a best-to-one, leaving considerably less room to adapt to the opponent’s strategies.

However, you can maximize your chances to win by preparing for common threats. Pokemon like the ones mentioned above are strong for a reason, but their popularity is also one of their greatest weaknesses. You can check out the Pokemon statistics site Pikalytics to see what the most common Pokemon are and what sets they usually run, and prepare for them.

Get some form of speed control

Often in Pokemon if you aren’t hitting first then you aren’t hitting at all. Being able to finish off a low health Pokemon before it moves can be crucial to winning. The most common forms of speed control are Tailwind and Trick Room. If you have a Prankster Whimsicott with Tailwind you can often get the jump on the opponent. Do you prefer a slower, bulkier team? Then Trick Room set by something like Dusclops could be just what you’re looking for.

There are a few other good options as well. The speed boost from Max Airstream and the speed cut from Paralysis can go a long way to giving you the edge you need on your journey to Masterball tier.

Masterball Tier

Use a rental team

If you are struggling to climb the ladder, one potential problem could be your team composition. I understand wanting to use a team you built and bred yourself from the ground up. However, team building is a skill developed with experience. Fortunately, Sword and Shield allows players to rent out their teams for anyone to use. Rental teams are also a great starting point for building your own teams.

I recommend going to the rental team page at the Victory Road website. There, you can see rental teams used in tournaments. Try and find one with a team report so you understand each Pokemon’s role. It’s even better if you can find some videos of the team in action as well. 

Understand the damage calculations of your team

Some people joke that competitive Pokemon is all about math, and that is partially true. However, don’t think that Pokemon is just a soul-sucking game of numbers. Knowing how to train your Pokemon so they can survive a hit from Charizard and K.O. it in return is incredibly satisfying.

I use the community build damage calculator from the Pokemon Showdown website. The interface can be a bit intimidating at first, but it shouldn’t take long to get used to. I’ve grown to really enjoy testing out how certain Pokemon match up against others. Need to know how to train your Blastoise to one-shot Incineroar? This is the place to go. Learning to do the calculations for a team can save you a lot of trouble. You won’t have to breed, train, and test out a Pokemon in the game. You can instantly start building up the Pokemon that fits your needs. 

That’s it for our tips on getting into Masterball Tier. Don’t be afraid of a few losses on the ladder. Just learn from them and move onto the next battle. You’ll reach the top before you know it! And be sure to check out some of our other Pokemon guides as well. 

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Will Newhouse

Currently enjoying being the 2nd player on my wife's Animal Crossing island and falling down the Pokemon Battle Tower ranks.
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