There was a lot of excitement surrounding the Series 5 ruleset for online Pokemon Sword and Shield battles. All the new Pokemon from the Isle of Armor expansion would be legal to use online once this ruleset took effect. Even players who didn’t purchase the expansion would have relatively easy access to these Pokemon via raids or online trading communities.
However, players were shocked to see that Virizion, Cobalion, and Terrakion would also be legal to use. This trio of legendary Pokemon, known as the Swords of Justice, is currently unobtainable in Sword and Shield. Players have to catch these Pokemon in the 3DS Pokemon games and then transfer them to the Switch.
This isn’t the first time Game Freak has legalized Pokemon in competitive Sword and Shield play that couldn’t be captured in game. Back in March, the starter Pokemon from Sun and Moon became legal. While these Pokemon aren’t found anywhere in the Galar region, they can be bred. Because of this, it was relatively easy for those with a 3DS to breed and distributed them.
Since the Swords of Justice are legendary Pokemon, they cannot be bred. On top of this, players can only receive one of each per save file. This puts players without a 3DS in a bit of an odd spot. To obtain these Pokemon they would either have to spend hundreds of dollars for the 3DS and the game, or find a friend generous enough to give up their legendary Pokemon.
No raid event for the Swords of Justice
I had held out hope that these Pokemon would become more accessible before the new ruleset took effect. I justified this hope based on how Game Freak had legalized Gigantamax forms in past series. Nearly all the currently legal Gigantamax forms have been obtainable, albeit rare, since the release of Sword and Shield.
However, Game Freak did not allow a Gigantamax form to be allowed in competitive play until that form was made widely available with some kind of event. Given this, surely they wouldn’t legalize the legendary Swords of Justice until they were also widely available right?
Well, Series 5 took effect on July 1, and these Pokemon are still only obtainable via the 3DS games. None of them have been a dominant meta force yet, but they are still a potential teammate that many players simply cannot obtain. There is also concern that other legendaries could be legalized without a way to obtain them in the Galar region.
Hopefully this is just a one-off experiment by Game Freak and not the new norm for legalizing legendary Pokemon in competitive play.