The developers behind Pokemon Sword and Shield have been making an active effort to keep the game’s ranked matchmaking experience feeling fresh, but they’re entering a whole new frontier for series eight.
In a bold break from ranked matchmaking traditions, series eight will be opening the door to many previously banned legendaries. Players will be able to include one 680 or 690-base stat legendary on their team, meaning Pokemon like Mewtwo, Lugia, Reshiram, and Calyrex will be available to players. The full list of now-legal Pokemon includes:
That said, players are only allowed to have one of these Pokemon on their team, precluding them from bringing a full lineup of previously banned Pokemon into battle. The traditional 570 to 600 base stat legendaries and Ultra Beasts that have been allowed in ranked matchmaking such as Zapdos, Heatran, and Pheromosa are not limited in this way.
Despite adding legendaries, mythical Pokemon such as Mew, Jirachi, and Melmetal all remain completely banned from the game.
The addition of legendary Pokemon to the competitive matchmaking pool is sure to be exciting and interesting. Though legendaries were previously allowed in VGC events, the ranked matchmaking pool has historically banned them completely.
The ability to battle with these Pokemon is certainly intriguing, and the rule allowing just one will add an interesting strategic element to drafts as players weigh the pros and cons of utilizing a Pokemon that the opponent likely knows is coming. The new series starts today, so players ought to get started on finalizing their new lineups.
From a purely statistical perspective, the best legendary Pokemon are the crowned versions of Zacian and Zamazenta. While the regular versions of these two Pokemon have 670 base stats, a tad below the likes of Mewtwo and Giratina, the empowered versions of the two cover Pokemon of Sword and Shield have 720 base stats, a marked improvement over the competition that complements their strong typing and attack stats.
The next strongest is Complete Forme Zygarde. While 50% Zygarde normally has 600 base stats, the Complete Forme that comes out once it drops below half health has 708 base stats.
Just behind Complete Forme Zygarde are the Black and White versions of Kyurem. Both Black Kyurem and White Kyurem have 700 base stats, an improvement from the 660 base stats Kyurem normally has.
That said, the most powerful version of any Pokemon from any mainline game is the Eternamax version of Eternatus. Eternatus is one of the few true boss fights against a Pokemon rather than a trainer, and the legendary’s base stats clock in at 1,125. Trainers can’t use this version of the Pokemon without hacks, but they can enjoy its above-average 690 base stats while in its normal form.