Play your Pokemon adventure through Galar right and you’ll go from being an average child in the village of Postwick to the reigning Champion of a region obsessed with its Gym Challenge process.
Before you get there, though, you’ll need to tackle the region’s eight major league Gyms and prove you’re worthy of taking on the undefeated Champion. Each of these Gyms is focused on a certain type, and they’re all helmed by the most powerful trainers in the region. If you’re looking for some tips on how to take down Galar’s Gyms, look no further than this guide.
The first Gym leader faced in Pokemon Sword & Shield is Milo, the leader of the Turffield Gym. Milo is a local farmer who specializes in Grass-types, meaning trainers will want to use Ice-, Fire-, Flying-, Poison-, or Bug-types. Luckily, Grass has a ton of weaknesses. Milo uses a Gossifleur and an Eldegoss, the latter of which he’ll Dynamax when possible.
This early in the game, it might not be common to have any Ice-type moves, but fortunately, the other Grass weaknesses will appear in abundance. Trainers who chose Scorbunny as their Starter are pretty much set, but those who chose Sobble and Grookey can grab a Rookidee (Route 3), Carkol (Galar Mine No. 1), or Blipbug (Route 2) for this easy Gym.
Next up is Nessa, who uses Water-types in the Hulbury Gym. In the first Gym battle against Nessa, she’ll use a Goldeen, an Arrokuda, and a Drednaw, which she’ll Dynamax at the first chance she gets.
All three of Nessa’s Pokemon are weak to Electric-type attacks, so a Yamper, Pikachu, Joltik, or Electrike (Route 4) are all great choices. However, it’s worth noting that her Drednaw is double-weak to Grass-type attacks, so consider something like Pumpkaboo (Route 4) or Gossifleur (Route 3). Her Drednaw is also weak to Ground- and Fighting-type attacks, but her first two Pokemon are not.
Now, it is time to return to the Motostoke Gym where your entry into the Gym Challenge initially brought you. This time, though, you’ll actually be facing off against a Gym Leader — the Fire-type master Kabu. Kabu uses a Ninetales, an Arcanine, and a Centiskorch that he’ll Dynamax when he gets the chance.
All three of Kabu’s Pokemon are weak to Water-type attacks and Rock-type attacks, with his Centiskorch being double-weak to the latter. The Centiskorch also finds itself weak to Flying-types, while Ninetales and Arcanine are weak to Ground.
The next Gym is home to a different set of type specialists depending on which game version you have. Sword players face off against some Fighting-type users before taking on Bea, the Fighting-type Gym leader.
Given that you’ve been to the Wild Area by this point, finding counters for Bea’s Pokemon shouldn’t be too much trouble. She uses a Hitmontop, a Sirfetch’d, a Pangoro, and a Gigantamax Machamp. All four of her Pokemon are weak to Flying- and Fairy-type moves.
Bea’s Pangoro is the only Pokemon on her team that is not weak to Psychic, as well, being immune to it thanks to its Dark-typing. However, Fighting does not resist itself, so her Pangogo will be weak to Fighting-type moves. Additionally, it’s double-weak to Fairy.
If you’re a Shield player, you’ll instead face off against Allister in Stow-on-Side’s Gym. Allister uses Ghost-type Pokemon, including Cursola, Galarian Yamask, Mimikyu, and a Gengar that can Gigantamax.
All four of his Pokemon are weak to Ghost-moves, but a few of them are dual-types, complicating their overall weaknesses. Cursola, Gengar, and Yamask are also weak to Dark, while Mimikyu is not, being weak to Steel instead. Gengar has additional weaknesses in Ground and Psychic, while Yamask is weak to Water, Grass, and Ice on top of Ghost’s regular weaknesses.
Once either Bea or Allister has been dispatched, you’re on to Ballonlea to face off against Opal, who uses a strong Fairy-type team. Typically, Fairy-type Pokemon are weak to Poison-types and Steel-types, but Opal’s team has some resistances here.
Opal’s Galarian Weezing, Togekiss, and Alcremie (which she’ll Gigantamax) are all weak to Steel-type moves. Additionally, her Togekiss and Alcremie are weak to Poison. However, this is where the overall matchups end.
Weezing will instead be weak to Psychic (not Ground, as it has Levitate), while Togekiss also adds weaknesses to Electric, Rock, and Ice. Opal also has a Mawile, which is not weak to Poison nor Steel but to Ground and Fire.
Defeat Opal and you’re on to another set of split Gyms — Gordie or Melony. In Sword, you’ll go up against the Rock-type specialist Gordie in Circhester. He has four Pokemon: Barbaracle, Stonjorner, Shuckle, and a Coalossal that he’ll Gigantamax.
Gordie’s Barbaracle is weak to Fighting, Ground, Grass, and Electric attacks, with Grass doing double damage. Shuckle is weak to Rock, Steel, and Water-type moves. Stonjourner is weak to Fighting, Ground, Steel, Water, and Grass. Finally, Coalossal is weak to Fighting and Rock, and double-weak to Ground and Water.
There is no single type that covers all of his team, but a Ground/Rock-type like Onix would be able to cover all of them
If you’ve defeated Opal while playing Shield, you’ll go up against Ice-type master Melony next, whereas Sword players will fight her son, Gordie. Like her son, she uses a four-member team of Pokemon with some dual-types in the mix: Frosmoth, Galarian Darmanitan, Eiscue, and a Lapras that can Gigantamax.
The best choice against Melony is Rock-type moves, which are good against all four members of her team, including being double-effective against Frosmoth and her Darmanitan when it enters its Zen Mode. Fighting is good against three of them (all but Frosmoth), while Fire and Steel are good against all but Lapras and Zen Mode Darmanitan.
Frosmoth has an additional weakness to Flying, Darmanitan’s Zen Mode is weak to Ground and Water, and Lapras is weak to Grass and Electric. Overall, you have quite a few choices, but Rock is the clear winner.
Unable to Dynamax due to a lack of a Power Spot in town, Piers is often overlooked when trainers head to the Spikemuth Gym. However, his inability (or desire not to) Dynamax doesn’t make him an easy pushover. His team is still very good and can take you down regardless of their ability to Dynamax.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all type to use against Piers, but he has a few double-weaknesses that you can exploit.
Piers has a Scrafty, Skuntank, Malamar, and Obstagoon. Scrafty is weak to Fighting and Flying and double-weak to Fairy. Skuntank only has one weakness: Ground. Malamar is weak to Fairy and double-weak to Bug. And finally, Obstagoon is weak to Bug and Fairy and double-weak to Fighting.
Finally, you find yourself in Hammerlocke, moments away from defeating the final trainer that stands in your way and moving on to the Championship match. This final trainer is Raihan, who is willing and ready to make sure your attempts at glory stop here.
Raihan uses Dragon-type Pokemon (although two of his four team members aren’t Dragon-type), but he specializes in whipping up weather effects that will have trainers pulling their hair out no matter what they choose to counter him with.
An Ice-type will do well against his Flygon (doubly so) and Sandaconda, while Ground and Fighting will both be super-effective against his Gigalith and Duraludon. Sandaconda and Gigalith are both weak to Grass and Ice as well, while Gigalith is also weak to Steel. Flygon, on the other hand, is also weak to Fairy and Dragon moves.
However, what you need to watch out for more are the weather problems. Try to bring in a Pokemon that knows Sunny Day to clear out the harmful weather, or bring something that is immune to Sandstorm damage (Steel-, Rock-, and Ground-types).
Take down Raihan, and you’re on your way to eternal glory as the League Champion. Now, only the Championship Tournament stands between you and the crown.
NEXT: Pokemon Sword & Shield: 10 Tips For Completing The Pokedex
- Pokémon Sword and Shield
Michael is a journalist with several years of experience writing about video games, television, and social issues. He loves indie platformers, Pokémon, and Hack ‘n Slashers.
Currently playing: Cities: Skylines, Hyrule Warriors, and Stardew Valley.
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