In Pokémon Sword & Shield, trainers still embark on a quest to obtain 8 victories over gym leaders, but in the Galar region, they make it a bit more of a public spectacle. On top of that, all of the gyms require you to be complete a set of challenges before facing off against the leader of the gym.
Some of these are fun or challenging while others just end up being a bit boring and lackluster. It's time to take a look at each of these 8 gym leaders and the Galar champion and rank them from worst to first.
When you simply are discussing the design of the character Milo and his personality, it's hard to argue he's one of the best. He's a country kid who grew up in shape because of the labor and is willing to help any and everyone. His gym challenge is unique as it has you herding Wooloo down a hill, but there's very little chance to train against other grass-type trainers before the fight. As the first gym leader he also only has a team of two that can be run through even if you didn't choose Scorbunny as your starter.
It may seem like this list will be in chronological order of the gyms, but that's just the case with the first two. Nessa's not only sporting a pretty uninspired team of three pokémon, but her challenge also involves flipping levers. The most disappointing thing in new generations of Pokémon games is when the gym leaders aren't sporting an entire team of new creatures. Nessa isn't just guilty of having an older pokémon, she has a Goldeen on her team who was part of the original 151 pokémon of the Kanto region.
If this list was purely based on personality it'd be hard not to have Piers near the top of the list. He occupies an abandoned city and the challenge facing trainers before fighting him is simply a string of battles against Team Yell. When it comes to the actual battle with Piers his team is pretty disappointing considering he's the second to last gym in the game. Outside of his Obstagoon, the rest of his dark-type team is made up of older pokémon, including the lackluster choices of Skuntank and Scrafty.
Gordie in many ways looks like the alternate reality where Lt. Surge didn't join the military. His challenge isn't at all challenging and becomes pretty frustrating quite quickly. The challenge has trainers avoiding hidden pitfalls as they traverse a sand-filled walkway. Despite half of his team being made up of a Barbaracle and a Shuckle, the fight against him will likely be the first time trainers see the rock-type Galar pokémon called Stonjourner. Gordie's Gigantamax Coalossal isn't anything to sneeze at either.
Depending on which version you get, the 4th and 6th gyms in this generation of games will be different. Allister happens to be the 4th gym leader in Pokémon Shield, and unfortunately the inferior of the two leaders. He happens to be a ghost-type gym leader which is pretty neat, despite his team being filled with only one new pokémon. Cursola, the ghost-type evolution to Corsola may be the only Galar specific member of his team, but the Gigantamax version of Gengar he uses will have you seeing nightmares.
Opal is the very old woman who happens to be the leader of the fairy-type gym, the 5th gym in the Galar region. In search of her replacement for the gym, she has trainers taking a quiz and answering questions in their pursuit to face her.
Her team is comprised of only one Galar native creature, but she also has the scholarly Galarian form of Weezing on her team as well. Opal also gets bonus points as her story concludes with someone taking over for her by the time the credits roll.
Whenever a Pokémon game has a dragon-type trainer, they automatically get cool points simply for choosing that type. Unfortunately for Raihan, he may be the least cool dragon-type leader trainers have ever seen. Despite having the cool Gigantamax form of Duraludon at his disposal, the rest of his team includes a Flygon, Gigalith, and a Sandaconda. As the final gym standing between you and the Galar Champion it would have been neat for Raihan to have a stronger team.
Here's the truth about Kabu, the 3rd gym leader in the Galar region: He stinks. His team consists of only 3 pokémon with two of them being Arcanine and Ninetales from the Kanto region. The real reason he landed this high on the list is that his gym challenge was pretty unique and involved. It has trainers capturing or defeating wild pokémon in hopes of earning enough points to move on to the next round. It's always great to see them pay tribute to the core of what makes Pokémon fun.
Bea is the gym leader of the 4th gym for trainers who journeyed along in Pokémon Sword. As a fighting-type specialist, she falls in line with a typing that has seen numerous gyms in numerous regions. Bea happens to stand out with a unique design and a personality that's fierce and friendly at the same time.
She quickly became a fan favorite and it's unclear why exactly that was, but it could be that she has a Sirfetch'd on her team, or maybe the Gigantamax Machamp scared people into being fans.
Melony happens to be the Circhester gym leader if you happen to be playing Pokémon Shield and she sports a full team of ice-type pokémon. She's also the only gym leader in either game to have a team entirely comprised of Galar native or Galarian form pokémon. Her team consists of Frosmoth, Galarian Darmanitan, Eiscue, and Gigantamax Lapras. Upon defeating her you get the normal grouping of rewards, but the TM you receive called Icy Wind is a pretty solid move to teach one of your pokémon.
The cool thing about fighting Leon in the Champion Cup is that his team will be different depending on which starter pokémon you chose at the beginning of the game. Out of the 8 pokémon on his team, 4 will always stay the same while two will be different. Not only is his team specific to your chosen experience which is neat, battling him isn't a walk in the park. Leon's team includes pokémon that have moves that are super effective against the type of pokémon that would normally 1-hit KO them.