The Galar region in Pokémon Sword & Shield has eight Gym Leaders that the player needs to defeat as part of their journey to challenge the Champion. The Gym Leaders are some of the toughest trainers in the game and they can be tricky to overcome, especially when they use Gigantamax Pokémon in battle.
The presence of the Wild Area and a better spread of Pokémon types in each route means that there are a lot more options open to the player as they go through Pokémon Sword & Shield than in the previous games. We are here today to break down the teams of each Gym Leader and the best methods for defeating them.
Milo The Grass-Type Gym Leader
Pokémon - L19 Gossifleur, L20 Eldegoss
Strategy - Milo's team consists of two Grass-type Pokémon, so the players who chose Scorbunny are going to have a really easy time with this guy. Grass-type Pokémon are weak against Flying, Poison, Bug, Fire, and Ice-type Pokémon, so the player has a lot of different options to choose from, including Rockidee, Hoothoot, Caterpie, Blipbug, Grubbin from Route 1 alone. Milo's team is full of holes and he shouldn't present much of a challenge, even to the players who chose Sobble.
Nessa The Water-Type Gym Leader
Pokémon - L22 Goldeen, L23 Arrokuda, L24 Drednaw
Strategy - The players who chose Grookey should easily be able to trounce Nessa. The players who went with Scorbunny or Sobble still have a lot of options, with Yamper being a great choice. Nessa's strategy is all about offense and she has no special tactics outside of Dynamaxing her Drednaw, so the abundance of Electric and Grass-type Pokémon that the player has access to in the first few routes should be enough to deal with her.
Kabu The Fire-Type Gym Leader
Pokémon - L25 Ninetails, L25 Arcanine, L27 Centiskorch
Kabu is the first Gym Leader to put up a real fight. His Ninetails and Arcanine both like to use Will-O-Wisp to burn the player's Pokémon, while his Centiskorch has a powerful Gigantamax form. The Sobble players will finally have a chance to shine, but a Rock-type Pokémon (like Rolycoly or Stonjourner) will also do really well, as it will have a X4 advantage against Centiskorch.
Kabu's strategy is all about whittling down the player's health with the burn status, Fire Spin, and the extra damage from G-Max Centiferno. His strategy is undercut by the fact that he only has three Pokémon, so just go on the offensive and switch to weaker/type disadvantaged Pokémon in order to heal up and take up the turns where burning damage is inflicted.
(Sword) Bea The Fighting-Type Gym Leader
Pokémon - L34 Hitmontop, L34 Pangoro, L35 Sirfetch'd, L36 Machamp
Strategy - A Ghost-type Pokémon seems like it might be the player's greatest ally against Bea, as her team's arsenal mostly consists of Fighting and Normal-type moves. The only problem is that the enemy team also has a lot of Dark-type moves to counter this, which is also why it's a bad idea to rely on Psychic-type Pokémon to try and win the battle. The player would be far better off bringing a Flying-type or Fairy-type Pokémon to take on Bea, due to the type situation involved.
The heaviest hitter on Bea's team is her Gigantamax Machamp, as it can deal a ton of damage with its G-Max Chi Strike skill. Surviving three hits from this Pokémon can be the trickiest part of the battle and the player might need to provide sacrificial lambs (through the Revive item) in order to wait for the Dynamaxing to end, assuming that none of their available Pokémon can take it out in the meantime.
(Shield) Allister The Ghost-Type Gym Leader
Pokémon - L34 Yamask, L34 Mimkyu, L35 Cusola, L36 Gengar
Strategy - A Dark-type Pokémon like Nickit or Thievul is the best option when facing Allister, as the wannabe Mr. Crowley uses a team made up of Ghost-type Pokémon. The Dark-type Pokémon will deal double damage to Allister's team, while only receiving half damage in return. Mimikyu might have posed a threat if it had any offensive Fairy-type moves. Make sure to have the correct Pokémon on the field when Gigantamax Gengar is summoned, as G-Max Terror can prevent switching.
Opal The Fairy-Type Gym Leader
Pokémon - L36 Galarian Weezing, L36 Mawile, L37 Togekiss, L38 Alcremie
Strategy - Opal's team can be undone by a Steel-type Pokémon, so Cuffant or Purrserker will do well against her. A Steel-type Pokémon will deal double damage to Opal's team while resisting their attacks. It's also impossible to poison a Steel-type Pokémon, which can shut down her Galarian Weezing. Her Gigantamax Alcremie can use G-Max Finale, which will heal her team, so make sure to take everyone else out before she can switch.
(Sword) Gordie The Rock-Type Gym Leader
Pokémon - L40 Barbaracle, L40 Shuckle, L41 Stonjourner, L42 Coalossal
Strategy - Gordie has a diverse team, so it's hard to pinpoint an exact strategy. A Grass-type Pokémon will do well against the first three members of his team (especially Barbaracle), but it won't last long against Gigantamax Coalossal, especially as its G-Max Volcalith attack deals damage for four turns after it's used. The Coalossal can easily be dispatch by a Ground or Water-type Pokémon, due to its X4 weakness. The Stonjourner and Coalossal both know Stealth Rock, but they are saved until later in the battle, limiting their usefulness.
(Shield) Melony The Ice-Type Gym Leader
Pokémon - L40 Frosmoth, LL40 Darmanitan, L41 Eiscue, L42 Lapras
Strategy - The first three members of Melony's team will be crushed by a Fire or Rock-type Pokémon. Be wary of using a Fire-type Pokémon for the final battle, as she has a Gigantamax Lapras that can hit like a truck with its Water-type attacks. The Lapras can use G-Max Resonance, which reduces the damage it receives for five turns, and can really turn the battle into one of attrition. The Dynamax transformation will run out before the G-Max effect, so the player only needs to worry about dealing with it once.
Piers The Dark-Type Gym Leader
Pokémon - L44 Scrafty, L45 Malamar, L45 Skuntank, L46 Obstagoon
Strategy - Piers is the only Gym Leader who doesn't use Dynamax Pokémon, so the player cannot rely on the power-up for themselves. The team used by Piers can easily be undone by a Fairy-type Pokémon, while a Fighting-type Pokémon will do well against everything except for the Malamar and its Psycho Cut attack.
Raihan The Dragon-Type Gym Leader
Pokémon - L46 Gigalith, L47 Flygon, L46 Sandaconda, L48 Duraludon
Strategy - Raihan's strategy is more about weather effects than relying on Dragon-type moves, so the simplest solution is to overwrite them. He relies on summoning sandstorms, as his team won't be damaged by them due to their typing. The Raihan battle is a double battle, so taking out his sandstorms with Hail, Rain Dance, or Sunny Day with the second party member can cause him to try and waste turns with his Gigalith to summon another one, assuming the player doesn't take it out straight away.
Raihan's Gigantmax Duraludon is a potent threat, especially as it only takes double damage from Fighting and Ground-type moves. The player should aim to take out its partners as quickly as possible in order to focus on the Duraludon, as it poses the biggest threat in the Gym Challenge.
Pokémon Sword & Shield are available now for Nintendo Switch.