To continue extolling the virtues of Pokémon Sword from last week, and as I posted an article outlining the team I used on Pokémon Shield two years ago, I thought I’d take the opportunity to run through the team that carried me to victory in my most recent adventure. I still haven’t been able to use all the Pokémon I wanted to, so it appears I will be replaying one of the main generation 8 games in the future to scratch a few more of them off my ‘to use’ list. At time of writing, all my Pokémon are mid-level 80’s and have not had any Rare or XP Candies to accelerate their growth.

Let’s get right into it, as I picked Sobble last time I had to make the difficult choice of starting with Grookey or Scorbunny. Naturally, as I would usually make a beeline for the Fire starter, the first entry on my final team list is..

Cinderace (Fire)

Did you know Cinderace is technically the strongest non-Legendary Fire Pokémon of all time? I know I didn’t and I’ve linked a YouTube video here by MysticUmbreon who ranks all the best of these thus far, and explains at the end why Cinderace is number one.

I had a lot more fun with Cinderace and its earlier evolutions than I did with Inteleon when playing Shield, who I described as ‘mediocre’ in my previous team article. This is mainly because of the various type moves it has access to, but thanks in part to the great animation for its signature move, Pyro Ball.

Using a range of physical Fire (Blaze Kick and Pyro Ball), Flying (Bounce) and Fighting (Counter) moves, Cinderace has an answer to most obstacles. Its celebratory animation when you win a gym match using it, the same as every celebrating footballer ever, also feels fun thanks in part to the bunny ears.

In summary, Cinderace is one of the most fun Fire Pokémon I have used, and speaking of Pokémon I’ve used, my team this time featured two returning faces I had used and loved in previous generations. The first of them is my favourite non-generation 8 Pokémon of all time!

Scolipede (Bug / Poison)

Yes, my boy Scolipede returns in the Isle of Armor expansion, so of course I had to hightail it over there at the first opportunity to catch as many Venipede as I could to compare their stats. The Poison type is always my go-to and Scolipede never disappoints. Fully utilising both of its types in battle with Bug and Poison moves, I would always send out this scowling insect first to poison as much of the opponent’s team as possible.

I was a little frustrated upon finally evolving it through Whirlipede that mine did not have the Speed Boost ability, but as its speed stat was no slouch I couldn’t face levelling up more to get an ability in case it would mean having to deal with lower base stats.

I do wish Scolipede had received a Gigantamax form, but as so many other Pokémon received the upgrade it’s more of a quibble than an actual issue I have. I mentioned earlier my Sword team had two returning faces, with the second being my favourite pseudo-Legendary Dragon!

Kommo-o (Dragon / Fighting)

A Dragon / Fighting type was something I didn’t know I needed until I had it, and boy did it deliver. I used it in my original Pokémon Sun playthrough and had a blast with it. Spotting Jangmo-o very early in the game, and as it immediately proved to be the strongest on my team with no training whatsoever, it instantly became a staple of the team and the backbone I would always fall back on if I ran into trouble.

Wielding Dragon, Fighting and surprisingly, Normal, type moves, Kommo-o demolishes almost everything I send it out against, and just recently saved my hide in the final battle against Mustard in the Isle of Armor dojo.

Easily one of the best Dragon Pokémon, and a formidable addition to any team, Kommo-o is one of the best things to come out of generation 7.

Orbeetle (Bug / Psychic)

I really wanted to use Orbeetle in my Shield playthrough but despite its base form, Blipbug, being available in abundance immediately upon starting this time, I never seemed to bump into one in 2019. I was severely missing out it seems, as Orbeetle has been fantastic to use.

I seldom use stat boosting moves on my teams, favouring instead to brute force my way through battles with an assortment of high power moves. This time I thought I would do things a little differently, and had Orbeetle and the next Pokémon on my team employ different means to weaken an opponent’s team stats to the point I could sweep them without issue.

Orbeetle held Leftovers while using Reflect and Calm Mind to boost its special attack and defence, before using Struggle Bug and Psychic to level playing fields even against higher level opponents, which worked out well most of the time. If faced with a Fire or Dark type Pokémon which could easily one-shot Orbeetle, I had another spot on the team dedicated to this chink in my armour.

The only thing which could improve Orbeetle would be a kick-ass Gigantamax form. Wait, it has that too!

Grapploct (Fighting)

While its pre-evolution, Clobbopus, easily has the better sounding name, Grapploct is the hard-hitter on my team. With nothing but Fighting moves (Octolock, Brick Break, Bulk Up and Superpower) first I’d use Octolock to trap opponents in while lowering their defences every turn, then use Bulk Up until on low health, where Superpower comes in to eradicate health bars. Brick Break makes a great one use attack to clear a path through wild Pokémon, as well as removing Reflect and Light Screen when needed.

Until generation 8 I have not had many good experiences with the Fighting type, but through Kommo-o and Grapploct in Sword as well as Pangoro in Shield, it is now clear to me where its virtues in lie. In raw attacking power if it wasn’t obvious.

Bisharp (Dark / Steel)

A late but welcome entry to my team as I hadn’t been getting on well with the Octillery which I had tried to use until I spotted a Pawniard wandering around in the wild. Similarly to my stance on Fighting types before generation 8, I also have never been keen on Steel types. I used Purrserker in Shield who was fun to use but never stopped being the weak link on my team, but this time around Bisharp has been ruthless in reminding me why Steel should never be slept on, comfort level aside.

Through an aggressive combination of Dark, Bug and Steel physical moves, with Guillotine thrown in late game for good measure, aside from Fighting type Pokémon with their 4x damage type advantage over Bisharp, there’s not much anything can do to touch it. Introduced in my favourite Pokémon game generation, 5, I never found a Pawniard in time to use it for a full playthrough until now.

Bisharp was particularly good at cutting down Hop’s team, so I seldom needed to switch out or lean on Full Restores as by the time Bisharp was taken down Hop would have lost almost his entire team.

I briefly used Zacian and Single Strike (Dark) form of Urshifu, but it never took long to revert back to my team listed above. I grew thoroughly sick of Zamazenta by the time it hit level 100 last time around, and I wasn’t keen to repeat that experience!

With the gift of hindsight after playing Shield, I knew making sudden changes to your team in generation 8 games isn’t as jarring as it has been previously. I am having so much fun with my Pokémon Sword team and can’t wait to unlock the new Tournament when I finish the Crown Tundra expansion.

Have you played Pokémon Sword or Shield? Who was the best on your team? Let me know down in the comments below, and thanks for reading!