Anyone hoping to get a party together for competitive play needs to learn h0w to breed for competitive Pokémon. Pokémon Sword and Shield have made it easier to find strong Pokémon in the wild, but breeding remains the most consistent way to get competitive Pokémon.
First things first
Before breeding, it is important to have the judge feature, a good Ditto, the Destiny Knot, and an Everstone. The judge feature allows the player to see a Pokémon’s individual values, more commonly known as IVs. These IVs will determine individual stats. A competitive Pokémon will generally have at least five stats with perfect IVs. Without the judge feature, IVs cannot be viewed.
To obtain the judge feature, the player must become the Galar Champion and then beat the first three tiers of the Battle Tower. After this, Leon will give the player the judge feature. It can be accessed by opening the boxes and pressing the + button to “view stats.” Stats will be labeled with words like “no good,” “decent,” and “best.” Best means the IV is perfect.
Finding a good Ditto is probably the most difficult part of the process. There are plenty of YouTube videos that detail the various methods to get one, but it is important to find one with at least five perfect IVs. Once Ditto is obtained, purchase a Destiny Knot for 10 BP from the BP vendor in the central Pokémon Center in Hammerlocke and give it to the Ditto. This will ensure that the Ditto will pass some of its perfect IVs down to its offspring.
The Everstone can be be found in Turffield by going down a path to the right of the Pokémon Center. It will be a hidden item next to a set of mossy rocks on the ground (look for a sparkle). This item can be given to a Pokémon so that it will pass its nature down to its offspring.
Breeding is a fairly simple process. There are two Pokémon Nurseries in Sword and Shield, one on Route Five and the other in the Bridge Field section of the Wild Area. Choose one of these and give the lady standing in front of the building the Ditto with the Destiny Knot and the desired Pokémon to breed.
Once the nursery lady has both Pokémon, walk or bike around until she crosses her arms; this means she is holding an egg. Take the egg and walk or bike around for a while and it will hatch into the first stage of the Pokémon left with Ditto. Hatching eggs can be sped up by having a Pokémon with the Flame Body ability first in the party. Carkol, Coalossal, Sizzlipede, and Centiskorch have access to this ability.
Casual players often overlook the importance of natures, but they are extremely important in competitive play. Each nature raises a specific stat and lowers another one. For example, a Pokémon with a timid nature will have increased speed and decreased attack. This is perfect for a fast special attacker. There are plenty of resources to help find the best competitive natures.
Natures are completely random in the wild. The easiest way to find a Pokémon with the correct nature is to find another Pokémon in its egg group with that nature, give that Pokémon the Everstone, and have it breed with a female of the desired breed. The egg will have the desired Pokémon with the correct nature. That critter can then be given the Everstone to breed with Ditto.
The stats that nature will affect are highlighted in red and blue on the stats page above the ability. The increased stat will be highlighted in red, and the decreased stat will be blue. With the introduction of mints, the Pokémon’s stat changes can be altered without changing the base nature of the Pokémon. Be sure to check what stats are being impacted on this screen.
Most Pokémon have at least two abilities, and oftentimes they will have a hidden ability. It is important to have the best possible ability for competitive play. Arcanine, for example, is a very popular competitive Pokémon because of its Intimidate ability. Its other abilities, Flash Fire and Justified, are not typically as good outside of certain niches.
The best way to get standard abilities is to simply have a female Pokémon breed with Ditto. The female has a higher chance of passing down its ability than a male. There is no way to guarantee passing the ability down, however, unless the Pokémon only has one ability.
Hidden abilities work differently. A Pokémon without a hidden ability cannot breed a Pokémon with one. Those who have the hidden ability only have a 60% chance of passing it down, regardless of gender. Pokémon with hidden abilities can only be found in the wild in Max Raid Battles. They can also be bred and traded to others.
Once the desired Pokémon has the correct nature and ability, it needs to be bred for perfect IVs. Generally, a Pokémon only needs five perfect IVs. Take Excadrill for example. It will never use a special attack, so it doesn’t need a perfect special attack IV. Similarly, Duraludon will never use a physical attack and doesn’t need a perfect attack IV.
As long as the Ditto has the Destiny Knot, it will pass a few of its perfect IVs to the offspring. Once a Pokémon with better IVs is hatched, swap it out with the one in the nursery to make the next set of eggs better. Keep doing this until the offspring has the desired IVs. Keep in mind that getting the perfect IVs may be extremely difficult if the Ditto doesn’t have the correct IV spread.
The perfect competitive Pokémon in Sword and Shield
The perfect competitive Pokémon will have the correct nature, ability, and IVs. A perfect Duraludon, for example, should have a Modest nature with the hidden ability “Stalwart,” and all five IVs other than attack should be “best.” This is the end of the breeding process, but this Pokémon is still not fully ready for competitive play.
After being bred, the Pokémon will need to be EV trained, leveled to 50, and taught the proper move set. Be sure to stay tuned for an in-depth Sword and Shield guide on setting up Pokémon for competitive play. This may sound like a lot of work, but it is well worth it for those who hope to be competitive.