Pokemon Sword and Shield ranked mode has multiple tiers and allows rental teams

(Image credit: Nintendo)

On the heels of a Pokemon Sword and Shield battle trailer showcasing new moves and abilities, today The Pokemon Company unveiled Battle Stadium, the game's ranked mode. At a glance, Battle Stadium looks like a sizable step up from the Ratings Battles in Pokemon Sun and Moon, which is nice to see since Sword and Shield will be the games used for competitive play heading into 2020. 

As a new blog post explains, Battle Stadium uses a five-tier ranking system. The tiers are: Beginner, Poke Ball, Great Ball, Ultra Ball, and Master Ball. Each time you win a Battle Stadium match, you earn rank points. Once you earn enough points, you go up a rank. You'll be matched with trainers of a similar rank, so as you rise through the tiers, battles will get harder and harder. 

Battle Stadium looks like a pretty standard and modern ranked mode, but it does have a few extras so it. You can battle in singles or duos, for instance, plus "you can receive items by meeting certain criteria, such as battling multiple times in a row," The Pokemon Company says. I wonder if the mode will feature daily or weekly challenges? Battle Stadium ranks will also carry over between seasons. You'll lose a few rank points at the start of each season, so be ready for a renewed climb. 

(Image credit: Nintendo)

Outside of standard ranked play, official competitions will also be held in-game. These competitions will have their own rules and regulations, so players will be notified ahead of time to prepare. "Certain competitions may even grant you the chance to participate in the Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield World Championships if you do well in them," The Pokemon Company says. 

If you're not one for grindy competition, or you just want to battle with the Legendary and Mythic Pokemon which aren't eligible for ranked play, you might be more interested in Battle Stadium's Casual Battles. These are exactly what they sound like: unranked battles meant for friendly battling. In the same vein, you can participate in player-run friendly competitions as an alternative to official ones.

Interestingly, both the competitive and casual sides of Battle Stadium will support rental Pokemon. After you build a competitive team of six Pokemon, you can make that team available to rent so other players can try out your lineup. You can also rent up to five teams from other players at once, and even take them into ranked battles. 

As an online mode, Battle Stadium does require an active Nintendo Switch Online subscription, but you don't need a Pokemon Global Link account. The Pokemon Home app is also optional, but it ought to come in handy. 

The Pokemon Company says competitive play was a major factor behind the controversial decision to cut the National Dex from Sword and Shield. 

Austin Wood

Austin freelanced for the likes of PC Gamer, Eurogamer, IGN, Sports Illustrated, and more while finishing his journalism degree, and he's been with GamesRadar+ since 2019. They've yet to realize that his position as a senior writer is just a cover up for his career-spanning Destiny column, and he's kept the ruse going with a focus on news and the occasional feature, all while playing as many roguelikes as possible.