VGC 2020 format rules released for Pokémon Sword and Shield

Get ready to deal with some giant-sized problems in VGC 2020.

Screengrab via Pokemon

Pokémon fans are gearing up for the 2020 competitive season with a new set of rules to fit all of the mechanics that Sword and Shield are bringing to the format. 

Most of the 2019 rules are carrying over with slight variations to include some of the new content or limitations. But overall, it looks like The Pokémon Company is keeping things within the usual guidelines. There’s going to be a lot of contention around the Gigantimax Pokémon that are available, however.

Outside of the typical rules regarding the legality of Pokémon and what moves or abilities are allowed on specific sets, here are the changes being made to the VGC format when it switches over to Sword and Shield in 2020. 

  • All battles will be Double Battles played in Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield.
  • Each player will need their own Nintendo Switch or Nintendo Switch Lite and a physical or digital version of Pokémon Sword or Pokémon Shield to compete.
  • Pokémon will need to have the Galar symbol, showing they were caught in the Galar region.
  • All Pokémon from the Galar Regional Pokédex will be permitted except for Mythical Pokémon and certain Legendary Pokémon.
  • All Pokémon will be set to Lv. 50, including Pokémon below Lv. 50.
  • Duplicate Pokémon won’t be allowed.
  • Duplicate held items won’t be allowed.
  • Each battle will begin with a 90-second Team Preview phase.
  • Players will have seven minutes of Your Time, 45 seconds of Move Time, and (now returning to the VGC) 15 minutes of Game Time in each battle.

Fans already knew that only Pokémon available in the Galar Pokédex would be allowed in official competitions, but there will be limitations on Mythical and some Legendary Pokémon, too. Right now, this will likely apply to all three new legendaries from Sword and Shield since both Zacian and Eternatus are broken. Zamazenta is up in the air, but this might be the first time in a while where fans won’t see Legendary Pokémon represented on competitive teams. 

Arguably the biggest change here is the return of the Battle Timer, which means timing opponents out or forcing moves out because of a time restriction is a viable strategy again. The “Your Time” has remained at seven minutes for each player, but the total Game Time will now be set to a 15-minute timer. 

Dynamaxing will be completely legal and certain Gigantimax Pokémon will also be allowed, which was something that many professional Pokémon players predicted wouldn’t be the case. 

Right now, the list of Gigantimax forms available for VGC use is limited to 10 Pokémon, with more to be added to the Play! Pokémon VG Rules and Formats document in the coming months. 

  • Butterfree
  • Corviknight
  • Drednaw
  • Centiskorch
  • Meowth
  • Pikachu
  • Eevee
  • Snorlax
  • Sandaconda
  • Charizard (only permitted with the Ability Blaze)

This is a limited list considering all of the Gigantimax Pokémon in the game, but it does narrow down the pool so that players can tune their gameplan around the more powerful form of Dynamaxing. Fans should expect to see a lot of Gigantimax Dreadnaw and Sandaconda in the first few months of VGC 2020. 

VGC 2020 will officially begin on Jan. 4 once competitions switch over to the new ruleset and start using Sword and Shield as the primary games.