Ranked Battles
Image: The Pokémon Company

Attention all Pokémon Trainers – are you ready for the first ranked season for Pokémon Scarlet and Violet? As of 2nd December until 4th January 2023 you can participate in Ranked Battles Season 1 online with the ‘mons you captured throughout your playthrough. However, with new Pokémon comes many new strategies compounded by the new Terastalization mechanic, so you might not know where to start. Don’t worry, our Professors have put together a list of the most powerful Pokémon to keep an eye out for.

Ranked Battles Season 1 restricts all Paradox and Legendary Pokémon (also Quagsire for some reason). For a full list, check out Serebii. Also keep in mind that this guide is intended for the official VGC double battle format, though many Pokémon will thrive in single battles as well.

Here are our early tips on how to become a master at ranked double battles, as well as the best Pokémon to use.

How to use Tera types in Ranked Battles

Terastalize Garchomp
Image: Nintendo Life

Don’t know which Tera types to use? We don't always either! We've got a handy guide on all things Tera type and Terastalizing, but Ranked Battles step things up a notch.

A general rule is to decide between an offensive-minded Tera type if you want to hit fast and hard, and a defensive Tera type to protect against glaring weaknesses. A Garchomp might opt for the Ground Tera type to hit harder with Earthquake, whereas it could also run a Steel Tera type to avoid its weaknesses to Ice and Fairy.

It’s going to take a while for trainers to figure out the best Tera types. When in doubt, stick with the original Tera type of your Pokémon. The same-type attack bonus increases to 2.0x damage rather than 1.5x when Terastalizing into a Tera type your Pokémon already has. That said, unusual Tera types can take your opponents off guard.

The items each Pokémon will hold will vary from trainer to trainer based on what role each ‘mon fills. Expect to see the new items Clear Amulet, which prevents stat drops, and Covert Cloak, which prevents secondary effects from occurring. The 'old faithfuls' such as Life Orb, Assault Vest, Choice Band/Specs/Scarf, Focus Sash, and Assault Vest will certainly see play as well.

Best support and utility Pokémon for Ranked Battles

Support Mouse
Image: Nintendo Life

Most teams will have one or two Pokémon to help facilitate their game plan. These include Pokémon that control speed, redirect attacks, or counter specific types of teams.

Tailwind is a powerful move that can help your team act first for four turns. In Scarlet and Violet, the two most prominent Tailwind setters are Murkrow and Talonflame. Murkrow’s ability 'Prankster' ensures that it will normally act first, and so too does Talonflame’s 'Gale Wings'. Note that Murkrow’s evolution — Honchkrow — does not get Prankster, thus trainers will likely give it Eviolite to hold.

Cute little quartet Maushold will find a slot on many teams because it has access to Follow Me, which redirects attacks away from your other Pokémon on the field. It also can use Helping Hand to power-up its partner’s next move and the ability 'Friend Guard', which protects its partner from damage. Similarly, Indeedee-F returns with the same Follow me and Helping Hand supportive punch, but instead gets 'Psychic Surge' for its ability. Psychic Surge sets the priority neutralising Psychic Terrain.

Amoonguss also gets redirection with Rage Powder. However, being able to use Spore to put opposing Pokémon to sleep is what truly makes Amoonguss a threat. Trainers will often use Amoonguss to counter opposing Trick Room teams by spreading sleep.

With no Incineroar in Paldea (praise Arceus), Arcanine returns as the primary option to decrease opposing the Pokémon’s offensive stats with 'Intimidate' and Snarl. It also gets access to Will-O-Wisp to really debilitate foes that rely on physical attacks.

The utility Pokémon you’re most likely to see is Grimmsnarl. Like Murkrow, Grimmsnarl has 'Prankster', meaning it acts first using non-damaging moves unless using said move against Dark-type Pokémon. Expect it to run Light Screen and Reflect to protect its team along with Parting Shot to lower an opponent’s Attack and Special Attack stats.

Best Offensive Pokémon for Ranked Battles

Offensive Newcomers
Image: Nintendo Life

These Pokémon function as sweepers, meaning once they gain an advantage, whether it's with support from Tailwind or a set-up move like Swords Dance, they can cut through a team like a hot knife through an Alcremie. Scarlet and Violet has no shortage of them, but we’ll cover the ones that look to be the most prominent.

With Terastalization, the former rulers of VGC – Dragon types – need not fear Fairy types as much. As such, watch for Pokémon such as Garchomp and Dragonite to make a comeback with a defensive Tera type – possibly Steel. If they catch a whiff of a Dazzling Gleam or Ice Beam, they’re likely to Terastalize. Garchomp can set up with a Swords Dance and, according to some early theorycrafting done by three-time World Champion Ray Rizzo, Extreme Speed Dragonite with a Normal Tera type looks promising. Don’t count out last Generation’s speedy Dragapult, either. In our early matches, we've also seen a lot of Hydregion.

Watch out for newcomers Garganacl and Gholdengo too. Both look like absolutely overpowered beasts, given Garganacl can make great use of Iron Defense and Body Press. Its 'Purifying Salt' ability protects it from Status Moves and halves damage from Ghost-type attacks. Gholdengo is even more concerning; the diminutive golden ghost Pokémon has a high Special Attack stat and the signature move Make It Rain, which has a whopping 120 power and it attacks both opposing Pokémon. We've tested out this golden monstrosity and it seems unstoppable at the moment, but we expect trainers to find a counter beforelong.

Fairy is still arguably the strongest type in the game, so Sylveon will likely provide many teams with an offensive Fairy-type attacker. With its ability 'Pixilate', Normal-type moves become Fairy type, meaning it can hit both opposing Pokémon with Hyper Voice and usually carries Throat Spray to boost its Special Attack.

Best Pokémon for Trick Room team in Ranked Battles

Trick Roomers
Image: Nintendo Life

One of the most powerful archetypes in VGC history, Trick Room teams turn the tables on opponents by allowing the slowest Pokémon to act first. As getting Pokémon with 0 Individual Values in speed this early takes substantial time, Trick Room hasn't seen significant play in the early goings. When trainers can transfer from Pokémon HOME sometime next spring, expect it to pick up in usage. Trick Room also looked like it was going to overrun VGC until Paradox and Legendary Pokémon were banned for Season 1. Still, the archetype does have some options.

These teams require one or two Pokémon that can use the move Trick Room. The combination of Hatterene and Indeedee-F proved a powerful way to set things up in Pokémon Sword and Shield, so this duo will see plenty of use. Other Trick Room setters include Gothitelle and newcomer Farigiraf. While many other Pokémon can learn Trick Room, these are the strongest. Some trainers might choose Armarouge or Mimikyu as backups, and we've seen plenty of Oranguru setting up Trick Room as well.

Amoonguss has been a staple on Trick Room teams from the early days, and so has Torkoal, so expect to see both of these. The latter will likely run a Fire Tera type to add insane power to Eruption. It may be paired with Lilligant to give their team a faster option, too.

The aforementioned Garganacl will likely make many Trick Room teams with its slow speed. Kingambit, the evolution of Bisharp, has an insane attack stat that is mitigated only by its low speed — unless, of course, it’s on a Trick Room team. Dondozo also looks like a powerful option – more on this big blue fish below.

At the beginning of Season 1, it looks like trainers will run hybrid Trick Room teams rather than teams dedicated entirely to the mechanic. In fact, we haven't seen a dedicated Trick Room team after more than two dozen matches.

Best Pokémon for Weather teams in Ranked Battles

Snowy Bros
Image: Nintendo Life

Each weather type – Snow, Sun, Rain, and Sand – has a Pokémon that can set it with its ability alone in Scarlet and Violet: Abomasnow, Torkoal, Pelipper, and Tyranitar.

Snow teams

Snow (previously Hail) received a buff and minor nerf this Generation, giving Ice type Pokémon a 50% Defense bonus, but taking away damage inflicted each turn. Early on, trainers will give Snow a try using Abomasnow to double the bulky Cetitan’s speed with its Slush Rush ability. Baxcalibur looks to fit in well on a Snow team and Slowking can summon a snowstorm with its move Chilly Reception. While we expect trainers to experiment with the new Pokémon and slightly changed weather mechanic, it remains rather weak at the moment as most other Ice-type Pokémon suffer defensively.

Sun teams

If there’s fire turtle, there's sunlight. Torkoal single-handedly enshrines Sun as a viable option for Ranked Season 1. Pokémon that can benefit from Sun include Scovillain and Lilligant with their 'Chlorophyll' ability that doubles Speed. Scovillian can lower opponents’ defences with its signature move Spicy Extract, and Liligant can put opponents to sleep with Sleep Powder. When Paradox Pokémon are available for ranked play in the future, Sun teams will become widespread thanks to the 'Protosynthesis' ability, but much like Trick Room, most uses of Sun will be on hybrid teams.

Rain teams

Unfortunately for fans of rainy days, not many Pokémon can utilise Rain well and Pelipper lacks the tools to pull its weight on any team. Barraskewda with 'Swift Swim' can outspeed just about any Pokémon in the rain, and newcomers Palafin and Dondozo – more on them later – can hit harder when Pelipper sets them up. However, these synergies aren’t powerful enough to warrant wasting a team slot on Pelipper.

Sand teams

Sand will feature prominently in Ranked Series 1 if only because Tyranitar, an already stellar Pokémon, will receive massive help from Terastalization. Tyranitar has one big weakness – Fighting-type moves – and now it can run Tera-type Ghost to become immune. Rock-type Pokémon also get a 50% Special Defense boost when a sandstorm rages, making Pokémon like Garganacl even more fearsome. Houndstone has the ability 'Sand Rush', boosting its speed, but it remains to be seen if this will make for a powerful combination.

In short, the unavailability of many powerful weather-based Pokémon will see the mechanic likely used as an additive to a team rather than the central focus – for now.

Other strategies and new Pokémon for Ranked Battles

Powerful Dolphin
Image: Nintendo Life

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet introduced a handful of powerful, threatening new Pokémon. First among these are Dondozo and Tatsugiri. If both Pokémon are on the field at the same time, Tatsugiri will hop in Dondozo’s mouth and activate its ability 'Commander'. Commander raises all of Dondozo’s stats by two stages at the cost of having only one Pokemon on the field. Dondozo can then use the move Order Up to increase its stats further. It seems like a powerful – if inherently risky – manoeuvre many trainers will try.

The new evolution to Primeape, Annihilape, shows promise with its massive Attack stat and great typing.

Meowscarada can use the ability 'Protean' to change its type once per switch in. While Protean was nerfed this Generation, Pokémon with this ability have traditionally been powerful.

Flamigo, with its ability 'Costar', can switch in next to a boosted Pokémon such as an Azumaril that has used Belly Drum or a Tatsugiri after Dondozo has fainted to gain all of its ally’s stat boosts. With its decent Speed and high Attack, it can make quick work of opponents.

The graffiti Pokémon Grafaiai can use its signature move 'Doodle' to change both its own and its ally’s ability. This can be especially powerful against opponents with Intimidate, for example, or to Doodle away Slaking’s detrimental 'Truant'.

Lastly, Palafin can enter Hero Mode by activating its ability 'Zero to Hero' when it switches out of battle for the first time. This gives it massive stat boosts, including an Attack power that eclipses almost all other Pokémon. This dolphin is going to hurt.

Final Thoughts

The best thing about Pokémon is how the meta will change by the week. Much like when Se Jun Park won the 2014 World Championship with a Pachirisu, more unassuming Pokémon will rise to the top and others many trainers thought overpowered will fall out of the meta as time goes on. Regardless, this list will have you prepared to take on the very best in Ranked Season 1.

Good luck trainers! We'll be keeping an eye on the competitive scene and updating you as and when things change, so keep an eye out.

Let us know if you found this walkthrough helpful, and find out where you can find more Pokémon, battles, items, and more, by checking out the rest of our Pokémon Scarlet and Violet walkthrough guides.