How Pokémon Sword & Shield Handle Being A Champion Differently
Pokémon Sword and Shield spend more time describing the responsibilities that come with being the region’s Champion, unlike previous Pokémon games.
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Becoming Champion in the Pokémon games has been a primary goal since the beginning of the series. Pokémon Sword and Shield shows the weight of the Champion’s title better than past games, and reveals the reality of the responsibilities earned with the title. While filling out the Pokédex to prove players have “caught them all” is an accomplishment only growing more difficult with each new generation, it is becoming Champion of the region that shows the true growth of a young Pokémon trainer.
Becoming the Champion is not easy. Players must progress through the entire region, defeat 8 Gym Leaders for their badges, and then take on Pokémon’s Elite Four, or regional challenge. After that, they must beat the previous Champion, unseating them as the undefeated trainer of the region. After gaining the Champion’s title, it is assumed the player must then defend their position from other challengers, and continue to win to keep from being overturned themselves. However, becoming Champion comes at a price, according to Sword and Shield, as these trainers must then be on call to protect the region from danger.
In previous Pokémon games, players rarely see the Champion or Elite Four outside of their tower, however this changes in Galar. Instead of the Elite Four, all the Gym Leaders and Eligible trainers participate in a Champion Cup, an elimination showdown to prove who is the best in the region. During the course of the story, Leon the Champion is regularly seen investigating and protecting the towns of Galar from Chairman Rose’s actions. Gym Leaders like Piers and Raihan have active roles in protecting the people of Galar as well, but the primary duties fall on Champion Leon’s shoulders.
Pokémon Sword & Shield’s Post-Game Story Reveals Champion Expectations
During the Sword and Shield post-game storyline to capture Zacian or Zamazenta, the weight of the Champion’s duties unfold. The player is repeatedly told they must step up and protect the town from the Pokémon that are randomly Dynamaxing in Gyms around Galar. Champion players are held to a new set of standards about how they speak to others and how quickly they accomplish tasks. Winning the Championship doesn’t just earn players a fun title and a trophy to take home and admire, it is a bid for the responsibility of being the first line of defense for Galar. These dangers could be Pokémon or people, but it is the player’s job to make sure everyone is safe and order is restored.
While it isn’t clear if the Champions of other regions have the same responsibilities as the Champion of Pokémon Sword and Shield, it is likely that specific expectations do come with the title. The inclusion of these jobs in recent games has been a refreshing way to see what happens after the primary storyline has ended, and a different way to experience being a League Champion in Pokémon Sword and Shield. Hopefully, future games will also include more post-game stories and DLC, so fans can keep playing after they have become the best in the region.
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