One Pokemon got a surprising power boost in competitive play thanks to a change in Pokemon Sword and Shield's mechanics. Competitive Pokemon play is a totally different beast than playing a normal Pokemon game. While playing through a Pokemon game's storyline usually means out-muscling opponents with attack moves, the competitive scene is a lot more nuanced and built around out-speeding and out-maneuvering opponents. This means that some unusual Pokemon get a lot of use in competitive Pokemon play, especially in the double battle format used in official VGC (Video Game Championship) tournaments.
One such Pokemon is Whimsicott, a Grass/Fairy-type Pokemon introduced in Pokemon Black and White. Whimsicott has had a lot of uses in competitive play, thanks to its diverse moveset and three potential abilities. Whimsicott's usage is expected to increase in Pokemon Sword and Shield, thanks to a change in how turn order is calculated. In previous games, moves like Tailwind that increased or decreased a Pokemon's speed stat only affected subsequent move orders. So, a move like Tailwind (which increases the speed of all Pokemon on a team) wouldn't change the move order on the turn that Tailwind was played. However, Pokemon Sword and Shield re-calculates move orders whenever buffs or debuffs are made, making moves like Tailwind a lot more valuable.
Whimsicott particularly benefits from this change thanks to its Prankster ability, which gives it priority when it makes any non-damaging moves. This all but ensures that Whimsicott can get off its Tailwind move on the first turn of a battle, thus giving its team an instant speed boost. Whimsicott is especially effective when paired with Pokemon like Dracovish, a Pokemon that can do a whole lot of damage when it attacks before an opponent.
While it's just about impossible to stop Whimsicott from using Tailwind, there are some ways to counter it in Pokemon Sword and Shield competitive play. Players can paralyze Whimsicott's partner Pokemon with a move like Thunder Wave or they can Dynamax a Pokemon with a Flying-type move so that it can use Max Airstream, which deals damage and has the same effects as Tailwind. You can also bring in your own Whimsicott, thus creating a Tailwind standoff that negates each other out.
Pokemon Sword and Shield will officially be used in competitive play starting on January 4th. Let us know your competitive Pokemon team in the comment section or find me on Twitter at @CHofferCBus to talk about all things Pokemon!