Best answer: Players will encounter eight gyms when playing either Pokémon Sword or Pokémon Shield. Initially, it was believed that director Shigeru Ohmori stated there would be 18 gyms in one game. However, this was a misunderstanding, most likely due to a translation error from Japanese to English. The Pokémon Company has clarified that between Pokémon Sword and Shield, there are 18 different types of gyms, but players will only battle at eight gyms in either game.
Yes, there are only eight gyms
With the November 15, 2019 release date for Pokémon Sword and Shield drawing nearer fans are getting more and more excited to play. As with previous generations, players will find differences between the Sword and the Shield version of the Gen 8 games. One of the most significant differences between them will be the types of gyms players battle during their journey around the Galar region. There has been some confusion with people believing that players would encounter 18 gyms when playing Sword or Shield. The truth is that players will only battle at eight gyms.
Why did people think there were going to be 18 gyms?
In September, Pokémon Sword and Shield's director, Shigeru Ohmori, had an interview with Game Informer where he stated the following:
"From an actual gameplay and experience perspective, there will be certain gym leaders that will be different depending on which version you've played. In terms of the setting itself, the background to the story is that they are Japanese-style J-1 and J-2, like minor league and major league kind of concept. There are 18 different types of gyms in the story, and depending on the version, which gyms are in the minor league and which gyms are in the major league are different. For example, in Sword, the fighting-type gym will be in the major league, but in Shield, the ghost type. The idea is that every year, the Galar region is playing and which gyms make it into the minor league versus the major league changes. Of course, as always, there's a difference in the kinds of Pokémon you can encounter."
Many readers misunderstood Ohmori's statement and took it to mean that there were going to be 18 gyms broken up into leagues in Pokémon Sword and Shield. This turns out to have been incorrect.
How do we know it's only eight gyms?
Since the interview, the Pokémon Company International has come out with the following statement:
In the Galar region, Pokémon Gym Battles are popular sporting events, and the 18 different types of Gyms that exist in Galar contribute to the background setting of the story in Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield. In each game, Trainers must collect eight Gym Badges to complete the Gym Challenge and earn the opportunity to participate in the Champion Cup.
Over the course of the main story, Trainers will challenge eight Gyms, which are all in the Major League. Which Gyms appear in the Major League and Minor League will differ between Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield. For example, depending on the version of the game, Trainers will be able to challenge different Gym Leaders, such as Bea or Allister.
Each version will have eight Gyms and eight Gym Leaders that Trainers can battle for a traditional Gym Challenge experience that fans have enjoyed throughout the Pokémon video game series.
As you can see, players will only battle at eight gyms in either Pokémon Sword or Shield. The gyms you encounter will be different depending on which version of the game you're playing, but all gyms you battle at will be in the major league. The "18 gyms" refers to the number of total gyms found in both Sword and Shield. It's a little confusing, so we can see how some readers got confused.
At any rate, I'm super excited to see what all of the differences are between Sword and Shield. Changing up the type of gyms you encounter between the two versions is a new idea, and I'm excited to play through both games to take on all 18 gyms.
Romulus and Remus
Pokémon Sword and Shield
Who will you choose?
Trainers will have the chance to explore a brand new map and come across brand new Pokémon as well as familiar fan favorites. Players who choose Pokémon Sword will have the opportunity to capture the Legendary dog, Zacian, while Pokémon Shield players have the same chance to catch Zamazenta.
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