With the return of Cobalion to the raid scene, we finally have information on the signature attack of the Swords of Justice: Sacred Sword. This attack is somewhat unique among "signature attacks", as it's surprisingly well distributed when contrasted against other attacks along these lines, with one Pokemon currently learning it, two other Pokemon currently released basically guaranteed to learn it, and several more on the horizon that have the potential to learn it. So how much of an impact is Sacred Sword going to make looking forward? Let's begin by analyzing the move, and then move on by taking a look at the Swords of Justice and other potential users in the future.
Sacred Sword: The Move
Sacred Sword: PvE
Sacred Sword turned out to be a Charged Move (as generally expected). So let's look at its stats:
Let's just say this outright: Sacred Sword is a good move. In terms of the DPS*DPE metric, it ranks as the 10th strongest move in the game (including unreleased moves that are in the Master File), sitting right above Crab Hammer and just a bit below Meteor Mash. It is the second-strongest 3-bar move, ranking below Doom Desire, and the 3rd strongest Fighting Type move, after Flying Press and Aura Sphere. On top of this, it's also amazingly fast, as it's a near clone of Blaze Kick in terms of speed.
This would be a dream move for basically any Fighting Type Pokemon, as it has a fantastic mix of power and flexibility. The fact that it's a three-bar move with such fantastic speed means it works like a dream for dodging, and would be amazing on any glass-cannon Pokemon. Honestly, Sacred Sword is one of the most complete-package moves in the entire game right now.
Sacred Sword: PvP
As if its PvE performance wasn't enough reason to want this move, its PvP performance is also stellar. In essence, this move is a Fighting Type clone of the coveted Body Slam, mixing the lowest energy cost that can currently be found in the game with very solid damage to make a blazingly fast and extremely powerful attack. On top of all of this, Sacred Sword has the advantage of a hugely pervasive offensive typing, hitting a huge number of meta-relevant Pokemon for Super Effective damage. In essence: basically every Pokemon ever wants Sacred Sword.
The Iron Will Pokemon is the first to receive Sacred Sword. This Steel/Fighting Type Pokemon has a few unfortunate issues, cardinal of which is its low attack power that holds it back in raids. That said, it does have some decent stats for PvP, though it's held back in other areas.
Sacred Sword Cobalion: PvE Performance
Cobalion has a sad case in the PvE meta. Its low attack and lack of a Fighting Type quick move hurt it badly, and the sheer power of Sacred Sword is not enough to rectify the issue. Its best matchups would be against Ice or Rock-type Pokemon which are weak to both Sacred Sword and Metal Claw, Cobalion's only STAB Fast Move, but even then it falls short. Its 3-bar Fighting Type charged move could make it a solid choice for gym cleaning, but beyond that it's simply not worth raising a Sacred Sword cobalion right now.
Sacred Sword Cobalion: PvP Performance
Cobalion honestly would have preferred it if Sacred Sword would have been a fast move as its current fast move choices are not good. Its best option is Metal Claw at 2.5 DPE and 3 EPT. It at least has decent energy gain, but that loss in power does hurt
Metal Claw + Sacred Sword & Stone Edge
Metal Claw + Sacred Sword & Iron Head
Sacred Sword is basically a must-have for Cobalion now, as its low energy cost and high STAB power patches up the weakness brought on by Metal Claw a bit. The better secondary move is probably Stone Edge as it has fairly strong counter-coverage and great power, though Iron Head is a cheaper STAB option that can still perform fairly well
Cobalion won't be able to enter the Great League until it's released as a research Pokemon and it has a few big issues in the Ultra League: Giratina Origin, Giratina Altered, and Registeel. Yes, it loses to all three of the big-names of the league. It can beat a few niche Pokemon like Dialga, but overall it doesn't have much viability. The same goes for Master League, where it's basically dead weight.
Cobalion was given an amazing new tool, but it seems that it was given a hammer when it needed a screwdriver. Sacred Sword does not bring Cobalion into genuine relevance.
Terrakion is likely the next Pokemon to get Sacred Sword, and it's the Pokemon with the strongest potential on the PvE side. It has a very solid attack stat that allows it to hit very hard when it's Super Effective, and a fair typing for most of the Pokemon that it will end up fighting
Sacred Sword Terrakion: PvE Performance
Terrakion suffers from the same issue as Cobalion, only to a lesser extent: a lack of a Fighting Type fast move. That said, Smack Down is at least better than Metal Claw in this regard. It provides the same basic niche that Fighting/Steel brings; Ice Types which are weak to both, and in this niche it has a very strong presence. However, it's still outdone in terms of DPS by Lucario, and its niche is generally going to be too small to be genuinely valuable. Terrakion might be worth an investment if you're extremely interested in upcoming Ice Types such as Kyurem, but it's generally not very recommended.
Sacred Sword Terrakion: PvP Performance
Smack Down + Sacred Sword and Rock Slide
Sacred Sword synergizes fairly well with Terrakion's overall moveset, generally speaking. Smack Down has 4 DPT and 2.66 EPT, making it a slow but powerful attack. The low cost of Sacred Sword is a God send in this regard, as it gives Terrakion substantially more shield pressure and offensive presence than what it had before. For secondary moves, Rock Slide is generally preferred due to the previously mentioned synergy between Rock and Fighting and its lower energy cost. Earthquake is another good move, but it doesn't provide much important coverage that Fighting doesn't already have, and is fairly expensive.
Terrakion can't enter the Great League, and even after it can its attack-weighted stats will make it a lackluster pick. In the Ultra League, Sacred Sword will make Terrakion a stronger presence, but it still loses to many of the big names of the tier, including both flavors of Giratina and Registeel. As for Master League, its niche is actually widened a bit by Sacred Sword, where it can be used to counter a few Pokemon. That said, it's still fairly lackluster and isn't worth too much thought.
Virizion will likely be the last of the core-three members of the Swords of Justice to receive Sacred Sword, being the last core member in terms of dex number and initial release. Its stat spread is identical to Cobalion, but its Grass/Fighting typing makes it a very different Pokemon overall.
Sacred Sword Virizion: PvE Performance
No use beating around the bush here: Virizion is outright bad. While Cobalion and Terrakion at least have some synergy between their fast moves of choice and Sacred Sword, Virizion was cursed with Quick Attack, which is Normal Type and can never deal Super Effective damage, which is the crux of Raids. Virizion could be an okay gym cleaner, but that's the literal extent of its utility despite the power of Sacred Sword.
Sacred Sword Virizion: PvP Performance
Quick Attack + Sacred Sword and Leaf Blade
Virizion is arguably the most exciting member of the Swords of Justice in terms of PvP, as it has the best combo of moveset and stats to make use of it. Quick Attack won't deal Super Effective damage, but it isn't resisted by much, and has a nice 2.5 DPT/3.5 EPT spread, which lets it charge up energy at an above-average rate. This combined with the lightning fast combo of Sacred Sword and Leaf Blade means that Virizion will be throwing out Charged Moves extremely quickly, making it a premiere spammy Pokemon.
Virizion has some very real potential in the Great League with this moveset, assuming it's released as a Research Breakthrough so that it can join. It has the potential to operate as something similar to Regsteel, where it spams quick moves with abandon and fires off powerful charged moves. It's pretty exciting in that regard, and could have some very nice niches thanks to Sacred Sword. For Ultra League, it has a few niches such as being able to handle Registeel, though just like its compatriots it still fears both flavors of Giratina. For Master League it's a bit weak, but it could see some niche application thanks to its fast and spammy play style.
Other Sacred Sword Users
From the expected to the unexpected, Sacred Sword is a versatile attack with a modest number of Pokemon that can learn it. These are the remaining final-form Pokemon, and a bit of speculation as to what Sacred Sword could be used for.
It hasn't even gotten its Community Day yet, but boy would this be a nice gift! In the main series, Oshawott, Samurott's first-stage evolution, can learn Sacred Sword via breeding. This means that Samurott has the potential to learn this move at some point in the future, and we've seen other Pokemon learn another Poke's exclusive move before, like Clefable learning Meteor Mash
On PvE, it's basically worthless. But for PvE, this and Hydro Cannon together could make Samurott a powerful offensive Pokemon. It could become extremely threatening with two very strong and cheap moves, especially with its powerful Fast Move options in Waterfall or Fury Cutter. While this is an unlikely outcome, it would certainly be extremely interesting!
Keldeo is a Water/Fighting Type Mythical Pokemon and the 4th member of the Sacred Swords. It too learns Sacred Sword, and would definitely love it if not for one issue; Keldeo has its own Signature Move called Secret Sword, so it may very well see an even stronger variant of this move going forward. If Sacred Sword is added to Keldeo's existing moveset, it would become the 2nd highest Fighting Type DPS option, sitting right behind Lucario.
If Keldeo does see an upgrade to Sacred Sword in Secret Sword, then it could take the Fighting Type crown, and it could force its way into PvP by virtue of its move power. The second forme shown in the image above is of its Resolute Forme, which it takes as a sign that it knows Secret Sword. This alone means that we're nearly guaranteed to at least see Secret Sword at some point in the future.
Note that Keldeo is not included in the main group above with an in-depth review, as it is very likely to see a moveset revamp pre-release.
This Ghost/Steel-type from Gen 6 has loved using Sacred Sword in the main series as the combo of Ghost and Fighting is currently unresisted, and it would likely love it here as well.
As the above image shows, Aegislash has two formes: sword and shield. When in sword form, its attack stat skyrockets and its defense drops, while in shield its attack falls like a rock and its defense shoots up. It's like this Pokemon was made for Go, with its Sword Forme for raids and Shield Forme for PVP.
For PvE, it's unlikely that Aegislash would care about Sacred Sword, as it will probably want to focus on being a Ghost attacker. But for PvP, a Shield Forme Aegislash could become a huge threat with a mix of Sacred Sword and Shadow Ball, throwing around an unresisted combo of high-damage attacks. Aegislash is definitely one to watch out for!
One of the "Ultra Beasts" from Generation 7, Kartana is a strange Pokemon. It has a sky-high attack rating and a Steel/Grass typing, but defenses like paper (appropriate since it's supposed to represent Origami!). In the main series it has access to Sacred Sword and Leaf Blade, meaning it could very well become an extremely spammy Pokemon like Virizion is likely to be.
Kartana is unlikely to get a Fighting Type quick move, though it could operate as a bit of a pseudo-fighting Glass Cannon due to its high attack. It's unlikely to reach the top, but it could still be interesting. On PvP, it will basically have to be given a very high energy-gain move to have any sort of utility due to its paper-thin defenses, though if it lucks out it could be a fun glass cannon.
The Generation 8 Steel/Fairy Type Cover Legendary Pokemon that looms very heavily on the Pokemon Go meta, Zacian is likely to be an absolute beast. Pictured above are its two formes: its hero forme is its basic forme and very powerful, while its Crowned Form is where it becomes downright frightening.
Sacred Sword could be a huge boon for Zacian. It may end up taking over the Fairy and/or Steel Type metas in PvE given the proper movesets, and it could be a viable pseudo Fighting-Type if given a Fighting Type quick move. As for PvP: it will likely be weak in the Great and Ultra Leagues due to its heavily offensive stats, but it could very well become a defining Pokemon of the Master League if given Sacred Sword along with a solid Fast Move.