While many would consider the Pokemon formula a tried-and-true method, Pokemon Sword and Shield developer Game Freak has shown some willingness to experiment in the past. In Pokemon Sun and Moon, this formula experimentation took the form of swapping out the 8 standard gym leaders for the Trial Captain and Kahunas of Alola, which was slightly controversial at the time. It didn't change up the formula much, though, and was eventually accepted as a matter of fact.
Now, Pokemon Sword and Shield has revealed that, while the Galar region will have gym leaders, it will not feature the Elite Four. After players collect 8 badges and complete the Gym Challenge, they will be able to enter the Champion Cup. This happens once a year in the Galar region and takes the form of a series of battles.
Instead of the Elite Four testing the skills of a trainer before facing the current champion, players will face other trainers who have completed the Pokemon Sword and Shield Gym Challenge and others (as the phrasing suggests there are other ways to get into the Champion Cup). The winner of this tournament will be able to face the reigning champion, and all of this is shown on live TV with all of Galar region watching.
Interestingly enough, certain contenders of the Champion Cup will have sponsors, which can also be seen painted around the stadium. The Pokemon Sword and Shield champion himself, as seen below, has plenty of sponsors emblazoned upon his cape, but whether this has an impact on the game, changes Sword and Shield's story, or is simply cosmetic fan-service remains to be seen.
How Pokemon fans react to this Sword and Shield revelation will be interesting, as this is the first game in the mainline franchise to not utilize the Elite Four formula. Even Sun and Moon that moved away from Gym Leaders still featured the Elite Four. Many will argue that it is time for a change, like Ash finally winning the Pokemon League, but others will stand steadfast by the tradition.
Pokemon Sword and Shield will launch on November 15, exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.
Source: Pokemon Sword and Shield