Another trio of impressive Pokemon Sword and Shield "leaked" starter evolutions is making the rounds again, but the images are now looking more likely to be fakes. The leaked art, which shows Scorbunny evolving into a speedy runner, Grookey evolving into a fencer, and Sobble evolving into a Crusader, hasn't been wholly disproved, though. However, the art bears a striking resemblance to fake starter evolutions spread before Pokemon Sun and Moon's release, which were commonly referred to as the "Ballio" leaks.
Leading up to the release of Pokemon Sun and Moon, an anonymous artist posted their supposed evolution "leaks" on 4chan. Those evolutions, much like the new "leaked" art tied to Pokemon Sword and Shield, was impressive. At the time, many Pokemon fans bought into the possibility of the Sun and Moon art being real. The faked Sun and Moon art was so impressive that Popplio's evolution went on to be commonly referred to as Ballio, and even built up its own fan-art community after being proven as fake.
Just days ago, a similar leak of Pokemon Sword and Shield starter evolutions was posted to 4chan. The quality of the art was also impressive, and of a similar style to modern Pokemon designs. However, there are similarities between the photos of the new evolutions and the classic Ballio "leaks".
For starters, the photos of the fake Sun and Moon evolutions are framed the same way as the recently leaked images of the Sword and Shield starter evolutions. Plus, each of the pictures feature the same tablet display, and they even include the same smudged dark line on the left side of the tablet in both generations of photos. It's worth noting, though, that the "leaks" can't be said to be fake with absolute certainty until their original artist speaks up to claim them, or until Nintendo and Game Freak reveal the official finalized art.
Just because these latest Pokemon Sword and Shield starter evolution leaks could be fake doesn't mean that they can't be appreciated for what they are. For instance, while the broader discourse around the upcoming Pokemon games for Nintendo Switch has been under the belief that Grookey will become a drummer or musician, the artist's above rendering that turns the Pokemon into a fencer is definitely well-done and intriguing.
Of course, there's always a possibility that these pieces of art are actually legitimate, and there's even the chance that their artist might have some insider knowledge on Pokemon Sword and Shield. Nevertheless, the safest approach would be to consider these "leaked" evolutions as just some great pieces of art that are fun to consider. After all, Nintendo and Game Freak will share the official Scorbunny, Grookey, and Sobble evolutions in due time.
Pokemon Sword and Shield release late 2019 exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.