Update, October 4, 4.54pm:
The Pokémon Company has clarified that Pokémon Sword and Shield that the Galar region is famous for its 18 gyms across ‘Major’ and ‘Minor’ leagues, but players will come across only eight of these in their journey (via Siliconera).
‘In each game, Trainers must collect eight Gym Badges to complete the Gym Challenge and earn the opportunity to participate in the Champion Cup,’ the statement from the publisher read. These eight gyms are in the Major league, but they will vary between the Sword and the Shield version of the game.
Original story, October 2:
Pokémon Sword and Shield will have 18 Gyms for players to conquer and they will extend to ‘Major’ and ‘Minor’ leagues that are dependent on the version of the game (via Game Informer).
The series’ standard was a collection of eight Gyms for Pokémon players to encounter and defeat throughout their journey in the region. Pokémon Sun and Moon integrated the Island Kahuna trainers as the big bosses that would have dominated a gym, and instead offered puzzles and exploration around Alola, occasionally stumbling into the Totem Pokémon.
Game Informer procured exclusive info on the next Pokémon game, and shared that there will be not zero, not eight, but 18 Gyms that players will discover in Galar. The total will be divided into ‘Major’ and ‘Minor’ leagues, and I understand that this mimics how football teams work in real life too. Not that it matters hugely, because Pokémon Gym battles will always be infinitely more exciting than a game that originated in the perverse practice of kicking your enemy’s decapitated head about a field.
The Gyms in each league will shift with each year, and some Gyms will only appear in the Sword or the Shield version of the game. For example, Bea’s Fighting-type Gym will be found in Pokémon Sword’s Major league, whereas Allister’s Ghost-type Gym will materialise in Pokémon Shield’s Major league. It was left unknown as to whether players will be able to take on all 18 Gyms, though. But, there are 18 Pokémon types and this could be the first game that has a Gym for each type of Pokémon.
Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield will launch on November 15 for the Nintendo Switch.