Ash Ketchum has traveled many regions of the worldPokémon on your journey to become the best. In almost all of them, he ends up competing in the region’s Pokémon League tournament, where he fights for the chance to become the best trainer in the region.
All of Ash’s Pokémon League competitions have unique themes, battles, and opponents, and over the years he has competed in them with varying levels of success. It’s no secret that Ash’s journey is full of ups and downs, and this is especially true of Pokémon Leagues due to its enormous importance in the series.
7/7 The Indigo League has aged poorly
The most difficult Pokémon League to pick up is easily the Indigo League, where Ash’s inexperience is as apparent as the series’. The frustrating thing about this arc is that neither Ash’s wins nor losses are earned properly.
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Ash wins several rounds using untrained but inexplicably outmatched Pokémon, and his loss to Ritchie is largely forced by Team Rocket, which depletes Ash’s team and forces him to use his wayward Charizard. The only redeeming quality of the Indigo League is his contribution to Ash’s character development, forcing him to accept his shortcomings as a coach and to better himself.
6/7 The Unova League made a lot of strange decisions
The Serie White and Negro is controversial for many reasons, but one especially frustrating part to beat is the Unova League. It is the only Pokémon League in which Ash performed worse than in the previous series, falling back from the top four to the top eight due to the soft reset of his character.
Ash’s regression alone would be enough to stain Unova League, but it’s also filled with plenty of filler between battles and anticlimactic combat, like Ash’s 1v1 battle with Trip or his 6v5 battle. with Cameron. Ash’s battle with Stephan is the most fun, but it’s not enough to save the League’s poor script.
5/7 Hoenn League left little impact
With no notable gimmicks or recurring subplots to solve, the Hoenn League is the most straightforward Pokémon League in the series. Although its flaws aren’t as prominent as those of other Leagues, it suffers from both a lack of interest and variety.
The Advanced Generation It’s the only series where Ash doesn’t have any major rivals, so there’s no reason to get involved in the battles beyond cheering for Ash. Plus, he sticks strictly to his Hoenn team throughout the tournament, and with almost every on-screen battle centering around Ash, his limited range of options starts to feel like a drag.
4/7 The Kalos League was exciting but rushed
The Kalos League is known for having many of the highest peaks and lowest valleys of any Pokémon League arc. On one hand, the battles shown are visually stunning and feature various creative strategies by Ash and his rivals. Unfortunately, the writing suffers from the incredibly fast pace of the last few arcs of XY.
So many battles are skipped that Ash makes it to the semi-finals in the second episode, and two of Ash’s six Kalos Pokémon fail to win onscreen. Lack of time also prevents the League from fully exploring their themes of the meaning of victory, culminating in Ash’s controversial loss to Alain.
3/7 The Johto League was satisfactory for its time
By the end of the original series, the Johto League was able to take on its own personality and make up for many of the things that the Indigo League lacked. Most importantly, it brought a proper battle and conclusion to Ash’s rivalry with Gary, and their battles demonstrate Ash’s growth in skill and maturity.
There are missed opportunities with the Johto League, such as the absence of the likes of Casey and Ritchie, and it lacks the ambition of many of the later Leagues. On the whole, though, it achieves what it was meant to do and allows the original series to say goodbye on a high note.
2/7 The Alola League shakes up the formula
The Alola League is without a doubt the most unique of all the Pokémon Leagues. As the region’s first League, there are no entry requirements, and Ash’s classmates and even various villains joined in on the action. Most shocking of all though, Ash finally won this League and became the first Alola Champion.
This change from the usual format comes with some very eventful battles, but the positives far outweigh the negatives. The Alola League focuses more on characters than big fights and offers almost the entire cast of sun and Luna one last moment to shine. Also, the more intense battles at the end prove that Ash is a worthy champion.
1/7 The Sinnoh League was always exciting
The League of Sinnoh brings together everything needed for a successful Pokémon League arc. All of the battles shown are strategic and engaging, each becoming progressively more intense until Ash’s legendary battle against Paul. It’s also the last time to date that Ash brings back his reserve Pokémon for big battles, so he pays homage to the past while still being fresh.
The League of Sinnoh’s most flagrant flaw is the absurdity of Ash’s defeat against Tobias, but even this battle boasts plenty of memorable scenes and some of Ash’s most impressive feats of strength. Other than that, League of Sinnoh is simple but well executed.