Outside of the Orange League, Ash has lost pretty much every Pokémon League he has participated in. Ash went through a lot of battles in each league. Some were good while some were bad. This article takes a look at the worst of the worst.
5. Ash vs. Ritchie
This one is lowest on the list because the loss did show that while Ash had come a long way since he left Pallet town, he still had some ways to go in battle and as a trainer. But the battle itself is complete rubbish. For one Ash’s Squirtle is immediately ruled as knocked out despite the fact that it was only put to sleep. Ritchie’s Charmander is ruled as knocked out although he merely switched it out (yet in the recap of the next episode it’s still shown to be able to battle). Also there’s the fact that only one command was actually given to each Pokémon. While it had a fine message, Ash’s loss was completely unfair here as he was held up entirely by Team Rocket putting him at a major disadvantage.
4. Ash vs. Clark
Thankfully the full battles that followed this one were a lot better because this double battle was just utterly unbelievable. Ash winds up pitting his Grovyle and Glalie against two fire types Charizard and Quilava. Yes type advantages don’t often mean much in the anime and to a lesser extent the games but for Ash to win this battle with both his Pokémon at a disadvantage (particularly when you consider that the Grovyle is still using pound) makes the suspension of disbelief fade.
3. Ash vs. Alain
After so much hype of having Ash finally make it to the finals, not being able to beat this rival, and being paired against him in the finals Ash still never got to beat this guy and now never will. And the series heavily built on Ash’s team making it a well fitting team for the finals and the battle itself was fierce. If Ash couldn’t beat this guy at least a tie would have been acceptable and even somewhat interesting. What would become of the trophy if there were no real winner? Some have argued that Ash will probably get an opportunity to win the Alola league. We are however now over 100 episodes in and he has only one fully evolved Pokémon and not even a full team yet.
2. Ash vs. Trip
It felt like the writers were just trying to rush this like “Ash has lost one too many times against this guy. Let the guy just win already.” What we got was an incredibly underwhelming one-on-one battle with Ash’s Pikachu and Trip’s Serperior where Pikachu just wins in one fell swoop in a way that just feels like bogus even by this show’s standards. It really undermines the strength of this Pokémon that has been shown to be a titan of Trip’s team throughout the entire series, and even this episode as Serperior lands multiple powerful strikes against Pikachu. Whereas Ash’s victories over past rivals gave a great deal of satisfaction with Ash having won at long last, this just felt empty (particularly with the fact that unlike other rivals Trip never appeared again after his loss. Even Paul got a cameo after Ash lost to Tobias.
1. Ash vs. Cameron
Where to begin with this battle? For one it marks the first time Ash has actually regressed in league rankings. And it’s not even a good regression. The Japanese title was released before the episode and it was a dead giveaway that Ash was going to lose this one. Ash’s Pignite out of nowhere knows brick break here to fight Cameron’s Hydreigon. Ash’s team itself is downright terrible only having Unfezant as a fully evolved Pokémon. What’s worse is that he stupidly keeps Pignite out against Cameron’s Samurott. Then there’s Cameron himself. The choices he makes in this battle (sending Ferrothorn against Pignite and Swanna against Pikachu) just feel like forced attempts to even the battle out. Cameron brings a mere 5 Pokémon to this full battle and still wins through a deus ex machina evolution despite Ash having a 3-1 lead (with two pokemon starting out fresh and one having a complete type advantage). The Unova series also introduced Eevee trainer Virgil who felt like a much better trainer for Ash to lose against.
Are there any other league battles you think deserved to be on this list or didn’t deserve it? Well leave them in the comments below.