Up until Alola where he finally won the whole thing after so many years of fans demanding it, the Pokemon League in the anime always resulted in Ash losing to some trainer or other. In some ways those losses were warranted in some ways they weren’t. This article ranks Ash’s league losses from worst to best.
6. Ash vs. Cameron-Unova League
This is the first (and hopefully only) time where Ash’s placement in a league has actually regressed compared to the previous league with him going from ranking in Best 4 of Sinnoh to Best 8 in Unova. And this league loss was just plain terrible in so many ways. First you have the fact that Cameron only brought 5 Pokemon to a six on six battle. Secondly you have his Riolu have a deus ex machina evolution when Ash’s Snivy was putting quite the hurting on it. Third there’s the fact that Ash lost when Cameron had only Riolu/Lucario left when Ash still had three Pokemon remaining two of which were fresh into battle. Fourth and finally the series introduced Eevee trainer Virgil prior who gave the appearance of a trainer who has far more skill and experience than Ash and he seemed like far more of an opponent for Ash to lose against and learn from. But no, instead the writers had Ash lose to this idiot instead and Cameron loses to Virgil in the next round in a battle we barely see. Heck how Cameron even managed to knock out three of Virgil’s Pokemon is beyond me. In any case this loss was infuriating in how little impact it made and even more so when you consider how hey discarded Ash vs. Trip, a rivalry that was set up since the beginning, right off the bat for this. Thankfully the writers seem to have learned from this mistake.
5. Ash vs. Ritchie-Indigo League
What do you get when Team Rocket holds you up on your way to the Pokemon League? A half-injured team that’s had no rest before the match and a battle that only has a few minutes to go and is rushed beyond belief. Seriously this battle was just baffling. Only one command is actually given to the Pokemon. Squirtle is ruled as unable to battle despite only being put to sleep by Butterfree’s Sleep Powder. Pikachu out of nowhere knew Double Edge (the only time it has ever used the move). Ritchie’s Charmander is recalled and somehow ruled as unable to battle. And Charizard napping on the battle is considered forfeit. I think the judge was so fed up with waiting that he just wanted to get it over with. And while Ash’s inability to get Charizard to listen was genuinely upsetting this is a match that deserved better.
4. Ash vs. Alain-Kalos League
Kalos saw Ash build a team that NO region, even Sinnoh had ever had him build. Aside from Pikachu, every member was fully evolved (I half expected Ash to be heading into the league battling with a Noibat), they were comprised of the some of the most popular Pokemon of the region, and each of them showed relatively good battle potential and were raised well. Ash also had a series of rivals most notably Alain who Ash could never beat multiple times even at his best. The final match of the league had these two pitted against each other in an enjoyably evenly matched back and forth battle culminating in Ash Greninja vs Mega Charizard X. Unfortunately the writers didn’t want to give Ash the satisfaction of Ash beating this opponent (and now never will) and Charizard won. This is just disappointing given all the hard work and that Ash Greninja is gone forever. I mean they could have at least tied (I honestly wonder what would happen if they did).
3. Ash vs. Tyson-Hoenn League
I will say this much: Tyson is an opponent that warranted Ash’s inevitable loss in Hoenn. Compared to Ash he had quite the line-up which made it enjoyable how Ash was able to do as well as he did. And the way the battle went you could tell even when Ash was picking up wins just how much more experienced Tyson was by comparison in his moves and the damage and pressure he was inflicted. The only downside is that a Meowth as his ace is just plain goofy in comparison to his other team members. No matter how cool they try to make him look by making him look like Puss in Boots.
2. Ash vs. Tobias
After defeating Paul at long last and parting with his rival on more peaceful terms, Ash found himself in the semifinals up against a trainer with a Darkrai who won every battle prior to this only with Darkrai. It was pretty obvious Ash was gonna lose against this guy right off the bat. Heck Darkrai takes out half of Ash’s team in just one blow. And even Sceptile took quite a beating before taking it down. Nevertheless even if Ash was pretty much going to inevitably lose it didn’t stop him from going all out and being the only trainer to take down Darkrai. Unfortunately the writers pretty much were intent on ensuring this match was in no way going to be smooth sailing by giving Tobias a Latios as well out of nowhere. And despite it pretty much being able to finish what Darkrai started it didn’t stop an enjoyable bout between Pikachu and Latios that ended on a bittersweet note (capped off with a Paul cameo). I just wish this should have been the finals since the runner up didn’t even take out Darkrai.
1.Ash vs. Harrison
Ah I remember watching this battle on my Gameboy Advance video (anyone remember those things). The battle is pretty much a classic win-loss-win-loss pattern between the two up until the end. But it gave even the worst of Ash’s team here a chance to have their shining moments. And they knew how to keep the back and forth interesting with just what each Pokemon could do and their trainer’s battling styles. And it culminates in one heck of a battle between Charizard and Blaziken that even though Charizard loses I can’t be too infuriated with. I mean it provided Ash an excuse to visit Hoenn. And it put up on heck of a fight to the point that Blaziken was too injured to fight resulting in Harrison’s loss in the next round. In any case this was a battle that showed two raging fires that were capable of going either way all throughout.
How do you rank Ash’s league losses. Any you disagree with? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!