Before I begin, I feel the need to warn that there are spoilers ahead for the Pokémon anime, up until the current episodes of XY&Z, in addition to previews for the next few episodes. I also mention some revealed info about Sun and Moon at the very end (but I’ve marked this). If that doesn’t bother you, proceed.
The Kalos series of the Pokémon anime is winding down, and those who weren’t watching, like me, would be surprised to find out that Ash has reached the finals of the Kalos Pokémon League. His opponent is Alain, the main character of the Mega Evolution specials.
Up until now, Ash’s best showing was in Sinnoh, where he got to the top 4 before the eventual champion, Tobias, who only used Darkrai up to that point, defeated his party of six using Darkrai and Latios, who were both knocked out in the process. (Ash was the only one who was able to even knock out the Darkrai, since it was able to win at the finals alone.) Alain has done much the same thus far, only using Metagross and Mega Charizard X on-screen.
But it actually looks like Ash will force Alain to use his entire party, unlike Tobias. How do I know this? Just look at the episode preview for their battle:
Yes, unlike with everyone else, Alain is using his entire team. So we now know both of their parties:
- Ash: Pikachu, Greninja (Ash-Greninja), Talonflame, Hawlucha, Goodra, Noivern
- Alain: Charizard (Mega Charizard X), Metagross, Weavile, Tyranitar, Unfeasant, Bisharp
Both teams are really poorly built in terms of weaknesses, but whatever.
We also see several match-ups. But before I list those, I should mention a rule this league has: The arena changes after 3 Pokémon on one side is knocked out. The preview reveals that the finals will have a mountain and a field. For that reason, I’ll note the arenas for the fights because it makes analyzing the fights a lot easier.
- Pikachu fights Tyranitar (mountain), Metagross (field) and Charizard (field)
- Hawlucha fights Weavile (mountain)
- Talonflame fight Unfeasant (mountain)
- Noivern fights on the mountain
- Bisharp fights on the mountain
If you double-checked me, you’ll notice that we don’t see where Talonflame and Unfeasant are fighting in the preview because they’re in the air. That’s correct, but there’s a second preview that makes it clear that Talonflame is in the mountain arena:
But the match-ups only scratch the surface of what’s revealed by the preview. The preview makes no attempt to obscure the scoreboard, which is quite helpful. But, again, before this is helpful, you need to understand the layout of the Kalos league’s scoreboard compared to other leagues. There’s one important difference, and I’ll use a screenshot from Ash’s semifinal match against Sawyer as an example:
The way these scoreboards are laid out, each competitor’s active Pokémon is displayed opposite to them, and available Pokémon who’ve simply been withdrawn are displayed starting from next to the active Pokémon. Pokémon who’ve been KO’d are displayed on the opposite end, starting from the side with their trainer, and the pokéballs in between represent Pokémon not sent into battle yet.
Additionally, Pokémon that are KO’d are put at the end of the list, meaning the first Pokémon KO’d will slowly move up the list to be closer to the active Pokémon as more and more are KO’d.
From that, along with the arenas, we see that some of the shots we see in the preview are big tip-offs:
This shot here shows that Pikachu VS Tyranitar is the first match-up. That is, unless Ash withdrew someone already, since we can’t see the last slot, which is either blank or a withdrawn Pokémon. I believe the second preview is implying Pikachu opens the fight, however.
These two shots, implied to be at the same time as each other due to the explosion that covers up the board less than a second later, show what the match is like by the time Talonflame fights Unfeasant.
We see Ash has Pikachu withdrawn with Noivern and Hawlucha KO’d. Alain withdrew Bisharp and has Tyranitar and another Pokémon KO’d. I can’t make it out from the silhouette, but since we know Hawlucha fought Weavile, that has to be Weavile via process of elimination.
Since this fight happens on the mountain, and the match started on the mountain (as we can tell because that’s also the arena for Tyranitar VS Pikachu), Ash cannot have a third KO’d Pokémon just outside the edge of the screen. We know this because the arena would be switched at that point.
This reveals a surprisingly large amount.
Since Tyranitar and Pikachu open the fight and Tyranitar is down, Pikachu beat Tyranitar. Pikachu was likely withdrawn at this point. Noivern was the first to be knocked out, so I can only presume it fought Bisharp and lost (since they’re the only ones who we don’t know the opponents for). Bisharp is then withdrawn. Then Hawlucha comes in, Alain swaps for Weavile and we either get a draw or the winner is swiftly KO’d by the bird on the loser’s side. It then becomes a bird fight. Then one loses (or we get a double KO) and the arena changes because one side lost 3 Pokémon.
We pretty much know this for a fact thanks to the scoreboard. The field arena’s scenes are a mystery.
This is just a hunch, but I can only assume that a double KO does happen, so Alain brings in Charizard at this point to try and steamroll the fight, but Pikachu holds on so well that he decides he needs to conserve his Mega and swaps to Metagross. Metagross will probably defeat or tie with Pikachu, since we can see Pikachu pretty beat up by the time he fights Charizard and Metagross.
At the very least, the image below, a preview for the second episode of the fight, makes it certain that Charizard isn’t going down in this episode:
There’s something you may not have noticed until this point: Goodra and Greninja aren’t shown in the first half’s previews at all. The only hint of Greninja is that he’s in the second episode.
What this implies is that, for the second episode of the fight, Ash has 2 completely fresh Pokémon (and possibly a weakened Talonflame) to go up against 2-4 of Alain’s weakened Pokémon, depending on how the match goes (Charizard, Bisharp, possibly Metagross, possibly Unfeasant). If my hunch was actually correct, then it’s a fresh Goodra and Greninja against a weakened Bisharp and Charizard.
Granted, that Charizard is a monster, but I’d say that matchup looks favourable to Ash. Not only due to Greninja’s type advantage, Goodra could also set up a Rain Dance against Mega Charizard X to tip the scales in Greninja’s favour. In fact, that’s probably the case, as you can see water droplets in the center of that shot of the second half.
Some other, more meta evidence includes the second episode of the fight being titled “Kalos League Victory! Ash’s Ultimate Match!!”, and that the episode immediately after it is about Team Flare, who Alain works for, kidnapping Ash. Why bother kidnapping him if you have someone working for you who’s proven to be able to defeat him? I believe it more likely they’ll kidnap him because he’s league champion and beat one of their strong members.
But you may be asking yourself how it would even be possible for Ash to win at the league, since he’ll never be replaced, and him becoming a Pokémon master will be the final episode of the show. That’s simple. Ever since Sinnoh, the series has established that there’s another step: the Champion League. And I think it may take place in Alola this time. Why? (WARNING: Next paragraph contains Sun and Moon information! Skip if you aren’t up to date.)
Because there are no gyms in Alola. Ash could go there in advance of the Champion League and take Alola’s Island Challenge to get closer to his Pokémon and catch new ones before the league starts. This would allow Ash to travel to Alola and integrate the change in structure without being a repeat of the Orange Islands.
It’s for those reasons that I think Ash is likely to win at the Kalos League. I’d love to hear any other opinions on the matter.