NOTE: For an update after Ash’s victory in Alola, click here.
Our previous post about Ash Ketchum, shamelessly titled “Ash Ketchum is the Worst Pokemon Trainer Ever,” is far and away the most popular post on the site. We’re talking 125,000+ views and 200+ comments as people discuss a 10-year-old from Pallet Town and his repeated failings.
Amazingly, it’s been three and a half years since then. The Pokemon anime continued, and as episodes kept rolling out in Japan, a new title presented itself on the horizon: “Kalos League Victory! Satoshi‘s Ultimate Match!!” Making the Pokemon League finals was already a first for Ash (named Satoshi in Japan after the series creator), but winning? Finally realizing his dream? Accomplishing what he set out to do 930(!) episodes ago?
Nope, he lost. And that’s because Ash Ketchum is still the worst Pokemon trainer ever.
Before we dive into Ash’s latest failure, I need to go back and talk about his defeat in the Unova League. When the original article came out, all I had to go on were pictures of the episode as it aired in Japanese — there were no subtitles and certainly no dub yet. But as a couple people pointed out in the comments, Ash’s loss against Cameron in the quarterfinals is waaaaaay worse than I originally thought.
Ash has a team that’s best described as a hodgepodge of underwhelming nonsense, but he’s still managed to win three battles in the League so far. His match against Cameron is a back-and-forth affair where Hydreigon sets the tone early, but Ash’s Pignite and Pikachu do work to gain the advantage. With four of his six Pokemon fainted, Cameron sends out his Riolu, saying that the battle is in his hands.
Even Ash is confused by this. Don’t you have another Pokemon left as well? Turns out no, because this idiot kid thinks full battles are 5-on-5, not 6-on-6.
Excuse me for one second while I reach over here and push this caps lock key.
THIS DUMBASS GOT THREE ROUNDS INTO THE TOURNAMENT AND DOESN’T EVEN KNOW THE FREAKING RULES???
“But Chris!” you protest, trying to stop me from bullying a preteen. “He hasn’t needed his full team yet! It’s not his fault!”
Nope, not buying it. If Cameron had ever watched a full battle match in any of the leagues of any region, he would know better. And failing that, there’s a GIANT SCOREBOARD IN THE ARENA that shows their dumb pictures and how many Pokemon they have remaining.
Everyone in the stadium is literally shocked that this kid thinks he’s supposed to have five Pokemon on his team instead of six. But you know what hurts the worst? Despite all that, Ash loses anyway.
We talked in the last post about Cameron’s Riolu conveniently evolving in the middle of this particular battle, and how bad it is that Ash is running stuff like Snivy and Oshawott when he has powerhouse options at his disposal. But losing a 6-on-5 match to a kid who might actually be the dumbest boy on the planet? Yikes.
Two weeks ago, Ash made it all the way to the finals of the Kalos League at the Lumiose Conference. As the episode title leaked, speculation ran rampant: Is Ash finally going to win a Pokemon League? Is this his moment?
Standing in his way in the finals is Alain, a formidable opponent. Ash has faced Alain twice before, with our hero’s Greninja squaring off against a powerhouse Mega Charizard. Ash came up short both times, but seemed to be making progress as his bond with Greninja increased.
Ash isn’t playing around this time: he has a team full of beefcakes ready to go. Goodra, Greninja, Talonflame, Hawlucha, Noivern, and his level 1,296 Pikachu. Of course, Alain is no slouch, rocking a Bisharp, Weavile, Tyranitar, Unfezant, Metagross, and his trusty Charizard.
The battle is an absolute slugfest, with both employing masterful strategy and powerful moves to see who blinks first. It ultimately comes down to Greninja and Charizard once again, and the pair go at it in relentless combat. At the end, we get the old Pokemon trick of both landing a hard-hitting move, standing and staring at each other across the battlefield, before Charizard seems to stumble…only Greninja goes down first, and Ash loses.
Now, to be clear, Ash’s loss in Kalos is not an embarrassment — he made it the farthest he’s ever advanced in a Pokemon League tournament and fought a great battle against a strong opponent. It’s the expectations that kill here. If that episode title hadn’t leaked, maybe fans wouldn’t have gotten their hopes up. But it did, and they did, and Ash lost. Again.
So here we are, approaching a thousand episodes and 20 years of the Pokemon anime. It looks like Ash will return in the Sun/Moon chapter of the show, but anything beyond that is a question mark at this point.
Ash has added several tenacious Pokemon from the Kalos region to a growing list of strong options at his disposal: Charizard, Snorlax, Heracross, Sceptile, Infernape, Torterra, etc. Coming off his highest placement ever, he should be a threat in the Alola region. But remember, winning the League isn’t enough — there’s still the Elite Four and the Champion to deal with, and we know these exist in the anime.
At the show’s current pace, Ash’s next attempt at the Pokemon League (if he even gets one) wouldn’t happen until 2019 or 2020, by which point I’ll be in my mid-30s.
These posts are meant as humiliation not for an eternally 10-year-old cartoon character, but for the writers who continue to dangle his goals in front of him like a carrot on a stick, only to cruelly pull them away over and over again. When I wrote the original post, it was primarily satire. Ash isn’t literally the “worst” trainer of all-time — he’s come across many who were less smart, less kind, less adaptive and less creative.
But when you consider his success (or lack there of) relative to the opportunities he’s had, and the fact that his goal from the beginning was to be a Pokemon master and he’s come nowhere close, that’s when reality sets in:
Ash Ketchum is the worst Pokemon trainer ever.