Thirteen trainers in Gen I, twenty-four trainers in Gen II – who is ready for a full fifty-two trainer ranking for Gen III? We’re looking at RSE, FRLG and the two Colosseum games today and it’s gonna be a full house with so many tied rankings and arbitrary bonus points.
Here’s a quick list of all the lists in this project!
- Ranking the Gen I trainers
- Ranking the Gen II trainers
- Ranking the Gen IV trainers
- Ranking the Gen V trainers
- Ranking the Gen VI trainers
- Ranking the Gen VII trainers
- Ranking the Gen VIII trainers
We’re taking the same format as Gen II here, so there’s very little housekeeping to be done before we dive in. I will reiterate however that now that games have rematches three of the categories need elaboration. For Difficulty I am only rating the mandatory encounters for each trainer – for Gym Leaders this means the battle to get their badge and for trainers like Giovanni this takes all of their encounters into account. For totally optional but still notable and important trainers (for examble Gabby and Ty) I will be taking all of their battles into account. For Rosters and Creativity I am taking all of their rosters into account including rematches and side-quests.
Also of particular note is how high up the Colosseum and its sequel’s characters are on the list. It’s just due to the nature of those games that the important characters are very strong and tend to have creative and effective battle strategies. This is both due to the more competitive nature of the games and the nature of double battles as a whole, so their rankings may be perceived as inflated but on an even playing field I believe they are fair.
This will be a long one. I’ll try to be laconic.
#52 – Blaine
Alas, Blaine. I think I can express the sadness of his entry here with the following facts. Blaine has four Pokémon, two Pokémon families, two unevolved Pokémon, two movesets, and is the seventh Gym Leader in Kanto. Even his sprite is less interesting and imposing. Blaine suffered so hard in this generation. Blaine gets a measly 8.5 out of a maximum 30 points.
And this will be a running theme with the Gym Leaders of Kanto – they are so unfairly pitted against the Hoenn Gym Leaders who have interesting, challenging and fun rematch battles in Pokémon Emerald. They count, and the lack of rematches for the Kanto lot passively count against them as a result.
#51 – Lt. Surge
Very much like Blaine, Lt. Surge suffers from being quite a – in the long run – generic gym leader with not much to offer in terms of difficulty or fun gym puzzles. In fact, he loses a point for still having such an awfully fun-draining gym puzzle in Gen III.
Between his awfully coloured outfit, his boring roster and the fact that he gives out the TM for Shock Wave instead of the vastly superior ThunderBolt, Surgey-boy is a casualty of the war of Generational progress. A shocking 9.5/30 oh-so-narrowly saves him from an embarrassing last place.
#50 – Gideon
Gideon is somebody that many people may not recognise. He is a new character to FireRed and LeafGreen – a Team Rocket scientist who plays a large role in the Sevii Islands story that many of us is promptly ignored.
As a generic scientist he really doesn’t make much of an impression narratively but he’s a sight of what is yet to come in terms of important side-quest characters. His team is also themed well but unimposing and easy to deal with. Beating off two Gym Leaders, Gideon earns a genuinely respectable 50th place for an extremely minor character competing within seven games of trainers at 10/30.
#49 – Brawly
Resident hot-boy of Hoenn, Brawly doesn’t fare so well in an interesting generation. He uses interesting Pokémon like Meditite and in his rematches, Medicham and Hitmontop – but his strategies are consistently one-note and not very effective. Notably, Bulk Up is simply not as good as Calm Mind thanks to the way types work in Generation III with the Physical/Special split.
Even with rematch teams Brawly is devastatingly weak against Flying-type attackers and really hates high-Defence Pokémon. Not only that, but the idea of having all three Hitmon Pokémon has already been done by Bruno (who has somehow not already appeared on this list already). Add to these indictments his basic clothing choices, his arrogance to have a darkness-based gym for absolutely no reason and the fact that you never really have to face him until you want to face the Pokémon League and you have a solid 10.5/30 who probably doesn’t even deserve that.
#45 – Glacia
Even in a group with more than fifty members an Elite 4 finds herself this low down. Glacia absolutely suffers because of her utterly awful roster choices. Across three generations of Ice-type Pokémon she chooses two families to pick her team from. Not only that, but they are poor choices to begin with.
There is some semblance of effort there with strong move selection and Hail usage, but overall Glacia proves the player with a very boring battle at a stage of the game that should be full of excitement and challenge. Nevertheless, I love a floor-length gown. Glacia is the first of four trainers who hit 11/30 points.
#45 – Misty
After a thrilling showing in Generation II Misty is back at the end of the pack. With a boring blue two-piece, sub-par Pokémon choices and a strategy that simply defies an update to the Generation III milieu Misty really fucks up here. Some of these issues might have been solved by FireRed and LeafGreen incorporating Emerald’s decision to let us rematch the Gym Leaders but unfortunately that was not to be.
Misty lets us down with another 11/30. Hopefully she can redeem herself with strong performances in Generations IV and VII.
#45 – Bruno
Ah, here he is. A little bumped up from his placement in Generation I, Bruno still doesn’t really get to excel here. He is still incredibly weak to a very limited amount of coverage and is the easiest of the Elite 4 to deal with, but at least this time he gets a bonus point for finally evolving his Onix in the rematch battles – Steelix is a little bit more threatening.
Other than finally discovering Metal Coats, Bruno suffers from boring and predictable strategies. Of note is the fact that in the rematch round (AKA hard mode!) he has Foresight on his Hitmonlee, who doesn’t even have Hi Jump Kick, a move that works incredibly well with it! It’s another poor showing from Bruno who attains the third out of four 11/30 scores.
#45 – Sabrina
Ironically someone who could totally wipe the floor with Bruno, Sabrina rolls in at the same spot as him. Power creep has totally done Sabrina dirty and Psychic is no longer the powerhouse it once was – Sabrina is no longer the threat she used to be. Old criticisms still ring true with Sabrina building up a defensive team full of mostly offensive Pokémon who mostly have no place using Calm Mind, and she has a Venomoth who still uses Leech Life and Gust. This game did nothing for her.
Add to that her lost whip and the fact that she only bothered to teach Pyschic to her ace and Sabrina really deserves her place down here. She could have really done with a Rematch team but unfortunately she lacked that prosperity. Festering here with Bruno is a tough deal for the once-queen of Psychic types and Sabrina rounds out our quad of 11/30 scorers.
#43 – Roxanne
Roxanne had the potential to be as effective as Gen I Brock – an early wakeup call and teachable moment regarding the intricate Type and Effectiveness systems of Pokémon combat. What hinders Roxanne is her lack of flexibility and honestly, the few Routes that lie before her. Even when you ignore the fact that all three of the starters of Hoenn learn super-effective moves against Roxanne’s Pokémon very early on, it’s a fact that there are so many opportunities to catch Pokémon that counter her well that you’re extremely unlikely to find her a difficult wall than not to.
You have Shroomish, Lotad, Wingull, and even Surskit that learn super-effective Grass or Water-type moves to Roxanne’s Rock-type team. Even a decently-levelled Ralts can make a good show with Confusion.
She’d have an edge over Brock if she wasn’t so hampered by the variety of counters that populate the very routes that precede her – counting that though, she suffers a rather low 11.5/30. Propped up by her thematic costuming and somewhat decent exhibition of personality, Roxanne is saved from the lowest of the low.
#43 – Sidney
Tying with the first Gym Leader of his region, Sidney is already the second Elite 4 member on this list (which has 8 Elite 4 members on it). Not only that, be he’s the second Elite 4 member from RSE here too, exposing a worrying trend.
Sidney sports a pretty cool mowhawk which matches his pretty cool roster of Dark-type Pokémon that have very little thought put into their movesets or cohesive strategy. In fact, Sidney loses a whole bonus point for having two whole Pokémon (Shiftry and Absol – his ace) on his team without any STAB attacking moves. A very embarassing beginning to the Elite 4. Matching the first Gym Leader of the region, Sidney achieves a low 11.5/30.
#42 – Brock
Brock is in an awkward place where he does what Roxanne could have done better than her but not better enough. The fact of the matter is that time has moved on faster than Brock’s choices have and even with a new STAB move (Rock Tomb) boosting his offensiveness, there is now no starter than cannot overcome him now. Charmander can now learn Metal Claw, and this is seemingly only to counter Brock.
Where Brock used to be a lesson in super-effectiveness, he is now an easily overcome speedbump that any player can overcome without catching a single extra Pokémon. He can still provide a challenge to truly new players but combined with his basic in-game personality and *smirks* oh-so-lovely bomber jacket Brock gets a solid 12/30.
#40 – Phoebe
Generation III has a very poor showing in its Elite 4 and this is evidenced by already having the third member showing her face in the lowest 10. Phoebe is the Ghost-type trainer and she suffers so much from having not only two Banette but two Dusclops. She is supposedly one of the biggest challenges a player is supposed to face and yet her roster is as bland as unsweetened Weetabix.
Phoebe’s strategies aren’t that bad – she employs Attract, Toxic, Ghost/Curse and Confuse Ray to decent effect but the overall scope of her team’s effectiveness is so lacking that she simply could not get a higher spot. What saves her from the lower spots is an impressive fashion sense that looks like it belongs in Alola and some semblance of an origin story within her meagre dialogue. Phoebe ends up with a 12.5/30, tying with the next entry.
#40 – Brendan and May
The initial rival of RSE, Brendan/May have possibly the worst showing of any rival in the Pokémon series thanks to their poor team selection, short-lived relevance in the overall story and fatal failure to ever show off a fully-evolved enemy starter Pokémon.
Whereas Blue and Silver before them made for interesting and compelling rivals who were antagonistic to varying degrees and showed growth throughout their generations, Brendan and May hardly put up a fight for the most part and have comparatively little depth as characters – something that unfortunately carries over to many of the future rivals in the Pokémon series much to the chagrin of long-time fans.
Battle-wise, Brendan and May pose the biggest threat during their Route 110 battle just north of Slateport City. At this point you may not have levelled up much or caught a great variety of Pokémon and it’s quite easy to find yourslef outmatched. Other than that, this ‘rival’ is easily beaten most of the time. They lose an entire point for not even showing off a fully-evolved starter ever, thusly earning them a shared spot with Phoebe at 12.5/30.
#39 – Nascour
The first Gamecube trainer we’re finding on this list and there is a uh… very specific reason that he’s so low on this list. And it is not his team. In fact, he has a pretty strong showing in Pokémon Colosseum using pretty decent competitive sets on his Dusclops, Gardevoir and Xatu. His Blaziken however almost earns him an entire negative bonus point.
But no, what really fucks me off enough is his hair. Look at it. It’s some sort of Final Fantasy X Guado-style shit without the genetic excuse. There is not enough gel in the world to justify such a ‘do. Not even the most bullshit of modern Pokémon designs try out this sort of thing and for that Nascour earns the very first (and perhaps only) -2 bonus score for one point. He gets away with an almost competent 13/30 thanks to his existence in a Colosseum game where none of the important characters ever have truly bad teams.
# 36 – Greta
The first of the Frontier Brains rolls around at a triple-tied 36th, and she falls so low thanks mostly to her downright ugly ensemble and her lacklustre personality. She is a boring person. While it’s nice that she uses an Umbreon regularly enough to be considered her ace, there isn’t really much else to say about her.
Her challenge in the Battle Frontier is all about strategy and while she does have builds that centre and focus on earning points, they are easily countered once learned and for that Greta earns the first of three 14/30 scores of this list.
#36 – Gabby & Ty
The first but not the only pair of Pokémon trainers on this list, Gabby & Ty are an interesting duo. It cannot be argued that they are difficult to beat – they only ever have two Pokémon and they never change up their weaknesses. What they are however is interesting. Every time you beat them you get to partake in an interview and there are six of these encounters to have.
Gabby & Ty are a memorable and enjoyable feature of the RSE landscape and truly deserve a place on this list, despite their low challenge. Gabby shows off more charisma than many Gym Leaders and they are a great integration of story and gameplay with the televisions scattered around Hoenn – and that is something that I appreciate deeply. Showing off some geniune originality, this media-centric pair earns a second 14/30.
#36 – Ein
One of the four ‘Cipher Admins’ of Pokémon Colosseum, Ein is the first on this list for a few reasons. Firstly, he looks very boring. He has a spiky bit of hair and a lab coat and that’s about it. Similarly, his personality just exudes generic villain which is actually a very common complaint that I will level against most of the Colosseum bunch.
That said, I find him mostly boring as he is the trainer you can catch Raikou from. And Raikou is no doubt the worst, most vanilla, boring, basic legendary gerbil of the trio. It’s a full negative point for me. Mind you, I can’t hate on him that much as he does get the benefit of the doubt from his Deep Colosseum battles where he has one of the best Pokémon to ever exist – a Mantine. Third 14/30, we’re moving on now.
#34 – Flannery
Flannery is so much of a mixed bag. She has one of the coolest designs of Gen III but her gym challenge is so sorely lacking that she simply cannot rank much higher even with more generous scoring. In Ruby and Sapphire she has the gall to use two Slugma, and while her Emerald team isn’t so bad she suffers so much to any Water-type moves.
Her strategies of utilising Sunny Day and taking advantage of White Herb/Overheat save her from the bottom of the heap though as her full-offensive ideas pay off nicely in theory. While her gym puzzle isn’t quite as obnoxious as other teleport-puzzles of the past (cough Sabrina) to earn her a negative point, she is white bread enough to get a final score of 14.5/30.
#34 – Snattle
Equalling Flannery in placement in Snattle, a villanous Cipher Admin from Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness. Like so many other Cipher Admins on this list, Snattle replaces what might otherwise be Gym Leaders as ‘climactic boss battles over the course of an elongated story’. This way, we can see that his power in battle is justified and he does have so verifiable threats on his teams such as a flexible Scizor and Quagsire.
Where Snattle fails however is in his wider roster choices – he has a Casform in each iteration of his story team and despite that has no weather moves to speak of. In addition to that his Orre Colosseum team is a collection of defensive Pokémon who for some reason also have Explosion – a move that defies the very premise of a defensive team.
Between his strategic faults and his boring and generic presentation Snattle gets a 14.5/30 despite the variety of Pokémon he displays and his ownership of legendaries such as Regice and Regirock.
#30 – Tate & Liza
Truly a unique set of trainers, Tate & Liza make up two halves of a powerful whole when it comes to Hoenn’s roster of Gym Leaders. Being the seventh Gym Leader of the region you would expect them to have a very great stopping-power for the player but like their forebears Blaine and Pryce they fall short of the mark somewhat. Tate and Liza suffer from type-effectiveness and their most powerful contender being an Emerald-only pick (Xatu). In fact, these twins suffer the same fate as Blaine in that they are crippled by the same move that is required to even access their gym – Surf.
While their strategy of buffing up with Calm Mind and utilising Flying/Levitate and Earthquake is potentially devastating, it is unlikely to fool a savvy player who has been able to navigate Hoenn up to their point. Despite this, they have a fantastic rematch team which makes great use of Earthquake/Protect, Calm Mind and various status effects in such a way that proves them masters of the Double Battle style. They are the first of four 15/30 scorers to grace this list.
#30 – Koga
There really isn’t much to say about Koga in Gen III. Yes, he is still a cool ninja – but he still has that bloody obnoxious Gym puzzle that I find just so off-putting.
Koga is a Poison-specialist trainer who has – in a region with thirty-three Poison-type Pokémon – three Pokémon from only two families of Pokémon. Where is the Venomoth? The Tentacruel? The Arbok or the Nidoqueen or the Beedrill?
Koga does utilise a sort of thematic evasion-centric strategy which is nice but he also has two Pokémon rocking Selfdestruct so the Ninja comparison can really only be spread so thin. I find FRLG Koga lucky to have scraped 15/30.
#30 – Lovrina
Sporting cute Hatsune Miku-style pink twintails and an outgoing personality that belies her R&D background, Lovrina is a decently challenging trainer to rank. While the Pokémon she uses are easy to fell, her strategies are sound and can trip up the most steadfast of trainers.
Despite that, I find that Lovrina is a basic retread of anime tropes – a ‘pretty girl who uses attraction to her advantage’. While this smartly carries over to her mechanical strategies I find it reductive and for that reason she loses a point. She redeems this with potent Blissey and Meganium sets but she is sorely lacking otherwise. Wrap in Gen III? Saved by her charisma and compelling design, Lovrina is the third 15/30.
#30 – Gorigan
A man whose name and demeanour remind me so much of I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream, Gorigan joins his Colosseum-era ally Lovrina in this bracket. Gorigan is a character who I feel doesn’t really belong in the Pokémon universe – he is a smart person who is both built like an ape and moves like an ape, dragging his knuckles along the ground. In my mind, this is something that belongs in more basic universes such as the Mario franchise or something.
Roster-wise, Gorigan makes a decent showing. He thematically utilises many humanoid Pokémon and makes good use of the often rare Ursaring which I cannot help but appreciate. Apart from this, I can’t help but feel he fades into the background amongst his compatriots in the rich roster of Pokémon Colosseum characters. He is the final 15/30.
#26 – Noland
As I was scoring this dude, I felt like evaluating him as the truly average trainer of the region. Noland is the Factory Head of Emerald’s Battle Frontier meaning he has not real standard team and not much personality to boot. Much of his character is an unknown, random element and so he gets a few average, baseline 3/5’s in his scores simply for that reason.
With barely any dialogue and only an aversion to sleeves to go off Noland is difficult to get a grip on, but his randomness in battle and unknowable quality make him a compelling character and for that reason he is the first of another four trainers in the same bracket, at 15.5/30.
#26 – Maxie
The first of three Team Leaders on this particular list, Maxie suffers from a very lacklustre roster and disappointing outfit, mostly. He is an important part of the RSE narrative but simply does not excel as much as Archie does in design.
What he does have over Archie though is his Camerupt, which at least has a powerful STAB option and a nice alternative attacking move. Unfortunately, RSE is not the Generation to seek out competent villains. Maxie is another 15.5/30.
#26 – Erika
It was Erika all along! Wait… too early. Erika is like… decent in this gen? Like in Gen I she makes a decent showing with two fully evolved and imposing Pokémon but they are not powerful to pose a genuine threat. Add to that her penchant for doubling up on redundant status moves and Erika’s choices make less and less sense the more you look at them.
What saves her from the bottom is her charming personality and traditional garbs. I cannot hide my appreciation for Erika’s wardrobe choices and I don’t mind that. She gets a 15.5/30 which I dont think is too bad for a fourth Gym Leader.
#26 – Agatha
Oh here she is. Agatha severely suffered from the march of time both in design and in roster. Compare her original design to her Gen III design and you can see that she went from genuinely imposing old lady to a lady with a walking stick and some arrogance.
In FireRed and LeafGreen Agatha lost not only her standout design but her penchant for strategy – she swapped a focus on status and wearing down her opponents for a balanced approach that leaves her team split between damage-dealing and support. Her Arbok doesn’t even have Glare anymore, forgoing it for utterly useless coverage in Iron Tail and the laughable Screech. It’s a poor show and Agatha round out our 26s with 15.5/30.
#25 – Spenser
After two blocks of four trainers each, Spenser holds his own at #25. This Frontier Brain leverages his awesome ownership of a Suicune and his uniqueness of being a very cool elderly Pokémon trainer to secure a higher space than he would otherwise achieve.
With strong Pokémon including a nasty Slaking Spenser proves a threat in the Frontier challenge of Emerald players. With his age comes intelligence and wisdom however, and each of his Pokémon comes equipped with suitable held items and he can always be a threat. Add to that his very cool beard and his staff and he gets a nice 16/30.
#21 – Drake
The fourth of Hoenn’s Elite 4 to be featured here, Drake is a pretty decent trainer who rose a few spaces simply because I really do like sailor/pirate-themed trainers/anything. Like his brethren however he suffers from a limited Pokémon pool and a really severe weakness to even the glimmer of an Ice-type attack.
Drake gets by on personality and coolness, partially backup up by the rarity and ferocity of the Dragon type. He is easily the most personable Hoenn Elite 4 member but is an easily surmountable obstacle on the way to the champion , regardless of which game you face him in. The first of four 16.5/30 scorers, Drake takes a comfortable above-average spot.
#21 – Archie
Scoring just slightly higher than his rival Maxie, Archie gets into this spot thanks to his sailor-theming and the fact that his evil plan makes a fuckload more sense than Maxie’s does. Flooding the earth is so much more an achievable plan than *checks notes* creating more land?
That said, Archie as an enemy is still so disappoing and only differs from Maxie in his ace – a Sharpedo instead of a Camerupt. What is particularly disappointing though and prevents Archie from rising higher is the fact that his Mightyena or Sharpedo ever have or utilise a STAB move. That’s just… really bloody stupid. Not a single Bite nor Crunch between them. For that, Archie is stuck with three other 16.5/30s.
#21 – Lorelei
Augmented by her newfound lore-dump during the Sevii Islands quest, Lorelei finds herself as high up as she is with nicely bulky Pokémon, an attractive updated design and the flexibility of having a rematch roster.
Despite all this, Lorelei finds herself a rather easy opening to the Gen III Elite 4 and yet another victim of Game Freak’s reluctance to properly address the overall power creep that they started to gain at the beginning of this generation. Lorelei’s severe weakness to Electricity and her poor moveset choices bite her in the arse and prevent her from higher rankings, earning another 16.5/30.
#21 – Dakim
From Colosseum comes a very good example of strategy development: Dakim. A threatening and pretty cool opponent with a maybe-not stylish but cool Pokéball necklace, Dakim proves a problem with an Earthquake-heavy team that really needs to be taken out sooner rather than later. Add to that the fact that he has a very awesome Shadow Entei and you have a proper threat on your hands.
What makes Dakim really impressive is the fact that when you eventually get a rematch with him you realise he has upped his strategy extremely effectively. Dakim is a man who likes Earthquake, and when you first fight him he will use it with impunity despite 4/5 of his team being weak to Ground-type attacks. In the Deep Colosseum however his entire team is either immune to Ground-type attacks or has the Protect move – that is progress. With a shallow personality and predictable first showing, Dakim does end up with a 16.5\30.
#20 – Venus
Like Lovrina earlier on this list, Venus is a token female member of the evil side of Pokémon Colosseum and utilises an Attract strategy. Where Venus usurps Lovrina however is in how she is presented – she has a more up-front place in the world. Additionally, she owns a Shadow Suicune which is just so cool.
Even without a Suicuno Venus proves a threat and has a varied roster of Pokémon who can potentially devastate you either with decent coverage or Attract. Venus is formidible, and comes in at 20th with 17/30.
#18 – Wattson
The Gym Leader of Mauville can be quite a trciky one to defeat. Even with the bevy of trainers in the adjacent routes his highly-levelled team can be hard to take down without super-effective and you’re somewhat unlikely to have them at this point in the game. Even with his restricted Ruby and Sapphire team he can be somewhat hard to beat with a potent Selfdestruct Voltorb and sturdy Magneton to take care of – and that’s not even mentioning the speedy and tough Manectric that heads up his Emerlad roster.
Extremely jovial and surprisngly crucial to the worldbuilding of Hoenn, Wattson gains points for his role in the sidequests to explore New Mauville and Sea Mauville. These points make him a memorable Gym Leader amongst memorable Gym Leaders and earns him this high-ranking place at 17.5/30 points/
#18 – Brandon
Tying with Wattson is Brandon – a Battle Frontier boss who is head of the exploration-focused Battle Pyramid. While his outfit is boring as all hell and his personality sorely lacking, he more than makes up for these in his roster.
In his Silver challenge Brandon sports all three Regis, proving a very tough challenge for anyone not accustomed to dealing with very hardy defensive tanks, and they have movesets that accentuate this annoying quality. Move on to the Gold challenge and you have the more offensive Legendary Bird trio which can be absolutely devastating to the unprepared trainer. These Pokémon are perfectly built to fuck you over and if it weren’t for Brandon’s boring presentation he’d be much higher on this list – as it is, he’s tying on 17.5/30.
#16 – Ardos
One of the many evil trainers of Gale of Darkness, Ardos narrowly misses out on greatness despite a very strong showing in the story thanks to a rather generic team of sweeper Pokémon whose only strategy is to hit hard and hit fast.
Like his twin, Ardos has challenge to him – but he isn’t really all that interesting and therefore gets a simply nice 18/30.
#16 – Giovanni
Far more crucial to any storyline than Ardos, Giovanni again suffers due to a very poor team selection and an unceremonious ditching of Kangaskhan which I personally find reprehensible. As a character Giovanni is interesting and compelling – he is a mob boss in a world of mostly happy, fun, positive people. That is a fantastic contrast to the norm.
What lets Giovanni down here is the ease at which he is felled as a Gym Leader. Surf is a move you will definitely have and it will break apart any of his team, even the cool duo of Nidoking and Nidoqueen. This unfortunate truth paired with the lack of side-game bonus points prevents Giovanni from rising any further in Generation III’s crowded tier-list. He ties with a lesser twin at 18/30.
#15 – Winona
Looking back, I would definitely say that Winona benefits from my penchant for Flying-type Pokémon. While she makes a rather lacklustre showing in Ruby and Sapphire, her team in Emerald and rematches notwithstanding make her a force to be reckoned with.
Incorporating the Dragonite line and my personal favourite Noctowl into her rematch roster really reinforces my belief that Winona can do no wrong and she gets a perhaps inflated spot here at 19/30.
#12 – Juan
Suave and attractive, Juan makes a good impression in a very solitary entry in the series in Pokémon Emerald. Replacing Wallace as the 8th Gym Leader of the region, Juan is a competent Water-type user who ends up using a very powerful team of monsters in his final rematch team. His mere existence as a surprise Gym Leader in Emerald is also a compelling point.
Despite his power and style however, Juan is held back by his lack of versatility as well as the odd way his rematch rosters prgress – no trainer should ever have a Level 46 Poliwag. Yeah it ends up becoming a Politoed by come on. Juan misses greatness narrowly with 19.5/30.
#12 – Lance
He has a cape, he has dragons, he has greatness ahead of him – he is Lance. He also has 2 Dragonair despite being a member of the Elite 4 which is forever frustrating. His movesets are appropriately updated from his Gen I and II showings but they could definitely still do with some tweaking. Three Safeguards? Still an over-reliance on Hyper Beam? Wing Attack on your ace?
Lance is still cool don’t get me wrong, but his flaws are showing more and more with every iteration. And the Dragon typing is losing its lustre. With 19.5/30, Lance is sandwiched between a mere Gym Leader and a simple twin. Yikes to the man who has ranked #4 and #2.
#12 – Eldes
Like his twin Ardos, Eldes is pretty basic when it comes to coolness and fashion. A rather generic villainous type, we have to really look at his Pokémon to see where his worth lies. Luckily for Ardos, his roster sends him neatly to this very good spot in this list. With four Shadow Pokémon, a well-built Ninjask, both Lati-twins and a fantastic Metagross, Eldes cannot disappoint anyone in the challenge department.
While superficially similar to his twin, Eldes’s strategic superiority and superb Orre Colosseum team nudges him ahead of Ardos easily, netting him the third 19.5/30.
#11 – Evice
Big bad of Pokémon Colosseum, Evice spends much of the game posing at Phenac’s affable mayor. Revealing his true colours, he gains a very ugly hairdo and quite the devastating team of Pokémon that you will have to beat.
Evice utilises many very threatening strategies that you really need to be on the lookout for. Any team with a a Slaking and a Skill Swapper needs to be taken on carefully, but you also have a Swords Dance/Baton Pass Scizor, a Bulk Up Machamp and a Dragon Dance Salamence to deal with. Speed is the name of the game, and you really do need to eviscerate the threats before Evice’s team can set up against you.
Thanks to the genuine threat that Evice poses to you in the story mode of a Pokémon game, he attains a high 20/30 even with his low fashion scores. Urgh. That hair.
#10 – Lucy
Sexy snake-lady Lucy is here in the Top 10 and with good reason. With both a compelling design and interesting stoic personality Lucy is one of the more popular Frontier Brains, not least because of her great showing in the anime where she is one fo the few women who falls for Brock’s charms.
In Emerald however Lucy is the guardian of a battle of attrition against the mean Battle Pike, which can wear down even the toughest teams quickly. There are two things that really make me love Lucy as a character – the first is her use of Pokémon that are snake-like. She has a theme and she sticks to it. Just look her teams up – they are all snakes of a kind. And she doesn’t even use Arbok. Secondly, her affinity with Seviper. It’s the Pokémon that ends up on her team regardless, it’s the Pokémon that her entire building is based on, and she’s dressed like it. No Zangoose here, please.
Lucy is a good example of how you don’t need much dialogue to really paint a full picture with a character. We know Lucy’s deal, and it earns her a 20.5/30.
#9 – Norman
If you’ve kept up with the two previous entries in this article series, it should come as no surprise that Norman reaches these heights. He is both a very difficult roadblock for so many trainers and a story-centric character to boot. Even with his more basic team in Ruby and Sapphire he can be trouble, as Normal is a tough type to prepare for – and you don’t get access to too many great Rock-types in Generation III.
Add to this his improved team-variety in Emerald and his fantastic rematch rosters, and the fact that he’s your dad – you simply cannot fault Norman as a character. He is even shown to be a caring man who helps young people on their first steps as a trainer (the first character who isn’t a Professor to do so) and is an effective call-back to Gen I, being the leader of a Gym you can encounter before any other but not challengeable until much later in the game (like Viridian).
For these reasons, Norman almost reaches the highest heights of being the best-ranked Hoenn Gym Leader on this list. With 21/30, he does really well regardless.
#8 – Steven
Steven is a deservedly beloved character. He reflects many of the players in that he is a dedicated and inquisitive person who wants to know more about the Pokémon world. With more relevance to the story, he parallels other Champions like Lance and Diantha and is a fitting challenge at the end of the game. Despite this, he is only the first of three League Champions on this list!
Type-based Champions often fall short when compared to varied Champions like Blue and Cynthia. Steven is no exception, and his love of fossils is thematic but leaves him trapped with the duds that are Cradily and Armaldo – both decent Pokémon in their own right but not great anchors for a Steel-based team that should be pivoting around great physical defence and physical attack. Add to that a mixed Aggron and not even a fantastic Skarmory and Metagross can boost him to the medal places. Instead, Steven ends up with a still very respectable 21.5/30.
#6 – Greevil
He doesn’t look like a threat, but Greevil is one of the most dangerous villains in all of Pokémon history. Not only does he command the supremely powerful Shadow Lugia, but he has a full roster of devastating Shadow Pokémon including all three Legendary Birds. Difficulty comes easily to this man, and snagging his roster from him will always be a veritable challenge for you..
Add to this his affable personality, unique looks and respectable evilness and you have yourself a genuinely compelling principle villain. He is the villainous crux of two entire games, and even with the Colosseum duology’s darker tone Greevil seems to take the cake. He is effective darkness.
There really was no doubt that Greevil would end up in the top 10, and for me he sits here at #5 with a well-earned 22/30.
#6 – Anabel
Anabel is an arrogant, oftentimes overconfident trainer and to be honest she has the resources to back it up. You will first encounter her as a trainer who doubts your abilities and talent and it is up to you to prove yourself to her. This will of course prove a problem as among her roster she has not one, but three lgendary Pokémon. An Entei, Raikou and Latios are under her control and beating their quite good movesets is a big challenge of the Battle Tower.
Anabel’s ace however is a powerful Snorlax who in its most powerful iteration utilises the annoying potent Chesto Berry/Rest strategy when you are likely praying for the battle to end quickly after dealing with two very powerful (read: legendary) Calm Mind users. Anabel is a master of the setup strategy and looks good doing it in a stylish purple and white ensemble – she really earns her place equalling the devious Greevil at 22/30 points.
#5 – Blue
Will there ever be a generation where blue doesn’t rank so highly? Honestly, probably not. His strengths in Gen III are much the same as in Gen I – a very strong presence in the narrative of a game with an overall sparse narrative, a very varied roster regardless of starter, and a decent difficulty level that seems to transcend the generational gap – something many other trainers have suffered so badly with.
Blue is largely the same as previous iterations but now he has a greater focus on his team’s startegy. While some of his Pokémon do have nonsensical movesets (such as a Pidgeot with both Sand-Attack and Whirlwind), others are made so much more effective. His Sunny Day/SolarBeam is a threat to deal with quickly, Calm Mind Alakazam is always a priority, and his rematch roster’s Tyranitar is a whole wrecking ball.
All in all, Blue is still a force to be reckoned with and he only falters with a lost bonus point thanks to his abandonment of Pidgeot in his rematch teams. How dare he. 22.5/30 is still a fantastic score however.
#4 – Miror B
Quite the wildcard, I know. Having a rather minor and meme-sih character at rank 2 in a list of 52 trainers might seem weird but when you tally up the points it really cannot be done any other way. Miror B begins his career as a villain with a team of 4 Ludicolo and a Sudowoodo – I cannot think of anything more audacious and ostentatious. I love him. Add to that his perfect battle theme and his confidence? His ridiculous Pokéball-themed afro? Amazing.
And then he turns up in Gale of Darkness! Where he is not only a fantastic reminder of the past, but a compelling character and useful plot device that enables you to catch any Shadow Pokémon you may have missed over the course of the narrative. Miror B is put to work in this entry. And still he utilises his precious Ludicolo.
Miror B is fun, important, stylish and cool – for this he absolutely deserves to tie with Wally on 23/30.
#3 – Tucker
Fabulosu queen as he is, Tucker is the final Frontier Brain in this list. And oh does he deserve it. Oozing personality and glamour, Tucker comes across as a confident individual who would do well on a series of RuPaul’s Drag Race that accepts fictional drag queens on – which seems more likely than Ru accepting AFAB cis queens or drag kings so…
Tucker is also an extremely competent trainer, boasting a roster of very strong Pokémon. With a legendary, two pseudo-legendaries and two starter Pokémon in his possession Tucker obviously expects and appreciates the best of the best. His ostentatious confidence and boastful arrogance that fully radiates from him when he manages to win makes him a very satisfying opponent to defeat.
Overall, I find Tucker brilliant, memorable character despite his very brief appearance in the games. He is camp and extravagant, and his roster is challenging to beat and a fair difficulty bump. He would have easily led the pack with his 23.5/30 if not for the virtues of #1 in this Generation.
#2 – Wally
Just when you had forgot about him, Wally rears his head and boom you have a sickly kid keeping you on your toes when you least expect it. Going from a simple Ralts to an entire team of fully-evolved and threatening Pokémon is almost definitely a feature unique to young Wally here, and it’s one that earns him kudos. I am sure no one expected him to be the real rival of the game after his embarrassing encounter at Mauville.
Wally shows up with a team of Pokémon that you, the player , would love to have – between a Delcatty that has a Moon Stone invested into it, an Altaria that got past its weak, geeky Swablue stage and a Gardevoir that anyone would be happy with, Wally is packing some fan favourites. They may not be built fantastically in this Gen but hey, they are there. And do you know what? They are camp and/or femme as hell as Wally gets a point for that – as a sickly little gay boy I have always identified a lot with Wally. I love him, I do.
Surpassing Brendan/May so freaking hard in the rival department, Wally manages a stupendous upset in the rankings thanks to strong story relevance, robust team building and pleasing roster theming. Not to mention a pleasing hair/trousers colour-coordination. 24/30 suits the boy well.
#1 – Wallace
Both an eighth Gym Leader and a Champion, Wallace really does get the best of both worlds when it comes to story involvement, roster diversity and in his ability to show off a personality. What is really cool is that over the generation we see how he was trained by a different, powerful Water-type trainer and how he was able to get to his placement as a Gym Leader – that is world building that I Love. With a capital L. In addition to that Wallace adds a whole-ass cape to his outfit – that is a point in itself.
Wallace is another camp, fun, positive trainer who is fun to be around and challenge to boot. His team is full of great Pokémon and when he is a Water-focused Champion he doesn’t do too badly in the type-matchups – his Ludicolo can give your Grass-types some pause and his Whiscash effectively disables any Electric-type strategies you might habe been employing. With a decent stall strategy employing Double Team, Recover, Amnesia and multiple Toxic users Wallace can easily have you on the back foot if you aren’t ready.
As a Gym Leader he relies on Whiscash and Milotic to be of any use, but both are strong anchors who can deal some damage given the chance. Either way, Wallace proves himself as a great trainer and it is not hard to see how he managed to beat the Hoenn League challenge in the past. He truly deserves his impressive 24.5/30 score and handily beats off the entirety of Generation III.