Pokémon X and Y and Pokémon AlphaSapphire and OmegaRuby were pretty important games for this series – the transition to 3D was an exciting time for fans and veterans of the older console Pokémon games like Stadium and Colosseum were eager to see battles take on a more action-packed and dynamic approach. Unfortunately, the charm and care that went into those games didn’t necessarily translate to the simple models and animations but hey, progress is progress.
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 III trainers
- Ranking the Gen IV trainers
- Ranking the Gen V trainers
- Ranking the Gen VII trainers
- Ranking the Gen VIII trainers
These games have rather a lot of trainers in them too. After the refreshingly short Gen V list, we’re back to a staggering fifty-four trainers to have a gander at – only three less than Gen IV and equalling the similarly packed Gen VII list that will be hopefully be coming later this week.
Nothing has changed really. Expect to see old themes return: evil team admins do poorly, rivals get worse over time, trainers with tough rematches do a lot better than those without. We’re squarely at the peak of Game Freak knowing how to outfit their trainers with interesting teams and movesets, but we’ll see here that how consistently they employed this philosophy is… lacking. Oh well, on with it!
#54 – Aliana
You’re probably asking ‘who?’ and this is of course one of the main reasons that Aliana is right down at the bottom of the pack. Like Zinzolin and Proton before her, Aliana manages to be a completely forgettable enemy Admin with a particularly boring roster that features none of Gen VI’s new Pokémon. She’s easy to beat and potentially one of the least memorable compulsory battles in the whole generation – maybe even the series. She’s not as bad as poor Proton but she still only manages to score a measly 6.5/30.
#52 – Roxanne
Roxanne suffers really badly from being the first Gym Leader surrounded by routes full of Grass and Water-type attackers in a region where all three starters can decimate her. She also gets none of the extra dialogue that she really needs from Pokémon Emerald so she remains a rather boring character overall. She rocks onto the scene at 8/30.
#52 – Bryony
Carrying on the theme of Team Flare Admins who could have quite easily been left off this list entirely with no love lost, Bryony manages to eek out a better placement than Aliana mostly because her hairdo is a little bit cool and she doesn’t spend an entire battle using only a single bloody Mightyena – I like Liepard better. That said, she’s still absolutely awful at being interesting. She has a second 8/30.
#50 – Tabitha
Rather like the Team Flare ladies, Tabitha suffers from the age-old problems of being uninteresting, generic and weak. He also wears a stupidly warm-looking outfit for a dude who’s gonna be spending a lot of time near magma and Fire-type Pokémon so he definitely loses a point or two for that. Honestly, he’s probably lucky to get his meagre 8.5/30.
#50 – Celosia
Gosh Team Flare has a lot of ladies in their upper management sporting truly awful hairstyles don’t they? And all that for a team supposedly aiming to bring beauty to the world. Celosia is same old same old at this point. She manages to not completely suck by using two semi-interesting Pokémon and ends up tying with Tabitha at 8.5/30.
#49 – AZ
I always remembered AZ being a bit more interesting as a character but all of his lore seems to come from other people. As an actual character in XY AZ ends up being as dull as dishwater and is a truly baffling addition to the series as a 3000-year-old man who is over 9 feet tall. Even with Legendary interference this is so out of the ordinary that I outright dislike his existence. His story is neat but perhaps it should have been apocryphal, ya know? He breaks double digits at 10/30.
#44 – Tierno
Sigh. The Gen VI rivals were just so dull that I can’t help but feel sorry for them. XY features four separate rivals with distinct looks but seemingly identical personalities and a penchant for almost never appearing away from each other. They barely have character arcs and they slow down the narrative by interrupting you at seemingly every new location to bark some vapid comments, probably about friendship or the threat of Team Flare.
Tierno loves dancing and manages to have a cool gimmick where all of his Pokémon use Dance moves (Swords Dance, Petal Dance etc.) and his roster is diverse. That’s neat and all, but he’s still a pushover in battle. He’s the first of five trainers who get 11/30 and not the first XY rival.
#44 – Trevor
Here’s the second rival in the 11/30 bracket. Trevor is a shorty who seems to appreciate beauty and likes photography. That’s about as much as I can remember about his whole deal. The saturation of rivals in XY seems to be trying to emulate the success of the Gen V bunch but they managed to be distinct personalities with distinct story arcs in a relatively mature (for Pokémon) storyline. The Gen VI lot just don’t get the same effort put into them. Cool that his Florges matches his colour scheme though.
#44 – Tate & Liza
Oh how far they have fallen. Like Roxanne, Tate & Liza suffer from a sore lack of the improvements they gained in Pokémon Emerald. They are back to being one-match pushovers who only have two Pokémon (both weak to Water-type attacks) instead of four, and their new outfits look worse to boot. Still, it’s cool that they are a double battle Gym Leader fight.
#44 – Gabby & Ty
The second pair of double-battlers in the 11/30 tie is Gabby & Ty, intrepid interviewers who you can challenge all over Hoenn. While they are still almost generic trainers who barely provide a challenge they do manage to harken back to the gimmicky days of Gen III’s text entry system and how cool the TV system was back then. Additionally, Ty now evolves his Magneton into a Magnezone and I always like it when games actually take advantage of the generational developments in the remakes.
#44 – Shelly
Shelly actually manages to display something of a personality and has a truly great design, so she’s already so deserving of her placement above many of the other admins that she does surpass on this list. Where Shelly’s downfall occurs however is in her difficulty – more specifically the lack thereof. Her final battle involves a single Sharpedo with no STAB, Scary Face and Swagger – this is not a difficult battle by any single metric. She rounds out our five diverse trainers who got 11/30.
#41 – Xerosic
Despite being both a Team Flare admin and one ugly dude, Xerosic is boosted a bit higher than his compatriots by his slight relevance to XY’s story, his cartoonish villainy and his pretty strong standing in the post-game Looker sidequest. And, while he isn’t a tough foe to overcome (especially in a game as easy as XY) he is a rare Team Admin who knows what coverage moves are and his movesets aren’t that terrible. He definitely stands out in quality not just in his team but also his short but satisfying character arc. He’s one of a trio of 12/30 scorers.
#41 – Brawly
It would be easy to expect Brawly to be further down the list, maybe even joining Roxanne thanks to his lack of development, being stripped of his nice rematch roster and generally being even easier in Gen VI than in Gen III, but Brawly did get a much better design overhaul and is still more of a challenge than his rocky predecessor. That said, Brawly was never going to reach the highest heights in this gen.
#41 – Mable
The final Team Flare member who isn’t an Elite 4 member or the actual bloody leader, Mable stands out thanks to not having an ugly design and having two Pokémon that I really like. Yeah, it is that arbitrary and I shan’t apologise. Like the rest though she has barely any personality and is as generic as they come in her dialogue. In that way the enemy team members have a lot in common with the rivals of XY – funny, that. Sharing the tier with Xerosic, she’s also on 12/30.
#38 – Shauna
Shauna manages to avoid ranking the same as Trevor and Tierno simply by being just a smidge more interesting than them. She gets to show off a tougher team than them and is even the third trainer to take one of Kalos’s starter Pokémon, automatically making her more relevant than the other two and sort of designating her the successor to Bianca. Unlike Bianca however Shauna has barely any actual character development and serves only to make for a neat addition to the rival gauntlet of Route 19. She gets 12.5/30.
#38 – Viola
The first Gym Leader of Gen VI, Viola is going to establish some trends. Namely, that the Gen VI Gym Leader Challenge is possibly the easiest of any Pokémon game, relatively speaking. No leader has more than 3 Pokémon and they rarely have anything in terms of coverage, efficient strategy or interesting team makeup.
Viola though manages to be pretty neat. All the Gen VI Gym Leaders have nice designs and show off a bit of personality no matter how limited their roles in the story. It’s disappointing when you’re coming from the Gen V cast but they also feel more traditional this way. Viola also gets points in my book for using a Vivillon, one of my favourite Pokémon. So there’s that. She’s another 12.5/30.
#38 – Aarune
He’s hot, he’s barely relevant to any narrative element and he has an illegal level 23 Flygon. Aarune is another rather forgettable trainer who serves only to teach the player about Secret Bases and give them rewards for taking part in that aspect of the game. I do really like that he uses a Normal Gem/Secret Power combo on his Flygon, despite it being a trash strategy – it gives him some personable edge. It’s also cool that he has a Flygon because it’s the only Hoenn Pokémon not used by any other principle trainer than can learn both Fly and Secret Power – it’s a perfect match. I think he does do well enough to get a 12.5/30.
#37 – Wattson
Wattson is always going to be a bit of a favourite for me. He’s so cheerful and positive that you can’t help but like him. Unfortunately he gets a bit of a weak showing in Gen VI. Not only does he lose a good rematch team but they made it so that his Ace is now a Magneton again, disposing of the far more appropriate Manectric. At least this time he uses a decent Volt Switch strategy that may throw a spanner in the works of the unprepared – it’s not all that much, though. Wattson manages to stand alone at 13/30.
#36 – Courtney
Managing to do better than most other admins on this list, Courtney really benefits from being given much more of a personality than is usual for her trainer class. She tends to speak in very short simple sentences and also punctuate her dialogue with sing-song music notes which makes her a little bit more interesting than her contemporaries. Saying that though, Courtney is like Shelly in that she has absolutely no team diversity and is very easy to beat up whenever you face her – any Water-type attack and she’s running for the hills. All being said she also stands alone at 13.5/30.
#30 – Grant
The first of another huge tie of six trainers together, Grant signifies the start of the ‘pretty okay, actually’ trainers. They may have interesting teams, a decent show in the story or simply look pretty cool. What I like the most about Grant is his roster – historically (lol) fossil Pokémon have tended to be quite rare in the main game, usually locked to members of the Elite 4 or Gym Leader rematches. Grant has not one, but both of Kalos’s fossil Pokémon as his roster which is pretty cool. Not only that but he’s a rock climber – rocks are obviously his life. Despite that, I find his outfit underwhelming for a game that has trainers like Olympia and Valerie, and his hair decorations are odd. Either way, 14/30 isn’t anything to sniff at.
#30 – Clemont
Clemont is a pretty cool trainer. He managed to be not-terrible in the anime and I like his huge glasses. In the games he does actually use a decent Volt Switch Emolga and the new Electric Terrain move which I’ll give him credit for – but he does have three Pokémon that only know three attacks each and that’s something almost unforgiveable considering they are all Level 35+.
That being said, he has a tentative little bit of exposure outside his Gym which reminds me a little bit of Gen V’s awesome pack of Leaders, so there’s that. And while you may fancy calling them overalls Clemont is definitely wearing pyjamas and you cannot fault a man who wears pyjamas to work. Helioptile rules, also. 14/30.
#30 – Flannery
The more I think about it, Flannery is quite a generic character. She looks awesome, sure, but her whole shtick is about being a new Gym Leader – possibly inherited from her grandfather. This mirrors so many other Gym Leaders who talk about their newness, ancestors and inheritances (Falkner, Janine, Roxanne, Roark etc.) and outside of that we can only go on her look to inform us of her personality. At least there she gives a good showing – the huge hair and the flamboyant dress-sense definitely has her pegged as a devoted fan of late 00s Kerrang and I kinda live for that. At 14/30 she’s the third in this six-way tie.
#30 – Sidney
In Gen VI it’s more obvious that Sidney didn’t have a mowhawk and instead has a wisp of red hair right in the middle of his forehead. That is a huge knock to the previously quite cool looking dude – he now looks like a Dark-type victim of male-pattern baldness who can’t let go his rocker days.
Other than that Sidney is the first Elite 4 of Hoenn to grace this list and gives me a chance to talk about how they have been done well in Gen VI. They got rematches. That’s it. Makes them so much better than their Gen III equivalents almost automatically – they get updated teams with newer Pokémon, better sets and Mega-Evolutions. Isn’t it weird how only the Gym Leaders got rematches in Gen III but in Gen VI it’s only the Elite 4? Anyway I digress – Mega Absol is majestic and while Sidney (along with the rest of the Elite 4) doesn’t use his mega until their rematches it’s definitely a point in his favour. He’s another 14/30 and is equal to his compatriot…
#30 – Glacia
Yet another Hoenn Elite 4 who suffered visually in the technological progress from III to VI. It’s very nit-picky, but Glacia’s updated look sort of loses her some cool points – her dress is a worse colour and she has lost that sort of demureness in her manner that reminded me of Glenn Close in Stepford Wives (2004). Like Sidney, she would have been higher up for certain if she had retained her aesthetic from before.
Also like Sidney, her team is a lot better now. While her initial challenge is awful due to two repeated Pokémon it’s nice that she’s got some Froslass instead of *checks notes* two Sealeo. Her rematch team lets her actually shine a bit though, adding Vanilluxe, Abomasnow and Beartic to her roster and making Mega-Glalie her ace simply because her iconic Walrein didn’t get a Mega. Oh well, the ugly bastard gets Glacia a 14/30.
#30 – Matt
Generic Team Admin got very hot and gained an actual personality – what’s not to like? Matt is another great example of how a visual design can say so much about a character’s personality. From the dynamic posing to the Team Aqua tattoo plastered over his chest we already know that he’s an excitable and energetic trainer. And like his Team Magma equivalent Courtney, Matt gets some credit for being a dedicated Pokémon specialist – this time Sharpedo. Yeah it makes them easy battles but it’s neat to see less important characters receive proper aces.
He also says ‘bro’ a lot and expresses genuine joy at being beaten up by the player – if he’s actually evil and not just a radicalised member of an environmental terrorist cell, he’s definitely an affably evil radicalised member of an environmental terrorist cell. He rounds out our 14/30s.
#29 – Wulfric
It’s not hard to see why Wulfric was embraced so hard by the gay community upon the reveal of his design – the dude is an archetypal Elder Bear. In fact this is so ingrained into my psyche that I was shocked to learn/remember that he doesn’t use a Beartic in his team.
Something else I truly appreciate about Wulfric is his frank honesty about the strengths and weaknesses about the Ice-type, and he expresses these in an almost-meta way that makes so much sense in games like X and Y. Before the fight (the final Gym Leader battle, notably) Wulfric waxes poetic about how Ice-types can be powerful but also incredibly brittle which reflects their place in the Pokémon world – the type is great offensively but melts to common attacking moves that most teams will have – Fire, Rock, Fighting. He even states that his battle might be very easy, which is almost certain in a game as simple and hand-holdy as XY.
I like that blunt honesty from Wulfric/the writers and he gets to stand alone in a list full of ties at a perfectly average 15/30.
#28 – Drasna
If you want to understand my full list of gripes about Drasna’s fashion sense you will have to look at her full sprite. Before you look, I want to just state some simple facts. Sometimes a theme can go too far. Wearing full bones on your wrists is tacky. Shoes should be shoes and not fucking dinosaur claw-foot heels that you’ve slipped your feet inside. Witness it in its full glory.
I digress. Wait no, I don’t digress. What the hell, Drasna? I can’t stop looking at those Yvie Oddly-looking ass feet. Now I understand why judgemental gays rant and rave about dresses that hit the floor.
Her team is great. That’s why she’s so high up on the list. Altaria and Dragalge are my two favourite Dragon-type Pokémon and Noivern is a neat new Gen VI too. They’re not tough to take down but she can put a dent in your team with Dragon Pulse/Sludge Bomb Dragalge, Moonblast Altaria and an almost-coverage happy Noivern. Plus she has a potentially very annoying Dragon Tail Druddigon who could phase you if she gets a chance. That said, this is the ‘Fairy Gen’ so she’s unlikely to pose much of a threat to any player interested in the new typing. After all is said and done Drasna and her supremely ugly shoes get a 15.5/30.
#27 – Olympia
Olympia has practically the opposite experience that Drasna has – her outfit is glorious. With the exception of the random floaty rings Olympia looks amazing – that cape has no right being that camp and cool-looking. She also has normal shoes on. Thank the stars.
In addition to her quiche fashion sense, Olympia has a great team makeup too. Not only does she have three awesome Pokémon and one of my personal favourites in Meowstic, Olympia uses actual strategy! She uses three defensive sets, two of them using Calm Mind to potentially bite you in the arse with powerful STAB Psychic or nasty coverage moves like Power Gem and Shadow Ball. Her Slowking can even use Yawn to enable even more setup. And unlike Sabrina and Tate & Liza, who use very similar strategies, Olympia has Pokémon whose stats actually help her play defensively. I’m very impressed.
Despite everything, she’s still a Gen VI Gym Leader and thus is very easy to beat – with EXP Share you’re quite likely to have 5-10 levels on her and she has almost no answer to hard-hitting physical hitters. Still though, 16/30 is nothing to be sniffed at and Olympia represents the exact mid-point of this ranked list at 27th out of 54.
#25 – Phoebe
Out of possibly all of the Hoenn trainers, Phoebe has by far the most accurate transition from III to VI in terms of her design. And for Phoebe, that’s fine – she always looked neat in the way her joyful and playful exterior belies the fact that she trains dead Pokémon for a living.
She’s back to repeating Pokémon, having two Banette as usual, but she has drastically improved in that she doesn’t have two copies of her ace anymore – her second Dusclops has evolved into a Dusknoir and I couldn’t be happier. What’s also cool is that Dusclops is one of those rare unevolved/mid-stage Pokémon that really doesn’t need to be evolved to be effective (joining the likes of Porygon2, Chansey, Doublade and Murkrow in a list made up mostly of Pokémon who got new evos in later generations).
Like her Elite 4 compatriots Phoebe also gets a shiny new Mega Evolution in her rematch roster and this time it’s a Sableye, which is a defensive bastard now. Add to that the bulky Drifblim and Dusknoir and her great new powerhouses Chandelure and Mismagius and her roster is roughly 3x more threatening than before – possibly the most dangerous rematch team of the whole Elite 4. I have a soft spot for Phoebe and it’s not hard to see why she got a nice 16.5/30.
#25 – Maxie
Maxie just looks worse in this generation. His hair looks stupid and his glasses make no sense. Compare him to Archie (who spoilers, scores a lot higher on this list) and you can see why he’s all the way in the quite boring middle-section of the list despite being a principal villain.
This dude scores points for being a variable villain just as he did before, but also loses a bonus point for having by far the dumber idea of the two presented in ORAS. It’s so much more realistic to plan to cause mass flooding and oceanic expansion instead of… making more land. What is he, an IGN reviewer sksksk 7.8/10 meme.
I do like some things about this incarnation of Maxie however. Firstly, he’s one of the few enemy trainers who uses a Mega-Evolution in the main story. Off the top of my head I think that only also applied to Archie, Steven and Wally. Additionally, you get to fight alongside him in the Battle Maison which is pretty neat. Things like that boost him up a little in my eyes and he gets a 16.5/30 despite how dirty ORAS did him.
#22 – Ramos
I do definitely have a soft spot for the elderly trainers of Pokémon, and I think it’s because I really like that sort of inclusivity and representation. I feel like even when I’m moments away from pushing up daisies I’ll be up to date on the most recent Pokémon developments with a Living Dex of all 2500 Pokémon or however many they have by then.
Ramos definitely comes under the title of ‘cool old dude’, wielding a set of adaptive shears that look like they’d be at home as a weapon in a wacky JRPG, and sports a very eye-pleasing colour scheme that instantly signifies his type specialty. He might even prove to be a slight challenge with his Gogoat who I always mistake for being Normal/Grass type like the seasonal deer from Gen V. It has pretty good stats. Overall, Ramos earns himself a nice 17/30.
#22 – Valerie
The first Fairy-type specialist in Pokémon history, Valerie definitely earns a bonus point for having the sheer cheek to specialise in a whole new type. She also has the nerve to wear gigantic, awesome looking sleeves as that almost certainly interfere with her ability to throw Poké Balls as part of her overall camp-as-Christmas outfit that I really adore.
Valerie has the gall to parade around two old Pokémon that have been retconned into Fairy-type, Mawile and Mr. Mime – two fairly inoffensive and lacklustre picks who now have far more use in the scene. She also has the audacity to use an Eeveelution as her ace, and one as fabulous as Sylveon too! Only Valerie could have the gumption to place Fairy-type on exhibition for the world to see as the new favoured baby of the Pokémon scene. She gets a tasty 17/30 for her looks and uniqueness, and some artificial difficulty in the form of perhaps being a challenge thanks to Fairy’s uncommon weaknesses that newer players may not even be aware of.
#22 – Wikstrom
What will immediately strike most people about Wikstrom is his getup – he’s wearing plate armour. While this doesn’t make immediate sense, I think it’s quite fitting considering the historical aspects of Kalos that you’ve encountered throughout the region and the real world chivalric French traditions. I really like his theming and I wish it carried through to his roster in more than just his ace.
While his champion Pokémon is the very fitting Aegislash (which consists of both a sword and a shield), the entirety of Wikstrom’s team doesn’t exactly make cohesive sense. I like it when a team, especially that of a high-ranking type specialist, makes aesthetic sense. Instead, Wikstrom totes around a massive nose and a set of enchanted keys.
I would have given him, along with his Aegislash, a Bastiodon or Skamory as his mighty steed, perhaps Lucario to be his squire, and so obviously an Escavalier which is already knight-themed. Even a simple offensive Doublade set would add some nice themed variety. Granted, this doesn’t show off the Gen VI addition of ‘possessed keychain’. Meh, Wikstrom gets 17/30 as he stands anyway.
#21 – Professor Sycamore
While Sycamore is more of a Professor than a Trainer, he’s still the first one you can challenge to a fight in the main games and he has two rosters at that. Yeah, they’re just the Kanto starters and the Kanto full-evolved forms, but they’re battles.
And thanks to both his dashing good looks and his important relevance to the player’s personal narrative Sycamore it should be no surprise that Sycamore scores highly quite easily. What kinda strikes me as a missed opportunity is that they could have given him a post-game fight where he actually uses a Mega Evolution, considering how passionate he is about them. As it stands, he holds the legacy of the title ‘Pokémon Professor’ on his back and battling him is a cool addition to the series, giving him a nice unique 18/30.
#20 – Winona
Also in a bracket of her own is Winona. She’s lost just .5 of a point in her new entry and I can say with certainty that that .5 of a point is lost thanks to those weird bug-eyes on her helmet. Or are they goggles? Either way they throw off Winona’s design quite horribly for me, ruining her colour-scheme. It’s petty, but it’s distracting enough for me. She also lost the cool yellow detailing and her dynamic pose – she seems far more reserved now and when it comes to these Gym Leaders a cool pose/animation can be all the difference in how much your personality comes across.
Despite that, Winona still ranks highly thanks to her roster. I’m a huge Flying-type fan and I love any trainer who uses an Altaria, so I can’t help but simp. I wish she used an Altarianite and surprised the player with a shocking challenge halfway through the game, but alas Winona is back to no rematch and no challenge. She still looks good and her defensive strategy has stood the test of time so Winona gets an 18.5/30.
#16 – Malva
One of the cooler Elite 4 members in all of Pokémon, Malva has a lot going for her. Between her sleek and very vertical design and the colour scheme that refers to her past as an ex-Team Flare member she scores very highly on look. She also makes a good showing in the story, if not as a central character. She gets some limelight during the post-game Looker episode and is consistently present throughout the game as a famous Holo-caster. Out of all the Elite 4 Malva certainly gets the most personality to show off.
Her team is nothing special but it’s not bad. They will all be Pokémon you’ve seen before and her ace is the final evolution of a Route 1 Bird which is just… quite a choice. Yeah it’s powerful but it’s absolutely not extravagant or exciting (and it’s something that Kahili does better). Malva at least has more of a cohesive team than Wikstrom, sporting three Pokémon who mimic her red and black aesthetic, so she gets some kudos for that. Overall, the game is good to Malva and even with my distate for Fire-types she gets 19/30, almost breaking into that top third.
#16 – Calem and Serena
Don’t they look so odd without their hats? Calem and Serena are your ‘main battle rival’ in XY and you’ll be attributed the alternative gender from your player character.
Like the other rivals in XY, Calem and Serena don’t exactly get to show much development or personality other than being a helpful, kind friend who is determined to be as much of a protagonist as you are. They do get to take part in a few Multi-Battles with you against both Team Flare and the other rivals but neither of these occasions provide any major challenge for the player and are mostly there to try and develop a bond with this rival. It’s schmaltzy and not in an endearing way. There’s not much preventing the pair of you from permanently teaming up and defeating the genuinely evil bad guys, right? Pokémon games make no sense.
Their team is pretty good though and while they’re often just a bump on the road during the main narrative they end up with diverse teams chock full of type coverage, cool picks and even an unconventional Fairy-type pick in the rematches in Clefable. One cool thing to note is that they both use Meowstic, but they use the one that matches their gender which is neat as Meowstic’s role in battle changes drastically between the genders. They even use a Mega Absol in the rematches too.
Towards the end of the game their sweepers have pared down movesets to cut down on randomness in trying to threaten you with high-power moves. Unfortunately they do this instead of adding coverage and thus they don’t exactly hold any challenge – I would have vastly preferred more competitive movesets for what is supposed to be a proper challenge after the end of the narrative – a Jolteon whose entire moveset is Thunder, Double Kick and Quick Attack is not the one. Still though, Calem and Serena get Rival Privilege and end up on 19/30.
#16 – Norman
Norman will forever be iconic for two reasons: a) being a PokéDad who actually exists and b) being a Gym Leader to boot. That’s a very good showing for his scores in personality and bonus points. He also gained a penchant for short sleeves over the years apparently, and that’s about as exciting as Norman has ever been. That sounds like a read but I do really enjoy Norman as a character.
Throughout the narrative he’s shown to be tough but fair, and an actual part of the community as he lends Wally a Pokémon to help him start on his Pokémon journey – which if you think about it is quite unique from the players’ point of view as every player character gets given their Pokémon (or picks it up from an unattended bag to beat up a wild Pokémon).
Norman is back to his RS team without the Spinda and Linoone in ORAS and I don’t think it’s as challenging as before. Retaliate will hit harder overall than Facade for most players but in Gen VI you just have so many more tools in your inventory to deal with threats – especially threats that loaf around every other turn. Saying that, Norman will still be a fitting challenge for a new trainer to the region/generation and for that he still retains his meaty difficulty score. Overall, he is the third of four tied 19/30s.
#16 – Wallace
Alas, the undisputed champion of Gen III’s rankings lies here, disputed. Wallace truly suffered from being knocked back down to Gym Leader and no longer has the intra-generational development that his Emerald counterpart enjoyed so highly, nor does he enjoy the rematch roster or additional story relevance. He has shown some development in the fashion department however, and is now fruitier than ever – I love.
Instead, Wallace simply remains a decently strong contender who gains a bonus point for now taking part in the Contests of Hoenn and the post-game Delta Episode where he gets to show off an expanded team of far stronger Pokémon. Across both teams his Milotic and Whiscash remain potent threats, and in the Delta Episode he’s toting a potentially very threatening Tentacruel with Fairy-type coverage and Brine. Wallace has fallen from first place and now shares a podium with three other trainers on 19/30.
#15 – Zinnia
With battles exclusive to the post-game Delta Episode, Zinnia is a pretty compelling new character. There are hints of her scattered throughout the main story but it’s after the credits roll that Zinnia gets a spotlight alongside Rayquaza.
Zinnia’s outfit is pretty cool – I’m a sucker for torn-up capes like hers, though I will never understand open-toed boots. Nothing overly offensive though. In battle Zinnia is very much a Dragon-type trainer despite having a very close affinity with her partner Pokémon Aster, a Whismur. Zinnia makes full use of the Dragon-type bruisers on her team, including some nasty sweeper coverage sets and a Mega-Salamence that could ruin your day if found on the backfoot.
Without spoiling too much, Zinnia adds a lot to the Pokémon lore and is a fun new addition to the remakes – the likes of which I hope we see similarly in the Diamond and Pearl remakes. Zinnia just so barely misses out on the bragging rights spots of the upper third, scoring 19.5/30.
#11 – Nita
Exclusive to the Battle Maison, Nita and her three sisters are a little more inconsequential and obscure than their Battle Frontier forebears thanks to the relative modest standing of the Maison in comparison to the Frontier and the fact that the only gimmicks they employ are in battle formats. Nita is the Chantelaine of Single Battles and she has some serious firepower thanks to the Chantelaines all having some absurd access to legendary Pokémon.
Nita uses the Force of Nature trio of Thundurus, Tornadus and Landorus in her high-difficulty fight and they all have pretty scary sets including a very mean Choice Scarf set for Landorus.
Nita scores the lowest of the Chantelaines alongside her sister Dana thanks to a quite generic ‘perky young girl’ design both in her aesthetic and her dialogue. Notably, all of them sound like fake Brits in their speech – something the writers of Gen VIII thankfully fixed. Nita ends up breaking the top third on 20/30.
#11 – Dana
The Battle Chantelaine in charge of Triple Battles, which is an interesting format introduced but not exactly utilised in Gen V. Thanks to that she gets to show off two full rosters, the latter of which has both the Elemental Bird Trio and the Regi Trio. All with imposing movesets of course.
Where she fails is in her design which I plain just don’t like as much as her sisters’. The hoop skirt throws off her sihlouette and her weird hair curls make her a bunch of shapes that don’t feel realistic to me at all – something definitely present in Morgan’s design too.
Thanks to a generic yet entertainingly perky personality and her strong teams, Dana ends up with 20/30.
#11 – Drake
Like Phoebe, Drake doesn’t really change much from Gen III to Gen VI. He seems to have lighter jeans and a more austere expression thanks to his moustache, but that’s about it. I do of course favour quite highly any sailor-themed trainer so it kinda makes sense to me that Drake ranks so highly, but he has the roster to back him up.
While he falters during the initial league challenge, using two Flygon, it’s a definite improvement from the days of trying to use a Shelgon. His rematch is where he shows off his power though, sporting not only a nasty Kinga set but a full-on dangerous Haxorus and Dragalge pair with fantastic coverage. And that’s not mentioning his Mega-Salamence – Drake being one of only two Elite 4 who manage to keep their ace consistent. Drake ended up with 20/30 just narrowly missing out on Top 10.
#11 – Brendan and May
The rivals of Hoenn fared so well in the Gen VI remakes. They get more screentime, a decent Multi-Battle fighting alongside the trainer against the bad guys, and some more actual fights where they get to show off their starter’s final form – finally.
While they don’t get a post-game rematch, Brendan and May do get to team up with the player indefinitely as a Battle Maison partner with decent sets – a defensive Claydol and a coverage Exploud. Notably these aren’t Pokémon they use during the narrative, showing them to have more diversity than previously thought – I think this is a nice way to develop a Pokémon character.
While still not as compelling as Blue, Silver, Cheren or Bianca, these two remain quite iconic in their own right and make for fitting rivals who have a designated place in the narrative and the world of Hoenn overall. They’re just great at being good characters who serve to offer up some worldbuilding for the player, and never feel forced. 20/30.
#10 – Korrina
Breaking into the Top 10 is Korrina. She is without any doubt the most compelling Kalos Gym Leader, sporting a cute design, cool roster and very obvious story relevance. She is the story device who introduces the player to Mega Evolution in a practical way and even presents the player with a totally free Lucario, of all things, with no strings!
While she isn’t a tough Leader to fight thanks to the way XY just are as games, Korrina still excels above the rest thanks to the very favoured showing the main story gives her. She gets more opportunity to show off her peppy attitude and even surprises the player but not using a Lucario during her Gym battle. Korrina remains an important part of the game without feeling forced and while quite simple and without depth, she’s so ultimately beneficial to the player as a supporting member of the cast that she definitely deserves the Top 10 placement and her 20.5/30.
#7 – Evelyn
Evelyn is the first of the Chantelaine sisters in the top 10 thanks to her far better design and my personal preference for the Pokémon she uses. While they are not exactly the most interesting of characters they do get to show off quite a lot of personality through their dialogue and while Evelyn sports a very overdone “apologetic attacker” roster of dialogue at least it’s not just ‘hello I am strong and I like fighting’.
Evelyn is the Double Battle Chantelaine and uses the Legendary Beast Trio alongside a Latios of all things. I do think I prefer the Battle Frontier method of doling legendaries out – at random. All the Chantelaines having only legendaries for their ultimate battles is rather… immersion breaking? It’s not what I’d do, that’s all I’m saying. Thanks to her strong blue colour scheme and cool Pokémon choice I’ve put Evelyn down at a 21/30. It’s only one ahead of her sisters but a little goes a long way at these ranks.
#7 – Morgan
Yeah, it’s absolutely stupid hair isn’t it? That said, I love her colour scheme. There’s not much that I can say about Morgan that I haven’t already said about her three Battle Maison sisters. Morgan is the Rotation Battle Chantelaine which is another one of the weird ones from Gen V that I quite liked and found sorely underused. She also uses a Mantine and a Sawsbuck in her initial roster which I appreciate deeply.
The legendaries that Morgan uses are a sole Latias and the Musketeer Trio. Her personality can be described as proper yet fun-loving, as she sings at the player upon meeting them for a challenge. She’s endlessly positive but also has moments of elder-sibling-rage when telling off her sisters, which is quite nice. Overall, she matches Evelyn on 21/30, rounding out the four sisters.
#7 – Archie
Gosh Archie got a right proper glow-up didn’t he? From his ill-fitting black suit of Gen III to this ostentatiously camp outfit he’s definitely bumped up a bit in the fashion department – and as you may know I do have a thing for the sailor-type trainers so he gets a little bump up there too.
Like Maxie, Archie benefits from being a very story relevant enemy team leader, the user of a Mega Evolution and a potential partner in the Battle Maison. Unlike Maxie, Archie’s grand plan makes a hell of a lot more sense to me so there’s that, too. Of course, he never exactly poses much of a threat to the player’s travails through Hoenn but he’s a remade Gen III villain. The villains never start to seriously show off as boss battles until Gen V at the very least. Give Archie a Kyogre and we’ll talk. As it stands, Archie enjoys the company of two beautiful women in the 21/30 bracket.
#6 – Diantha
The peoples’ champion Diantha rocks in at #6. Diantha represents something of a slight disappointment to me. All five past champions have been involved in the main narrative to varying extents and have thus been compelling characters as a result. They were able to show off their personalities and traits, help the player in meaningful ways and generally be not-surprises when they turn out to be League Champions. Diantha is a bit different.
We catch glimpses of Diantha and learn a bit about her background as an actress, and that is about it. Generation VI’s storyline focuses primarily on the evil Team and the history of the region and Diantha is having none of it. I can respect that, but meh – wasted potential. Bloody good team though.
Ignoring the fact that she uses three of the same Pokémon as leaders in her region (Hawlucha, Tyrantum and Aurorus) Diantha has quite a well-rounded roster that may just pose a threat due to some actually-competent moveset building and a cool, strong Mega-Gardevoir which is a lovely ace to have. She even trades a Ralts holding a Gardevoirite to the player in the post-game which is a nice nod to Jasmine’s Steelix in HGSS. Overall Diantha is still a well-designed Champion and has many high scores to complement that – 21.5/30.
#4 – Emma
Similar to Zinnia, Emma is the star of XY’s post-game sidequest that involves International Police officer Looker. I don’t want to spoil too much here but her story is quite a sad one involving her being an orphan who is manipulated by Team Flare. Like Zinnia she has a partner Pokémon that doesn’t participate in battle, too – an adorable little Espurr named Mimi.
Using Pokémon that she was given by Xerosic and a special suit of his own design Emma ends up facing off against the player many times. She uses a wide-range of Pokémon and while they are never built for high-level play they can be interesting to fight against and have some threat to them, like Granbull’s Play Rough and Malamar’s Psycho Cut/Night Slash STAB combo.
Thanks to the sheer amount of backstory and development she gets, along with her many disguises/appearances and the cool factor she brings to the table, Emma ends up on a nice 22/30. She is a character who definitely deserves the good ending she gets.
#4 – Siebold
Something about Siebold really speaks to me. It might be my overwhelming preference for Water-type specialists that have brought so many of them into the past Top 10s, it might be his completely over the top yet somehow stylish outfit, it may be his lovely little coiffure. I don’t know. I just like him. It’s not often an Elite 4 member scores higher than the Champion they’re trying to stop you facing but here he is.
Siebold has nice team choices too. Gyarados and Starmie are absolute classics of the Water-type both in-game and in the competitive scene, Clawitzer is a very cool addition that Gen VI brought about, and Barbaracle is certainly there and could pose a threat to anyone lacking a single Grass-type attack.
Personality-wise Siebold shows no more or no less than your run-of-the-mill modern Elite 4 member, apart from one neat little thing. He will ask the player if they think battling can be worthy of being called an art – try saying no: Siebold’s response is nothing but hilariously over the top and honestly, quite endearing. He’s an artistic softy with great roster choices and thus gets a very nice 22/30.
#3 – Lysandre
Enemy leaders manage to be quite threatening in the modern Pokémon era and Lysandre is no different. He plans to wipe out the population which is just bonkers to me. Stealing Pokémon and causing the sea levels to rise kind of pales into comparison when you witness Lysandre’s grand delusions. I seriously cannot help but respect him a little for that. And his motive even! He’s all about beauty and the reducing the world to an unspoiled state – he’s a megalomaniac, seriously.
Behind the scenes Lysandre is a successful tech dude with a ton of capital behind him – so if Elon Musk starts searching for legendary Pokémon and fantasy nukes we should all be on the lookout for a talented teenager to go beat him up.
Roster-wise, Lysandre gets a few neat picks and shows off the Mega Evolution system well with the climax against his Gyarados. Mienshao is a Pokémon I love, Honchkrow is a neat reference to past leaders who also used it (Giovanni and Cyrus) and Pyroar kind of looks like Lysandre a bit. Nothing really threatens you until he gets to the Mega-Gyarados but it’s still a nice roster. For the everything about him, from his imposing design to his great ace, Lysandre gets a deserving third place with 22.5/30.
#2 – Steven
As I may have hinted at during Diantha’s entry, I like a Champion who manages to be story-relevant. Steven fits the bill. In Gen VI this is even more-so than his appearance in Gen III. Now you get to Multi-Battle alongside him and even encounter Latias/Latios with him, which is very cool for the player. He’s still the source of a nice Beldum gift after the end of the game and he’s even a potential partner in the Battle Maison.
In battle, Steven is a threat as he always has been. Favouring some stall tactics with Toxic/Spikes Skarmory, Screens Claydol and a bulky Cradily, Steven can absolutely set himself up for a devastating sweep with his Mega-Metagross – because of course he has a Mega-Metagross. We see some more diversity in his rematch team too with him gaining a new Carbink and an Aerodactyl with an impressive range of coverage moves. Either way you take him, Steven can be a threat unless you build a team specifically to beat him up.
When compared to Diantha, Steven really comes out on top thanks to a more threatening team of Pokémon, far superior moments in the limelight and some semblance of a personality to speak of. Making Champions a great final challenge for the game’s narrative is definitely about more than just making them hard to beat – Steven has reputation and grandeur (both in and out of the game) behind him which makes him a very satisfying victory. There is a decent leap from 22.5 to Steven’s 24/30 as he takes the silver medal.
#1 – Wally
Everyone’s favourite little sick kid is back and he’s in an extremely impressive first place this time. Wally is a fantastic rival to have and it’s because you don’t really realise he’s a rival until the last moment. He’s set up to be a complete newbie just like you, and you give him an embarrassing yet motivational kick up the backside outside Mauville Gym, and then you realise he’s not only caught up to you but he’s done it with particular skill.
As a battler, Wally shines the most during his Victory Road fight. He has this great team full of feminine support Pokémon, a random Magneton and now instead of his iconic Gardevoir, a whole-ass Mega-Gallade. It’s a tough end to the gauntlet that is Victory Road and can be a nasty shock. In his rematch fights he ends up evolving both his Roselia and Magneton, and ends up gaining an ultimate roster featuring a scary Tailwind Talonflame and a bloody Garchomp. Wally really shines even more in Gen VI as a trainer and as a charcter.
Not only are his ambitions for the League evident, but Wally shows a real thirst for battle as he ends up hanging out at the Battle Maison, where he can even team up with the player as a Multi-Battle partner. During these encounters he tells you how much he admires you both as a friend as a trainer and he manages to be a far more well-rounded ‘happy and supportive’ rival than certain other individuals.
Conquering illness, conquering the Gym Challenge and even conquering the Battle Maison Chantelaines alongside the player in many timelines, Wally is a wonderful character and a fantastic example of what a rival can and should be – just like Silver. He went from the #2 place in his Gen III incarnation and shot up to #1 of not only the Gen VI list, but overall with the highest score yet- 27/30. Good on you, Wally.
Only two more lists left, and then we’ll have a look at all the juicy STATS. Would you believe that with the completion of this list I’ve ranked 231 Pokémon trainers? Roughly 80 more and I’m done. See you next time.