Ash’s 10 most powerful opponents in the Pokemon series, ranked

Ash never backs down from a challenge (Image Credit: OLM Incorporated, Pokemon Master Journeys: The series)
Ash never backs down from a challenge (Image Credit: OLM Incorporated, Pokemon Master Journeys: The series)

Pokemon fans know that Ash’s journey has led him to battle many strong opponents, including fierce gym leaders, incredible rivals, and even villains with a desire to rule the world. Alongside Pikachu and other team members, Ash is always willing to fight and give his best. During his adventures, he has met some opponents that stand apart from the rest in terms of their strength and power.

So, in this list, we will rank the 10 most powerful opponents Ash has ever faced during the Pokemon series.

Disclaimer: This list will be based on the author’s opinion and will contain spoilers from various Pokemon anime seasons.


Pokemon's Ash has battled many adversaries, but who is the strongest?

10) Sawyer

Ash’s rival during the Kalos region, Sawyer showed viewers that raw power is not always what is needed to win a fight. Sawyer studied Ash’s fighting style and was able to defeat him in their second-to-last battle.

During Kalos’ semifinals, Sawyer showed Ash how much a prepared strategy can help against strong opponents. Having analyzed Ash many times before, he was able to create countermeasures quickly for every one of the former's improvised strategies, making the combat much more difficult for Ash than usual.


9) Bea

Both Bea and Ash have a real passion for Pokemon battles. Bea thus became one of the strongest rivals Ash ever faced during the Journeys season. Her fighting-type team was full of fierce and determined combatants.

Ash had to give it his all to prosper during the combat, thinking on his feet how he could defeat his powerful opponent. The fight Lucario had against a Dynamax Machamp remains one of his biggest displays of strength.


8) Gary

Even if they started hating each other, Ash and gary are close and dear friends (Image credit: OLM Incorporated, Pokemon Master Journeys: The series)
Even if they started hating each other, Ash and gary are close and dear friends (Image credit: OLM Incorporated, Pokemon Master Journeys: The series)

Ash wanted to defeat Gary for most of the initial seasons. He wanted to become just like him, a strong and confident trainer that seemed to be unbeatable. However, after Gary was eliminated during the Indigo League, Ash learned that no one is invincible.

When Ash was finally able to face Gary in the Johto League, he was determined to prove his strength. They emerged as equals, with both trainers displaying impressive skills. In the end, Ash was victorious and was finally able to gain Gary’s respect.


7) Gladion

Gladion appeared to be cold and uncaring during most of the series, fighting tough opponents like it was nothing. Against Ash, however, he was always able to show his hidden passion and true feelings.

This rivalry came to an end during the Alola League semifinals, where Ash finally had his rematch against Gladion. Not only did the trainers send legendary and mythical Pokemon onto the battlefield respectively, they also ended the combat with a match between their Lycanrocs, reminiscing their first battle.


6) Flint

A member of the Elite 4, Flint posed one of the toughest challenges Ash ever faced. Although they battled each other only once, Flint became known as an iconic opponent because of his amazing strength and skills.

His battle against Ash not only showed our hero how much he needed to focus on growth and improvement in order to become one of the best, but it also helped Volkner regain his passion for Pokemon battles. If Ash ever gets a rematch, we can be sure it will be another exciting display.


5) Professor Kukui

Ash defeated Kukui in order to become the Alolan Champion (Image credit: OLM Incorporated, Pokemon: Sun and Moon)
Ash defeated Kukui in order to become the Alolan Champion (Image credit: OLM Incorporated, Pokemon: Sun and Moon)

Professor Kukui is one of the few researchers in the series who is also a trainer. His time as the masked royal proved that he was one of the strongest fighters in Alola. So, when he was revealed to be Ash’s last opponent in the league, fans were excited.

His Incineroar was one of the toughest Pokemon Ash has ever had to fight against, and he was not even the strongest member of Kukui’s team. After sending out Tapu Koko, the real battle began. Ash fought with every fiber of his being in order to defeat him.


4) Paul

Paul and Ash pushed each other to become better (Image credit: OLM Incorporated, Pokemon: Diamond and Pearl)
Paul and Ash pushed each other to become better (Image credit: OLM Incorporated, Pokemon: Diamond and Pearl)

Paul is arguably Ash’s strongest rival in the entire franchise. A cruel and apathetic trainer who wants to become the best, Paul was ruthless with his training methods, punishing and abandoning Pokemon just because they disappointed him.

He started to become a better person after spending time with Ash and seeing him be a strong and capable trainer who loved his partners. They faced each other during the Sinnoh League in a display of fierceness and passion that fans remember fondly. In the end, the Infernape Paul abandoned as a Chimchar was the one to defeat him, giving him a lesson that he will never forget.


3) Leon

Leon is the world’s strongest trainer as of now. He is undefeated in battle, at least from what we have learned about him in the series. So, his battle with Ash could not have been anything less than spectacular.

He was the one to show Ash how to use a Pokemon Dynamax form and fought a battle against him to make it clear. In this new form, Pikachu was able to land some powerful hits against Leon’s Charizard but, in the end, they were not effective against this mighty creature.

We can only hope that Ash will become strong enough to defeat Leon during the Masters 8 finals.


2) Alain

Not even Greninja's unique form was able to defeat Alain's Charizard (Image credit: OLM Incorporated, Pokemon: XYZ)
Not even Greninja's unique form was able to defeat Alain's Charizard (Image credit: OLM Incorporated, Pokemon: XYZ)

Alain's battle against Ash is without a doubt the most exciting battle in the franchise. Both trainers fought without holding back, giving fans a memorable struggle of strategy and power. Alain’s Charizard against Ash’s Greninja will always be the best part of their match. As amazing and powerful Pokemon who had a special connection with their trainers, the two creatures fought splendidly. Alain was victorious in the end, not really a surprise considering that his Charizard can fight toe-to-toe against legendaries. However, both trainers were happy and satisfied with their performance.


1) Tobias

Tobias will always live in infamy in the Pokemon fandom. Ash gave one of his best performances during the Sinnoh League and was the favorite to become the champion.

Then Tobias appeared. He was already famous amongst participants of the tournament because he was able to defeat all of his opponents with a single creature, the legendary Darkrai.

Ash proved just how strong he was during this season by being the only trainer in the League who defeated this intimidating opponent. However, Tobias had Latios waiting to battle, and that was more than enough to defeat Ash. His legendary team was the toughest challenge Ash has ever faced yet.


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