With most trainers sharing the goal of becoming a Pokemon master, there has been no shortage of competitive rivalries throughout the anime's history.
Ash Ketchum is the star of Pokemon and has had his fair share of rivals throughout the show, but there have also been other characters in the franchise facing tough competition. Some Pokemon trainer rivals manage to become friends, though others remain hostile toward one another.
This list will consist of the best rivals overall in the Pokemon anime.
Note: This article reflects the personal opinion of the writer.
Top 5 rivals in the Pokemon anime
#5 - Iris and Georgia
Iris is the traveling companion of Ash Ketchum during the Pokemon Black and White series. Her rivalry with Georgia was introduced in an episode titled "Iris and Excadrill Against the Dragon Buster!", wherein the two partake in a Pokemon battle against each other.
Although Georgia defeated Iris in that first battle, the result was different when their rivalry reached its climax during the Pokemon World Tournament Junior Cup. In an intense fight, Iris' Dragonite managed to beat Georgia's Beartic and knock her out of the tournament.
#4 - Ash and Gladion
Gladion is Ash Ketchum's main rival in the Pokemon Sun and Moon series. He made his first appearance in an episode well-named "A Glaring Rivalry!", where his first battle with Ash is interrupted by one of Team Rocket's schemes.
Per usual with his rivalries in the show, Ash loses the first couple battles against Gladion. This rivalry was extra special, however, because when Ash finally did beat him it is in the final round of the Alola League Tournament - making Ash the region's champion.
#3 - Zoey and Dawn
Dawn, another companion to Ash ketchum, had an intense rivalry in Pokemon contests with a trainer named Zoey. These rivals set themselves apart from others on the list with the level of friendship they maintained throughout the show.
Zoey seemed to be the one pushing Dawn to become a better trainer throughout their many battles in the anime. Ultimately she ends up defeating Dawn in a close battle during the final round of the Grand Festival - winning the title of Top Coordinator as well as the Ribbon Cup.
#2 - Gary and Ash
It would be a crime against Pokemon fans not to include Ash Ketchum's very first rival, the legendary Gary Oak. Ash and Gary's rivalry began just shortly before their Pokemon journey, when the two split a Pokeball in half while arguing over who should get to keep it.
The two both hung onto their piece of the Pokeball as a token to symbolize their heated rivalry. It seemed Gary was always ahead of Ash in every way possible throughout the Pokemon anime, however that all changed in the Johto League Silver Conference. Ash managed to beat Gary for the first time ever during the first round of the tournament.
#1 - Ash and Paul
The best rivalry in Pokemon anime history is easily the one between Ash and Paul.
These two have vastly different approaches to training Pokemon, as can be seen in their many battles throughout the show. Paul thought of his Pokemon as tools rather than friends, and was oftentimes very hard on his team. He would release Pokemon that he deemed too weak.
Paul is an incredibly skilled trainer, and thus it was all the more impressive when Ash finally defeated him in the Lily of the Valley Conference. The victory was even more satisfying because Ash used an Infernape that Paul had previously gotten rid of when it was only a Chimchar.