top of page

Media Essays: All the Pokémon Champions Ranked: Part 2


Continued from Part 1


6: Leon

One of my personal favourite Champions out there, Leon sadly misses out on the Top 5 spot thanks to some stiff competition.


Leon is constantly shilled throughout Sword and Shield as being "unbeatable" thanks to his "amazingly strong Charizard" and all, yet Leon's one of those Champions I've NEVER lost to. Or even struggled against. For those who have read my Knights of Galar: A Pokémon Shield Nuzlocke, you may remember that Leon only knocked out ONE Pokémon during the entire battle I had with him! Some might say it's because the games make it too easy to level up and thus be strong enough to beat him but I remind you, by the rules of my own Nuzlocke, I went in without being over levelled and I still beat him easily.


His team depends on the starter you pick. The four Pokémon he has on every team includes Aegislash, Haxorus, Dragapult and Charizard with the fourth and fifth members being the starter that's strong against yours and a random Pokémon that's weak to your starter. Um...OK? Seems a bit counterintuitive that he has the starter that's strong against yours, yet the fifth member is a Pokémon your starter can beat whether it's Mr. Rime for Cinderace players, Rhyperior for Inteleon players or Seismitoad for Rillaboom players. How is he meant to be challenging if they just do that? Also as many such as TVTropes have pointed out, his team has little coverage against Dark-types and his team for Scorbunny players has at least three mons that are weak to Dark-types. His Aegislash is the only mon that has Dark-type coverage with Sacred Sword and even then, you're probably just going to beat it with a Fire or Ground attack instead. Also his team still feels a bit like it's holding back what with his Dragapult knowing Dragon Breath instead of something more powerful like Dragon Pulse, its signature Dragon Darts or even Draco Meteor. That IS remedied in rematches at least. However, his Charizard lacks a coverage to Electric types, which is how I ended up beating him on my first run. I Dynamaxed my Raichu and defeated Charizard with a couple of Max Lightning attacks. You'd think with the invention of Scorching Sands that Leon's Charizard would know that move but no, they give it Ancient Power for some reason.


As is, his team isn't without merits of course. The starter that's strong against yours have some decent coverage (mostly Rillaboom) and can lower your attacking stats (Inteleon's tearful look), his Charizard covers its crippling Rock weakness with Solar Beam in which after her Gigantamaxes it, it can use straight away as Max Overgrowth so using Water and Rock types aren't going to help you, his Aegislash with King's Shield can cripple you at the start, his Haxorus and Dragapult by their very nature are strong Dragon-types that hit hard and fast and his Haxorus can cover Fairy-types with Poison Jab or Iron Tail while Dragapult can cover Ice-types with Flamethrower. His team naturally tends to be more challenging in the Battle Tower, especially if he uses Cinderace with Libero or his mons carry useful held items to make them even stronger.


So is there anything I'd do to make Leon more challenging? For starters, neither of his teams would include Pokémon that are weak to your starter. The fifth slot would go to Pokémon that your starter has no advantage over like a powerful Fighting-type to fend off Dark-types (maybe Conkeldurr or Pangoro) or maybe his own Fairy-type to use (like Togekiss or Mimikyu). His Charizard would know Scorching Sands instead of Ancient Power to cover Electric-types so his Charizard could potentially be unapproachable no matter what you use, his Dragapult would know Dragon Darts and his Haxorus would follow Iris's example and use Dragon Dance to boost its attack and speed. With teams like those, he'd truly give us a "Champion time".


Leon's still a great Champion with some awesome Pokémon to battle. But I just feel he could've been even better, is all. The anime made him really awesome at least and showed us what Leon at his best looks like.


5: Iris

As of now, the currently youngest ever Champion in the Pokémon games and yet her age doesn't sully her battle prowess in any way.


Iris is one of those examples of taking a big leap in power. She was a mere Gym Leader in Black and White and now in Black 2 and White 2, she's the Champion! This makes her the second character in the entire franchise to go from Gym Leader to Champion with Wallace being the first. Also she's the first person of colour to carry the rank of Champion too so that's a huge plus in her favour. And how is she as a Champion? Quite good actually.


Her team consists of Hydreigon, Druddigon, Haxorus, Archeops, Lapras and Aggron. Not only does she do a better job at diversifying her team than Wallace did after he became Champion, but these are some pretty solid mons overall with all her Dragons being heavy hitters, Lapras being a powerful wall to sponge attacks and knowing Sing to put our Pokémon to sleep, Aggron being a heavy hitter in its own right that can also shoo off the Ice-types that threaten her team and Archeops, despite a terrible ability holding it back, is nothing to sneeze at either. During rematches, her Pokémon carry held items to improve their battle prowess too with Hydreigon carrying Wise Glasses to boost its Special Attacks, Druddigon carrying a Life Orb to make it hit even harder, Archeops carrying a Flying Gym to boost its Acrobatics attack, Aggron holding a Muscle Band to beef up its Physical Attacks, Lapras holding a Wide Lens to improve the accuracy of its moves and Haxorus holding a Focus Sash to prevent one-hit KOs. This is something I wish Champions would do more often because it makes them feel more like Champions when their team carries items like what a competitive Pokémon player might use. It also helps many of these Pokémon have useful abilities like Rock Head for Aggron so it can use Head Smash with no recoil damage, Sheer Force for Druddigon so it hits EVEN harder and her Haxorus as usual as the Mold Breaker ability which can be useful at times.


Her team also covers its weaknesses well. Hydreigon has Focus Blast and Fire Blast to melt Ice types that would threaten it, Druddigon also has Focus Blast and it uses Fire Punch for the same reason, Lapras can cover Grass types with Blizzard and her Haxorus knows Dragon Dance to boost its attack and speed and because it holds a Focus Sash, it will never go down in one hit and thus survive to set up at least one Dragon Dance to wreck your team (unless she doesn't heal it and thus a Pokémon with Quick Attack can take it down). And that's her team when you rematch it in Normal Mode or Easy mode. For those who play Black 2 and White 2 on hard, her team is EVEN stronger by replacing Druddigon with Salamence (that still holds a Life Orb and can cover its Ice weakness with Fire Blast while also having the Intimidate ability), her Lapras has a Zoom Lens instead of a Wide Lens for greater accuracy and an increased critical hit ratio for moving after the opponent and her Haxorus knows Guillotine, a move that can one-hit KO you if it lands. That's pretty scary to go up against.


The only downside to Iris's team is that her team's mostly challenging in the rematches or if you face her on hard mode. Her initial battle when you face her on Easy mode or Normal mode isn't the most challenging as her mons have weaker move sets and only two of them carry held items (Druddigon and Haxorus). When you rematch her on those modes, the same fact applies for only two of her mons using held items but they still have the better movesets at least. Also her Hydreigon has NO answer to Volcarona whatsoever, thus making it so we can just use it to get rid of it in the blink of an eye and considering we can get one early on in the games, it's like they gave us the perfect counter for her Hydreigon so it doesn't become too hard for us.


As is, I have little complaints with Iris's team and I'm not sure if I could even really improve it all that much. It's a strong team (especially on Hard mode) that takes advantage of held items, abilities and powerful moves to make her a challenging Champion to face. Iris is truly the Queen of Unova and more than worthy of the title...


4: Steven Stone

This guy along with Alder is among the only three Champions I've ever lost a fight against so naturally I'm going to rank him pretty high for that.


Steven Stone is the Champion of the Hoenn region in the Ruby and Sapphire games and their remakes. For Ruby and Sapphire, his team consists of Skarmory, Claydol, Aggron, Cradily, Armaldo and Metagross. This team is mostly Rock and Steel type so a strong Water-type and Fire or Ground type respectively can make short work of him...or so you think. In Ruby and Sapphire, it takes forever to level up your Pokémon in those games so you're likely to go in under-levelled or just get bored of grinding and go for it as I did. Also his team his pretty hardy all things considered. His Skarmory is great for arena hazards by setting up spikes, his Claydol can set up Reflect and Light Screen to halve the damage your attacks do, his Aggron has the Sturdy ability so it won't go down in one hit, his Cradily is bulky, has only two weaknesses with Ice and Steel and knows Giga Drain to replenish its health and Confuse Ray to try and throw you off your game, his Armaldo has Battle Armour to protect it from Critical Hits and his Metagross is naturally powerful due to it being a pseudo legendary and not a Dragon-type pseudo Legendary so you can't just hit it with Ice or Dragon attacks this time. His team is pretty strong defensively and offensively, even if their movepools are pretty lacklustre overall. I mean come on, an Aggron with Thunder and Solar Beam when it's a Physical Attacker? An Armaldo with Water Pulse and Ancient Power despite also being a Physical Attacker? (Although this was before the physical/special split in Gen 4 so maybe it makes more sense there than it would now) And his Metagross has no coverage for Ground-types? They really could've given his team better moves to make them even stronger.


You can rematch him in Pokémon Emerald and sadly, his team's not much better with the only differences being his Metagross knows Shadow Ball instead of Hyper Beam and his Cradily knows Ingrain. Come the remakes, his team have much improved movesets with his Aggron and Armaldo having fully physical moves, his Claydol having STAB moves for both its types and his Metagross having a physical Psychic attack with Zen Headbutt instead of Psychic. Also his Metagross Mega Evolves now...that's terrifying. XD Weirdly enough though, his Metagross no longer knows Earthquake, which is stupid because it gives it coverage for Fire types so why remove it? His Metagross should have the moveset it has in his World Tournament battle in Black 2 and White 2 where it knows Meteor Mash, Zen Headbutt, Earthquake and Hammer Arm (or at least Ice Punch to cover its Ground weaknesses). In the remakes, you can rematch him and his team is mostly the same except for the Hoenn Fossil Pokémon being replaced by Carbink and Aerodactyl respectively. Carbink is a massive wall that'll be tough to get by because of its obscenely high defences (though a Steel type should take it down no sweat) and Aerodactyl's a speedy hard hitter so they're pretty good replacements overall.


Steven is overall a decent Champion but he does have a few chinks in his armour that keeps him from the Top 3. If his Ruby and Sapphire team had better moves that accommodated their stats and was a little more diverse, he'd truly be something special. If I were to make any changes to his team, I'd probably replace Skarmory with the starter Pokémon you and your rival don't pick and maybe give him Regirock to surprise the players with a Legendary on his team. Also he loves rocks so much, why not give him Regirock? XD


Still, Steven is a solid Champion overall and he's truly as hard as stone...


3: Blue

Ah yes, the original rival and for all of us, THE original Champion to beat too.


Blue is the kind of trainer who's always a step ahead of us and it's even to the point he gets to become Champion before we do. He's the rival we have to face in the original Pokémon Red and Blue games and their remakes, FireRed and LeafGreen. I'll go over his teams in the originals and the remakes and determine which ones are more challenging. I'm skipping his teams from Pokémon Yellow because we don't have all day to cover every team he uses.


In both gens, his team is built around whoever you pick as your starter. The main three that he has on each team are Alakazam, Rhydon and Pidgeot. Depending on your starter, his other mons will include Gyarados, Exeggutor, Arcanine and the starter that's got a type advantage over yours. This sounds like what you'd expect from a casual player playing through Red and Blue as those are some of the strongest Pokémon in Gen 1. The problem here is that...their movepools are garbage! I'm questioning how Blue EVER became Champion with a team as poorly trained as this when he has a Rhydon with NO Rock or Ground-type attacks to use, an Arcanine with mostly Normal moves and Ember of all Fire attacks instead of something stronger like Flamethrower or Fire Blast, his Exeggutor only knows THREE moves, his Gyarados knows Dragon Rage (a move that only does 40 damage every time and that's it) and his starter that's strong against yours doesn't have a very diverse set of attacks. They mostly just know moves of their same type and maybe a status move but that's it. It really feels like his team's moves are dicided by what attacks they learn by levelling up rather than taking advantage of TMs or what not.


Now his team in the remakes on the other hand, THAT'S a different story! His teams have better and stronger movers to use like his Arcanine knows Flamethrower instead of Ember, has ExtremeSpeed for quick finishes and Bite for extra coverage, his Rhydon knows Rock Tomb and Earthquake to take advantage of its STAB bonuses, his starter Pokémon have more diverse movepools, his Pidgeot knows Feather Dance to lower attack, his Exeggutor has four moves instead of three and overall, it feels more Champion worthy as a result. You can also rematch him in the remakes and his team gets even stronger as a result with the inclusion of Heracross and Tyranitar, his Gyarados knowing Earthquake to deal with Electric-types, more improved and stronger move sets for his Pokémon to use and his starter Pokémon have extra coverage with some extra moves like Dragon Claw for Charizard or Earthquake for Blastoise and Venusaur. The only way his team could be even better is if he gave all his Pokémon held items to use instead of just giving his starter a Sitrus Berry.


Overall, the remakes are a better example of Blue as a Champion than the originals and with his diverse team that cover multiple types, he's not the easiest one to go up against and it really is a case of having to pick your team carefully in order to defeat him. It's easy to see why Blue was the original Champion and the rival we had to surpass because he does come off as a strong trainer who truly picks the best Kanto has to offer to use the best team imaginable. I'm not sure if I could really improve it any further except maybe including Gengar in place of Pidgeot or something like that. Still, Blue's the Champion in where he got there first and will leave us with his iconic cratchphrase: "Smell ya later!"


2: Lance

This guy may be a Dragon master, but he's more than that. The strongest member of Kanto's Elite Four would go on to become the Champion of the Johto region too. How many players back in the day were shocked to see him again, and as a Champion no less?


I'll be covering the teams he uses in the original Pokémon Gold, Silver and Crystal games and the teams he uses in the remakes. In the original games, he uses three Dragonites (all illegally evolved no less), Charizard, Aerodactyl and Gyarados. Remember, Dragon-types were scarce in Gens 1 and 2 so he was stuck having to use vaguely dragon-like Pokémon to compensate for that. Regardless, that is a pretty powerful team. I mean THREE Dragonites?! That's pretty insane to think about! Each one knows one of the lemental attacks from Blizzard to Tunder and Fire Blast, two of them know Thunder Wave to slow down opponents and paralyze them, one knows Outrage to really laye the pain on us and they all know Hyper Beam. His strongest Dragonite is obviously the best one as it can cover its crippling ice weakness and it knowing Safeguard can prevent us from inflicting status conditions on it so it can prevent us from effectively crippling it. His Gyarados and Charizard have no coverage for their weaknesses and his Aerodactyl, while effective against Ice-types due to knowing Rock Slide, isn't necessarily the hardest Pokémon to deal with.


His team seems strong enough in the originals but the remakes make things even better for him. His three Dragonites are still as tough as ever with the first two knowing Dragon Rush instead of Twister for extra power, his Aerodactyl can cover its water weakness with Thunder Fang, his Charizard and Gyarados have stronger moves (but Gyarados still lacks coverage against Electric-types) and his Pokémon all have abilities now to make them even more effective. I would've given all three of his Dragonites Multiscale rather than Inner Focus to make them even harder to beat but whatever. Upon a rematch, his team is more diverse with Salamence, Altaria and Garchomp all added to his team and they have pretty decent moves overall. His Gyarados still lacks Electric coverage (seriously Lance, give your bloody Gyarados Earthquake already!) but it knows Thunder Wave to paralyze opponents and Dragon Dance to boost its attack and speed up, his Dragonite knows Draco Meteor and Fire Blast, his Salamence has Flamethrower to cover Ice-types and his Garchomp knows Swords Dance to boost its attack up further. His Altaria also knows Perish Song to mess with opponents giving him a hard time.


While Lance is the kind of Champion where his lack of diversity holds him back, I still find him challenging to fight. I can NEVER beat him without him putting up a tough fight and he always has me struggling for a moment. His team is pretty strong and can mostly cover their weaknesses and also make use of status moves to hinder our battle prowess. I'd personally give him a Kingdra of his own in place of one of his Dragonites, give him a Gyarados with Earthquake to cover Electric types and give him Dragonites with the Multiscale ability and that would make him even stronger.


For what we got though, Lance is still a solid Champion who proves the mighty power of Dragon type Pokémon and it's no wonder he became the Johto Champion of all the characters introduced in Gen 1...


1: Cynthia

Yes I know I'm being obvious with who's Number 1, but I don't care. Cynthia deserves it and EVERYONE knows it! XD


Cynthia has gained a legendary reputation amongst Pokémon fans for being the unquestionably strongest and most challenging Champion in the history of the franchise. Even to this day, people are STILL using her as the example that all Champions should follow in terms of how to be challenging and strong to face! Everybody knows Cynthia is the best Champion in all of Pokémon and it feels pointless to cover why that is...but I'll do it anyway. =P


For Pokémon Diamond, Pearl and Platinum, her team consists of Garchomp, Roserade, Milotic, Spiritomb, Lucario and Gastrodon for DP players while Platinum players get Togekiss. Her team is pretty diverse and contains multiple powerhouses from the ridiculously strong Garchomp to the always reliable Lucario. They all have strong move sets too with Roserade taking fulla dvantage of its high Special Attack by knowing all the best Special Attacks it can learn, her Milotic having Aqua Ring for recovery and Mirror Coat to fend off Special Attackers and her Garchomp is naturally a heavy hitter that's also really fast so it'll do a lot of damage once it hits you. She always starts off with Spiritomb and given its high defences and no exploitable weaknesses at the time, she's guaranteed to mess with you a bit before you FINALLY defeat it. Gastrodon is the weak link here as any strong Grass-type can take it down and Gastrodon's not the heaviest hitter ever but Togekiss is a marked improvement. It's a bulky Normal/Flying type with some strong moves to use. This is the team that many players have had a hard time with, especially her Garchomp in how it's just so fast and strong that even if you have a powerful Ice-type to use, it's still going to be a tough battle. It's no wonder that she kicked my ass at least twice when I played Platinum for the first time.


And then you get the remakes in where ILCA looked at Cynthia and though "Hmm...how do we make her EVEN STRONGER?!?!" The result is a team in where they all carry held items, have decent abilities they can make use of like Milotic's Marvel Scale, Garchomp's Rough Skin or Togekiss's Serene Grace, her team have updated move sets to make them even stronger and worst of all, her Garchomp knows Swords Dance, has a speed boosting nature and it carries a Yache berry so you can't just one-shot it with Ice attacks anymore! Oh and it knows Poison Jab so you're out of luck if you think Fairy-types will stop it. Her team is so broken in the remakes that unlike most Champions, I need an ACTUAL strategy in order to beat her! Most Champions you can reliably brute force your way to victory but NOT Cynthia! You need to fight smarter, not stronger with her! If you're curious, the strategy I used to beat her reliably involves weakening it with Ice Beam from a Bastiodon with Sturdy (sorry Birlliant Diamond players), then switch it to a Gyarados with Intimidate to lower its attack and avoid another Earthquake and then finish it off with Ice Fang. Trust me, it works. ;)


Cynthia remains to this day the peak of Pokémon Champions and the prime example of how to make them challenging and tough to beat. Her team is well-built, powerful, has a lot of coverage in their move sets and is so strong that you need to think strategically in order to beat her. It's no wonder that this blonde beauty is the Number 1 Best Champion in all of Pokémon...


And that's all the Champions ranked from Worst to Best. I hope you enjoyed reading this list and I invite you to share your thoughts down below. Which Champions do you think are the best? Which ones do you think should be at the bottom? Which Champion gave you the toughest battle? Feel free to tell me.


For now, I want to wish you all a Happy New Year and I hope you'll enjoy checking out this little blog of mine as new content will be coming your way throughout 2023. I have many plans for this year as you'll soon see so don't miss them! ;)

19 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page