Ash Ketchum is now the No. 1 ranked Pokémon trainer in the world.
In the current season of the anime, “Pokémon Ultimate Journeys: The Series,” the iconic character and Alola champion from Pallet Town squared off against Galar champion and No. 1- ranked trainer Leon in the Masters Eight Tournament of the Pokémon World Coronation Series.
The other contenders in the tournament included Kalos champion Diantha, Hoenn champion Steven, Sinnoh champion Cynthia, Unova champion Iris, Johto champion Lance and Ash’s rival from Kalos, Alain. Ash bested Steven in the quarter finals in a three-on-three match before advancing to fight the previously undefeated Cynthia in a six-on-six bout in the semi-finals.
As with his other matches in the tournament, Ash stuck with his squad of Pikachu, Gengar, Dracovish, Sirfetch’d, Dragonite and Lucario. Meanwhile, Leon busted out a team composed of all three fully evolved Galar starters, the grass type Rillaboom, fire type Cinderace and water type Inteleon, along with pseudo-legendary ghost/dragon Dragapult, the Galarian Mr. Mime variant evolution Mr. Rime and his signature ace, Charizard.
Leon and Ash’s epic showdown spanned four episodes and included a special rule just for Ash. In the Masters Eight Tournament, trainers are allowed to use one1 battle mechanic per match, whether it be Dynamax/Gigantamax, Mega Evolution or Z-Move, but for the finals, Leon allowed Ash to use all three in their fight.
Their match is briefly interrupted by the appearance of the legendary Pokémon Eternatus, but they quickly get back on track as Leon Gigantamaxes his Cinderace while Ash mirrors with Gigantamax Pikachu. The final altercation is fittingly between the two champion’s starters: Pikachu and. Charizard.
Ash’s historic accomplishment is the peak of his 25 years as a perpetual 10-year-old trainer in the Pokémon anime.
Taito Okiura, vice president of marketing for The Pokémon Company International, even released a statement congratulating the protagonist:
“Ash Ketchum’s determination and perseverance to achieve his goal of becoming the world’s top Pokémon Trainer over the course of 25 seasons represents the very best of what it means to be a Trainer. We cannot wait to celebrate this moment with Pokémon fans when the newest season of ‘Pokémon Ultimate Journeys: The Series’ and this adventure-defining episode air around the world in the coming year. This is a season fans won’t want to miss!”
Netizens jumped on social media to celebrate the crowning achievement.
“What a special, legendary, historic day. This will never get old,” wrote one user. “I’m so proud of him.”
“Waited my entire life for Ash Ketchum to finally become the Champion,” wrote another.
“25 years of showcasing Ash Ketchum’s journey and today, he reached a new level,” another user commented. “After all his development, struggles and perseverance, Ash defeats Leon and becomes the new World Champion. Ash Ketchum is now the strongest trainer in world of the Pokémon anime”
Ash Ketchum’s English dub voice actor Sarah Natochenny even tweeted, “I can’t wait to share the English dub of this episode of Pokémon with the world. What an absolute honor to be voicing Ash Ketchum as he becomes a world champion. He really is the very best. Like no one ever was.”
She followed it up with another tweet reacting to a video of Ash’s win screened in Shibuya, Tokyo.
Whether this is the end of Ash’s journey is yet to be revealed, but if the series followsing precedent, he should feature in an upcoming anime season based off of the soon- to- be- released “Pokémon: Scarlet and Violet” games.