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Controversial opinions

I believe the only reason of Alan's winning was executive meddling. Going through those last XYZ episodes made me realise it makes way more sense for him to eventually lose to Satoshi (especially since in all their battles (I think it was 2 or 3?) Alan won), but I guess because OLM decided to bring him to the Kalos league and being in the finals he had to win.

For me XY was building up to the first league win, more than SM if you will.
I definitely think executive meddling of some sort is the reason Ash always lost in leagues. You read so many stories when you delve into the background on television, film, comics, and so on.
However I'm actually starting to reconsider my earlier comment that I don't think he was ever intended to win XY when I think about it.
I can't find it again, but we were told Alain was always meant to be his league opponent, but I don't think it said that Alain was always going to win, and the huge amount of build up to Greninja and sudden focus on Ash as a respected and skilled trainer only not to go anywhere with that does have a distinct feeling of an invisible hand grabbing the steering wheel at some late junction.
In addition Iwane Masaaki made an interesting comment after the league:
Of course according to this fictional work I think "Probably he cannot win", it is only according to the flow of story "it seems like he can win", probably it makes one think "Even at the final episode he will also lose then?"
Translation is tricky but this reads like "The story is saying he'll win but the nature of the show means he never will". We don't know how much he knows about the writing process but along with Rica Matsumoto's "are we allowed to do that?" after being told he would win in Alola it is very suspicious. If the initial plan was a win in Kalos then it was stopped near the end a lot of things would match up well. That doesn't confirm anything, of course.
(I sort of wonder how many viewers decided to give up because of that comment though. It was definitely not what the fans wanted to hear right then).

It's also possible it was already determined he'd win gen 7 (due to running low on rankings) and XY was trying to start setting it up, but then gen 7 completely shifted gears (supposedly trying to copy Yokai Watch) and it became sort of messy.
 
On the topic of Ash’s league performances, I hate the way the writers have been handling the Alola League.

Why? Because it feels utterly meaningless.

Yes, in an out-of-universe standpoint, it was huge. It’s a milestone on Ash’s journey and a stepping stone for a change in formula that many have been craving for years, but it changed nothing in universe.

Ash didn’t decide to join the World Tournament because it was a champion exclusive event. It’s a tournament that allows any rando to enter, and Ash’s victory had no relevance on his decision to join whatsoever. Rather than “I guess I’ll step up my game and see if I can compare to the big guns”, him entering the PWT felt like a “eh, not doing anything, might as well join.”

He isn’t given any special treatment on the tournament for being the Alola champion. He’s once again not using his old pokemon and his past experiences are scarcely applied (not going into that topic further). Even in the big worldwide PWT matches, his opponent was introduced as a gym leader, while he was still introduced as some kid that’s passing by.

Hell, even if the Alola League is somehow unofficial and therefore his title means nothing here, you’d think somebody would mention that he’s the first kid to win that tournament. Even the boy he’s constantly travelling with doesn’t ever acknowledge that. Korrina saw him placing second in her region’s league and at no point congratulated him from stepping up, nor did anyone in Kalos look at him and think “oh hey, isn’t that the runner up from a while ago? Who also happened to fight in the frontline against a world threatening maniac?”

The Alola league meant much for old time fans and for people who like the anime at all, but... it means nothing in terms of development. By the end of the day, Journeys is still Ash wandering around as an unknown trainer (mostly, anyway) who builds up a team from the ground up with the same vague goal.

I agree, but from an in-universe perspective the Alola league probably isn't official and no one cares about it. Literally zero foreigners showed up and no one of the official Pokemon League staff backs it up, we don't even know it Kukui participated in one.
 
I definitely think executive meddling of some sort is the reason Ash always lost in leagues. You read so many stories when you delve into the background on television, film, comics, and so on.
However I'm actually starting to reconsider my earlier comment that I don't think he was ever intended to win XY when I think about it.
I can't find it again, but we were told Alain was always meant to be his league opponent, but I don't think it said that Alain was always going to win, and the huge amount of build up to Greninja and sudden focus on Ash as a respected and skilled trainer only not to go anywhere with that does have a distinct feeling of an invisible hand grabbing the steering wheel at some late junction.
In addition Iwane Masaaki made an interesting comment after the league:

Translation is tricky but this reads like "The story is saying he'll win but the nature of the show means he never will". We don't know how much he knows about the writing process but along with Rica Matsumoto's "are we allowed to do that?" after being told he would win in Alola it is very suspicious. If the initial plan was a win in Kalos then it was stopped near the end a lot of things would match up well. That doesn't confirm anything, of course.
(I sort of wonder how many viewers decided to give up because of that comment though. It was definitely not what the fans wanted to hear right then).

It's also possible it was already determined he'd win gen 7 (due to running low on rankings) and XY was trying to start setting it up, but then gen 7 completely shifted gears (supposedly trying to copy Yokai Watch) and it became sort of messy.

Just as you said, I strongly believe he was allowed a win only in SM because of the status quo starting to failling (with internet now it's entirely possible for dozens of people to complain about the league loss than, let's say, back in DP). I remember the intense backlash as soon as Satoshi lost back in XY and how people were going as far as to send multiple hate tweets to OLM and its employees, so it'd make sense to let him win the next league (although the retooling of the series along with some points from the game, such as the player being the first Alola champion ever, helped them).

I mentioned XY before but DP is another case where it seemed they were leading him to a win, introducing the Champion League and all, however no one'd expect a character like Takuto being introduced.

Having him win though, I wonder how OLM'd deal with the Champion League, as no way there'd be time for that in both DP and XY, so we'd have gotten less fillers? Or that was just another reason Satoshi couldn't win?
 
The Alola League win for Ash was a pity win. His road to the finals was a really easy one (Kukui was his only proper challenge) and I can't really rate it as a proper win either because of that.
Yeah, the Alola win brought out the Kalos discussions again--you had youtube videos arguing the issue popping up for a while, comment page and twitter debates, the usual SuMo/XY flame wars on twitter.
Hopefully the World Championship can really deliver and heal the rift in the fandom.

Just as you said, I strongly believe he was allowed a win only in SM because of the status quo starting to failling (with internet now it's entirely possible for dozens of people to complain about the league loss than, let's say, back in DP). I remember the intense backlash as soon as Satoshi lost back in XY and how people were going as far as to send multiple hate tweets to OLM and its employees, so it'd make sense to let him win the next league (although the retooling of the series along with some points from the game, such as the player being the first Alola champion ever, helped them).

I mentioned XY before but DP is another case where it seemed they were leading him to a win, introducing the Champion League and all, however no one'd expect a character like Takuto being introduced.
I was suspicious of DP as well--it was the first time they explained what happens if you win a league and went to the effort of introducing all that region E4 in a timely manner compared to Agatha not showing until AG, and Cynthia got far more screen time than Lance or especially Steven had.
Then a random guy with legendaries showing up and sweeping everyone except Ash (making it clear Ash would have won if he didn't show up) almost felt surreal. It was also the first time his rival was a proper foil--honestly, as much as XY gets the most attention for it I think DP would have been the best league win, then they could make BW more about Plasma with someone else doing the Gym quest--they could have done a lot with Ash and N as opposing characters and were probably planning to before Plasma got shelved because of the disaster.

Having him win though, I wonder how OLM'd deal with the Champion League, as no way there'd be time for that in both DP and XY, so we'd have gotten less fillers? Or that was just another reason Satoshi couldn't win?
It was suggested to me in another thread that the Elite Four was a big roadblock to letting him win since the league is traditionally near the end of the series--I think it's clear the staff don't always know exactly when the next game comes out which is why we've had so many rushed leagues.
Even at a conservative guess doing a full Elite Four run would take six episodes, assuming they're willing for the Elite Four to be three on three battles and a full battle for the champion. Less if he loses early on, of course.
Edit: In XY's case they had a decent few episodes after for Flare, but...
There's actually a theory that Flare ended up using the abandoned plans for Plasma, which is why they were dealt with after the league (like Plasma in the games), and Alain was taking the role that would have been given to N.
 
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It was suggested to me in another thread that the Elite Four was a big roadblock to letting him win since the league is traditionally near the end of the series--I think it's clear the staff don't always know exactly when the next game comes out which is why we've had so many rushed leagues.

It makes you wonder just how imperative it is for an anime saga to simultaneously debut near the release of its respective game.

Personally, I wouldn't mind the anime's game saga coming out some time after the game if it meant the preceding saga would receive substantial and evenly-paced League/ending episodes. Furthermore, a lot of people beat said games within the week of its release anyway; by the time the respective saga is beginning, most players already know about the story, the new characters, new Pokemon, and opinions have largely been made. Thus their "promotional angle" falls short; especially now since we don't even have a Galar-based saga despite the existence of Sword & Shield.
 
It was suggested to me in another thread that the Elite Four was a big roadblock to letting him win since the league is traditionally near the end of the series--I think it's clear the staff don't always know exactly when the next game comes out which is why we've had so many rushed leagues.
Even at a conservative guess doing a full Elite Four run would take six episodes, assuming they're willing for the Elite Four to be three on three battles and a full battle for the champion. Less if he loses early on, of course.
Edit: In XY's case they had a decent few episodes after for Flare, but...
There's actually a theory that Flare ended up using the abandoned plans for Plasma, which is why they were dealt with after the league (like Plasma in the games), and Alain was taking the role that would have been given to N.

About how an Elite Four arc would play out I can't really say, but I always pictured it as individual battles taking place in different stadiums in a spam of 2-3 episodes each, which training, building up, travelling and introductions in-between. Taking DP into account (since it's the saga that introduced the Champion League) I'd guess Satoshi would be instructed to go to City X to battle member X, there'd be 1-2 episodes of travelling (maybe training), one for build-up and one for battle. It'd go like this until the time to battle Shirona, which could be a 3-parter. Of course this method would require axing a bunch of fillers and bringing the league dozens of episodes early, not mentioning maybe a bigger budget. And as you pointed out it hasn't been clear whether the staff knows or not when the next games are coming up.

About the Plasmas, I've always wondered how they'd be portrayed had the Plasma-dan vs Rocket-dan two parter aired. It's interesting that they would be introduced a tad too late and be gone for the next six months (taking into account how long it takes for an episode to be produced). Although N was mentioned during one of its trailers (a grunt does say "For the sake of our hero") I sincerely doubt he'd show up in any of those episodes. It was some kind of foreshadow though.

So yeah, there's a chance they used their N ideas for Alan, even if they weren't on paper yet back then.
 
It makes you wonder just how imperative it is for an anime saga to simultaneously debut near the release of its respective game.

Personally, I wouldn't mind the anime's game saga coming out some time after the game if it meant the preceding saga would receive substantial and evenly-paced League/ending episodes.
I think they like to release everything at once--I believe the TCG launches it's new line at the same time as the new games as well.
As long as the show's main goal is to advertise the games it's a situation with no really great answers, I think. For instance in theory they could decide ahead of time how many episodes a series is getting instead of having to keep it going until they receive word the next generation is coming, but that could leave the staff out of work for some time, especially in a four year generation (if we see one again).
They could try to plot out a decent set up to the league and then run filler until it's time to wrap up (say, plan for episode 100 to be the start of the league) but that has it's own issues.
I think the new series hints things may be changing to some extent, with the show moving to a more general advertisement of the brand rather than just the most recent mainline game. We'll have to see if that's long term and how it plays out, though.
 
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I believe the only reason of Alan's winning was executive meddling. Going through those last XYZ episodes made me realise it makes way more sense for him to eventually lose to Satoshi (especially since in all their battles (I think it was 2 or 3?) Alan won), but I guess because OLM decided to bring him to the Kalos league and being in the finals he had to win.

While I think there's an element of that, I think Ash losing the league was the overall better outcome in terms of it leading on to the Team Flare arc.

If Ash won the league, it would have been the conclusion of his arc. He could still go on to cement his status as champion through his deeds in the Team Flare arc but he becomes a bigger hero when he loses the league and yet works towards saving Kalos from the evil team as the league loss becomes an obstacle that he overcomes.

As for Alain, it is the same. If he had loss the league, the learning point of how winning isn't everything is achieved but at much lower stakes. His importance to Team Flare would have been diminished. Instead, by building him up to be a champion of the league and then finding out that he is used, the stakes were raised making for a much better story.

From that perspective, I think the Kalos season was very satisfactory.

When you take into account Ash's twenty year history, him losing in spite of the hype seems like a huge missed opportunity but then again, each season seems to disregard all the seasons that came before mostly so I feel like this wasn't something that the Anime stuff really took into consideration in their writing of the story. If we take into perspective then Ash losing and Alain winning makes sense (to me at least).
 
I think an Alola win was easier to pull off for the writers than a Kalos one. Kalos was such a grand affair that winning it and then going to the Sun/Moon would bring a constant amount of backlash through he series' run. With Ash not winning it’d be easier for them to go back to the status quo for Sun/Moon. As for the Alola win, if they wanted to make it count, they could, and if they didn’t want to make it count, there are many factors that can help, like the league being new.

If the executives would ever let Ash win in a region, it’s Alola, and for understandable reasons.
 
With the Champion League I get the feeling the writers drove themselves into a corner. As in their usual approach of closing a saga with the league wouldn't work if Satoshi ended up winning the conference, so either the league conference would have to take place way before the final episodes (assuming OLM had an idea the date of the following games) if a Champion league were to happen, or Satoshi wouldn't be allowed the victory (which happened). I was wondering beforehand the reason behind this Champion league's late introduction as well and I guess it was a way to tight further the anime with the games and to give an explanation why there's an Elite 4 (in previous sagas it wasn't clear their role after all), and MAYBE something they would use in the future.

While I think there's an element of that, I think Ash losing the league was the overall better outcome in terms of it leading on to the Team Flare arc.

Yeah, the Flare showdown could be another reason why he lost. Maybe letting him win and then leading to the evil team's final battle would feel anti-climatic I guess? Disregarding the Champion League of course.


I think an Alola win was easier to pull off for the writers than a Kalos one. Kalos was such a grand affair that winning it and then going to the Sun/Moon would bring a constant amount of backlash through he series' run. With Ash not winning it’d be easier for them to go back to the status quo for Sun/Moon. As for the Alola win, if they wanted to make it count, they could, and if they didn’t want to make it count, there are many factors that can help, like the league being new.

If the executives would ever let Ash win in a region, it’s Alola, and for understandable reasons.

Letting an Alola victory made WAY more sense indeed. From game and anime perspective that is. In the game: first Alola champion and a league quest relatively new to the region. In the anime: first Alola league conference ever, no Elite 4, no entry requirements, a weaker roster of participants, etc... And the change in the status quo after 20 years.

To sum things up, an extremelly more convinient way for a victory.
 
As soon as "Alain winning was the right choice" popped up I knew what the next few pages was going to be.

While I think there's an element of that, I think Ash losing the league was the overall better outcome in terms of it leading on to the Team Flare arc.

If Ash won the league, it would have been the conclusion of his arc. He could still go on to cement his status as champion through his deeds in the Team Flare arc but he becomes a bigger hero when he loses the league and yet works towards saving Kalos from the evil team as the league loss becomes an obstacle that he overcomes.

As for Alain, it is the same. If he had loss the league, the learning point of how winning isn't everything is achieved but at much lower stakes. His importance to Team Flare would have been diminished. Instead, by building him up to be a champion of the league and then finding out that he is used, the stakes were raised making for a much better story.
My counter would be: why should we care about the Team Flare arc?
Evil villain arcs are the least interesting part of the show because we know how they're going to go down, and in this case they brought them into the main show way too late and barely interacted with Ash until the end. They prioritized another generic evil villain team that went the same way as always over the story they spent 90% of the show's screentime on.

When the Flare arc aired it got well received but now it only ever comes up in relation to Ash losing the league.
That's XY's legacy now, the league loss, not Team Flare--it's the shows own fault, too, for knowingly hype something up like crazy with no intention to deliver.
Edit: I might have given Flare more credit if they hadn't had a Legendary do the heavy lifting again and/or Ash wasn't rewritten for Sun/Moon, but...

I think an Alola win was easier to pull off for the writers than a Kalos one. Kalos was such a grand affair that winning it and then going to the Sun/Moon would bring a constant amount of backlash through he series' run. With Ash not winning it’d be easier for them to go back to the status quo for Sun/Moon. As for the Alola win, if they wanted to make it count, they could, and if they didn’t want to make it count, there are many factors that can help, like the league being new.

If the executives would ever let Ash win in a region, it’s Alola, and for understandable reasons.
It was easier, but that doesn't make it look any better.

tl;dr
Alain delenda est
 
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My counter would be: why should we care about the Team Flare arc?
By that logic, why should we care about any thing? Any evil plot in any episode? The TRio? If the outcome's going to be the same why do we have to care about the entire anime.

"Why should we care about the plot?" Seems like a flawed premise to me.

Evil villain arcs are the least interesting part of the show because we know how they're going to go down,
Heavily subjective, I don’t agree. The team arcs may not have been good, but Flare subverted it. By that logic no one would be seeing super hero movies, or any movies at all with a clear hero-villain set up since the villain will be beat in the end regardless (Avengers Infinity War being a highly notable and rare exception).

and in this case they brought them into the main show way too late
It did get focus though. And more focus than any other villain arc, just not with Ash. The evil teams bar rocket don’t usually go public till the end, and that has always been an issue. XY subverted it by devoting an entire saga to Flare and Alain, giving us an "insider look" on how their processes work and how they brainwash people.

They prioritized another generic evil villain team that went the same way as always over the story they spent 90% of the show's screentime on.
What’s exactly generic here? We don’t get much screentime on the villains but Flare has definitely seen the most amount of time. And as far as legendary corruption goes that took a lot of time with the development of Zygarde.
When the Flare arc aired it got well received but now it only ever comes up in relation to Ash losing the league.
That's XY's legacy now, the league loss, not Team Flare--it's the shows own fault, too, for knowingly hype something up like crazy with no intention to deliver.
So should the Flare arc be dismissed because of something else that happened? Flare was independent of Ash's league result, and I don’t think a legacy should be the part of an argument (we're literally in the Controversial opinions thread, public perception shouldn’t be much of a factor here).

Edit: I might have given Flare more credit if they hadn't had a Legendary do the heavy lifting again and/or Ash wasn't rewritten for Sun/Moon, but...
1. This is actually one of the plots where the legendary doesn’t do much heavy lifting (till the end, at least). Lysandre's plans are mostly propelled by Alain's power and the expert manipulation they subjected him to. Alain does most of the heavy lifting in the Flare plot. He collects ME Energy, he tackles the giant rock during the mega evolution specials. Zygarde does the heavy lifting in the end, but it’d be impossible without Alain, not dependent on Zygarde.
2. I don’t know why the tonal change of the next series should degrade the villains of the previous one...

Could the arc be done better? Absolutely yes. But it’s still undeniable that it’s the most effort Pokemon have ever put in its villain plot. And intervening it with the league is something I’ve been surprised hasn’t been done earlier.

Personally, my preferred outcome was that Team Flare actually interrupts the match before anyone wins or loses. Ash (and Alain?) could’ve been given a special award for their services and apparently there’s even a key item from the games called the Honour of Kalos?
 
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To take the discussion away from League stuff, I think Ash's Chimchar's evolutions were paced rather unevenly. At least in terms of Badges. Ash caught Chimchar in between his second and third Sinnoh Badges, but it took it all the way after Ash's seventh Badge to finally evolve. And while admittedly the gap between Ash's seventh and eighth Sinnoh Badges was the biggest Badge gap we've even seen for him, it still evolved again during the gap between those Badges.

So, to put it simply, while under Ash's ownership (because technically it debuted under Paul's ownership before Ash even had a single Badge), it took Chimchar five Badges' worth of episodes (arguably seven) to evolve even once, and then it evolved twice in between just two Gym Badges. I think that's bit unevenly paced. I know they probably saved the evolution for Ash and Paul's Full Battle, but still.
 
You know, I have been part of this community for a long time, but I never understood why people like pokemon like Infernape, Greninja and Sceptile.

I know an ace is an important part of the team, but it should not carry the whole team. In alot of regions the team is shafted because the "ace" is too important.

Some examples:
-Pikachu, Goodra, Noivern had to be defeated quick, so Greninja could take alot of screentime
-The same with Pikachu and Melmetal.

Alot of pokémons are shafted because of that reason. And it is true, it depends on the writers. And their decission depends on the most popular pokemon.
 
Re: PkmnTrainerV
There's been topic drift and this is dominating the thread again so I'll try to explain my thoughts, but this will be my last post about the Kalos league and Team Flare for now. However I will admit I was unfair to Team Flare in my post (to be honest I think the "honeymoon" with the Alola win being over is why I'm being so harsh towards XY recently).

When a series wants to run a long-term narrative everything that happens in the show counts. Pokémon tries to be somewhat self contained since DP ended, but still wants the benefits of a long-term narrative; old characters appearing to excite fans, they clearly portrayed the Alola win as a huge event out of universe and even shook up the show entirely after it. So if they want the advantages of a long narrative they also need to accept the downsides, which means the Kalos League and Team Flare "count" for how they affect what comes before and after, and what narrative choices were made regarding them.

Let's briefly pop into an alternate universe. In this AU XY was the exact same, but Sun and Moon was closer to it and the previous series' in tone and the Alola league was an amazing conclusion. In this AU I think people wouldn't be ragging the Kalos league as much now. Sure it was disappointing at the time but we got a great conclusion to the League quest in the end.

In our universe we got a conclusion generally seen as disappointing--that's what happens when you keep kicking the can down the road to deal with it later. So the Kalos League deserves heat for missing the chance to have a good conclusion to the main arc Ash was undergoing for twenty years, and if the Kalos league ended that way to service the Flare Arc it's the Flare Arc's fault.

That said--this whole discussion was about a response saying it was stronger narratively for Alain to win because of Flare. However I still personally believe the league outcome was not written to service the Flare arc, but because of executive interference--I even mentioned I'm starting to think the theory it was rewritten later on may be plausible. However there's been several pages so that original context is kind of being lost between posts.


Edit: Funny timing on this discussion; XY is going to start being uploaded to the official site on Friday.

You know, I have been part of this community for a long time, but I never understood why people like pokemon like Infernape, Greninja and Sceptile.
Sceptile wasn't really the same as the other two, I think. He didn't get excessive screen time and hype like Greninja and everyone else wasn't repeatedly thrown under the bus to make him look better like Infernape.
Edit: I looked up the win rate chart and his AG party is actually pretty close--Glalie and Torkoal are respectively much higher or lower than the others (Torkoal is still higher than Buizel hilariously enough), but Pikachu, Sceptile, Corphish, and Swellow are all sitting around similar numbers (Pikachu is highest at 63.8, Corphish at 58--not a huge variance).


In general I tend to agree, though. I dislike one Pokémon dominating the wins and importance.
 
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You know, I have been part of this community for a long time, but I never understood why people like pokemon like Infernape, Greninja and Sceptile.

I know an ace is an important part of the team, but it should not carry the whole team. In alot of regions the team is shafted because the "ace" is too important.

Some examples:
-Pikachu, Goodra, Noivern had to be defeated quick, so Greninja could take alot of screentime
-The same with Pikachu and Melmetal.

Alot of pokémons are shafted because of that reason. And it is true, it depends on the writers. And their decission depends on the most popular pokemon.
Well, people like different Pokemon for different reasons. Personally I liked Infernape and Greninja before Ash got them, and many people wouldn’t mind their favourite Pokemon is depicted as “cool”. They usually take the Pokemon which are already popular and make them even more hype worthy, but that doesn’t mean that people are *also* fine with the other Pokemon getting shafted. What happened with Torterra was a travesty.
think. He didn't get excessive screen time and hype like Greninja and everyone else wasn't repeatedly thrown under the bus to make him look better like Infernape.
Edit: I looked up the win rate chart and his AG party is actually pretty close--Glalie and Torkoal are respectively much higher or lower than the others (Torkoal is still higher than Buizel hilariously enough), but Pikachu, Sceptile, Corphish, and Swellow are all sitting around similar numbers (Pikachu is highest at 63.8, Corphish at 58--not a huge variance).
Which chart are you talking about? Is it this one?
1593702008937.jpeg
(it’s by far the most popular chart)...

Sceptile‘a focus comes from the fact that it defeated Darkrai, and people generally lump it with the other strong, fully evolved starters.
 
Which chart are you talking about? Is it this one?
I'm going by this chart, which is more recent (that one was before Kalos ended so Goodra is sitting at 100) and goes into more detail and has a google doc covering up to Journeys.
The two have a lot of different numbers so I'm sure they're using different methodology.
He doesn't give a different win rate for Pikachu in each season but does list the battles for each so I did the math for him in AG myself.
Although the funny thing about Torkoal is he was riding 50/50 when he was Oak'd then brought back twice to lose. Poor guy.

Sceptile‘a focus comes from the fact that it defeated Darkrai, and people generally lump it with the other strong, fully evolved starters.
I agree Sceptile is really strong, though I think he's distinct from many other aces in that he just didn't steal as much attention as Charizard or some of the others. He wasn't even used in Ash's main AG victory when he defeated Brandon.
 
I don't think think Alain cheated though, at least knowingly/willingly. My headcanon is that the ring he uses was engineered by Flare scientists to draw on the opponent's ME energy and leave them weakened, that is how Alain seemed 'powerful'. How else could he "collect" the energy in the first place?

It's why it didn't work against Lysandre, he knew how to counter/deactivate it.
I don’t think it absorbs the energy a Pokemon wants to use. Some prior games have told us that evolution releases some sort of extra energy (I think it’s Platinum? I can’t find it on Bulbapedia so it’s entirely possible it’s something I thought up) someone tried to harness. I always thought it works just like 5e byproduct heat in some chemical reactions.

The Pokémon releases some extra energy into the environment to stabilise itself (kind of supported by the fact that whenever a Pokémon mega evolves, waves spread through the area, it maybe the cool factor, but explanations for cool factors are fun) or maybe it stabilises as the Mega evolution sigil light in the games universe (I don’t remember the anime does the sigil light after mega evolution?).
Team Flare just engineered a device to harness this extra energy which would usually be released into the environment.

I don’t think it’s in character for Alain to sap energy from his opponents, so I doubt he’d have used it against his opponents or Lysandre knowingly or something. I always thought his overpowered charizard was in character since all that guy does was train. He’s the anime equivalent to the person accidentally grinding his Pokémon to level 100.
 
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