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I personally have no idea how people hate Torracat. Yeah, sure it's a little awkward, as most middle stages are. People can have their opinions I guess.
I love Torracat myself. Just barely misses the spot as my favorite form of a starter pokemon, right under Typhlosion who only makes it because of nostalgia. Loved it from the moment it was introduced to us, and am even thinking about starting a playthrough of the game where I just keep my starter as a Torracat once he hits that stage.
I'm surprised people say that, as it's usually Incineroar that gets the hate. I personally like the whole line, even if Torracat is a bit awkward like most middle-stage evolutions. So, yeah, I don't see it as hated, unlike Incineroar, who tends to get the most heat (pun not intended).
...Really? People hate Torracat? Back when the mid-evo starter trio was revealed, Brionne was more controversial...
Honestly, I've seen lots of people hate Incineroar more than Torracat; there was at least one person I've acquainted with during a family gathering party that showed me an Gen 7 team that had Torracat well into Lv. 69.
....well, regardless, I will say that it was my least favorite of the mid-evo starters back when it was released; simply cuz it just felt too close to Litten whereas Dartrix and Brionne had more of a personality. I like it a bit more now, but I wouldn't really say it's a favorite, either.
I personally somewhat like Incineroar cuz of its fun personality; especially in Smash where it boasts like the most egotistical shit ever, but that's just me.
Final forms: Incineroar is controversial, Primarina and Decidueye are loved (but not to the degrees of Charizard, Sceptile and Greninja).
Middle forms: Dartrix is liked, Torracat has few but loyal fans and Brionne is completely forgotten.
Starter forms: Rowlet is loved, Litten is liked and Popplio has few but loyal fans.
I've seen most of the hate directed at Incineroar. Though in my opinion, I think Torracat is more forgotten than hated. People love Litten and seem to dislike Incinceroar.
Myself? My favorite of the line is Torracat. It is cuter than Litten to me, because I don't like the over the top cuteness of first stage Pokemon. That's what I tend to have a soft spot for middle evos. (Love me Ivysaur, Wartortle, Quilava, Braixen... etc.)