The sky is blue, water is wet, the Earth is round, and our boy Ash Ketchum lost yet another Pokémon League. It hurts, doesn’t it? Knowing that we spent about a month riding on hopes and dreams that ultimately amounted to nothing.
I think people are more mad that Ash lost another League this time around because they wanted to believe that the show producers and writers would just for once say “To Hell with the status quo, let’s give the boy a League victory for once.” There’s also the fact that Sun and Moon‘s Alola region doesn’t appear to have a traditional League (at least not that we know of. The game is still a few months away as of this writing, so who knows?)
And let’s be real, the buildup was there. Ash was pretty much at his A-game this whole season. Aside from Pikachu, his entire Kalos team were fully evolved: Greninja (that has its own special Super form that is essentially Ash’s Mega Evolution), Talonflame (the most badass early-game bird since Staraptor), Hawlucha (a unique type combination), Goodra (a pseudo-legendary Special Defense wall of a Dragon), and Noivern (a weak Dragon-type, but makes good use of Sound-based attacks). We were even treated to a promo video of Ash-Greninja’s victories and what to come in the next battles.
And Alain was pretty much set up his main rival when XY & Z started. In the few times he battled against his Mega Charizard X, he lost due to Ash-Greninja not being at full power. With Ash battling Alain in the finals, Alola not appearing to have a traditional League, and the last episode of the Kalos League titled “Kalos League Victory!! Ash’s Ultimate Match,” it sounded like this was gonna be the Pokémon battle of his 10-year old life, and if he was gonna claim a League victory, it would be here and now.
But nope, he lost. The dream died. Because the status quo must be preserved at all costs. According to Bulbapedia (and several previous episodes mentions this), the winner of a regional League tournament gets to compete in a Champion League (essentially the games’ Pokémon League), where the victor can have the opportunity to battle against the region’s Elite Four and Champion. If Ash won the tournament, then he’d pretty much have no reason to go to the next region. He’ll keep challenging the Champions League until eventually he wins and become the regional Champion. Boom, end of series. The anime is, first and foremost, an advertisement for the games and merchandise. And as long as its still profitable, Ash basically has to lose the League in order to keep the series going.
And another thing: this loss is nowhere near as bad as his previous two League losses. Remember Tobias, the guy in the Sinnoh League who stomped through the whole thing with only Darkrai? No one knows where he came from, or how he obtained Darkrai; his only reason for existing was to ensure that Ash lose. And to add insult to injury, Ash was the only trainer to not only defeat Darkrai, but reveal he had another Legendary (a Latios) in waiting and defeat that too. And then there was Cameron in the Unova League, who was one Pokémon short of a full 6-on-6 battle, and Ash still lost to that guy. Not as bad as his loss to Tobias, but still pretty bullshit. Honestly, Ash lost fair and square to a guy with Tyranitar, Weavile, Metagross, Bisharp, Unfezant (Seriously, guys? An Unfezant?), and Mega Charizard X. 2nd place’s not so bad, I guess.
Well, until the day the show is no longer profitable (or the writers decide to say, screw it), this won’t be retired anytime soon. But he’ll probably get it. Hopefully before we all grow old and decrepit and forgetful.