Note: These are some spoilers for the Pokemon anime episodes that revolve around the Malano Conference.
Pokemon trainer Ash Ketchum is one step from the Malano conference finals. During the last episode of the Pokemon anime, “A Soaring Showdown! Brave Bird vs. Sky Attack,” his Rowlet defeated Tau’s Decidueye.
The win was teased in a teaser trailer that listed the semifinals matches for the conference. According to the post, Ash will take on Guzma – who defeated Lana to reach the semifinals. The second semifinal match will be Gladion, who defeated James, will take on Kiawe, who wins his match against Sophocles.
I’m going to go on a limb and speculate that we will see Ash take on Gladion in the finals after defeating Guzma. Ash and Guzma had one battle during the series that never finished because Guzma’s Golisopod returned to its Pokeball with Emergency Exit.
Ash and Gladion battled on different occasions where Gladion’s Pokemon emerged victorious – his Lycanroc defeating Ash’s Rockruff in its first stage and after it evolve. Gladion’s Type Null also battled Ash’s Lycanroc to a no-contest of sorts.
It seems like Ash will likely defeat Gladion to win the Malano Conference title. This was a similar situation in Pokemon XY where he battled Alain and lost to him all three times. I’d like to think the writers learned this lesson and will have Ash win the conference, not because he has already lost so many conference tournaments, but rather he would end up battling the Masked Royal, who is actually Professor Kukui in disguise.
Having Professor Kukui as Ash’s final opponent would be a fitting way to end his journey in Alola. Professor Kukui has been more than just the obligatory Pokemon professor to Ash, he’s been a friend and a mentor.
Ash has faced Kukui on a few occasions. The first was in a battle royal when the professor was disguised as Masked Royal and included Kiawe and Sophocles.
He also battled a young Kukui after being thrown back in time courtesy of Celebi. After defeating the five-year-old Kukui, Ash told him there was no shame in losing. It will be interesting if the writers have Kukui remember their battle and the advice he received from Ash.
My prediction is that Ash will win the Malano Conference, but his next two matches will not be easy. His semifinal match with Guzma will be barnburner that might shed some light on the backstory with the Team Skull leader. Ash’s final match with Gladion will also be thrilling, and provide some closure in regards to Ash’s Lycanroc and his potential.