The Pokémon video games are laid out in such a way that the player will always be fighting trainers who present an equal challenge to their average level of Pokémon at the time.
This goes out of the window when the player reaches the Elite Four, as they are expected to have mastered Pokémon battling to the point where they should be able to handle anything that is thrown at them.
Once the player becomes the Champion, then all bets are off in terms of who will challenge them next.
The Pokémon video games have tried to be balanced, but it’s impossible to prepare for a player’s team. Lt. Surge from Pokémon Red & Blue might pose a huge challenge to someone who relies on a strong Water-type Pokémon, yet his team will be annihilated by another player with a Ground-type Pokémon.
There are some Pokémon trainers who will provide the ultimate challenge for the player, regardless of their strength, while others are just incredibly difficult for the point in the game in which they appear.
The opposite is also true, as there are some high-ranking Pokémon trainers who are meant to represent a challenge, yet they are very easy to defeat in battle.
We are here today to see which Pokémon trainers managed to become the best like no one ever was and which of the so-called top trainers aren’t worth wasting a Full Restore on – from the Johto Gym Leader who sent many young trainers back to New Bark Town to the Elite Four member who spent more time checking out his abs in the mirror than actually training his Pokémon.
Here are the 10 Most Powerful Pokémon Trainers (And 10 Who Pose No Challenge)!
20 Most Powerful: Whitney
Whitney may not be as powerful as an Elite Four member or a Champion, but she is still one of the most challenging opponents in Pokémon Gold & Silver.
The unwary player may be misled into thinking that a Normal-type Gym would be a pushover, but this was a clever ruse on the part of the developers, as Whitney and her Miltank are incredibly powerful for the point in the game in which you meet them.
Whitney’s Clefairy isn’t likely to give you much trouble, but her Miltank will absolutely wreck you.
The Miltank used by Whitney has a debuff move against male Pokémon (Attract), a healing move (Milk Drink), and two powerful attacks (Rollout and Stomp), which will crush almost anything you have access to at that point in the game.
The Gym battle with Whitney is usually the point in Pokémon Gold & Silver where the player has to seriously think about their team composition and start level-grinding, as you can’t just spam regular attacks if you want to beat her Miltank.
19 Weakest: Giovanni
Giovanni is the leader of Team Rocket in Pokémon Red & Blue and the player has to battle him several times throughout the game.
It is revealed that Giovanni is the absent Gym Leader of Viridian City and is the final challenge you have to overcome before facing the Elite Four.
Giovanni’s original team in Pokémon Red & Blue left a lot to be desired. The fact that all of his Pokémon are Ground-type or part Ground-type means that anyone who chose Bulbasaur or Squirtle as their starter will absolutely destroy his team without any trouble.
Those players who picked Charmander won’t have much more trouble, even though Fire-type Pokémon are weak to Ground-type moves.
The reason for this is that Giovanni’s five Pokémon only know two Ground-type moves between them, as his Dugtio can use Dig and his Rhdyon can use Fissure.
Giovanni’s team know mostly Normal-type moves, which makes them susceptible to the Gastly line.
18 Most Powerful: Wally
Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire was the first game in the series to give you multiple rivals. The character you didn’t select when choosing your gender would become one rival, in the form of either Brendan or May, while the other rival was an NPC named Wally.
Wally is introduced as a sickly child who moved to the country in order to improve his health.
He doesn’t pose much of a threat until the end Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire and only becomes a challenge after completing the game in Pokémon Emerald. However, he received a huge boost in power in Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire.
You are given the chance to battle Wally in the Battle Maison in Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire, where he will eventually present a well-balanced team of Pokémon that have an average level of seventy-nine, with a level eighty-one Gallade that can Mega Evolve.
17 Weakest: Faba
In most Pokémon video games, you are free to repeatedly challenge the Elite Four and the Champion with no indication that you have ever beaten them in the past.
In Pokémon Sun & Moon, you are given the chance to defend your title against other trainers who have also defeated the Elite Four.
One of the possible challengers to your title is Faba, who is a member of the Aether Foundation.
Faba may have surpassed the Elite Four, but he is similar to a Gym Leader in that he relies on a single type, which makes him easy to defeat.
All of Faba’s Pokémon are either Psychic-type or part Psychic-type, meaning that they will have a hard time facing a single Dark-type Pokémon.
This means that most of Faba’s Pokémon will suffer a type disadvantage and have their most powerful moves rendered ineffective.
16 Most Powerful: Drake
The final member of the Elite Four in Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire was Drake, the Dragon-type trainer.
The other three members of the Elite Four relied on Pokémon types that were easy to counter, such as Dark, Ghost, and Ice, but Drake existed in the time when the only types that could stop Dragons were Ice-type Pokémon and other Dragon-type Pokémon, both of which were usually rare without trading.
The player had to defeat two powerful Flygons on Drake’s team, which would be hard enough to fight on their own, but his secret weapon came in the form of a Salamence that had a ton of offensive power and a move selection that can take apart most team setups that you can throw against it.
Drake would become less of a challenge in Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire, as Fairy-type Pokémon were now present in the series and they are totally immune to Dragon-type moves.
15 Weakest: Blaine
There is a fundamental design flaw with the Pokémon video games that was not addressed until Pokémon Sun & Moon.
The fact that you need to traverse water (and some waterfalls and whirlpools) in order to progress through the game means that you will almost certainly need a Water-type Pokémon that can use Surf.
This means that it is in the player’s best interest to acquire a powerful Water-type Pokémon and use it on their team, in order to save time going backward and forwards to the PC to switch out your team.
Blaine may have been a more effective Gym Leader if he had appeared earlier in the game, but you need a Pokémon of the type that will annihilate his team in order to reach him at all, which means that you are guaranteed to possess a Pokémon that can beat him.
The game will even give you a Lapras in the Silph Co. building, just to make sure you have a powerful Water-type Pokémon to use as an HM slave.
14 Most Powerful: Blue
Blue is still the best rival in the Pokémon series and it has nothing to do with his Pokémon.
There is no greater joy than putting this smug kid in his place whenever he brags about being the superior trainer and every other rival in the series has yet to make as much of an impact as him.
Blue is the Champion in Pokémon Red & Blue and his high-level team of well-balanced Pokémon will provide you the ultimate challenge in the game unless you want to try and capture Mewtwo without using the Master Ball.
Blue really comes into his own when he becomes a Gym Leader, as his Pidgeot is still the highest-level Pokémon that you will encounter in a Gym battle.
He may have fallen from grace and lost the Champion position, but Blue is still a force to be reckoned with and is the second most challenging opponent in Pokémon Gold & Silver.
13 Weakest: Tate & Liza
Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire introduced Double Battles to the series, which meant that two Pokémon could be used by each player at once.
In order to show off the new Double Battle feature, a Pokémon Gym was created that had two Gym Leaders that you would battle at the same time. These Gym Leaders are Tate and Liza of the Mossdeep Gym.
In Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire, Tate and Liza only used two Pokémon throughout the battle (Lunatone and Solrock) and both of these Pokémon have a double weakness to Water-type moves.
Surf was upgraded in Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire so that it would hit both of the enemy Pokémon at once in a Double Battle.
Hoenn has too much water, so you will almost certainly have a powerful Water-type Pokémon at your disposal with Surf, so Tate and Liza won’t pose much of a challenge.
Tate and Liza were given a far more robust team in Pokémon Emerald, before being dropped back to two Pokémon in Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire.
12 Most Powerful: Lance
Lance really shouldn’t be on this list, as he only reached his lofty position through cheating.
When you encounter Lance in Pokémon Red & Blue, his Dragonite can use Barrier, which is a move that Dragonite cannot learn in the first generation of Pokémon games.
Lance’s cheating would continue in Pokémon Gold & Silver, as he possesses an Aerodactyl that can use Rock Slide and his three Dragonites are under level fifty-five, which is the minimum level at which Dragonair can evolve.
Lance may be a cheating scumbag, but he still provides a lot of challenge for the player.
Using three of the same Pokémon normally isn’t advisable, but you can ignore that when three of those Pokémon are powerful Dragonite.
11 Weakest: Koga
Koga is a powerful opponent in several different Pokémon video games due to the fact that he loves to spam status effect-inflicting moves, as well as use moves that will reduce your Pokémon’s accuracy while increasing the evasion of his own team.
There is one instance where Koga is a total letdown, as he uses three of the same Pokémon on his team, and they aren’t even fully evolved.
In Pokémon Yellow, Koga uses three Venonats on a four Pokémon team. This is the same game that gives you a Charmander for free, so you will likely have a powerful Fire-type Pokémon at your disposal that will wipe the floor with Koga’s team.
Koga would go on to become one of the members of the Elite Four, so the time in which he was a weak trainer was only brief.
10 Most Powerful: Alder
The end of a Pokémon journey usually happens when you conquer the Elite Four and Champion of a region.
The Champion is usually the final mandatory battle in the game, with the post-game content existing for those who want to spend more time in the Pokémon world, as well as providing helpful tools for those who want to breed and train Pokémon for competitive battling.
Alder is the Champion of Unova in Pokémon Black & White. The battle against Alder is unique, as he is already defeated by N by the time you reach him.
This means that the real battle against Alder only happens as part of the post-game, which means that his team is stronger than the average Champion that you encounter in the series in terms of levels.
9 Weakest: Brendan & May
When you start a new game in Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire, you are asked to select a gender for your character. The gender that you did not select becomes one of your rivals, with the male character becoming Brendan and the female character becoming May.
The other rivals that appear in the Pokémon series will pose a threat throughout your journey, to the point where they will be one of the most difficult trainers you battle near the end of the game.
Brendan and May may be the weakest rivals in the series, as they don’t even use fully evolved versions of their starter Pokémon during your final battle against them in Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire.
They wouldn’t use the fully-evolved version of their starter Pokémon until Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire.
8 Most Powerful: Steven Stone
Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire wasn’t as well-regarded as Pokémon X & Y, as it had almost no challenge in terms of the trainers in the game since they only used a couple of different Pokémon from the same pool of creatures that originated in Hoenn.
It seems like all of the challenge in Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire was reserved for its Champion, as Steven Stone awaits you in Ever Grande City with the express purpose of sending you back to Littleroot Town with your tail between your legs.
Steven Stone uses a team composed of some of the best Pokémon in the series, most notably leading with a Skarmory and finishing with a Mega Metagross, which is one of the strongest Mega Evolutions in the game.
Those who bought Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire early were given a shiny Beldum that holds a Mega Stone, meaning that there is a very good chance that the final battle in the game will involve two Mega Metagross.
7 Weakest: Glacia
One of the most common rules in competitive Pokémon battling is that each player cannot use multiple copies of the same kind of Pokémon in their team.
This is partly to encourage creativity and to stop people from relying on the same couple of Pokémon, but most competitive players wouldn’t use duplicates on their team, as it leaves the risk of having several of their Pokémon open to a single counter tactic.
Glacia of the Hoenn Elite Four has clearly never looked up the rules on duplicate Pokémon, as she uses a team of five that uses two duos.
In Pokémon Ruby & Sapphire, she uses two Glailes and two Sealeos, with the latter not even being fully evolved Pokémon.
Glacia’s team became slightly more imposing in Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire, as she switched out the Sealeos for two Froslass, though she is still in danger of receiving a hard counter against Ice-type Pokémon.
6 Most Powerful: Barry
Barry is one of the most forgettable rivals in the entire Pokémon series, with his entire gimmick being that he runs around a lot.
While Barry may not have left much of an impression in terms of his character, he did pose a tremendous threat on the battlefield, though it took a while to get him to that point.
In Pokémon Platinum, if you keep defeating the Sinnoh Elite Four and the Champion over and over again, then Barry’s team will become stronger in response.
Once you defeat the Elite Four and the Champion twenty times, then Barry’s team will have an average level of eighty, making him one of the most powerful trainers in the series.
The starter Pokémon that he chooses at the beginning of the game can reach level eighty-five through this method.
5 Weakest: Maxie
We had previously mentioned that a Water-type Pokémon was essential for all of the pre-Pokémon Sun & Moon games, due to how often you would need to use Surf in order to progress through the game.
Nowhere is this truer than in Hoenn, which has a lot of water that needs traversing.
IGN famously chastised Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire for this in their review, citing “too much water” as one of the negatives of the game.
Maxie is the leader of Team Magma, and in many ways, he is the opposite of Steven Stone.
Maxie’s team only contains a maximum of four Pokémon and they consist of some of the weakest creatures in the series.
His Camerupt (and its capacity to Mega Evolve) may have posed more of a threat if it weren’t for the fact that a powerful Water-type Pokémon is almost guaranteed to be on everyone’s team during their journey through Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire.
4 Most Powerful: Red
The final battle against Red in Pokémon Gold & Silver is one of the most personal in the series. It’s not often that you have to face the character you once played in a different game in battle.
Fighting Red is kind of like fighting yourself, especially if you had played Pokémon Yellow and acquired the three Kanto starters.
One of the most difficult aspects of the Red fight is that you have to do some serious level grinding before you can even think about challenging him, as there is almost a twenty level gap between Red and Blue.
Once your team of ragtag Kanto and Johto Pokémon is ready, they will have to take part in the fight of their lives.
Pokémon Gold & Silver were released almost twenty years ago and Red is still one of the toughest trainers in the series to face in battle.
3 Weakest: AZ
AZ is a king of Kalos from ancient times who still lingers on in the present day. AZ was responsible for the creation of a powerful weapon of mass destruction, which was fueled by the life energy of Pokémon.
It isn’t clear whether the use of this weapon was responsible for his longevity, but he finally manages to seek redemption throughout the events of Pokémon X & Y by helping to prevent the weapon from being used again.
The player is given the chance to battle AZ after they have become the Champion. The problem with this battle is that it comes straight after the battle with Diantha (the Champion of the Kalos region) and her team is far superior to AZ’s.
This means that the battle against AZ is totally pointless, as your team is already strong enough to beat Diantha, which means that it will almost certainly be strong enough to beat AZ’s team.
2 Most Powerful: Cynthia
Red’s team may be stronger than Cynthia’s in terms of their overall levels, but he has a few weaknesses related to the types of his Pokémon that can be exploited.
The feared level eighty-one Pikachu that Red uses in Pokémon Gold & Silver can be overcome by a single Ground-type Pokémon, while his Espeon is forced to rely on Mud-Slap and Swift when facing a Dark-type Pokémon.
Cynthia is the most feared Champion among the fans of the Pokémon series, due to the selection of Pokémon that she uses on her team.
Her Pokémon’s movepools also use a wide-spread of effective attacks that can shut down most teams, regardless of what choice of Pokémon you use.
When facing Cynthia, there is only so much preparation that you can do in order to counter the Pokémon on her team. You simply have to level grind like crazy and hope for the best.
1 Weakest: Bruno
Psychic-type Pokémon were the most powerful creatures you could find in Pokémon Red & Blue, due to how unbalanced the type advantage system was. All you needed to conquer the game was a sufficiently leveled Kadabra or Hypno.
Bruno had the misfortune of being a Fighting-type Elite Four member in the generation where Fighting-types were at their lowest point.
His entire team is going to be a pushover to anyone who has reached that point in the game, as a single Psychic-type or Flying-type creature will totally destroy his team without giving him a chance to respond.
Bruno can be seen as a breather round between the more difficult battles against Lorelei and Agatha, as most players won’t break a sweat overcoming Bruno’s simple and easily-overpowered team.
Psychic-type Pokémon were nerfed in Pokémon Gold & Silver, but Bruno still got the short end of the stick, as his team became ten levels weaker.
What do you think? Are there any Pokémon trainers we missed? Sound off in the comments!