Curtain Up, Unova League! (Japanese: 開幕イッシュリーグ・ヒガキ大会！サトシ対シューティー！！The Isshu League Higaki Conference Gets Underway! Satoshi VS Shooty!!) is the 103rd episode of the Best Wishes series, and the 760th episode of the Pokémon anime. It first aired in Japan on November 22, 2012 and in the United States on March 9, 2013.
Our heroes have finally arrived in Vertress City, home of the Unova League, and Ash’s excitement is at a fever pitch! While they’re in the midst of marveling at the massive Unova League stadium, the familiar faces of several Trainers begin rolling into town with their own plans to compete—and to Ash’s dismay, Bianca’s entrance is as dramatic as ever.
Ash, Trip, Stephan, Bianca, and new friend Virgil (from the Pokémon Rescue Squad) are all raring to go—as is Cameron, who’s been camping out for three days in a tent with his Riolu to make sure he wouldn’t be late! However, no one told him he needed to register for the tournament, so Ash rushes his absent-minded friend over to Nurse Joy—mere moments after registration has closed. Fortunately for Cameron, Nurse Joy takes pity on him and lets him register anyway.
The next morning, it’s time to get started! Freddy the Scoop drops in by parachute to call the action, and starts out by announcing the rules: before the main event begins, Trainers have to get through the qualifying rounds, where they can only use one Pokémon each. Stephan wins his first match easily. Virgil and Bianca are struggling against their opponents—and Ash is paired up against his very first Unova rival: Trip!
Trip calls out his super-speedy Serperior, who handed Ash his defeat in the Pokémon World Tournament Junior Cup finals. This time, rather than relying on Pignite’s type advantage, Ash has chosen Pikachu to kick off his Unova League experience! But even Pikachu’s Quick Attack isn’t fast enough to hit Serperior, who dodges every move with serpentine skill. Finally, Trip has Serperior strike back with Dragon Tail—and it’s a direct hit! Will Ash and Pikachu be knocked out of the Unova League before they even get to the main event?
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Ash and his friends finally arrive in Vertress City, where they meet up with Stephan. Just then, Bianca shows up, once again knocking Ash into a fountain when she runs into him. While catching up with Stephan and Bianca, Ash sees a helicopter flying overhead with Virgil, Davy, and Virgil's Eevee. Ash, Iris, and Cilan run over to Virgil excitedly and they explain to Stephan and Bianca that Virgil is one of the agents in a Pokémon rescue squad and that he works with the evolved forms of Eevee. After Ash and his friends register for the league they come across Trip who's a lot nicer than before which both Cilan and Iris notice. Afterwards, Ash and his friends start going to their hotel but stop when they see a tent which belongs to Cameron and Riolu. Cameron reveals that he'd been camping out for three entire days but he hadn't registered. Ash panics because just after Cameron reveals this the registration period closes. Ash grabs Cameron and drags him to registration where they both beg Nurse Joy to let Cameron enter. Nurse Joy agrees to except Cameron, and he registers himself for the league. Outside Cameron reveals he brought a secret weapon with him that he's going to use when he competes which really excites Ash.
After registration's done Ash and his friends head back to their hotel where they eat (Ash and Stephan both have lots of food on their plates), Stephan and Cameron relax in the sauna (or at least Stephan does, on the other hand, Cameron's extremely uncomfortable), and Ash receives Palpitoad from Professor Juniper.
Later on that night, Iris and Cilan are both fast asleep, but Ash is too excited he can't sleep, and Pikachu also wakes up due to Ash not being able to sleep. Ash and Pikachu get out of bed and look out the window which has a perfect view of the stadium. Ash flashes backs to all of his previous Gym battles and says he's going to win the Unova League for all the Gym Leaders that helped him get there. Iris wakes up and tells Ash to go to sleep because he needs his rest so he climbs back into bed and goes to sleep.
The next morning all the Trainers competing in the league are at the stadium as well as a giant crowd of fans ready to witness the action. Freddy O'Martian makes a big entrance when he skydives from a helicopter, Officer Jenny lights the torch, and a flock of Pidove fly overhead as the Unova League gets underway. Stephan and Bianca find their match-ups for the qualifying rounds and are determined to win. Ash looks to see who he's matched with, and he and Pikachu are both shocked when they find out Ash is facing off against Trip right off the bat. The first match on the green field is Stephan and his Zebstrika battling another Trainer and his Braviary. Stephan and Zebstrika win the match with an extremely powerful Giga Impact. The next battle is Bianca and Emboar against a Trainer and his Watchog. The next battle shown is Virgil and Vaporeon against another Trainer and his Crustle. Vaporeon's Hydro Pump and Crustle's Rock Wrecker collide with one another creating a beautiful rainbow. Virgil then instructs Vaporeon to use Aurora Beam which shocks the Trainer and his Crustle and also knocks Crustle out. The next match shown is Cameron and his Ferrothorn against a Trainer and his Eelektross. Ferrothorn got hit twice with Crush Claw but Ferrothorn and Cameron still managed to push on and continue battling. The final match shown is Ash and Trip on the green field. Trip chooses his powerful and speedy Serperior which worries Iris and Cilan. Ash chooses Pikachu because he'd already planned to start off by using him first. Iris begins to worry even more because Electric types aren't that effective against Grass types. Ash tells Trip that Pikachu's just as fast as Serperior and attempts to demonstrate by having Pikachu use Quick Attack on Serperior, but just before the Quick Attack hits Serperior, he dodges it. Ash then has Pikachu use Iron Tail which Serperior dodges yet again with his incredible speed. Ash then commands Pikachu to use Electro Ball which Serperior dodges yet again. Trip then commands Serperior to use Dragon Tail on Pikachu. Ash tells Pikachu to dodge which he tries to do, but Serperior's just too fast and Pikachu can't keep up with him.