Ash and his friends have finally arrived in Ever Grande city for the Hoenn League Championships, but they're mobbed by a group of Murkrow as they're looking for a place to eat. A snappily-dressed Meowth and its Trainer, Tyson, jump into save the day. After introductions and a friendly lunch together, it's time to see the torch carried to the stadium. Tyson himself turns out to be the torch bearer!
While Tyson heads for the stadium, Ash makes his preparations for the Hoenn league and wonders where Morrison is. Team Rocket is also making their preparations—to steal the torch, which burns with a legendary flame! When Tyson brings the torch to a storage room before the ceremonies, a disguised Team Rocket grabs the torch and runs! Officer Jenny, Nurse Joy, and our heroes all give chase and finally corner Team Rocket.
Tyson's Meowth seizes the torch and dares Team Rocket's Meowth to try and take it back. Meowth, its pride wounded, takes up the challenge, but is quickly defeated by its new rival before Team Rocket is sent blasting off as usual. With the torch recovered, now the Hoenn League championships can get underway!
The group is on the deck of a ship, with Ever Grande City and the site of Hoenn League's Ever Grande Conference now in sight. Meanwhile, Team Rocket are following the ship in their Magikarp Submarine. Inside, they're all moaning about the hard work of following the twerps, but when James suggests taking some time to rest, he is vetoed by Jessie, who insists that if they stop now, they'll miss their chance at something of interest.
With one week until the tournament starts, Ash has some serious training to do. May, however, is focused on her stomach and is set on finding the famous Ever Grande Noodle Nosh, which her guidebook describes as one of the best places to eat in all of Hoenn. Sometime later, as the group makes their way down a narrow back street somewhere in the city, Max asks his sister if she's really sure the shop is in a place like this. As she expresses her certainty, and the others have their doubts. An opportunistic flock of Murkrow goes on the attack, stealing May’s guidebook in the process. Pikachu drives them off temporarily with a Thunderbolt, but more swoop down to take their place. The cycle continues until a Meowth - one wearing boots and a hat - comes to their rescue.
The Meowth, with help from its Trainer, Tyson, drives off the flock of Murkrow. The group thank him for the help, and while he's saying it's no big deal, he sees the restaurant guide lying on the ground. It turns out he's also going to the same ramen shop. During the meal, Tyson tells Ash that he, too, will be in the tournament, and so they're rivals. Brock admits that Tyson's Meowth has been well raised, Tyson thanks him for the compliment and marvels as his usually picky Meowth happily eats Brock's handmade Pokémon food. The conversation continues, with bonding between Tyson and the group, until Tyson notices the time. He has to get going, or he'll be late. As he rushes outside, Ash and the others follow behind. Ash asks what the rush is, and Tyson reveals that he a torch runner so has to get to the Pokémon Center to collect the sacred flame.
Outside the Center, League President Charles Goodshow, together with the local Officer Jenny and Nurse Joy and a small crowd of spectators, are waiting for the flame to arrive. The flame soon arrives by a police motorcade, just as Tyson reaches the Center and apologizes for being late. Then the group arrives, and when the League President greets Ash and Brock by name, May and Max are very impressed. Ash explains that they were torch runners once. May and Max are even more surprised than before when Goodshow knows May's name, too, admitting that he watched her compete in the Hoenn Grand Festival on TV. Tyson sets off running with the flame, with his Meowth running beside him. In the bushes, Team Rocket's Meowth watches, and becomes jealous of Tyson’s overdressed Meowth. Jessie and James tell him to get moving so they can steal the sacred torch, and all three run off to get started on their plan. Meanwhile, Ash and his friends are about to set off for the stadium on foot when Goodshow's limo pulls up, and he invites them to join him for the ride, since they're all heading to the same place. As Tyson runs along a route lined with people, the limo takes a back road. As it goes over a hill, the occupants get their first view of the stadium complex for the tournament. Goodshow points out the stadium’s Pokémon Center where registration and announcements will take place. He also tells May and Max about the restaurants and shops nearby.
Ash registers for the competition, and receives the official guide to the tournament, of which Max takes possession. Meanwhile, Brock is doing exactly what would be expected of him in a place filled with so many Jennies and Joys, at least until Max drags him away. Ash asks the Joy in charge of registration if Morrison has registered yet. The answer is no. On a screen above the registration desk, Tyson has arrived at the stadium complex, not visibly tired at all from the long run. Afterwards Ash calls Professor Oak on the Center videophone, who offers to send any of the Pokémon Ash left with him at any time. Ash declines, saying that he came to Hoenn to try a fresh start, and his Hoenn team are ready for the tough competition ahead. The call ends with some words of encouragement from Oak.
Moments later, an alarm goes off. The sacred flame has been stolen. The group meets up with Tyson, who tells them what happened. As he delivered the flame to a group of Jennys and Joys, one Jenny caused a distraction by pointing into the distance and saying she thought she saw a real Moltres. As everyone was looking, she and one of the Joys, none other than Jessie and James in disguise, ran off with the flame. With a bit of fancy driving, one Jenny gets ahead and cuts Team Rocket off, but they turn aside, going offroad and heading straight for a cliff. As the motorcycle goes off the cliff, the thieves jump off and into the basket of their waiting Meowth. This is followed shortly by the recital of the motto and removal of disguises to reveal Team Rocket.
The balloon starts to leave, and Ash orders Pikachu to use Thunderbolt, though the attack is turned back on Pikachu by a device wielded by Meowth. The Jenny on the scene is about to use her Blastoise, but the Joy stops her, reminding her that they can't risk putting the fire out. Tyson sends out his Metagross to stop the balloon with its Confusion. Meowth turns up the flame to counter the pull. Neither side is making any progress, and Goodshow asks Ash if he has any Ice-type Pokémon. When Ash says he has a Glalie, so Goodshow tells him to freeze Team Rocket as it won’t put out the flame. Things go exactly as planned - Glalie's Ice Beam freezes Team Rocket while the flame keeps burning. Metagross pulls the balloon down, and Ash leaps into the basket. He takes the flame, but before he can get away with it, Team Rocket breaks out of the ice and tries to snatch it back. In the struggle, the flame falls out of the balloon. Jessie throws Meowth after the flame to catch it. He grabs it, then realizes he's still falling and panics. Tyson sends his Meowth to save the flame. It jumps up and grabs the flame from Team Rocket's Meowth in midair, kicking Team Rocket's Meowth in the process. Landing, Tyson's Meowth sets the flame safely on the ground, then turns and says something rather insulting to Team Rocket's Meowth. The two Meowth get into a heated argument over the flame torch. Team Rocket's Meowth readies his claws to attack, but Tyson's Meowth lands a hit first before sending Team Rocket's Meowth blasting off with an Iron Tail. Ash jumps from the balloon, and is caught by Metagross's Confusion. Tyson proceeds to have Meowth blow up the balloon and send Team Rocket blasting off with a Thunderbolt.
Back at the stadium complex, League President Goodshow thanks Ash and Tyson for their work in protecting the flame, without which the tournament could not start. Ash and Tyson admit they are both looking forward to facing each other in the tournament, which is soon to begin.