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 Pokémon the Series: Black & White, 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?
Ash and his friends finally arrive in Vertress City for the upcoming Vertress Conference, and soon spot the network of battle stadiums. In her rush to register, Bianca knocks Ash into a fountain. She apologizes for again bowling Ash over, and soon another familiar face, Stephan greets the group. Stephan is pleasantly surprised that Ash finally said his name correctly, though his enthusiasm leaves everyone perplexed. 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 the others that Virgil is one of the agents in the Pokémon Rescue Squad and that he works with the evolved forms of Eevee. As Ash and his friends prepare to register for the League they come across Trip, who's a lot nicer than before which both Cilan and Iris notice. Trip hopes to battle his rival and advises Ash not to lose too early.
After registering, Ash and his friends start going to their hotel but stop when they see a tent which belongs to old friend Cameron and his Riolu. Cameron reveals that he'd been camping out for three entire days but he hasn't registered. Panic sets in as announcement informs everyone that the registration period has closed. Ash grabs Cameron and drags him to registration area where they both beg Nurse Joy to let Cameron enter. Nurse Joy agrees to accept 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. With everyone now registered, Ash and his friends head back to their hotel to relax. While everyone enjoys some food, Ash and Stephan both have lots of food on their plates. Next, Stephan and Cameron relax in the sauna, or at least Stephan does, while Cameron becomes extremely uncomfortable by the humidity. Ash later receives Palpitoad from Professor Juniper, who wishes him luck in the Conference.
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 participating Trainers and a giant crowd gather in the main stadium for the Vertress Conference opening ceremony. 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 Radley and his Braviary. Zebstrika dodges a series of attack, but is eventually struck by an Air Slash. Radley prepares to zero in on his opponent, but Zebstrika retaliates with a Thunderbolt. Stephan and Zebstrika win the match with an extremely powerful Giga Impact. The next battle is Bianca and Emboar against Mikael and his Watchog. Emboar dodges a Hidden Power, and replies with an effective Flamethrower. Watchog stand to its feet again, and charges for a Crunch attack. However, Biance has Emboar keep it at bay with an Arm Thrust.
Later, Virgil and Vaporeon take on Ultimo and his Crustle. Vaporeon lands a Shadow Ball, and then narrowly evades an oncoming X-Scissor attack. 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 Ultimo and his Crustle and also knocks Crustle down. For his first match, Cameron calls on his Ferrothorn to battle Kendrick and Eelektross. Ferrothorn gets hit twice with Crush Claw, but Ferrothorn and Cameron still managed to push on and continue battling. Ferrothorn evades a Thunderbolt, though Eelektross steps aside to make Cameron's Metal Claw attacks miss. Kendrick calls for another Crush Claw, knocking Ferrothron to the field. Kendrick smirks, confident that his victory is guaranteed.
In the third battle on the green field, Ash versus Trip. Trip chooses his powerful and speedy starterSerperior. Ash selects Pikachu because he'd already planned to start off by using him first, though this tactic worries Iris and Cilan who are aware that 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. 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 evades as well. Trip finally makes a move, and calls for a Dragon Tail, which lashes Pikachu and knocks him down. Trip confidently looks on while Ash is left stunned by the ferocity of the attack and Pikachu tries to recover from the attack.