The Unova League qualifying round between Ash and Trip continues, with Trip’s Serperior appearing to have victory—and Pikachu—all wrapped up! But Ash is determined not to let his rival knock him out of the competition, and a combination of Iron Tail and Electro Ball turns the tables, allowing our hero to move on to the main event!
And so it begins with Cameron vs. Bianca as the first match of the day. Cameron’s Samurott immediately goes on the offensive against Bianca’s Escavalier, and though Bianca maxes out Escavalier’s defensive power with Iron Defense, a successful double Razor Shell from Samurott still gets through, and Escavalier is out.
Bianca calls up Emboar, which seems like a strange choice—as a Fire type, it’s at a disadvantage against the Water-type Samurott. But Bianca’s strategy is sound—Emboar uses Attract, and Samurott is immediately smitten! With a couple of powerful Fighting-type attacks, Samurott is down for the count. Cameron then calls on his beloved Riolu, who proves to be quite a powerhouse despite its small size. Its speed, dexterity, and expert timing—combined with moves like Copycat and Vacuum Wave—are enough to finish Emboar off, and Cameron claims the first win in the Unova League’s main event!
The qualifying round battle between Ash and Trip gets underway at the Vertress Conference, with Iris, Axew, and Cilan watching in the stands. Ash is using Pikachu, and Trip is using Serperior. Pikachu immediately takes a big hit from Serperior's Dragon Tail and lands on the ground hard. Ash encourages Pikachu to get up, and he slowly does, but falls right back into the same position after taking a blow from Serperior's Energy Ball. Serperior then launches a barrage of Dragon Tails, and with all the damage Pikachu has taken, he is not able to dodge all of them and gets hit again. Serperior immediately follows up with Wrap, squeezing Pikachu hard with his tail. Ash is not willing to give in, so he commands a Thunderbolt. However, Trip has Serperior stick his tail into the field, which absorbs the Thunderbolt attack instead. Ash declares that he can't lose to Trip again, and proceeds to flashback to his previous battles against him. Ash knows that if after all this time he still can't win against Trip then his whole Unova journey will have been a waste.
In the meantime, Bianca, Stephan and Cameron return from winning their qualifying matches and join Iris and Cilan in the stands to cheer Pikachu onto victory. After much struggling, Pikachu eventually passes out. Knowing this is his chance, Trip commands Serperior to smash Pikachu into the ground. However, Pikachu regains consciousness in the process, just as Ash gets the idea that Pikachu can use Iron Tail to cushion his landing. He then commands this, and Pikachu pulls it off, freeing himself from Serperior's grasp. Pikachu then attempts to attack Serperior with another Iron Tail, but Serperior overpowers him with Dragon Tail. Feeling confident that he will emerge victorious, Trip presumptuously says the battle is all over. Though Ash quickly comes up with an idea and immediately puts it into action; he commands Pikachu to use a combination of Iron Tail and Electro Ball, and Trip commands Serperior to intercept with Dragon Tail. As both Pokémon execute their attacks, a huge explosion billows.
After the smoke clears, Pikachu looks extremely weak, but takes a quick look at Serperior and starts jumping for joy. After seeing this response, Trip's confused look turns into a shocked one when he sees that his Serperior has been defeated. Everyone in the stands begins to go crazy, especially all of Ash's friends since Pikachu defeated such a strong Pokémon against all odds and gained Ash access to the next round. Later, Ash enters the Pokémon Center and sees Trip. He goes to ask him if he is leaving, and Trip points out that he still has a long way to go to defeat Champion Alder if he doesn't go out and train. He and Ash then agree that they should both give it their all, and they shake on it as Trip leaves.
As day turns to night, Ash, Cilan, Stephan, and Cameron are all relaxing in the sauna room of their hotel, and Ash is commended by his friends for battling like a champion against Trip. Meanwhile, Ash's Pikachu and Oshawott are both relaxing in a hot tub. Cameron's Riolu comes along and splashes Oshawott and Pikachu with hot water upon entering the tub, making it and the latter start having a splash fight. However, Riolu takes it a bit too far and provokes Pikachu to use Thunderbolt. Riolu quickly gets out of the water, but Oshawott gets hit by the electricity and becomes badly injured. Ash, Cameron and Stephan hear Oshawott's cry and run into the other room to see what happened. When Ash sees the Sea Otter Pokémon unconscious, he becomes worried about him.
The next day, the main event of the Vertress Conference begins, with competitors now proceeding to two-on-two battles. Ash and the others are all watching from the stands, and are conflicted since they are watching a battle between two of their friends, Bianca and Cameron, and don't know who to cheer for. Cameron doesn't know which of his Pokémon to start with, so he smacks himself with his headband to give himself an idea. After, he sends out his Samurott. In response to this, Bianca chooses Escavalier.
Samurott starts off with a Hydro Cannon, but Escavalier dodges and uses Iron Defense. Samurott tries for another Hydro Cannon, but Escavalier does the same thing: dodging and using Iron Defense. Samurott then uses a Razor Shell, but Escavalier yet again dodges and uses Iron Defense. Everyone watching in the stands becomes confused at this since Bianca can't win on defense alone. However, Bianca soon makes a move and has Escavalier use Fury Attack. Samurott demonstrates its defensive skills and counters with Razor Shell, finally striking Escavalier on the head. However, Escavalier’s heightened defenses means the hit does minor damage. Cameron begins worrying that Escavalier's defense will be too tough to handle, so he again smacks himself with his headband for an idea. He then realizes that even the strongest defense is susceptible to internal damage, so he has Samurott use a double Razor Shell. Escavalier dodges the first one, but takes a direct hit from the second one and begins shivering. After a short while, Escavalier, despite having maximized its defense, faints. Cameron praises Samurott for breaking through a tough barrier, and Bianca recalls Escavalier.
Next, Bianca calls out her Emboar. As Emboar is a Fire-type, Cameron starts off with a barrage of super-effective Water attacks, with a combination of Aqua Jet and Hydro Cannon dealing massive damage. Bianca quickly turns things around, Emboar is commanded by Bianca to use Attract, and Samurott becomes infatuated right on cue. Knowing this is her chance, Bianca has Emboar go in for a combination of Arm Thrust and Hammer Arm, which both land, knocking Samurott out despite her type advantage.
Cameron recalls Samurott and picks Riolu as his second Pokémon. Ash is thrilled that he will finally get to see Riolu battle, and Bianca initially has a hard time working up the nerve to battle a Pokémon as adorable as Riolu. However, she pulls herself together and gets ready to finish it. Bianca commands an Arm Thrust, but Cameron commands Riolu to dodge. Emboar then goes in for a Hammer Arm, but Riolu shuts Emboar's attack off with Circle Throw, and everyone watching the battle becomes impressed at Riolu's battling skills. Emboar gets up, but is immediately hit by two of Riolu's Force Palms in a row, landing on his stomach. However, this gives him an opening to grab Riolu's leg and chuck it across the battlefield. After recovering, Riolu dodges Emboar's Flamethrower and uses Copycat. After completing this, Riolu fires Emboar's Flamethrower right back at him. As Emboar is beginning to look like he's on the brink of defeat, Cameron commands Riolu to use Vacuum Wave, which lands and creates a violent explosion. As the smoke clears, Emboar is revealed to have fainted, making Cameron the winner of this battle. Bianca recalls Emboar and starts to cry because of her loss, while Cameron and Riolu celebrate their victory. Everyone in the stands commends the two for a great battle, and Ash informs Pikachu that they will beat Cameron when it comes time for them to battle.