Dawn is still feeling a little blue after her early exit from the Hearthome Pokémon Contest, so her friends convince her to compete in a tag battle tournament along with Ash and Brock. Our heroes head to the opening ceremonies to learn who their randomly chosen tag partners are. Dawn's new partner is Conway, a calculating Trainer with a Slowking. Brock's lovely partner is Holly, who will compete using her Wingull. And Ash's partner is—Paul? Even Paul's Elekid doesn't get along with Pikachu! Ash and Pauls chances of winning the Soothe Bell prize arent looking too great.
Dawn and Conway are up first, battling a team using Koffing and Scyther. Dawn isn't so sure about Conway, but the two of them turn out to be a good pair! Conway has Slowking use defensive moves to cover for Dawn's Piplup, letting Piplup concentrate on offensive moves, and they win their match. Then Brock and Holly have their Sudowoodo and Wingull work together to defeat a Yanma and Bagon whose Trainers are too busy arguing to battle effectively. That doesn't bode well for Ash and Paul, who still aren't getting along.
Ash and Paul are up against opponents using Magmar and Rhydon—not a great type match-up for Pikachu and Paul's Chimchar. When Rhydon uses Surf, Paul orders Chimchar to use Flame Wheel directly into the waves! Its incredibly risky, so Ash tells Pikachu to disrupt the Surf attack instead. That protects Chimchar and knocks out Rhydon, but Paul doesn't appreciate the interference. They manage to win this round, but at the rate they're arguing, they might not last through the next!
Ash and Brock hand Dawn an entry card for the Hearthome City Tag Battle Competition. Zoey suggested it to give Dawn a confidence boost after not making it into the Battle Stage of the Hearthome Contest. At the stadium, the announcer, Enta, explains the rules and shows the competitors the prize for winning, a Soothe Bell that Team Rocket wants to steal. The contestants are shuffled and put into pairs for the competition. The three set off to find their partners. Dawn is the first to find her partner, an odd boy named Conway and his Slowking. Next Brock finds his partner, a girl named Holly with a Wingull. Of course, she is a beautiful girl who Brock falls for, but she tells him that she is not interested in younger men. Ash realizes his partner is none other than Paul, who is standing there with his Elekid. Paul angrily tells Ash to stay out of his way, with Ash replying that, since this is a Tag Battle competition, they must work together.
Dawn and Conway are the first to battle, with their Piplup and Slowking going up against their opponents' Koffing and Scyther. Conway tells Dawn to only worry about attacking and leave defense and strategy to him, which visibly annoys her. Scyther starts things off with a Razor Wind and Koffing attacks with a Sludge Bomb. Piplup blocks the Razor Wind with a Bubble Beam and Slowking blocks the Sludge Bomb with a Safeguard. Koffing comes back with a Thunderbolt, which Slowking blocks with Protect. Scyther goes in for an X-Scissor, but Piplup comes in from above with a super-effective Peck attack that defeats Scyther in one hit. Koffing uses Gyro Ball, but it is stopped by Slowking's Psychic. Slowking slams Koffing into the ground, knocking it out. Dawn's annoyance towards Conway turns to interest, as his suggestion helped them win their battle with flying colors.
Ash notices Paul training with Chimchar, and is impressed to see that he has learned Flamethrower, although Paul thinks his power and control are both weak. Ash disagrees and offers to help Paul train, but he rudely refuses Ash's offer, leading Dawn to remind Paul what Cynthia said about both Trainers and Pokémon always having to think about each other in a Tag Battle. However, Paul replies with what Cynthia actually said: "When every life meets another life, something will be born", before walking away. Ash asks Paul why he entered this tournament, and he replies that it was to meet Fire-type Pokémon. Brock explains that Paul wants to use his opponents' Fire attacks to power up Chimchar's own, exactly like he did during his and Ash's very first battle when he used Pikachu's Electric attacks to power up Elekid's own. Ash understands this, but certainly doesn't condone it.
Brock and Holly are up next, and it's Sudowoodo and Wingull against a Yanma and Bagon. Holly commands Wingull to use Blizzard, but Yanma hits it with Steel Wing before it can do so. While Wingull is falling, Bagon charges toward it with a Zen Headbutt, but Sudowoodo comes in and stops it cold with Double-Edge. Holly and Brock's opponent trainers start arguing about getting in each others' way. Wingull uses Blizzard, causing super-effective damage to both Yanma and Bagon. The latter tries to counter with Dragon Breath, but Sudowoodo's Flail prevails and knocks it out. Wingull hits Yanma with a super-effective Aerial Ace, knocking it out as well and granting them entry into the next round. Brock starts to flirt with Holly, then catches himself and stops... only for Holly to start flirting with him. Brock is surprised, while Croagunk is left bemused.
Ash and Paul's is the last battle of the first round. Ash sends out Pikachu and Paul sends out Chimchar, and the opposition sends out a Rhydon and Magmar. Ash starts things off by having Pikachu launch a Thunderbolt towards Magmar, however the attack is redirected to Rhydon thanks to its Lightning Rod Ability. Rhydon, who is naturally unharmed, smites Pikachu with a Megahorn. Magmar uses Lava Plume, a powerful Fire-type move that affects all Pokémon in the battle. Rhydon is barely affected since Rock-types resist Fire-type moves, but the blaze of fire quickly heads toward Pikachu and Chimchar. Ash tells Pikachu to dodge, but Paul commands Chimchar to jump straight into the fire. The flame on Chimchar's tail becomes bigger, and he launches a boosted Flamethrower towards Rhydon. However, Rhydon blocks it and counters with Hammer Arm. Rhydon goes in for another hit on Chimchar, but Pikachu comes down from his dodge and sends Rhydon reeling back with a super-effective Iron Tail. This makes Ash and Paul's opponents realize that they shouldn't take Pikachu lightly even without Electric attacks. Magmar uses Protect while Rhydon goes in for a Surf, which shocks everyone. Paul commands Chimchar to use Flame Wheel and take it head-on, and Ash, knowing how foolish this is since Chimchar is weak to Water attacks, tries to convince him to stop. However, he suddenly remembers how Zoey used Glameow's Iron Tail to cut through Shellos's Water Pulse during her Double Performance, and has Pikachu break through the Surf with his own Iron Tail, putting Rhydon in a vulnerable free-fall. He scores a direct hit with another Iron Tail, and Rhydon crashes into the ground and faints. Now free to use Electric attacks, Pikachu goes straight for Magmar with a Volt Tackle, and Paul, visibly annoyed, has Chimchar use Dig. Magmar deflects Pikachu's Volt Tackle with a Fire Punch, but this position leaves it vulnerable to Chimchar's super-effective Dig, which knocks it out and gives Ash and Paul the win and entry into the next round. However, Dawn and Brock are both aware that they won't get much further than this if they don't start working as a team.