|Welcome to the Big Leagues|
Welcome to the Big Leagues (Japanese: セキエイリーグ開催 Sekiei League Begins) is the twelfth chapter of the manga The Electric Tale of Pikachu. It is based on the sequence of events in the anime from EP075-EP080.
The chapter starts off with Ash finishing the first round of the Novice Tournament at Indigo Plateau, winning with his Kingler, who evolved from Krabby during the battle, much to the surprise of the other Trainer and the audience. Ash is later credited with the occurrence, though the narrator reveals the incident to have been a complete coincidence. The reader's viewpoint then shifts to an overhead view of the Novice Tournament's Stadium, and reveals Professor Oak and another man to be the two announcers for the Novice Tournament. Jessie and James can be seen wearing disguises as employees selling refreshments to members of the audience, suggesting that they perhaps have a nefarious plan in action. Returning to Ash, he is seen at a stand labeled "Poké Ball Registration", suggesting that Trainers are allowed to keep more than the usual six Pokémon on site at the tournament, but are required to leave them in the care of League Employees when not exchanging them for battles. Gary enters the lobby, much to their mutual delight, demonstrating that in the time that passed between chapters, Ash and Gary have become friendly rivals, both striving for the same goal, but both respecting each other. Gary seems to have lost his condescending attitude along his journey, and now seems to respect Ash as an equal. They tease each other with lighthearted boasting, and Ash promises to cheer for Gary in his upcoming battle.
Later, Ash meets up with Brock and Misty in a diner, where they reveal that they both lost in the first round of the tournament, to which Ash responds that "You two always criticize my every move, but it turns out you aren't anything special yourselves.". They advise Ash to avoid getting to confident, or he'll lose. Ash mentions that he has a secret weapon for use in emergencies, and just before explaining what it is, Ash realizes that Pikachu is missing, and finds him with another similar looking Pikachu, the only distinguishing difference being a fringe of hair on its head, at a Trainer's adjacent table. The Trainer, shockingly similar in appearance to Ash, introduces himself as Ritchie, and his Pikachu as "Chuchino". He compliments Ash on his earlier battle, marveling at the amount of calculations required to determine when Krabby would evolve into Kingler, though the entire incident was a coincidence. Searching for a compliment to return to Ritchie, Ash almost compliments him on his match (to which he did not attend), though is stopped just in time when Ritchie proclaims that he must leave for his upcoming match.
In the following hour, Ash watches Ritchie's match, and is awed by the amount of skill Ritchie exhibits and the power of his Pokémon. Ritchie wins his first match using only one of his Pokémon; his Pikachu, Chuchino. Ash ponders on the level of competition at the Indigo League and worries that he may not have what it takes.
After the match, Ash stands alone in a forest glade and holding a single Poké Ball and perhaps thinking about its contents. Brock and Misty approach and guess that the Pokémon inside the Poké Ball is his secret weapon. Ash admits that it is, and sends out the Pokémon, revealing it to be a powerful Charizard. Brock and Misty are shocked and amazed, but Ash admits that the Charizard, which was originally a Charmander Ash caught in-between the earlier chapters, will not obey him. Misty, not surprised, tells Ash that Charizard are very temperamental and difficult to control, and that it requires a high-level Trainer with experience to control one. Ash explains that Charizard will temporarily obey him if he wields a lit "Flame Candle", which bears the same flame that symbolically represents the Indigo League, the flame from a Moltres. Brock remarks that such candles are very expensive, and that Ash's strategy could be very unreliable, and may be toeing the line regarding the use of props in League Tournaments. Brock advises against the use of such ploys and instead suggest Ash use Pokémon he's used too, to win the upcoming matches.
In Ash's second Tournament match, he wins using only his Squirtle, matching Ritchie's accomplishment of a perfect match. Afterwords, Ritchie rushes up and praises Ash, saying "You da bomb!", to which Ash replies with the same. Brock remarks how Ash and Ritchie only met the day before, and are already good friends, and that it would be good for them to have a match against each other. Misty tells Brock that he's got it backwards, and that it would create tension in Ash and Ritchie's friendship if they had to battle each other. Brock replies that "It's a guy thing", and that male bonding thrives on the spice of conflict.
Both Ash and Ritchie win their next battles easily, and later meet at a scenic view of the plateau to reflect upon their progress, complimenting each other all the way. Ritchie remarks that the more battles he fights, and the closer he gets to victory, the more nervous he gets, and admits that he is unsure if he can win his next match. He explains that although he puts on the facade of being calm during his matches, he's really very nervous. He explains that on the other hand, those matches make him feel the most alive, to which Ash agrees he feels the same. Ritchie tells Ash that he'd like to have a match against him, to which Ash agrees. Jokingly, he states that he knows Ash won't hate him when he wins, to which Ash responds that only in his dreams will he beat him. They laugh and relax for the remaining time before the rapidly approaching 2nd last match.
For the second final match, Ash is paired against Jeanette, a Grass-Pokémon Trainer, while Ritchie is paired against Ash's rival, Gary. Ash and Ritchie wish each other luck, and go on to prepare for their next matches.
Ash worries that Gary will beat Ritchie, as he'd like to meet Ritchie in the final match. Snapping out of his daydreaming, he returns his focus to his current match, to which his Bulbasaur is taking a beating from Jeanette's Beedrill. Ash commands Bulbasaur to use its Leech Seed, which does critical damage to Jeanette's Beedrill, and knocks it out. Jeannette is down to her final Pokémon, a Bellsprout. Ash, thinking that Bellsprout will be a pushover, leaps into action and commands Bulbasaur to use his Tackle attack. Demonstrating amazing speed and dexterity, Jeanette's Bellsprout executes a perfect Aikido (a form of martial arts) throw, and uses Bulbasaur's momentum to slam it into the ground. While Bulbasaur is unable to move, Bellsprout follows with a Slam attack. This strategy dealt devastating damage to Ash's Bulbasaur, and it is unable to battle. Ash recalls Bulbasaur and sends out Pikachu, commanding him to use Agility to evade Bellsprout's attacks and jump on its head. Pikachu, apparently following a pre-discussed strategy, follows with a Thunder Shock attack. Surprisingly, the attack seems to have done little or no damage to Bellsprout, which is revealed to be a result of Bellsprout using its roots as a ground, to channel the electrical energy out of its body. It then responds with a devastating Slam attack, which puts Pikachu out of action. Ash, down to his last Pokémon, ponders which he should choose. He considers Charizard, but then decides it's too unreliable for use in this case. In a moment of insight, he chooses Muk, and sends it out. Muk, composed entirely of slime, is not affected by Bellsprout's physical attacks. Muk advances and completely encapsulates Bellsprout, pinning it against the ground underneath its body. Brock remarks that if Muk has developed it's "Sleep" attack (an attack exclusive to the Electric Tale manga), it is nearly unbeatable. Seconds pass, and then finally, Bellsprout faints, perhaps as a result of the "Sleep" attack, which may cause Muk's slime to become sleep-inducing. The audience bursts into cheers at Ash's victory, and Brock and Misty rush to congratulate Ash. However, Ash rushes off to see if Ritchie won his match against Gary, and arrives to see Gary, slumped over his Trainer's podium, gritting his teeth in his disappointment. Checking the scoreboard, Ash sees, to his apparent surprise, that Gary lost. Ritchie lets out a sigh of relief, and waves at Ash. Ash, suddenly unsure of himself, wonders what tactics Ritchie could have used to win against Gary, who was previously shown to have become a very powerful and knowledgeable Trainer during his travels. Ritchie grins at Ash and shouts that his next match is with him, and declares that he wouldn't want it any other way, to which Ash agrees.
- Ash meets Ritchie.
- Ash goes through the Indigo League Conference preliminaries and defeats Jeanette Fisher in the fourth round.
- Gary is defeated by Ritchie in the fourth round.
- Ash finds out he will have to battle Ritchie in the fifth round.
- Ash Ketchum
- Professor Oak
- May Oak
- Delia Ketchum
- Gary Oak
- Jeanette Fisher