Wingull arrives at Melemele Island and informs Toucannon's flock that Rowlet is competing in a tough match against a Decidueye, prompting Toucannon, Trumbeak, and several Pikipek to leave for Manalo Stadium. Meanwhile, Ash is already training with Pikachu and Rowlet, who is hoping to overcome Hau's Decidueye. Though Ash's friends advise Torracat's Fire attacks would be more effective against Decidueye, Ash is insistent on choosing Rowlet and declares that he has no secret plan in mind. Kiawe quickly supports the tactic after seeing Rowlet's enthusiasm, though the others have their doubts. Ash decides to keep training with Rowlet while everyone else goes to watch Gladion's match.
While fuming over her loss against James in the previous round, Jessie demands he win or else before handing him the Z-Power Ring to ensure his victory. Soon, James and Gladion enter the battlefield as Caster introduces the latter to the audience. James calls out Mareanie for a pep talk; Mareanie agrees to do its best and fulfill James's personal goal of battling the Masked Royal. After Hapu calls for the second round match to begin, James makes the first move, but Gladion's Lycanroc easily evades the oncoming Sludge Bomb.
Meanwhile, Rowlet falls asleep again during Ash's training session. Rotom suggests Rowlet should learn a new move for a counter-strategy. Rowlet soon wakes up as its foster family arrives to lend a hand. After Rowlet informs Toucannon of its concerns for its upcoming match, Toucannon shows its Feather Dance technique. Rotom adds that the move would be ideal against Hau's Decidueye, as Feather Dance weakens an opponent's attack. With that, Ash and Rowlet begin to try to master Feather Dance.
Elsewhere, Mareanie manages to stand up, though she is clearly exhausted. As Lycanroc increases its attack power with Swords Dance, James decides to use a Z-Move and performs Black Hole Eclipse with Mareanie. Gladion counters with his own Z-Move, Continental Crush, with Lycanroc hurling a giant boulder directly at Mareanie's black hole. In the crowd, Nanu recalls how Ash used the same strategy during their grand trial match. The two Z-Moves cancel each other out, and Gladion has Lycanroc follow up with Stone Edge, winning the round. A dejected James walks backstage and is confronted by Jessie, though instead of receiving a scolding, she rewards his efforts with a can of Komala Coffee. Meowth adds that they will just think of another way to conquer Alola, and Jessie declares that Team Rocket only looks to the future. James is greatly relieved, as is Mareanie, who goes on to poison him in admiration.
Later, Rotom interrupts Ash's training session to inform him that Gladion won his match and that his own match is about to begin. The Trumbeak and Pikipek return in time to deliver Rowlet a special gift, a Decidueye-styled cloak meant to encourage it to win. The flock leaves, while Ash returns to the stadium. Backstage, Hau declares his hopes to defeat Ash and prove himself as a strong Trainer. Ash shares his sentiments, also admitting that he wants to win the entire Manalo Conference. The two are called over to the battlefield; Hau runs off first, while Ash takes a moment to call out his Pokémon from their Poké Balls so they could cheer him and Rowlet on. Ash's friends are relieved to see Ash made it to his match, though they are concerned about how his training went. Meanwhile, Toucannon's flock perches themselves on the stadium rooftop to watch the battle.
Nanu begins the match, and Hau orders Decidueye to use Razor Leaf. Rowlet dodges it before launching Seed Bomb, though Decidueye batters the Everstone away with Leaf Blade. Ash decides to use his Z-Move early, but Decidueye simply flies upwards and evades Bloom Doom. Hau reveals he did his research and calls Ash's tactic predictable. Decidueye then shoots a Spirit Shackle arrow, pinning Rowlet to the battlefield and allowing Hau to uses his own Z-Move, Sinister Arrow Raid. The attack hits its target, but Rowlet is revealed to have used its cloak as a makeshift substitute. Seeing as the match is yet to be won, Hau confidently declares that his next move won't miss.