Wingull swoops over Melemele Island and delievers a message to Toucannon's flock that Rowlet is competing in a tough match against a Decidueye. Toucannon, Trumbeak and several Pikipek promptly leave for Manalo Stadium. Meanwhile Ash is already training with Pikachu and Rowlet, who is unusually keen namely because it hopes to overcome Hau's Decidueye. Ash's friends have their concerns, admitting that Torracat's Fire attacks would make it the perfect opponent against Decidueye. Ash, however insists that he is choosing Rowlet and declares that he has no secret plan in mind, leaving his friends speechless. 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.
James facing Gladion
Jessie is still fuming over her loss against James in the previous round. She demands he win or else before handing him the Z-Ring to ensure victory. Soon, Gladion is standing on the battlefield as Jīkyō introduces him to the gathered spectators. James makes his way towards the field, calling out Mareanie for a pressing pep talk to spur the pair onto victory. Mareanie agrees to do its best and fulfil James’s personal goal of battling the Masked Royal. As James steps out onto the field, 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, Ash's training session isn't going to plan as Rowlet falls asleep again. Rotom suggests Rowlet should learn a new move for a counter strategy, and despite Ash's enthusiasm Rowlet remains unconscious. 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 showcases 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.
James's Mareanie manages to stand, though is clearly exhausted. As Lycanroc increases its defense with Swords Dance, James decides a Z-Move is in order. Gladion is pleasantly surprised by his opponent's reserve as Mareanie bursts with energy and performs Black Hole Eclipse. He counters with his own Z-Move, Continental Crush with Lycanroc hurling the giant boulder directly at the 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. James is deflating, knowing that he failed Jessie. As he walks backstage he 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 have to think of another way to conquer Alola, and Jessie declares that Team Rocket only look to the future. James is greatly relieved, as is Mareanie who goes onto poison him in admiration.
Ash facing Hau
Later, Rotom interrupts Ash's training session to inform him that Gladion won his match and that his own match is about to get underway. The Trumbeak and Pikipek return in time to deliver Rowlet a special gift, a Decidueye-styled cloak to encourage it to win. The flock soon leave as Ash rushes to make it in time for his match against Hau. Backstage, Hau declares that he hopes to defeat Ash and prove himself as a strong Trainer. Ash shares his sentiments, going one step further and admitting that he wants to win the entire Manalo Conference. An announcement calls for the pair to make their way onto the battlefield. Hau rushes off first, while Ash pauses momentarily to call out his Pokémon from their Poké Balls to cheer him and Rowlet on. Ash's friends are greatly relieved to see Ash has finally made it to his match, though they have their concerns about how well his training went. Toucannon and the others decide to perch themselves on the stadium rooftop to watch the battle unfold.
Nanu gives the signal and Hau makes the first attack, a Razor Leaf. Rowlet dodges before launching a Seed Bomb, though Decidueye batters the Everstone away with a Leaf Blade. Surprisingly Ash decides to use his Z-Move early. As Rowlet uses Bloom Doom, Decidueye simply flies upwards and evades the entire move. Ash is taken aback. Hau declares that he done his research and calls Ash's tactic predictable. Decidueye shoots out a Spirit Shackle arrow, pinning Rowlet to the battlefield. Hau then uses his own Z-Move and lands a direct hit on Rowlet with Sinister Arrow Raid. As the dust settles, everyone's attention shifts from the shrivelled cloak to Rowlet who is sitting nearby, remarkably unharmed. Jikyo declares it an example of the art of substitution, and Hau is surprised by the unexpected tactic. Rowlet feels despondent as it looks at its damaged cloak. Seeing as the match is yet to be won, Hau confidently declares that his next move won't miss.