This is the fourth episode of the Higaki Conference. The competitors reached the Top 16 after one and a half skipped rounds, and Ash's match-up in this round is against Stephan. We already know both of the competitor's teams, and some of the new moves that they will be learning from magazine scans and episode previews on TV TOKYO. We also know the end result of this match-up, since these same magazines highlighted and previewed Ash vs. Kotetsu for the Top 8 round. There shouldn't be too many surprises other than which pokemon will defeat whom in the respective rounds.
The first match-up started out as Krookodile
, as expected. The battle starts and ends with a clash of Krookodile's Dragon Claw and Liepard's Shadow Claw. Liepard obviously has an advantage in speed, and through Double Team the pokemon is also able to evade most of Krookodile's moves. Liepard's moves are exactly the same as its BW2 download tournament counterpart, so there are no surprises here. As Musashi pointed out earlier, the animators reused Liepard's Hyper Beam animation from the skipped TR vs. TP episodes. As I mentioned earlier, the two pokemon used similar attacks to end their battle. It made sense, as both Ash and Stephan battle their opponents head-on and have similar battling styles.
The second match-up is Palpitoad
vs. Zebstrika, again another expected match-up. Considering that we already had a Zebstrika and Palpitoad match-up from the Elesa gym battle, I was a little disappointed at first. At least Stephan's Zebstrika had different moves from Elesa's. Cilan mentioned in the audience that Palpitoad had an advantage over Zebstrika, because Cilan noted that Zebstrika had used Flame Charge and Thunderbolt in past battles; Palpitoad is immune to Electric-type moves and resists damage from Fire-type attacks. However, Stephan changed his pace by having Zebstrika learn all Normal-type moves. Palpitoad tried to fight back with its newest move, Sludge Wave, and it poisoned Zebstrika. Stephan anticipated this by having his Zebstrika use Facade, a move that doubles in damage if the user has a status condition. Palpitoad countered with Supersonic, which confused Zebstrika and caused it to harm itself. Zebstrika fought back with Giga Impact, and Palpitoad fought back with Hydro Pump and Mud Shot. Both pokemon eventually get knocked out together.
The third match-up is Leavanny
vs. Sawk; again, we expected this. The battle was completely in Ash's favor at the start. Leavanny used String Shot to bind Sawk, and then attack from a distance with Razor Leaf and Energy Ball. When Sawk broke out and used Close Combat, Leavanny effortlessly dodged each attack attempt. Ash mentioned that he improved Leavanny's power and speed since their last on-screen appearance. Furthermore, Leavanny learned a new move off-screen: X-Scissor. I'm not sure, but the announcer made a remark about Butterfree
(perhaps a nod to Muhammed Ali's famous "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee") when Leavanny used X-Scissor on Sawk. Sawk used a slew of Karate Chops, which Leavanny effortlessly dodged. Sawk then used Low Sweep; again, Leavanny dodged this attack effortlessly. Leavanny proceeded to attack from a distance again with a combination of Razor Leaf and Energy Ball. The tide of the battle changed when Sawk managed to hit Leavanny with a Low Sweep, which lowered Leavanny's speed to the extent that it could not dodge Sawk's fighting-type moves. Once Leavanny got hit with Close Combat again (Sawk used numerous Bulk Ups beforehand to raise his attacking power), Leavanny was at low health. This triggered the activation of Leavanny's ability, Swarm. We already knew Leavanny's ability from Burgundy's debut episode, but this was the first time that the ability had been used on-screen for any pokemon. Leavanny used String Shot to bind Sawk, and then numerous X-Scissors to get any damage in. Sawk dodged the attacks, broke free, and defeated Leavanny with a Karate Chop.
The fourth and final match-up is Krookodile (who was exhausted from its battle against Liepard) vs. Sawk. The battle starts out with Krookodile using Dragon Claw to match up against Sawk's Close Combat. Sawk used Karate Chop, and Krookodile countered with its newly learned Aerial Ace. Krookodile won the battle using the Flying-type attack, which was super-effective against Sawk. I felt this battle was rushed; it was only a minute and a half long.
Ash vs. Stephan ended with five minutes left in the episode, and after their words of encouragement and a few montage battles the announcers reveal the Top 8 match-ups. The Top 8 are: Ash, Kotetsu, Virgil, Antonio, Dino, Katharine, Ramone, and Imotaro. Flora had a Gothitelle
(presumably evolved from her Gothorita
), Kenton had a Gigalith
, Manning had a female Jellicent
, and Imotaro had an Eelektross
The Top 8 pair-ups are: Ash vs. Kotetsu, Katharine vs. Dino, Antonio vs. Ramone, and Virgil vs. Imotaro.
Poor Imotaro. He is probably going to lose this one.
Ash and Stephan have another battle of their own during the evening. Stephan wished Ash good luck for the next round.
Ash was so restless that he could not sleep
that night and went into the stadium. There he saw Kotetsu's tent perched up. Kotetsu came out and said that he couldn't afford to miss this battle. Kotetsu really is absent-minded; he doesn't even want to risk leaving the stadium. Kotetsu told Ash that he had a "secret weapon" prepared for their battle, and Ash was so excited that he couldn't wait.
The episode ends with the match-up between Ash and Kotetsu beginning. Kotetsu sends out his first pokemon, Hydreigon
. Ash's first pokemon is not revealed yet. There are two episodes remaining of this story arc, and we know the final result on Ash's end. Nevertheless, I will continue to watch because I want to see how Ash's pokemon will defeat that pseudo-legendary.
For a BW episode, this battle was definitely above average. For any other part of the series, I would say that it was on par with any other 3-on-3 battle from previous leagues. I truly felt that this battle was the Unova counterpart of Ash vs. Conway; both took place in the Top 16 round, and had Ash use pokemon that learned new attacks off-screen.