Regardless of some disappointments i fully welcomed them. How many times you wished side characters got involved more in action, instead of Ash taking glory all the time?
Well that changed in Best Wishes with writers coming up with fun and engaging concept which allowed that no one in main cast ends up left out with Ash, Cilan and Iris having opportunity to compete in something, learn from wins and defeats in theory and improve their skills.
Since contests got removed you could say how Don George tournaments like Club Battle, Donamite and now Junior Cup serves as supplement for them providing material to make nice story arcs out of it.
So in general foundation behind them was interesting and creative, but execution was poor for the most part and ill get into why as i review all three of them.
First we start with Club Battle. I can say i enjoyed in interactions between characters and rivals being refreshing when everyone gathered to compere in something. Battles were decent too, enjoying in Cilan vs Trip battle, Ash vs Burgundy etc. and yes even between Iris and Ash in finals. Granted Axew learning outrage out of nowhere was in least hand jarring to see, and way through which characters advanced in tournament could have been handled a lot better.
But when it comes to finals i had no problems with Iris defeating Ash considering how she wasn't rookie battling and training long before he even started journey, and because Excadrill had huge advantage as ground type.
Maybe no one gained much from this, but you don't need to have development in every battle being nice to see sometime character winning just for the sake of it and show his skills through duel.
It was first tournament, refreshing substitute for contests and i enjoyed in it not being bothered much by some deux machina battles and contrived plot devices.
Donamite tournament was probably most enjoyable tournament for me out of three. Interactions between rivals and characters were for most part fun and Stephan was real star in here. He proved to be strong opponent with Sawk against Throh being easily highlight of whole tournament. In a way it foreshadowed how at league Ash wont have easy time against him at all.
This tournament also portrayed Bianca in different light showing big improvement since Club Battle. And even though she didn't changed much as character going from incompetent ditzy blonde in competent ditzy character, she improved as trainer a lot with her Emoboar showing some nice strength in there with unexpected use of fling against Conkeldurr earning her win. On a side note i should mention it helped Ash Scraggy indirectly in training to perfect focus blast too, i guess.
A far as Junior Cup goes it is by far most disappointing and worst out of all three imo. Battles were predictable,super rushed and there was no suspense or much emotion in them for most part being full of bad writing.
From Iris catching Dragonite just one episode before tournament starting to dominate opponents left and right completely ignoring type advantage leading to nothing, to Trip suddenly coming of in light of competent and super strong trainer with Serperior despite not showing any concrete training or strength which would justify such drastic improvement.
Only good battles in which i enjoyed were when Ask Krokorok managed to reveal true core of problem behind Dragonite disobedience not having enough faith in his trainer when battling strong opponents, and even though Dawn lost i liked battle between her and Iris. If only because Mamoswine showed big improvement since last time being a lot stronger, considering it managed to actually hold its ground against yellow beast for awhile with his ice attacks being much stronger than Beartic from Langley leaving some mark on Dragonite.
Honorable mention goes to Cilan and Stunfisk which scored his first win(it was about time), and exhibition match between Cynthia and Caitlin.
As far as rivals go, i don't know should i cry or laugh at sheer amount of disappointment they showed in here. Burgundy is nothing more than punching bag through whole course of Unova always losing, which portrays her as joke instead of threat. Which is shame because she had potential to be so much more.
With Langley i don't really feel any real rivalry between her and Iris. Primarily because whole competition between two is mostly based on humor and bickering not having any elements of something which should be taken seriously. At least that's how i feel about it. Granted i don't find Bianca to be threat either,but still she is more appealing imo.
Oh almost forgot, i guess it was nice seeing Alder teaching Trip important lesson about bond and mutual love between trainer and pokemon, with Unova champion having certain charm about himself being pleasant to watch.
Speaking of Junior Cup, better luck next time i guess. Reason i say next time is because whole name "Junior" basically reveals how there might be more of them in future, not being everything we will see from world Cup concept in games.
So in nutshell i liked premise behind idea of such tournaments serving as interesting way through which we can see all main characters competing in something filling up time between gyms in similar way like contests did, but bad writing and lack of believable development lowered my initial excitement about it leaving a lot of room for improvement.