I think that Stephan is okay. He's friendly and laid-back, but there isn't much beyond his running gag that makes him memorable. I wouldn't mind if the writers did more with his character to make me care about him though. His team is just okay. I don't think he's much of a rival due to how little of a threat he poses to Ash. If they got rid of the running gag with his name and did more to develop his character, I'd probably like him a lot more than I do right now.
Keep in mind Stephen is a third-tier rival. He's not the main guy like Trip or the secondary one like Bianca.
And its a sad day when Stephen is more memorable and entertaining than Trip is.
Besides for the gag, he is entertaining but he is not as memorable than Trip. There are times that I forget he is even one of the other rivals.
Funny enough, I consider Stephan to be Ash's main rival.
He is adorable, nice, positive and a heart made out of gold. I don't see a thing wrong with him aside of his lack of Pokémon. But really, that's about it.
I never really thought of Stephan as a rival, though I do like him as a character. He's a pretty cool guy and seems to be very passionate about Pokemon. I agree about the problem with Stephan having a lack of Pokemon. Maybe he does have more, I just wish we could see the rest of his team.
Honestly, I think more about Stephan than I do about Trip.
He's a nice guy, two cool Pokemon, if there were no name gag, he would be been so much better than shooty.I was rooting for him in the donamite.
It's stupid how Ash and Group can pronounce words Icirrus City (You would think its ICK-E-RUS, but the show pronounces it EYE-SEAR-US) and all the Pokémon names correctly but fail to say this guys name, not once, but EVERY single time. I could understand a first time, but why is it still an issue? Ash managed to say Iris and Cilan's names correctly, and they're more uncommon than Stephan.
As for the topic at hand:
As a rival, I actually like Stephan. He's fun and I adore his team--well, one member of his team. He's passionate and just a lot of fun. The name gag has never bothered me, as I'm kinda in the same boat as the poor guy and it only made him more sympathetic to me. I have to admit, I enjoy watching Stephan battle more than Trip or some of Ash's other rivals. That's really saying something, but I'm not sure what.
For some reason, he's the only person in BW who was written in a decent way towards the end of the League...XDD and yes, I find him a very good character
Kenyan should have been the main rival of BW. I may be biased but I feel Kenyan is the "Friendly Rival" done a lot better in comparison with the others in the past. He was never hostile/rude to Ash or anyone and he was a strong, competent trainer with being boring/invincible or completely book dumb.
His relationship/rivalry with Ash is one of my favorites(for obvious reasons) because unlike some of the other rivalries in the series, they both constantly encourage each other to become stronger without any malice or conflict. They would help each other when they need some help with training(Well all we saw was Kenyan offering to help Ash with Scraggy's Focus Blast but we can safely assume Ash would do the same for Kenyan) and when they finally had their battle, they gave all they got without no regrets or hard feelings. This is how a rivalry should be in my opinion.
Yoshi-san brings up some good points. One of Stephan's strengths comes from his attitude. He's competitive, but he's not mean-spirited. He's friendly, but smart. Stephan actually feels like a real, organic person because his personality is so balanced. He was a different take on the rival, and a kind I'd like to see in the future.
Main rival, on the other hand? I think Bianca would have been a better choice than him.