Best Pokemon Champions of All Time, All 12 Ranked

Across each Region, only one is the very best that there ever was.

Pokemon Champions make up some of the most iconic characters in the franchise, as well as some of the most troublesome final obstacles to overcome during battle in the Pokemon games. Almost every known Pokemon Region has it’s own well-renowned high skilled League Champion, but who among those that have earned the title are the best of the best?

Recommended Videos

We’ve gathered all the Champions up and ranked them based on their level of difficulty in battle, character likability, and backstory; so without further ado, here’s all 12 Pokemon Champions, ranked from total pushover to Pokemon Master.

12. Trace

Trace from Pokemon
Image Source: The Pokemon Company

Trace is the player’s rival and Champion that you face at the end of the Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee. Unfortunately, on both of these fronts he seriously seems to fall short of fulfilling the great dynamic the Pokemon Champions bring to the League. Perhaps it’s the fact that he’s your rival that you countlessly defeat along your journey in Kanto, or his lack of depth as a character, but poor Trace more than misses the mark compared to many of the greats.

As your rival, he feels more annoying than helpful or challenging. At least other rivals, such as Scarlet and Violet’s Nemona are as helpful and encouraging as they are persistent. And even worse, as a Champion Trace is just incredibly underwhelming. There’s no sense of danger or fear factor that contributes to the final battle, and since you’ve watched his team develop along your journey, he’s fairly easy to counter and defeat.

11. Mustard

Mustard in Pokemon Sword and Shield
Image Source: The Pokemon Company

Mustard, first introduced in Pokemon Sword and Shield’s Isle of Armor DLC content, is the former Champion of the Galar Region. While sure, he isn’t a current champion that you can face off against in Galar’s Pokemon League; Mustard still earns his way into the bottom of the Champion rankings. This is due to having mentored Pokemon Champion Leon, the renowned current Champion of Galar in Sword and Shield.

Leon has considerable skills as a Champion, and knowing that he learned them from Mustard makes the latter scary to consider as an opponent. Mustard held his title of Champion for 18 years straight, a record that not even Leon can hold. Since his time in the League, Mustard has moved on to purchase the Isle of Armor and open his Dojo, which earns him the spot of number 11 on this list over Trace – at least Mustard has an interesting background and more depth to his actions and personality than the prior.

10. Alder

Champion Alder from Pokemon
Image Source: The Pokemon Company

The original champion of the Unova region is realistically one of the strongest trainers on this list, but Alder wasn’t the same after a tragic accident. Alder used to pursue only strength until his starter Pokemon died. This led him into despair and turned him into a wandering hobo rediscovering himself. This is all fine and dandy, but he pretty much abandoned his post and left the Pokemon League in a bind.

Leaving things to the Elite Four and rarely showing up to battle worthy trainers hurt his credibility as a champion. On top of this, Alder’s Champion battle leaves much to be desired, as his team has a very flawed build that is much easier to counter and defeat than it should be for a Champion rank.

This comes in his heavy Bug-type oriented team, meaning three of his six Pokemon have a weakness to both Flying and Fire Types. With a well-levelled Pokemon in either of these typings, you should be able to breeze through the Bug Types, leaving the battle in your favor as a 6v3 match. Alder really lacks the output that a Champion-levelled team should have, earning him his place low in this list.

9. Wallace

Champion Wallace from Pokemon
Image Source: The Pokemon Company

Wallace is one of two gym leaders turned champion. He is a master of water-type Pokemon and the most inferior champion. He is more concerned with making a fashion statement than battling, hence why he’s listed low in the rankings when considering the best Champions of all time.

He isn’t threatening or particularly strong despite being one of the last survivors of the ancient people of Sootopolis. As a mono-type Champion, Wallace’s Water-type oriented team is weak against both Electric and Grass type attacks, making him relatively easy to take down.

While he uses Whiscash, Ludicolo, Gyarados and Tentacruel to try and fill the gaps these weaknesses leave, it isn’t quite enough to make his Mono-type team a real threat. Wallace never really got the chance to rebuild his team after being promoted from a Gym Leader to the League Champion, so while there’s respect for doing the best with what he has, there’s just too many holes in the composition of his Pokemon to make him as fierce as the other contenders.

8. Diantha

Pokemon Champion Diantha
Image Source: The Pokemon Company

Being a famous movie star with your own fan club is impressive. What’s even more amazing is to be a movie star who is also the Pokemon Champion. Diantha is the first Champion to use mega evolution. Unlike other characters in this role, you only cross paths with her briefly before her true identity and skill level are revealed. Diantha can appear to be standoffish and shy, yet in reality, she is very kind, making her an interesting character to consider at face value.

Being a busy lady, she only takes the time to acknowledge trainers she determines have real potential. Though Diantha has an impressive résumé and her team has is certainly not short of power, her lack of public appearances and selectiveness makes her more primadonna than Champion, resulting in her only reaching the lower end of the list.

Despite this, her Mega Gardevoir is more than enough cause for concern in her Champion battle, with a versatile movepool and high base stats giving the battle the competitive edge of a proper finale. The rest of her Pokemon compliment Gardevoir and fill in blank spots with efficiency; it’s a shame we don’t see much of Diantha in her role as the all-mighty Pokemon Champion.

7. Geeta

Champion Geeta from Pokemon Scarlet and Violet
Image Source: The Pokemon Company

Though the name of Champion is given out as a high-level rank to any trainer that completes the Gym Leader Challenge in Pokemon Scarlet and Violet, there is one Champion that reigns above all as the best of the best, the ultimate opponent, the one you face in the showdown; Geeta. As well as carrying the title of Top Champion in Paldea, Geeta also operates as the Chairwoman of the Pokemon League, a lady of multiple responsibilities. Geeta makes herself known to the player somewhat early in the story, indicating her strong personality right from the get-go.

However, while Geeta pushes the boundaries in hopes of raising the next Generation of Pokemon trainers, she is not well-liked by everyone in the League community and tends to butt heads with several of Paldea’s Gym Leaders over her ideals. The best of the Pokemon Champions would be sure to establish strong personal connections with their fellow League members and Gym Leaders to ensure the strongest challenge for all participating trainers, so this is disappointing, considering Geeta’s goals.

Geeta’s team consists of some of the best new competitive Pokemon available to the Paldea Region, so you’ll have the challenge of planning out your team composition to counter her and make the most of her weaknesses. Geeta provides a decent challenge and is unique enough as far as Champions go; she’s just missing that special element that makes the best of them unforgettable.

6. Lance

best pokemon champions of all time

The head of the elite four in the region that started it all became the champion in the second generation. Arguably one of the best dragon masters in the Pokemon franchise, Lance lacks diversity on his team. He has three Dragonites, which wouldn’t be a problem if the common move Ice Beam didn’t straight wreck them. He does make an improvement to the versatility of his team in HeartGold and SoulSilver’s remakes, but it still quite isn’t enough, as mono-type Champions are rather easy to defeat.

Lance is a strong and wise leader on the other hand, and he has a brilliant character design, going down in history as one of the most memorable franchise characters from the moment he debuted in the games. Lance features in enough Pokemon storylines to make him one of the most iconic Champions for sure, but as far as difficulty goes, he just doesn’t do well enough to rank any higher on the list.

Will he ever give up the Dragon-type dynamic he has going for a more well-rounded team? Probably not. But Lance wouldn’t be Lance without his Dragons, so we love him anyway.

5. Iris

Iris is not only the youngest but also the first person of color in the history of the Pokemon games ever to hold the position of Champion. Originally the gym leader of the Opelucid Gym, she was asked to become the Champion after Alder left the job for good. Not only did she accept the responsibility, but she also flourished, breathing new life into the Unova region Pokemon league.

She is a Dragon-type Pokemon master, but unlike Lance, her team is balanced and doesn’t have the same devastating weakness to ice. This brings a slight advantage of the utility of her squad compared to poor Lance. Despite being a Mono-type team Champion, Iris holds her own in battle surprisingly well, resulting in a solid finale.

With a charming personality, this prodigy known as Iris is a worthy foe. And trust me, her anime adaptation is great, but the games are where she truly shines, her full force of power on display for you to go up against. Here’s hoping you’ve got it in you to defeat her beloved Haxorus when the time comes; that guy can be a real hard-hitter.

4. Leon

Champion Leon from Pokemon
Image Source: The Pokemon Company

Leon is where the list starts to pick up. Leon of the Galar region is a formidable foe, and if you haven’t been keeping up with your Pokemon leveling, he will punish you. While his brother Hop is a harmless, lovable friendly rival, Leon is undefeated, competitive, and hates to lose. This will show for itself when he battles you. While most of the gym leaders in Sword and Shield are easy enough to get through, there’s a significant difficulty spike when you go up against Leon.

His team is well-balanced and harsh to face off against, consisting of Aegislash, Dragapult, Haxorus, Seismitoad, the starter pokemon with an advantage against yours, and a Gigantamax Charizard. All of those Pokemon are strong and are in the early to mid-60s when it comes to levels, so if you slack off on training your Mons’, you’ll have a rough time.

Leon’s also very likable as a character, an important factor to consider when evaluating the Champions. Despite being confident and proud of himself at the best of times, Leon also balances this out with his kind heart and protective instincts, such as when he heroically shielded his brother, Hop, and the player character from the threat of Eternatus using his Charizard. As far as Champions go, Leon entered the ranks as one of the best.

3. Blue / Gary Oak

Champion Blue from Pokemon
Image Source: The Pokemon Company

The original champion goes by many names, but his skills are formidable no matter what name you know him by. He was a worthy rival and contender, having a well-balanced team in an era where team building was not always the main priority to many.

Despite somewhat being a jerk at times, Blue took his position seriously and destroyed many first-generation trainers who still had no idea what it took to be a master. Though it was short-lived, he possessed all the necessary qualities to be a great champion.

Blue uses a well-rounded team with some of the most iconic and beloved Generation 1 Pokemon, so it’s hard not to love him and the Mons’ he throws out in battle. On top of this, Blue was shown to have much character growth and development between the events of the Kanto games and Johto games, shown in his thoughts regarding the destruction of Cinnabar Island. Seriously, there’s something about the guy that makes him so well-loved, and when you pair his likability with his formidable team, he makes one hell of a Champion.

2. Steven

Champion Steven from Pokemon
Image Source: The Pokemon Company

This man has a fascination with the world around him. An avid collector of rare stones and a proactive leader in his community, Steven doesn’t let his position get in the way of helping anyone in need. When he isn’t on duty he travels Hoenn to get to know the people and what’s really important to them to increase the life of people and Pokemon alike. What’s not to love about that? The man spends time getting to know the people of his community and using this information to better the Hoenn Region, like a true Champion.

Steven is a master of Steel-type Pokemon, boasting ten different resistances and an immunity to poison. Even with fire Pokemon by your side he has Ground-type moves in his back pocket and stays completely collected no matter the circumstances. Seriously, going up against Steven is one of the biggest obstacles to overcome when it comes to Pokemon, and once he’s defeated, you truly do feel like you’ve completed a significant challenge to and truly earned your victory in the Hoenn League.

1. Cynthia

Champion Cynthia from Pokemon
Image Source: The Pokemon Company

Cynthia is the matriarch of the Sinnoh region and the crème de la crème of all Pokemon League Champions. She is fierce in every sense of the word and has some of the best battle music in the games. Cynthia is considered by many to be the most challenging of any champion prior or after. She isn’t afraid to switch out and change her battle strategy on the fly and her Garchomp has destroyed many dreams along with striking fear in trainers around the world.

Cynthia also poses a calm and collected personality, letting her skills speak for themselves on the battlefield. Undeniably, she also has one of the most memorable character designs of the franchise, her dark black and yellow color palette of her clothing contrasting perfectly with her long, blonde locks of hair. Don’t let her high level of aesthetic distract you though, she holds just as high a standard when it comes to difficulty.

If you’re one of the few to beat Cynthia for the first time on just one attempt, I have mad respect; it seems like only yesterday she was making poor children cry over their Nintendo DS games in Pokemon Diamond, Pearl and Platinum. Seriously, nobody even comes close to competing with this powerful lady.

Who is your favorite Pokemon Champion? Be sure to let us know in the comment below. If you enjoyed this article, you can also feel free to check out the rest of our content here at Twinfinite. We have a wide variety of Pokemon topics to keep you entertained, such as the 10 most likeable characters in Pokemon Scarlet & Violet, top 35 best Pokemon games ranked from worst to best, and the most expensive & rare Pokemon card of all-time.

Twinfinite is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more
related content
Read Article Are We 100% Sure Stellar Blade Isn’t a Nier Game?
Read Article Coolest Game Console Prototypes, Ranked Purely on Appearance
Coolest Game Console Prototypes, Ranked Purely on Appearance
Read Article 10 Biggest Video Game Meme Moments of All Time
nord in skyrim intro
Related Content
Read Article Are We 100% Sure Stellar Blade Isn’t a Nier Game?
Read Article Coolest Game Console Prototypes, Ranked Purely on Appearance
Coolest Game Console Prototypes, Ranked Purely on Appearance
Read Article 10 Biggest Video Game Meme Moments of All Time
nord in skyrim intro
Grace Black
Grace is a writer and digital artist from New Zealand with a love for fiction and storytelling. Grace has been writing for Twinfinite for one year and in the games industry for two years. She's an enthusiast of everything spooky, an occasional anime enjoyer, and a die-hard Ghost-Type Pokemon fangirl. Her favorite video games include Overwatch 2, Life is Strange, The Last of Us, Baldur's Gate 3, and Pokemon - all of which she will never tire of.