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Pokémon: Who Beat Lance to Become the Kanto/Johto Champion?

Lance’s constantly-changing title in Pokémon Journeys implies that the Dragon Master has had quite the offscreen adventure.

The Masters Eight Tournament in the World Coronation Series of Pokémon Journeys has featured the return of every Regional Champion in the series – but Lance, far more than the others, appears to have had quite the off-screen journey during his absence from the anime. As part of the WCS festivities, each member of the Masters Eight had their title and accomplishments announced before their introduction to the crowd. The contents of everyone else’s introduction were fairly expected, but Lance’s was different in that it hinted at some not-so-smooth sailing for the Dragon Master as of late.

Lance was introduced in the Johto Saga as the winner of the “Elite Four Cup” which made him the Champion of the Indigo League – the Pokémon League shared by the Kanto and Johto regions. However, when Journeys introduced the concept of the World Coronation Series by showing the previous year’s Finals between Lance and Leon, the Dragon Master was unexpectedly introduced as “one of Kanto’s Elite Four.” This means that, at some point between the Johto Saga and Journeys, Lance was defeated and dethroned as the Kanto/Johto Champion. Adding to the intrigue is the fact that during the current WCS Masters Eight, Lance was introduced as “the new Champion of Kanto and Johto,” indicating he reclaimed his title — but who beat him in the first place?

RELATED: Pokémon Journeys: The Masters Eight’s First Round Matchups Are Set

For a Regional Champion to be usurped, a trainer must collect at least eight Gym Badges from a given region, win that region’s Pokémon League Conference, then defeat the Elite Four and the reigning Champion. Prior to this revelation surrounding Lance’s ever-changing title, the only instance of this happening in the anime was also during Journeys when it was revealed that Iris had conquered the Unova League and dethroned Alder as Champion. There are no details surrounding Lance’s apparent defeat and recapturing of the Kanto/Johto crown, leaving the identity of the trainer who temporarily ousted the Dragon Master a total mystery.

Paul’s recent reappearance at Professor Oak’s lab — with an offer to become a Gym Leader on the table — makes him the only established character with even a shred of in-anime evidence that he could’ve been the one who beat Lance. Paul has some seriously powerful Pokémon these days considering a Garchomp, Metagross and Gyarados were just three of the team he had on him when he bumped into Ash while lurking in the Kanto Region.

Prior to Journeys, Lance had been MIA since the Hoenn Saga while Paul had been gone since the Sinnoh Saga, which is plenty of time for these two to have clashed in the Indigo League. However, Paul has already competed in the Indigo League once, and it’s unknown if trainers are allowed to take a second crack at a Pokémon League Tournament.

RELATED: Pokémon: How the Journeys Anime Should End

Defeating Lance is no small feat considering he was also confirmed to be the winner of the Driftveil Pokémon World Tournament – a concept introduced in the games Pokémon Black 2 and Pokémon White 2 that likely served as the primary inspiration for the anime’s World Coronation Series.

Leon, Galar’s unbeatable Champion and reigning Monarch of the WCS, is the only trainer who’s ever beaten Lance onscreen, so it would certainly have taken the best of the best to oust Lance as the Kanto/Johto Champion. Action Replay Man (Tobias) has also been MIA from the anime for ages but, gathering from context clues, he couldn’t beat Cynthia after winning the Sinnoh League — which makes it less likely he could’ve beaten Lance, either.

RELATED: Pokémon: Ash’s Long-Missing Rival Is Returning to the Anime

In the previous World Coronation Series Finals, Lance revealed he’d trained at the Hammerlocke Gym with Raihan, Galar’s Dragon-Type Gym Leader, and it would seem this training was enough to help him recapture the Kanto/Johto crown. Of all the Champions who’ve returned for some much-needed time in the spotlight for the Masters Eight, Lance is the only one who’s had a compelling enough off-screen journey that the series should consider making a special to reveal who beat him — and if it’s the same person he defeated to become a Champion once again.

At the time of writing, Lance is next up in the Masters Eight Tournament where he will be battling Diantha, the Kalos Champion, and he’s definitely in for another tough battle as his Dragon-Types will be squaring off with their greatest enemy – a Fairy-Type.

Ryan is an enthusiastic fan of the film and television industry, particularly interested in the creative process. Some people need a white noise machine to relax at night, but Ryan needs an audio commentary. Making a living by talking about the movies and shows he loves is his dream. You can find him complaining about Rise of Skywalker on Twitter as @RickeySpanish because even his Twitter handle is an American Dad reference.

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