The Pokémon series is rather easy compared to other games out there. The fighting mechanic is basically just a really complicated game of rock-paper-scissors. Except instead the rock, paper, and scissors are cute animals with different stats, types, and moves.
That being said, even veteran trainers typically remember at least one NPC that put up a difficult fight. Sometimes it was a Gym Leader and other times it was the leader of an evil organization or the Champion of the region. There are definitely some no-brainers on this list, like a certain someone from Mt. Silver. So here is a list of the most difficult trainers to beat in all the games.
10 Gym Leader Whitney
Typically, trainers would not expect a Normal-Type leader to provide any challenge. To those that visited the Goldrenrod City Gym though, they found out they were sorely mistaken.
Whitney is infamous for her Miltank that spams Rollout. While Rollout is its most discussed move, it also knew Attract, which was a status affliction that could not be cured with items. The Miltank could also heal itself with Milk Drink. However, her Clefairy (this was back when Clefairy was Normal-Type) also packed a punch to those who love strategy since it knew Metronome.
9 Red In The Johto Games
We had to mention this is Red from the Johto games, since you can actually fight both him and Blue in Pokémon Sun and Moon (and that fight is far more merciful). To many Pokémon fans, the battle against Red on Mt. Silver is the most difficult but also coolest Pokémon battle in the series.
All of Red’s Pokémon are high level in the original Gold and Silver, from his level 73 Espeon to his level 81 Pikachu. However, in SoulSilver and HeartGold, they are even stronger with a level 80 Lapras to a level 88 Pikachu. Levels aside, all of Red’s Pokémon know powerful moves that can easily make a Pokémon faint from a single hit like Giga Impact, Blizzard, and Sludge Bomb.
8 Champion Cynthia
At least some Champions got to make this list, and Cynthia is definitely one of them. Her team is balanced with a Milotic, Lucario, Garchomp, Roserade, Gastrodon, and Spiritomb. If you played Platinum though, the Gastrodon was replaced by a Togekiss.
Some players would even say Cynthia is the strongest Champion of all the games, with her Milotic and Garchomp providing the biggest challenge. Her Togekiss and Lucario’s Aura Sphere attacks also really wrecked some players. Imagine fighting her with today’s mechanics though! Her Garchomp could mega-evolve and her Togekiss would be Fairy-Type!
Sometimes it’s the antagonists who provide a challenge, like Ghetsis from Pokémon Black, White, Black 2, and White 2. In the Black and White games, his team consists of Cofagrigus, Bouffalant, Seismitoad, Bisharp, Eelektross, and Hydreigon. In the sequels, he replaced the Bouffalant and Bisharp with a Drapion and Toxicroak.
What players struggle the most with is his Hydreigon. Depending on which game you are playing, its attacks include Dragon Pulse, Surf, Fire Blast, Focus Blast, Crunch, Dragon Rush, Rock Slide, and Frustration. Between all those attacks, he can easily have something super-effective against your entire team.
6 Champion Lance
Lance has appeared in the most games out any Pokémon Champion. In every game, he is decked out in over-powered Dragon-Type Pokémon. He has definitely gotten easier to beat since the Fairy-Type was introduced, but until then, trainers had to rely on Ice and Dragon-Type moves. The only really safe thing was Ice-Type too since Dragon-Type movies typically belong to Dragon-Type Pokémon, which means his Dragons will also be super-effective against your Dragon team.
He is most difficult in the Silver, Gold, HeartGold, and SoulSilver games. With his team at level 45 to 50 and the Pokémon on Victory Road only being around level 35, grinding higher levels to beat him is a pain. Also, he has three Dragonite, which can spam super strong attacks like Outrage.
5 Champion Steven Stone
With a team consisting of Cradily, Aggron, Metagross, Skamory, Claydol, and Armaldo, Steven was a challenge for having a well-balanced team of high defense and high attack Pokémon. Some players think he’s even more difficult in the Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby since his Metagross can mega-evolve.
Each member of his team has their own challenge. With his Cradily, it uses Ingrain and Giga Drain to keep itself healthy while using Confuse Ray to slow the player down. It also uses Ancient Power, which boosts all its stats. Then Metagross is a nightmare tank since it knows Shadow Ball, Earthquake, Meteor Mash, and Pyschic.
Not all difficult trainers are from the main games. Evice is from Pokémon Colosseum and his team consists of Slowking, Scizor, Machamp, Salamence, Slaking, and Aggron. At a certain point though, he has a Shadow Tyranitar which is significant to the plot of the game.
Some fans would consider Evice even harder than Red to beat due to the fact that it’s a double battle so you always have to worry about the second Pokémon being on the field. The level jump between his team and yours can be very wide depending on how much grinding you did at Mount Battle. It’s likely that the only reason Evice is not on other lists is that Pokémon Colosseum is far less popular the main series. Many who have played have found him more difficult than the others on this list.
3 Champion Blue
Like Red, Blue has appeared in a number of Pokémon games. However, he was most difficult in the early games: Red, Blue, and Green. Once he becomes Champion, he has successfully built a well-balanced and high-level team.
Despite wearing a Champion title, he is still your rival, so his team changes based on what starter you picked, with him picking the one that your type is weak against. What Pokémon are always on his team though are Pidgeot, Alakazam, and Rhydon.
Greevil is special not just because he’s from Pokémon: Gale of Darkness, but the extra twist in his fight is that you have to steal his entire team during the battle. So not only are you trying to survive a battle, but you are trying to catch six Pokémon.
To make matters more difficult, his team has three legendaries. His team is Rhydon, Exeggutor, Tauros, Moltres, Articuno, and Zapdos. Any trainer knows those birds alone are very difficult to catch and that does not change when they are Shadow Pokémon in Gale of Darkness. The entire team is Shadow, which means their moves will be super effective against any Pokémon that is non-shadow. You do not want to use a Master Ball either, because then you would not have it for Shadow Lugia.
1 Cyrus In Platinum
Known as the leader of Team Galactic, Cyrus is a character that you battle with multiple times in Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum. However, it’s in Platinum where he has the strongest team. In particular, it’s in the third battle you have within the Distortion World. He has a five Pokémon team consisting of Crobat, Honchkrow, Gyarados, Weavile, and Houndoom.
The moves these Pokémon have can be unexpected, for example, the Houndoom knows Thunder Fang, Honchkrow knows Heat Wave, and his Gyarados knows Earthquake.
Art was made by Janice Scott.