Generation III of the Pokémon franchise introduced two sets of games, the new Pokémon Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald and a remake of the Generation I classics with Pokémon FireRed & LeafGreen. The new games introduced some interesting and powerful Pokémon to make for challenging gym fights while the remakes rebalanced and tweaked things to force returning players to devise new strategies.
Thanks to powerful moves, high stats, and some clever strategies the following 10 gym leaders have proven to be the most powerful opponents in these games. In fact some of them are considered the most challenging in the entire series.
10 Koga (FireRed/LeafGreen)
Koga is still using poison types, but he has a new trick up his sleeve. His two Koffings and Weezing now have the crafty Levitate ability which allows them to passively negate all Ground type moves. Muk is still weak to these moves and using a Ground on him is highly recommended.
For the others players will have to utilize Grass type Pokémon to bring them down quickly and shrug off the poison attacks. The trick is to bring them down before the poison kills your team.
9 Giovanni (FireRed/LeafGreen)
Giovanni was a brute in Pokémon Yellow, but he’s much tamer in FireRed/LeafGreen, though don’t think that means this fight against the criminal kingpin will be easy. His two Ryhorns and Dugtrio may be tough and high leveled, but their Ground typing makes them push overs to Water types.
Nidoking and Nidoqueen are once again problems, though they’ve abandoned their powerful elemental moves for poison attacks. Your best bet is to have a strong Normal type like Snorlax who can take the hits or a strong Articuno that can make short work of them if you’re careful.
8 Misty (FireRed/LeafGreen)
Misty returns a little stronger than she was before. Both of her Pokémon use Water Pulse which has a 20% chance of causing confusion which can ruin your best strategies. Her Starmie is a monster thanks to this and other powerful moves like Rapid Spin which removes that handy Leech Seed effect you were hoping to use with Bulbasaur and Swift which has 100% accuracy.
Gather some Grass Pokémon from across the bridge and really train your Pikachu from Viridian Forest. Starmie can’t do anything if it’s Wrapped and enough Vine Swipes and Thundershocks will eventually take it down.
7 Wattson (R/S/E)
Wattson is a crafty trainer who can ruin your day if you aren’t prepared. He uses mainly Electrical/Steel types who gain some resilience to standard Electrical counters thanks to Steel. His Pokémon seek to cause Paralyze or Confusion via Supersonic before spamming either Shock Wave for electrical damage or SonicBoom for a Normal attack.
Ground Pokémon are definitely the way to go thanks to a resiliency to Electrical and Normal attacks while also getting a bonus against Steel types. But be careful with his Voltorb as it’ll Selfdestruct and take out one of your strong Pokémon before you face Magneton.
6 Brawly (R/S/E)
Brawly is encountered early on but can destroy an under leveled team. Both his Machop and Makuhita have a move called Bulk up that raise the Pokémon’s attack and defense. After a few uses they’re capable of serious damage and can become very tanky.
Makuhita also has Knock Off which is a Dark attack that can ruin your day. Also be prepared for its Sand-Attack to lower the accuracy of your best hitters. The best strategy is to have Flying types or a Psychic type if you can swing it, just be careful using it against Makuhita and his Dark attack.
5 Winona (R/S/E)
Winona is notoriously tricky. Her gym is based around Flying types, but every one of her Pokémon is a dual type. Swellow is Normal/Flying and Pelipper is Water/Flying so an Electrical Pokémon will zap both of them.
Skarmory is a little tougher due to Steel/Flying and will use Sand-Attack to blind opponents so have a fast Electric or Fire type. Altaria is the real problem with Dragon/Flying and some powerful Dragon moves and Earthquake. She’ll also use potions on it, so the key is to use poison or burn and avoid or tank the damage it deals.
4 Tate & Liza (Emerald)
Tate and Liza are brutal because they fight in tandem with each other, meaning you face two Pokémon at the same time. They’re especially brutal in Emerald fighting with Ralts, Kirlia, Lunatone, Solrock, Xatu, and Claydol.
Because of the mix of moves and special abilities like Levitate your only hope of winning is to have a strong team of Ghosts and Pokémon that can use Surf. Surf is super effective against many of the Pokémon they’ll use and it hits both Pokémon at once.
3 Juan (Emerald)
This gym leader is unique to Pokémon Emerald and is a powerful trainer. He focuses on Water Pokémon though the majority are dual types. Strong Electric and even Water Pokémon will take you far against his Luvisc, Whiscash, Sealeo, and Crawdaunt. What you need to prepare for is his Kingdra.
Being a Water/Dragon hybrid makes it tough enough, but it’s Ice Beam will wreck anything you send against it. Your best option is to use a Dragon type like Flygon that can resist it’s attacks and gain a bonus against it, teaching it something like Dragon Claw is very helpful.
2 Lt. Surge (FireRed/LeafGreen)
Lt. Surge is surprisingly powerful in this generation and a lot of it has to do with his Pokémon exploiting Double Team. His Voltorb is easy pickings with a Ground type. Both Pikachu and Raichu will exploit Double Team which increase their evade and make them even harder to hit.
Combine their strong Electrical attacks and tendency to paralyze and they can ruin your day. Ground types like Diglet help, but their Normal attacks can still pose a threat. Do some quick damage and then prepare for a long slog with lots of missed attacks.
1 Norman (Ruby & Sapphire)
Surprisingly your father in the game is the strongest gym leader you’ll face, especially if you’re in Ruby & Sapphire. His two Slakings are brutes with a lot of health that can pack a punch every other turn. His Vigoroth isn’t as strong but has the advantage of Slashing your Pokémon every turn.
The other problem is they’re Normal types so nothing is terribly effective against them. Get some status effects like poison or burn in the beginning and whittle them down with your strongest Pokémon.