Pokemon Scarlet and Violet release in less than a month, and fans have a decent idea of what to expect from the start of Generation 9 – even if many are concerned by the overall lack of pre-release information. Only 19 new Pokemon coming to Scarlet and Violet have been revealed, but those monsters and more will be peppered around an open-world Paldea region that up-to four players can explore cooperatively. Three storylines exist alongside grinding for Terastal Pokemon, but it appears even the traditional League challenge will have a few twists on handling the region’s Champion.

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The three storylines defining Scarlet and Violet will be “Victory Road,” a typical gauntlet of eight Gym Leaders; “Path of Legends,” in which players help Arven research the Herba Mystica by battling Titan Pokemon; and “Starfall Street,” taking on Team Star bases to stop troublemakers across Paldea. Three Gym Leaders have been unveiled thus far, most recently the Electric-type influencer Iono and her partner Bellibolt, and they can be battled in any order. However, Game Freak’s marketing confirms the end goal isn’t defeating a single Champion; rather, it’s attaining the League’s “coveted Champion Rank,” suggesting Paldea is full of Champions.

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Pokemon Champions Typically Represent Their Region

The League Champion in each region is Pokemon‘s equivalent to a final boss; after all, despite the series’ focus on collecting critters, it is one of the industry’s most successful JRPG franchises. Pokemon Red, Green, and Blue‘s Champion battle is perhaps the best-known given it relied on an iconic twist. After defeating the Elite Four populating Kanto’s Indigo Plateau, Lance reveals he is no longer Champion – the player’s recurring rival has taken his place. Rather than a final battle against another team of monotype monsters, Champion Blue has a balanced squad with the stronger starter in Pokemon‘s rock-paper-scissors type balance.

Subsequent Champions stand out for the ways in which they are tied to the place they call home. Gen 2’s Dragon-type expert Lance reclaims his position, and he spends time in Johto visiting his cousin Clair and clearing out members of Team Rocket. Gen 3’s Steven Stone focuses on Rock and Steel-types, fitting his interest in gem collecting as heir to the Devon Corporation. Gen 4’s Cynthia is deeply interested in mythology and archeology stemming from her upbringing in Celestic Town, and that worldly knowledge is reflected by her frequent appearance in Sinnoh and other regions. The list goes on.

Pokemon Sun and Moon mark the beginning of Game Freak’s experimentation with the series’ tropes, and this is most apparent through the lack of a traditional Pokemon League in Alola. Players partake in the Island Challenge instead, but it is revealed throughout the story that Professor Kukui hopes to establish the region’s League. Kukui (or rival Hau in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon) are the final roadblock to players being crowned Alola’s first Champion. From that point on, other NPCs challenge the player for dominance in a clever reversal.

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet’s Turn Toward ‘Champion Rank’ Trainers

Generation 8’s Pokemon Sword and Shield treat the returning Gym challenge like a sports league, concluding with an elimination-style tournament to face Champion Leon. Scarlet and Violet seem to be carrying that idea forward but with a potentially more academic setting that fits the player’s enrollment in either Naranja or Uva Academy.

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The Victory Road storyline sees players defeat eight Gym Leaders to become eligible for the “Champion Assessment,” according to Scarlet and Violet‘s website. There appears to be no singular Champion in Paldea; rather, anyone could complete this assessment at the Pokemon League headquarters to become a Champion Rank trainer – which is the goal set for players by their rival Nemona. Part of that process involves becoming more familiar with the region’s peoples and traditions, as every Gym has a corresponding Gym Test.

While no one Champion characterizes Paldea in the same manner as Cynthia, Iris, or Leon, the equivalent is Pokemon League chairwoman Geeta. Unlike Galar’s Chairman Rose in Sword and Shield, early marketing for Geeta says, “Among the region’s Champions, she reigns supreme as the most skilled Trainer of all.” Aspiring trainers are said to look up to Geeta, though Scarlet and Violet‘s website teases that she’s looking for young talents “capable of conquering the Pokemon League.”

How Scarlet and Violet can Play With a Region Full of Champions

It’s likely Geeta will serve as Pokemon Scarlet and Violet‘s final boss, but even this is questionable given the region’s open-world structure has multiple main storylines to complete. The head of Team Star’s multiple squads could be just as powerful from a gameplay perspective, as Game Freak will have to balance these titles for whatever order they’re tackled in.

However, even if Geeta serves as the “Champion” in a traditional sense, there’s plenty of fun to be had with the concept of Champion as a rank that multiple characters can hold. Perhaps the eight Gym Leaders are all Champion Rank trainers, explaining how they got their positions and why each Pokemon Gym level scales differently depending on their appearance. Scarlet and Violet could also take a page from fellow Switch releases Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Eevee! by introducing a new take on the “Master Trainers” who appeared after defeating Kanto’s Elite Four.

The rotating Champion battles from Sun and Moon could also make their return. Victory Road’s story could culminate in Geeta revealing her desire to pass the chairwoman title to a youngster ala Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in which case it becomes the player’s responsibility to run the Champion Assessment. Testing up-and-coming trainers and battling older Champion Rank holders who are vying for the region’s ultimate title could flesh out a post-game story that populates Paldea with powerful challenges without feeling contrived. Regardless of how it’s handled, a region full of “Champions” is one concept that seems worth exploring.

Pokemon Scarlet and Violet launch November 18, exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.

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