A Pokémon Champion is a Trainer who has beaten a region's Gym Leaders (in Alola's case, all 7 trials and totem Pokémon), Elite Four, and the previous Champion. By being the Pokémon Champion, one can become the most famous face in Trainer history. The known Champions are Ash Ketchum, Red, Blue, Trace, Lance, Steven Stone, Wallace, Cynthia, Alder, Iris, Diantha, the Sun/Moon protagonists, Mustard and Leon. They all have the most powerful team of that particular region pre-Hall of Fame. Being a Champion may also be the starting point to becoming a Pokémon Master. Pokémon Champions have strong Pokémon and are stronger than most trainers and Gym Leaders. Once the player character defeats the Champion, the player character is recognized as the champion, although in the games the player character declines the position and allows the previous Champion to reclaim their spot.
Starting in Generation VII, the player, as Champion, can defend the title against challengers.
Champion is a Trainer class that first debuted in the Generation I games. It is the title held by the Trainer who last defeated the Elite Four and the previous Pokémon Champion. Each Champion is always stronger than the Elite Four members and most other Trainers, and has a party of six Pokémon to test their opponents' strength. Like Elite Four members, they employ the use of strong healing items. To challenge the Champion, Trainers must defeat all four Elite Four members without leaving the Pokémon League area, and cannot access the Pokémon League Pokémon Center and Poké Mart until after defeating the Champion or losing at any point during the challenge. If a challenger is defeated by the Champion, just like the Elite Four, they must start over.
Since in every core series game the player goes on to defeat the standing Champion (except in Alola, in which case there is no current Champion and the player battles Professor Kukui/Hau instead), every player character is considered a Champion and subsequently entered into the Hall of Fame, along with the player's party. However, for players in games other than Sun, Moon, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, becoming the Champion is mostly a symbolic honor, as they are unable to battle challengers or take up any other league duties; the former Champion will still remain at the Pokémon League, retaining the Trainer class Champion (in Generations I and III, Blue clearly stated his reign was over; in the Delta Episode, Zinnia teases Steven that he is the former Champion). In games prior to Sun and Moon, the player may battle the Elite Four and the former Champion as many times as they like, and on each success will be re-entered into the Hall of Fame with whatever team was used in that challenge. In Alola, the player can instead battle the Elite Four and then take on a challenger, being able to do this as many times as they would like
In Black and White, Cynthia tells the player that once every few years, the Champions from all the regions come together and battle to find the strongest among them. At the Pokémon World Tournament in Black 2 and White 2, which takes place 2 years later, all the Champions from previous generations participate in the Champions Tournament. This tournament does not include player characters, with the exception of Red.
In Sun, Moon, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, the Pokémon League of Alola, having just been established, has no Champion. Instead, Professor Kukui (the league's founder) or Hau (the player's rival), stands in as the final obstacle the player must overcome before becoming the league's first Champion. In another first for the series, the player can defend their title against challenges from non-player characters. The player keeps the nominal title of Champion even if defeated. Similarly, in Lets Go, Pikachu! and Lets Go. Eevee!, Trace is the Champion of the Indigo League at first, but loses his title to the player. After defeating Lance in a rematch, Trace will challenge the player as a normal Pokémon Trainer in an attempt to retake the title. In Sword and Shield, the player character can defend their title in post-game Champion tournaments, with one of the possible challengers being Leon, attempting to reclaim his title.
In Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee!, Professor Oak reveals that originally, Trainers who defeated the Elite Four were recorded as Champions, but now Champions were going to be established as a part of the Pokémon League challenge, meaning that now a Trainer can only become a Champion by defeating the Elite Four and the current Champion.
In the Pokémon anime, there can only be one Pokémon Champion per region at a time, except for the Orange League. While Pokémon Trainers can freely request an informal battle from the Champion, much more popular events are the Pokémon League Conferences, which can normally be entered by Trainers with at least eight Gym Badges. The winner of these tournaments may enter the Champion League to face off the regional Elite Four members and, if successful, the League Champion.
In Alola, due to the Pokémon League being a new establishment, there is no reigning Champion for the majority of the Sun and Moon series and the winner of the region's first League Conference will directly become the first Champion of Alola. In addition, due to the lack of Gyms in Alola, any willing Trainer is allowed to participate in its League Conference.
The newly-crowned Champion subsequently faced the League's founder, Professor Kukui (originally intended to appear as the Masked Royal), in an exhibition match. Ash Ketchum was the trainer who won the Pokémon League Conference and eventually became the first Pokémon Champion of the Alola region.
In the Orange League, Trainers who defeat the Orange Crew Supreme Gym Leader attain the title of Champion, but the Supreme Gym Leader is not displaced upon defeat. Winning Trainers earn the Winner's Trophy and are inducted into the Palace of Victory, but do not have to carry out any specific tasks as Champions.
In addition to gathering eight Gym Badges, the Indigo Plateau Conference is known to accept Trainers passing the Pokémon League Admissions Exam and those graduating from Pokémon Tech. There are also smaller tournaments, such as the Pokémon World Tournament Junior Cup, where the winner gets to battle the League Champion straight away. Trip and Magnus were allowed to battle Alder and Diantha, respectively, by winning such competitions.
There is a larger tournament called the World Coronation Series, where many Pokémon Trainers, including Gym Leaders and Pokémon Champions compete. There is a special ranking system that based on the trainers' skilled and performances. Trainers, battle against each other to climb through the ranks, and the Top 8 Trainers in the "Master Class" will compete in a final tournament, where the winner will be declared the strongest trainer in the world and will be crown as the "World Monarch" as well. The current "World Monarch" is Leon, who is the Pokémon Champion of the Galar region. In Pokémon Journeys: The Series, several Champions from different regions participate in the World Coronation Series to achieve the title of Monarch. Although they still maintain their title of Champion, they start at the lowest rankings like any participant and need to rank up within the parameters of the competition. Even if a Pokémon Champion loses an official World Coronation series battle to another trainer, they still maintain their title of Champion as the World Coronation Series won't have any affect on a Champion's title status as it only have the title Monarch in the competition.
|Blue||Mix||Kanto (Formerly, now the Virdian Gym leader)|
|Red||Mix||Kanto (I, II, III, IV)|
|Lance||Dragon||Johto (II and IV)|
|Steven Stone/Wallace||Steel (Steven)
|Ash Ketchum||Mix||Orange Islands|
- The majority of the Pokémon Champions have a mixture of Pokémon types for their respective teams, excluding Lance, Steven, Wallace and Iris. For those who do specialize in a single type, Dragon is most common. Iris is the only female Champion who specializes in a single type.
- Blue is the rival of the Generation I games and Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen and Trace is the rival of Pokémon: Let's Go, Pikachu! and Let's Go, Eevee! as such are the only Champions that can be named by the player character; Blue and Trace are the default names.
- Alder didn't achieve the rank as 'Champion', but was asked by the Unova Elite Four to take the position but later left the position sometime between Black/White and Black 2/White 2 after being defeated by Iris.
- Lance is the only Champion who is a member of the Elite Four in the previous generation and Blue is the only Champion who became a Gym Leader in a later Generation. Two Gym Leaders later became champions though, Wallace and Iris.
- Most Champions have one Pseudo-Legendary Pokémon in their team.
- During Pokémon Black and White, before the player character has the chance to face Alder, N defeats Alder and the player character does not fight him, instead heading to face N in his castle, however during the battle N is not classified as the champion.
- In Sun and Moon, Professor Kukui doesn't count as a Champion, despite being the final challenger after the Elite Four is defeated.
- The Sun and Moon protagonists are the first ever champions that can defend their title against many challengers.
- Ash Ketchum is the only trainer to be champion in two regions, Orange Islands and Alola.
- Leon's mentor, Mustard, was the Galar region's Champion preceding Leon himself. Peony was also once the Champion before his brother Rose became the chairman.