Kukui used Empoleon in his water currents research by having it explore the sea.
During the exhibiton match at the Pokémon League, with his Vensuaur fainted, Kukui sent Empoleon against Ash's Pikachu. Pikachu used Electroweb to trap Empoleon, who used Metal Claw to prevent the attack. It continued to clash with Pikachu's Iron Tail before charging with Drill Peck. While Pikachu prevented the attack with Electroweb, it got engulfed with Whirlpool. Since Pikachu became dizzy, Ash swapped him with Melmetal. Empoleon fired Hydro Pump, which Melmetal countered by spinning around. The latter retaliated with Flash Cannon, a move that Empoleon blocked using its claws. Since Melmetal was too heavy to be lifted by Whirlpool, Melmetal used Double Iron Bash. The attacks slammed the defeated Empoleon onto Kukui, who was bashed into the wall.