Cheer Pressure (プラスルとマイナン！応援の道！？ Plusle and Minun! Cheerleading Road!?) is the 12th episode of Pokémon: Advanced Challenge.
The heroes encounter Thatcher, the boy they helped at the lighthouse, who joined a band of cheerleaders, named Pep Squad. Team Rocket decides to ally themselves with the Pep Squad's leader, Sheridan, who gives them an advantage during their battle with Ash and Brock. However, Max starts having suspicions and goes to check out what is coming from the drums the squad is playing.
May looks at her ribbon and starts jumping out of excitement. Brock tells Max sometimes they should let May gloat a little. Ash is determined and chooses a path to Lavaridge Town. Max wonders where he is going, when the direction he was going to was wrong one. As they are going on the road, they hear drums being played. They come to a place, seeing some sort of an event A kid arrives to them and greets the heroes, wanting them to remember him. Ash realizes this is Thatcher, Alyssa's brother, who believed Ash was a hero from the story. Thatcher calls Plusle and Minun, who run to him and start playing with Ash's Pikachu. Ash wonders why is Thatcher doing in the town, so Thatcher explains he joined the Pep Squad. When Thatcher went to become a Pokémon trainer, he trained Plusle and Minun. A man appeared before him, named Sheridan, a teacher for school in which they train squads, who practice cheering. Thatcher was lucky enough to be accepted and he is learning to become a cheering master.
Team Rocket spies on their enemies and Meowth believes cheerleading is bad. Jessie and James explain it is not true, since James was in a cheerleading squad. This makes Meowth believe they need a cheering squad of their own. Max thinks that Helping Hand would be illegal in battles, so he asks Brock for advice, but Brock is flirting with girls. Brock tries to impress them he was also a cheering squad member before being pulled by Max. Thatcher believes that cheering will improve the Pokémon's efficiency, thinking nothing is wrong with it. Team Rocket, in disguise, come to the cheerleading teacher, Sheridan, and demand to be supported by cheerleaders during their battle. Sheridan promises to offer his abilities, to help the underdogs. Team Rocket ask to battle the trainers (the twerps), so Sheridan promises he will assist them, after he gets paid. A woman arrives to the heroes and asks them to battle some new students, to which Ash and Brock agree to. The heroes arrive to the battlefield and Thatcher introduces them to Sheridan. Sheridan reminds them the Pep Squad is here to cheer Pokémon during the battle. Team Rocket arrives as well, surprised they won't battle Ash first. James goes to say his name, but Jessie stomps on his foot, causing James to say his name is "Jamester".
Jamester sends Cacnea (who hugs the former), while Brock his Forretress. Cacnea uses Pin Missile, but the attack is deflected by Forretress' Rapid Spin. The latter uses Tackle, knocking Cacnea out. Ash and Max think Cacnea's defeated, but the Squad begins to cheer for Cacnea. Sheridan whispers "Helping Hand" through his microphone and Max sees something coming from the drums. Cacnea stands up and uses Needle Arm, damaging Forretress and surprising the heroes. Cacnea uses Sandstorm, followed by Pin Missile. Forretress uses Rapid Spin, but fails to deflect the attack, as the move was more improved and gets defeated. Jamester wins the battle, causing Cacnea to hug him. The heroes are disappointed that Brock lost as Max is suspicious of how this battle went out, but Ash goes with Pikachu to battle. Jessie plans that once Pikachu is exhausted, they will swoop in and take him away, else Sheridan will not receive his money. Max goes to check out the drums and sees the uniforms, worn by the Squad.
Next is Jessie (disguised as Jessica) against Ash. Jessica sends Seviper and Ash with Pikachu. Jessie planned once Pikachu is defeated, James and Meowth will take him using a new robot. However, being distracted, Jessie sees Pikachu using Thunderbolt, then Quick Attack to hit Seviper. Jessica is startled because she wasn't ready yet, while Pikachu uses Iron Tail, knocking Seviper out. Max sees the cheer squad from a closer distance. Pikachu uses Thunderbolt, hitting Seviper and paralyzing it. Jessie demands some support, though Sheridan reminds her the cheering starts when the loser starts thinking how to win. Sheridan and his Squad start cheering on. Sheridan whispers "Aromatherapy", so Max overhears that word, seeing that move cures a Pokémon from paralysis. Inside the drums, Vileplume and Roselia use Aromatherapy to heal Seviper's status condition. Brock is surprised how Seviper recovered so fast, but Thatcher believes that is the power of cheering. Max, however, wonders from where the move was used.
Sheridan whispers "Helping Hand", so inside the drum are Makuhita and Shroomish, who use Helping Hand to power up Seviper. Max realizes this isn't cheering, but using Pokémon moves to power other Pokémon. Seviper uses Poison Tail, damaging Pikachu. The latter retaliates using Thunderbolt, hurting Seviper. Vileplume and Roselia (inside the drum) use Aromatherapy to recover Seviper from paralysis. Pikachu repeats his attack once more, but so does Sheridan's Pokémon. After a lot of turns, Pikachu is getting too tired from attacking. Sheridan claims the power of cheering allows the Pokémon to recover using no moves at all. Max sneaks up on Sheridan, promising to expose the truth. Powered by Helping Hand, Seviper wounds Pikachu with Poison Tail. This makes Thatcher wonder if Ash could even stand up to the power of cheering, thinking he should quit the battle. Seviper uses Wrap, binding Pikachu. Sheridan whispers to use Helping Hand, but Max pushes the drums, which land on the battlefield. The drums are damaged so Roselia, Makuhita, Vileplume and Shroomish are revealed to have been inside the whole time. Max points out these Pokémon used moves to make it look like the Pokémon were revitalized which was against the rules according to May. Everyone is mad at Sheridan for pulling this scheme, so he escapes.
Seviper uses Wrap to attack Pikachu, though Ash reminds Pikachu their friendship will prevail over this fake cheering. Seviper uses Haze to dim Ash's vision. Nevertheless, Pikachu uses Thunder, defeating Seviper. Jessie is not certain if that fake cheering or the claim about friendship is worse. Still, Team Rocket takes their disguises off. Jessie wonders where is the robot they should have built, but Meowth replies they paid for cheerleading. James reminds them that Pikachu is worn out and they can capture him. They use a robot arm to grab their enemy. Ash orders Pikachu to use Thunderbolt, but Pikachu is worn out from the last battle and is unable to. Thatcher's Plusle and Minun use Helping Hand, powering Pikachu up. Pikachu uses Thunder, freeing himself. The Thunder goes into the sky and back to Team Rocket, negating their electric-proof balloon and blasting them off.
Thatcher realizes that one's own power is greater than someone else's. Thatcher wishes to become strong as Ash by traveling with his Pokémon. The Squad agrees with Thatcher and will make a new start; Brock goes with flirting routine, but Max pulls his ear away. Thatcher claims Ash will always be his master, flattering Ash, who reminds Thatcher to never quit. The heroes wave goodbye to Thatcher and the squad, then leave to Lavaridge Town.
- Featured Pokémon: Shiftry, Taillow, Swampert, Torkoal.
- Near the beginning of the episode, the classic Pokémon identification from previous seasons is shown. The Pokémon featured was Jigglypuff.
- Kayzie Rogers stands in as the voice of Thatcher, which includes redubbing his flashback scenes.
- When the episode name is announced, the location where Ash and co. are was wrong the entire time - before it seemed they were going in north-western town - Lavaridge Town - but in this episode the location was moved, so in this episode they are traveling from Fallarbor to Lavaridge Town, which is correct.
- The Pokémon Trainer's Choice states that Torkoal would be a good match up against Shiftry. Despite this being true, another Pokémon, Taillow, which is seen with the others choices, would also be a good choice do its Grass types. -type moves being super effective to
- When Thatcher runs up to Ash and the gang upon recognizing them, Ash's z's in his face are missing.
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