What is a Pokemon Master? At What Point Does a Pokemon Trainer Become a Master?

What is a pokemon master? The entire point of the Pokemon franchise is to become a Pokemon Master. The problem is, we still don’t know what that means. The creators of Pokemon Red & Green had no idea that these games would form the foundation of the biggest media franchise of all time.

This is why the original generation games are so bizarre, which led to designs being changed over time (like the controversial Jynx) and story elements being censored (like the drunk guy being changed to someone who needs their coffee).

The developers had no idea that that franchise was going to last this long. They even wanted Pokemon Gold & Silver to be the final entries in the series, before retooling them.

The developers had no idea Pokemon was going to last as long as it has, which is why several mysteries established in the early days of the franchise have gone unanswered. We still don’t know who Ash Ketchum’s father is after all of this time.

This could be the reason why we don’t know what it takes to become a Pokemon Master, even though it’s the whole point of the series.

Bulbapedia once reached out to Pokemon.com about this mystery, and it was told that the title was meant to be open to the interpretation of the player. One idea is that anyone who completes the Pokedex and becomes the Champion would earn the title of Pokemon Master, but the anime/games never outright say this.

Ash finally conquered a Pokemon League in Alola, and he still doesn’t consider him a Pokemon Master, so it’s clear that there is more to it.

The real reason why we don’t know the details about becoming a Pokemon Master is so that the franchise can keep going. The Pokemon Company is free to keep moving the goalposts, as establishing what a Pokemon Master is creates an end goal for the series.

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The Pokemon video games aren’t likely to end soon, so the ambiguous nature of the Pokemon Master title means that players are free to keep pursuing it for years to come.

what is a pokemon master

What Does It Mean To Be A Pokémon Master?

From the trading cards to video games to the show itself, collecting Pokémon has always been at the heart of the franchise. A trainer who has caught every Pokémon would have major bragging rights at the very least, considering the initial Pokémon count of 151 has ballooned to 898. Outside of the main series was Pokémon Origins, where the main protagonist Red — inspired by the original Pokémon games — worked to complete his Kanto Pokedex, even catching the Legendary Bird Trio and Mewtwo.

Although it is non-canon as far as the main series is concerned, it is the closest example to a trainer catching all of a region’s Pokémon, but was he considered a master?

Aside from catching Pokémon, trainers work with their companions to defeat other trainers, gym leaders and opponents. The world of Pokémon battling is very complex, with most trainers choosing to challenge gyms to test their strength.

Once a trainer has collected all of a specific region’s Gym Badges, they can enter a tournament to compete against others who have accomplished the same feat.

Pokémon Champions Aren’t Masters

When looking to characters in the franchise who could hold the title of Pokémon Master, there are more than a few who spring to mind. Cynthia is the Champion in the Sinnoh Region, hailed as one of the most powerful trainers in the Pokémon canon with her infamous Garchomp.

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A trainer must collect eight Gym Badges, win the 64-person Sinnoh League Championships, and then defeat the Elite Four to challenge her.

Leon of the Galar Region currently holds the title of Pokémon Monarch. Introduced in Pokémon Journeys, the World Coronation Series allows over 10,000 participants from the entire world to battle each other, with the eventual top eight trainers competing in a final tournament.

Leon, the reigning champion, is officially acknowledged as the strongest Pokémon trainer in the world as a result of winning this tournament. So, it sounds reasonable enough to say that the world’s best trainer is a Pokémon Master — right?

Will Ash Ever Become a Pokemon Master?

Despite winning the Alola League Championships and becoming the region’s first-ever Champion, Ash does not consider himself a Pokémon Master. He is currently competing in the World Coronation Series — ranking in the Top 99 at the time of this article — in the hopes of challenging Leon, the reigning Monarch.

Although, Ash himself has stated that winning this tournament would still only be a step toward becoming a Pokémon Master.

If becoming the strongest trainer in the world does not make him a Pokemon Master, what will? Ash does not actively seek to complete his Pokedex either, making it unclear what his goal actually is.

The Pokémon Company itself declined to clarify what makes someone a Pokémon Master, opting to leave it up to interpretation. A term seldom used by anyone other than Ash, it’s possible that even he hasn’t decided what it means just yet.

what is a pokemon master

Beating Pokemon Master Trainer Is Surprisingly Tough

Unfortunately, players revisiting the game will quickly unearth Pokemon Master Trainer’s many flaws. For one, dice control everything. Wild Pokemon have three, two, or one die numbers on their chips, and players must match one of them to catch the Pokemon. Poke Ball items are declared before rolling, but it’s unclear what to do with them if a player’s base roll succeeds.

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Item cards are abundant, and they can be anything from the vitally important Attack Bonus cards, to the infuriating Time Machine, which allows one roll by anyone to be re-rolled at the owner’s discretion. Event cards may be even more dangerous, with players having a chance to catch a legendary, gain a free Pokemon, draw multiple items, or force a trade without another player’s input.

Movement rolls are also absolute unless a player interacts with another trainer or reaches Cinnabar Island.

Cinnabar is now the gateway to the Indigo Plateau, and the rules are contradictory as to whether players who accumulate 20 Power Points are forced into Cinnabar or get the option to warp there.

This starts the infamous endgame of Pokemon Master Trainer, in which players circle a compact version of the board. They collect resources and challenge Master Trainers until their conscious Pokemon have less than twenty combined Power Points, and then are dumped back on Cinnabar.

Healing is very limited, and the best chances for matching the unfairly strong Master Trainers are found in Evolution Bonuses rather than legendary Pokemon. It’s not guaranteed that one player will be able to catch a full evolutionary line, so success depends entirely on luck.

Pokemon Master Trainer is a unique and potentially fun party game, but it’s best to use house rules to keep it fun.

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