|The Fiery Road to Mastership!
VS Shirona! Iris's Road to Dragon Master!!
||July 15, 2022
||February 24, 2023
The Fiery Road to Mastership! (Japanese: VSシロナ！アイリスドラゴンマスターへの道！！ VS Shirona! Iris's Road to Dragon Master!!) is the 117th episode of Pokémon Journeys: The Series, and the 1,202nd episode of the Pokémon anime. It first aired in Japan on July 15, 2022, in Canada on December 10, 2022, in the United Kingdom on January 20, 2023, in South Africa on January 31, 2023, and in the United States on February 24, 2023.
The third match of the Masters Eight Tournament is Sinnoh Champion Cynthia versus Unova Champion Iris. They already know each other well—Cynthia has been a helpful mentor to Iris for some time. The first win goes to Iris and Excadrill, using a powerful Horn Drill move on Cynthia’s Gastrodon. That’s followed by a victory for Cynthia’s Milotic, giving both sides one loss! Iris brings out Dragonite, who is defeated, so she calls on Haxorus, who eliminates Milotic. That leaves both sides with one Pokémon each! The last bout is Garchomp versus Haxorus, and the Dragon-type matchup is ferocious. But Mega Garchomp proves too much for Haxorus, and Cynthia wins!
The entire Wyndon Stadium is eagerly awaiting the start of the third battle of the Pokémon World Coronation Series Masters Eight Tournament, which is going to be a match between Unova Champion Iris and Sinnoh Champion Cynthia. In the audience, Hop learns from Goh that not only has Ash traveled together with Iris, but he is also well acquainted with Cynthia, leaving Hop baffled at how many Champion connections Ash has. Meanwhile, Team Rocket, while taking a forced break of their broadcast due to their Rotom Phone falling asleep, recognizes the fancily dressed Iris as the "Unova twerpette". Backstage, Diantha and Alain express their surprise at seeing Iris use an Excadrill, despite her being a Dragon user, while Steven notes that Iris has trained with Cynthia, meaning that both sides know what they're up against.
At Dan's signal, the battle begins. Cynthia makes the first move by having her Gastrodon use Rain Dance to summon a rainstorm. Excadrill dashes through the rain with Metal Claw, but Gastrodon takes the hit without effort. Cynthia acknowledges Iris's improvement, while Iris thanks Cynthia for the advice she gave her the last time they battled, which helped her grow and become Unova's Champion, and now, she intends to beat Cynthia while bearing that title. Gastrodon attacks with Muddy Water, which causes Excadrill's Focus Blast to fail and deals a heavy blow on him. Cynthia makes it clear that on this stage, both of them are just Pokémon Trainers aiming for the top, and she intends to defeat Iris to test her own potential and move forward. Iris has Excadrill use Drill Run, but Gastrodon's Acid Armor boosts its Defense so that the blow barely fazes it before it uses rain-boosted Muddy Water again. Caught in the middle of the vicious attack, Excadrill's situation is looking dire, so Iris decides to put all of her faith in one attack and orders a Horn Drill. The move connects, dealing a one-hit knockout and defeating Gastrodon just as the rain fades away. Further away, Team Rocket tries to take credit of Iris's success by saying it's her training with them that made her strong.
After recalling Gastrodon, Cynthia calls out Milotic as her second Pokémon. Iris orders a Drill Run, but Milotic effortlessly avoids it and strikes back with Hydro Pump, defeating Excadrill. For her own second Pokémon, Iris chooses Dragonite, whom Cynthia is happy to see again. Dragonite connects with a Thunder Punch to deal super effective damage. Milotic endures the hit and retaliates with Disarming Voice, a Fairy move that causes Dragonite to stumble. While Dragonite is disoriented, Milotic wraps its body around him and uses Iron Head, defeating him and leaving Iris with just one Pokémon. For her final Pokémon, Iris calls out her ace and the Pokémon that won her her Champion title, Haxorus. Milotic uses Disarming Voice again, but Haxorus breaks it apart with Psycho Cut. A Hydro Pump from Milotic, in turn, is countered by a Breaking Swipe, which also makes contact with Milotic itself, sending it flying and taking it out of the fight.
Unconcerned, Cynthia calls forth her own ace and the Pokémon that has won countless battles, Garchomp. She orders a Draco Meteor, which Iris responds to by ordering an Outrage. Powered by his attack, Haxorus cleaves his way through the meteor shower and exchanges some blows with Garchomp before the side effect of Outrage leaves him confused. Iris is prepared for this, however, and Haxorus quickly breaks out of the confusion by hitting his head on the ground. Impressed by Iris's performance, Cynthia pulls out a lipstick and reveals a Key Stone embedded in it, Mega Evolving her partner. In the locker room, Alain acknowledges that, despite this power-up, Haxorus also has a lot of potential, so the match could still go either way.
Mega Garchomp attacks with Dragon Claw, which Haxorus meets with a series of Psycho Cuts. Using this strategy, Iris has Garchomp lured into close-range combat, before unleashing a point-blank Dragon Pulse at her foe, scoring a direct hit. Feeling that the next hit will decide the match, Iris communicates with Haxorus on a spiritual level and asks him to put everything into his next attack. Cynthia, likewise, decides to finish the match with her next attack and orders a Draco Meteor. As the meteors start raining down again, Haxorus fires a Dragon Pulse, which splits up and starts taking down the falling rocks. Unfortunately, the meteors are too large in numbers, and many of them still hit the ground, creating a big cloud of dust. When the cloud clears, both Dragon Pokémon stare down at each other, until Haxorus falls down in defeat. Dan rules Haxorus unable to battle and declares Cynthia the winner. Both Trainers thank their respective partners and each other for an unforgettable battle. While Cynthia's advancement into the semifinals is made official, Ash silently leaves his seat.
Backstage, Ash meets Iris as she walks down the corridor. Iris tries to maintain a cheerful facade and compliment Cynthia's skills, but ends up breaking into tears as Goh arrives by Ash's side. After crying for a moment, Iris wipes the tears from her eyes and says she'll join Goh in rooting for Ash, with Goh being happy to accept her company. Thanking his friends for their support, Ash heads to the battlefield to start his match against Steven, wearing his Z-Power Ring, Dynamax Band, and Mega Glove.
- For a list of all major events in the anime, please see the history page.
The "After the story" artwork for this episode
- Get Inspired! Let's Solve a Poké Riddle!!: Excadrill
- This episode marks the first physical appearance of several human characters in the anime after long absences:
- Reggie, whose last appearance was in Battling a Thaw in Relations!, 548 episodes earlier.
- Georgia and Alder, whose last main series appearance was in Goodbye, Junior Cup—Hello, Adventure!, 452 episodes earlier.
- Trip, whose last main series appearance was in Mission: Defeat Your Rival!, 441 episodes earlier.
- Bianca and Stephan, whose last main series appearance was in A Unova League Evolution!, 437 episodes earlier.
- This episode also marks the final appearance of the aforementioned characters (except for Reggie), as well as Volkner, Flint, and Drayden.
- As of this episode, all of Ash's main rivals have appeared during Pokémon Journeys: The Series.
- In addition, as of this episode, every regional Champion, current or former, has appeared during this series as well.
- Iris and Cynthia's battle in All for the Love of Meloetta! is featured as a flashback, having been redrawn to match the style introduced in Pokémon Journeys: The Series.
- This episode marks the first time at least one of Cynthia's Pokémon is defeated in an onscreen battle.
- Iris's line after Dragonite is defeated is a direct quote of what she says during battles in the Generation V games.
- Shinji Miyazaki's music from Pokémon the Series: Black & White and Pokémon the Series: XY is reused as background music in this episode.
- During the episode, Morpeko is occasionally seen eating food items related to various characters or elements in the episode by the regions they were introduced in: Casteliacones come from Unova, as does Iris; Old Gateau was introduced in Sinnoh, just like Cynthia; and both Shalour Sables and Mega Evolution originate from Kalos.
- The Dare da? segment is replaced with eyecatches of Ash, Goh, and Pikachu for this episode.
- James, Meowth, Jessie, and Wobbuffet narrate the preview for the next episode.
- The Japanese title for this episode refers to the title for the second special episode of Pokémon the Series: Black & White.
- In the first scene he appears in, Alain has two right hands.
- When Jessie, James, and Meowth recognize Iris, Wobbuffet also responds despite not having met her due to being absent from Jessie's party during Pokémon the Series: Black & White.
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