From Bulbapedia, the community-driven Pokémon encyclopedia.
- If you were looking for the NPC in the Pokémon games who assesses a Pokémon's IVs, see Stats judge.
A battle judge (Japanese: バトル審判 battle referee), also known as a referee, is a person who presides over the judgment of Pokémon battles between Trainers in official, designated challenges in the anime. They are identifiable by the Poké Ball symbol on their shirts.
A battle judge is responsible for determining whether or not a Pokémon is able to continue battling. They can be found in Pokémon League Conferences and several other Pokémon competitions featuring battles. They are in charge of officially beginning a match and upholding its rules, such as how many Pokémon a Trainer is allowed to use and if there are any substitution limitations.
Battle judges have to make it clear to all of the Trainers involved what the parameters of the match are. The terms for a win are also in their ruling, as in what is required for a Trainer to lose the match. In general practice, the default appears to be until all of the available Pokémon on one side have fainted.
Pokémon battles conducted at Gyms and Battle Frontier facilities are also observed by an appointed judge. These are, most of the time, a capable student, intern, assistant, or even a relative to the Gym Leader or Frontier Brain who assist in calling battles against the challenger. Robots can also referee battles, as seen in the Battle Palace, the Sunyshore Gym, and the Lumiose Gym.
The Sunyshore Gym referee
The calls made by a referee are official and determine the outcome of the battle. This is not the case in most Kanto Gyms, where there is no referee present to rule, except in the case of Agatha in the Viridian Gym, who allowed Scott to judge her match against Ash; the Gym Leaders primarily self-judged the match.
Gym Leaders themselves are qualified judges. Brock has provided judgment for many battles over the course of the series, Roark presided over an official Gym match between Byron and Ash, and Flannery's grandfather—the former Lavaridge Gym Leader—took up the position as the judge for Flannery's match against Ash.
According to Brock, there are not many judges capable of evaluating a battle at the level necessary for battles sanctioned by the Pokémon League. Max hints at the profession's prestige and esteem: given that so few are capable of judging a League battle, simply being able to is an honor.
In Alola's trials, the residing Island Kahuna typically watches over the Trainer's battle with the Totem Pokémon. During Ash's grand trials against Hala and Olivia, Professor Kukui has judged in the Kahuna's stead. In his grand trials against Nanu and Hapu, Acerola and Kiawe took on the role of referee, respectively. During the Manalo Conference, all four Kahunas serve as referees.
Judges are trained to critically evaluate the battlefield, which includes the Pokémon, the Trainers, and the field itself, if the terrain is not ordinary. They have to be able to recognize when a Pokémon has fainted and announce a winner through defeat, by determining all aspects of a Pokémon, including its type-cast and what a species as a whole is capable of.
The training a person must go through to become a judge was shown in Judgment Day!. In the Hoenn region, aspiring battle judges study at the Pokémon Battle Judge Training Institute located on Bomba Island, where Serena teaches and Jimmy studied.
Their ruling is usually absolute, so making the correct call is imperative to the eventual announcement of a match. A wrong call might lead to the questioning of a judge's abilities to referee, especially in a professional setting. According to Serena, a battle judge must have confidence that the decision and ruling they are making is correct, otherwise it leaves room for error.
Notable battle judges
- See also: List of Gym assistants
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