Pokemon Sword and Shield have been out for almost two years and the discussion on whether or not the protagonist is the rival has been a talking point since launch. For many players, the protagonist’s relationship with Hop, the game’s friendly rival, is the inverse of what the series has been known for leading up to Pokemon Sword and Shield. Instead of having a rival to be the foil for the protagonist, the protagonist ends up being the foil for Hop.
Throughout the game, Hop’s dream of catching up to his brother Leon, the undefeated Galar champion, is constantly challenged by one giant roadblock. No matter how much progress Hop makes in his Pokemon journey, how many badges he collects, or how many trainers he defeat, the protagonist continues to defeat Hop each and every time. There are other rivals who end up giving Hop a difficult time, much so to the point that Hop becomes an underdog. Being the “rival protagonist” in Pokemon Sword and Shield makes this Redditor’s accomplishment in beating the Pokemon League with Pokemon‘s most famous rival a coincidence.
Rather than being a simple rival to Hop in Pokemon Sword and Shield, one Redditor decided to embrace Gary Oak in all his glory. Redditor smithdoug21 recently posted an image of him beating the Pokemon League with a team based on Gary Oak’s team in the Pokemon anime, several of the Pokemon being shiny variants of their original counterparts. Gary Oak has historically been the rival to anime protagonist Ash Ketchum, always being several steps ahead of Ash. Perhaps the most well-known example of this was Gary leisurely showing off his ten gym badges, which was more than enough to enter the Pokemon league.
The attention to detail regarding Gary Oak’s party, reflecting on the relationship between Sword and Shield’s rivalry with Hop, can be considered ironic to some fans of the Pokemon anime. Oak never became a Pokemon champion as his dreams were ultimately crushed by Ash in the first round of the Johto League. Eventually, Oak becoming a Pokemon researcher, mirroring Hop’s eventual role as Sonia’s assistant post-game.
The Pokemon featured in the Gary Oak inspired team is a diverse range of Pokemon within Oak’s Pokemon collection, with several of his iconic Pokemon including Arcanine, Nidoking, and Blastoise, all of whom were part of Gary’s original roster. Scizor and Umbreon were Pokemon featured during his inclusion in the Johto region, the latter he’s had since it was an Eevee. His most recent Pokemon, Electrivire, was the last time Gary has made an official appearance. That, of course, can all change due to the new and current Pokemon anime series.
Pokemon Sword and Shield are currently available on the Switch.