Not even Psychic-type Pokémon could have predicted how 2020 would go, but still another year draws to a close which means New Year’s Eve celebrations are upon us. You can’t have a New Year Celebration without fireworks, but they pale in comparison to the firepower in the Pokémon world. Significantly rarer than the other starter Pokémon types Grass and Water, that hasn’t stopped these five Fire-type Pokémon experts from raising them and achieving great feats. Fire-types have also frequently been fan favorites, so let’s see which trainers who have mastered their strengths stand out above the rest?
Flint was a Fire-type Elite Four member officially introduced in Diamond and Pearl, but most fans would argue his true introduction as a type specialist came in Platinum. Due to the limitations of the original Sinnoh Pokédex, Flint’s team of five only had two Fire-type Pokémon: Rapidash and Infernape. This was rectified in Platinum with the additions of Flareon, Houndoom, and Magmortar, who all featured with their counterparts Jolteon, Luxray, and Electivire in a postgame multi battle alongside his friend and Sunyshore Gym Leader Volkner.
Few trainers more accurately reflect the ups and downs of a career in Pokémon as Kabu. He’s been around the block for decades, being the second oldest Galarian gym leader behind Opal. According to his Trainer Card, Kabu came close to becoming Champion and also at one point suffering relegation from the top flight of the Galar Gym Circuit. His ace Pokemon Gigantamax Centiskorch is an accurate reflection of his burning ambitions, and it’s no wonder Kabu is considered the “first real hurdle” in the gym challenge of Pokemon Sword and Shield according to NPCs.
The first and only Elite Four member to this date in the games to be officially associated with an evil team, Malva has made a lasting impression even in the often critiqued X and Y games. Malva’s first appearance is through the Holo Caster following Team Flare’s failed takeover of the Poke Ball Factory in Laverre City. Malva is also the Elite Four member who greets challengers to the Kalos Pokemon League. While she originally hates the challengers and takes some pride in her affiliation to Team Flare, she ends up turning against them both in the games and in the anime.
The only Fire-type specialist to become a traveling companion of Ash, Kiawe made a strong impression in both the Anime and the Games. When he was first introduced in the months prior to Sun and Moon’s launch, it appeared his trial would be a serious and challenging one. This was true only in the Totem Battle, where Salazzle would be a challenge if you did not have a Ground-type and Alolan Marowak is no slouch either in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. But he shocked everyone with how goofy his trial really was with help from Hiker David. Kiawe was a great companion and friendly rival for Ash in the anime as well, reaching the semifinals of the inaugural Alola League prior to losing to Gladion.
Flannery takes the top spot for being a reminder of an evergreen piece of advice: “to thine own self be true.” She also deserves recognition as a Fire-type Expert because her initial battle is the toughest for trainers who have an advantageous type matchup in Water, Ground, or Rock types. Many Hoenn trainers chose Mudkip as their starter, but even Marshtomp struggles to take a full-powered Overheat from Torkoal in the sun. Ground types do not resist Fire and Rock types such as Geodude also have low special defense stats, so it takes more than a type advantage to overcome Flannery. Despite being a relatively new gym leader, Flannery finds her true personality in both the games and the anime through battling either Brendan, May, or Ash respectively. It’s great to see these human aspects and character development in a gym leader.
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