Basking in the glow of his eighth Unova Gym badge win and guaranteed entry into the Unova League, Ash soon discovers that it won’t be taking place for three months! But our hero is determined to make the best of his time until then with lots of serious training—starting right after they try Virbank City’s famous Bearticone, at Cilan’s recommendation.
In line for the frozen treat, Ash spots a familiar face: it’s Cynthia, the Champion of the Sinnoh region! She’s been invited to participate in an exhibition match at the upcoming Pokémon World Tournament Junior Cup in eastern Unova, and Ash, Iris, and Cilan decide they want to compete as well.
Meanwhile, Team Rocket has been tracking Meloetta, the Mythical Pokémon that has been secretly following Ash ever since he rescued it at Pokéstar Studios. The villains try to capture Meloetta, injuring it in the process, but it manages to escape without a trace until our heroes and Cynthia find it and nurse it back to health. Meloetta shows its gratitude with a beautiful song before vanishing again.
Once Meloetta is safe, Iris finally overcomes her shyness to challenge Cynthia to a battle! Iris has heard about the Champion’s powerful Garchomp, and because she and Axew rarely meet another Dragon-type Trainer, it’s an exciting opportunity. Cynthia agrees, and though Axew is outmatched very quickly, it does learn how to use Giga Impact in the heat of battle!
It’s time to board the seaplane with Cynthia, and our heroes are unaware that they’re under observation by Team Rocket—and Meowth has spotted Meloetta following Ash onto the plane. Team Rocket quickly makes plans to intercept Ash and the others in Undella Town, and Cynthia tells Ash an old friend is waiting for him there as well. And sure enough, as the plane descends, Dawn and Piplup are there to meet it!