Given that the series never lets Ash win a league, how would you handle the loss such that there is minimal salt?
So far we've had:
Team Rocket damaging Ash before his fight with Ritchie, thus nerfing him severely (Kanto)
Some guy introduced shortly before the League, whose main purpose relative to the show is to make Ash lose (Johto - Harrison, Hoenn - Tyson, Sinnoh - Tobias,
Unova - Cameron)
To expand on some of these:
Tobias's appearance with Darkrai essentially made it so that we would know Ash will lose beforehand but they made his loss more of going down in a blaze of glory
Cameron was a guy who failed to even do the basics in Pokemon yet still beat Ash
And now we have a character who has been previously introduced to us and built up who defeats Ash (Kalos - Alain) in a battle which could have gone any way, unlike the others where it was somewhat foreshadowed that he wouldn't win simply based on the timing of the battle (Top 8 vs Finals).
Also, prior to Ash's loss against Sawyer, it was a proposed idea that Ash would lose to Sawyer at the league given him curbstomping Sawyer all the time until his loss.
Given that a loss will always make people salty, which one of the losses generated the least salt, and how would you, if you are a writer, handle an "Ash lose the league" situation?