Not an excuse, the writers imply it well enough that Ash trains off-screen.
Originally Posted by HatersGonnaHate
Anyone who can't see that the writers did in fact portray Leavanny and Palpitoad as capable Pokemon here are just overreacting. Palpitoad and Zebstrika ended in a draw, Leavanny did the most damage against Sawk, you don't need to win to be known as a "competitor" it's how you battle is what determines how good you are.
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