Just picked up the latest Ichiban, which begins the 8 finalists' combats.

Apparently, after Brycen learnt about that the kidnapped Gymleaders are at somewhere dark and quiet, and that they have no recollection of their kidnapping made him get an idea where they might be. He heads off to find them.

Iris reveals that she has actually obtained the 8 Badges before she met Black at Icirrus (meaning she has been hiding her strength when she easily lost to Drayden?). Black is surprised to see Cheren, but they didn't get a chance to talk as the Announcer interrupted them. The finalists are sent into carts where they are randomly assigned to fight one another. The names of the unknown characters are also revealed.

Iris vs Zinzolin (who uses the name Grey)
Cheren vs the Pokemaniac kid (named Petashi - don't think it's an actual ingame character)
Marlon vs the hooded guy (actually named Hood Man)
Black vs Looker (who disguises his name as Handa Somrou, a play on his Japanese name Handsome)

The one who emerges victorious among the 8 will battle the Elite 4. Since Alder is missing, one will become the Champion simply by defeating the Elite 4.

This chapter features the battle between Black and Looker, with Tula vs Croagunk. Apparently, no one knows what kind of Pokemon Croagunk is because it is not an local Unova Pokemon. Black's Pokedex could not register it and he had to battle it to guess its typing. Although Croagunk gained the upperhand initially, Tula eventually managed to defeat it with its electric net.

Looker vanishes right away after he lost, and takes off his mask (which he calls Gadget number 13: Unbelievable Metamorphosis Set). He is contacted by his Headquarters, who say his disguise wasn't too good. The International Police keeps his eyes on the mysterious finalists, Petashi, the Hood Man, and especially Grey (Zinzolin), whom he is confident is one of the Seven Sages.