The smoke finally clears at the Terracotta Town Pokémon Contest, and the winner is revealed—it is a tie between May and Ash! Both are declared the winner with only one prize medal between the two, so Sceptile cuts it neatly in half. That night, during dinner, May announces her intention to go to Johto and compete in Pokémon Contests. She doesn't want Max to come, though, because she'd depend on her brother too much. Max is sad, but Ash cheers him up by promising to battle some day.
Max and May board a ship headed to Hoenn and wave goodbye until the ship is out of view. Ash and Brock also separate, with Ash rushing home to eat. Team Rocket watches the two boys, but they are too demoralized to do anything. They psych themselves up just in time to catch an Electivire in a net. Ash runs over to help the Electric-type Pokémon, but Gary shows up and orders it to escape with Iron Tail. Gary sends the thieves blasting off, and though Ash wants to battle, Gary would just rather go back to Professor Oak's lab. Ash then heads home.
Back at the Ketchum household no one is there to greet Ash, so he goes to Oak's lab instead. It seems quiet there, until everyone jumps out to surprise him. Ash gives his Battle Frontier symbols to his mom Delia to keep, and challenges Gary to a battle. Outside, Electivire and Pikachu face off with similar move sets, until Electivire manages to knock out Pikachu with a Protect and ThunderPunch combo. Gary then leaves, returning to Sinnoh. Ash decides he wants to go to Sinnoh as well. That night, Delia makes Ash some new clothes, and the next morning he leaves with just Pikachu at his side. However, Ash's Aipom sneaks on board the boat to Sinnoh and meets up with him. Unknown to any of them, Team Rocket has stowed away as well.