With an overpowered Skarmory, 1,786 attempts, and a dream, this streamer was able to beat one of the hardest Pokemon challenges ever made

A Skarmory seen in flight in the Pokemon anime.
(Image credit: The Pokemon Company)

There are some seriously difficult Pokemon challenges out there, and one streamer has managed to overcome what's debatably the hardest of them all – a Kaizo Ironmon run – after a whopping 1,786 attempts. 

The rules of the Kaizo Ironmon challenge are far from straightforward – there's an enormous list of different conditions that you must adhere to if you want to take it on properly. For a start, you can only use one Pokemon, and if it gets knocked out in battle, you lose and have to restart the run. 

What's more, you can't fight wild Pokemon to grow stronger, and with a few exceptions you can't teach your Pokemon new moves via Technical Machines, so your opportunities to build an unstoppable force of a Pokemon are limited, to say the least. Oh, and all Pokemon – including those on opponents' teams – are randomised, along with their movesets, abilities and base stats. 

Streamer Smallant took on this brutal challenge in Pokemon FireRed, in which he started his winning run with a Lickitung, of all things. He was able to scrape through the first fight against rival Gary in Professor Oak's lab – which he noted was where around 75% of all Kaizo Ironmon runs are brought to an abrupt stop thanks to another rule that dials up the level of most enemy Pokemon. However, after getting past this hurdle, he had the option to switch Lickitung for a wild Pokemon, instead, which is where the saviour of the entire challenge, Della the Skarmory, came into play. 

Skarmory may not be the first Pokemon you'd think of as a challenge-destroying powerhouse, but it's a solid defensive choice thanks to being a Steel/Flying type that's only weak to Fire and Electric moves. In fact, in the third generation of Pokemon games, which FireRed is part of, Skarmory either resists or is completely immune to 11 out of 17 types, so there really isn't much that could get in its way. Smallant's Skarmory also happened to have the random ability Sand Stream, which causes chip damage every turn on non-Rock, Ground and Steel types, which served as an added bonus. 

Even with this solid partner Pokemon, the rest of the run wasn't exactly easy. Many of Smallant's problems came from the limited amount of uses each of his Skarmory's moves had before it needed to be healed at a Pokemon Center, or with a consumable item which were hard to come across due to them being randomised. In addition, another of the Kaizo Ironmon rules stops you from returning to a dungeon – such as Mt. Moon – after you leave it, potentially making you miss out on heaps of experience points from skipping trainers. This meant Smallant had to take calculated risks as to how many trainers he thought he could beat in these areas to maximise on growth while also avoiding unnecessary danger.

When it came to the final set of battles, in which you have to take on four tough Elite Four members before challenging the Champion, the winning run was only the fifth one in all 1,786 attempts that Smallant was able to beat the third member. Needless to say, his eventual victory was hard–fought, and he came out of the other end with an all-powerful level 92 metal bird, and no doubt more experience than most could ever hope to achieve in fighting Gary at Oak's lab.

Be sure to check out our ranking of the best Pokemon games to see which one we think is the very best. 

Catherine Lewis
News Writer

I'm one of GamesRadar+'s news writers, who works alongside the rest of the news team to deliver cool gaming stories that we love. After spending more hours than I can count filling The University of Sheffield's student newspaper with Pokemon and indie game content, and picking up a degree in Journalism Studies, I started my career at GAMINGbible where I worked as a journalist for over a year and a half. I then became TechRadar Gaming's news writer, where I sourced stories and wrote about all sorts of intriguing topics. In my spare time, you're sure to find me on my Nintendo Switch or PS5 playing through story-driven RPGs like Xenoblade Chronicles and Persona 5 Royal, nuzlocking old Pokemon games, or going for a Victory Royale in Fortnite.