When it comes to Trace, most Pokémon fans never heard of him and the ones who fought him probably don't even remember him. Doing a quick internet search for Trace will also rank the Pokémon ability above him.
Those who played Pokémon Let's go Pikachu or Let's Go Eevee had about six or so battles with Trace, even if most were not memorable. Trace is the forced-on happy rival that every Pokémon game seems to have now. Much like Hop, Trace starts his journey with the player, chooses the opposite starter, and gets his team whooped before fizzling out and never being heard from again. Essentially he's the trainer whose career players kill, and here are 10 reasons why he is the worst rival in Pokémon.
10 No Motivation to Beat Him
There are no stakes in facing Trace, as he is everywhere and pretty weak. His team is heavily unbalanced and his AI is slow to start, making it really easy to take an advantage over him. He didn't evoke any emotions from the player because he was always super neutral, he acted weak like his Pokémon. Trace was next to the player all too often and wasn't constantly changing enough to keep players on their toes; furthermore, his team was predictable.
What made Blue/Gary good is the underdog effect that he put on players. He acted like a snob and was one step ahead of Red throughout most of the campaign. Red finally catches up to Blue/Gary right when he becomes champion, almost serving as one last laugh in the player's face. At no point did fighting Trace feel an uphill battle; in fact, beating him was so simple, it was almost uncomfortable.
9 Too Timid
Every single one of Trace's dialogue lines shows how timid and unthreatening he is. It barely seemed like he was having fun on the adventure when he wasn't guiding you places.
It makes Trace becoming the League champion by the end completely unbelievable because he doesn't change and get that much stronger by the end. He lacks a character arc, something that even Hop went through in Sword and Shield. Trace whined so much that skipping his dialogue felt like the only option.
8 A Mediocre Team
In the end, Trace's championship Pokémon should not have made it through the Elite 4 and were never as strong as Blue's/Gary's Pokémon team at the same point.
This was made worse due to how many benefits Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee gave players for leveling up their Pokémon. Rather than the strongest in the region, Trace had the most mediocre combination of Pokémon that had no special one-shot hits that are generally needed to go through the Elite 4.
7 Represents Pokémon's Hand-Holding Nature
Trace's whole personality represents the hand-holding nature Pokémon has adopted, rather than just dropping players into the world and expecting them to figure it out. He is the epitome of this trait and his personality is conservatively constructed to avoid any sort of enmity.
The concept of starting a Pokémon journey with a friend and developing your team and facing off at the end is great, but none of the games that attempted this feeling have really captured a sense of camaraderie and friendly competition. Trace comes across as distant, almost like he is a tour guide at Disneyland rather than a relatable friend.
6 Babies the Player After A Loss
Trace will act like a mom if he beats Chase or Elaine, the protagonists of the Let's Go games, opting to comfort them and downplay his own win. He encourages the player to continue trying because next time could be different.
Trace earns extra brown-nosing points if he is actually defeated, as he praises the victor like a god for doing so. This attitude makes a loss feel empty, although that rarely happens since the protagonist needs to beat Trace to progress.
5 Stops The Player Too Much
Pokémon seems stuck on describing extremely minute, normal things in great detail every few seconds, usually using a character that stops the story dead in its tracks.
This has been a constant problem with most modern rivals since X and Y, as they have too many useless exchanges with no stakes or anything important gained from them. It is fluff and filler, and Trace spews out a lot of it because he redescribes events and places players have already been for seemingly no reason.
4 Unjust Champion
Trace's team should not have been able to beat the Elite 4 before the protagonist. While players crafted the right team, he probably got through the battles by just spamming Full Restore on his near-death Pokémon until finally stealing a victory.
The only other explanation is that Trace just teleported to the champion room like magic and no one questioned it when they saw him there.
3 Too Easy & Requires No Strategy
Most players probably wiped the floor with Trace every match before he could even get a meaningful move in. Rather than pushing the protagonist to become better, Trace was the weaker one-step-behind rival who could never catch up.
Obviously, this makes for a forgettable rival because no time is spent beating Trace or thinking about strategies to overcome his party.
2 Easily Forgettable Design
There was not much that was all that special about Trace's design, especially when compared to most rivals post-Blue/Gary.
Trace's design is very modern, with him wearing something akin to yoga pants, for some reason. His face has no distinct features and even his hair is bland, especially when it comes to Pokémon rivals.
1 No Motivation, Just a Plot Character
Trace wasn't a character. He had no goals or drive of his own and comes across as a glorified guide who actively hurts the experience. Trace's conversation can be summed up as "Look how cool the S.S. Anne is, don't you remember how great it is? Now they included strong trainers! Let's battle, I'm excited. Okay, we're done? thanks for kicking my butt! Let's go over here now, no you can't progress otherwise."
Trace offered nothing that made him special as a rival or character, as he only existed to take players to all the highlights of the early Pokémon games.
Pokemon Unite is falling far behind the competition when it comes to the metagame, cosmetics, and fun events.