There were times where Ash proved his equal merit. He tied with Paul in their first battle. He proved Paul wrong with Pikachu defeating Raichu. He topped him at the Pokeringer. He had already defeated Brandon, while Paul got destroyed by him. Ash bringing out the best in Infernape was something Paul could never have done. Paul copied Countershield with Gastrodon in the league battle. Paul is basically like every competitive Pokemon video game player, who only care to raise powerful Pokemon with strong movesets and strategy, so he's always going to have a higher floor than Ash. Ash's ceiling is higher though, which is why he wins narrowly at the league. Reminder that she wore this outfit and broadcast herself all over Kalos television: Spoiler: Fennekin Outfit So, I definitely won't say she's "shy/quiet" or had much of a "shell." She's awkward at times around Ash because she likes him, but she had no problems interacting with everyone around her.