What part of "It's the very first League ever in the region" are you not understanding? There is absolutely no guarantee that the first Leagues to occur in Kanto through Kalos were any better or different.
Character development for characters that need it.
v Faba - Karma for Faba's cheating
v Hau - a callback to the Kanto League, and more reasonable than other Leagues for actually having multiple referees
v Guzma - Triggering an Ability isn't luck.
-Battle direction is fine, except for a few moments, like Jessie v James being a spamfest.
-Hard to develop a stoic rival when they don't get specials to themselves. At least this one's not abusive and worshiped by half the region.
-Alola isn't big on battling. No one has that many Pokemon because it's not seen as necessary.
Hmm, it's not letting me fix the quote mistake
EDIT 2: Ah, a typo in the quote code made it a nested one.
So, rivals and characters have to be "developed" during the league? Not before it like Diamond & Pearl did with Shinji (Paul) or XYZ did with Shota (Sawyer) and Alain? The so called "rivalry" between Ash and Hau + Guzma were out of nowhere literally! They only met once before the league! This is not character development, just simply time stretching.
"Karma for Faba's cheating"
Interesting that the "hawkeye" Hala or the other 3 referees didn't notice it and disqualified him for that. But hey, otherwise we couldn't see that "epic" (lame) gag battle between them... in a top 16 battle...
"a callback to Kanto League..."
But I hope you know that the fact is still fact: Rowlett was still laying on the ground while Decidueye was already back on his feet for several seconds, meaning by logic Rowlett was counted out. Also, sleeping is still equal to defying to fight...
"Triggering an Ability isn't luck"
Are you talking about Emergency Exit, which should be only activated by being hit an attack that lowers the pokemon's health below half HP? Because somehow Golisopod activated it even before being hit by the attack, despite by logic it couldn't activate it before the attack landed on him. So yeah, the writters forgot how Emergency Exit works.
Just face it: Faba, Hau and Guzma were nowhere to the ones like Shinji (Paul), Shota (Sawyer), Alain, Shigeru (Gary) or Tetsuya (Tyson)! Comparing the so called "battles" to theirs they are jokes on many levels.
"Battle direction is fine, except for a few moments, like Jessie v James being a spamfest."
Then let's take a look at them!
1.Ash VS Faba = A gag fight with a lame one shot, which shouldn't even happen because of cheating.
2.Ilima VS Guzma = Ok, this one was really good.
3.Lana VS Mao = Mao couldn't even scratch Lana and when she learned that Lana's pokemon learned an Ice Type attack, she decided to simply giving up for no reasons, humiliating many pokemon trainers who never had the chance to participate in a league like the nameless trainer from Kalos League who couln't get all the badges, while she could get into the Top 16 without giving a fart for it!
4.Kiawe VS Ghost Girl = Repeated animation, gags and "Disable" isn't working like that.
5.Sophocles VS Paint Girl = Sophocles suddenly learned how to fight.
6.James vs Jesse = Boring gag fight
7.Hau VS Alolan Oak = Wasn't bad, but too short
8.Gladio VS Lilie = One-sided
9.Ash VS Hau = Most disgusting plot armor that defies any logic: The match was one-sided until Rowlett "fall asleep" and was counted out by rules, but because "hawkeye" Hala (who somehoe didn't notice that Faba was cheating), the one who disqualifued Rowlett on his Grand Trial for the same "gag joke", he sudenly decides that the match should go on despite Rowlett being counted out.
10.Guzma VS Lana = Another one-sided battle.
11.Kiawe VS Sophocles = Another good fight.
12.Gladion VS James = Another lame and boring battle.
13.Ash VS Guzma = Despite his strategy, Golisopod crap his pants and somehow activates Emergency Exit, which shouldn't be activated until he is hit by an attack which lowers his HP below half of it, and because of that the other pokemon being knocked out by the attack which should originaly hit Golisopod. This is what we call as bad writting, plot armor, luck and ignoring the original game's mechanics.
14.Gladion VS Kiawe = Ok, this battle was good.
So, from the 14 battles, we only got 3 good battles, which are still nowhere from the same level of the previous leagues.
"-Hard to develop a stoic rival when they don't get specials to themselves. At least this one's not abusive and worshiped by half the region."
Interestingly, Diamond & Pearl managed to do it decently with Shinji (Paul) and he never got any "specials". Also, while the most famous rivals always crossed their roads with Ash several times before the league, building their bonds, the "rivals" here did met only once before the league, except Gladion.
"-Alola isn't big on battling. No one has that many Pokemon because it's not seen as necessary."
So, you agree that this so called league is much weaker than the previous leagues?