Yesterday, I got to do something that I have always wanted to do as a Pokemon fan; Aaron took me to the Pokemon Regional Championships (Saint Louis) in Collinsville, IL.
The Pokemon Company International holds tournaments every year to find the best Pokemon players all over the world. Regional tournaments are held in every region of the United States (as well as other countries). Here, players compete for championship points that they can use to eventually qualify for the biggest Pokemon tournament, the World Championships. “Worlds” (as it’s referred to by fans) is actually going to be held in our neck of the country this year in Nashville, TN (it changes location every year). We are tentatively planning a trip out that way at the end of the summer, assuming, of course that the event is open to the public this year. Last year in Anaheim, the doors were open to any and all fans, not just those competing. However, two years ago, in San Diego, the event was strictly invite only.
In tournaments, trainers face off in one of three competitions: the trading card game (TCG), the video game (VGC) or Pokken (the most recent addition, where trainers compete in the arcade-style fighting game released by Nintendo in 2016). Trainers are sorted into various competitive divisions based on their age (juniors, seniors, and masters) which encourages all trainers to compete for greatness.
Though I myself do not compete in any of the festivities, I follow the competitive video game scene online and enjoy watching the best Pokemon trainers in the world find new ways to become “the very best”.
Back to our story: We arrived at the convention center (about an hour away from where we live) and were greeted with some gorgeous signage that advertised “Pokemon Championships Regionals”. After a quick obligatory picture, we made our way inside the ballroom and were treated to the sight of hundreds of Pokemon trainers all trying to fight their way to the top to be awarded championships points and (eventually) be invited to compete at the world championships. Something about a convention center full of Pokemon fans makes me happy and excited. I just can’t help it!
Unfortunately, at the regional level, it’s very hard to watch people compete, as the competitors face off at long tables and the matches aren’t televised in any way. However, at the larger events, matches are streamed online and projected all over screens at the venue so visitors can get in on the action. Side events are held by the Pokemon Company to encourage additional gameplay. Side events might include drawing your favorite Pokemon or winning in battle royale (Sun/Moon/USun/UMoon). By participating in and winning these side events, you can earn prize points and redeem them for Pokemon themed prizes at the venue. Very cool!
The best part of the experience, by far, was the abundance of vendors doing business at the venue! Many local game shops had set up shop in the ballroom to peddle their Poke-goods. TCG supplies, plushies, games, and everything else Pokemon-themed you could think of was being sold at this venue. I was in hog heaven! One of the vendors even had merchandise from past Pokemon World Championships! This was especially cool, as any old Worlds merchandise is now out of print and super collectable.
I ended up purchasing a backpack from 2016’s World Championships in San Francisco. These backpacks were given as part of a “welcome kit” to any trainer that qualified to participate at Worlds two years ago. My other purchase included an imported Dittochu plush! As I collect the “ele-rodent” Pokemon, this plush was a must-add to my collection!! Hopefully, I’ll be adding some more Worlds collectibles to my collection this summer in Nashville!
In conclusion, even just attending Regionals as a spectator was a blast! Maybe someday I’ll throw my hat into the competitive scene to see how I fair. Until then, I’ll go back to shiny hunting for my favorites and improving upon my battle royale game.
Catch ya later!