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Play! Pokémon

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The new Play! Pokémon logo, debuting in August 2010

Play! Pokémon, formerly known as Pokémon Organized Play, often abbreviated as POP, is an official gathering of players of the Pokémon Trading Card Game and the Pokémon games to play, trade, and just generally have fun and learn about the games. POP used to oversee activity within the Pokémon Trading Figure Game.

The division was formed by The Pokémon Company International (née Pokémon USA) in 2003 after Wizards of the Coast lost their Pokémon TCG license. With their occupation, PUSA created new league, tournament, and prize systems, as well as an improved Professor Program. In 2010, the name changed to its current title, that being Play! Pokémon.

Registration

The POP logo used until August 2010
Players wishing to enter the foray of either the TCG or video games and compete in events must sign up to obtain a POP-ID. It is used to access a "My Pokémon" account, where a player can view his or her Rankings, Premier Ratings, Tournaments (for Tournament Organizers only), or Leagues (for League Leaders only).

Age divisions

So that potentially younger less experienced players are not at a disadvantage playing older more experienced ones, they are sorted into age divisions in sanctioned events. These were defined by a specific age up until the 2006-2007 season, consisting of Ten and Under (10-), Eleven to Fourteen (11-14) and Fifteen and Over (15+). Beginning with the 2006-2007 season, POP revised the system based on date of birth. The divisions are now categorized as of 2011 into three divisions: Junior (born in 2001 or later), Senior (born between 1997 and 2000) and Masters (born in 1996 or earlier). In the video game categories, there are two divisions, Junior (born in 2001 or later) and Senior (born before 2000).

Pokémon Leagues

Pokémon League logo

Pokémon Leagues provide a nearby place for players to get together with other fans of the Pokémon TCG and Pokémon games and have fun. They are often held in public locations, such as stores, community centers and libraries. Leagues are often the perfect venues for players starting out to learn about the TCG or video games and to hone their skills to compete in tournaments.

Leagues often focus on a theme related to the current video game every year, and break the cycle down into seven or eight seasons lasting around six weeks, each season representing a part of the theme (e.g. a specific Gym if the theme is based around Gyms featured in a Pokémon game). The theme often correlates with the current main series Pokémon games.

List of themes featured in Pokémon TCG Leagues

During Wizards' occupation, players received points based on actions at every League session, and these points were recorded in League books. Points were awarded for actions such as challenging a player, winning/losing a battle, trading cards, meeting new individuals and promoting good sportsmanship.

Unlike Wizards, POP utilized a hybrid League system during the 2003-2004 season, where players could earn points by playing both the video games and the Trading Card Game. The idea was scrapped for the next cycle, though it since has made a comeback.

Typical prizes: When a player reaches the Poké Ball symbol or the badge symbol on their Score Card, they receive (a) promotional foil card(s). Once an entire side is filled, the player will receive a promotional Nintendo DS Lite/DSi skin. Some Leagues have a different system of handing these items out.

Player Rewards Program

This allows players who compete in Leagues, Tournaments and Premier Events to earn POP Booster packs as rewards for their efforts. Attending one of these will earn players 1 "credit". Each credit is a step toward a Rewards "Tier." Those who play in 3–5 events qualify for Tier One and earn 5 POP packs. 6–10 events qualify for Tier Two, earning 10 packs. 11 events or more qualify for Tier Three, earning 15 packs. Thus, players can earn up to 15 POP Booster packs each quarter (three months). At the end of each quarter, POP distributes the Player Rewards to those that have earned them through the mail.

POP packs

POP packs are special Pokémon TCG packs that only contain two cards, as opposed to (at the time, nine) the current number of ten. Introduced in September 2004, the POP sets are released roughly once every six months and were created to bring useful cards that have been rotated out of play back into the game, as well as exclusive cards. Although, with an increasing number of alternate-art Promo cards in Japan, the latest POP sets currently serve as a vehicle to bring them to the West. The usefulness of recent POP sets has been a subject of debate within the Pokémon community; collectors praising PUSA for releasing these cards in English, while they face scrutiny by players, as many cards are the same as those in the current Modified format.

POP packs can typically only be found by participating in Pokémon Organized Play events, but after leagues no longer distribute them, they are occasionally included in Value Packs, etc. sold in stores.

Local Tournaments

Local Tournaments are meant for both fun and practice. They are usually held once a week in a gaming store or other large hall such as a church by a local League Leader or Tournament Organizer. Prizes vary depending on the competitors. They are often free to enter, but the price can sometimes range to $5.

POP-sanctioned tournaments are either single elimination, Swiss, or Swiss followed by single elimination rounds. Some POP events use 'Age Modified Swiss', (a variation of Swiss invented by Play! Pokémon) in which a player's age takes priority over the player's record when the organizer pairs players.

After sanctioned tournaments are completed, the Tournament Organizer uploads the results of each match to TPCi. The results of each match are used to calculate a player's Premier Rating. POP Ratings are based on the Elo rating system.

Typical prizes

In early seasons, players could earn Promotional cards by participating in league sessions. After TPCi's revisions, players earned POP Packs upon participation instead.

Prerelease Tournaments

Prerelease Tournaments are events in which players get the opportunity to play with cards from an Expansion that will be released in stores prior to the event. They are typically held on the two weekends before the set release (although a third weekend is added to the schedule if the Prerelease clashes with a major Play! Pokémon event, such as the World Championship, traditionally held in August). The fee is a minimum of $25 and each player gets six Booster packs. Players may build a 40-card deck using the cards opened out of the six packs (not including basic Energy cards, which are provided at the event). If the player vouches to participate in this event, he or she receives two additional booster packs at the end of the event, along with a special Prerelease card.

TCG Premier Events

Premier Events are meant for competition, and there are several held throughout the season every year until the climax at Worlds where the best players battle it out to become the Pokémon Champion.

Battle Road Tournaments

File:Battle Roads Autumn logo.jpg
Battle Road Autumn logo
File:Battle Roads Spring logo.jpg
Battle Road Spring logo

Held in the Autumn and the Spring, the Battle Road tournaments give players the opportunity to work on their premier ratings, potentially earning an invite and trip to Worlds. Battle Road Autumn tournaments are held between September and October, while the Spring tournaments are held between May and June. In the 2008-2009 season, these events have a K-Value of 4.

Typical prize structure

Place Prize
1st
  • 8 Booster packs from the latest set
  • Victory Medal promotional card
2nd
  • 4 Booster packs from the latest set


City Championships

City Championships logo

The first event in the Championship Series, held between November and January. The City Championships are where players from a specific city come together to determine who is the City champion. In the 2008-2009 season, these events have a K-Value of 16.

Typical prize structure

Place Prize
1st
  • City Champion medal
  • Prize kit
  • 18 Booster packs from the latest set
2nd
  • 10 Booster packs from the latest set
3rd & 4th
  • 4 Booster packs from the latest set

All competitors receive a stamped promotional card and commemorative pin.

State/Province/Territory Championships

State/Province/Territory Championships logo

Previously known as 'State Championships' before the 2006-2007 season, this event held in March is where the best players in their State, Province or Territory come together to play and battle to become the State/Province/Territory champion. In the 2008-2009 season, these events have a K-Value of 32.

Typical prize structure

Place Prize
1st
  • S/P/T Championship 1st Place Trophy
  • Reserved event ticket and a $300 travel allowance for the National Championships
  • 36 Booster packs from the latest set
2nd
  • S/P/T Championship 2nd Place Trophy
  • Reserved event ticket for the National Championships
  • 16 Booster packs from the latest set
3rd
  • S/P/T Championship 3rd Place Trophy
  • 8 Booster packs from the latest set
4th
  • 8 Booster packs from the latest set
5th-8th
  • 4 Booster packs from the latest set

All competitors receive a stamped promotional card and commemorative pin.

Regional Championships

Regional Championships logo

First introduced in 2005, this event divides countries into large regions and pits players against each other in order to become the Regional champion. In the 2008-2009 season, these events have a K-Value of 32.

Typical prize structure

Place Prize
1st
  • Regional Championship 1st Place Trophy
  • $1500 Scholarship Award
  • Reserved event ticket and travel award for the National Championships
  • Prize kit
  • Combination of 36 Booster packs from recent sets
2nd
  • Regional Championship 2nd Place Trophy
  • $1000 Scholarship Award
  • Reserved event ticket for the National Championships
  • Combination of 36 Booster packs from recent sets
3rd
  • Regional Championship 3rd Place Trophy
  • Combination of 36 Booster packs from recent sets
4th
  • Combination of 36 Booster packs from recent sets
5th-8th
  • Combination of 18 Booster packs from recent sets
9th-16th
  • Combination of 9 Booster packs from recent sets

All competitors receive a stamped promotional card and commemorative pin.

National Championships

National Championships logo

The National Championships are the penultimate event of the Championship Series. Held between April and June in countries across the globe, it gives players in good standing to compete to become National champion and give their Premier Ratings a boost, potentially winning an invitation to Worlds. In the 2008-2009 season, these events have a K-Value of 32.

Typical prize structure

Place Prize
1st
  • National Championship 1st Place Trophy
  • $5000 Scholarship Award
  • Reserved event ticket and a travel award for the World Championships
  • Prize kit
  • Combination of 72 Booster packs from recent sets
2nd
  • National Championship 2nd Place Trophy
  • $3000 Scholarship Award
  • Reserved event ticket and travel award for the World Championships
  • Combination of 72 Booster packs from recent sets
3rd
  • National Championship 3rd Place Trophy
  • $1500 Scholarship Award
  • Reserved event ticket and travel award for the World Championships
  • Combination of 36 Booster packs from recent sets
4th
  • $1500 Scholarship Award
  • Reserved event ticket and travel award for the World Championships
  • Combination of 36 Booster packs from recent sets
5th-8th
  • $750 Scholarship Award
  • Reserved event ticket for the World Championships
  • Combination of 36 Booster packs from recent sets
9th-16th
  • Combination of 18 Booster packs from recent sets

All competitors receive a stamped promotional card and commemorative pin.

Last Chance Qualifier

The Last Chance qualifier, referred to casually as the "grinder," is an event held on-site at the World Championships location the day before the World Championships themselves. Typically, it consists of an eight round Swiss tournament with a cut after Swiss depending on the amount of players. The number of players who receive Worlds invites from the Last Chance Qualifier is dependent on how many Worlds spots have been claimed through Premier Ratings and other tournaments.

Typical prize structure

Place Prize
Varies
  • Invitation to that year's World Championships

World Championships

Main article: World Championships#Trading Card Game
2010 World Championships logo

The season comes to a climax at the World Championships held in August. Only players who receive invitations via their National Championships, Premier Rating, or performance at the previous World Championships are permitted to play in this event. Additionally, top-ranked players in the Last Chance Qualifier will receive an invitation to participate in the World Championships. The event hosts top players from around the world competing for the title of Pokémon TCG World Champion. In the 2009-2010 season, these events do not have a K-Value, since they are the final event of the year.

Typical prize structure

Place Prize
1st
  • World Championship 1st Place Trophy
  • Reserved event ticket and travel award for the next year's World Championships
  • $7500 Scholarship Award
  • One box of each of the most current sets for a year
2nd
  • World Championship 2nd Place Trophy
  • Reserved event ticket and travel award for the next year's World Championships
  • $5000 Scholarship Award
  • One box of each of the most current sets for a year
3rd
  • World Championship 3rd Place Trophy
  • Reserved event ticket and travel award for the next year's World Championships
  • $3500 Scholarship Award
  • One box of next upcoming set
4th
  • reserved event ticket and travel award for the next year's World Championships
  • $3500 Scholarship Award
  • One box of next upcoming set
5th-8th
  • $1500 Scholarship Award
  • 36 booster packs of next upcoming set
9th-16th
  • $1000 Scholarship Award
  • 36 booster packs of next upcoming set
17th-32nd
  • 36 booster packs of next upcoming set

In addition, all of the 32 finalists receive World Championship commemorative items, and in 2010, also received a customized Nintendo DSi XL. All competitors receive a promotional card and commemorative pin.

Gym and Stadium Challenges

In these events, players from many areas came together to play for a World Championships invitation. Stadium Challenges were phased out in the 2005-2006 season, and Gym Challenges were ended beginning in the 2006-2007 season in favor of Battle Road Tournaments, similar to those held in Japan.

Typical prizes included an invitation to play in the World Championships of that year, a travel award and hotel stay for the tournament (for those who ranked high up), a combination of Booster packs, a stamped promotional card and commemorative pin.

Video Game Championships

Similar to the TCG, the Pokémon video game leagues are run by those in conjunction with organizers. The genesis of the video games championships event was the Pokémon 10th Anniversary Journey Across America, where tournaments were held as part of the tour. The first National Championships in Video Games was held at the Party of the Decade on August 8, 2006 at Bryant Park in New York City.

Regional Championships

Logo for the Pokémon Video Game Championship Series worldwide.
Usually held in the United States in April through June, up to six sites host a regional championship event. Players (divided into Junior and Senior divisions) in 2010 utilized Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver for their region (North American) games entering a team of six legal Pokémon in the contest; player limits were 512 for the Junior division and 768 for the Senior division at each regional event; each round is single elimination in the GS Cup format in the Battle Arena. In each round, players use four of their six legal registered Pokémon, and can change team members between rounds.

Typical prize structure

Place Prize
1st
  • A Regional Championships 1st Place Trophy
  • A Nintendo DSi system
  • Airfare and 4 day/3 night hotel accommodations for the winner (including parent or legal guardian for players under 18) and an invitation to attend and participate in the Pokémon Video Game National Championships
2nd-4th
  • A Nintendo DSi system
  • A $300 travel allowance (including an additional $300 travel allowance for players under 18) and an invitation to participate in the Pokémon Video Game National Championships.
5th-16th
  • An invitation to participate in the Pokémon Video Game National Championships

National Championship

On the day before the National Championships, similar to the TCG Championships, a last chance qualifier is held. Those fill spots that are not held by those who either cannot attend the VGC or have local players qualify. In Europe, Australia and Japan, these are one day events.

Typical prize structure

Place Prize
1st
  • A National Championships 1st Place Trophy
  • A Nintendo DSi system
  • A Nintendo Wii
  • Airfare and 5-day/4-night hotel accommodations for the winner (including parent or legal guardian for players under 18) to attend and receive an invitation to the Pokémon Video Game World Championships
2nd
  • A National Championships 2nd Place Trophy
  • A Nintendo DSi system
  • Airfare and 5-day/4-night hotel accommodations for the winner (including parent or legal guardian for players under 18) to attend and participate in the Pokémon Video Game World Championships
3rd-8th
  • Airfare and 5-day/4-night hotel accommodations for the winner (including parent or legal guardian for players under 18) and an invitation to attend and participate in the Pokémon Video Game World Championships
9th-16th
  • An invitation to compete at the Pokémon Video Game World Championships

World Championship

Main article: World Championships#Video games
Champions and runners-up from the 2010 World Championships.

The format is the same as the Nationals, including a last chance qualifier the day before the tournament begins. The Video Game World Championships began in 2009 in San Diego, California.

Typical prize structure

Place Prize
1st
  • A World Championships 1st Place Trophy
  • Airfare and 5-day/4-night hotel accommodations for the winner (including parent or legal guardian for players under 18) to attend and an invitation to participate in the following year's World Championships
  • A trip for four to Tokyo, Japan, New York City, or Oahu, Hawaii, including airfare and 6-day/5-night accommodations
2nd
  • A World Championships 2nd Place Trophy
  • Airfare and 5-day/4-night hotel accommodations for the winner (including parent or legal guardian for players under 18) to attend and an invitation to participate in the following year's World Championships

In additional, each of the eight finalists receive a collection of Pokémon items.

External links