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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 and often abbreviated as POP) is an official gathering of players of the Pokémon Trading Card Game and the Pokémon video games (often referred to as just Pokémon games) to play, trade, and just generally have fun and learn about the games. Play! Pokémon also used to oversee activity within the Pokémon Trading Figure Game, which is no longer active.

The division was formed by The Pokémon Company International (née Pokémon USA) in 2003 after Wizards of the Coast lost their Pokémon Trading Card Game (abbreviated as TCG) license. With their stewardship, PUSA created new league, tournament, and prize systems, as well as an improved Professor Program. In 2010, the name changed from Pokémon Organized Play to its current title, 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 player ID. Event organizers will upload player event information that may then be viewed by a player, including a player's Rankings, Premier Ratings, Tournaments (for Tournament Organizers only), or Leagues (for League Leaders only) on the Pokémon.com website. Afters setting up an account and logging into Pokémon.com, player account info can be accessed by going to "My Profile" and selecting "Play! Pokémon Settings" and then "My Play! Pokémon". This online account is also used to adjust general website setting, some Pokémon Trading Card Game Online setting, and can be used by parents to setup and control sub-accounts for their children.

Age divisions

So that younger, less experienced players are not disadvantaged by playing older, more experienced players, sanctioned Pokémon tournaments separate players into age divisions. 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, the system was revised to be based on year of birth, to avoid the issues of a player shifting divisions in the middle of a tournament season.

Originally the Video Game Championship series used only two age divisions, but as of 2012 both the Trading Card Game and Video Game series have been unified to use the same age division structure.

As of July 15, 2014, the three age divisions are defined as follows:

  • Junior Division: Born in 2004 or later
  • Senior Division: Born in 2000, 2001, 2002, or 2003
  • Masters Division: Born in 1999 or earlier

These divisions are officially adjusted when the new tournament season begins, around mid-July each year, sometime between the conclusion of National Championships worldwide and the start of the Pokémon World Championships. However, the World Championships are considered part of the previous tournament season and use its age division years.

Pokémon Leagues

Pokémon League logo
Main article: Pokémon League (TCG)

Pokémon Leagues provide a nearby place for players to get together with other fans of the [[Pokémon Trading Card Game]} 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' tenure, 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, Play! Pokémon 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 rewards for their efforts. Attending one of these will earn players 1 "credit". Each credit is a step toward a Rewards "Tier." At the end of each quarter, Play! Pokémon distributes the Player Rewards to those that have earned them through the mail. At one time, player who played in 3–5 events qualified for Tier One and earn 5 POP booster packs; 6–10 events qualified for Tier Two, earning 10 packs, and 11 events or more qualify for Tier Three and earned 15 packs. Thus, players could earn up to 15 POP Booster packs each quarter (three months).

POP packs

POP packs were special Pokémon TCG Booster packs that only contained two cards, as opposed to the current number of ten (at the time, nine). Introduced in September 2004, the POP sets were released roughly once every six months until September 2009. There were nine POP sets in total: Series 1, Series 2, Series 3, Series 4, Series 5, Series 6, Series 7, Series 8, and Series 9. They were created to bring useful cards that had been rotated out of play back into the game, as well as exclusive cards. With an increasing number of alternate-art Promo cards in Japan, the latest POP sets also served as a vehicle to bring them to the West. The usefulness of these latest POP sets had been a subject of debate within the Pokémon community; collectors praising PUSA for releasing these cards in English, while they faced scrutiny by players, as many cards were the same as those in then current Modified format.

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

Player of the Year

Beginning with the 2011-2012 season, the TCG player in each age division who attained the most Play! Points during the season was awarded the title of Player of the Year, and rewarded with two boxes of each set released during the next year. Award winners were:

Season Junior Senior Master
2011-12 Cory Connor Laurens van Brecht Bruce Long
2012-13 Sydney M. Emily Grieve Gawein Wagner

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.

Play! Pokémon sanctioned tournaments are either single elimination, Swiss, or Swiss followed by single elimination rounds. Some Play! Pokémon 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 The Pokémon Company International (abbreviated to TPCi) via Play! Pokémon. The results of each match are used to calculate a player's Premier Rating. Play! Pokémon Ratings are based on the Elo rating system.

Typical prizes

In early seasons, players could earn Promotional cards by participating in league sessions.

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 tournaments held throughout the year, offering opportunities to earn invitations to the World Championships held each August. Invitations to the World Championships could be earned, in season, by a player's Premier Ratings from 2003-2010. Each player's Premier Rating would go up and down as wins and losses were accumulated, calculated by a factor called a K-Value. In 2011, the system changed to allow only the top players in each regional zone to be invited based on Championship Points accumulated throughout the 2011-2012 season. For the 2012-2013 season, players were able to earn invitations to the World Championships by earning 400 Championship Points throughout the season.


Battle Road Tournaments

Battle Road Autumn logo
Battle Road Spring logo

Held in the Autumn and the Spring, the Battle Road tournaments are entry level tournaments which give players the opportunity to earn up to 15 Championship Points, and have a Best Finish Limit of 6 (Autumn and Spring combined). Battle Road Autumn tournaments are held between September and October, while the Spring tournaments are held between May and June.

Typical prize structure

Place Prize
1st
  • 15 Championship Points
  • 4 Booster packs from the latest set
  • Gold Victory Cup promotional card
2nd
  • 12 Championship Points (if 4 players or more)
  • 4 Booster packs from the latest set
  • Silver Victory Cup promotional card
3rd
  • 10 Championship Points (if 8 players or more)
  • 2 Booster packs from the latest set
  • Bronze Victory Cup promotional card
4th
  • 10 Championship Points (if 8 players or more)
  • 2 Booster packs from the latest set
5th-8th
  • 6 Championship Points (if 32 players or more)
9th-12th
  • 4 Championship Points (if 64 players or more)
13th-16th
  • 2 Championship Points (if 64 players or more)


City Championships

City Championships logo

The third event in the Championship Series, held between November and January, are the City Championships. City Championships allow players to earn up to 50 Championship Points, and have a Best Finish Limit of 4. Though commonly held on weekends, some major cities are known to hold tournaments daily in large, adjacent suburbs for a period of four to nine days, with one or two days of rest within.

Typical prize structure

Place Prize
1st
  • City Champion trophy
  • 50 Championship Points
  • 18 Booster packs from the latest set
2nd
  • 40 Championship Points (if 4 players or more)
  • 10 Booster packs from the latest set
3rd-4th
  • 30 Championship Points (if 8 players or more)
  • 4 Booster packs from the latest set
5th-8th
  • 20 Championship Points (if 32 players or more)
9th-12th
  • 10 Championship Points (if 64 players or more)
13th-16th
  • 5 Championship Points (if 64 players or more)
17th-32nd
  • 3 Championship Points (if 128 players or more)

All competitors receive a stamped promotional card.

State/Province/Territory Championships

State/Province/Territory Championships logo

Previously known as 'State Championships' before the 2006-2007 season, this event, held on one of three weekends in March, brings together players from States, Provinces, and Territories, as well as neighboring areas, to determine the State, Provincial, or Territorial Champion. Players can earn up to 100 Championship Points, and these events come together with Regional Championships to form a Best Finish Limit of 4.

Typical prize structure

Place Prize
1st
  • S/P/T Championship 1st Place Trophy
  • 100 Championship Points
  • $500JR,SR/$300MA Travel Stipend to compete in TCG National Championships
  • First round bye at U.S. or Canada National Championships
  • 36 Booster packs from the latest set
2nd
  • S/P/T Championship 2nd Place Trophy
  • 90 Championship Points (if 4 players or more)
  • 36 Booster packs from the latest set
3rd-4th
  • S/P/T Championship 3rd or 4th Place Trophy
  • 70 Championship Points (if 8 players or more)
  • 18 Booster packs from the latest set
5th-8th
  • 50 Championship Points (if 32 players or more)
  • 9 Booster packs from the latest set
9th-12th
  • 30 Championship Points (if 64 players or more)
13th-16th
  • 20 Championship Points (if 64 players or more)
17th-32nd
  • 10 Championship Points (if 128 players or more)
33rd-64th
  • 5 Championship Points (if 256 players or more)

All competitors receive a stamped promotional card.

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. Regional Championships are held around October, January, and April. These tournaments offer up to 120 Championship Points, and combine with State/Provincial/Territorial Championships to form a Best Finish Limit of 4.

Typical prize structure

Place Prize
1st
  • Regional Championship 1st Place Trophy
  • 120 Championship Points
  • Travel Award to the U.S. or Canada National Championships
  • First and second round byes at U.S. or Canada National Championships
  • Combination of 72 Booster packs from recent sets
2nd
  • Regional Championship 2nd Place Trophy
  • 110 Championship Points (if 4 players or more)
  • First and second round byes at U.S. or Canada National Championships
  • $500JR,SR Travel Stipend to U.S. or Canada National Championships
  • Combination of 72 Booster packs from recent sets
3rd-4th
  • Regional Championship 3rd or 4th Place Trophy
  • 90 Championship Points (if 8 players or more)
  • $500JR,SR Travel Stipend to U.S. or Canada National Championships
  • Combination of 36 Booster packs from recent sets
5th-8th
  • 70 Championship Points (if 32 players or more)
  • Combination of 24 Booster packs from recent sets
9th-12th
  • 50 Championship Points (if 64 players or more)
  • Combination of 18 Booster packs from recent sets
13th-16th
  • 40 Championship Points (if 64 players or more)
  • Combination of 18 Booster packs from recent sets
17th-32nd
  • 20 Championship Points (if 128 players or more)
  • Combination of 7 Booster packs from recent sets
33rd-64th
  • 10 Championship Points (if 256 players or more)

All competitors receive a stamped promotional card.

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 Championship Points a boost, potentially winning an invitation to Worlds.

Typical prize structure

Place Prize
1st
  • National Championship 1st Place Trophy
  • 500 Championship Points
  • $5,000 Scholarship Award
  • Reserved event ticket and a travel award for the World Championships
  • Combination of 72 Booster packs from recent sets
2nd
  • National Championship 2nd Place Trophy
  • 500 Championship Points (if 4 players or more)
  • $3,000 Scholarship Award
  • Reserved event ticket and travel award for the World Championships
  • Combination of 72 Booster packs from recent sets
3rd-4th
  • National Championship Semifinalist Trophy
  • 500 Championship Points (if 8 players or more)
  • $1,500 Scholarship Award
  • Reserved event ticket and travel award for the World Championships
  • Combination of 36 Booster packs from recent sets
5th-8th
  • 500 Championship Points (if 32 players or more)
  • Reserved event ticket for the World Championships
  • Combination of 36 Booster packs from recent sets
9th-12th
  • 80 Championship Points (if 64 players or more)
  • Combination of 36 Booster packs from recent sets
13th-16th
  • 60 Championship Points (if 64 players or more)
  • Combination of 36 Booster packs from recent sets
17th-32nd
  • 40 Championship Points (if 128 players or more)
  • Combination of 18 Booster packs from recent sets
33rd-64th
  • 30 Championship Points (if 256 players or more)
65th-128th
  • 10 Championship Points (if 512 players or more)

All competitors receive a stamped promotional card.

Last Chance Qualifier

The Last Chance qualifier, referred to casually as "the grinder," is an event held on-site on the first day of the World Championships. Typically, it consists of multi-round single-elimination, best of three tournament. The number of players who receive Worlds invites from the Last Chance Qualifier is dependent on how many Worlds spots have been claimed through Championship Points and other tournaments.

Typical prize structure

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

World Championships

Main article: World Championships
2013 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. Championship Points earned at the World Championships will be used in the next year's totals.


Typical prize structure

Place Prize
1st
  • World Championship 1st Place Trophy
  • Championship Points (enough to qualify for next year's World Championships, TBA)
  • Reserved event ticket and travel award for the next year's World Championships
  • $10,000 Scholarship Award
  • Two boxes of each of the most current sets for a year
  • Factory-sealed full sets of the four most recent sets
2nd
  • World Championship 2nd Place Trophy
  • Championship Points (enough to qualify for next year's World Championships, TBA)
  • Reserved event ticket and travel award for the next year's World Championships
  • $7,500 Scholarship Award
  • Two boxes of each of the most current sets for a year
  • Factory-sealed full sets of the four most recent sets
3rd
  • World Championship 3rd Place Trophy
  • Championship Points (enough to qualify for next year's World Championships, TBA)
  • Reserved event ticket and travel award for the next year's World Championships
  • $5,000 Scholarship Award
  • Two boxes of each of the next TCG expansion
  • Factory-sealed full sets of the four most recent sets
4th
  • World Championship 4th Place Trophy
  • Championship Points (enough to qualify for next year's World Championships, TBA)
  • Reserved event ticket and travel award for the next year's World Championships
  • $5,000 Scholarship Award
  • Two boxes of each of the next TCG expansion
  • Factory-sealed full sets of the four most recent sets
5th-8th
  • Championship Points (amount TBA)
  • $1,500 Scholarship Award
  • 36 booster packs of next upcoming set
9th-32nd
  • Championship Points (amount TBA)
  • 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

The Pokémon video games have their own set of tournaments which usually parallel with the Trading Card Game. One of the first instances of a major video game tournament was the Pokémon 10th Anniversary Journey Across America, where tournaments were held as part of the tour. The first Video Game National Championships was held at the Party of the Decade on August 8, 2006 at Bryant Park in New York City. In 2008, at the TCG World Championships, a special Video Game Showdown was held. Players were separated into Junior and Senior Divisions. This tournament would evolve into the first formal World Championships for the Pokémon video games in 2009.

Regional Championships

Logo for the Pokémon Video Game Championship Series worldwide.
Regional Championships are held in October, January, and April, usually alongside the TCG. These events offer up to 120 Championship Points, since 2012.

Typical prize structure

Place Prize
1st
  • Regional Championship 1st Place Trophy
  • 120 Championship Points
  • Travel Award to the recipient's National Championships
  • First round bye at the recipient's National Championships
2nd
  • Regional Championship 2nd Place Trophy
  • 110 Championship Points (if 4 players or more)
  • First and second round byes at the recipient's National Championships
  • $750JR,SR/$600MA Travel Stipend to the recipient's National Championships
3rd-4th
  • Regional Championship 3rd or 4th Place Trophy
  • 90 Championship Points (if 8 players or more)
  • $700JR,SR Travel Stipend to U.S. or Canada National Championships
5th-8th
  • 70 Championship Points (if 32 players or more)
9th-12th
  • 50 Championship Points (if 64 players or more)
13th-16th
  • 40 Championship Points (if 64 players or more)
17th-32nd
  • 20 Championship Points (if 128 players or more)
33rd-64th
  • 10 Championship Points (if 256 players or more)

All competitors receive a stamped promotional card.

National Championship

National Championships are the penultimate event in the VG Championship Series. They offer invitations to the World Championships for the high finishers in the tournament.

Typical prize structure

Place Prize
1st
  • National Championship 1st Place Trophy
  • 480 Championship Points
  • Reserved event ticket and a travel award for the World Championships
  • A Nintendo Wii U 32GB Deluxe Set
2nd
  • National Championship 2nd Place Trophy
  • 440 Championship Points (if 4 players or more)
  • Reserved event ticket and travel award for the World Championships
  • A Nintendo 3DS XL
3rd-4th
  • National Championship Semifinalist Trophy
  • 360 Championship Points (if 8 players or more)
  • Reserved event ticket and travel award for the World Championships
  • A Nintendo 3DS XL
5th-8th
  • 210 Championship Points (if 32 players or more)
9th-16th
  • 150 Championship Points (if 64 players or more)
17th-32nd
  • 90 Championship Points (if 128 players or more)
33rd-64th
  • 30 Championship Points (if 256 players or more)
65th-128th
  • 15 Championship Points (if 512 players or more)

All competitors receive a stamped promotional card.

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
  • World Championship 1st Place Trophy
  • Championship Points (enough to qualify for next year's World Championships, TBA)
  • Reserved event ticket and travel award for the next year's World Championships
  • $3,500 Scholarship Award
  • Two boxes of each of the next TCG expansion
2nd
  • World Championship 2nd Place Trophy
  • Championship Points (enough to qualify for next year's World Championships, TBA)
  • Reserved event ticket and travel award for the next year's World Championships
  • $1,500 Scholarship Award
  • Two boxes of each of the next TCG expansion
3rd
  • World Championship 3rd Place Trophy
  • Championship Points (enough to qualify for next year's World Championships, TBA)
  • Two boxes of each of the next TCG expansion
4th
  • World Championship 4th Place Trophy
  • Championship Points (enough to qualify for next year's World Championships, TBA)
  • Two boxes of each of the next TCG expansion
5th-8th
  • Championship Points (amount TBA)
  • Two boxes of each of the next TCG expansion
9th-16th
  • Two boxes of each of the next TCG expansion

In addition, all of the finalists receive World Championship commemorative items.

External links


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