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Play! Pokémon

Play! Pokémon
HeadquartersBellevue, Washington Edit this on Wikidata

Play! Pokémon, formerly known as Pokémon Organized Play (often abbreviated as POP), is a division of The Pokémon Company known for hosting the Pokémon World Championships, a competitive eSports tournament which features the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) and the Pokémon video game series (VG).

Play! Pokémon was formed in 2003 under the supervision of The Pokémon Company International (previously known as Pokémon USA) after Wizards of the Coast lost its license to the Trading Card Game. Since then, a new league, tournament, and prize system was created, together with a new 'Professor program'.

Play! Pokémon Leagues

Unlike the Wizards of the Coast leagues, POP utilizes a hybrid system, in which one can earn points for playing the Trading Card Game and/or the Video Game. Leagues are held in safe public locations, such as game stores, community centers, or libraries, and are run by official League Leaders approved after a background check conducted by Pokémon. Individuals applying for a league who opt out of the background check are not allowed to own a league, but are still allowed to play in any league they choose.

The league cycle is divided into eight seasons, each of which lasts about five weeks and is typically represented by themes found in Pokémon (e.g. gym badges, starter Pokémon). Players earn prizes like physical Gym badges or seasonal promotional cards by completing rows in their Player score card, usually by participating in Trading Card Game or Video Game league events. There may be several weeks of a break in-between seasons, but most leagues continue to play to allow players to catch up on prizes they may have missed. League sessions typically last for two to four hours, and players usually meet once every week. At the end of a season, League Owners and League Leaders report all the participants who entered the league during the season to Poké through the Pokémon League Dashboard on the respective League Owner's profile.


The first time a trainer participates in a Play! Pokémon sanctioned league or tournament, they will receive a Pokémon Player ID (commonly referred to as a POP ID). Players are usually encouraged to register their POP ID online at Poké with their existing Pokémon Trainer Club account, or sign up for one. Any tournament results or league participation can be linked to the player's personal account.

Local Tournaments

Local tournaments are usually held every week by a local Tournament Organizer. Prizes vary depending on the number of competitors. Tournaments can be free to enter, however this is done at the discretion of the Tournament Organizer (often the store owner) and entry fees can be applied.

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 POP) in which a player's age takes priority over the player's record when the organizer pairs players. In leagues with enough participation, the Tournament Organizer may apply age categories. Categories range from Junior (ages 12 and under), Senior (ages 13–15) and Master (ages 16 and over).

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

Prerelease Tournaments

Prerelease Tournaments are Trading Card Game events in which players play with cards from a set that will not be released for several weeks. The typical entry fee is $20–35 and each player will be given six booster packs, a special promo, and a set of sleeves that are themed after the new set. Each player builds a 40-card deck using the cards opened out of the six packs (not including basic Energy cards, which are provided at the event). At the end of each prerelease, players receive two extra booster packs. Players may also have the option of playing in a Theme Deck challenge instead of the Prerelease event, where they play for a theme deck and 4 booster packs.

Premier Tournaments

Premier Tournaments are meant for competition. There are six different types of Premier Tournaments (note that the following applies to the Canada and the United States only; other regions may have different prizes):

  • Premier Challenges: Premier Challenges are usually small, local tournaments that give Video Game players opportunities to work on their premier ratings, and earn practice with their team and strategy. Prizes include 1st place earning 30 championship points. Premier Challenges happen all year long.
  • League Challenges: League Challenges are usually small, local tournaments that give Trading Card Game players another opportunity to work on their premier ratings, and earn practice with their deck and strategy. Prizes include 1st place earning 15 championship points. League Challenges happen all year long.
  • League Cups: League Cups took the place of City Championships in the 2016-2017 season, the main difference being that a store may hold one League Cup per quarter, whereas city championships occurred once per year. League Cups are medium sized tournaments where Trading Card Game players from an area gather to play to compete for the title of "League Cup Champion". Prizes for first place are: 50 Championship Points, a "Champion" playmat, and a number of packs of the latest set determined by the tournament organizer.
  • Midseason Showdown: Midseason Showdowns are medium sized events that give Video Game players a chance to further hone their skills as trainers. There is no limit to how many Midseason Showdowns a store can hold. The level of competition may be higher than a Premier Challenge, but the rewards for doing well are greater. Prizes for first place are: 50 Championship points and other prizes the Tournament Organizer may give.
  • Regional Championships: Players come together to battle it out so he or she can become the Regional Champion. Prizes for first place are: 72 booster packs of the latest set, various prizes, a Regional championship award, 200 Championship points and $5,000.
  • International Championships: International Championships are held four times a year (one in Europe, Oceania, South America and North America) with no residency restriction like the National Championships had. These are the largest event in any region every year, where players from all over the world compete for the title of "International Champion". Prizes for first place include 500 Championship Points, 216 booster packs of the latest set, and $10,000 for TCG/$5,000 for VG.
  • World Championships: An invite-only event where players around the world come together and play. An invite is sent to anyone who has earned enough championship points (You need 400 in Junior, 450 in Senior and 500 in Master for TCG and 200 in Junior, 250 in senior and 400 in Master for VG). The world championships constitute an event in and of themselves, and many players travel to the World Championships just to observe.

Pokémon World Championships

The Pokémon World Championships is an invite-only event where the best players of the season compete for scholarship money, prizes and the title of World Champion. The 2014 Pokémon World Championships were held in Washington, D.C. with the presence of more than 155 trainers from around the world.

Trading Card Game (TCG) Championships

List of TCG World Champions

Year Juniors Seniors Masters Location
2004 Japan Hayato Sato Japan Takuya Yoneda Japan Tsuguyoshi Yamato Orlando, Florida
2005 United States Curran Hill United States Stuart Benson United States Jeremy Maron San Diego, California
2006 Japan Hiroki Yano Finland Miska Saari United States Jason Klaczynski Anaheim, California
2007 Japan Jun Hasebe United States Jeremy Scharff-Kim Finland Tom Roos Waikoloa Village, Hawaii
2008 United States Tristan Robinson United States Dylan Lefavour United States Jason Klaczynski Orlando, Florida
2009 Japan Tsubasa Nakamura Japan Takuto Itagaki United States Stephen Silvestro San Diego, California
2010 Japan Yuka Furusawa Canada Jacob Lesage Japan Yuta Komatsuda Waikoloa Village, Hawaii
2011 Brazil Gustavo Wada Australia Christopher Kan United States David Cohen San Diego, California
2012 Japan Shuto Itagaki Canada Chase Moloney Portugal Igor Costa Waikoloa Village, Hawaii
2013 Czech Republic Ondrej Kujal Australia Kaiwen Cabbabe United States Jason Klaczynski Vancouver, British Columbia
2014 Japan Haruto Kobayashi United States Trent Orndorff Canada Andrew Estrada Washington, D.C.
2015 Canada Rowan Stavenow United States Patrick Martinez United States Jacob Van Wagner Boston, Massachusetts
2016 Japan Shunto Sadahiro Denmark Jesper Eriksen Japan Shintaro Ito San Francisco, California
2017 Norway Tobias Strømdahl United States Zachary Bokhari Argentina Diego Cassiraga Anaheim, California
2018 Japan Naohito Inoue Denmark Magnus Pederson Germany Robin Schulz Nashville, Tennessee
2019 Japan Haruki Miyamoto Germany Kaya Lichtleitner Australia Henry Brand Washington, D.C.

Video Game Championships

In 2009, Play! Pokémon began to organize competitive tournaments for the Pokémon video game series alongside the Trading Card Game, which is collectively known as the Video Game Championships (VGC). Like the TCG Championships, players compete with other players in their own age divisions (i.e. Junior, Senior and Masters) in different Premier Tournaments, and the season culminates with the best players earning an invitation to play the Pokémon World Championships in August.

Pokémon VGC World Champions

Year Juniors Seniors Masters
2009 United States Jeremiah Fan Japan Kazuyuki Tsuji N/A
2010 Japan Shota Yamamoto United States Ray Rizzo N/A
2011 United States Brian Hough United States Kamran Jahadi United States Ray Rizzo
2012 United States Abram Burrows United States Toler Webb United States Ray Rizzo
2013 United States Brendan Zheng United States Hayden McTavish Italy Arash Ommati
2014 Japan Kota Yamamoto United States Nikolai Zielinski South Korea Se Jun Park
2015 Japan Kotone Yasue United Kingdom Mark McQuillan Japan Shoma Honami
2016 United States Cory Connor United States Carson Confer United States Wolfe Glick
2017 Australia Nicholas Kan South Korea Hong Juyoung Japan Ryota Otsubo
2018 Japan Wonn Lee United States James Evans Ecuador Paul Ruiz
2019 Taiwan Pi Wu Japan Ko Tsukide Japan Naoto Mizobunchi

Pokkén Tournament Championship Series

In 2016, Play! Pokémon announced that Pokkén Tournament will have its own championship series and will be played at the Pokémon World Championships.[1]

Pokkén Tournament World Champions

Year Seniors Masters
2016 United States Woomy!gun Japan Potetin
2017 N/A Japan Tonosuma
2018 Japan Kato United States ThankSwalot
2019 United States Ashgreninja1 Japan Subatan

Tournament Organizers/Premier Tournament Organizers

A Tournament Organizer (TO) is someone who runs tournaments for their local community. Usually, he or she runs them within a weekly or monthly basis at a local store. However, a Premier Tournament Organizer (PTO) has the ability to run major tournaments and Prereleases as well in any major place at a particular time. Like Pokémon Professors, TOs and PTOs have to be 18 or older.

Professor Program

The professor program is a special program in which Pokémon Professors help promote the game in many ways; Professors do so by judging, volunteering, advertising and more importantly, promoting the spirit of the game. To become a Pokémon Professor, a player must take the Professor Exam in the Professor section of the Organized Play website. A player must be at least 18 years or older to become a Professor (previously 15 from 2003 until late 2005).

Eligible territories

Whilst participation is open to any Pokémon player in the world able to attend, as of April 2019 only the following 56 territories are sanctioned to organize official Play! Pokémon events:

  • Argentina Argentina
  • Australia Australia
  • Austria Austria
  • Belgium Belgium
  • Bolivia Bolivia
  • Brazil Brazil
  • Canada Canada
  • Chile Chile
  • China China, People's Republic of
  • Colombia Colombia
  • Costa Rica Costa Rica
  • Czech Republic Czech Republic
  • Denmark Denmark
  • Ecuador Ecuador
  • El Salvador El Salvador
  • Finland Finland
  • France France
  • Germany Germany
  • Greece Greece
  • Guatemala Guatemala
  • Hong Kong Hong Kong
  • Hungary Hungary
  • Indonesia Indonesia
  • Republic of Ireland Ireland, Republic of
  • Italy Italy
  • Japan Japan
  • South Korea Korea, Republic of
  • Luxembourg Luxembourg
  • Malaysia Malaysia
  • Malta Malta
  • Mexico Mexico
  • Namibia Namibia
  • Netherlands Netherlands
  • New Zealand New Zealand
  • Nicaragua Nicaragua
  • Norway Norway
  • Panama Panama
  • Paraguay Paraguay
  • Peru Peru
  • Philippines Philippines
  • Poland Poland
  • Portugal Portugal
  • Russia Russia
  • Singapore Singapore
  • Slovakia Slovakia
  • South Africa South Africa
  • Spain Spain
  • Sweden Sweden
  • Switzerland Switzerland
  • Taiwan Taiwan
  • Thailand Thailand
  • Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago
  • United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom
  • United States United States
  • Uruguay Uruguay

Whilst all above territories are eligible to organize both trading card game (TCG) and video game (VGC) events, only a select few territories have been allowed to actually handle VGC events in practice due to relatively stricter requirements for the VGC Pokémon Professor program in comparison.

External links


  1. ^ Official Pokkén Tournament website, []