PLAY! POKÉMON IS RETURNING! – WHAT THIS MEANS FOR TRAINERS AND LOCAL LEAGUE EVENTS
BY ELIJAH DOURESSEAU
Hey, trainers. It has already proven to be an eventful summer for Pokémon, and the governing body at Play! Pokémon (the official TCG ruling and events entity) has wowed the community with some heavy announcements recently:
1) Local league programming will officially return this week. Thankfully, they feel most stores and communities can play in a variety of scenarios that should be mostly safe, emerging from the Pandemic.
This means that if you’ve been playing at a local store, they’ll soon be organizing sanctioned events. You’ll get an official Pokémon trainer ID (if you don’t have one already) and the organizing store will use your ID to help run the tournament. The information from this tournament then gets sent to the governing body, and the store will receive organizing points, or credit, for the granted authority to run bigger sanctioned events in the future.
League promos will also return! It’s usually a card from the current expansion with a nifty “League” decal printed on the card.
There are often times other goodies as well – Pokémon swag that’s a token of thanks for participating in the weekly league.
Play! Pokémon also announced a new promo item in the form of a specially made booster pack. Concurrent Magic and Digimon players…you’re already used to this freebie so it’s nice to see Pokémon provide a similar perk for playing.
2) Though League is returning, it has been decreed early on that premier events will remain cancelled for the remainder of the year. Sad face.
When a league is running on full tilt, and Pokémon is recording the weekly efforts to keep a store’s Poke events well-attended, the store is allowed to put on a couple of special events per set – the League Cup and the League Challenge. To the competitive player, these are delicious events that give the trainer an opportunity to earn points towards a Pokémon World Championships invite at the end of the season. Affectionately known as Worlds, this is Pokémon’s Superbowl, for both the TCG and for competitive videogame play (VGC).
It’s the only event in a Play! Pokémon season series you need an invite to play in. If the old numbers still hold, North American trainers need 500CP (championship points) to qualify for the big show that hosts trainers from all over the world.
The points from Cups and Challenges are important for rounding out your total CP in any given season. You’re only allowed to receive so many points from league premier events, but any player who is serious about their invite will travel around to maximize their allotment.
It’s also a fun time for the store. These events usually have large turnouts and can be quite competitive. They’re run with a lot of scrutiny on the part of the organizer and event judge, but they’re really good practice for getting an idea of how long the road is to becoming a serious, competitive, and maybe even a sponsored/professional trainer who competes at Worlds.
The numbers might change, but before Covid, winning a Cup garnered 50CP, and a Challenge gave you 15. Top cut would receive lower amounts, according to the total turnout. And the prizing for these things rock. Since there is likely triple the amount of players than for local league, the price for admission has allows for a ton of sealed Poke product to give to the winners. Hopefully, we get a definitive announcement next year of when Cups and Challenges will return.
3) 2022 Rotation Announcement: For the North American standard format, rotation would typically occur right before or right after Worlds. Four to six sets are deemed to old to use in the standard format, and in a quasi-scientific way of keeping the game balanced, the cards from these sets rotate out of the main mode of playing the game.
Pokémon recently announced that ours is pushed back to early 2023! This affects the TCG in two big ways: our rotation schedule will by synched with Japan’s, which would also hopefully mean we can keep up with what most assume is the superior meta scene. It also means we get the biggest pool of standard cards in the format, ever. Cards from early 2020 will be able to join forces in decks with cards that release later this year. This dynamic should also help prevent the meta from getting stale, as there will soon be a TON of options for compiling lists and making variations of tier 1 and 2 decks.
The last two years have felt like the Wild West, in terms of finding stores that have made unsanctioned events for local players. A lot of the stores I frequent have brought back their weekly leagues. They just couldn’t submit the numbers and records to the governing body. But it’s given a lot of stores space to lean into bigger events, in order to keep the playing morale amongst trainers strong. There might be a slight dip in the $1k tournaments, GLC (Gym Leader Challenge) events and online tourneys, but gratefully, it appears that stores are being rewarded for their pivoting – to the formal return of sanctioned programming. Afterall, the value of cards and decks are largely impacted by competitive play. Always have been, save for the last two years. Or if you’re a Charizard card. Those stay expensive. But the entire TCG will be better for it.
There will soon be many a store to welcome trainers for weekly league tournaments. Be sure to use the events locator feature on the Pokémon website to find a store near you, and show ‘em that rogue decks mean business this season. May the shenanigans be ever in your favor.