If Not For COVID-19, I Would Be Playing Serious Pokemon In London Right Now

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If Not For COVID-19, I Would Be Playing Serious Pokemon In London Right Now

STORY: Nicholas Yong
14 October 2020
Booster packs for the Pokémon Sun & Moon Guardians Rising edition of the Pokémon Trading Card Game.
Booster packs for the Pokémon Sun & Moon Guardians Rising edition of the Pokémon Trading Card Game. | PHOTO: 123RF

Yes, you read that right. It’s not a widely known fact, but every year, The Pokémon Company International hosts the official Pokémon World Championships held for both the Pokémon Video Game (VGC) and Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG).

And no, this is not Pokemon Go.

In the Pokémon VGC, players battle using six Pokémon each on Pokémon Sword & Shield for the Nintendo Switch. As for me, I play the Pokémon TCG – a card game where players make decks of 60 cards with the aim of collecting six Prize cards to win.

This year, the Pokémon World Championships was slated to be held in London, the first time that the annual tournament would have been conducted outside of North America. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the London Pokémon World Championships has been rescheduled to next year, with official competitive play put on pause for everyone’s safety.

How to play the Pokemon TCG?

It’s been more than 20 years since the game was first released, and the basic rules have remained the same. Players need to make a deck of 60 cards, which contain Pokémon Trainer cards that provide special effects to help you in the game, and Energy cards to power up your Pokémon attacks.

Watch these official How to Play videos to get a grasp of the game, then download the Pokemon TCG Online game for a free hands-on learning experience and access to robust tutorials. The online version is available for PC, Mac, iPad, and Android tablets.

How to qualify for the World Championships?

Before official competitive play was put on hold, VGC and TCG players in Singapore qualified for the Pokémon World Championships through a Championship Points (CP) system. In the 2019/2020 season, Singaporeans (under the Oceania region) needed to attain 250 CP to earn a qualification.

How do players gain CP? By performing well in tournaments, of course! Players can get 15 to 50 CP by winning monthly leagues called League Challenges and League Cups held in participating local card shops or win 200 CP in annual national tournaments called Regionals. The other top 8 players also earn points depending on the number of participating players.

Then, there’re the bigger International tournaments, held in four different regions throughout the season (Oceania, Europe, North America and South America). You don’t need CP to attend these tournaments, but they attract the top players around the world to compete to be the very best (that no one ever has been).

Curious about how the top players can afford to travel extensively? The top earning CP players (divided by region and by age group) win travel awards by The Pokémon Company – so the best players are paid to compete at high level tournaments. These high-level tournaments also award winners with prize money.

Talk about checking the boxes on two of Singaporeans’ favourite things: free money and travelling!

However, the CP system is no longer in use for our Southeast Asian region. A new system will be introduced for the Asian region for players to qualify for the 2021 Pokémon World Championships. We will update this page once more details have been announced.

Homegrown talent

You will be surprised to know that Singapore is home to several top Pokémon competitive players. Simone Lim, aged 7, made the news as the Junior category Pokémon VGC Champion at the Oceania International Championships earlier this year.


For the Masters level (born in 2004 or earlier as of July 5, 2020) we have internationally renowned players like Melvin Keh in the VGC and Clifton Goh (seen in the video above) for the TCG competitive scene, who have racked up top finishes in the past World Championships and major tournaments around the world. Klive Aw is the highest World Championships finisher for Singapore, earning 3rd place in the 2018 edition of the annual tournament.

My Pokemon TCG journey

I first started playing the Pokémon TCG all the way back in 1999. My brother and I would play the 2-player starter deck all day – he used the Fire deck while I played the Fighting deck. Years went by and new sets continued to be released, but after several years both of us fell out of the game.

PHOTO: NICHOLAS YONG
PHOTO: NICHOLAS YONG

While I did buy some cards for fun throughout the years, I didn’t seriously rejoin the game until 2015. Since then, I’ve learnt about the competitive scene and begun playing seriously in competitions. I haven’t performed well, but I’ve had a lot of fun!

The best part: my brother joined in a few years later. I made many new friends, and we travelled throughout Southeast Asia to play in major tournaments to win CP. Pokémon TCG was the reason I made my first trips to the Philippines and Thailand. I even went to Sydney and Melbourne to play in the Oceania International Championships.

This journey culminated in the 2018 Pokémon TCG World Championships in Nashville, Tennessee, where I met and played against players that came from all over the world. It was a surreal experience and a fantastic weekend that I shared with my brother and people I now call my close friends.

Participating in tournaments helped me (extreme left) make new friends and visit places like the Philippines and Thailand for the first time.
Participating in tournaments helped me (extreme left) make new friends and visit places like the Philippines and Thailand for the first time. | PHOTO: NICHOLAS YONG

While I didn’t make the 2019 World Championships, I worked harder and performed better in the 2019/2020 season, which qualified me for the 2020 World Championships in London. However, current circumstances mean that I’ll have to wait another year to see how I will perform. Fingers crossed, if the pandemic eases by next year, I’ll try my luck at becoming the Pokémon TCG World Champion!

Interested to get your hands on a deck?

If you’re looking to buy Pokémon TCG product in Singapore, here are some places where you can #SupportLocal:

- Sanctuary Gaming, #04-09 Orchard Gateway 238858

- Project EXT, 190 Middle Rd, 188979

- Goodness Gracious Games; 1 Marne Road The Citron, #01-36, 208380

- Pokebar, Havelock 2 Shopping Centre #01-44, 059763

- Bricks Play; 83 Toa Payoh Central #02-278, 310183

- Excel CS; Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station Exit C 238889

- Agora Hobby; Kitchener Complex Block 809 #06-154, 200809

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TAGS: Hobbies , LIVING
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