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Play! Pokémon logo
Play! Pokémon formerly known as Pokémon Organized Play (often abbreviated as POP), is a division of The Pokémon Company. This division is for the Pokémon Trading Card Game and the Pokémon Video Game and was formed by Pokémon USA in 2003 after Wizards of the Coast lost its license to the Trading Card Game, they created a new league, tournament, and prize systems, as well as improved the existing 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 represents one of the badges that can be earned by completing all rows in the Player score card, on either the Trading Card Game or Video Game side, then receiving the Gym badge and promo cards of the current season. Usually there are several weeks of a break between seasons, but most leagues continue to play to allow players to catch up on prizes they may have missed. Most leagues meet once a week for two to four hours. All League Owners and League Leaders at the end of the season then report all participants who entered the league during the season to Pokemon.com 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 encouraged to register their POP ID online at www.Pokemon.com with their existing account. Afterward, any tournament results or league participation can be linked to the trainer's personal account.
Local Tournaments are meant for both fun and practice. They 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 are events in which players play with cards that will be released in stores in weeks prior to the event. The fee is $20–35 and each player gets six booster packs, a special promo, and a set of sleeves 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 are meant for competition. There are six different types of Premier Tournaments (note that the following prizes apply to the Canada and the United States only; other regions may have different prizes):
- Battle Road Tournaments: Battle Road Tournaments are no longer run starting in the 2013-2014 season.
- League Challenges: League Challenges are usually small, local tournaments that give 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.
- City Championships: When players from a specific city come together to determine who is the City Champion. Prizes for first place are: 18 packs of the latest set, and 50 championship points as well as assorted merchandise. Formerly, City Champion medals were awarded to players as a reward, however due to complications that arose in fall 2011 with the company that prints the medals and past delivery times, Play! Pokémon is awarding another award, yet unannounced.
- State Championships: Players from all over a state or province come together to play and become the State Champion. Prizes for first place are: 36 packs of the latest set, various prizes, and a Provincial Championships award. First place will also earn 100 championship points.
- Regional Championships: Players from a specific Region come together to battle it out so he or she can become the Regional Champion. Prizes for first place are : 36 booster packs of the latest set, various prizes, a Regional championship award, A Travel Award with Hotel Stay for the National Championships as well as 120 championship points and a first and second round bye in the National championship Swiss format.
- National Championships: This is a big event where players from all over the country come together to determine who are the top players of their respective countries. First place also earns 500 championship points, 72 booster packs of the latest set, and a travel award for 5 days and 4 nights to the Pokémon World Championships.
- World Championships: An invite-only event where players around the world come together and play. An invite is sent to anyone who has earned 400 or more championship points. The world championships constitute an event in and of themselves, and many players travel to the World Championships just to observe.
Current list of World Champions under P!P
- 2004: Hayato Sato (10-), Takuya Yoneda (11-14), Tsuguyoshi Yamato (15+)
- 2005: Curran Hill (10-), Stuart Benson (11-14), Jeremy Maron (15+)
- 2006: Hiroki Yano (10-), Miska Saari (11-14), Jason Klaczynski (15+)
- 2007: Jun Hasebe (Junior), Jeremy Scharff-Kim (Senior), Tom Roos (Master)
- 2008: Tristan Robinson (Junior), Dylan Lefavour (Senior), Jason Klaczysnki (Master)
- 2009: Tsubasa Nakamura (Junior), Takuto Itagaki (Senior), Stephen Silvestro (Master)
- 2010: Yuka Furusawa (Junior), Jacob Lesage (Senior), Yuta Komatsuda (Master)
- 2011: Gustavo Wada (Junior), Christopher Kan (Senior), David Cohen (Master)
- 2012: Shuto Itagaki (Junior), Chase Moloney (Senior), Igor Costa (Master)
- 2013: Ondrej Kujal (Junior), Kaiwen Cabbabe (Senior), Jason Klaczynski (Master)
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).
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.