This past weekend, Kevin and I drove up to Nashville, Tennessee for the 2018 Pokémon World Championships. Surrounded by Pokémon fans of all ages from all over the world, we watched the top international players battle it out for the Championship title. Find out how to experience your first Pokémon Worlds in our newbie’s guide:
I needed a lot of input from Kevin on this blog post because Pokémon is his domain, and I was just along for the ride. Since this year’s competition was held in Nashville, only a short 4 hour drive away for us, Kevin was determined to go as a spectator. We drove up to Nashville Friday afternoon and met a couple friends who were going to the competition with us. This year’s tournament was held at the Nashville Music City Center, right in the heart of downtown Nashville, so in between games there was plenty of great food to eat, music to hear, and sights to see.
What is Pokémon Worlds
The Pokémon World Championships are a three-day competition held Friday through Sunday where the world’s top Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) and Video Game (VG) players compete for prizes and more importantly the World Champion title. Spectators can come watch the battles in person and participate in side events that allow them to play as well.
How do you become a competitor?
Competing players attend by invitation only. Competitors have to go to Championship Series tournaments throughout the season and place well enough in those tournaments to earn enough points to earn a spot in the championship. The top players even get their whole travel expenses paid for, which is great if you’re attending the tournament internationally.
How do you get to be a spectator?
Being a spectator is much easier — all you have to do is buy a $10 spectator badge. But the badges do sell out quickly, so it’s best to snag one as soon as they go on sale.
What to Do at Pokémon Worlds
Watch the competitions
There are three types of competitions at Pokémon Worlds: Trading Card Game, Video Game, and Pokkén Tournament. While the TCG and VG tournements are invitation-only, the Pokkén Tournament is an open tournament. The TCG Championship is a table-top strategic game where players build decks of Pokémon, trainers, items, and energy cards to battle against others. The Video Game Championship has players battle on Nintendo’s older handheld consoles, with this year’s games being Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon on the Nintendo 3DS. Pokkén Tournament Championship is a fighting video game played on the Nintendo Switch.
Stages are set up and decked out with themed decorations (for Nashville, it was all country music themed). Certain Pokémon players are set up at tables and consoles on stage while giant screens project closeups of the action and commentators announce the plays like any other sporting event. You can watch from the audience, or if you step out or can’t attend the tournament, these games are streamed live on Twitch.
The players compete for a pool of $50,000 worth of prizes and the Championship title, so there’s a lot at stake here.
Participate in side events
Spectators can bring their own cards and video games and play in side events like open tournaments, pick-up games, and sealed tournaments. This year, the Nashville Open tournament allowed TCG and VG players to battle, earning Championship Points equivalent to a Regional Championship event that are counted toward the 2019 Championship Series season. Pick-up games cost $5 to enter. These are games where you bring your own pre-built deck or video game Pokémon team and battle against other players. Sealed tournaments cost $20 to enter. In these games, you open a release box and boosters packs and construct a deck to battle against others. The best part is once you finish this sealed format, you can keep all of the cards you just opened!
Playing side events gets you tickets. For most side events, you get a ticket just for sitting down. After that, you get another ticket for each match you win, with most events lasting for a maximum of three battles. Tickets can be used to redeem Worlds-exclusive merchandise from the prize wall, along with more basic prizes such as TCG booster packs or cute Pokémon plushes (like my Stufful above!). For some merchandise, tickets are the only way to get these prizes, since they are not sold anywhere else. There were even people that earned enough tickets to get a Nintendo Switch!
The Pokémon Center store has special Worlds-exclusive merchandise that’s themed for whatever region it’s in. In Nashville, the theme was country music. Pretty much all the Worlds merchandise is popular, but the big ticket items were the plush Pikachu playing a banjo, a backpack featuring the whole band honky-tonk Pokémon, a TCG play mat, a bandanna, and more. You don’t have to have a badge in order to visit the Pokémon Center.
- You can show off your love of your favorite Pokémon with T-shirts and accessories. Some people even come dressed up as their favorite Pokémon or trainer.
- You can trade with people for other Pokémon cards, which can be in other languages.
- You can trade for other countries’ Pokémon in the VG.
- You can trade for regional merchandise that is only sold in certain countries or US regions.
- You can take pictures with Pikachu and Eevee.
- You can preview of the newest Pokémon games. This year, you could try the Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee and Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu Switch games.
- You can grab a bite to eat from the convention center’s food vendors. For Nashville, this included an old soda pop fountain, which had free refills for the day when you bought a souvenir mug.
- You can explore the city in between matches.
Next Year’s Pokémon World Championships
In 2019, the Pokémon World Championships is heading to Washington, D.C. The tournament is set to be held in August 2019.
Paige & Kevin
What’s your favorite Pokémon? Let me know in the comments!