Frankfurt, trade fair grounds. 1240 players sit at hundred meter -length tables. It is surprisingly quiet. The concentration can be felt. The Pokémon “International Championships” or European Championships take place here. There are participants from 40 countries and it is one of four major international tournaments in a Pokémon season. The cards, the video game, Pokémon Tekken and Go are played here. Only unite is missing.
- participants from 8 to 60 years
- “Otherwise the chaos would be too big,” says world champion Schulz
- Pokémon is special
- everyone can participate – however, the level is high
It is the first time in many years that a large Pokémon tournament comes to Germany and, according to the participants, also the first offline tournament in two years. International eSport has accepted Nintendo’s invitation: in 2018 we already titled “The underestimated eSport” and take the opportunity to look at Pokémon at the highest level. How does the event work, what is different from FIFA?
It was about these trophies in Frankfurt. Nintendo
participants from 8 to 60 years
The first thing that strikes: Hardly any other fantasy -based competitive competition brings together so many different people. The hall is full of players from 8 to 60 years, women and men, different nations, but here in Frankfurt clearly with a focus on Europe. And it is integrative. Only the skill counts, even the 10-year-olds loosen adults. Nowhere is there a bad word, as competitively as the players are during their games, they are so warm before and after and congratulating good actions.
Actually only a hall with tables: the international championships. Nintendo
A visit to the international championship is actually sobering. There are no much more than a exhibition hall with endlessly long tables and a stage for the stream here – two shops, the opportunity to take part in Side Events, and a few food trucks in the yard.
Match around match is followed by each other. Nintendo
But you could also say: Everything that is necessary is there, after all, the focus is on the fights. And they have it all: Pokémon is highly complex in every version. Even the youngest know every card, know about every Pokémon attack. In the video game, the opponents have to plan several trains as in the chess and only have chances if they can counter the opponent’s strategy.
“Otherwise the chaos would be too big,” says world champion Schulz
With the cards, the cards must always be selected from countless possibilities that offers your own deck. The difference to other collecting card games: at Pokémon the players draw a lot and search their deck. In this way, complex strategies can also be implemented as long as the opponent does not interfere.
As in the video game, the opponents have a Pokémon in combat, and the rest of the team on the bench. International eSport
And Pokémon is no different from other collecting card games: there is a handful of meta decks that are particularly strong. In contrast, strategies must be conceived and included in your own compilation. And beforehand, because a rule at Pokémon is: You shouldn’t change your deck during the tournament.
“Otherwise that would be too big,” says world champion Robin Schulz in our interview. Some decks can be countered with just one card, if you could pack them in, the tournament would end immediately for many players.
In 2018 the student won his trophy, but this time left early and underlines the two points: cover construction and preparation are essential. To win a tournament, you have to “invest time, find the right deck and practice a lot.” For two weeks he wants to meet friends in front of the upcoming World Championships and practice several hours every day – he is already qualified. In Frankfurt, on the other hand, Schulz was “honestly not really well prepared.”
Pokémon is special
Pokémon makes the positive energy and the sense of community that I experience on the tournament weekend. All players I speak to emphasize how happy they are to meet their friends and acquaintances.
The referees discuss. International eSport
This is where relationships are sometimes formed for a life: Baris Akcos, for example, is a referee, or in the German Pokémon language: Professor. He is engaged to one of the caster of the tournament and knows Markus Stadter, who has repeatedly been an expert in International eSports, from events around the world for a long time. “You get around a lot,” he says.
Baris Akcos is “Head Judge” in Frankfurt. He has been a referee for many years and was a player before.
All arbitration organizations are on a voluntary basis, observe the games, pay attention to rules, are open to questions. The further the participants come, the more “professors” watch the games. The temptation to trick is also greater with increasing prize money. “It’s about more money, more prestige, more World Cup points, every decision counts.”
If you do a good job, you will be invited again, including other countries, because there are many international players at the tournaments. For Akcos it is a home game this time, he lives in Frankfurt.
everyone can participate – however, the level is high
Everyone I talk to see as part of a big family and the feeling spill through the whole hall again in the finals. There are fewer spectators than an ESL One or Katowitz here, but they are no less loud or invested. The atmosphere once again gives the fights on stage a very special charm.
The level is high. At the international championships there is the highest prize money after the World Cup. Nintendo
The number of participants is still limited due to pandemic, AKCOS reveals. But already here you can feel the big festival around the little monsters of Nintendo. In principle, everyone can participate, but only really good players at international championships. However, this does not stop the many parents from playing somewhere in any discipline. This rarely exists with other escorts.
It is played in Frankfurt for three days, and on the first the opponents have to fight nine fights. Then it continues in the knockout system with best-of-thread. In terms of competitions, Pokémon is at a level with FIFA, LOL and Co.
The winners of the video and card game, each in three different age groups. International eSport
So Pokémon is not only an underestimated eSport of strong complexity, the entry hurdles are also extremely low and toxicity cannot be observed. So if you are still looking for an integrative, international, yet highly competitive eSport, you should be in good hands in the world of pocket monsters.
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