How to Start Playing Pokémon Competitively
To start playing Pokémon TCG you must know a few facts:
1 – You will have to devote yourself to the game. A lot of study is needed to comprehend the cards and formats. Pay attention to how other people play, watch videos and live streams of tournaments and join groups to share information and deck ideas.
2 – Cards are not cheap. In the beginning, it is recommended that you use decks without multiple copies of the main cards.
3 – Players are divided into categories according to their age. They are considered JUNIOR players up to 10 years, SENIOR players from 11 to 15 years and MASTER players from 16 years old, with no maximum age limit.
4 – Good results will not be achieved quickly, you must train and strive towards your goal. Be patient and persistent.
5 – There are championships in different locations. Consider traveling a bit.
6 – Your weekends will be occupied by the game and you will not have much free time.
7 – Your parents and relatives must support your choice and will have to understand your absence on some occasions.
8 – The game contains a large variety of decks that will be played in a best of 3 matches. To get good results, you must train against all other decks.
9 – As for the game strategy, decks can have different play styles, such as: Control decks (beating the opponent by making them run out of cards (deck over)), Aggro decks (aggressive decks capable of dealing great damage right from the start of the game), Set Up decks (decks that must grow during the game, starting off slow and then becoming stronger in the end of the game) and Combo decks (decks in which you gather a big amount of cards in your hand and then use them all at once, in order to defeat your opponent in a single turn).
10 – Larger tournaments (such as Regional, Intercontinental and the World Championship) have a great prize money for the best place.
11 – As a result of championships, you earn CP (Championship Points). With a certain amount of them, you qualify yourself for a place in the World Championship.
12 – The game has different formats: Standard that is most used in tournaments; Expanded, that also has tournaments but in smaller amount; and Legacy that currently has no official tournaments
13 – The game has a great variety of rules. To learn them, watch specific Youtube videos or read the Pokémon TCG rulebook.
14 – Pokémon TCG has a continental ranking of the players based on their CP during the season (from September to September). The top 4 players in each continent win a travel award to the intercontinental championships that are held in Europe, Oceania, Latin America and North America, totaling 4 per season. Players from 1st to 16th places receive US$ 1000.00 to support their participation in the championship. In the World Championship, the best 8 players from each category from each continent receive a travel and accommodation award.
15 – Every player’s dream is to be able to participate in the World Championship and see the best players in the world up close. It is a blend of cultures and customs from many places around the world, a very rich and gratifying experience. The World Championship has a different tourney structure. Players who stayed in the top 8 get their guaranteed place for Day 2, while other players must participate from Day 1 and be qualified for the next day, by getting a certain amount of points (victory = 3 points, defeat = 0 points, draw = 1 point).
16 – No matter the result, the most important objective of the game is to have fun!
Team Formats (Sealed and Unified Constructed) – Team formats are the same as their respective single player formats, except that players share the cards available. In unified constructed players can only have 4 of a single card among the entire tea. In team sealed deck 3 players open 12 packs and make 3 decks to the best of their abilities so it’s extremely accurate to say that resources are truly shared among players in this format. I would have put these formats on the list, but they are derivatives of other formats so I put them as an honorable mention instead. They’re a ton of fun, but aren’t quite unique enough to break into the list!
Until next time,
The author recommends:
Zion di Tizio
Zion lives in Sao Caetano do Sul (Brazil). He has been playing Pokémon TCG since 2016.