For once, an international event that I would
probably kill to go to is finally hosted in Vancouver this year, The Pokémon World Championships! I went to catch in on the festivities today and yesterday and it was an amazing experience. The city became a PokéFan haven for three days.
When I first arrived at the venue with my friends on Saturday, the first thing we did was line up for the retail store, since exclusive items were probably sparse and it will be gone quick. The lineup was enormous, it stretched all the way out from indoors to the city block outside. When we finally made it, although all the items were great, I couldn’t bring myself to buy anything because everything was so overpriced. :-S
Almost all of my friends don’t play competitively so they had no interest in watching the matches. They still had a great time as there were tons of other activities such as side tournaments, character distribution, photo-taking, and a theatre that showed retro Pokémon episodes. They even showed the banned episode with the weird Jinx and Santa!
I was really entertained by the VGC final matches that took place on Sunday morning. In fact, I just found out VGC tournaments were doubles. The strategies are totally different than singles and unpredictability was key. You wouldn’t find a lot of popular OU Pokémon such as Haxorus, Volcarona, and Starmie in these matches. I tried VGC Doubles the other day on Showdown and I absolutely got tossed around. I really should learn a few tricks from the champs and give competitive doubles another shot soon.
What I looked forward to the most was getting my old GameBoy SP signed by Junichi Masuda, the revered composer of all Pokémon games. The signings were scheduled for ninety minutes and even despite lining up super early I wasn’t able to get an autograph. However, I still got to talk with a lot of other fellow participants while waiting and it was just awesome.
I also met Ray Rizzo, the three-time Masters Division defending champ. Ray said that back in New Jersey, where he’s from, no one knows him. And he said that it was pretty cool he gets to enjoy three days of celeb status during the tournament. A bummer he finished in 25th place this year.
Of course, cosplays were abundant throughout the entire tournament. I saw various people dressed up as trainers, gym leaders, villains, and Pokémon. There were tons of chances to take pictures with dudes in mascot suits. Oshawott was by far the most popular, when it appeared everyone just swooned over him.
My favourite of them all was one dressed as Youngster Joey. He held up a sign that displayed the infamous annoying transcript you would frequently hear when Joey calls you on his PokéGear, boasting how good his Rattata was. But this time, he was boasting his Bulbasaur! I asked him where did his Rattata go, he said it’s in his PC because he has a Bulbasaur now. Well Joey, I wish you the best of luck!
The Pokémon Worlds was one of the best events I ever went to. And it wasn’t just watching the battles, snapping pictures, and browsing retail stores that made it memorable, it was the people. It was easy to strike up a conversation with someone sitting beside you when you’re watching a battle together. We speak a common language we’re there. I could care less when I couldn’t get autographs from the Game Freak staff, I was just happy that I got to share an experience with people who were as passionate about Pokémon as I was.
The 2014 Tournament was later announced today to be held in Washington, DC. If you’re a hardcore PokéManiac, I would say you should consider flying (You know, call your Salamence or Thundurus) there if you don’t live nearby. It’s worth it.