Back in April Pokémon announced that it would cancel its competitive season for its trading card game (TCG), Videogame Championship (VGC) and Pokkén Tournament DX. The company has been quiet since then but it has now announced a smaller tournament to take place online.
The Players Cup Online Tournament is rather special as it represents the first time Pokémon has made a big push to bring all three of their competitive games online.
There are three stages to the tournament: qualifications in June, double-elimination brackets in July and then the final stage in August for the top players still remaining.
The prize is a Travel Award to a future physical tournament at some later date. This is a bit underwhelming but it’s a common kind of prize for Pokémon events.
Each of the three games have a slightly different format for each stage of the tournament.
TCG players will be chosen by their ranking on the June leaderboard for the standard format based on Tournament Rep.
VGC players will qualify by competing in the International Challenge May Online Competition. This takes place between 21st and 24th May.
Those playing Pokkén Tournament DX have the simplest time here as they will simply need to directly register for a specific qualifier at a later stage.
While all of this sounds great it is fraught with problems. First of all kids cannot partake as this tournament is exclusive to what Pokémon calls Masters Division players. This is for players born in 2003 or earlier.
Secondly for the VGC only the top 256 performers in the North America, Europe, Oceania and Latin America regions will chosen. This excludes many countries such as our own South Africa, which is recognised by Pokémon as a competitive area as players here can qualify for other events.
The last grievance is the way the trading card players will need to compete. The online client, simply called Pokémon trading Card Game Online (PTCGO), is woefully under equipped even for casual play. We wrote about some of its problems back in October 2018 and all of those problems are still present in the game.
The way the qualifications work for TCG seems to suggest that all people need to do to make it is to grind as much as possible instead of actually performing well. Hopefully more clarity is provided soon.
All those problems aside we are happy to see Pokémon taking some steps to provide an outlet for play during the pandemic. While intended for kids Pokémon has a surprisingly large esports scene with competitors from around the world and at every age.