LANCASTER – Pokémon, the now world-wide sensation, was first released in the United States in 1998. It’s been almost 20 years since that release, and it wasn’t until this past weekend that the Antelope Valley saw itself host a regional tournament that covered both video game and card game competitions.
The tournament in Lancaster Saturday drew about 500 competitors of all ages from as far as Colorado and Utah. From die-hard players, who have been playing since the franchise first launched, to a new generation of players more than happy to talk your ear off about their favorite card, a diverse crowd gathered at the Pioneer Event Center (PEC) for the regional championship.
According to event official Cathy Di Leonardo, the largest gender demographic traditionally consisted of males; but as of recently, female participation has been rapidly increasing. The largest age group Saturday consisted of Masters, which is made up of competitors ages 16 and over, Di Leonardo said.
The competition consisted of winners and losers, but the goal for most players wasn’t just to win. The goal for most was to gather Championship Points.
Championship Points are a type of competitive currency that players use to be able to qualify for World Championships, which will be held in Boston later this year.
For other players though, the competition was a place to talk, laugh, joke, and generally relate to other people who share the same interest.
For those new to the franchise, the regional event offered a good place to learn. During Saturday’s competition, attendees were able to participate in side events, where they learned how to enter the world of competitive Pokémon. The event on Sunday offered a Community Expo for Pokémon fans of all ages.
A Pokémon competition this large was a first for the Antelope Valley. However, Lancaster resident and Pokémon Professor Ivan Pavlovich runs a smaller local league that frequently hosts events.
For more information on the local league, visit the Facebook page for Vince’s Pasta & Pizza Pokèmon League here.