Children Spending Hours Playing Pokémon In Hopes Of Winning Tens Of Thousands At Tournaments

Move over, baseball and soccer. There’s a new game in town. Parents are now coaching their children to play Pokémon as some tournaments shell out $25,000 for the winner.

These children are spending hours a day practicing for the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG), using an online simulator to battle others, like 11-year-old Drake Zhu, a high-ranking TCG player from New Zealand. Drake has created a spreadsheet to see how his cards perform against others. He tells The Telegraph he plays hundreds of games in a single sitting.

Pokemon cards
Pokemon cards. (Photo by Thimo Pedersen on Unsplash)

“But I’m strict with myself,” Drake explains to The Telegraph. “I have to do my homework first and eat dinner with the family.”

Children are spending so much time playing Pokémon — thanks to high-cash prizes and the chance to travel the world.

“The Pokémon experience is similar to any of the hobbies I had when I was young,” Joe Zhu, Drake’s father, told The Telegraph. “I didn’t play card games as a kid — I played volleyball and football. But those sports didn’t offer me the chance to go abroad.”

However, trying to become the best Pokémon player in the world can be very stressful for young children. Peter Shapkin, 10, played in front of hundreds at a tournament in London. He finished in second-place, won $5,000 and a free trip to Hawaii, but it took a toll on him.

“There’s so much stress on you,” Peter told The Telegraph. “You can’t make mistakes and it’s just really tiring. I was really tired yesterday and I’m tired now — you use your brain for a solid 50 minutes for each round.”

Konstatin Shapkin, Peter’s father, explained to The Telegraph that these tournaments, while exhausting, helps his son build character.

“Learning to deal with winning and losing is part of the journey. When Peter was younger he got very emotional every time he lost. Since then he has matured and learned to accept defeat gracefully.

“As a parent, I think this is an invaluable experience for him as later in life he will have enough resilience to deal with adversities and frustration.”

Another youngster, 12-year-old Kevin Han, won $5,000 in the Pokémon Video Game Championship that’s played on the Nintendo Switch. Kevin’s mother, Anita Han, says her son has had his share of disappointments and bitter experiences playing in these tournaments, leaving her to question if he should continue doing so. But, she told The Telegraph, it helped her son build up “grit.”

“I realized that through an activity like competitive Pokémon, children can develop grit through the process of losing, going back to the drawing board, and competing again,” says Han.

Kevin appears wiser than his age. He told The Telegraph that the day playing Pokémon stops being fun, it’s time to call it quits.

“Before tournaments, I sometimes have no sleep at all because of the nerves,” he told The Telegraph. “But I don’t like to practice every day, because if I force myself to play when I don’t want to then I’ll lose my love for Pokémon.”

A Beginner’s Guide to the Pokémon Trading Card Game

If you’re a fan of Pokémon and looking for a new way to enjoy the franchise, the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) might be just what you’re looking for. This collectible card game allows you to battle with your favorite Pokémon characters, build strategic decks, and compete against other players. Here’s a beginner’s guide to help you understand the basic rules and get started with the Pokémon TCG.

The Objective:

The goal of the Pokémon TCG is to defeat your opponent by “knocking out” their Pokémon. Each player starts with 60 cards in their deck and a hand of seven cards. The first player to take all of their prize cards (usually six) by knocking out their opponent’s Pokémon wins the game.

Card Types:

There are three main types of cards in the Pokémon TCG:

  1. Pokémon Cards: These depict the creatures you’ll battle with. Each Pokémon card has HP (Hit Points), attacks, weaknesses, resistances, and retreats costs.
  2. Trainer Cards: These cards represent items, supporters, and stadiums that help you throughout the game by allowing you to draw cards, heal Pokémon, or perform other strategic moves.
  3. Energy Cards: These provide the energy needed for your Pokémon to attack. There are different types of energy, such as Grass, Fire, Water, Lightning, Psychic, Fighting, Darkness, Metal, and Fairy.

Setting Up:

  1. Shuffle your deck and draw seven cards.
  2. Place your Active Pokémon (the one you’ll start the game with) face-down on the battlefield.
  3. Place up to five Basic Pokémon face-down on your Bench.
  4. Place six Prize Cards face-down to the side of the battlefield.
  5. Flip a coin to determine who goes first.

Turn Structure:

Each turn consists of four main phases:

  1. Draw: Draw a card from your deck.
  2. Active Pokémon: Put your Active Pokémon into play if you haven’t already.
  3. Trainer Cards: Play any Trainer Cards you want to use during this turn.
  4. Attack: Use your Active Pokémon to attack your opponent’s Active Pokémon.

Attacking and Damage:

To attack, your Pokémon must have the necessary Energy Cards attached to it. Each attack has a specific damage output and may have additional effects. When a Pokémon takes damage equal to or greater than its HP, it is knocked out, and the attacking player takes one of their Prize Cards.

Evolving and Retreating:

Some Basic Pokémon can evolve into Stage 1 or Stage 2 forms, which are usually more powerful. To evolve a Pokémon, place the evolved form on top of the Basic Pokémon. If your Active Pokémon is in trouble, you can choose to retreat it by paying its retreat cost in Energy Cards and switching it with one of your Benched Pokémon.

These are the basic rules to get you started with the Pokémon Trading Card Game. As you become more familiar with the game, you’ll discover advanced strategies, deck-building techniques, and a wide variety of cards to collect and trade. Remember, practice makes perfect, so keep playing, and most importantly, have fun!

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