Pokémon Go may have taken over the world, but it’s not the only Pokémon game in town. The franchise’s new competitive structure—and increased prize pool, with $250,000 up for grabs at four continental championships—will have trainers ready to leave the virtual gym for the updated real life Pokémon Champion Series.
Pokémon revealed big changes to its Play! Pokémon series today, which features international competitions for both the Pokémon Trading Card Game and the video game series, most recently Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby.
This year, the Championship Series is moving away from a format based off National events qualifying players for the World Championship, which featured $500,000 in prizes last year. Instead, four continental championships, one in each of Europe, North America, Latin America, and the Asia-Pacific region, will feature $250,000 in prizes each as well as big Championship Point awards which qualify players for Worlds.
In addition, Regional Championships, which also award points, will now feature more than $50,000 in prizes. Regionals will now be better spread throughout the year instead of clustered in a tight schedule like last year, which should allow players to more easily attend multiple events. Plus there will now be no residency restriction, meaning players can travel internationally to compete in more events if they are able.
The prize pools are usually split between the card game and the video game as well as by age group. Last year, players 18 years and older could receive their prize as cash or a scholarship, while younger players chose between scholarship or travel certificates.
Regionals announced so far include Phoenix on Oct. 1-2, Orlando on Oct. 15-16, Philadelphia on Nov. 5-6, Dallas on Dec. 31-Jan. 1, St. Louis on Mar. 4-5, Portland from Mar. 25-26, Seattle on May 27-28, and Madison on June 2-4, with more likely to be announced in the future.
Instead of hosting their own State and National events like last year, Play! Pokémon will now sanction third-party events on a case-by-case basis, including allowing them to award Championship Points.
The changes have many trainers looking forward to more growth for competitive Pokémon in 2017:
Details on the World Championship itself were not revealed, but you can bet it will be bigger than ever. With Pokémon Go on the market, Pokémon Sun and Moon set for November release, and the updated Play! Pokémon Championship Series, there's never been a better time to be a trainer.