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Sunday Kids’ Day: Pokémon Tournament

Above: Players battle at the Pokémon Tournament, one of the most popular youth events at Comic-Con's Kids' Day.

Young children show-off their bounty hunter costumes at San Diego Convention Center.
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Above: Young children show-off their bounty hunter costumes at San Diego Convention Center.

Young players compete in Sunday's Kids' Day Pokémon tournament at Comic-Con.
Enlarge this image

Above: Young players compete in Sunday's Kids' Day Pokémon tournament at Comic-Con.

Kids' Day includes panels with creators of favorite movies like Pixar's “Cars,” Nickelodeon showing new episodes of “The Penguins of Madagascar,” “Fairly OddParents,” and “SpongeBob SquarePants,” with special events like the Star Wars Trivia Game hosted by the San Diego “Star Wars” Society.

One of the most popular events at Comic-Con each year is the Pokémon Tournament.

Hundreds of kids compete during the week for prizes and the last chance to “catch ‘em all” is the Kids’ Day Tournament, which draws quite a crowd.

Note to parents: If you’re looking for an oasis of calm in the chaos that is the Comic-Con, check out the Pokémon Hall. It’s quiet by comparison, air-conditioned, supervised by judges, with seating available in the “parents’ area” and patio to rest your feet. Shhh, keep it a secret!

On this last tournament it was a sealed deck competition. Each player is given six free booster packs (10 cards each) to build a 40 card deck.

One “Pokémon Trainer” had been going to three tournaments a day for three days resulting in 540 free cards plus the cards he won as prizes. Each player is given 30 minutes to create a deck before the battles begin. Each battle is 20 minutes and players are broken up into three age groups: Junior, Senior, and Master levels. First prize is 36 booster packs, second place prize 24 booster packs, and third place gets 12 booster packs.

Just before the tournament starts, it becomes strangely quiet considering it’s a room full of young people, and all you hear is the shuffling of cards. Once the action gets going there’s quite a bit of banter about “Snorlax, Exercise!” “Gardenia, Overgrow!” “Shiftry, Unlucky Wind!”

As the tournament goes on and trainers drop out of the competition, the action continues on the sidelines. Trainers have fun and challenge each other regardless of age using their own specialty decks. Also, some trainers become “Traders.” After all, Pokémon is a trading card game. One highly sought after card is the “Flygon level EX” and trading is furious for this card. It’s impressive to see these young kids negotiate deals that would make Wall Street take notice.

It’s amazing to see a new generation of young people so enthusiastic about Pokémon. Pokémon (“Pocket” + “Monster”) has continued to grow in popularity since it was first released as a Nintendo video game in 1995. It is recognized worldwide and has generated several new video game titles, comic books, cartoons, 12 movies, toys, and the wildly popular trading card game.

In addition to the Pokémon Tournament, the Pokémon Pavilion was a favorite stop showcasing the latest game – Pokémon Platinum – on the Nintendo DSi. Pikachu and friends continue to be a major attraction at Comic-Con to the delight of the young and the young at heart.

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