Pokémon TCG: The Chilean Way

Hello everybody. My name is Carlos Vergara. What, is something wrong with my name? Maybe it is. It doesn’t sound like the names you tend to be used to, like Josh or Peter, and that last name is something you maybe haven’t ever heard about. And you’re completely right, since I don’t live in the USA at all: I’m from Chile.

“Ok Carlos, what have you got to offer me”, maybe you are wondering. “Any achievements you have ever got?” Well, none at all. “Are you an experienced player at least?” Nope. Neither that. I’m just a beginner who has been playing for some few months and trying to get the hang of the metagame. I’ve been playing, though, for years, and my last tourney was several years ago for the EX: Aqua vs. Magma set prerelease, where I didn’t even get a decent prize besides the deck, booster packs and the prerelease card. After that I quit playing since I had no way to improve as a player.

“Then, what is all of this about?” No, this article won’t help you improve as a player. It’s about something not many people have wondered about: The state of the game in Chile. There’s something interesting you might want to know about before I keep on going: We don’t have POP or P!P right now, yet the game is still being played. How? First, let’s get to know a little bit of Chile, to get more into the context.

About Chile

Chile is a country in the southwestern part of South America. It is officially known as República de Chile (“Republic of Chile”) and its official language is Spanish. Its capital is Santiago de Chile, and its President is Sebastián Piñera (pronounce it as /sebastia’n pinyera/). It has a population of over 17 million people and an area of over 292,000 square miles. Geographically it has two special characteristics. First, it is a really long country from north to south, having a length of 2,700 miles. And second, it’s a really thin country from east to west, having only a width of 109 miles on average. It is also separated of Argentina by Los Andes Mountain Range.

Since Chile is a long country, it has a huge variety of environments, ranging from a desert in the north to ice zones and rainy forests in the south. That also means there are some cultural differences between the north and the south, this being boosted by the different kinds of native people present in each part: Aymaras at the north, and Mapuches at the south, just to give you two examples.

I stated already that Santiago is the capital of the country, but other main cities include, from north to south: Arica, Iquique, Antofagasta, Copiapó, La Serena, Coquimbo, Valparaíso, Viña del Mar, Rancagua, Curicó, Talca, Chillán, Concepción, Temuco, Valdivia, Osorno, Puerto Montt, Coyhaique and Punta Arenas.

A Little Bit of History

Now, a little bit of history. No, not the ones you would find in history books, we don’t really mind of that one. I mean, the history of the Pokémon TCG in Chile.

Salo was a company dedicated to make sticker albums about nearly everything, and it was quite famous back then. However, they also had the rights to distribute Magic: The Gathering and every tourney license. That helped MtG to grow strong around here. But, they also had released some Pokémon sticker albums, and, why not? They decided to release the Pokémon Trading Card Game. Reactions? It was a huge success. People bought cards, played with them and held tournaments.

Salo's first Pokémon album.todomercado.com
This is Salo’s first Pokémon album. It contained the beta names for several Pokémon instead of the actual names.

As in everywhere, the TCG began its downfall after the last Neo set, Neo Destiny, and more and more people had stopped playing. Once Nintendo got the license, the corresponding sets were still being released. However, the places where people could play were each time more scarce around the country, and the card games here had a strong competitor: Myths and Legends. It was a cheaper game with really decent mechanics and a each time more growing community.

What really killed Pokémon in Chile? Salo itself. Once they had the license to make POP around here. I can even remember getting into a legal league and getting my stamps in a card. However, they had a huge mess with the prizes they gave to people (can’t remember exactly what, but it had to do with that), so Nintendo revoked the permissions to make POP in Chile to Salo, and didn’t grant it to anyone else. Since then, in Chile, the Trading Card Game has gone slow and without big events, unlike Yu-Gi-Oh!, Magic or Myths and Legends.

But, during the summer (January) of last year Salo broke, and its card game stopped being produced despite it was popular. That shut the door for many players to keep playing (but, my city is a particular case. I’ll tell you about that later.) Later, a company called Devir got the rights for the Platinum sets but they didn’t really make an effort, focusing more on MtG,YGO and other tabletop and roleplaying games such as Dungeons & Dragons.

Very recently a newly born company named Big Bang (composed by some ex Salo executives) took the rights for distributing the TCG, and recently they released the HS: Triumphant set in Santiago, Valparaíso and Rancagua (you can see the website with the news here.) They are also soon to release a tournament to inaugurate the TCG. Given all of this, it is highly likely we will get P!P anytime soon. People are getting really excited about it, and their Facebook profile is full of questions asking if they will release the set anytime soon in their cities. Not only that, but one of the tournament prizes also include two invitations for the Call of Legends set prerelease tournament.

Regarding the organized play, Big Bang has announced recently they are finishing the conversations to get not just the league, but also Battle Roads and City, State, Regional and National Championships anytime soon and that they are planning to expand everywhere in Chile. They are also getting judges and league leaders (likely to be Professors) for the different tournaments and leagues.

Underground Importing and My City

HS: Triumphant Pokémon promotion by Big Bang
HS: Triumphant has been recently advertised and widespread around Santiago and some cities.

During all of this time, though, there has been a kind of “underground” where some people would import and sell booster packs and decks, and others would buy it. This also created buying, selling and trading fodder for many people who still played the card game. They even have a Facebook group where they buy, trade and sell cards. This has somehow kept alive the game through all of these years, and that also meant that there were people willing to play actively.

I live in Iquique, a small seaside desert city at the north of the country. Historically, we had a store named “Mundo Alterno” where they would import and sell cards, as well as organize tournaments and sell several anime related merchandise. But then, they lost their place in the department store they were in, and it was (sadly) replaced by a clothes store. After Mundo Alterno there was another store that sold cards and organized tournaments, but it broke since apparently the owner wasn’t earning enough money to keep it up.

The same owner of Mundo Alterno opened later a store in the same department store, named I.N.K. Although they just sold anime merchandise before, they began importing YGO and MtG cards and making tournaments a time later. They had relative success, so they tried something else: importing Pokémon cards, again. They sold out in no time, so they decided they would keep buying boxes, decks and tins from online stores and reselling them here. They had enough success, and since then they’ve organized tournaments and made their own “Pokémon League Challenge” where the players must beat competitive decks played by the store sellers.

Not having P!P around here, and hence, no Professors, is kind of harsh. As a beginner, I have to rely on ruling and help with nearly any player, and that is a risk since I don’t know who to trust (when usually I would trust in the Professor). One of my other complaints is that sometimes they apply rules that don’t really work like that right now, or rely on old information or rumors. Such is the case of Rare Candy, which is commonly accepted that it must not be played in the first turn if the player can play Trainer cards. Another example is that very recently they had the rumor of a mid-season rotation, and because of that they have stopped bringing any pre-Platinum sets, including the ones in the legal rotation (although they are aware already that it was just a rumor.)

Closing Words

Chile is a rather interesting country. With its environments and cultures, it’s nice to live here and know that you will always find something different in every city. The TCG also has an interesting but harsh history; One where Chilean players have always wanted to play but never had the chance to do so correctly with official Organized Play. This is the case with my city, too, but there have been efforts by different stores to get some Pokémon Trading Card Game going around.

I hope you have enjoyed my first article, and got to know a little bit more about my country. ¡Hasta pronto!

Reader Interactions

39 replies

  1. Red Ados

    That’s cool. I wish that more countries in South America would have P!P so that I could play in Ecuador.

  2. George


    Great story! Maybe more US players will be more appreciative of the advantages we have had over the years. I hope the P!P makes a push into Chile and other countries in South and Central America. Pokemon, bring the world a little closer together. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Anonymous

    From the forum posts lately, it seems Poland is in the same situation. I’m starting to wonder if that online TCG beta is aimed at these “new” Pokemon nations, and not so much at the nations with heavy P!P programs. That would certainly be something that would both surprise and delight me.

  4. Anonymous

    From the forum posts lately, it seems Poland is in the same situation. I’m starting to wonder if that online TCG beta is aimed at these “new” Pokemon nations, and not so much at the nations with heavy P!P programs. That would certainly be something that would both surprise and delight me.

  5. Jak Stewart-Armstead

    Great article. It’s really nice to read something different on the front page.

    Good luck to you and the other Chilean players for the future.

  6. Carlos Vergara

    Hello Francesco, and thanks for your comment.

    First, thanks for that bit of information, although I do remember you as being a seller there. Maybe I got confused, or something.

    Second, we do play with official rules and that’s something I do acknowledge. However, many rumors (as the half-season rotation) have been running around, and we both know these are just rumors.

    Third, I do agree the cooperation is awesome here. I do go with proxies, but proxies are PROXIES. Complain whenever I go to a tournament with them, besides I just playtest to try and learn to play with different kinds of decks before deciding myself on a way. I don’t have as much access as you to get more cards, and I need to learn, too. And I don’t go with a bad attitude, maybe you just don’t like me? You’re entitled to your own opinion though, but I don’t like to go with a bad attitude, or to make others feel uncomfortable.

    I don’t really complain a lot against the reality of our metagame, I actually like it, and I do praise the effort made so we players can play in a competitive game. I just point out how difficult it’s to play without a legal organized play, but I hope we get it soon. I’m looking forward to it.

    If my post annoyed you in one or other way, or if you have any differences or personal issues, we can have a talk anytime. I won’t have a problem with it =)

    And lastly, I made this post to inform english speaking players about our state of the game. Just think it of this way: Let’s say you have been playing on a league for years, and legal organized plays are something so common you can’t really think of what it means to play without it – And we are the example of that. And people do appreciate the effort done so that we can just play, just check the posts here and in the forums.

    Again, thanks for your post and see you soon.

  7. Carlos Vergara

    Ah, and another thing: Nowhere here I state anything about the quality of the metagame here. I actually have the intention to leave this for another article, after I study properly how people play and gather enough information. But I gotta tell you everyone, the quality of players and deckbuilding here is quite good.

  8. francesco pietroboni

    hello, first, the store I.N.K. is not the same owner as “mundo_alterno. ”

    second, in-store only plays on the official rules of pokemon.

    third, Iquique Chile pokemon league is a league where we cooperate with us to build the best deck possible, therefore,
    the level of the league is very good, and only you as out of this state to come to play only photocopies of letters and
    assembling decks with cards that do not you can get. also coming with a bad attitude with players.

    Iquique Chile pokemon league is made up of people of all ages, competing in tournaments on Saturdays and Sundays.
    apart from this they can also challenge I.N.K. gym and win prizes without any conditions.

    I hope my friends dejarce not driven by comments that do not reflect the reality of the game in Iquique, Chile.


    Francesco Pietroboni 1-ranked player INK gym

  9. Joshua Pikka

    Thanks for this overview of Chile

    In the Pokemon community we can sometimes be U.S. centric, so its nice to get some info from other places.

    I’m sure this was a learning expierence for a lot of people

    I hope you guys can get going soon and have tournaments, and a nationals, so we can see you guys at worlds.

  10. Robby Gill

    I actually played carlos via skype last night. for missing some key staples he still played very well. The deck he played was unique and alot of fun. It took me by surprise since it wasnt a meta deck at all. after we played to told me more about chile (i spelled it chili at first and he corrected me hah) and the problems with getting these staples. I really enjoyed playing amd talking with him, as well as this article. we have it pretty easy here with pre releases, websites (not having to ship over seas) healthy trade forums and leagues.

    Id really like to get some things together for these players.

    I know alot of players have stacks of extra staples (bebes, uxie,azelf, collector ect.) I think it would be really cool If some of us could donate the extra cards to these guys. Between boxes, trainer kits and league promos these cards arnt hard to find here and are pretty cheap. If anyone is willing to help please pm me. Ill be more than happy to ship off these cards.

    Ill most likely be making a thread for this soon.

        • francesco pietroboni  → Robby

          hello. I’ll put in two languages to better comprencion.
          I know one of the owners of the store that has the pokemon league in Iquique, Chile (official link). and the truth here in the store have all the products necessary for granting letters and build good decks. We all editions for sale and pressures. that compared with other restaurants specializing in Chile are quite inexpensive.

          cards and players are many, it’s just that this person lies about the reality of the game in Chile.


          hola. lo pondre en dos idiomas para mejor comprencion.
          sabes soy uno de los dueños de la tienda que tiene la liga pokemon en iquique chile(liga oficial) . y la verdad aca en la tienda tenemos todos los productos y cartas nescesarias para armar buenas cubiertas. tenemos de todas las ediciones a la venta y a presios. que comparados con los demas locales especializados en chile son bastante economicos.

          cartas y jugadores hay muchos, es solo que esta persona miente con respecto a la realidad del juego en chile.


        • Carlos Vergara  → francesco

          Francesco, read the article better, in no way I am bashing anything or lying – Or would you tell me, we do have league promos? And don’t tell me cards like Uxie or Azelf, staples in the actual metagame, are easy to get around here. Did you know people have like lots of these cards in the USA?

          Francesco, lee mejor el artículo, de ninguna manera estoy atacando a nada o mintiendo – ¿O me vas a decir que sí tenemos promos de liga? Y no me digas que cartas como Uxie y Azelf, staples en el metajuego actual, son cartas fáciles de conseguir acá. ¿Sabías que en los Estados Unidos la gente tiene hartas de esas cartas?

        • Carlos Vergara  → francesco

          You know we don’t. Promo league cards here are cards only possible to get in booster packs, making them difficult to make. I know of someone from USA with 14 Uxies, earned just at the league. Expert Belt, Spiritomb and the like are hard to get cards. Besides, I don’t either feel your support towards me, which I believe is an incorrect attitude from your part (telling me “you can’t get these cards” shows your lack of support, too.)

          But now, I want to talk this in person too.

          Tú sabes que no. Las cartas que son promos de ligas acá las tenemos sólo como cartas que salen en sobres, lo que hace que encontrarlas sea difícil. En Estados Unidos sé de alguien que tiene como 14 Uxies, y las ganó sólo en la liga. Expert Belt, Spiritomb y cosas de ese estilo son cartas complicadas de conseguir, sin contar que tú tampoco me das ánimos para continuar, lo que me parece es una actitud incorrecta de tu parte (que me digas “no puedes conseguir esas cartas” muestra tu falta de apoyo, además.)

          Pero, quiero hablar esto en persona.

        • francesco pietroboni  → Carlos

          somos tienda oficial si quieres llama o pregunta al distribuidor de chile. antes de hablar averigue. que tu no juegues ningun torneo es lo que te lleva a pensar eso.
          trenemos hasta grupo en face mas el de la tienda.

          gracias y espero no verte por aca

          We are official store if you want to call or contact the dealer in Chile. find out before you speak. that you do not play any tournament is what makes you think that.
          trains to face but the group in the store.

          thanks and hope not to see you here

        • francesco pietroboni  → francesco



        • francesco pietroboni  → Carlos

          mmm si hay todas esas cartas … io tengo muchas de esas … (ejemplo: tengo 7 uxis..4 azelf..artos collectors osea no son cartas k sean dificiles …) que feo que digas eso …
          osea que no vengas a jugar es otra cosa … aca se hacen torneos todos los fines de semana …
          solo es cosa de ser una persona comunicativa … no de llegar a un lado y sublevarse y decir cosas que nada que ver …bueno ese es mi punto de vista a este comentario que lo encuentro absurdo y patetico ..
          osea haces parecer a la ciudad como un pueblo desertado …que feo eso y para colmo tu tambien vives aqui …bueno aTT. saludos
          PD: para la otra piensa en las personas a las que tambien afectas con este tipo de comentarios …

        • Jak Stewart-Armstead  → francesco

          I tried putting that in Babel Fish to see what the English version was.

          This is what I got . . .

          mmm if there is all those letters… io I have many of those… (example: I have 7 uxis..4 azelf. .artos collectors osseous are not letters k are difficult…) that ugly that you say that… osseous that you do not come to play it is another thing… breadfruit become matches all the ends week… it is only thing of being a communicative person… not to arrive at a side and to revolt and to say things that nothing that to see… good that is my point of view to this commentary that it absurd and pathetic encounter. osseous beams to seem to the city like a deserted town… that ugly that and to make matters worse your also you live here… good aTT. greetings PS: for the other it thinks about the people to whom also you affect with this type of commentaries…

          I THINK I got what you meant, but the breadfruit bit is puzzling me ;)

        • Carlos Vergara  → Jak

          He meant that there are Uxies and Azelfs, aswell as Collectors, and that I don’t go to tourneys and that’s why I don’t see them (another newer post says that only two people here have these and that there are some kinds of rivalities going around). He also criticizes my point of view and believes I’m uprising and attacking, qualifying it as absurd and pathetic. And, he thinks I said this is a desert town.

        • Diego Villamar  → Carlos

          mmm si hay todas esas cartas … io tengo muchas de esas … (ejemplo: tengo 7 uxis..4 azelf..artos collectors osea no son cartas k sean dificiles …) que feo que digas eso …
          osea que no vengas a jugar es otra cosa … aca se hacen torneos todos los fines de semana …
          solo es cosa de ser una persona comunicativa … no de llegar a un lado y sublevarse y decir cosas que nada que ver …bueno ese es mi punto de vista a este comentario que lo encuentro absurdo y patetico ..
          osea haces parecer a la ciudad como un pueblo desertado …que feo eso y para colmo tu tambien vives aqui …bueno aTT. saludos
          PD: para la otra piensa en las personas a las que tambien afectas con este tipo de comentarios …

        • Diego Villamar  → Carlos

          mmm si hay todas esas cartas … io tengo muchas de esas … (ejemplo: tengo 7 uxis..4 azelf..artos collectors osea no son cartas k sean dificiles …) que feo que digas eso …
          osea que no vengas a jugar es otra cosa … aca se hacen torneos todos los fines de semana …
          solo es cosa de ser una persona comunicativa … no de llegar a un lado y sublevarse y decir cosas que nada que ver …bueno ese es mi punto de vista a este comentario que lo encuentro absurdo y patetico ..
          osea haces parecer a la ciudad como un pueblo desertado …que feo eso y para colmo tu tambien vives aqui …bueno aTT. saludos
          PD: para la otra piensa en las personas a las que tambien afectas con este tipo de comentarios …

        • Carlos Vergara  → Diego

          Hello Diego.

          Collectors, I do believe they aren’t especially hard – They come in Trainer Kits. Uxie+Azelf? Oh come on, explain then why Francesco said “no you can’t get those cards”. If what you say is true, then what he said is pure lying and discouragement, which is a wrong attitude from his part. I don’t always have the time to go to play – I’ve got a job and I have to finish an RP campaign too, although I was planning to be more active once I was done.

          No one is uprising and I believe you are missing the point of the article. I do not mean to attack or offend anyone, and if that happened, I’m extremely sorry. But I think you’re taking things too, TOO personally and having an incorrect attitute towards something that doesn’t really deserve the relevance you are giving to it.

          Lastly, I said this place is IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DESERT, not a desert place. Read the article again.

          Thanks for your comment Diego. Hope to see you soon.

          Hola Diego.

          Collectors, no son especialmente difíciles – Vienen en los Trainer Kits. ¿Uxie+Azelf? Ya pues, entonces explícame por qué Francesco me dice “no puedes conseguir esas cartas”. Si lo que me dices es cierto, entonces su actitud es de completo desánimo y una mentira, una actitud completamente errónea de su parte. No siempre tengo el tiempo para ir a jugar – Tengo un trabajo y debo además terminar una campaña de rol, pero tenía planeado ser más activo una vez haya terminado.

          Nadie se está sublevando y pienso que no estás viendo el punto principal del artículo. No quise atacar u ofender a nadie, y si eso pasó, lo siento muchísimo. Pero pienso que se están tomando las cosas muy, MUY personalmente y que tienen una actitud incorrecta hacia algo que realmente no merece la importancia que le están dando.

          Por último, dije que este lugar está EN EL MEDIO DEL DESIERTO, no que es un lugar desierto. Lee de nuevo el artículo.

          Gracias por tu comentario. Espero verte pronto.

        • Diego Villamar  → Carlos

          bueno io contigo no tengo ningun problema por que no te conosco mucho … pero sabes que para mi la comunicacion entre las personas k son el nucleo de un problema,, lo mejor para eso es hablarlo con ella/os… no hacer una polémica …solo eso …

        • Carlos Vergara  → Diego

          As I said, it was not my intention to make problems or cause any kind of controversy, but to inform other people and give my point of view about a topic they don’t really think much about (and as you can see, it’s a pretty popular topic right now, and they liked it a lot.) I’m sorry if these controversies happened.

          Como mencioné, no fue mi intención hacer problemas o causar cualquier tipo de controversia, sino que informar a otras personas y dar mi punto de vista sobre un tema sobre el que no piensan mucho (y como puedes ver, se volvió bastante popular, y les gustó mucho.) Pido disculpas si estas polémicas ocurrieron.

        • Carlos Vergara  → francesco

          And second, I insist: If you have a problem with me, we can have a talk anytime, I can go any time to solve this issue. Please keep personal attacks outside this website though, or I will see myself forced to flag your comments.

          Y segundo, insisto: Si tienes problemas personales conmigo, podemos conversar cuando gustes, puedo ir cuando sea a resolver este problema. Sólo mantén los ataques personales fuera de este sitio web, o me veré obligado a marcar tus comentarios.

  11. Steven Nilsen

    I’ve been to Iquique. Beautiful beach and beach loving life style. I was scooped up by some nice locals who insisted I stay with their family a few nights. Nice that this game is so international it can reach a sleepy town like Iquique. Chilean pop-art cartooning has its own history, like Japanese cartooning, and I can see how Pokemon would get there, but Iquique is off the beaten path for most backpackers I was so glad to have took it in!

  12. Gabriel Brown

    This is a very interesting and unique article. Thank you for writing it.
    It gives us all an interesting view on how the Pokemon TCG is played in a different country, so thanks. :)

  13. victor guerrero jofr

    es complicado.. rivalidad existe y por monton :) e intentando muchas veces conseguirme las cartas y diego tu sabes no voi por lo mismo me desagrada el caracter de siertos personajes, lo siente te estimo mucho pero tu sabes como son las cosas. que caco copie mazos y se ponga como 1 gym lider de nose que es cosa de el. Bueno saludos. porque uxies solo tienen usted y don marco xD

    • Diego Villamar  → victor

      si lo se pero creo que deben ser mas comunicativos …solo eso saben que siempre he sido re buena onda … lo mejor de cualquier problema es hablarlo..conversarlo y asi se resuelve .. :D

      • Carlos Vergara  → Diego

        Diego, I don’t have any problems with you, at all, and I deeply thank you for your openness. Sure, next time I have a problem, I’ll make sure to talk it with you, then =)

        Diego, no tengo problemas contigo, para nada, y estoy muy agradecido por ser tan abierto. Claro, la próxima vez que hayan problemas, me encargaré de hablarlo contigo =)

  14. Carlos Vergara

    People, I need to clarify some things.

    First of all, I want to keep clear that getting cards here is possible. However, since we don’t have a league (until next week, that is), some cards, especially some of the cards distributed as league promos, are hard to find because these aren’t distributed as such. Our only possible ways are buying online (something the store supports) or buying them somehow. Some decks here are built without staples like Uxie or Azelf, as I was informed, and these decks are still competitively viable.

    Second, an errata: The owners of Mundo Alterno are not the same owners of I.N.K.

    Third: I want to apologise for the bits of “facts” (which are not that factual) about the store I said about. I should have not mentioned anything about it, and they are incorrect and false. That is just based upon my experience with people inside the store (which have said things like that) and my mistake was to take things too generally. I did not want to make an uproar because of this, and I’m deeply sorry about that.

    I hope you have enjoyed the lecture, and I will see you around =)

    • Jak Stewart-Armstead  → Carlos

      The important thing is that you got people interested in the game in Chile who wouldn’t even care otherwise.

      Whatever is going on, it’s obvious that it is more difficult for Pokemon players there than it is in the US or Europe.

      I hope that things work out there and the game grows.

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