Rising Poké-Nations – How to Start Organized Play in Your Country

The Pokémon TCG is a worldwide game. However, only a few countries have Organized Play and official tournaments. Since 2012, with South Africa joining the list of countries with official tournaments, the game has finally spread on all continents!

In the future, I believe that we will see more and more countries take part in this beautiful game and play at Worlds. I am very happy to see countries like Chile and Philippines getting tournaments recently, and I hope that new countries will get their chances in the future.
map

Map of worldwide Organized Play and Worlds invite distribution.

All the countries in blue on this map have Organized Play, with the darker the blue, the more the country has invites for the Worlds Championship through their National Championship.

In black you can see the countries that have only non-Premier tournaments listed on Pokémon.com. In gold it is Japan and Korea which are completely separate of the rest of the world. As you can see, for now it is mostly the Western countries that have a good Pokémon Organized Play.

I would love to see one day Russia, Spain, Thailand, and India playing at Worlds!

I see a lot of people complaining that they don’t have enough tournaments in their country, or simply that they don’t have any official Pokémon TCG tournaments. I think it is quite sad, and I understand that a lot of players would be motivated to try to do something, but sometimes they don’t know how to do it or they do it wrong.

Even though I am not a guru about how this works, I understand how to get the maximum chances to improve or get you country to become part of the Pokémon nations! Here are my 5 cents.

Step 1 – Contact the Distributor

If there is no Organized Play or you want more tournaments in your country, the first thing to do is to contact the local distributors. The company in charge of the sales in the country is usually the only entity that has the power to ask Pokémon Co. to get tournaments, leagues, etc…

You may send 10,000 e-mails to Pokémon; they will usually do nothing and maybe not even give you an answer. They simply do not have the power to bring tournaments to you.

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Now who is the distributor in your country? Getting an answer to this question might not be that easy. If you know a place where they sell Pokémon boosters, you can ask them who is providing them the Pokémon TCG products, and you will very likely get your answer.

If you don’t know where the cards are sold in your country, it might become a little bit more challenging. You can try to find the distributor for Yu-Gi-Oh TCG products and Pokémon video games. It is not rare that the Pokémon TCG distributor is the same that one of this products.

Google is also your friend in this research, but if you still cannot find an answer, there is only solution left. You will have to write to Pokémon Co. and ask who might have the rights to sell the cards in your country. Sadly you may have to send and resend few times your questions in order to get a decent answer…

Once you’ve found the distributor, give them a phone call and ask about their feelings on starting an Organized Play. I know we are in the “internet age” and the first reflex is to send e-mails, but it is really hard to get the answers that way… At least with a phone call, you will get your answers quicker and will be able to explain your motivations easier.

There is a sad reality… most of distributors only care about money.

Step 2 – Start Leagues

Even if you were successful or not on the first step, you will have to prove that your city/country deserves official tournaments.

The only way is to start a league and gather the maximum players you can. You don’t need to hold the league every week actually, you only need to have a place where players come to play. The important thing is to be together and play! You will get more chances to bring Pokémon in your country if you have Pokémon friends that live in other cities and start also a league on their side.

Once you gathered your players, you don’t want to lose them too, otherwise it would be wasted time. A successful way to not lose your players is to create a forum or a Facebook group. That way, every time you decide to meet for a play, you will be able to dispatch the information more efficiently.

pokemon-communication-heartgold-soulsilver-hs-98pokemon-paradijs.com

In order to be successful in gathering players there is only one way: good communication.

Imagine in the world the number of players that would love to take part to leagues and tournaments and they don’t because they don’t know? I can’t tell you how many years I only played with my little brother, simply because we didn’t know that tournaments exist. And in fact, there were already tournaments not far from home, and I would have participated…

So the first thing in my opinion to do when you start a new league is to create a website and a Facebook page!

Imagine now that you are a player from Thailand. You want to play the game, so the first thing that you will do is to type on Google “Pokémon Card Thailand” or “Pokémon Card Bangkok”. If you don’t find there any website talking about Pokémon Cards in Thailand, you may simply think that it does not exists in Thailand and give up.

So don’t forget to give a good name to your website or Facebook page, like “pokemonthailand.com” as an example… Then you will have better chances of getting new players to find out about your league.

Keep in mind that Pokémon Leagues are the most important thing in the development of a Pokémon nation. The more leagues that are held in the country, the more tournaments that can be organized. The more tournaments that are held, the bigger are the chances for players to continue to play and bring more players.

Once your league is running, you will be able to show to the distributor that you are serious about this Pokémon thing.

If they weren’t planning to ask for a Pokémon Organized Play, they might then seriously reconsider. After all, the distributor’s mission is to sell Pokémon cards. Players mean sales for them.

If the distributor was already ok with that project, seeing that you already have players will help them to ask official tournaments to the Pokémon Company.

If you have a website, it will show that you are really motivated to bring even more players. One argument you can use is that you already have a lot of players, and that if they help you to get official tournaments you will be able to get even more players in the future.

Step 3a – If You Succeeded

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You are now on the map!

If your distributor got the approval to have official tournaments in the country, you achieved a big step in turning your country into a Pokémon nation! Hopefully you will then be able to attract people from all the country to participate to tournaments more easily.

Don’t forget to continue to motivate people to open their own leagues and do not lose contact with the players (Facebook still the best tool in my opinion to keep contact). Use you website or Facebook page to spread the news of tournaments and continue to develop the game in your region.

Step 3b – If You Failed

If the distributor or Pokémon are not willing to help you for now, don’t give up. The best advice I can give is to continue organizing your league and non-official tournaments. When you organize a tournament, try to be an impartial judge and give prizes to motivate the players.

There is nothing that can demotivate players more than a bad judge…

Prizes are essential to motivate the players, especially young players. If each player gives $6 for the participation, you will be able to give to all players at least one booster and to buy prizes for the winners.

What I Did in My City

To show you how a league is important, and how a good communication can have great effects I will now talk about me.

geneva switzerlanden.wikipedia.org

I live in Geneva, Switzerland which has around 450,000 inhabitants. Hopefully, we already had Organized Play in Switzerland. We were only 3 players and we dreamed a lot about a league in our city. Even I was able to hold one shot tournaments with not so bad attendance, thanks to players from neighbor cities, it was very difficult to develop a real player community in Geneva.

For the last 5 years the closest league was 50km from my city in Lausanne and it was too far for us.

I tried to find a place to run a league, but real estate in our city is among the most expensive in the world. No shop would host us for free or would be big enough to have a decent league. This year I finally found a new card shop, and I was finally able to open the first Pokémon league in Geneva. So I started to work hard in order to maintain and develop de Pokémon community.

Once I knew I could run a league, I started to put some advertising in the toys shops selling Pokémon cards.

I created a website using free and easy tools. I also created a Facebook group which had some success to attract new players.

season3_ep23_ss1 ledybasThe very first day when the league opened we were able to gather 10 players! This was 3 times more players than we used to have in the city. I was quite surprised and I thought that we would only reach this number by the end of the 2012-2013 season.

I soon found that in order to maintain this community of players, we would need something to improve the communications between players. So I created a forum, again using free tools.

The forum was not a big success to tell the truth. I noticed that when I was posting topics to motivate players to go to tournaments outside the city, they would not read them on time or not read at all. So I created two more things:

  1. A Facebook group with all the players of the league
  2. And also an e-mail distribution list

Every time there is a tournament not far from the city, I am able to inform the players and organize how to move together and also players can also ask to borrow cards. I have to admit that the Facebook group was the most efficient ways to keep the players informed. I am not big fan of this website, but this was the best way I found to spread information and keep the group united.

After only 3 months, the league reached 30 players and became the 2nd largest league of the country in terms of players. In the end of this month we will have a City Championship here, and there seems that this time we will have the highest attendance of the City Championships in the country this season.

Now the community in my city is self-developing and I hope that in the future we will have to largest community of players in our country.

Conclusion

I hope that you liked this article, which was my very first one. I believe that this might help you to develop significantly the Pokémon game in your country/city and I would like to wish you all good luck in developing your local Pokémon community!

Reader Interactions

38 replies

  1. TCG Spain

    That’s a really motivational article for those who are willing to get the Organized Play. I am from Spain and we’ve been for many years (and still) trying to get the Organized Play.

    • katsuya  → TCG

      Yeah always wondered why there is no TCG OP in Spain. Is not the same distributor as Portugal ?

        • katsuya  → TCG

          Asmodee ? Then you should not have problem to get tournaments in the next years I guess… They are quite good in France and Belgium.

  2. Jak Stewart-Armstead

    One of my favouritest 6P articles ever.

    An inspiring story about growing the game.

    If someone else hadn’t already tried and failed with it before, I would be signing up all my pets and relatives to Like this article.

  3. Aaron Minjoot

    Hey there Rafael, a superb article which I can literally relate to. Here in the central area of Malaysia we had two leagues which ran weekly on the same day. The glory days of Malaysia Pokemon TCG were long gone by the time I started in the competitive scene in 2010, but thankfully this year we’re looking to bring the game back to the fore.

    With a new league set up by a team of my friends and I, along with the other two leagues and more endeavours along the way, we hope to take the game and community as far as it used to be if not better.

    For those in Malaysia, do search out a group called Pokemon TCG Subang Jaya, and do join in. For those of you from outside the nation, feel free to join too, and do drop by in the event you are able to. We’re happy to welcome everyone and anyone of this wonderful game.

    Great article man. One of the most inspiring ones ever on 6P.

    • katsuya  → Aaron

      When I will move to Malasia I will try to help Penang to ge tournaments :P. My brother will continue my work in Geneva :)

  4. Fredy Ramos

    Nice i’m from Colombia but we just have the league at the moment :(

  5. Adam Currie

    Awesome article

    I’m from New Zealand and there’s just 1 league in the country which is hundreds of miles away. I’m trying to start a league but only 3 people so far. :(

    • katsuya  → Adam

      I don’t think that there are minimum players required to start a league. If they ask you how many players you expect, you can say 5 to 10 players. Shouldn’t be difficult to motivate some friends to try the game.

  6. Yoshizilla

    I live here in the Middle East, where pokemon cards are banned in the GCC, so I am finding it practically impossible to start any leagues or tournaments. You guys have any tips or suggestions?

    • katsuya  → Yoshizilla

      Middle East is quite vague dude. Which country would that be ?

      By the way the ban has been lift, you can probably start a league even in Saudi Arabia :D

        • katsuya  → Yoshizilla

          Ok I been once only :0). They were selling at least Pokémon games if I remember well. Maybe the most difficult would be to find people to play with.

  7. Guest

    Awesome article! We are going through somewhat of the same situation here in Puerto Rico sadly. A few months ago we hooked up with Pokemon TCG and although we have a place to meet and we have an official league we have trouble gathering people to come. It gets a bit demotivating because we are players that have played other tcgs competitively and we dream about having cities and regionals and big tournaments like such but have no success due to the little people that have come to play. There are a few cities here that have organized play as well but it seems it hasn’t attracted much attention on the organization. We are trying to come up with different ways to attract players but not much has been achieved :(

  8. Roarkiller Master

    Nice article.

    I once tried to bring in the league when the fad died off. Sad to say, it went horribly wrong and the shopkeeper even threatened to sue me for misusing his shop’s stamp, even after I explained to him that I don’t have the rights to bring in the league.

    Thankfully, we have a great team and community today.

  9. Andceo

    I really like your article and this reminds me my personal story. I live in a city which had 3-4 players. I opened a league and spent 6 months teaching each weekend how to play the game, and after that period the league had 20-30 players with multiple National Champions. Then i moved to another city and did the exactly same thing: more than 1 year spent almost alone (with a couple of friends) teaching the game and then a league with 30+ players and multiple Worlds Championship players. I think these are the best examples of what the Spirit of the Game is.

  10. marthyx

    Hey, I just read this post and I found it very interesting this article. In my country, we don’t have organized play, but there are many players, that could be very interested. How much time it took to you to officially hold your own league?

    • marthyx  → marthyx

      Here, 1 year later, I’m still trying to get Organized Play to my country. Already contacted Support, and many of the official distributors in South America. One of the distributors is really eager to help us become a “Pokénation”, but they are not allowed to sell in our country. I already asked Pokémon Support for the permission, and It will be a month already, that I’m waiting for a response.
      Still, not going to give up!

  11. antony

    i’m from india, is there any pokemon tournaments or pokemon dealer associated with my country u can find…………….i searched and found zero result……..i’m eager to join tournament,get booster packs

    • SonOfNeptune  → antony

      Antony I’m am an Indian to, but its a pity that we don’t have anything like Pokemon tournaments here, but if we try we can organise them like this guy explained and maybe one day we will play on international level

      • Supreeth Ls  → SonOfNeptune

        dude where do u stay india to be exact
        i would like to trade cards if possible
        and even organize a tournment (depending upon the location)

        • Ishan  → Supreeth

          Hey Supreeth I live in Gurgaon and am very interested in organizing a tournament was wondering that if u live nearby we could definitely plan something

  12. Bhavesh sinha

    In india IT SUCKS re #ally it has fake cards everywhere where you get in every pack 90 ex 90 mega evoultions and there are no pokemon video games also and no pokemon cards or games even even EVEN the pokemon TV show you can see the first episode of pokemon the first pokemon I choose you India is lagging behind please help india #Indialovespokemon

    • Ishan  → Bhavesh

      Your very correct bro, I was wondering as I live in India myself I haven’t battled anyone in years and I am desperate to do so. Where do u live?

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