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Did you know there is a world competition for Pokemon cards? Photo: Nicholas Yong

Got Such Thing In Singapore Ah: Competing In The Pokémon Trading Card Game

"Got Such Thing In Singapore Ah" is a series that explores cool hobbies and interest groups that you might not know exist in Singapore.

You’ve probably heard about people rediscovering their love for Pokémon cards during the pandemic or flipping classic cards for big bucks, but did you know that there is an avid group of players in Singapore who compete very seriously in Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) competitions?

I am one of them!

I have been playing the game competitively since 2015 and won the Singapore Pokémon TCG Battle Festival Asia 2021.

Hey, Trainers! We'd like to introduce and congratulate Nicholas Yong who had recently topped the Singaporean Qualifiers...

Posted by Pokémon TCG Asia ENG on Tuesday, 25 January 2022

In the this card game, players battle using a deck of 60 cards containing powerful Pokémon. Like the Trainers in the anime and video game, you build your deck using your choice of these powerful creatures. They all play differently, so you need to strategise and outwit your opponent to win!

Just under two years ago, I wrote about not being able to fly to London for the Pokémon TCG World Championships as it was postponed due to the pandemic. Thankfully, this major global competition is back on the calendar and I will be booking my tickets for August 2022.

And you can join me in London too! The qualifiers for this year’s Singapore Championships are happening very soon, with the winner getting a fully paid trip to London for “Worlds 2022” (the top 4 players qualify too, but need to pay for their own flight). Registration deets are here.

Read on if you’re interested to know more about the game.

Photo: Nicholas Yong

What's the damage to get into Pokémon TCG?

Pokémon cards are usually sold in booster packs at $6 to $7 per pack, or roughly $170 to $180 for a box of 36 packs, depending on where you buy them. But if you are planning to play competitively, I recommend you purchase individual cards (we call them “singles”).

Local game stores (listed below) stock competitive singles for players who want to get into the game. Alternatively, you can buy cards from other players and collectors.

Isn’t Pokémon for kids?

You’d be surprised to know that the competitive player base in Singapore comprises those in their 20s to early 30s. So don't shy! Just play!

What is the best part of Pokémon TCG?

I have made a lot of new friends not only in Singapore, but also in Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and all around the world - all thanks to our shared love of Pokémon TCG. Even with the travel restrictions, I've continued to play games with them using a webcam!

What are some of the challenges playing Pokémon TCG?

Some cards are on the pricier side because they are either playable or collectible, but there are budget options that can be just as competitive.

However, the biggest challenge to the game was undoubtedly the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. All real-life competitive play was shut down. During that time, there were online tournaments using the Pokémon TCG Online Client and competitions using webcams. Now that that IRL championships are back, I can’t wait to compete against old buddies and meet new faces once more.

What are some misconceptions about Pokémon TCG? 

That the game has to do with Pokémon Go. To this day, it is the first thing that comes to mind when people think of “Pokémon”. My family is still shocked that my brother and I used to travel around the world just to play a card game.

Photo: Nicholas Yong

How and where to enjoy Pokémon TCG?

There are a number of card shops hosting regular tournaments every week. You can #SupportLocal and check out these stores:

- Goodness Gracious Games; 1 Marne Road The Citron, #01-36, 208380

- Sanctuary Gaming, #04-09 Orchard Gateway 238858

- Agora Hobby; Kitchener Complex Block 809 #06-154, 200809

Alternatively, drop a message to The Southern Islands, a Singapore-based Pokémon TCG Facebook Page. They will be happy to help you learn how to play. Perhaps you could become the next Singapore Pokémon Champion - if you can get past me first!

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