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Can He Catch Them All?

May 15, 2015 03:02PM ● Published by Erin Dixon

Chris with his state champion award, in front of Aurorus, one of the mythical Pokémon creatures. Photo by Jennifer Collins

Chris Collins is on his way to becoming a Pokémon Master … a what, you say? 

Pokémon is the second biggest video-game franchise in the world, second only to Mario. Pokémon, or “Pocket Monsters”, was launched in Japan in 1996. In this mythical world, trainers capture and raise Pokémon creatures to battle with other Pokémon trainers in sport-like arenas. Pokémon debuted as a video game and has expanded into a 17-season television program, trading card game, 19 full-length movies and merchandise. By March 2014, 260 million games and 21.5 billion trading cards have been sold around the world. [source: polygon.com]

Chris lives in Draper, but he frequently travels around the country to compete in official Pokémon trading card game tournaments. He spends a lot of time, effort and money to build a game deck worth competing with, but his dedication has earned him a place at the World’s Championship this July in Boston, Mass. Thousands of participants compete in each tournament in cities around the world. Competitors are narrowed down by number of champion points earned and the best are able to progress to the higher level: from city to national and finally, World; points are earned by participation, and winning. 

Chris’ 557 points rank him #37 in the world. [source: pokemon.com] This year he placed first in the Idaho state championship, as well as top four in Utah and Arizona. His points have secured him a place at the national and the world tournament.

Chris competes this summer in the national tournament in Indianapolis, Ind. and then on to the World’s tournament.

Chris said, “I first got into playing games...in 2007. I bought my first Pokémon game: Pokémon Diamond. I had a blast with the game and just wanted to keep going with it.” He started competing in leagues with the video game and then was introduced to the card game. “I learned how to build my deck better and decided, hey, let’s try out a tournament.” He was in the top four in his first state competition in 2013; “That was my moment where I wanted to pursue this.” 

Tournaments can last well over 12 hours a day and go for several days. Winners are awarded official merchandise, expense-paid trips to the next level of competition, and even scholarship money for college. 

Competing isn’t just about winning for the Collins family. Chris has made friends from around the world through the tournaments, from Canada to Belgium. His mother Jennifer, who always travels with her son said, “Many of the competitors in his level are college-aged or above and have also been good mentors and examples for him. It has given him something to be passionate about and committed to and takes a lot of endurance.” Jennifer is excited about his success. “We go for the experiences, but winning or making top ranks has been really nice too!” she said. 

Can Chris, “catch ‘em all?”

For more information on the official Pokémon Trading Card Game, visit: www.pokemon.com/us/play-pokemon/pokemon-events/      
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