Play! Pokémon Parents Guide

To encourage play among Pokémon fans, The Pokémon Company International has established Play! Pokémon—a network designed for Pokémon players to find casual and competitive opportunities to play with each other. Initially created to give Pokémon Trading Card Game players the chance to meet, Play! Pokémon has expanded to include video game activities as well as general non-gaming activities, such as Pokémon movie viewings and art sessions. Leagues, tournaments, and National and World Championship events give players chances to test strategies, trade Pokémon and TCG cards, and make new friends who share a common interest in Pokémon.

The core value of the Play! Pokémon program is to provide a fun, organized playing environment where kids can grow socially and intellectually. Within the Play! Pokémon environment, an emphasis is placed on fun, fairness, honesty, respect, sportsmanship, and learning. In addition to promoting logical and strategic thinking, good sportsmanship, and core math and reading skills, the game's popularity has even led to parents and their children playing in the same events.

Play! Pokémon supports both non-competitive and competitive play through Leagues and tournaments. Pokémon Leagues are played in a casual setting, and League members are rewarded for playing games—win or lose. Leagues are held in safe, public locations, such as game stores, community centers, or libraries, and are run by official League Leaders. Find a League near you or start one.

Learn more about Play! Pokémon.

Premier Tournaments

Premier tournaments are the foremost events of Play! Pokémon during the year. Our Premier tournaments have an escalating level of difficulty and are competitive in nature. They embrace an environment where Pokémon Trainers can meet other Trainers looking for a friendly match. For TCG competitions, players bring their own 60-card decks to compete against other players. For video game competitions, players must bring their own Pokémon Game Cards.

Premier tournaments are held throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, and all over the world, and are run by official Premier Tournament Organizers (PTO). The season begins with City Championships, and moves through State/Territory/Provincials, Regional, National Championships, and Battle Roads. They culminate with the pinnacle event of the year—the World Championships.

Leagues & Tournaments: What to Expect

When they arrive at an event, players can expect to meet the Tournament Organizer (TO) or League Leader and probably a judge or two (possibly the same person). The TO or League Leader will ensure that the people running the event are responsible and are good with kids.

Players who wish to participate in Play! Pokémon tournaments and Leagues are required to have a Player ID, which is used to report their attendance at these events. Most Tournament Organizers and League Leaders can provide Player IDs on-site for players who do not already have one. Players who choose to participate in the Ratings and Rankings system are required to sign up for a Pokémon Trainer Club account at Younger players may need a parental consent form to complete the sign-up process.

Participants in Trading Card Game events will likely engage in some card-trading with other players. This is encouraged, but we do suggest talking to your children about the potential consequences of trading real items. The TO or League Leader is often a good resource for trading tips.

Parents of minors: Please remember that Tournament Organizers are often store owners and have a business to run as well as the tournament. Parents should remain on-site to keep track of their children and, of course, celebrate their play. Tournaments usually take several hours, so parents might want to bring a book or some other quiet activity to occupy their time. We encourage parents to build a deck and join the fun!

What Your Child Can Expect

Due to the competitive element in tournaments, we recommend that parents discuss issues of winning and losing, pressures of competition, and good sportsmanship with their children. It is important to be a good sport—win or lose. The Pokémon Company International believes that children should be having fun in the process of competing, regardless of the outcome. It is, after all, just a game.

It is also important that players understand their responsibilities in preparing for the event. For the Pokémon TCG, players will need a legal deck (the format will be provided well in advance by the Tournament Organizer and noted on the Play! Pokémon website) built to meet the regulations for that event. If a child is new to the game, or new to tournaments, have the event judge look over the deck prior to the event. Judges will be happy to provide this service for your child, and it will help ensure a pleasant experience. For the Pokémon video games, players will need their own Game Card (such as Pokémon X or Pokémon Y) and, usually, a system in the Nintendo 3DS family. Once again, the TO will be able to advise the players on tournament rules and restrictions in advance via the Play! Pokémon website.

It is very important that players listen to the Tournament Organizer and/or judge when they explain how to play in the event. The Tournament Organizer or judge will outline important points, such as how to report the match scores and how to ask for a ruling, at the beginning of the tournament. Players should understand that, even if they are familiar with this information, they need to listen and avoid being disruptive. Talking or other disruptive behavior during the delivery of these instructions is impolite. All players should have the same opportunity to learn and understand the rules of play prior to an event.

Your Responsibilities

Parents have responsibilities at events, as well. It is important that participants are allowed to play at their own pace. Players are learning to concentrate on complex strategies and concepts, which can sometimes be frustrating. Also, a match should not be interrupted while in progress. If you, as a parent, have a question about anything, ask a judge or the Tournament Organizer, away from the match.

We understand that parents get excited and often want to help their children do well. Please remember, coaching is not allowed. If you would like to talk to your child about strategies, sportsmanship, or anything else, please refrain from doing so during a match. You might be surprised that, although it is a competition, players will provide advice and play tips in between matches. So, even if you think your child missed something or misplayed, his or her opponent may actually point this out before you even get a chance. Tournaments provide great learning opportunities for all players.

By simply following these few guidelines, parents can help ensure that their child has a fun and exciting experience participating in Pokémon Leagues and tournaments! If you have any further questions, feel free to contact us at

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