The Play! Pokémon program divides players into tournament groups based on the year they were born. These groups are the Junior, Senior, and Masters Divisions. Whenever possible, players are paired with other players in the same age division. Prizes are typically awarded to the best players in each age division.
As an adjustment to the Swiss pairing system, players are paired both by record and by age division. Players may be matched with players from other age divisions in certain circumstances.
When there are at least six players in each age division, a tournament is typically split into pods. Each pod consists of players from a single age division only. Each pod is run as a separate tournament, though the results of all three pods are reported as a single tournament.
To provide a more even playing field for the largest number of competitors worldwide, each event series has a Best Finish Limit. If you play in more events than the Best Finish Limit cap, your top performances will be registered and the rest discarded.
A booster draft is a Limited format tournament in which players are grouped into smaller pods, usually consisting of eight players. Each player opens a booster pack, secretly takes a single card from it, and passes the rest of the pack to the next player in the pod, who then makes a selection. Players open and select from several packs this way, and then build their decks for the event from these cards. Further details on booster drafts can be found in the Official Formats documents on the Tournament Rules and Resources page.
When there are an odd number of participants in a tournament, a random player in the lowest match-record bracket in a round is not paired with an opponent and is given an automatic win. This win is called a bye.
Players are awarded Championship Points based on their finish position or placement at individual events. Championship Points are needed to qualify for some high-level events, including the annual Pokémon World Championships. Note that TCG Championship Points and VG Championship Points are considered separate and cannot be used across event types. Get details on Pokémon TCG or Video Game Championship Points for the current season.
A Premier Event such as the City Championships, National Championships, or World Championships, in which players from different age divisions compete for a title for their age division. Results for playing in these events count toward a player's rating and ranking in the Play! Pokémon system.
A Championship Series event in which players compete for the title of City Champion.
A deck of 60 cards that is built by the player in preparation for an event, rather than built from cards received at an event. Specifically required in the Constructed Deck format.
The suspension of Play! Pokémon privileges, including use of the Player ID Card and participation in tournaments, Leagues, and Play! Pokémon ratings and rankings. Deactivation may occur if the Pokémon Organized Play program determines that a player violated the rules or compromised the values of the Play! Pokémon program.
All Pokémon TCG players are required to complete a deck list before competing in a Play! Pokémon competition. A deck list notes which cards and how many of each card are in the player's deck, as well as what expansion each Pokémon card is from. Deck lists may be available from the Tournament Organizer at an event, or you can use the one on the Rules and Resources page.
The rating system that Play! Pokémon uses to calculate a player's Premier Rating. It is based on the formula developed by Professor Arpad Elo. Play! Pokémon's Elo rating system is similar to the system originally used in most competitive chess events. A detailed explanation of Play! Pokémon's Elo rating system can be found in the Ratings and Rankings Explained document on the Tournament Rules and Resources page.
A Web-based tool that helps players find Play! Pokémon events happening near them. Leagues, tournaments, and Premier Events like City Championships can all be found using the Event Locator.
Players in very large tournaments may initially be divided into similarly sized groups called flights to make the tournament more manageable. After a certain number of rounds, top players from each flight will be merged into a single flight or single-elimination bracket.
A person who is well versed in the rules and strategies of the Pokémon games and who is responsible for administering the rules of an event, including the Tournament Rules.
Additional Championship Points will be awarded at an event if age division attendance meets a certain threshold, known as the Kicker. The number of points awarded to an individual player does not change, but if the Kicker is reached, points are awarded to more players. (For example: If an age division has at least 8 players, the 3rd- and 4th-place finishers get points. If an age division has at least 32 players, the 5th- through 8th-place finishers get points.)
A casual event often held in local trading card game retail stores or community centers, in which the Pokémon TCG and Pokémon video games are played. Results for playing in these events do not count toward a player's rating or ranking in the Play! Pokémon system. League events are sanctioned and supported by The Pokémon Company International but organized and operated by independent third parties.
A low-level Pokémon TCG Championship Series event designed specifically to introduce newer players to the Championship Series and allow players to earn Championship Points.
A person who organizes and administers a League. This person is usually a fan of the Pokémon TCG and/or Pokémon video games who wishes to give Pokémon players in their area an opportunity to gather regularly. League Leaders are third parties independent from The Pokémon Company International—that is, they are not employees, agents, or independent contractors of The Pokémon Company International.
A person who is ultimately responsible for everything that takes place during their League sessions. League owners are third parties, such as owners of a local trading card game retail store. They are independent from The Pokémon Company International—that is, they are not employees, agents, or independent contractors of The Pokémon Company International—and they allow Leagues to be held at their locations.
Any tournament format in which all players receive the cards they will use in the tournament at the event. Players may not use cards from their collections for these events, but they do get to keep the cards they receive for use in the tournament.
A number of games played in a single round of a tournament. A match may be a single game or best of three.
A Championship Series event held annually in which players compete in different age divisions to become the National Champion in their age division. These events typically offer invitations to the Pokémon World Championships to top players.
Players are rewarded Play! Points simply for participating in sanctioned Pokémon events, such as official Pokémon tournaments or League events. Larger events such as Championship Series tournaments award even more Play! Points. Play! Points are used to qualify players for high-level events. Play! Points differ from Championship Points because they reward players just for playing, while Championship Points reward players for high placement at tournaments. Read the Play! Points FAQ for additional information on the current season.
The name of the program that encompasses all official Pokémon Leagues and tournaments. This program is run by Pokémon Organized Play.
Each player is assigned a Play! Pokémon Identification Number (Player ID) that is used to track that player's tournament play and League participation and to identify them in our system. Players must have this number with them whenever they attend a Play! Pokémon event. If you don't already have a Player ID, the organizer of your next Play! Pokémon event will give you one. You can also get a Player ID online if you already have a Pokémon Trainer Club account.
A competition may actually be a cluster of smaller competitions known as pods. Pods are typically filled on a first-come, first-served basis, and play begins once a pod is full. All pods within a competition use the same rules and regulations. Pods are typically used in non-Championship Series events such as side events.
The governing body for all official Pokémon Leagues and tournaments. POP maintains all player data, event data, and rules for use in officially recognized events.
See theme deck.
A low-level Pokémon Video Game Championship Series event designed specifically to introduce newer players to the Championship Series and allow players to earn Championship Points. Premier Challenges do not require an invitation or qualification. All players in good standing are welcome to participate.
A high-profile Play! Pokémon tournament, such as a Championship Series event. With the exception of Prerelease events, results for playing in these events count toward a player's Premier Rating and ranking in the Play! Pokémon system and earn them Championship Points.
This score is determined by a modified Elo method that tracks player performance at all Premier Events. This can be used as a tiebreaker at events and as a way for players to compare their performance to that of their peers.
An independent third party who organizes and operates a Premier Event and who is not an employee, agent, or independent contractor of The Pokémon Company International.
A tournament in which players have access to cards from an upcoming Pokémon TCG expansion, usually held a week or two before that expansion is available for retail sale. Prerelease tournaments always use the Limited format.
Professors are dedicated fans of the Pokémon games who contribute their time to organize events and teach new players the Pokémon TCG and Pokémon video games. Because many Professors go on to judge at events, they must demonstrate their rules knowledge and ability to organize events by first passing a required exam. Professors are third parties independent from The Pokémon Company International—that is, they are not employees, agents, or independent contractors of The Pokémon Company International.
The relative standing of an individual player, based on Championship Points totals of all eligible players in a given group. The rankings page posts your state, country, or worldwide ranking, so you can find out, for example, if you're the third-best player in your state, or if you're one of the the top 100 players in the world.
The standings of an eligible participant based upon the number of points that participant earns by playing in sanctioned tournaments. A player's rating fluctuates as they win and lose matches in sanctioned tournaments. Only matches played against an opponent from the same age division at Premier Events count toward a player's rating.
A Championship Series event open to all eligible players in which players compete in different age divisions to win the Regional Champion title for that age division.
All of the matches being played at one time during a tournament. Each player participates in one match during each round of a tournament. A tournament consists of a number of rounds based on the number of players in that tournament.
A Limited tournament format in which players receive and open several booster packs and build their decks from these cards. Further details on Sealed Deck can be found in the Tournament Formats document, found on the Tournament Rules and Resources page.
Any tournament held on the same day as a larger event, often picking up players after the main event has concluded.
A pairing method in which players are eliminated from the event when they lose. Swiss pairing events may shift to single-elimination finals after a number of rounds. The last remaining undefeated player is the winner of the tournament.
A tournament format that places restrictions on what cards can be used in deck construction or what Pokémon and items can be used for team construction. These restrictions can be found in the Tournament Formats document on the Tournament Rules and Resources page.
A Championship Series event open to all eligible players in which players compete in different age divisions to win the State Champion title for that age group.
Matches for tournaments are set up using the Swiss pairing method. In this method, all players in a tournament play in each round against an opponent with a similar win/loss record. Players are not paired against opponents they have previously played.
Completing a team sheet may be required to participate in some Pokémon video game tournaments. A team sheet allows players to note the Pokémon, moves, and other traits of their teams. Your Tournament Organizer will provide you with a team sheet to fill out if it is required.
A deck of 60 cards that is built by The Pokémon Company International and packaged as a ready-to-play product.
A Theme Deck Challenge is a non-sanctioned tournament in which less experienced players are offered the opportunity to play with new preconstructed theme decks rather than boosters in the event. By playing in a Theme Deck Challenge, players are afforded a more simple play format where they don't have to build a deck from cards they have never seen before, making this an ideal format for younger or less experienced players.
A general term for the final rounds of single-elimination play in a competition, including the finals. The top cut typically takes place after the conclusion of Swiss rounds.
A generic term for competitive Play! Pokémon events.
The rules and restrictions on card selection and deck construction for TCG events and the Pokémon and items allowed when building a team for video game events are as specified by the tournament's format. The format also dictates how many games are played, how much time is allowed for each game, and how these games are to be resolved.
The official computer program used by Tournament Organizers to administer sanctioned Play! Pokémon tournaments.
The person in charge of all organizational aspects of a tournament and who typically handles staffing, scheduling and venue selection. This person is ultimately responsible for all aspects of running a successful tournament.
The rules established by the Pokémon Organized Play staff. These rules must be followed at tournaments by Play! Pokémon players, Tournament Organizers, Judges, and others in order for the event to be a Play! Pokémon sanctioned event. The Tournament Rules are found on the Tournament Rules and Resources page.
A tournament format allowing the use of all authentic Pokémon TCG cards ever printed. Unlimited is classified as a Fun format.
The ultimate Play! Pokémon Championship Series event of the year. Players earn invitations to this tournament by earning Championship Points at Premier Events held earlier in the year. Players compete in different age divisions to become the sole World Champion in their age division.