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 their same age group. Prizes are typically awarded to the best player in each age group.
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, there are Best Finish Limits for each event series. If you play in more events than the Best Finish Limit cap, your top performances will be registered and the rest discarded.
For example, the Best Finish Limit for City Championships is 4. If a player participates in 8 City Championships events, only his or her best 4 City Championships placements will count toward his or her final Championship Points total.
A Limited format tournament in which players are grouped into smaller “pods,” usually consisting of eight players. Each player opens a booster pack, then secretly selects and removes a single card from it, passing the remainder of the pack to the next player in the pod, who then makes his or her selection. Players open and select from several packs this way, building 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 poorest match record bracket in a round is not paired with an opponent and is given an automatic win. This win is called a bye.
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 with others 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 Organized Play program determines that a player violated the rules or compromised the values of the Play! Pokémon program.
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 utility that helps players find Play! Pokémon events happening near them. Leagues, tournaments, and Premier Events, like City Championships, can all be found on our site.
A person who is well versed in the rules and strategies of the Pokémon TCG and who is responsible for administering the rules (including Tournament Rules) of a tournament.
Events will receive “Kicker” points if attendance meets a certain threshold (per age division). Base points will not change, but if the Kicker level is reached, Championship Points are awarded deeper into the final standings. For example, if any age division at a City Championships tournament reaches 32 players, 5th through 8th place in that division will receive 6 Championship Points. If that age division does not reach 32 players, places 5th through 8th will receive 0 Championship 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 TPCi but organized and operated by third parties independent from The Pokémon Company International.
A person who organizes and administers a League. This person is usually a fan of the Pokémon TCG 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 his or her 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 do not use cards from their collections for these events but do keep the cards they use in these tournaments.
A number of games played in a single round of a tournament. Matches played during Swiss Pairings rounds are usually one game, while matches played during Single Elimination rounds are sometimes best two out 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.
The sanctioning body for all official Pokémon Leagues and tournaments. POP maintains all player data, event data, and rules for use in officially recognized events.
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 him or her in our system. Players must have this number with them whenever they attend a Play! Pokémon event. Players who have never played in a Play! Pokémon event, such as a tournament or League event, will be given one by the organizer of the event that they attend. Alternatively, you can get a Player ID online if you already have a Pokémon Trainer Club account.
See Theme Deck.
A high-profile Play! Pokémon tournament, such as a Championship Series event or Pokémon TCG Prerelease tournament. Results for playing in these events count toward a player's Premier Rating and ranking in the Play! Pokémon system.
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 used 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 release is available for retail sale. Prereleases always use the Limited Format.
Professors are dedicated fans of the Pokémon games who contribute their time in order 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 position an eligible player's rating puts him or her in when compared to the ratings of other eligible players. This allows determination of how many eligible players in a group are rated higher or lower than a particular player. The rankings page posts your state, country, or worldwide ranking.
The classification of an eligible participant in Play! Pokémon based upon the number of points that participant earns by playing in sanctioned tournaments. A player's rating fluctuates as he or she wins and loses 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 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.
A 60-card set of Pokémon trading cards that have been selected by The Pokémon Company International and packaged as a ready-to-play deck.
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, as specified by the tournament's format.
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 invites to this tournament via qualifying events held earlier in the year. Players compete in different age divisions to become the sole World Champion in their age divisions.