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. Not to be confused with Age-Separated Swiss Pairing.
When there are at least six players in each age division, a tournament is typically split, with players from a single age division competing only against one another. Each division is run as a separate tournament, though the results of all three divisions are reported as a single tournament. Not to be confused with Age-Modified Swiss Pairing.
To provide a more even playing field for the largest number of competitors worldwide, each event series has a Best Finish Limit. If players play in more events than the Best Finish Limit cap, their 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 Pokémon TCG Rules and Formats document on the Tournament Rules and Resources page.
When there is 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 the annual Pokémon World Championships. Note that Pokémon 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 a League Cup, International 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.
The timeline by which all Championship Series events are scheduled. Regional and International Championships are held at regular intervals throughout the Championship Series season, which runs from July to June, year to year. Not to be confused with League Season.
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 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 Organizer at an event or players can use the one on the Rules and Resources page.
A Web-based tool that helps players find Play! Pokémon events happening near them. Leagues, tournaments, and Premier Events like League Cups can all be found using the Event Locator.
A tournament format that places restrictions on what cards can be used in deck construction, with a larger pool of available cards than the Standard format. These restrictions can be found in the Pokémon TCG Rules and Formats document on the Tournament Rules and Resources page.
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. The Tournament Operation Procedures document contains more detailed information about flighting, and the types of tournaments at which flighting may be used.
A set of video game rules where players may construct their teams including up to two of the powerful Legendary Pokémon that are normally prohibited from tournaments, such as Mewtwo, Groudon, or Necrozma. The term comes from its original implementation during Pokémon HeartGold and Pokémon SoulSilver. These rules have been used in the 2010, 2016, and 2019 Video Game Championship seasons.
The Head Judge serves as the final arbiter of all rulings and rules interpretations for a tournament. The Head Judge is chosen by the Organizer prior to the tournament and is ultimately responsible for making sure that all participants abide by the rules.
An International Challenge is a video game Premier Event that is conducted entirely online. Players compete with opponents from all over the world in specially designed formats that change with the arrival of each tournament. Not to be confused with International Championships.
The Pokémon International Championships draw Pokémon TCG and video game players from all around the globe during the Championship Series season. These amazing events will feature high Championship Point payouts. Not to be confused with International Challenge.
A person who is well versed in the rules and gameplay of the Pokémon games and who is responsible for administering the rules of an event, including the Tournament Rules, for either the Pokémon TCG or video games.
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. They are smaller, local events that do not require an invitation or qualification. All players in good standing are welcome to participate. Not to be confused with League Cup.
Pokémon TCG League Cup tournaments give players an opportunity to earn Championship Points and practice their skills for larger competitions. They represent the next step up the Championship Series ladder from League Challenges for Pokémon TCG players. League Cups do not require an invitation or qualification. All players in good standing are welcome to participate. Not to be confused with League Challenge.
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. Not to be confused with Organizer, Head Judge, or League Owner.
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. Not to be confused with Organizer or League Leader.
A League Season lasts for one calendar month. It marks the period of time in which players can earn a certain reward for participating in League sessions, and at the end of which League Owners and League Leaders should submit attendance reports and order additional League material for players' future rewards. Not to be confused with Championship Series Season.
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. Not to be confused with Sealed Deck.
A ban implemented and enforced by a League Owner, specifically restricting entry to events organized by that person. Local bans are not issued or enforced by Pokémon Organized Play, and a local ban does not prohibit a player from entering events outside the venue from which they are banned. Not to be confused with Suspension.
A number of games played in a single round of a tournament. A match may be a single game or best of three. Not to be confused with Round.
The Midseason Showdowns give Pokémon video game players more opportunities to earn Championship Points and to test their skills in preparation for larger events. They represent the next step up on the Championship Series ladder from Premier Challenges for video game players. Midseason Showdowns do not require an invitation or qualification. All players in good standing are welcome to participate.
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. Not to be confused with League Owner or League Leader.
Penalties may be issued to event participants by judges when tournament rules are broken, to restore game balance and/or discourage poor behavior. Penalties range in severity from Cautions through to Disqualification. Pokémon Organized Play tracks penalties earned across sanctioned events, and players who routinely receive severe penalties may be considered for Suspension. Not to be confused with Suspension.
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. Not to be confused with Championship Points.
The name of the program that encompasses all official Pokémon Leagues and tournaments. This program is run by Pokémon Organized Play. Not to be confused with 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 a player doesn't already have a Player ID, they can get one from the Organizer of the next Play! Pokémon event they attend. A player can also get a Player ID online if they already have a Pokémon Trainer Club account. Not to be confused with Pokémon Trainer Club (PTC).
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. Not to be confused with Flight.
The governing body for all official Pokémon Leagues and tournaments that comprise the Play! Pokémon program. POP maintains all player data, event data, and rules for use in officially recognized events. Not to be confused with Play! Pokémon.
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. Not to be confused with Championship Points.
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.
Players or Professors may have their Pokémon Trainer Club accounts placed on probation as a result of a policy or rules infringement. During a period of probation, behavior is closely monitored for any evidence of further undesirable activity. Those who commit further infractions during probation may receive a suspension. Not to be confused with Suspension.
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 a player's state, country, or worldwide ranking, so they can find out, for example, if they're the third-best player in their state, or if they're one of 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.
An experienced Pokémon Professor who acts as a point of contact for other Pokémon Professors, and who offers help and advice. RPCs are third parties independent from The Pokémon Company International—that is, they are not employees, agents, or independent contractors of The Pokémon Company International.
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. Not to be confused with Match.
A person who assists at a tournament by performing administrative and logistical tasks such as delivering match slips or posting pairings and standings.
Any tournament that is created and advertised on the official Pokémon website and run according to the rules and regulations outlined on the Tournament Rules and Resources page. Not to be confused with Premier Event.
A person who assists at a tournament by using the Tournament Operations Manager software to accurately record all match results.
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 Pokémon TCG Rules and 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 Premier Event that does not correspond to any of the other Premier Event classes, and that may be run in certain areas where there is particular need.
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.
The owner of the store or event space where matches and tournaments are held.
Someone who is suspended from the Play! Pokémon program may not participate as a player or Professor at any sanctioned Play! Pokémon event. Suspensions are issued by Pokémon Organized Play, and may last indefinitely or for a set period of time. Not to be confused with Local Ban.
Matches for tournaments are set up using the Swiss pairing method. In this method, each player in a tournament plays each round against an opponent with a similar win/loss record. Players are not paired against opponents they have previously played.
Completing a team list may be required to participate in some Pokémon video game tournaments. A team list allows players to note the Pokémon, moves, and other traits of their teams. The Tournament Organizer will provide players with a team list 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 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 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 prize earned during a player's participation in the Championship Series season that completely covers the costs of that player's travel arrangements to a specific subsequent event. Not to be confused with Travel Stipend.
A prize earned during a player's participation in the Championship Series season that partially covers the costs of that player's travel arrangements to a specific subsequent event. Not to be confused with Travel Award.
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.