Pokémon TCG World Championships: How to earn an invite in Japan

Why Takuya Yoneda’s Top 8 Championship Points from the Oceania International won’t matter

The 2017 Pokémon Oceania International Challenge saw players from across the globe converge on Melbourne to compete in an intense three days of competitive trading cards. Japanese player Takuya Yoneda, rose above 250+ competitors to earn a coveted place in the top 8 of the Masters Division. But unlike most players, Takuya had little interest in the 200 Championship Points (CP) he earned. Takuya was more interested in the prize money – and catching a Kangaskhan on Pokémon GO. It’s not because he has already earned enough Championship Points for a Worlds invite, or because he is not interested in going to Worlds. It’s because he’s unable to benefit from any of the Championship points he earns outside of Japan. Why?

The official Pokémon website offers very little insight.

“Players in Japan and South Korea will be awarded both Friday invitations and Day Two invitations as determined by each country’s organized play system.”

In light of this, I reached out to competitive Pokémon player Sean Takemoto. Sean gave me a rundown on how the qualification system and organised competitive play in Japan operates.

“Japanese events are “CSP” and are not under the same system as the rest of the world’s CP,” Sean explains. “So, any CP earned outside of Japan will not contribute to a worlds invitation unless the Japanese player registers on pokemon.com and reaches the CP qualification threshold solely through events in an overseas region.”

So how does organised competitive play operate in Japan? 

Last year (2016), there were 3 Tiers of events if you wanted to earn an invite to the World Championships.

  1. Gym Challenge/Pokémon Center Battle
  2. Blastoise Mega Battle (Day 1 Worlds invite can be obtained)
  3. Japan Championship Tournament (Invite-only Nationals)

Gym Challenges

Gym challenges are much like League Challenges. There is one almost every weekend or multiple during a week in popular areas. Much like our League Challenges, the event is run in swiss style and promo packs are given to all players (known as Gym challenge packs).

During March 1st-27th 2016, the winner of each Gym Battle per store was given a ticket for the 2nd stage of the ‘Blastoise Mega Battle’. This was the main prize.

Blastoise Mega Battle

Japan held 4 “Blastoise Mega Battle” events in 2016. They were held in Aichi (Nagoya), Osaka, Chiba (Makuhari) and Fukuoka. Chiba had a two-day event, where Day1 was BW-on.

Blastoise Mega Battles were huge events that were open to all participants. The format was XY-on, with all matches being best of 1. Players competed in Junior/Senior/Open Age Divisions.

Players had to advance through 4 stages in order to advance to the ‘Japan Championship Tournament’.

  1. First Stage
  2. Second Stage
  3. Premier Stage
  4. Climax Stage (Worlds Day 1 Invite – No Travel Award)

To proceed to the next stage, players must achieve a certain number of match wins:

  • First Stage: 1 Win
  • Second Stage: 2 Consecutive Wins (Checkpoint)
  • Premier Stage: 3 Consecutive Wins against players with the same amount of wins.

(Losing after the First Stage will drop a player back to 0 Wins on the Second Stage)

The Climax Stage is determined by the first 16 players to make it through all qualifying stages within 5 hours. The players are then put into 4 Groups of 4 Players, based on how fast they got through the qualifying rounds. They then play a round robin format against the players in their group.

The top 2 players received an invitation to day 1 of the World Championships.

They also received an invitation to the Japan Championship Tournament (Nationals), where they competed for Day 2 invites and travel awards.

Japan Championship Tournament – Invite only

This event was held a month after all Mega Battles were completed. The tournament was Swiss style, with a maximum of 36 players. The top 12 players received day 2 invitations to the World Championships, while the Top 4 also received travel awards.

2017 – Champions League and the Future

This season, players will earn CSP (the Japanese version of Championship points) when they place highly at sanctioned premier events in Japan.

There has been no information about how many players with CSP will be invited to the Japan Champion Tournament, or how players will earn a Day 1/ Day 2/ Day 2 + travel award invitation to the World Championships. However, it is already clear that the system for earning CSP has changed considerably this season.

Players can receive CSP at 6 Champion’s League events throughout February, April and May. In June, there will be a Japan Champion Tournament that is invitation only.

The Osaka Champions League was held in February. It featured XY-on 50min BO3 Swiss rounds- which is not so dissimilar from tournaments held in other regions.

The CSP Payouts for the first Champions League (Osaka; in February) was:

  • 1st Place: 5 CSP
  • 2nd Place: 4 CSP
  • Top4: 3 CSP
  • Top8: 2 CSP
  • Top16: 1 CSP

However, the Miyagi event to be held in April is surprisingly different. Players will form teams of 3 and compete in a Swiss style tournament against other teams of 3. Players compete in a 30min BO1 against one other player on the opposing team, and the winning team is determined by the number of overall wins the team has achieved. Consequently, all players on the same team will receive the same amount of CSP at the end of the event. In this format, ties do not exist. All players compete in the same age division.

Two of these tournaments will be held on consecutive days at the beginning of April.

Final Thoughts

Japan seems to run its own system when it comes to competitive organised Pokémon TCG. Quite frankly, the tournaments sound simultaneously incredibly stressful and ridiculously fun. Unfortunately, the fact that Japanese CSP is distinctly different to the CP we know and love, means we are unlikely to see many Japanese players on the international circuit. Then again, that didn’t stop Takuya, who flies home with a sweet cash prize and hopefully, a Kangaskhan.

I’d like to thank Sean Takemoto and Takuya Yoneda for their contributions to this article. This article is part of a weekly series for competitive Pokémon Trading Card Game players. Never miss an article! Follow me on Twitter here.

About Ellis Longhurst

Competitive Pokemon Trading Card game player since 2006. Competed for Australia at the 2015 World Championships, & the 2017 European International Championships. On-stream commentator and post-match interviewer at the 2016 Australian National Championships. Currently invested in supporting the growth of the Australian Pokemon TCG community. Current Video Game journalist for GameCloud Australia.
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