In-Person Pokemon VGC Tournaments Return Thanks to Grassroots-led Efforts

In-Person Pokemon VGC Tournaments Return Thanks to Grassroots-led Efforts

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The past year and a half has been arduous for gaming and esports scenes across the board. The absence of in-person Pokemon VGC tournaments and events have led many scenes to make the jump to online play, which, for some games, has been a rough transition for a multitude of reasons. As things begin to open back up in certain parts of the world, a push for in-person events to return has been increasing in places where it is potentially safe to do so.

Pokémon VGC is an excellent example of an esports scene that made the transition to online play over the course of the pandemic, with grassroots and even official tournaments being held regularly to keep players engaged. Combine that with a dynamic ruleset introducing new Pokémon and gameplay changes to the field of battle, interest and demand for competitive Pokémon went largely unchanged.

At this time, the world is still not near ready enough to transition back to a lifestyle where large in-person gatherings are able to take place, but there exists a glimmer of hope originating in Pokémon VGC’s dedicated grassroots scene.

Grassroots Leading the Charge

Announcement for the second in-person tournament hosted by SoCalVGC

In the United States, state-based communities have been working together to introduce grassroots, in-person tournaments back into their local scenes. Some of the big names leading the charge are the ChicagoVGC and SoCalVGC Twitter and Discord communities along with Joseph “JoeUX9” Ugarte teaming up with Operating System in New York to host and stream the first live “X9 Championship Series” tournament. These events have been a great way for local groups of players to reconnect and get back to what feels almost like normal again.

Announcement for the inaugural in-person X9 Championship hosted by Operating System NYC

Safety is still a top priority, with the ChicagoVGC and SoCalVGC groups holding events outdoors and all events held so far requiring masks and encouraging others to get vaccinated if possible. The success of these events has been consistent so far, and more Pokemon VGC tournaments are currently being scheduled in other states such as Texas, Georgia and Arizona with more from the aforementioned organizations coming soon as well.

The State of the Official Circuit

In the midst of local Pokemon VGC tournaments coming back at the grassroots level, The Pokémon Company appears to be planning for the official return of sanctioned events, possibly in the near future. Play Pokémon! has been putting out regular updates on the current state of the VGC, TCG and Pokken Tournament circuits including a plethora of new guidelines including mask and social distancing requirements while being in event venues. Aside from organized TCG play returning to some areas, and a tentative plan for the World Championships to finally happen in London, England in 2022, the official circuit remains online with the Players Cup series wrapping up its fifth installment. The grassroots online circuit is also still thriving with organizations like Rose Tower and Victory Road holding frequent tournaments with big names and prize pools attached to them.

Even though the world remains in a difficult place due to the ongoing pandemic, it seems that a return to in-person events in many gaming scenes isn’t too far off. Hopefully, soon we’ll all be able to return to form and get back to playing the games we love and (safely) reconnect with people face to face after almost two years of what felt like a far too long hiatus.


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Images from SoCalVGC, Joseph “JoeUX9” Ugarte, Eric Bartlett and The Pokémon Company International.

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