Images courtesy of Pokémon. Image above of the 2015 Worlds Championship trophies.
It’s not every day your childhood love for fantastical characters becomes a way to travel the country, meet new people and find success at such an early age. After a long day of Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) battles, Long Beach resident Aaron Friedman took first place in the Senior Division at the 2015/2016 Pokémon City Championships in Pomona, CA last month.
Currently a middle school student in Long Beach, Friedman became interested in the colorful characters of the now-20-year-old media franchise at the young age of four and learned to play the coveted card game just a couple years later.
“I learned to play the card game when I was six and first began competing in tournaments when I was nine,” said Friedman. “I entered the Pomona City Championships in hopes of making top cut to secure championship points for an invite to the 2016 world championships.”
Along with the coveted title and City Championship trophy, Friedman earned Championship Points toward a potential invitation to compete at the 2016 Pokémon World Championships, set to be held in San Francisco this summer. Players who earn a top Championship Points ranking after the 2016 Spring Regional Championships in May will receive Travel Awards to compete at the 2016 Pokémon U.S. National Championships, according to the release.
“The Pokémon City Championships are some of the most unique and inspiring set of tournaments that take place each year,” stated J.C. Smith, senior director of Consumer Marketing for The Pokémon Company International. “Bringing together both new and more experienced players over a game they enjoy, the City Championships provide a stage for Pokémon players of all ages and skill levels to participate in premier events and hone their skills.”
Aaron plans to attend Nationals in Ohio this year and certainly move on to Worlds in San Francisco this summer, according to Aaron’s mother, Lauren Friedman. Described by their Long Beach community as “the Pokémon family,” it’s no wonder the group “takes its vacations via Pokémon,” says Lauren.
When the Friedmans moved to California five and a half years ago, they found a Thursday night league for the kids to join. Once school began, they found a Saturday league where Aaron and both of his brothers were encouraged to play in a last-chance qualifier to attend Worlds in San Diego. During the following years, the brothers have attended countless leagues and tournaments, including Nationals in Indianapolis and Worlds in Hawaii and Boston.
“We were very excited that Aaron won the championship in his division,” said Lauren. “Aaron is very focused on winning all of the tournaments [so] that he can accumulate enough points to get his invite to worlds!”
Organized Play events are sanctioned by The Pokémon Company International and managed by Premier Tournament Organizers who run Pokémon TCG and video game tournaments across the country. Collectively, they chaperone tens of thousands of Pokémon competitors who attend local league events and sanctioned tournaments “on their quest to become a Pokémon World Champion,” according to the release.
“We’re excited to continue watching these local players as they battle throughout the season, including at the upcoming Pokémon State and Winter Regional Championships, and perhaps making it 2016 Pokémon World Championships,” added Smith.