Justin Burns, a 21-year-old from North Little Rock, is battling his way to the Pokémon World Championships in Anaheim, Calif. If Burns qualifies for the summer event, held from Aug.18-20; it will be his third time to compete in the Pokémon World Championship.
Burns began competing in Pokémon tournaments in 2014 and has competed in multiple events each year since he began.
“I have always liked Pokémon and have played their games since I was a kid,” Burns said. “When I was a kid I played Pokémon games on the Game Boy Color. During competitions I play the Pokémon games that are made for the Nintendo 3DS; the latest version of the game is Pokémon Sun and Moon. There are new versions released every few years; Pokémon Sun and Moon was released in November 2016.”
Throughout the gaming season, there are 16 Regional Championships held across the nation prior to the Pokémon World Championship. Burns placed second in the St. Louis Regional Championship in early March; where he competed against 13 other players. He also competed in the Dallas Regional Championship on Jan. 1.
His second place win at the St. Louis Regional Championship earned him a cash prize of $1,000; as well as significant championship points. Burns needs a total of 500 championship points to compete in the Pokémon World Championship. Currently Burns has 318 total points and he will continue competing in hopes of earning more.
“I will compete in a total of four of the 16 Pokémon Regional Championships this season,” Burns said. “I have already been to one in Dallas and another in St. Louis. I will compete again in Seattle from May 27-28. I will play in a fourth 2017 regional competition in Madison, Wisc. on June 3-4.”
Burns is hoping that his participation in the remaining tournaments will earn him a bid to compete in the Pokémon World Championships this summer. In addition to the two remaining regional events; Burns will attend the North American International Championship in Indianapolis from June 30-July 2.
Once all championship events are completed, the top eight players overall will earn a paid trip including lodging and complimentary airfare to the Pokémon World Championship. In addition to travel and hotel accommodations for the event, the top 8 players overall will be allowed to advance automatically to day two of the world championship.
“The top eight players in total championship points earned from all events earn a paid flight and hotel for worlds and skip day one of the tournament,” Burns said.
Burns describes the object of the game as a simple, yet entertaining. He stresses the importance of having a cohesive team of Pokémon during every competition.
“The games are really nostalgic and a lot of fun,” Burns said. “The concept of the game is rather simple. Each player has six Pokémon of their choosing and each player keeps that same team of six throughout the competition. It is important to select your team of Pokémon with some strategy. You want them to work well together, you need to consider their strength and also how well they will match up to your opponent’s team of Pokémon.”
During each round, players compete against one individual at a time.
“We play one person at a time and the setup is usually a large convention center room with players placed throughout,” Burns said. “There are not usually spectators in the gaming area, but they do put some players on a live feed online. Occasionally they will put selected players on T.V. and display them for spectators to watch in a designated viewing area.”
Burns practices with friends he has made at previous competitions in the weeks and months leading up to each championship event he competes in.
“I have made friends at competitions and we practice with one another,” Burns said. “We play online and help one another out. We also share hotel rooms at the tournaments, and it is fun getting to hang out with them. The competitions are a lot of fun overall.”
To compete in the Pokémon Regional Championships there is an approximate entry fee of $30 per regional event. There is no cost for the Pokémon World Championship if a player earns a bid to complete in the prestigious event.
For more information on the Pokémon Championship tournaments and qualifications visit www.pokemon.com.