May 3, 2024 - News

How Indianapolis became a Pokémon city

Pikachu plush toys

Indianapolis and Pikachu go way back. Photo: James Matsumoto/Getty Images

What do NFL draft prospects, NBA superstars and Pokémon world champions have in common? The road to greatness runs through Indianapolis.

Why it matters: As the host of 2024 events like the NBA All-Star Weekend and NFL Combine, Indianapolis has solidified its reputation as a high-level sports competition city.

  • But Indy has also quietly emerged as one of the most important cities for competitive Pokémon over the past 15 years.

What's happening: The three-day Pokémon Regional Championships starts Friday at the Indiana Convention Center.

  • Thousands are expected to gather downtown while players compete in the Pokémon trading card game, the Pokémon GO mobile game and Pokémon video games.
  • There will be vendors, a retro gaming area and a place where people new to the card game can learn to build a deck.

Flashback: Indianapolis and the Indiana Convention Center first forged a connection with competitive Pokémon in 2010 when we hosted the national championships.

  • Since then, the convention center has hosted a national or regional tournament nearly every year.

How it works: This weekend's event serves as a qualifier for the annual Pokémon World Championships in August, where players compete for a $500,000 prize pool.

  • More than 800 players are signed up for the 17+ division, and there are more than 40 registered for the under-17 divisions.
  • The Indy regional has a prize pool of $50,000, as well as the opportunity for players to increase their ranking on the way to the world title.
  • (For race fans, think of it like drivers stacking up points to improve their standing in the IndyCar Series.)

If you go: Pokémon Regionals will take place from noon-10pm Friday, 8am-10pm Saturday and 8am-6pm Sunday.

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