Valley Student Takes Care of Business at the Pokémon World Championships
Published: Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Updated: Thursday, September 8, 2011 17:09
Some of the more than 400 competitors in last month's Pokémon World Championships in San Diego wore goofy hats and lugged around plush toys; some even wore fuzzy costumes depicting their favorite characters from the card game and Japanese cartoon and video game series.
Serious players like Jeremy Jallen ate these ‘superfans' for lunch.
The card tournament featured players from 27 countries, and after 10 rounds and over 16 hours of gameplay, Jallen finished sixth out of 105 players in his division and took home a $1,500 scholarship.
College Times caught up with Jallen after the competition and got the inside scoop on the world of Pokémon.
College Times: Are there stars of the Pokémon world? Like, did you already know some of the other competitors beforehand? Did they know you?
Jallen: All the past players that have done well, consistently done well and won big events before, they've basically made a name for themselves, so a lot of people do know who they are. And with me, only people on the West coast knew who I was. And friends, that was it.
What makes you such a good Pokémon player?
I'm really competitive. I have a competitive spirit. [But] you can't really take it too seriously.
Can one train to become a top-flight Pokémon player? If I picked up a deck for the first time and started practicing, how long would it take until I was awesome?
The times that I play, like every other week, or something, we test out different ideas. It takes a little bit to learn the game, but once you know all the rules and techniques and stuff like that, once you have the right cards, you can do better.
Is it like poker, then? How much of it is skill and how much of it is luck?
I do kind of compare it to poker, but there is a lot of luck involved. But there is also a lot of luck in poker, too. The real skill in poker is being able to read people. You can also read your opponent. They show signs of a bad hand, or they have something good and they might show happiness. It all really depends, but there's a lot more strategies that go on in Pokemon.
Do you play with a Pokemon stone-faced, then? Or do you play up the emotions?
I try to play up the emotions, but to the opposite effect. If I have a bad hand, I'm like, "Oh, this is pretty good," or something like that.
When people wear crazy hats and strange outfits, is that part of the scene or a bit of strategy to throw off their opponents?
There's two different types of people. There's the competitors that are there to compete in the tournament, and they really only like Pokémon for playing this card game. And then there's the super-fans that really love Pokémon and they dress up as Pokémon.
Do the super-fans get knocked out early by serious players like you?
Yeah. I think it's just because the serious players actually take time. They really just care about Pokémon [and] having fun; we care about winning. Not to say they don't care about winning, too. It seems that all the best players don't really like to dress up.
You played for 16 hours in two days at the tournament. When you were finally done, were you happier with how far you got or happier to go take a nap?
All I really wanted to do was go and eat. I got there at like 8:30, and by the time I was done on Sunday, at the end of it, it was 4:30 and I hadn't eaten yet.
There's no food breaks in the Pokémon World Championships?
There is, it's just not during that section of time.
Do you have cred over in Japan, now? Do they follow these types of tournaments?
Not really. It's only really, like, for the winners.
Was the prize money a big motivation for you?
Yeah, in the three years I've been playing I haven't really won any sort of scholarship, yet, but all my other friends have. So it's kind of real competition between me and them, so I was happy to actually win something.
If you had to compare yourself to a Pokémon character, which would it be?
I don't know, I don't like to watch the show, and I've only played the games as a kid. I mean, I have a favorite Pokémon: Croagunk. The card came out, and it just looked really cool, so I decided it was going to be my favorite Pokémon. It kind of looked like a gangster.
Have you ever been teased about playing Pokémon?
Not really. All my friends are really supportive that don't play the game. It's a good environment. I just see it as a way to meet new people.