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Annandale boy heads to Hawaii to compete in Pokemon championship

Tommy Brown, 10, of Annandale took 11th place in this year's Pokemon Trading Card Game National Championship in Indianapolis. He will face some of the best players in the world next month.
Tommy Brown, 10, of Annandale took 11th place in this year's Pokemon Trading Card Game National Championship in Indianapolis. He will face some of the best players in the world next month. (Shamus Ian Fatzinger/fairfax County Times)

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By Gregg MacDonald
Fairfax County Times
Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tommy Brown, a 10-year-old from Annandale, has set his sights on a world championship.

Brown, a sixth-grader at Canterbury Woods Elementary School, placed 11th in the 2010 Pokemon Trading Card Game U.S. National Championships last month in Indiana. The tournament drew nearly 5,000 Pokemon players and fans from across the country.

On Aug. 14, Tommy and 15 fellow U.S. finalists will face off against some of the best Pokemon card players from around the world in Kona, Hawaii.

It is a competitive card game based on the Pokemon video game series, which was introduced in Japan in 1996 and in the United States in 1998.

At competitions, each player has a 60-card deck of Pokemon cards; each card represents a different character. The competition consists of the characters facing off. Although several character cards are laid on the table at one time, only one -- called the active Pokemon -- can fight at a time.

"Each card has a number of hit points, and you have an active Pokemon card that you attack with," Tommy said. "You use a character's powers to attack and knock out your opponent's cards, and then you win one of six prizes."

When a player has knocked out six of his opponent's Pokemon characters, he wins that match.

The competition can become intense, Tommy said.

"I get pretty nervous during tournaments, and sometimes I throw up," he said.

Pokemon card game tournaments began in late 2003, with the first world championship held in Orlando in 2004, said J.C. Smith, consumer marketing director for Pokemon International Co., the organizer of the tournaments and a subsidiary of the Pokemon Co. in Japan, which manufactures the cards and other Pokemon products.

"At the 2009 Pokemon Trading Card Game World tournament in San Diego, we had a total of 1,125 Pokemon Trading Card Game players from nearly 30 countries participate," Smith said. In June, at the U.S. National Championships in Indianapolis, "we had over 1,300 players participate," he said.

Citing company policy, Smith declined to comment on the Pokemon industry's profitability.


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