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The 2023 Pokémon World Championship wraps up in Japan

Eric Thayer
The Pokémon Company

Updated August 14, 2023 at 1:02 PM ET

This past weekend, thousands tried their hand at being "the very best" at the Pokémon World Championships.

Players from across the world gathered in Yokohoma, Japan to battle their Pokémon against each other across multiple platforms — including trading cards and video games.

Ethan Gach, senior reporter for Kotaku, says the championship is the biggest event in the Pokémon community.

"For these few days, the whole world around them will be a massive Pokémon theme park. So it doubles as a Super Bowl for the game, but also Disneyland."

Fans from all over the world gathered in Yokohama, Japan, for the 2023 Pokémon World Championships.
Eric Thayer / The Pokémon Company
The Pokémon Company
Fans from all over the world gathered in Yokohama, Japan, for the 2023 Pokémon World Championships.

Just like the Super Bowl, the competition is intense.

Players spend hundreds of hours planning out and building a six-Pokémon team — eliminating any potential weaknesses.

"There's very little room for error because you only have a couple of creatures and they can't take much damage before they faint," says Gach. "It's very much about trying to find any little advantage you can and press it. Similar to chess, where you're constantly trading pieces and eventually you have a one or two piece advantage and that's how you win."

Victory is lucrative, too. Over one million dollars in cash and scholarships were handed out over the course of the weekend. More than 1600 players registered for the competition, and its livestream averaged more than two million viewers a day.

Gach says the Pokémon community is only growing, as new generations of fans get brought up by people who've been playing for decades.

"Arguably, they're as big as they've ever been. Now their kids are doing it, and now there are generations of fans."

So through video games, card games, and more — the hunt to become a true Pokémon master is sure to continue for years to come.

Claudia Peschiutta and James Perkins Mastromarino contributed to this story. contributed to this story

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Ziad Buchh
Ziad Buchh is a producer for NPR's Morning Edition and Up First. In addition to producing and directing the broadcast, he has also contributed to the show's sports, tech and video game coverage. He's produced and reported from all over the country, including a Trump rally, and from the temporary home of Ukrainian refugees.
Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.