Pokémon Tournament Offers Rotating Fan Experiences
The Pokémon World Championships is the pinnacle of competitive Pokémon play, and this year’s tournament delivered the pinnacle in results as well. A record-setting 5,000 players from 35 countries competed, the event was streamed on eight separate live broadcasts and more than two million unique viewers accounted for the largest reach of any Pokémon championship to date. Part competition and part celebration and festival, the event previewed new products and characters and engaged the diverse and passionate gaming community in a scenic environment that reflected the imagery of the host city San Francisco in a uniquely Pokémon way.
The championships feature the best trading card and video game players from around the world who qualified by their outstanding play throughout the season. The three-day multi-national tournament took place at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis in atriums, ballrooms, meeting spaces and common areas.
Besides the tournament, the World Championships engaged a diverse group of gamers and fans who embrace the Pokémon culture throughout competitive and casual play, and aimed to expose the next generation through family and friends of current players as well as through creating a direct connection with the residents of the host city.
The challenges of executing such a multi-faceted event are complex and in constant flux. The scenic environment had to reflect the iconography of the host city, San Francisco, while recreating it in a style unmistakably indicative of the Pokémon brand. A comprehensive content and online media strategy supported the opening ceremonies, including a video montage that was filmed and edited throughout the day immediately preceding the ceremony. Due to the venue’s limited capacity and size of the anticipated crowd, no area could remain static throughout the course of the event. Spaces changed throughout the weekend on a daily and, sometimes, hourly basis. In addition, the tournament’s Swiss-system format meant that players were not eliminated after each round, but required an aggregate amount of points to be invited back the next day, which required adjustments in the number of participants at the end of each day. A sophisticated system of leveled badges integrated with metered checkpoints ensured maximum viewership and attendance without leaving a competitor “locked out.”
For the first time, the championships included the Pokkén fighting video game, which created a whole new level of interest and excitement in the proceedings, and leveraged the use of social media on Pokémon websites, blogs and Twitter feeds around the world. Organizers said the championships exceeded all estimates on a quantitative and qualitative basis—we’d say the organizational structure of the event, on top of the experiential elements, exceeded fans’ expectations, too.