Pokemon Players Concerned as Tournament Registration Fees Hit Nearly $70

Entry fees for Pokemon tournaments are continuing to climb.

This weekend TCG players discovered it would cost nearly $70 (after taxes) to register for September’s Baltimore Regionals, the first event of the 2022-2023 season. This cost is for all three age divisions, including the Junior division.

Isaiah Cheville, one of PokeBeach’s competitive article writers, summed up the concerns of many Pokemon players who voiced their opinions on social media:

I’m fortunately in a position where I can afford the cost of registration for multiple events in a year, but if events had this level of cost when I started as a Junior, my family couldn’t have realistically paid for me to play the game.

With the continued absence of local events, the game remains inaccessible to new players and especially young players.

Ultimately, the rising costs aren’t the end of the world for longtime players that are going to play anyway. But they are a gatekeeper for younger players trying to enter the Pokemon TCG. This is massively detrimental to the growth of our game and its community, which is ultimately what Pokemon is about.

Because of Covid, local Championship Point events like League Cups and League Challenges are currently suspended. This means players can only earn points by going to Regionals.

Charlie Lockyer, another one of PokeBeach’s competitive writers, added:

Many of us grew up in this game as younger players. Some of the top Masters players now were Juniors or Seniors players when Pokemon tournaments were free to enter. The younger divisions shrink every year and I think we’ll start to see that impact the Masters division. There may be less younger talent replacing Masters players as they inevitably leave the game.

Pokemon tournaments used to be free to enter. Registration fees were first introduced in 2013. Masters division players paid around $20 to register while Juniors and Seniors played for free. Starting in 2016, Juniors and Seniors had to pay the same fees as Masters players depending on the tournament organizer. By 2017, everyone paid.

Entry fees have continued to rise since 2017, where they started at $30 to $40 for all divisions. By 2018 the average cost was $50. The costs then rose to between $55 and $60 after Covid. Now we’re at $65.

The 2017 season is also when cash prizes were first introduced to tournaments. While the prize money went to the Top 64 that season, it changed to only the Top 32 in the 2018 season — a reduction in prizing. Thus, there have been no increases in prizing over the years despite the registration costs doubling.

As far as we’re aware, starting around 2016 or 2017, TPCi quietly moved to a “self-funded” model for Pokemon tournaments. The costs of holding tournaments would be placed on the shoulders of tournament organizers and players. TPCi only helps in the event of emergencies, such as if an event is canceled because of Covid. But since tournament organizers are under a non-disclosure agreement, it’s difficult to ascertain details. Therefore our understanding may not be complete or accurate.

If you are concerned about the rising costs of tournaments, the best way to make your concerns known is to file a support ticket on Pokemon.com.

Yaginku

Aspiring Trainer
Member
My theory is that local sanctioning isn't going to reopen until Japan (as a country, but that includes events) reopens fully. And, unlike their competition that is mainly sold to be actually played, I don't think TPCi really cares.
 

Raigetsu

Lightning Trainer
Member
Pokemon TCG has always been a money game. If you cant afford the good stuff you cant really compete. I don't keep up with the competitive scene anymore so I don't know if the value in cards, like Umbreon VMAX or anything with Charizard in the name, reflect their competitive status but it's been like that since I tried being competitive during the end of ruby/sapphire and toward the end of HeartGold/SoulSilver and I was generally priced out of cards.
This is just how I see it though, if others have different experience than fine.
 

Polaris

...
Member
Pokemon TCG has always been a money game. If you cant afford the good stuff you cant really compete. I don't keep up with the competitive scene anymore so I don't know if the value in cards, like Umbreon VMAX or anything with Charizard in the name, reflect their competitive status but it's been like that since I tried being competitive during the end of ruby/sapphire and toward the end of HeartGold/SoulSilver and I was generally priced out of cards.
This is just how I see it though, if others have different experience than fine.
While it's true the game has ways costed money, there's always been ways to make playing the game reasonable; many fun, playable decks can be reasonably costed, and borrowing cards within a group of people has always been a thing as well. A 70$ price tag on playing for a single day is unprecedented in my experience; I've never traveled to be play, but I'd have to imagine that traveling has gotten a lot less appealing with this as well. At least if I'm playing for cards, that's something I can take with me forever to play with friends or just collect; the tournament experience is fun but it isn't 70$ fun. The game is possibly more popular than ever too, but a lot of people will probably check out at this point; what a way to shoot yourself I the foot.

I just went to a prerelease with a bunch of new families who's kids want to get into the game; most of them probably won't let them go to regionals for this price. Super lame.
 

King Arceus

Aspiring Trainer
Elite Member
Advanced Member
Member
Rising entry fee costs were something I did not agree with and was one of the main reasons I stopped judging events. The game did not go in a direction that aligned with my beliefs. The event is also going to be an even higher cost when you factor in the cost of travelling to the venue. Airplane tickets aren't cheap and neither is gas. If you are out of state, you are liking booking a hotel room for at least 1 night. If I were to come back as a player, I would not be willing to go to a regionals because of the ridiculous cost. I'd rather use the $70 and go to a theme park instead.
 

HershelLayton

Aspiring Trainer
Member
On one hand, for Yugioh deck prices are disgusting currently (we're talking about 900 for a deck) while entry prices remain chilling at $20 even for large events.

Pokemon, on the other hand, seems to cap at around $150 max, but events are pretty pricey. Also, it has cash prizing (which yugioh doesn't do).

I think having substantially cheaper decks and Pokemon simply being collected more results in way larger tournaments. In other words, more players -> way larger venues and resources needed -> larger costs need to be recuperated.

I'm not sure what the most reasonable solution would be. Considering how much money Pokemon makes, would it kill them to provide more support to let costs be capped at the $20 mark Konami generally aims for in their tournaments? They'd easily make up the losses from events that aren't profitable through more cards and miscellaneous stuff being bought
 

Zeeman

Pachirisu is the cutest
Member
Holy smokes. I didn't realize there was an entrance fee.

The last tournament I played was regionals 2012 so that lines up with my experiences of free tournaments. I Definitely wouldn't have been able to play as a kid, my dad was bringing us three kids to tournaments (including 1-2 regionals a year) and there's no shot we could have afforded even $30 per person (we played poo decks lol).

I'm really sad to see TPCi has added fees like this, even if I'm late to the party.
 

Luke Skywalker

Expanded Best Format
Member
This is honestly sad in my opinion. I have loved the TCG and have played for many years. However this mixed with the apparent loss of expanded tournaments just screams even more that all they are out for is money. I do however understand that organizers need to be able to cover the cost of the venue and such but I feel that if as a company you want to be expanding more, then you should offer incentives such as providing a stipend to organizers to help them hold the tournaments and such. But, they may already have some form of funding that we haven't heard of yet due to the non disclosure agreement.
 

bbb888

One Life. One Dream.
Member
Guess it's now time to play TCG Online instead. Here is a random code someone can use (first come first serve):

62J-CLRN-P9Q-W6D
 

NicoNoo

Meta/budget player
Member
So the physical scene is getting worse and TCGLive remains as crappy as 6 months ago...

Thank god PTCGO is still alive, although I wonder how long can the (competitive) game actually survive if the app is the only thing entirely holding it up... I wonder if TPCi is just trying to kill competitive Pokemon on its entirety and make PTCG a collector based game.
 

WojtekBB

Aspiring Trainer
Member
For me the main issue is traveling costs. Going to a different country can be expensive. A single regional can cost about 500$ We are getting first regionals in Poland but it's still about 200$

We need one of these things to happen:
Lower CP requirements
CP for online tournaments
League Cups and challenges back

Otherwise qualifying for worlds will be imposefor some due to costs. I am not even mentioning juniors or seniors
 

Hongo

Aspiring Trainer
Member
The last event I ever participated in was the prerelease for EX Delta Species.

(Wow 🥲)

You paid, I think, $20 or $30, but you got more than enough back in packs and whatnot.
 

TheNidoKing

Aspiring Trainer
Member
Pokemon TCG has always been a money game. If you cant afford the good stuff you cant really compete. I don't keep up with the competitive scene anymore so I don't know if the value in cards, like Umbreon VMAX or anything with Charizard in the name, reflect their competitive status but it's been like that since I tried being competitive during the end of ruby/sapphire and toward the end of HeartGold/SoulSilver and I was generally priced out of cards.
This is just how I see it though, if others have different experience than fine.
A money game? *Magic: The Gathering* has entered the chat.