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.