We had a featured guest at this weeks chat. Pokemon Brand Manager, Keith
Strohm was available to answer some questions about where the direction of Pokemon:TCG is heading. We also got our first real details about the
upcoming Challenge Series which will replace the Super Trainer Showdowns this year, the Professor Program for advanced 15+ players, brief mention of
a Team Play format (not enough details for it's own section yet), and the usual stuff about Pokemon League (Year 3 starts this weekend), future sets,
and the like.
wotc_keith says, "Greetings all. I'm very pleased to be able to speak with you and answer whatever questions I can. I know there are some very
concerned members of the community, and I'd like to do my best to let people
know clearly what is happening with the Pokemon brand. I'll be active on the
message boards and also be present at various chats. I look forward to speaking more with each of you. Now that that is done, on with the
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #298 from yoshi1001:
So tell us about your normal day. Wait, you represent an electric mouse, a
singing air sac, and a 6' 7" psychic cat-you don't have a normal day, do
wotc_keith says, "Well, that really is a normal day for me....however, you
forgot to mention working with Dark Master Trainer Mike...that's much
stranger than the other things you mentioned."
darkmt_mike says, "Much stranger:)"
darkmt_mike laughs hysterically.
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #409 from professor_ooyamo:
How do you feel about the Pokemon TCG fan base?
wotc_keith says, "In some ways, I really feel like I'm "home" among the
passionate players of a hobby game. My original industry experience was with
RPG players, and they have many of the same interests. In general, I have
been very impressed with the level of constructive criticism and pure
commitment you all have for the game."
VISIONS FOR THE FUTURE:
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #305 from lizardotc:
Is it TPC's vision that this game should be primarily for the 14- ages? If
so, 10-14 (the package says 10+) is a narrow age range!
wotc_keith says, "There are some differences between TPCs target audience
and ours. However, it is true that players of all ages can play and enjoy
the Pokemon TCG. Each of these age groups have different things (unique life
experiences and perspectives) that they bring to the brand."
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #496 from lugia909:
These are some unusual changes; some of them, we were told would likely
never occur. Do these changes we're seeing represent some changes in TPC's
view of how the game has developed outside of Japan?
wotc_keith says, "That is a really good question. The short answer is no.
They represent Wizards' own experience of the Pokemon game as it has
developed over the past few years. These changes, I believe, will be
instrumental in securing the long-term future of the Pokemon game."
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #309 from team_europe_golduck:
Will the Challenge Series Events have Qualifiers with payed trips to a final
event for the winners?
wotc_keith says, "Yes. There will indeed be paid trips for everyone who
competes." [and wins, that is.]
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #320 from macross_master2000:
Let me get right to the point, is the challenge series going to be anything
like the magic pro tour? Might we even see cash prizes?
wotc_keith says, "The Challenge series is not like the Magic Pro tour, it is
its own unique series of events for a rather unique set of fans. There are
no plans for cash prizes."
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #350 from tehairyclefairy:
will the Challenge Series Events have qualifiers in Europe with paid trips?
wotc_keith says, "Yes. They will absolutely have paid trips for the
Challenge series in Europe"
master_trainer_mike presents the speaker with question #601 from oldman_405:
Will there be a new rule for this year that a player already winning a trip
cannot enter another tournament that has a trip as its prize. There was a
big stink about that this last year.
master_trainer_mike says, "If a player has already won a particular level of
event, they will be unable to participate in another identical event."
darkmt_mike presents the speaker with question #602 from somexguy:
How will the Challenge events be distributed? State? Regional?
darkmt_mike says, "Regional. There will be Gym and Stadium challenges."
master_trainer_mike presents the speaker with question #655 from
what's the difference between "stadium challenges" and "gym challenges"?
master_trainer_mike says, "Gym Challenges are smaller local events similar
to last years QT's, the 3 Stadium Challenges scheduled (including one in the
Mid-West!!!) will be larger almost STS sized events."
darkmt_mike presents the speaker with question #666 from somexguy:
Are the World Championships going to be invite only?
darkmt_mike says, "Yes."
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #517 from michel1be:
Will it still be possible for parents to play at the same big events (like
the STS) than their under 15 kids, or will these events completely separated
wotc_keith says, "Yes. There will be events for players of all ages at most
Challenges (Stadium and Gym). In addition, we are putting in to place a
multi-player team format, so that families can compete together."
master_trainer_mike presents the speaker with question #637 from sqntx:
If the Challenge Series and Professor Program events are not run at the same
time, what events do you have planned for the Dads (me) while the Challenge
events are taking place?
master_trainer_mike says, "The Professor events are being held at the same
time and place as the Stadium Challenges. As for the local Gym Challenges
they will be similar to last years QT's."
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #335 from indigomaster33:
since the game is to be enjoyed by all ages, do you have plans to keep the
larger pokemon events open to all ages to participate?
wotc_keith says, "The vast majority of Pokemon leagues and tournament will
be open to all ages, however, certain programs, like the Professor program,
will be open only to ages 15+ and the Challenge series will be open to 14
WHAT'S UP FOR 15+ (a.k.a. PROFESSOR PROGRAM):
darkmt_mike presents the speaker with question #355 from skywolf9653:
There has been speculation that 15+ won't be able to participate in the
Challenge Series, can you elaborate, on WotC's position on the 15+ division?
wotc_keith says, "Yes, the speculation is correct. As I mentioned earlier,
each age group of Pokemon fans brings with them different life experiences,
skills, and talents, and we wanted to recognize that by specifically calling
out events geared toward those age groups. 15+ can participate in Professor
exclusive events/tournaments at Stadium challenges and open age side events
at many of the Challenges."
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #317 from daytongl:
Keith, can you give us the "high level" overview of the Professor Program
with possibly some implementation dates?
wotc_keith says, "Professor program will be a training and certification
program for 15+ players, Tournament Organizers, and judges. The program will
start in January and will continue to develop and add features throughout
master_trainer_mike presents the speaker with question #516 from calathon:
what will be required to become a "Professor"? will there be a test?
master_trainer_mike says, "Yes, there will be an online test coming later in
master_trainer_mike presents the speaker with question #650 from
Is the test hard? What kind of stuff is on the Professor test? If I flunk,
can I take it again? And how much will it count [LOL]?
darkmt_mike says, "Very hard!"
master_trainer_mike says, "It will be difficult as it will test your
knowledge of the game. However, it is also there to help you learn more
about the game. If you do not pass it the first time, you can certainly take
it again in the future."
master_trainer_mike presents the speaker with question #657 from
Online test to become a professor? Are you overlooking that just PERHAPS
maybe some people don't have internet access?
master_trainer_pat says, "Nope"
master_trainer_mike says, "There will also be opportunities for interested
players to test for their Professorship at the Stadium Challenges as well."
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #337 from sd_pokemom:
Just what is the 15+ role now, and what is the Professor program going to be
wotc_keith says, "Fulll details on the Professor Program and challenge
series will be available on the website in the next couple of weeks. The
Organized Play team has been working exceptionally hard on building OP
events of the highest quality. This takes some time."
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #318 from team_europe_golduck:
Will the "Professors" have their own tournament at the Challenge Series Main
Event, just like we had the "Seniors Championships" on this year's STSs?
wotc_keith says, "They will have events at Stadium Challenges, conventions
(such as Gen Con & Origins), etc,"
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #316 from matt_moss:
Will there be a 15+ championships/pro tour, and what are the details of it,
wotc_keith says, "There will be a 15+ Professor championship, which will
include great prizes and a paid trip to be an invited judge to the World
Championships. We will have more details posted on the professor program
later this month."
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #369 from starmiemaster:
Re: #316 - What will the structure of this 15+ Professor Championship be,
will it be an open tourney, or a qualifier tourney, or what?
wotc_keith says, "It will be a Professor-only open tournament held at
darkmt_mike presents the speaker with question #624 from fleathemagician:
before you mentioned something about "origins" what is that?
darkmt_mike says, "It is a large convention that takes place in Columbus
Ohio the first part of July."
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #342 from somexguy:
Will there be a paid trip for the 15+?
wotc_keith says, "There will be a paid trip and other prizes specifically
for the 15+ Professor championship."
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #477 from matt_moss:
REQ#342 I know that there will be a paid trip for the winner of the Prof
Championships, but will there be any paid trips TO the Prof Championships?
wotc_keith says, "No. There will not be any paid trips to the Prof.
championships. However, we did set it up in the center of the country to
make it as convenient as possible for all of our Pokemon Professors."
darkmt_mike presents the speaker with question #626 from michel1be:
REQ#477 : how is Europe concerned in an event organized in the middle of the
darkmt_mike says, "They will have their own Challenges and Events."
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #374 from y2ace:
"There will be a 15+ Professor championship, which will include great prizes
and a paid trip to be an invited judge to the World Championships. So you
are saying that the winning "Professors" Wont be able to play in the World
wotc_keith says, "That is correct. The world championships are for our 14
and under players and the Professor championships are specifically for 15+."
master_trainer_mike presents the speaker with question #679 from chrisbo:
RE Q545: It's good to know that the Professor program will have its own
championships, but will they be as prestigious and luxurious as the "World
darkmt_mike says, "I will be there so...yes."
master_trainer_mike says, "Well, WE will be there! That's pretty
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #386 from aquagnome29:
Will 15+ still be able to play in DCI sanctioned tournaments once the
Professor Program is in place?
wotc_keith says, "Absolutely. 15+ are very much members of the DCI and can
play in DCI sanctioned tournaments."
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #381 from plasma_your_dead:
Is the professor program only for 15+ or can there be some 11-14's in it?
wotc_keith says, "No. The Professor program is only for 15+. These players
will be leaders in the community, and we want to make sure that they have
solid experience in our Pokemon OP events."
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #394 from fleathemagician:
will the 15 + "professors" become DCI sanctioned Judges?
wotc_keith says, "Because we believe that Pokemon and Magic are two
different games with entirely different audiences, professors will not be
DCI sanctioned judges because the programs are different."
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #396 from dumbledore38:
Will the Professor program take affect world wide?
wotc_keith says, "Yes. We are a global community and we will have a global
organized play experience."
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #402 from daytongl:
Will the Professor Program be similar to the DCI's current structure of
judges (ie, Level 1-5 with the higher level judges mentoring and
recommending advancement for the lower level judges)?
wotc_keith says, "The Professor program, while having some similarities with
DCI certified Judges, is different. However, there will be various levels of
Professors (just like in a real University)."
master_trainer_mike presents the speaker with question #586 from
If Professors have different rankings would it be based mainly on
experience, how many events they helped with, or what?
master_trainer_mike says, "Yes, the higher levels of the Professor program
will only be attainable by running or judging events or leagues."
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #434 from lizardotc:
Have you given any thought to the role of families such as mine in which ALL
members (including parents) would like to compete in the same large-scale
wotc_keith says, "We will be introducing team play, which has been built
specifically for that, later in the year. Professors will get the
opportunity to playtest and evaluate the new formats, as well."
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #573 from squirtle_master2:
Since you mention Professors playtesting formats, does that mean you are
considering having other DCI sanctioned formats, or would these be just
temporary formats like 15-3C?
wotc_keith says, "We are considering other DCI sanctioned formats including
multi-player team format and some other surprises."
master_trainer_mike presents the speaker with question #450 from oldman_405:
I'm already a TO and judge at my events. When I become certified what will
that entitle me to that I haven't had before?
master_trainer_mike says, "You will have access to exclusive early
information, you will be asked to help us playtest, there will be exclusive
events held for you, and later on you will be able to elevate the K ratings
of events that you judge at."
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #560 from martin_moreno:
Will the Professor program allow "professors" to run DCI sanctioned Pokemon
tournaments at will?
wotc_keith says, "They will still need to go through the DCI sanctioning
process, but these tournaments will be worth more in terms of their K
master_trainer_mike presents the speaker with question #608 from
Re450 what is a "K rating"
master_trainer_mike says, "Basically, the K rating represents how much your
Pokemon rating can go up or down in a match. So an event with a higher K
rating gives you an increased opportunity to raise your worldwide rating and
ranking (if you are good) :)"
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #531 from digiwarrior:
We don't want to be judges, we want to PLAY.
wotc_keith says, "And you can. You can play at League, local tournaments,
Professor-exclusive tournaments and championships, and in the future,
multi-player team formats, and finally, at special open events during
Stadiums and Gym Challenges"
darkmt_mike presents the speaker with question #590 from master_o_pokemon:
Personally, although you say your recognizing 15+, it seems like your taking
the HARD competition away from them. Why?
darkmt_mike says, "Actually we are giving you a harder competition level for
master_trainer_mike says, "The format for your events takes more skill than
mere constructed tournaments do."
master_trainer_mike presents the speaker with question #743 from
RE: Q#599 I realize that there will be just as many opportunities to play as
before but the opportunities will no longer be for large events where we can
also get recognition for winning. What do you have to say about that?
master_trainer_mike says, "You have your own Professor Championship."
master_trainer_mike says, "More than you had before I have to say."
master_trainer_mike says, "There will be tournaments for older players at
every large event."
master_trainer_mike presents the speaker with question #607 from
You mention how much you think its great that the 15+ers can add more to the
community and tournaments by holding them and helping people. I myself like
helping people , but I also like to participate in these large level events.
What I have gathered from your responses all the Professors can participate
in are the Proffesor only tournaments and DCI tournaments. I am afraid that
some people may not take this as well as I. How do you feel about that, and
what do you think will occur?
master_trainer_mike says, "There will be open age events held at most
challenges. You will have exclusive tournaments held for you at each of the
Stadium Challenges (these are the STS level events) AND exclusive Professor
events held at certain conventions. This is already MORE events than we
offered you last year."
master_trainer_mike says, "Then there will be tournaments ending every
season of the Pokemon league. Again, thousands of more opportunities
country-wide to participate in."
master_trainer_mike says, "I for one, will be living Pokemon to do our best
to offer you everything we can in an age of limited resources."
darkmt_mike presents the speaker with question #620 from michel1be:
The community will be divided between 15- and 15+. Was is not possible to
keep the categories like it was before, with the same 'treatment' for 15+
and younger players, and simply add the Prof program for the 15+ who could
be interested in that inst
master_trainer_mike says, "Please understand that Pokemon was never meant as
a highly competitive game. I'm sure some of you are aware that how we can
deal with competition and winning and losing differs as we grow older."
darkmt_mike says, "Folks, you will still be able to participate in the
Stadium Challenge series just like you did at the STS. There will be events
for all ages there. We recognize that the older players still want
competitive opportunities and we are offering you more than ever. However,
for Pokemon to survive we also need your knowledge, maturity, and help.
There simply are not enough of us here at Wizards to run every league
location, local tournament, and main events throughout the world. Pokemon is
not the fad it once was, now it is coming down to the core players. We want
to recognize and regard you in all the various ways you help keep Pokemon
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #397 from yoshi1001:
So it's safe to assume that 15+ers will continue to have a respected place
as players in the Pokémon TCG?
wotc_keith says, "Absolutely. We are looking to you to be leaders in the
community. And in fact, I think I also need to extend that not just to
players but also to Tournament Organizers and Judges"
master_trainer_mike presents the speaker with question #591 from
How many weeks are planned for each league session?
master_trainer_mike says, "5 weeks"
darkmt_mike presents the speaker with question #597 from ninetales2000:
Will all of the "mechanic" card promos be Trainers?
darkmt_mike says, "No."
master_trainer_mike presents the speaker with question #600 from
Will the pokemon league feature all of the elements in a holo-foil form?
i.e. Grass and Fire, etc.
master_trainer_mike says, "MMMaybe :)"
master_trainer_mike presents the speaker with question #738 from
Is the plan for each league season to have a foil energy, a new promo, and a
classic promo, like the first season does?
master_trainer_mike says, "Yup!"
master_trainer_mike presents the speaker with question #618 from pikachu89:
Have all locations received their league kits? Why not tell us what the
instructions are in the league kits, so that we know what to expect?
master_trainer_mike says, "Many stores are still in the process of signing
up for the league. We are sending kits out to each and every store that
contacts us and is interested."
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #533 from soslowpoke:
What is this "Amazing Promotion" for Season 2 of league?
wotc_keith says, "Well...if you promise not to tell anyone......Pokemon fans
will be able to help us design the art for a card...who knows, it might lead
you down another whole career path."
[CHRISBO NOTE: Hey, I didn't promise (wink).]
darkmt_mike presents the speaker with question #673 from fleathemagician:
RE:533 if we can design the card art does that mean there will be more
wizard only cards?
darkmt_mike says, "Possibly...."
master_trainer_mike presents the speaker with question #593 from
Has their been any response from Toys'R'Us on having Pokemon league year 3?
master_trainer_mike says, "Toys R Us is uncertain of whether they will be
running the league chain-wide or not. All interested stores though, should
contact us here at wizards."
master_trainer_pat says, "Individual Toys R Us stores may contact us to get
help setting up a league if they aren't already set up"
master_trainer_mike says, "They can call the Merchant Relations department
at 1-800-821-8028. This number is for interested retailors (managers) only.
Please pass it along."
master_trainer_mike presents the speaker with question #633 from pkmnx:
Any news on when the League Locator on the wotc site will be working?
master_trainer_mike says, "We are working quickly on it and hope to have it
up in the next 2 weeks. In the meantime you can call customer service at
1-800-324-6496 and they will be glad to help you."
darkmt_mike presents the speaker with question #635 from daytongl:
Will the season ending tourneys at League be open only to members of a
specific league location only or are they open to anyone who may want to
walk in the door on tournament day? I ask because the prize support for
these tourneys is limited to 32 people.master_trainer_mike says, "Those
tournaments are open to league members only. If you want to participate,
join the league."
darkmt_mike presents the speaker with question #670 from matthewssandslash:
My area has no sanctioned stuff in it (as a result, there are 7 registered
players). Will areas like mine have sanctioned stuff at our Leagues?
master_trainer_mike says, "Yes, the tournament that ends each season of the
league can be sanctioned if the Gym Leader wants to do so."
master_trainer_mike presents the speaker with question #715 from
are the formats for the season ending tourneys decided by you or the gym
leaders. If you can you tell me the format for this season
master_trainer_mike says, "They are Unlimited (so far)"
darkmt_mike presents the speaker with question #671 from toysruskid:
Are the Pokemon Center, Lucky Stadium Promos going to be released to a wider
audience. Like league?
darkmt_mike says, "Not likely."
NEO: DESTINY (NEO 4) AND BEYOND:
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #311 from pikachu89:
Any more info on a potential release date of Neo Destiny?
wotc_keith says, "Neo Destiny should release (to my great relief) in late
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #465 from martin_moreno:
Will light pokemon be included in the american neo4/destiny set?
wotc_keith says, "Light Pokemon will indeed be present in the Neo 4 set."
master_trainer_mike presents the speaker with question #613 from
Will the 3 star Pokemon in Neo Destiny have 3 stars?
master_trainer_mike says, "sorry, dunno"
darkmt_mike presents the speaker with question #614 from ninetales2000:
Will the "Light" Pokemon be called Light Pokemon?
darkmt_mike says, "Dunno."
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #314 from puritys_echidna:
can you tell us anything about sets AFTER Neo: Destiny... such as VS, Web,
wotc_keith says, "As many of you have probably heard, the they have released
Card-E in Japan. We are currently working with the Pokemon Company to put
the final touches on our 2002 schedule. It's an exciting set and we're
looking forward to it."
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #411 from skywolf9653:
Mr. Strom, can you enlighten us as to the future of the Pokemon TCG after
the release of Neo 4?
wotc_keith says, "As I mentioned earlier, the Japanese have released Card-E
in their country and we are working with them to finalize our own schedule
for 2002. Card-E is an exciting set and I'm sure the global Pokemon
community will enjoy it."
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #571 from skywolf9653:
Are there plans to release the "VS" series in English, or just the E-Card
wotc_keith says, "We are looking beyond the initial release of Card-E now
and are considering it. But we have made no definite plans."
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #329 from nickfifteen:
Is there anything you can say about a possible Wizards-first/only Pokémon
wotc_keith says, "This is something that we have been thinking about for
quite some time. We are currently working with TPC to work out the
feasibility and details of this. However, it's definitely something that we
would like to see. In fact, it's also something that the Pokemon Company
would like to see as well."
wotc_keith presents the speaker with question #524 from skywolf9653:
Are there any plans to release the Vending Machine series in English?
wotc_keith says, "Well...you might have the opportunity to see some of these
cards in the future, but we're still working out some details with TPC, so I
can't comment in detail"
master_trainer_mike presents the speaker with question #672 from
Any info about Pokemon VS coming here?
master_trainer_mike says, "There are no plans to release VS."
[CHRISBO NOTE: Remember, just because there aren't any plans does not
necessarily mean they will never release them.]
darkmt_mike presents the speaker with question #702 from squirtle_master2:
Are there any plans to release Pokemon Web since it has a lot of cards we
don't have yet?
darkmt_mike says, "Not at this time."