The Pokemon Company has cancelled all officially sanctioned competitive play events through mid-May to help halt the spread of COVID-19. The Pokemon Company announced that all Play! Pokemon events, including Pokemon Regional Championships, Special Events, League Challenges, League Cups, Premier Challenges, Midseason Showdowns, and Prerelease tournaments, will be cancelled through May 14th. The cancellation impacts both video game play and trading card play and means that no players can earn championship points towards qualifying for world tournaments during this time. While not surprising given that the World Health Organization and other health authorities have recommended limiting large gatherings, the cancellations raise questions about how this year's Pokemon World Championships will be run, if the event even takes place. The cancellations follow the previous cancellation of the European Regional Championship earlier this month.
Typically, players qualify for the Pokemon Video Game and Trading Card Game World Championships by earning Championship Points at various tournament events. Players earn points by ranking at events, with more points given out based on the size and scale of the tournament. Cancelling all Play! Pokemon events keeps competitive players on an even field, but it also means that game stores can't run Prerelease tournaments for upcoming Pokemon TCG expansions, which are generally a good source of income. The Pokemon Company has not stated whether they will allow stores to sell prerelease tournament material to customers (Magic: The Gathering implemented an "at home" system for upcoming prerelease events) or if they'll pass on distributing material entirely.
The Pokemon Company and its partners have been taking precautions to prevent spread of COVID-19 for weeks. In addition to cancelling several live and community events, Pokemon Go recently made changes to its gameplay system to allow for more play at home.
Obviously, health and safety for all Pokemon players and their family comes first. The Pokemon Company will still run various online tournaments for Pokemon Sword and Shield during this period, and players can also play the Pokemon Trading Card Game online. We'll provide more updates on upcoming Pokemon events as updates become available.