One thing we know about the 2019 season are some of the announced entry fees for early 2019 regional championships in North America, and players aren’t too happy about them. As the 2018 season comes to a close, many players are speculating on the future of Pokemon VGC, and one of the main talking points are the increase in price for regional entry fees.
Entry fees for officially sanctioned VGC events are relatively new, as the scene one enjoyed not having to pay anything to enter one of these tournaments. The fees started at around $20, then rose to around $40, and a 2019 regional could force you to pay up to $70 if you wait until the last minute. Competing in official Pokemon tournaments is costing more every year, and many in the community feel that these rising entry fees are killing the growth of competitive Pokemon.
How much Are We Talking?
Thanks to a Twitter thread from well known VGC journalist, Jason Krell, we have a concise breakdown of some of the early costs for upcoming North American regionals.
Let’s start with one of the most controversial events listed so far: Memphis. The Memphis regional championships are currently at $55 for standard registration. The price increases by $15 two weeks before the event, bringing the total up to $70 if a player registers late. The organizers of the event, TopCutEvents, will host three other regionals this upcoming season, and it’s possible those prices may remain consistent among all of them, according to Krell.
Next, we have Philadelphia regionals with the standard entry fee sitting at $50. This is one of the first tournaments of the 2019 season post-2018 Worlds and one of the first events to announce its price. This $50 price tag was one of the early major sparks to this outrage over entry fees.
After that, there’s Roanoke, which currently has the lowest standard fee at $40. The only other tournament that has any listing of price is the Portland regional championships which lists “in-person” registration at $60.
It’s safe to say that competing in a regional championship this season will run you at least $40 just to enter the tournament.
Where Do We Direct Our Concerns?
Unfortunately, this matter is not very much in the hands of The Pokemon Company. The tournament organizers are the ones who set the entry fees which are usually to cover the cost of the venue and other various fees. What’s confusing to players is why these entry fees have been rising in the first place. Tournaments are getting more sponsors as well, but that still isn’t confirmed as a factor that alleviates some of the financial burdens for TO’s.
If the player base wants to do something about these entry fees, voicing opinions to the tournament organizers would be the best bet. Another approach would be to campaign for The Pokemon Compnay to intervene and set a cap for entry fees, but that might be too much of a long shot.
Right now, this is what we’ve been dealt as options to enter regional-level events in North America, and the odds of them changing for the better are uncertain.
Responses From Figures in the Community
Along with Jason Krell who we mentioned earlier, many other prominent voices in the community have spoken out about these high entry fees.
Many players have brought up the concept of trying to grow a grassroots scene in order to have more control over funding tournaments.
Unless TPCi wants to swoop in and save us from the grave the PTOs dug us, they only way to grow is Grassroots. I hope we get communication soon, and I’ll hold out a bit longer for that, but if we hear nothing by like Worlds or Philly, then Grassroots https://t.co/JIE95iREhC
— Tommy Valentine Cooleen (@TmanVGC) July 14, 2018
There’s clearly interest in Pokemon VGC from players to esports organizations, but how much support the grassroots approach could get remains an uncertainty.
There are also more extreme responses, such as calls for a boycott of regional tournaments over the high entry fees.
Alright lets play a collusion game WHICH VGC REGIONAL ARE WE ALL GOING TO BOYCOTT
this kind of thing works in Europe right
VGC PLAYERS UNION!?!?!!?!!
livable wages for VGC players
I want 2 more TCG packs at every level of prizing
— PG | Wolfey (@WolfeyGlick) July 14, 2018
While this would certainly send a message, it could send a wrong one. Terrible attendance could indicate to The Pokemon Company International that Pokemon VGC isn’t worth supporting anymore, making this option not seem worth the risk.
And then you have responses like this one from Aaron Zheng which both reminisce on the good old days and make a good point about attendance numbers.
I saw that registration for Philadelphia Regionals is up and that the entry fee is now $50 minimum. There’s not even an early bird fee for registering early.
When I went to Philly post-Worlds 2014, it was one of the largest Regionals with 350+ players. Entry back then: free :/ pic.twitter.com/leMvLyRYOP
— PG | Aaron Zheng (@CybertronVGC) July 14, 2018
Correlation doesn’t always equal causation, but tournaments in the days when they were free to enter did have noticeably higher attendance numbers. There’s obviously other factors involved, but it’s likely that paying more to enter tournaments has not had a positive effect on attendance.
So, do these entry fees mean the doom of Pokemon VGC? While that question may be a bit too dramatic, it’s certainly not looking good. If the community wants answers or any kind of change, the best approach is to respectfully reach out to your tournament organizers and let them know of your grievances.
While we’re worrying about entry fees, we still don’t know how the circuit will change (if it changes at all) for the 2019 season. If The Pokemon Company International delivers on their word, most, if not all of our questions will be answered by the end of the month.
Images from Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, The Pokemon Anime, Bulbapedia, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International
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