"I want to be the very best": A Pokémon League close to home

Pokémon trainers gather at Concordia university for a halloween themed tournament

Watching over 50 Montrealers of various ages gather at Concordia University for a Pokemon tournament, I'm taken back to when I used battle my cousins in the first generation Pokémon games. As one game after the next came out, the franchise grew exponentially. I held onto the first two generations until many of my CEGEP friends encouraged me to get back into the spirit of collecting all of the Pokémon. The game had changed for the better and there was no question about whether or not I would continue with sixth generation. This is what led me to the Montreal Pokémon League, their project, and their tournament on October 25, 2014.

Thumbnail image for pokeleague logo.jpgThe Montreal Pokemon league began "as a simple 'what-if' thought derived from a stumbled-upon imgur post," by their founder, Tim Darrington and since then the Montreal Pokémon league has become a budding success.

They made their debut in August at Otakuthon 2014, and have since gained a great deal of attention locally and in France. The MTL Poke League has been mentioned or interviewed for local publications, such as MTLBlog, 24heure, TVA Nouvelle, and was interviewed for V-Tele on Friday Oct 24, the day before their Halloween-themed second event. Their Facebook page currently has over 900 likes on it. Reddit and a Pokémon community in France even took notice on their website.


Created by Satoshi Tajiri in 1996, Pokémon is the second-most successful and lucrative video game-based media franchise in the world (Gamespot UK). Over 245 million games have been sold worldwide. In its first two days, Pokémon X and Y sold over four million units worldwide. Pokémon is also merchandised into movies, anime, manga, trading cards, toys, books, and other media.

Since its inception, the Pokémon video game has been designed as a multiplayer linkable Game Boy game. Now the linking is done wirelessly through the Nintendo 3DS or 2DS handheld systems, which 'trainers' use to battle or trade Pokémon (The Pokémon company history).


Myles Sachin, 25, recently became the Montreal Pokemon League's Fairy typeElite Four member. While some kids who grew up with Pokémon have moved onto different games or other addicting forms of entertainment, some have played through all (or most) of the sixth generations of Pokémon to become true masters. Myles began playing Pokémon Silver (generation II) on the Gameboy colour during the latter half of elementary. Myles is currently a student at Concordia University, majoring in Math and Statistics and minoring in Education. He works at LensCrafters to pay the bills and used to be a video game tester for Babel Media.

Myles says he "honestly did not expect the MPL to gain as much attention and following as it has." It especially blew up when MTL Blog wrote about them. The immediate attention from the media swarms from TV interviews, articles and blog posts. Some gamming groups have approached the MPL with the possibility of running events/tournaments alongside them. They are "loving" all the attention and hope that it will bring them closer to their goals.

Myles' biggest hopes, which he shares with the founder and other members, for the league are ambitious. He says "it would be amazing for Nintendo to recognize us as an official league, and possibly even be officially sponsored and endorsed by them. Right now, we are a non-profit organization. Base funding for making badges and other things came from our pockets." They are planning to run regular tournaments to collect funding to put their full plan for the league into motion. Myles says, "we are not looking to turn a profit. The league is something we all want to exist. It's a lot of fun for us, and has been very well received so far. We just want to see it continue at full force, without it eating up our wallets."

poke league staff.jpgPokemon League staff photo source: FB

A warm reception for a Montreal Pokémon League comes at no surprise considering Montreal's prominent gaming industry. From big developing companies like Ubisoft to create-your-own-game projects like Game Jam, Montreal is a recognized leader in the video game industry, with over 50 related companies.

Montreal is not the only city in North America with a Pokémon league, several others like Boston have also set up leagues and this could become a growing trend. On the World Championship level for video game, Pokémon trainers gather at conventions around North America (mainly the US) and abroad to compete for scholarships, cash prizes and the right to call themselves the true Pokémon master.

Now it is Montreal's turn to prove that we don't only churn out Assassin Creed Games, but Pokémon champions as well.

At the Otakuthon event this summer, the league's gym leaders took over 900 challenges from more than 250 different gamers. Most of them appeared to be from their late teens to late 20s, the majority somewhere in the middle of that. This is consistent with the kind of audience that usually gathers at the Pokemon World Championship, adult players have their own division, some players are even well into their forties.

Myles started competitively playing for several reasons. Firstly, the newest generation had in-game breeding mechanics to facilitate making strong competitive teams, whereas the previous generations made it practically impossible to do without hacking. Resulting in a lot of over-powered Pokémon players. Secondly, there was a lot of hype around the newest generation. Facebook groups were started to get people together to trade and battle. Myles' existing love of the Pokémon games had him building dozens of competitive teams, and participating in tournaments.


Myles is driven to keep playing for a "super cheesy reason," and quotes the original tv series, it's to "be the very best". He says that, "Pokémon battling is something that I'm good at and that I enjoy doing. Contrary to what some may think, it's not merely a children's video game. It may have started off as such, but it grew into a thriving competitive scene. I'm still discovering new strategies every week, and every time I lose, it just makes me want to come up with new strategies to improve my own." Just like a young boy that he met at the Otakuthon event that "was so adamant about winning our badges that he challenged us again and again, no matter how many times he lost. In the end, he had lost over a dozen matches, but kept fighting and actually won most of them fair and square. Somehow, just seeing how much he enjoyed himself that weekend, and how much he wouldn't give up and never got discouraged, made the whole thing worthwhile."

The Competitive scene for Pokémon and other video games is thriving in Montreal. We can see them gaining a lot more attention as this niche trend grows from battling your friends and anonymous people online to battling in local tournaments. If you have what it takes to beat the league's eight gym leaders you will get the chance to challenge Myles, whose favourite fairy and competition Pokémon, for single battles, is Togekiss with the Serene Grace ability and holding Leftovers. "Togekiss," he says, "looks all happy and adorable, but it's a flying tank of doom!"

togekiss free to use.pngphoto source


Well placed photos, Sarah! :)

Great use of multiple photos organized like a storyboard throughout the article.

Really cool article. I'm sure a lot of people grew up either playing or knowing about Pokemon. I still remember playing the first version on my Game Boy. You had to use a wire to connect to other people, it was slow at best haha. It's a lot of fun seeing people turn their passion in to something they can share with the community.

The entire article is well written and properly laid out, very presentable. Plus, it's on Pokemon, one of the coolest topics ever! I play the new generation games myself, and am a horrible trainer, but a prolific collector! Really like this article.

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