COLUMBIA — In early July, 11-year-old Luke Sherman took fourth place in the junior division at the Pokémon National Championships. Because he did so well, Luke was invited, all expenses paid, to take part in the World Championships.
The tournament in San Diego will begin on Aug. 12 and include some of the top Pokémon players from around the globe.
Pokémon is a turn-based card game played one-on-one, with the best of three games winning a match. The Pokémon Trading Card Game was first introduced in the U.S. in 1998. The game has an element of chance involved but relies heavily on strategy.
This is the first time that Luke, a sixth-grader at Christian Chapel Academy, has placed in a major tournament since he started playing three years ago.
“My favorite thing about playing is winning all the free stuff,” he said.
Luke has won $1,500 in scholarship money, a Nintendo 3DS and a booster box — a sizable supply of random Pokémon playing cards.
Matt Sherman, Luke’s father, is a coordinator of the Columbia Pokémon league.
Sherman said the league has continued to grow over the past few years, and after the success the Columbia team had at nationals, it has been designated an official Pokémon tournament organizer. That means the league will now be able to have official Pokémon tournaments and will be part of the official Pokémon season.
In addition to Luke's fourth-place finish, Zeb Charlton placed 19th at the national competition. Andy Hahn was 9-0 in opening play but was knocked out during the second half of the tournament. Alicia and Wilson Berry played but did not place.
Hahn, a friend of the Sherman family, has been helping Luke develop his skills this past year.
“Luke is a naturally good player, but he has the ability to focus for the entire game, which is something a lot of kids his age struggle with,” Hahn said. Games last for an hour.
Matt Sherman said they are flying out to California the day before the tournament, so Luke can rest before playing.
“Besides the tournament, I am most excited to go to the beach,” Luke said. “I am also excited to buy merchandise that is sold just at the world championship — like playing mats and dice, because they are really rare.”