I Want To Be The Very Best – A weekend at the Pokemon EUICs in London

Pokemon EUIC 2023 Header

Legions of Pokémon fans of all types descended upon the Excel in London last weekend for the European International Championships and this ‘Mon-obsessed gamer found himself among them – if only as a spectator this time. With some of the best players of Scarlet/Violet, Pokémon Go, the Pokémon Trading Card Game, and Pokémon Unite under one roof, what was the event like to attend?

To get a small caveat out of the way, I do play all of the above, but there’s no way I would enter actual tournaments in them as I’m – well – awful at them. Maybe except for the card game, but my deck is nowhere near ready to actually compete with, which is by the by, I guess.

Pokemon EUIC entry dioramas

After registration, attendees walked into a section of little life-size dioramas of Paldean life, with little standees of Pokémon dotted around including a segment of the Academy fencing surrounded by travel cases and bunting. The highlights of this section were obviously the little bridge with our favourite boy, Lechonk, next to it and the fact that music from Scarlet and Violet was constantly playing in the background. I spent a not inconsequential amount of time simply sitting and bopping along to the music.

Through the large arch we go and into the arena proper, and this place was huge. A massive inflatable Pikachu hung somewhat ominously over the proceedings, but the place was full of milling fans playing cards and grouping around the corner containing stalls selling singles of Pokémon cards, along with a variety of other Pokémon merch.

Otherwise, the huge arena at any EUIC is broken up into a TCG area, two video game areas, a Pokémon Go area (complete with Pokéstop, of course), the main stage for the four tournaments, and an area for side events and prizes. As I wasn’t competing, I didn’t spend too long in the TCG or video game areas, but I did stop by the Go area several times to open the app and catch the copious Pokémon popping up around the Excel and take part in the raids.

Pokemon EUIC main hall

The fun thing about having Pokémon Go at an event like this is that I have never seen Gyms change teams so much and so swiftly before. The Gym would be acquired by Instinct (my team), and I wouldn’t even have time to put a Pokémon in to defend it before the Gym was already under attack by another team. It meant though that with so much activity around the event I was never wanting for Pokéstops to spin and even managed to get a few exclusive postcards at the event.

Just because I wasn’t competing, it doesn’t mean I didn’t get some games in, which I could thanks to the side events. The main one of these I was interested in was Pick-a-Pack, which gets you deck building with a very limited number cards (like 1-3 boosters), constructed deck games, and events for the video games too, such as challenges involving catching, training and battling a team in a set time frame. There was a lot to do for absolutely anyone attending the event, no matter the age or ability level.

As a bonus, the side events net you points that could be exchanged at the prize desk. So not only could you meet new people, enjoy some fun challenges and soak in the atmosphere, but you could get prizes ranging from stickers to video games to TCG booster boxes. What’s more, some of these side events offered points just for participation, meaning that not only did I get all the stuff above, but points just for entering several side events that I didn’t win.

Pokemon EUIC Championships

However, my lack of success wasn’t reflective of the event at large, and the main stage was the battleground for all four championships, with four big screens showing either the current action unfolding or previous matches and moments from other Championships. With charismatic commentary, the best in each event clashed with some exciting games throughout. A personal highlight was the Pokémon Unite Grand Finals between Talibobo Believers and Nouns eSports, which was some of the best gameplay I’ve seen in the Pokémon franchise.

The other big thing at the event was, of course, the Pokémon Center. After dealing with a rather poorly organised queuing and appointment system, a large number of possible purchases were laid out before me. The exclusive merchandise for the EUICs were based around Eevee and the Eeveelutions, as well as the Paldean starters. This merchandise sold through very quickly, as you would expect, but the sheer array of t-shirts, figurines, plushes and booster packs ran the gamut of Pokémon generations.

Pokemon Centre at EUIC

Also, something I should point out too is that the prices here were fairly reasonable, with the price points matching the online store for the most part and the exclusive merchandise ranging across the various amounts, meaning that everyone could come away with something cute and adorable. Oh, and every purchase in the store netted you an exclusive Pokémon TCG card and there was an excellent cabinet in the store with teases for future releases coming to the online store.

The European International Championships in London were an excellent experience. Three exhausting and fun days filled with meeting Pokémon fans, playing games, buying merchandise and card singles, as well as simply soaking up the competitive and casual atmospheres of this incredible community. I’ll be going again, as a competitor next time, and – if you have any interest in Pokémon in any of its versions – you absolutely should attend one of these events too.

1 Comment

  1. Sounds like an awesome event!

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