Pokémon TCG fans are shuffling up for the final major competition before the World Championships as the Pokémon TCG North American International Championships kick off today in Columbus, Ohio. Top players from across the world are gathering to find the best Pokémon deck in the format, compete for prizes, and earn the final points they need for their invitation to Worlds.
NAIC has consistently been the biggest event of the Pokémon season outside of Japan (whose tournaments operate differently due to earlier card releases) but 2023’s NAIC is set to be the biggest Western Pokémon tournament in history. Post-COVID, Pokémon tournaments have grown exponentially, with regional championships frequently selling out in a matter of minutes for masters players.
As well as the main event, NAIC has a range of side events available for spectators and competitors to take part in including a Build and Battle prerelease-style format, a tournament for Poké-parents whose children are playing in the main event, and several Gym Leader Challenge tournaments. GLC is a popular alternative format created by streamer and competitive player Andrew Mahone where you take on the role of a Gym Leader, playing a mono-type singleton deck using cards from the Expanded format. It’s usually compared to MTG Commander and has grown in popularity in recent months.
Taking home the title of International Champion isn’t the only reason you might compete at NAIC. As this year’s tournament is the first to reach over 1,600 masters division players, placing anywhere in the top 512 will net you Championship Points. These points are what determine who gets an invitation to the World Championships in Yokohama, Japan later this summer. North American players need at least 350 points to secure their invite while European players need 250.
The Pokémon Company isn’t releasing a new TCG set before Worlds, so NAIC’s meta will likely decide the meta for the final tournament of the season. If you can find a deck that performs well as NAIC, it’s likely to perform well at Worlds too, so players from across the globe will be keeping an eye on the best-performing decks from this weekend.
You can watch the Pokémon TCG North American International Championships live on Pokémon’s YouTube and Twitch channels to keep up with the action. Day one starts today at 09:00 PT for the first nine rounds of Swiss pairings. Day two continues at the same time on Saturday, July 1 with six more rounds of Swiss, followed by top cut. You can then tune in to Championship Sunday at 09:00 PT to watch the finals matches not just for all three age divisions of the Pokémon TCG, but also the finals for VGC, Pokémon Go, and Pokémon Unite.
That’s everything you need to know about the Pokémon TCG North American International Championships. For more TCG news, check out our articles on the Sword and Shield competition and the first Kadabra Pokémon card.