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Trophy Pokémon card sells for $130,000 at auction

A very rare Pokémon card from an early Japanese tournament has sold for $132,000 at auction - a unique piece of 2001 Pokémon history.

pokemon trading card game trophy card with wargamer background

A second place trophy Pokémon card has sold at auction for $132,000, making it one of the rarest and most expensive Pokémon cards ever made. The card, which received grading company CGC’s top rating of Gem Mint 10, features a photograph of a Japanese tournament runner-up and was sold on the online auction house PWCC on September 14, 2023. It was created back in 2001, during the first Japanese tournaments to use the unique Hall of Fame system, making it a neat part of Pokémon TCG history.

The card was initially awarded to one Takahiro Ikeda, for coming second in the senior division of Neo Summer Road finals in 2001. Like all the trophy cards in that contest, it features a photograph of the player with the legendary Pokémon Ho-Oh in the background, effectively making it one of a kind.

The 2001 Neo Spring and Neo Summer Roads were the debut of the Hall of Fame system. While it never made it to the US, this is still used today for sanctioned play in Japan. In the Hall of Fame or ‘Palace’ format, Pokémon cards are assigned a star rating, which determines how many copies of them you can run – effectively limiting the most powerful Pokémon cards, so they don’t completely dominate all the best Pokémon decks.

This is something that other trading card games do too. It’s quite similar to the way the Yugioh banlist works, for instance, with cards that are Limited and Semi-Limited reducing the number of copies you can include in one Yugioh deck.

The modern Hall of Fame format also features cards from way back in the game’s history – everything from 2007 onwards – so it can be compared to MTG’s Modern format, in terms of power level.

The 2001 Summer Battle Road where this expensive card was made was themed around Ho-Oh, so the Trainer trophy card features an illustration of the legendary Phoenix in the background. Its counterpart, the 2001 Spring Battle Road, was themed around Lugia.

While it’s fetched a pretty penny at auction, this #2 Trainer card is not the most expensive trophy Pokémon card ever sold. Right now that accolade goes to a #2 Trainer card featuring Pikachu. That’s because the latter is a little older, dating back to the second Pokémon tournament ever held, in 1998.

You can find out more about that Pikachu trophy and all the other most costly cards in our rare Pokémon card guide. And don’t miss our list of the best Pokémon booster boxes and the best Pokémon cards in every category.