Pokémon Day: Esports.gg reflects on what the series means to us
The esports.gg staff came together on International Pokemon Day to reflect on what the series means to us.
It's International Pokémon Day today, February 27. To celebrate, the Pokémon Company revealed a bevy of new announcements, including the reveal of Pokemon Violet and Scarlet.
On this day of celebration, the Esports.gg staff couldn't help but reflect on the impact the series has had on their lives and gaming careers.
When did you get into Pokémon? Compare with our stories and let us know how you feel.
Instilling a love of competition and sportsmanship
Images you can hear.
Dustin Steiner, Americas Editor
Thinking back, Pokémon was really what ignited my love of competitive gaming. I didn’t know it at the time, didn’t even know the meaning of the word esports, but I was totally bought in on the concept of “being the best like no one ever was.” The fantasy of setting out to prove to the world that you were the best trainer was a powerful one to a 10-year-old Dustin, and it certainly echoed and carried forward as I began writing about esports 14 years later.
That love of competition and the thrill of being crowned champion of an entire region was a rush, even if it was just a story in a JRPG. It’s that thrill that I imagine esports stars from today feel when they lift a trophy. It’s something that I’ve carried with me when I try to imagine myself in their shoes to this day. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Pokémon introducing me to that concept.
Stoking the fires of imagination
Michael Hassall, Senior Writer
As a certified video game boomer, my first Pokémon game was Pokémon Red which I begged my parents for in Christmas 1999. Calling the game formative is an understatement. Like many others, that first Pokémon wasn’t just my first game of the series; it was my first JRPG, my first handheld game, and my first competitive game. I’ll never forget the rumor mills about catching Mew and Mewtwo, the link-cable combat on a field trip to France, and defeating the Elite Four for the first time.
This new-gen will see the number of Pokémon hit 1000. Far more than the 150 or so I could barely wrap my head around as a 10-year-old. But just like back then, I see the pictures of the new starters, mentally pick my favorite (I’m going for the cat-thing), and plot out my next adventure. 22 years later, Pokémon can still capture the imagination like no other game.
The next generation of Pokemon
James "Maverick" Bassett, Call of Duty and Valorant writer
Pokémon has been a part of my life since I began my journey with the release of the original Diamond and Pearl back in 2006; I am still terrified of Cynthia’s Garchomp to this day. Since I took my first steps on my Pokémon journey, I have played every main series game as well as a few of the spin-offs: my favorite game to this day remains Pokémon Black & White. I’ve got a few trading cards stashed away in the ether, have listened to endless remixes of Pokémon game soundtracks on youtube, and I also still, albeit loosely, follow the TV show; I jumped for joy when Ash finally won a league title. And my favorite Pokémon is, and always will be, Blastoise.
Ash did finally win a League championship after nearly 20 years of trying.
To say that Pokémon is a cultural phenomenon would be an understatement. It has defined countless generations of people since the release of Red and Blue/Green, and it continues to do just that. Every new game, every iteration of the Anime, the endless trading card releases, Pokémon always seems to find a way of bringing in new fans while also adding new and exciting things for longtime fans like myself. I’m in my mid-twenties and I still geek out every time a new game is announced. So, the fact that now we are finally seeing Game Freak taking the main series games into an open-world setting is something that I am greatly looking forward to. What a great time to be a Pokémon trainer!
The brotherly bond of playing Pokémon
Christian "Rainstorm" Decker, Dota 2 writer
Pokémon was actually one of the first video games I ever played. It’s hard to pinpoint an exact date, but around the second or third grade, my parents got me the Gameboy Advance SP for Christmas. They bought it with three games, Lego Star Wars, a game I can’t remember, and Pokémon Fire Red. Of the three, Fire Red was the one I played the most. I was hooked on Pokémon and that series of games was one I played the most out of everything in my childhood.
Beyond that, it was also a bonding experience between my younger brother and I. Pokémon was one of the things we really connected on. We traded back and forth between games, discussed strategies and all around just had a great time with it. I remember being so distraught when we misplaced Fire Red around the house. Playing those games are some of my fondest memories and shared experiences with my brother.
Though I’ve drifted from Pokémon, due to the lack of appropriate consoles and my own interests, it is still great to see so many people playing the game and still having fun with it. I look forward to seeing what new creations and ideas the folks behind the game come up with in the future!
Pikachu inspiring greatness
Tyus Kaze Hotta, FGC writer
It's difficult to describe just how significant Pokémon is to my life. I have so many friends now who associate me directly with the franchise and my love of Pikachu. Pokémon Yellow version was the first video game that I have memories of playing growing up. Since that first experience with the franchise 23 years ago, I have been a lifelong fan. So many of my fondest memories have to do with Pokémon, from battling against my close friends (shout out to Oscar Garcia) and family, to just casually cooking curry in Sword and Shield together with my girlfriend.
Aside from enjoying the games casually, Pokémon was also one of my initial entries into esports. Numerous nights of EV training, IV breeding, move breeding, etc. The optimization of Pokémon is something that I can go on for hours and hours about. Watching and playing VGC, playing the TCG, and playing Unite are all ways that I’ve become absorbed in the esports side of Pokemon, as well as the casual.
Pokémon is one of, if not the most special series to me because it ignited my love for competitions and gaming as a whole. Without the exploits of a little electric mouse, I definitely wouldn’t be writing about esports today.
Blazing your own Pokémon trail
Mike "Permasneeze" Tsang, Dota 2 writer
To this day, there is nothing I’ve experienced that comes close to the joy of cracking into a brand new Pokemon adventure for the first time. Without being too dramatic, my Emerald playthrough is easily a core memory I cherish to this day. Meeting my now all-time favorite Makuhita for the first time in the Granite Caves is something I’ll never forget.
The Pokémon franchise holds a special place in my heart, being my first introduction to the world of gaming as a whole, and shaping key parts of my personality that still hold true to this day. Most significantly, my stubborn insistence on opting for what I love, instead of what might be seen as “the most viable”.
Even though the world of Pokémon has grown significantly since I first started playing, every aspect of Pokémon seems to draw out a childlike wonder in me I haven’t quite felt with any other game. With the new games coming out soon, and ground-breaking new ones like Legends Arceus, it appears I alongside many others will have a lot to keep us enthralled for a while to come, and I couldn’t be more grateful and excited.
With Pokémon, you're never alone
I still remember the days as a child, flipping open my Gameboy SP, and exploring the vast world of Pokémon. I truly do not know if there will ever be a game that will give me that feeling. Still, to this day, even the newer games bring up some level of excitement that nothing else can. I will never forget the first time I played through Pokémon Sapphire. That was the beginning of my love for the series.
I think one thing with me, is it is very easy for me to get lonely. Video games in general are a great escape from that feeling, but there is something different when it comes to Pokémon. The pure excitement that came from building your own team, while still being able to explore an entire region and storyline, was a form of comfort for me. There is nothing like turning on that Gameboy, and hearing that opening song, no matter which game you were playing.
I think the entire franchise is something that will go down in history. Having an entire series of games, an anime, trading cards, and more is something you do not see with really any other popular franchises. I hope to one day be able to share my love for Pokémon with my future children. Hopefully they will share the same love for Mudkip as I do.
What does Pokemon mean to you? Let us know on Twitter at @Esports.
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Americas Editor for Esports.gg, Dustin Steiner brings a decade of esports newsroom experience to bring fans what they need to know, helping them keep their finger on the pulse of esports as it happens. When he's not helping run the newsroom, you can find him grinding it out on Smash Ultimate, Final Fantasy 14, or probably binge watching Gundam.