Pokémon GO may be the latest craze in a world where everyone is trying to catch ‘em all, but some students at Ball State are still dedicated to the card game. So dedicated, in fact, that they travel to competitions in and out of state.

Competitions like these, hosted through Play! Pokémon, allow players, also known as trainers, to test their battling skills, win prizes and travel awards, and earn an invitation to the Pokémon World Championships.

Photo Provide, Pokemon Trainer's Union Logo

In the last competition, Ball State Pokémon trainers battled it out at a Fort Wayne Regional Championship for a chance to win $2,000. The championship had six Ball State trainers competing.

Anthony Huber, president of the Ball State Pokémon Trainer’s Union, placed in the top 50 with a record of 5-3. Other trainers finished the championship with a 3-3-3 record. While they didn’t place in the top eight this year, Huber said they improve after every championship they attend.

Members of the Pokémon Trainer’s Union attend event like these two to six times a year depending on their ability to travel. According to Huber, “two guys are going to Connecticut at the end of September, and we had a handful of people go to St. Louis back in March.”

Julian Pridemore, one of the public relations officers this year, said he enjoys the big community that surrounds playing Pokémon both online and within the community. “I actually met my friends in college through Pokemon. It is basically something fun we can do together,” Pridemore said. “It’s also a nostalgia thing for me. I grew up with Pokemon, so I have fun memories to share about the game with other people.”

Noah Smith, a member of the Pokémon Trainer’s Union, says he enjoys playing Pokémon because it lets him relax from all the stress of homework and other responsibilities. “Having a group to play these games with also helps a ton,” Smith said. “I can allow myself to be more social because, this thing that I enjoy so much, I can share with others who enjoy it as much, if not more than I do.”

Pridemore says he enjoys how Pokémon can be either simple or complex. He enjoys competitive battling because of how many different strategies you can use and the different types of competitive builds for their deck that can be used. “When I battle someone else I almost imagine it as a clash of the way two people think,” he said.

Websites like pokemonshowdown.com make it easy to play competitively wherever you are allowing trainers to run simulated battles and check the statistics of their decks online.

The Pokémon Trainer’s Union is working on gaining a bigger campus presence and plans to host more community events this year. Pridemore wishes to bring new traditions into the club to bring new life to the organization.