So round about 20 years ago, the Pokémon TCGas run by Wizards of the Coast (WOTC)had its very first sanctioned top level event ever: the "Super Trainer Showdown" (technically the "West Coast Super Trainer Showdown") on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, USA. The STS would effectively count at the first "Worlds" event for the Pokémon TCGgiven that it also invited international playersand there would ultimately be four STS events before the first proper "Worlds" event in 2002 in Seattle (West Coast 2000, East Coast 2000, East Coast 2001 and West Coast 2001).
But not only was the STS the first sanctioned top level tournament for the Pokémon TCG, it also had the first series of qualifiers to get to it: the Pokémon TCG Tour.
Now I went to both the San Francisco Bay Area Tour Stop on June 3rd, 2000, as well as the WCSTS event on the Queen Mary on July 22nd, 2000... and here are some of the little tidbits from those events! (BTW, please excuse some of my foggy memory of an event from twenty years ago... like, I'm glad I was able to keep all of the following items, but other details of the events aren't as tangible as these.)
Today in Part 1, however, I'll be focusing on the Mall Tour Stop itself.
So flashback to Spring 2000... the Pokémon TCG is barely one year old now, but the time seemed perfect to finally start top level, DCI-sanctioned Pokémon TCG tournaments. But how big should it be? Would there be enough players for this kiddy game? And how would anyone earn invitations to the main event? Thus was born the "Super Trainer Showdown" series, a top level tournament which had a regional focus (either West or East Coast), and the Pokémon TCG Tour, a series of mall events where players can earn invitations to the STS. Pretty simple, huh?
Well it was even simpler than that. There were no player points to earn, age groups weren't yet called Juniors, Seniors or Masters yet, no "States", "Regionals" or "Nationals" preliminary events... all you needed to do was just go to the tour events nearest your location, play in one of six five-round single-elimination events (three a day over two days), and as long as you manage to win the third round... congrats! You're invited to the Super Trainer Showdown!
Better yet, if you win first place in one of the six events AND score the most points out of all first place winners (calculated according to how many prizes you had left in each match), you'll earn a free trip to the Super Trainer Showdown. Sweet! Other prizes include a Tour T-Shirt (1st place) and Tour Cap (1st and 2nd place).
At least this was how it worked for the very first STS. Later STSs and Worlds events had different qualifier tournaments and means to earn trips. But for this first foray into top tier events, thats how it worked.
Due to me not being an adult yet and thus having to drag my Dad along, I was only able to play day of the SF Bay Area Tour Stop (June 3rd 2000 at the Northridge Mall in San Jose). Fortunately one day was all I needed because I was able to win 1st Place in the second event of the day, thus earning me the invite, hat AND t-shirt. Huzzah, good times indeed! Below you can see me reppin' the cap, which I still have, but alas I lost the t-shirt in a fire back in 2009.
Now if you want to know how well I actually did, you can read my report of it here. But alas, despite utterly dominating four out of my five opponents and earning a total of 27 out of 30 possible points, I actually didn't get to win the free trip to the STS; apparently the person who won the next event got 28 points. Yeesh! But still, I was happy with my hat and t-shirt (even if it didnt fit) and the nine packs of Base Set 2, so I couldn't complain.
Finally, maybe about a week later a package was Fed-Ex'd to me, and inside it was my invite, a letter, and an event info packet explaining the various accommodations and so-forths for the STS. The invite and letter can be read below, but the info packet will be available in Part 2.
And that's just about all I have to say about the Tour Stop, but that's not all I have to share. Below are a bunch of scans I've made of various bits and bobs from the Tour stop and my invite package. Check 'em out! (BTW, you can click on the thumbnail picture in order to get a high quality scan of that item; front and back views of the same item are kept together. However, personal info, phone numbers and other contact info have been removed.)
And that's about it for Part 1. Nice chunk of Pokémon TCG history here for you, but there's still more to come. If you're still interested, then keep an eye out for Part 2! Until then, huzzah! Good times.