Good day to you, my Professors friends. Welcome back for the second installment of Professor 101! This time I will be walking you through the steps of creating and running your very own Pokémon League. Once again, my goal with this series is to guide potential new Professors and show you how you can experience the joys and challenges of the other side of Organized Play.
Let’s get to it!
Wait, What is a Pokémon League?
I’m glad you ask! According to the official Pokémon website, a Pokémon League is “…a fun and accessible way for Pokémon fans to get together and have some fun!” Leagues are official Pokémon sponsored clubs that meet (often once a week) to battle, trade, and share a good time with other Pokémon trainers and fans alike. And when I say sponsored, I mean they send free promotional cards and sometimes other goodies that you can only find at official Pokémon Leagues! Leagues can focus on either the Video Game, or the Trading Card Game, or both, and many leagues support both types of play. If you are not sure if there are any Leagues near you, you can visit the Event Locator to look for them in your area. If there are none close by, then perhaps it’s a good idea to make your own. Let’s look at the process behind making your own league.
(I will assume you have already read and completed the steps in the previous Professor 101 article, which illustrates how to become a Pokémon Professor. If you haven’t, here is the link: So You Want to be a Professor?)
Step one: Create Your League
Once you are a fully-fledged Professor, you will have new options available to you in your Trainer Club account at Pokémon.com. The Organizer Tools (OP Tools Dashboard) Tab is going to be the most commonly used tab for most Professor things, and this time is no different. As soon as you are into the OP Tools Dashboard, click on Organizer Information and drop down to the “Apply for a New League Venue” button. This will bring up the League Application screen, which, once completed, will be reviewed and either accepted or denied by TPCI. Keep in mind, your League does not necessarily need to be at a game store. As long as your League venue is in a safe, accessible, and open to the general public space, you’re good to go! If you do want to host your League at a game store, make sure to work together with the store to help ensure the entire process goes smoothly. Also, stores are much more likely to receive fun tournaments like Prereleases and League Cups, so gaming stores can often be an ideal location.
Once you hit the “Submit” button, you’re done! It may take a while for your league to receive approval, and as with your Professorship, a certain amount if patience will likely be required.
Step Two: Running Your League (The Early Days)
While your League Application is being processed, it’s a great idea to get the ball rolling! Pokémon suggests starting to meet up at your venue at the time you plan on holding your League once it’s official. This is a great way to get into the habit of setting aside that time for Pokémon.
Let’s say your League has been approved. First off, CONGRATULATIONS!! You are doing something truly amazing for your local Pokémon community and you deserve all the praise I can muster. Now that I've showered you with accolades, the next step is to make sure people can find your League. Pokémon has a nifty tool (which you may have used earlier in this article) to find Leagues, tournaments, and other events called the Locator. To get your League to show up on the Locator, you must do a couple of things. First, you need to add some play times. By clicking the “Add Play Times” button you will be taken to a screen which has a few options from which you may choose. I highly suggest meeting once a week and for at least three hours. The next thing you must do is make your first Order. Next to the “Add Play Times” button should be an “Order Now” Button (It will be where the "Add More Players" button is in the picture above). Clicking on this will take you to a screen detailing what you will be receiving for your League Supplies. This is something you will need to do monthly, along with Reporting.
Reporting is something that must be done at the end of every month, and must be completed before you will be able to Order for the each season after your very first. Timely Reporting and Ordering is crucial for keeping your League in good standing, and is the only way you can continue to provide your League goers with promotional cards. Your League’s potential approval for future League Challenge and League Cup tournaments is also dependent on getting these tasks completed on time, so don’t procrastinate! You will receive an email near the end of every season reminding you when Reporting is available. Once these tasks are complete, your League will be visible on the Locator! Hooray!
Step Three: Running Your League (The Golden Years)
Now that all the initial hoops have been jumped through, you can begin to grow your League! While the Locator is a great tool, it isn’t always the most successful at bringing new people through the door. Most fresh players who are looking for a way to share their love for Pokémon have no idea that Organized Play even exists, but that is something you can fix. One popular way to spread the word about your league is to make Flyers. You can make your own or use the one provided by Pokémon on the Rules and Resources(link) page. Once you’ve printed out a handful, visit your local game shops, gas stations, and grocery stores. Many of these places have a tack board for local events. Another way to advertise your League is to create a social media page. Facebook, Twitter, etc. can be an amazing tool for not only finding new players, but also for coordinating events and planning out your League activities weeks in advance. There are a ton of ways you can find new players for your League, so be creative!
Now that you are starting to get more players through your doors, you may need more League Supplies. For Pokémon to send you the correct amount of supplies, it’s vital that you begin to sign people up with POP IDs. Players are required to have a POP ID to participate in any sanctioned Pokémon tournament, so it’s good to start doing this anyway. To print off IDs, you will need to visit your OP Tools Dashboard once again. Under the “Organizer Information” Tab, you will see a “Print More Player IDs” button.
Pro(fessor)Tip: Print out all your IDs in black and white, then cut them out and staple the small portion onto the large portion. This looks more professional and will save time when handing out IDs to new players.
Once a Player has an ID, it’s up to him or her to finish the Trainer Club portion. One thing to note is that it isn’t a requirement that each player at your League have a fully activated Trainer Club account, but your League Supplies are dependent on the number of fully activated accounts being reported each Season, so you should encourage it!
Another important part of owning a Pokémon League is delegating power to League Leaders. Leaders are Professors who are capable and willing to help your League become as successful and fun as it possibly can be. You can add a Leader on your League page (It’s about half way down the page.) League Leaders should be able to act more mature and also be interested in taking on some responsibilities other than just playing Pokémon at League. Leaders can do a wide variety of tasks, including new player sign-ups, teaching/coaching, Reporting/Ordering, and even sanctioning tournaments. In fact, some League Owners completely delegate all responsibilities to Leaders. This is most often the case at game stores, where the store owner is the League Owner and the Leaders run the League. However you wish to run your League is up to you, just keep in mind that League Owners are supposed to have fun at League, too, so share some of the work load and play!
One last thing I would highly recommend is keeping a physical (or at least separate) roster of your monthly League attendance. When Reporting, each player you enter into you report is saved on the website. This is to help make Reporting a little easier throughout the year. However, once per year, TPCI wipes clean every Leagues saved Roster! Therefore, it’s very important to keep a separate list so you can add your players back into the system. You can find a blank League Roster PDF in the Rules and Resources page.
And that's a wrap! Thank you all so much for reading Professor 101: How to Make and Run a Pokémon League! I hope this article could answer some questions you may have had about applying for and running an official Pokémon League. If you have any questions or concerns that I didn't cover in this article, please let me know! You can contact me at the Dead Draw Gaming Facebook page, Twitter, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Join me next time when we dive into creating and running tournaments!
Until next time, Professors!