A Blackpool ‘Pokemon Master’ is hoping to become top of the league at a huge card game competition that draws in thousands of enthusiasts each year.
Thomas Lambert, nine, of Royal Avenue, is currently ranked second among junior professional Pokemon card game players in Europe, and has secured his place in next year’s World Championships.
“I’m really excited because I have never been to a championship before, but I know a lot of people who have,” he said. “They said it’s really good and I’m going to make it next year.”
Thomas started playing Pokemon cards three years ago, when he was sent a special package from ‘Professor Oak’ - the franchise’s top Pokemon expert who appears in the video games and TV show.
Sarah said: “Thomas had become interested in the cards so I found a group on Facbook for some help about how the game is played, and somebody sent him a whole set-up in a box with a letter from Professor Oak, which was magical for him.
“That was three years ago and since then Thomas has been highly involved in the game.
“More than anything it’s social. He’s not stuck at a computer screen, he’s actually playing with other children. He has made lots of new friends.
“He played for about a year locally, but then we began to realise he was playing the same things each week, so I started looking at things he could do further.
“He has played in Manchester, Huddersfield, Lancaster, Chesterfield and Plymouth. We try to keep it in the North.”
The Pokemon trading card game sees players go head to head with decks of their most powerful ‘pocket monsters’.
The aim is for players to deal damage to their opponents’ Pokemon using ‘energy’, which is represented by special energy cards.
Players can sometimes transform their weaker Pokemon into stronger fighters by ‘evolving’ them with certain cards.
Additionally, players can use trainer cards to heal their Pokemon, remove energy from opposing Pokemon, and revive fainted monsters.
Thomas, who is a year five pupil at Stanley Primary School, uses a tag team deck based on the electric powers of the franchise’s cute yellow mascot Pikachu (inset), and Zekrom, a legendary black dragon.
He practices every Wednesday night at Harlequins Blackpool on Vicarage Lane.
He will take part in the World Championships in London in August next year.
“It’s really good for them because the game is a lot of logistics,” Sarah said. “They have to build the gameplay themselves. There’s a lot of maths that goes into it and a lot of concentration.
“It’s a massive part of his life. He plays every day. He’s forever building his sets and trying to make his deck better than before. He has friends that will come and play with him on a regular basis outside of the club.
“They need 250 points to earn a spot for the World Championships in the juniors. When they move into high school, that’s when they move to seniors.
“They have to earn points from challenges, competitions and regional and international events. From each of these events, if they place highly and take away points, that counts towards their place at the Championships.
“Some of these kids have professional Pokemon trainers, while Thomas has done it all of his own back.”