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DJGigabyte – How I collected a full set of English Pokemon World Championship trophy cards

Full Set Pokemon Trophy

Hello again to those who know me, and nice to meet you for those who don’t. I’m Dan, known around the internet as DJGigabyte. A collector through and through, my main interest is seeking out cards that are not only rare but have an interesting history and stories. For the first of (hopefully) many articles here at Ludkins Media, I decided to share a story of how I collected a full set of English Pokemon World Championship trophy cards. I hope you enjoy!

In September 2013, I left the house with £1,200 in my pocket and drove from Newcastle to Leeds to pick up a card that would finish a huge collection goal, a goal which very few had completed before or since. The card was a No. 4 Trainer from the World Championships, and with that acquisition, I completed the goal of owning a full set of English World Championship trophy cards. No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, and No. 4 Trainer.

By 2012 I had already begun to build up a sizeable collection. Some Worlds Staff cards, a Sample set, even a Stadium Challenge Deoxys. But I had not yet taken the leap into trophy cards. Trophy cards represent a whole new level of collecting. At the time it meant moving from three-figure cards to four-figure cards. Instead of spending hundreds on a single card, obtaining a trophy card meant spending thousands on a single card. Back then, even a PSA 10 1st Edition Base Set Charizard didn’t break that barrier.

Things changed in mid-2012 when I found out that a No. 2 Trainer from 2009 was for sale. I knew the seller and I knew the card. This particular copy was from the Senior division and was won by David Cohen, who would go on to take 1st Place in the Masters division two years later. After some discussion, I came to an agreement and a payment plan with the seller to take the card for $3,000. In those days, payment plans were a lot more common, especially with sales of that size, as the number of people who both wanted to spend that much on a card and had that much immediately available was very small.

Shortly after receiving the card, it was time for me to fly out to Hawaii for the 2012 World Championships. Another fun week of hanging out with friends, buying cards, and being kicked out of hot tubs. During this week I spoke to the dad of a 3rd Place finisher from 2011, Junior Divisions Alex Krekeler. He mentioned that Alex was interested in selling the card and that they would let it go for $2,000. Nothing was set in stone that week at Worlds, but it was set up so that we would talk more in the future. Talk more we did, and later that year the card was paid for. However, I wouldn’t get my hands on it until the following World Championships.

Pokemon Trophy Cards
Worlds 2012

In early 2013 I was talking to David Persin, a good friend and owner of the most extensive English language Pokémon TCG collection in the world. I had mentioned my purchase of the No. 3 Trainer, and that I was now only missing a No. 1 Trainer to have a complete set. (Before the 2013 World Championships, a complete set was only No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3, more on that in a moment). A lot of people will know that David has attended the World Championships since 2006 to buy trophy cards for his collection, hoping to get them directly from the winners. This conversation was the first time that he informed me that in 2007 he purchased the No. 1 Trainer from two separate winners, so he had a spare. Once I came to terms with the concept of someone having a “spare” copy of a card with only three copies ever printed we started talking about a price. We settled on a price of $4,000 and agreed that I would again collect this card in person at the World Championships that year.

The week of Worlds 2013 came around, I flew out to Vancouver and picked up Alex’s No. 3. I then met up with David and purchased the No. 1. Great, my collection was now complete – or so I thought. I walked around the event with David and a friend of ours who worked behind the scenes told us to go and take a look in the trophy case, “there’s something you’ll want to see” he said. We headed over to the case and staring back at us was the new No. 4 Trainer. The No. 4 used the same artwork as the No. 3 but was introduced to make sure that both semi-finalists who did not win their matches received a card. After the removal of the 3rd/4th place play-off, who got the No. 3 had been decided by Swiss standings, which always felt somewhat unfair. For David, this meant that he was now looking to pick up four trophies rather than three this particular week, for me it meant that my complete collection was no longer complete.

Pokemon World Trophy Cards
Dan at Worlds 2013

Whenever I’ve attended the World Championships, I’ve always helped out David with his purchases where I can, and this year was no different. Regarding the No. 4 Trainer, David said if we were able to speak to multiple winners who wanted to sell, he would be willing to purchase two of them and sell the other one to me when I was able to afford it. This was also the first year that the cards would be given to Video Game players as well as card game players, so we actually had six potential people for each card rather than three. David was able to obtain his No. 3 and No. 4 Trainer with some ease after the completion of the semi-finals, but I was not so lucky. I left Worlds that year without a No. 4 Trainer.

Part of me was trying to rationalise that there would always be next year to try again, with six more No. 4 Trainers becoming available. But, being a huge victim of FOMO, I knew I wanted to keep trying. After seeing that one 4th place finisher, Ben Gould Video Game Masters Division, was from the UK I began reaching out to any Ben Gould I could find on Facebook to find the correct one. As luck would have it, I found him. Initially, he was not interested in selling the card, but once I gave an offer he changed his mind, like a lot of Video Game players Ben had been under the impression that the card was worth a lot less than it actually was. To make things better, he only lived a couple of hours away from me by car. This is how a collection goal that had elements happening in San Diego, Hawaii, and Vancouver, was completed just a short drive away from my home.

As it turned out, listening to FOMO worked out well. Had I simply waited until the next World Championships rolled around, I would have found the new Full Art Trophy cards staring back at me, and my original art set would likely never have been completed. The fact that this art change happened, also means that there could only ever be a maximum of six collectors who obtained a complete half art set of No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, and No. 4 Trainers. While my impostor syndrome is almost as bad as my FOMO, I’m always glad to be one of them.

Dan Norton – DJGigabyte

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