Pokemon EUIC was the ultimate destination for Pokemon fans like me

Pokemon EUIC was the ultimate destination for Pokemon fans like me
Images via The Pokemon Company | GGRecon

Written by 

Daniel Megarry


19th Apr 2024 09:46

With giant banners adorning the walls, battle areas packed with excited Trainers, and plenty of photo opportunities with the likes of Pikachu and Sprigatito, The Pokemon Company once again took over the ExCeL Center with joyful abandon for the European International Championships.

Media Pass in hand, I headed inside the competitive area to watch some TCG matches. This was the first time I’d witnessed league battles in person, and the atmosphere was genuinely electric. Pokemon UNITE in particular got a huge response from the cheering crowd, but seats were filled for all four pillars of the competitive scene: UNITE, TCG, Scarlet & Violet, and GO.

I immediately recognised the name of one of the TCG competitors from a YouTube stream I’d put on the evening before, so I sat and watched their battle play out with the intention of picking up some tips for myself. Who better to learn from than the experts themselves?

A TCG battle on the Pokemon EUIC stage
Click to enlarge

After spending the past few months reading up on the trading card game and the different meta decks, it was exciting to see a proper competitive match. I’ve never been one for watching esports or card battles, so I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. The matches I watched left me inspired to put together my own deck which you can see here (but please don’t judge me too harshly, it’s my first attempt).

Next, I headed over to the Kitakami-themed area, which recreated the Festival of Masks from Pokemon Scarlet & Violet’s expansion The Teal Mask. There were plenty of free things to do here, like the Tatsugiri Fishing Booth and the Skwovet Ring Toss which gave classic fairground activities a Pokemon makeover, as well as console booths to try out the latest Switch games.

Ogerpon at Pokemon EUIC
Click to enlarge

I met a few Instagram and TikTok creators that I know of, and getting to chat with them in person was lovely. While my lifelong love for Pokemon certainly isn’t a secret, I don’t have many IRL friends who share my passion, so it’s always nice to be surrounded by like-minded fans who know their Wormadams from their Klefkis.

Pikachu and the Paldea starters also showed up here throughout the day on rotation, and when I rocked up it was my favourite Quaxly and his adorable blue quiff. I only waited a few minutes for a photo, which felt like a rare opportunity compared to the winding queues I've seen at Pokemon GO Fest events. Sure, it’s just a person in a costume, but the joy on everyone’s faces when meeting them was very cute.

Quaxly and the writer of this article at Pokemon EUIC
Click to enlarge

The highlight for most people in attendance at this year's EUIC was, as expected, the pop-up Pokemon Center. While there are plenty of these physical stores scattered across Japan, we've yet to have a permanent one appear in the UK or Europe, which feels like a missed opportunity.

As a result, every time a temporary Pokemon Center appears in the UK, there's an incredible amount of buzz surrounding it. Fans needed to pre-book a time slot to gain entry, and these ran out long before the event began. I was lucky enough to bag a slot, so I headed over to fill my basket with cute merch that I definitely did not need, but was absolutely going to buy anyway.

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First, I had to tackle the dreaded queue. I'd read bad experiences from people who attended on opening day, but by the Saturday morning when I was there, things were running smoothly. I only waited around 20 minutes to get inside, and the actual floor space was massive and open-plan, meaning I never felt like I was packed in with other people.

The Pokemon Center at EUIC
Click to enlarge

The exclusive merch seemed well-stocked, which was a pleasant surprise. Fans could get their hands on t-shirts, badges, deck boxes, card sleeves, and more, with most of them featuring this year’s mascots Ceruledge and Armarouge or the fan-favourite Ghost-type Gengar. I picked up an EUIC t-shirt, some badges, and a Lechonk plush, which was too cute to resist (and was also the last one I could see - result!).

The whole experience was well-managed and pleasant, which was in stark contrast to the 2019 pop-up Pokemon Center at London's Westfield shopping centre. The experience of queueing for hours only to find empty shelves when I finally made it inside still haunts me, so I'm glad that wasn't the case here!

EUIC 2024 was the perfect day out for Pokemon fans. My only regret was that I didn’t stick around for the entire weekend, but I’m definitely going to do that next time the European International Championships roll around. And who knows, maybe I’ll have mastered my own deck and be ready to compete by then.

Daniel Megarry
About the author
Daniel Megarry
Daniel is GGRecon’s Deputy Guides Editor. He graduated from university with a degree in Journalism & English Language before covering video games and LGBTQ+ culture at publications including Gay Times and Dexerto. His favourite games include Pokemon, Kingdom Hearts, Resident Evil, and anything Nintendo. You can reach him on [email protected].
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