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Still catching ‘em all: why the Pokémon World Championships are bigger than ever

Pokémon – the highest grossing media franchise of all time – is hitting new peaks of popularity, with thousands of fans thronging to the World Championships in London

I was 13 when Pokémon cards exploded on to the UK scene in 1999. I tried to be too cool and mature for the instantly popular collectables, born from the blockbusting video game. I hid my starter pack from friends and played with my younger sister and cousins. I was just humouring my relatives – that was the line anyway. But I would watch the animated series or play Pokémon Blue on my Game Boy Color in our council flat, away from the critical eyes of teenage friends.

Short for Pocket Monsters, Pokémon was first launched on the Nintendo Game Boy in 1996. Players became Pokémon trainers, tasked with travelling through a fictional world to collect, develop and evolve the 151 original Pokémon, battling them, and competing in eight gyms to earn badges that would give them the right to compete in the Pokémon League and bid to become a Pokémon Champion.

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