International Tropical Mega Battle 2000
Event Logo

The 2000 Tropical Mega Battle (sometimes known as the World Exchange Battle) was an international event held on August 26-27, 2000 at the Hilton Hawai’ian Village in Honolulu, Hawai’i. The event was produced by Media Factory, the Japanese publisher of the TCG.

Following up on the previous year’s events with Japanese and American children, the 2000 Tropical Mega Battle expanded to invite children from Japan, United States, Canada, Latin America, and Asia. The event was restricted to children ages 11-14. Similar to 1999’s event, the event was less of a true international championship, and more of a PR / media event.

In total, 42 players representing 9 countries attended the 2000 TMB.

Japanese Qualifiers (World Challenge Summer 2000)

Similar to the year before, Japan’s qualifiers were conducted through a series of regional tournaments held between July and August 2000 at 8 different venues. These were rebranded as the World Challenge Summer tournaments (previously the 1999 Challenge Road).

Winners of the juniors division (ages 14 or under) were eligible to participate in the World Challenge Summer Tropical Mega Battle Best in Japan event, and also later participated in the International Tropical Mega Battle in Hawaii.

To learn more about the World Challenge Summer events, as well as their exclusive trophy cards, read this article.

Non-Japanese Qualifiers

In the US, the top 12 rated DCI players (the American rating system run by Wizards of the Coast) aged 11-14 were invited.

Other countries had more simplistic qualifiers. For example in Canada, a single qualifier event was held in Calgary. It is assumed that the winners of this event received an invite to represent Canada at the TMB. Similar events were held in other countries to determine which children would get an opportunity to participate.

Around 2 weeks before the event, Wizards of the Coast made phone calls or sent letters to qualified children, inviting a parent or guardian to also accompany them to the event.

Congratulatory invitation letter

Unlike the Japanese qualifiers, winners of these qualifiers did not receive special trophy promo cards.

Participants were also instructed to bring a 60-card constructed deck made of only Base Set and Jungle TCG cards. These would be used throughout the main event itself.

2000 Tropical Mega Battle Event

While it shared the same venue as the previous year, the 2000 TMB event expanded to occupy more of the Hilton Hawai’ian Village. Similar to the previous year, several notable people attended the event.

  • Andrew Finch – Then Wizards of the Coast DCI Tournament Manager, and now Senior Director of Pokemon Play Programs at The Pokemon Company International
  • Ron Foster – The translator for Pokemon TCG
  • Imakuni? – Famous Japanese Musician, and featured on multiple joke TCG cards and in the Pokemon TCG Gameboy game.
  • Kouichi Ooyama – Game Designer for the Pokemon TCG.
  • Himeno Kagemaru – Illustrator for numerous early Pokemon TCG set cards
  • Takumi Akanabe – Illustrator for many Pokemon TCG special energy cards and creative director for the Pokemon TCG
  • Mike Gills – Wizards of the Coast employee known as “Master Trainer Mike”
  • Mike Boozer – Wizards of the Coast employee known as “Dark Master Trainer Mike”
  • Mike Elliott – Wizards of the Coast R&D lead Pokémon TCG 1999-2001. Also a famed Magic: The Gathering designer who worked on approximately 30 MTG expansions from Portal to Guildpact.
  • Steven Kam – Senior marketing manager for Wizards of the Coast’s Pokemon line.

Day 1: The Gym Challenge

The first day of the event was a light-hearted “for fun” series of activities called the Gym Challenge. The event started at 1:00 pm local time on August 26, 2000. It began with a Media Factory employee explaining the rules and structure of the tournament.

A Media Factory employee explains the rules of the event on stage

Afterwards, the children were divided into 8 groups, each named after a letter of the English alphabet, A-G (Group A, Group B, Group C, etc.). Teams were made of children from various different countries, so each team was also appointed a leader / translator, who was given a map of the venue.

Across the venue were 8 “gyms”. Each gym was staffed by a staff member playing as a Kanto-region gym leader from the Gen 1 games. Each team had to “battle” against the gym leaders. “Battles” ranged from standard TCG games to physical activities at the resort.

Pewter City – Brock’s Gym

All teams started off at the first gym, themed after Pewter City and its gym leader, Brock. This was located in the hotel’s ballroom, along with the event stage.

The staff member playing Brock on stage

At Brock’s gym, players were paired up with another random player and played a 4-prize match. The games were all purely for fun, and it didn’t matter who won or lost.

Viridian City – Giovanni’s Gym

Next up was the Viridian City gym, themed after its gym leader Giovanni. Since Giovanni was the leader of Team Rocket in the games, this gym featured multiple staff members dressed up in black “R” shirts, similar to the Rocket Grunt costumes in the Gameboy games.

Staff members dressed up as Team Rocket Grunts

Players battled against these “Team Rocket” members. The staff members playing the Rocket Grunts used weaker decks featuring fighting-type Pokemon like Sandshrew, so games against them were quite easy.

Saffron City – Sabrina’s Gym

The Saffron City gym was in a room adjacent to Viridian City’s. Here, teams battled against a staff member dressed up as Sabrina, and her all-female gym trainer team

“Sabrina” battles against players

Trainers at this gym utilized psychic-type Pokemon cards, but they were otherwise just regular games.

Vermillion City – Lt. Surge’s Gym

On the fourth floor of the hotel resort was a hotel room that served as Lt. Surge’s Gym. Unlike the other gyms, which were staffed by Japanese Media Factory employees, this gym was staffed completely by English Wizards of the Coast employees, including Ron Foster, Mike Boozer, Mike Gills, and Mike Elliot (who played the gym leader, Lt. Surge).

Mike Elliot, dressed up as Lt. Surge
Playing against trainers in the hotel room “gym”

Members of this gym were all playing very high-powered decks featuring “meta” cards like Professor Oak, Base set’s Electabuzz, and Jungle’s Wigglytuff. However, they were restricted to only using Lightning or Colorless-type Pokemon cards, as was thematic to the gym.

Cinnabar Island – Blaine’s Gym

Outside, in the grassy area of the hotel village, was Blaine’s gym. Unlike previous gyms, the activity here was not centered around playing the TCG game. Similar to what he was known for in the Pokemon anime and manga, Blaine’s gym was about trivia.

A staff member dressed as Blaine administering the trivia activity
Players participating in the trivia activity
A player gets the correct answer (notice Blaine’s “O” sign)

Players were paired up against another player and given a trivia question. They were shown the flavor text of a Pokemon TCG card (the text box at the bottom of each TCG card) in 6 different languages to accommodate the international nature of the event. The player who was able to guess which Pokemon the flavor text belonged to first won.

Celadon City – Erika’s Gym

A short walk away to the beach area was the Celadon City gym, run by the gym leader Erika. Similar to Blaine’s gym, the activity here was not around playing the TCG. Instead, it involved charades.

“Erika” explains the gym activity

Players were secretly shown a Pokemon TCG card, then had to use their body movements to communicate what card it was to their team members without speaking. The other team members had to guess what card it was to win.

Cerulean City – Misty’s Gym

Outside on the beach was the Cerulean City gym, run by Misty. This was the final non-TCG activity of the Gym Challenge, and was called the Poke Ball Treasure Hunt. It involved teams hunting for Poke Balls buried in the sand.

A staff member playing Misty (dressed in yellow) explains the activity.

Scattered around the beach and buried in the sand were Poke Balls containing different point values and Pokemon pins. In total, there were 50 buried Poke Balls on the beach, and four of them contained the highest point values of 50 points. All players were instructed to find one Poke Ball in sand, and the points in each would be totaled up for a team total to see which team won.

Fuschia City – Koga’s Gym

The final gym was in the same ballroom location as the first gym (Brock’s gym in Pewter City). After the teams had finished up with Brock’s gym and left to go to the other Gym Challenge activities, organizers converted it to the final gym.

Trainers battle it out in the ballroom

Similar to the first gym of the day, trainers paired up against each other to battle in Koga’s gym. It is unknown if there were any special rules in place for this final gym.

Gym Challenge Prizes

The Gym Challenge concluded at 5:00 pm. After it had finished there was an outdoor buffet, live music, and traditional Hawaiian hula dancing.

The outdoor buffet food table
Outdoor Tropical Mega Battle banner
Seating / eating area

An awards ceremony was held after the festivities at night, with Andrew Finch (Wizards of the Coast DCI Tournament manager) participating.

Andrew Finch (in yellow) dances with the hula dancers
One of the teams being presented with prizes
A view of the awards ceremony stage

The teams were awarded various superlatives and prizes based on their Gym Challenge activities. All participants also received gifts from one of the event sponsors, All Nippon Airways (ANA).

  • Team A – “Most Skilled Players”. Won an American Pokemon Card Binder
  • Team B – “The Luckiest”. While Team B didn’t win any actual awards, they did find 2 out of the 4 Poke Balls at Misty’s gym Treasure Hunt with the highest 50-point values. Won Pokemon bandanas with various Gen 2 Pokemon on them.
  • Team C – “Best Treasure Hunters”. Won Exeggutor bandanas with the TMB design on them.
  • Team D – “Most Dangerous” in the their card battling skill. Won an American Team Rocket card box
  • Team E – “Best Effort”. Won a promotional Pichu bandana
  • Team F – “Best Teamwork”. Won a promotional coin.
  • Team G – “Overall Winner”. Won a TMB-themed T-shirt.
  • Team H – “Most Interesting Gestures” during the charades activity at Erika’s gym activity. Received some promotional Japanese badges.

After the awards ceremony, the second floor of the hotel was opened up for free play. Wizards of the Coast employees offered matches to participants, and if defeated, they would award trainers with booster packs or Black Star promo cards. These promos were ordinary Wizards Black Star promos from the time.

Day 2 – World Communication Battle

While the first day was filled with fun activities for the participants, the second day was a much more formal tournament. Competitors from Japan’s World Challenge Summer Tropical Mega Battle Best in Japan had just finished their domestic tournament in Tokyo and had flown in to compete in what was known as the World Communication Battle. One of those Japanese competitors, Toshiya Tanabe, ended up making it all the way to the finals of the event.

The event started at 8:30 am local time. The first order of business was to take a commemorative photograph of all the competitors outside in the hotel compound.

Setting up for the commemorative photo
Commemorative photo, provided by USA participant Jason Klaczynski

After photos had been taken, participants headed into the hotel’s Mid-Pacific Conference Room, where some opening speeches and the rest of the tournament would begin. Representatives from the Governor of Hawaii and the City & Council of Honolulu offered their congratulations to all attendees for the international event.

The tournament took place on the second floor of the venue, and the Japanese competitors had already arrived and were seated when the rest of the participants entered. The competitors all ate lunch and watched a Japanese Neo commercial (featuring Imakumi). Afterwards, a Media Factory employee began the explanation of how the tournament would play out.

Deckbuilding and structure

The tournament would be played in a “sealed deck” format. Participants were all given the same identical 90-card “pool” of cards, and had to build a 40-card deck from that pool. Japanese competitors had a slight cosmetic difference in their pools, since Jungle Mr. Mime and Jolteon were only available in holofoil in Japanese, but in English they were non-holo.

Games would be played with 4 prizes instead of the usual 6. There were three “leagues” for the tournament:

  • A League – The team’s top player. Each team could only send one
  • B League – The middle player(s)
  • C League – The remaining players

Participants played round robins within their teams to determine who would go to which league. The A League would end up as the tournament’s “top 8” and play for the champion title.

Energy card were provided for players by the staff. Fighting and Psychic energy reportedly ran out first, causing players who needed those energy types to use other ones as proxies.

Below is eventual champion Jason Klaczynski’s account of his deckbuilding:

I chose to make a Fighting/Fire deck with Primeape and Charmander (and the one charmeleon and charizard) along with 2 Eevee.. but at the last second I had to change my mind and get rid of fire. Fire does appear to be the strongest immediately when you see Charmander, which has a quick 30 damage attack, but I didn’t want to play it since many people would try the Dewgong idea. I ended up making this deck:

Primegong:
3x Mankey
2x Primeape
2x Seel
2x Dewgong
2x Eevee
1x Squirtle
1x Rhyhorn
2x Gust of Wind
2x Potion
1x PlusPower
1x Defender
1x Pokémon Trader
1x Computer Search
1x Professor Oak
1x Bill
1x Energy Removal
8x Water Energy
7x Fighting Energy
1x Double Colorless Energy

(After the tournament I think I should have played: 1 Mr. Mime, 1 Switch)

Jason Klaczynski from his Sept 1, 2000 report on the event

Round Robins

Players played 3 matches with the other players in their team, and in the end the player with the most wins would be put into A League. In the event of a tie, prizes would be used to determine a single winner.

I won my first game against a grass deck and fighting deck I believe. I don’t know the kid’s name but I got Dewgong out early and there was no stopping it. I beamed down the Mankeys and Weedles. Mankey’s Peek was very useful.

I played my second game against a fire/water deck, which Master Trainer Mike later told me he believed was the strongest deck. The kid was from Italy, and he was pretty good, but my Dewgong got out and just took down the Charmanders. I could almost hear the little fire lizards screaming when a huge ice beam hit their tail. Heh.

Third game I was going to play my friend Eduardo, from the Dominican Republic. He didn’t seem that good yesterday after I saw him playing a Rain Dance with Jolteons, but he proved me wrong here. He got a Dewgong out- that’s my job!! He healed it with repeated potions and down 2-1 I Ice Beamed his Dewgong with mine, trying to paralyze it. If I paralyzed I could probably win, he had nothing else built on his bench, just an Eevee or two without energy. I announced Ice Beam and flipped. The coin started wobbling as it hit the table and I saw nothing but black.. Tails. He Aurora Beamed for the win. I couldn’t believe it. I won the last game against another kid from the Dominican Republic that played a Fire/Lightning. The top player would go to the A League, but Eduardo and I both won all of our games but one. (He lost to the Italian kid last round 0-4, ouch. Well I went up to Ron, a nice guy from Wizards who can speak English and Japanese very well. He told me it depends who drew more prizes.. I dashed to the sign and read the amount of prize drawn each round… and added.

Klaczynski, Jason (4) (4) (2) (4)
Hidalgo, Eduardo (4) (4) (4) (0)

18 to 16, haha I won it.

Jason Klaczynski from his Sept 1, 2000 report on the event

After the round robins, the competitors took a break for lunch in the ballroom. Afterwards, the final matches began.

Top 8 Matches

A series of games would be played to determine the champion of the World Communication Battle. Each competitor was in their team’s respective A League.

My first game I had a terrible start against a kid from France or something, I don’t even know. Anyway, I was totally defensive and had to Oak. I was down by 5 cards.  He knocked out something of mine early so I was down 3-4. He was playing quite defensive and the card total was about 16 – 11, with him having more cards. It looked like I was going to be decked. He sat, looked at his hand..  and believe it or not, he Oaked. When he did that I knew I had him. He sighed in disbelief when he drew his hand and told me to go. I ended up winning on prizes actually. What a relief.

Game 2 was against my friend Zack Davis I met on the plane ride here. He’s a really funny kid from St. Louis and is 12. I was 10 HP from knocking out his Mime with my Eevee which was taking forever because Eevee’s Quick Attack wasn’t getting tails. (I never got so many heads with it earlier, either.) 10 HP away from knockout and after about 15 turns he drew another basic. He was ahead in cards by 1 and towards the end when I had one prize left he was retreating his Mr. Mime and other Pokémon to stall. I decided with about 4 cards left to Gust of Wind his Onix. I Horn Attacked with Rhyhorn. He gusted a Dewgong. I attached energy next turn to retreat and brought out Rhyhorn, played Energy Removal, and Horn Attacked. 30 more HP left. I was praying he didn’t draw a switch. He gusted again for my energyless Dewgong! I had 3 cards left. I drew an energy, attached, passed. He rock threw. I drew an energy, attached, passed. He attached a fire to Onix, not a fighting, which could Harden and ensure victory. I looked at my last card and just had to pray it was an energy. It was either that or a Pokémon Trader or something, because I checked my discard for what I had left. I drew and the orange-brown stared at my face. Fighting energy! I attached it to Dewgong, and with no cards left in my deck, brought out good ol’ Rhiny and attacked for 30. I won.  I couldn’t believe it. Zack walked away with sadness and disbelief.

The next game, if I won, I would definitely go to finals. My opponent played fighting/grass. He got a Dugtrio out.. but didn’t attach enough energy. I Gusted it and Paralyzed it with my Dewgong, it couldn’t even retreat. Next turn I Aurora Beamed it for the knockout. He couldn’t get anymore evolution out and I had to take a risky coin flip with Ice Beam. If I got tails one of his Pokémon could take out my Dewgong, leaving me without anything to fight.. but this was my only good option. I flipped, Exeguttor’s face stared at me.. heads. What a relief, again. After that I Aurora Beamed for the game.

Jason Klaczynski from his Sept 1, 2000 report on the event

Championship Match

The two competitors in the finals were Jason Klaczynski (age 14) from Orland Park, Illinois in the USA, and Toshiya Tanabe (age 11) from the Sapporo, Japan (Hokkaido region). Tanabe had just competed in the juniors Japanese national championships, World Challenge Summer Tropical Mega Battle Best in Japan, the day prior on August 26. He had gotten 3rd place in the Japanese national championships.

I saw my opponent, Toshiya, who was only 11, and from Japan, walking around and pointing at me, obviously asking what I play. Good ol’ Jamie ran up to me and told me these exact words, “He plays a lightning/psychic deck or somethin with Electrode.. you owe me a piggy back ride!”  Well, after walking around being very, very, nervous, I finally sat down in the crowded table which was surrounded by about 100 people. A lot of the people were from the news, Wizards, or photographers.. or photographers from Wizards. Maybe a combination of all 3?

Well we shuffled, shuffled, shuffled, then handed our decks to each other to be cut, and drew our opening hand. I drew 3 Mankeys, right next to each other in my opening hand. Uh-oh. I benched one too and the opening was his Voltorb against my Mankey, he had a Charmander on the bench, I had my Mankey. Peek looked at the top of my deck and then the other Peek for one prize. I Computer Searched for en Energy Removal(he went first and played a fire on Charmander I believe). I removed it, and scratched his Voltorb. He attached a double colorless energy to Voltorb and told me to go, I think. Soon he ended up Buzzaping his Electrode to turn it into a fire for Charmander which he used to Ember my Mankey for a knockout. His only active was Charmander with a lightning. I drew my prize, which was an Oak, I knew that already because of Peek. I oaked next turn even though I didn’t want to, but I needed it. I played a water on seel which threatened a Trader for a Dewgong, retreat and Aurora Beam for the game, but I would need to draw a water. I didn’t bring out Eevee and Quick Attack because if I got heads he might play another basic seeing the threat in his face. I thought this was more sneaky. He might not have wanted to bench any lightning Pokémon since I had a Primeape out too now with a fighting energy. (Gust it and Fury Swipe for an easy knockout.) So I ended up using a different attack, I don’t even know what. He scratched, and I prayed for a water energy: I drew fighting. I pretty much did nothing, and next turn still didn’t draw the water, and I pretty much did nothing.. he scratched, my draw: PlusPower?

I looked at the table. I could attach an energy to my Eevee, and retreat, attach a PlusPower, and quick attack. If I got tails I’d do 20.. if I got heads I’d do 40 and win the game. I thought for a second but I would do it. I had a chance to win..  he gave me a chance to win and I took it. I retreated, sent out Eevee, attached the energy, attached the PlusPower, announced quietly “This is for the game,” and then was almost blinded by all the pictures taken that second.  I flipped it in the air, we both stared at it, everyone stared at it. It landed solidly.. bright green reflecting into everyone’s eyes.. the Exeggutor was showing…. Heads!!! Loud applause came and Toshiya started cleaning his cards.

Jason Klaczynski from his Sept 1, 2000 report on the event
Jason Klaczynski and Toshiya Tanabe on stage. Image from Trainers Magazine

Awards Ceremony

At around 5:00 pm, players gathered onto tour busses, which would take them to a nearby pier and a cruise. The awards ceremony would be held on board the ship.

The awards ceremony on the bottom deck of the cruise ship. Participants can be seen holding commemorative plaques
Toshiya Tanabe being award a runner up medal

All players were awarded an exclusive bilingual Lucky Stadium card, themed after the event location in Hawaii. In addition, they received 12 booster packs in various languages (10 of which were from European countries), and a plaque with various All Nippon Airways Memorabilia, including 2 ANA promos from Japan.

Champion Jason Klaczynski with his plaque
Front of plaque
Back of plaque

1st place was awarded a gold Exeggutor medal, while runner ups were awarded silver versions.

1st place medal front
1st place medal back
Runner-up medal front
Runner-up medal back

After the main award ceremony, a couple of festivities took place. Imakuni got up on stage to perform his newest song, which was essentially a version of the PokeRap with all 251 Pokemon up to Gen 2. This was the song that was released a few months prior (June 2000) on his “Can You Name All the Pokémon Neo? Dance! Neo Imakuni” CD in Japan.

Additionally, there was a bingo tournament after the performance that players could play to earn additional prizes.

Imakuni in costume on stage
Kids join Imakuni on stage
Fabulous.

After the awards ceremony and celebration on the cruise ship, the event concluded.

Other Prizes / Memorabilia

Participants in the International Tropical Mega Battle 2000 received a variety of memorabilia for attending the event, some of which were used as additional prizes throughout the Gym Challenge on Day 1, and bingo tournament on Day 2. These ranged from T-shirts, bandanas, playmats, and more. Below is a gallery of memorabilia that has surfaced from the event.

Baseball cap
Playmat
Blue T-shirt with Exeggutor on the front, ANA design on back

First-hand Accounts

For the 2000 International TMB, two accounts of the event were independently published online. One by Edward “Edo” Hrzic (an Internet reporter living in Hawaii) and another by Jason Klaczynski (International TMB champion, and also multiple-time Pokemon TCG world champion in later years)

Sources

Special thanks to Jason Klaczynski who clarified a few of my questions over email during March of 2021. Additional special thanks to qwachansey of the EFour forums who helped me connect a few dots regarding the World Communication Battle.

Card(s) distributed

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