International Tropical Mega Battle 2001

The 2001 International Tropical Mega Battle (or World Exchange Battle) was the third international championship event for the Pokemon TCG. Once again, the tournament returned to the Hilton Hawai’ian Village in Honolulu, Hawaii from August 25 – 26, 2001.

Similar to previous years, the children 14 or under were invited from around the world to compete if they qualified. In total 23 players from 10 countries attended:

  • Japan: 11 players
  • America: 6 players
  • United Kingdom: 1 player
  • Germany: 1 player
  • France: 1 player
  • Italy: 1 player
  • Sweden: 1 player
  • Denmark: 1 player
  • Portugal: 1 player
  • Netherlands: 1 player
Group photo of the 2001 competitors courtesy of Heritage Auctions

Japanese Qualifiers (2001 Neo Spring Road & Neo Summer Road)

Similar to the previous year’s World Challenge Summer, 2001 had a series of regional tournaments in Japan that culminated in “Best in Japan” matches for both junior (14 and under) and senior (15+) age groups. These were known as Neo Spring Road and Neo Summer Road.

Only the juniors winners of the Neo Summer Road events would be invited to the 2001 International Tropical Mega Battle. There were also lottery winners from side events at the Neo Summer Road tournaments who won a spot at the international event.

Non-Japanese Qualifiers

The top players 14 or under from non-Japanese countries were invited to the event, with America sending multiple players. Other European countries like Denmark only sent a single qualified player to represent them in the event (usually the No.1 juniors division player in the country).

2001 Tropical Mega Battle Event

Similar to the 1999 and 2000 events, the 2001 International Tropical Mega Battle was attended by several notable people. Documented attendees include:

  • Ron Foster – The translator for Pokemon TCG, and during 2001 the territory manager for Korea and Japan)
  • Imakuni? – Famous Japanese Musician, and featured on multiple joke TCG cards and in the Pokemon TCG Gameboy game.
  • Mike Gills – Wizards of the Coast employee known as “Master Trainer Mike”
  • Johanna Cox – Wizards of the Coast Event Marketing Manager
  • Keith Strohm – Wizards of the Coast Vice President of Pokemon Products Group. Would later go on to be the COO of Paizo publishing (publisher of the Pathfinder tabletop game) and author several fantasy novels.
  • Peter Adkison – CEO of Wizards of the Coast
  • Tsunekazu Ishihara – Founder of Creatures Inc, President of Media Factory, and creator of the Pokemon Trading Card Game.
  • Junko Hanna – Pokemon Company translator

Deck Format – Proposition 15

The 2001 Tropical Mega Battle event used a slightly different set of rules from the standard tournament ruleset. WIzards had decided to implement “Proposition 15”, in which a player was only allowed to play up to 15 trainer cards in their deck.

This change had been considered as far back as the 2000 Tropical Mega Battle the previous year, and was meant to curb the prevalence of Haymaker decks that combined powerful basic Pokemon like Base Set’s Hitmonchan with a plethora of utility trainer cards.

Day 1

Photos from a webarchive of the event’s report on the official Pokemon Card site.

Unlike the previous two years, the first day of the Tropical Mega Battle (TMB) did not have a large agenda for attendees.

Participants were allowed to explore Honolulu, followed by lunch and an evening of unstructured Pokemon TCG free play in the evening from 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm.

Staff members from Wizards of the Coast (WotC) were available to play attendees, and they distributed various prizes for playing. In particular, WotC employees had stacks of cards that participants could take after playing them, ranging from standard Wizards Black Star promos to cards like the Prerelease stamped Clefable.

Day 2

The second day had two events. The first would be the “VS Shield Battle”, during which each player was given the same preconstructed deck of cards. The second was a constructed tournament, but each players’ deck was only allowed up to 15 trainer cards.

After the opening remarks by Media Factory’s Mr. Takahashi and Wizards of the Coast’s Keith Strohm, players handed their constructed decks to staff members so that they could be checked for the proper number of trainers.

VS Half Deck

Photos from a webarchive of the event’s report on the official Pokemon Card site.

For the VS Shield Battle tournament, each player was given a preconstructed 30 card deck in their native language. The exception to this were the Dutch, Portuguese, Danish, and Swedish players, who each received the deck in English. They were given the decks in orange deck boxes given out at the Japanese 2001 Neo Spring / Summer Road tournaments, along with a VS coin given out at the same events.

Deckbox and coin

The deck was identical to the Tyranitar Half Deck that was released in Japan earlier on July 7, 2001 to commemorate the theatrical release of the fourth Pokémon movie, except that the Tyranitar and Darkness energy were replaced by an exclusive promo card, Tropical Breeze (in Japanese, Tropical Wind).The Japanese version was numbered, and part of the P promotional series. The other language’s cards were all unnumbered.

Since the non-US, non-Japanese countries only sent 1 player each, those copies of the card are extremely rare. The French and Italian ones have never been seen.

Other than the Tropical Wind promo, Japanese players received the same cards as the ones available in the retail Tyranitar Half Deck. However, attendees from other regions received decks that were translated into their native languages, making those cards exclusive to the event. The only exception were the energy cards, which were identical to the ones in the retail Japanese deck. In total, this meant that each deck had 17 event-exclusive cards.

Janine’s Beedrill
Bugsy’s Yanma
Karen’s Rapidash
Pryce’s Cloyster
Clair’s Mantine
Jasmine’s Raichu
Morty’s Hypno
Will’s Girafarig
Bruno’s Hitmonchan
Chuck’s Donphan
Falkner’s Fearow
Whitney’s Furret
Tropical BreezeT
Energy ArkT
Super Scoop UpT
Grass Energy E
Fire Energy E
Water Energy E
Lightning Energy E
Psychic Energy E
Fighting Energy E
Tropical Mega Battle Half Deck list

Because Media Factory printed these cards and not Wizards of the Coast, they use a different templating from other English cards, and use the Japanese-styled templating instead.

VS Shield Battle

The tournament had special rules. First of all, each player would only play with 3 prize cards due to the reduced size of the decks. Secondly, the player who went first would not draw a card during their first turn, unlike in normal games.

After playing the first round of games, staff members realized that one of the cards in the non-Japanese half deck had been misprinted. Clair’s Mantine was mistakenly printed with a Psychic resistance instead of a Fighting resistance. When the half decks were handed out again in 2002’s Tropical Mega Battle this was corrected

After the error was discovered, players had to play the first round again. This heavily changed the results of the first round. The 3 American players who had lost in the original first round ended up winning in the re-played round. In fact, most of the players from other countries who had lost in the original first round ended up winning in the re-played round.

After the VS tournament had concluded, the participants took a lunch break. After the break, the constructed portion of the event would begin.

Constructed Tournament

Photos from a webarchive of the event’s report on the official Pokemon Card site.

Participants were handed back their decks, sleeved up in golden official Pocket Monster sleeves. Some of them needed to be changed to abide by the 15 trainer card limit. There would be 3 rounds of Swiss play, then a top 8 cut to a single elimination tournament based off performance in the previous VS Shield Battle and the constructed tournament.

Official Pocket Monster sleeves. These were used at official events throughout 2000-2001, and were not available for purchase.
Standard black official sleeves available at retail

There were also several restricted cards, meaning decks could only have 1 copy. These cards included powerful staples like:

  • Base Set Blastoise
  • Base Set Electabuzz
  • Base Set Energy Removal
  • Base Set Super Energy Removal
  • Base Set Double Colorless Energy
  • Jungle Scyther
  • Neo Genesis Cleffa

During the swiss portion of the tournament, a issue came up with the Blaine’s Charizards cards that players were using. The first attack on this card differed in effect depending on what language the card was in.

Japanese Blaine’s Charizard attack
English Blaine’s Charizard attack

The Japanese print of the card instructed the player to discard all Fire energy attacked to Charizard, and then Charizard would deal 20 more damage for each energy discarded besides the first energy used to pay for the attack cost. The English print would also discard all attached Fire energy, but dealt 20 more damage for each fire energy card discarded. This meant that the English translated attack would always deal 20 more damage than the Japanese equivalent.

After issues were worked out, the tournament proceeded as usual. In the end, the top 8 players were:

  • Sheng Zheng
  • Michael Perucca
  • Jorge Figueiredo
  • Ryosuke Araki
  • Andy Diedrich
  • Dillon Jarman
  • Jason Imperiale
  • Michael Baia

The championship match came down to Jorge Figueiredo (from Portugal) and Andy Diedrich (from Germany), with Figueiredo emerging victorious.

Photo from the final match


3rd-8th place had their deck lists recorded by Edo. Unfortunately the finalists were playing throughout the tournament, so their decks were not recorded.

Awards Ceremony

After the final match, players were instructed to meet for the outdoor dinner buffet and award ceremony out on the resort’s lawn. The ceremony began with some words from Tsunekazu Ishihara (creator of the Pokemon TCG) and Peter Adkison (CEO, Wizards of the Coast).

First place received a crystal plaque from Ishihara, with second and third receiving medals. All participants were given various prizes. In addition, two players received special commendations. Wizards of the Coast picked on Japanese player, and Media Factory picked one non-Japanese player.

Wizards of the Coast picked a Japanese player named Koichi Yokoyama. They recognized him for doing his best to communicate in English with his opponents. Media Factory selected Victor Kruzner (from Sweden), as he displayed an intense “fighting spirit” to his opponents. His decklist is also recorded below.

After the awards presentation, the dinner buffet began. Much like previous years, hula dancers and fire jugglers provided entertainment on stage.

After the dinner, participants were invited for free play, and Wizards of the Coast donated a few booster boxes to show the Japanese players how to booster draft. The winner of the booster draft was given a special bag by Ishihara.

Thus concluded the 2001 International Tropical Mega Battle event.


Next year’s event in 2002 would be the final Tropical Mega Battle Event, and not much is known about it, as written accounts don’t exist.

Wizards would host the 2002 World Championships in Seattle, WA. The World Championships (and subsequent transfer of license to Nintendo) would spell the end for the Tropical Mega Battles.

First-hand Account


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