Official Pokemon Card Gyms (ポケモンカードジムオフィシャル) were local organized play locations across Japan, usually hosted in game or hobby shops. They were established in October 2000, with initial locations in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka. In 2001, Fukuoka and Sapporo were added as well.
These “Official Gyms” were similar to Wizards of the Coast’s Pokemon League network overseas. Japan’s locations were a place to purchase product, play in casual events, and even participate in local official tournaments
Beginning in 2003, they would also distribute many exclusive promo cards, mostly through “Gym Challenge” events hosted at each location. Beginning in 2005, these events would be the source of the original Victory Medals.
2003 was the first year that the Official Gym events would distribute exclusive promo cards, and featured 2 Pokemon Gym promo distribution events. The promos distributed all belonged to the ADV-P promo series.
2003 Pokémon Card Gym Official Start Lottery
The commemorate the start of the Official Gym season, a lottery was held at each location. Winners would receive 2 non-holo promos with alternate art.
2003 Gym Challenge
Gym Challenge events were local tournaments at each store. Most had both participation prizes as well as a prize promo for the winners. In 2003, a series of foil-stamped basic energies were given to all participants. These stamped basic energies would be common prizes in future Gym Challenge events, but could be differentiated by the copyright years.
Winners of the 2003 Gym Challenge events received stamped special energy cards.
2004 only featured one new promo card, but Gym Challenge events likely distributed the same energy card promos as the previous year. PCG-P promos would be distributed during this year.
2004 Pokémon Card Gym Official Start Lottery
Winners of this year’s lottery won a non-holo promo card. This would be the last year that a Gym Official Start Lottery would be held.
2005 began issuing prize cards that mimicked the look and feel of the larger tournaments’ (such as the Battle Road 2005 events) trophy cards.
2005 Gym Challenge (Store Representative Match)
The Battle Road Summer 2005 events added an additional way for players to gain entry into the tournament by being chosen as a Official Gym’s store representative. Winners of each Official Gym would receive a cosmos holofoil Silver Victory medal.
Winners would be invited to the Gym Finals event held later in May 2005.
2005 Gym Finals (District Representative Match)
Juniors, seniors, and masters league winners of the 2005 Gym Challenge (Store Representative Match) were invited to one of 7 district tournaments.
|Hokkaido||May 15, 2005||Yellow Submarine Sapporo Store|
|Tohoku||May 29, 2005||Sunnyland Aramaki store|
|Kanto||May 21, 2005||Hobby Game Mint Akihabara|
|Chubu||May 29, 2005||Ito Uba card shop|
|Kansai||May 15, 2005||Miharu Station|
|Chugoku-Shikoku||May 14, 2005||Welfare shop Akane|
|Kyushu||May 22, 2005||Yellow Submarine Magickers Fukuoka|
At each of these tournaments, players would play a swiss draw style tournament with 30-card half decks. The top winner of each league received an invite to the final tournament of Battle Road 2005 Summer and a cosmos holofoil Victory Medal promo card.
Since there were 7 tournaments with 3 age leagues, there were a total of 21 copies of the gold 2005 Victory Medal issued at this event.
2006 continued the trend of Victory Medals as prize cards, but also refreshed the stamped Gym Challenge basic energy cards from 2003.
2006 Gym Challenge (Store Representative Match)
Similar to 2005, players were able to play in their local Gym Challenges to determine a player who would represent the store in February 2006. All participants received foil-stamped basic energies with the latest energy design. Since Dark and Metal energies were now basic energy cards, they were included in this set.
Top winners of each store match received a silver Victory Medal promo card. This one was stamped with a foil stamp that differentiated it from the previous year’s, but kept the 2005 copyright date from the previous year. Additionally, the top 3 winners received a stamped special energy Darkness Energy card.
2006 Gym Finals (District Representative Match)
Like the previous year, juniors, seniors, and masters league winners of the 2006 Gym Challenge (Store Representative Match) were invited to one of 7 district tournaments to try and win a spot in final tournament of Battle Road 2006 Summer.
|Hokkaido||May 14, 2006||Poplar building Higashi Sapporo store|
|Tohoku||May 20, 2006||Famicom Trade|
|Kanto||May 14, 2006||Amenity Dream Ikebukuro Power 9 stores|
|Chubu||May 21, 2006||Toy Hayakawa Rokubancho store|
|Kansai||May 27, 2006||Pal Mikunigaoka store|
|Chugoku-Shikoku||May 21, 2006||Welfare shop Akane|
|Kyushu||May 28, 2006||Yellow Submarine Magickers Fukuoka|
Winners would receive the Battle Road 2006 invite, as well as the same gold medal distributed at the 2005 Gym Final event. With another 7 tournaments across the 3 age leagues, this distributed another 21 copies of the 2005 gold Victory Medal. This means in total, 42 copies of this card were officially distributed.
In 2007, Official Gyms again hosted the “Store Representative Match” to decide which player would represent each store. However, the gold Victory Medal cards were not exclusive to this year, and were distributed at future Official Gym events.
2007 Gym Challenge (Store Representative Match)
Similar to 2006, players were able to play in their local Gym Challenges to determine a player who would represent the store in the Gym Finals match. Unlike previous years, the top 2 winners in each division instead of just the single top winner would receive an invite to the 2007 Gym Finals as well as a silver Victory Medal card. This medal featured a 2060 copyright year, but had no foil stamp.
2007 Gym Finals (District Representative Match)
Once again, the winners of the Store Representative Match would play in a prefectural / district-level tournament to determine who would earn an invite to the Battle Road 2007 Summer’s final tournament. The tournament was played in the swiss-draw structure, with 30-card decks, 3 prizes, and a 10 minute time limit.
Pokemon Card Laboratory staff members were also in attendance, and many signed cards for both participants and onlookers.
|Hokkaido||May 27, 2007||Card game specialty store Griffon Sapporo Atsubetsu store|
|Tohoku||June 3, 2007||Tanyo|
|Kanto||May 20, 2007||TFT Hall|
|Chubu||May 20, 2007||Yu CAN Chita Handa station square store|
|Kansai||May 27, 2007||Harbis ENT|
|Chugoku-Shikoku||June 3, 2007||Welfare shop Akane|
|Kyushu||May 27, 2007||Yellow Submarine Magickers Fukuoka|
The 1st place winner in each age league would win a 2007 gold Victory Medal promo. Unlike the 2005 version, this printing of the card would not be exclusive to the event, and was distributed through other Official Gym events throughout 2008. It is therefore much more common.
The 2007 gold medals won from the Gym Final events were presented in an acrylic plaque, so even though the card was not exclusive to the event, the plaque was.
The Pokemon Card Official Gyms and the Gym Challenge events held there introduced the first iteration of the Victory Medal cards. Victory Medals would continue to be issued at various official events, with the original 2005 – 2007 designs being distributed as late as 2009.
A slew of new promos would be distributed in 2008 and 2009’s Gym Challenges, and the introduction of “Challenge Plaza” (or more commonly mistranslated in English, “Challenge Hiroba”) events.