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. 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.
Stores had been hosting events since 2003, but starting in 2008, stores in the Pokemon Card Official Gym network doubled down on their local organized play events. They began to host release commemoration tournaments every time a new expansion released, and other additional tournaments.
In 2008, Official Gyms began to host events to celebrate the release of new expansions and would issue exclusive promos alongside them. These were themed as special Gym Challenge events, and were almost all in the swiss-draw tournament structure. Additionally, DP-P and DPt-P would begin to be distributed this year.
Fierce Battle of the Sky Release Commemoration Gym Challenge
To celebrate the release of the Fierce Battle of the Sky Release expansion (released as Stormfront in English) in July 2008, Official Gyms held casual tournaments at each location. Each participant received cosmos holofoil copy of Magnemite.
All visitors (even those who didn’t play in the tournament) of Official Gyms during this event received a Buizel promo card. This Buizel was part of the Collection Challenge campaign, where various DP-P promos would be given out at different events throughout Japan.
The top winners of the event would receive a cosmos holofoil Luxury Ball. These would be later given out again in 2009 Summer Vacation Battle Campaigns held at Official Gyms. It is also likely that winners of these release tournaments received the gold Victory Medal promos, similar to other release commemoration tournaments. Unfortunately there are no confirmed reports of this.
Galactic’s Conquest Release Commemoration Gym Challenge
To celebrate the release of the Galactic’s Conquest expansion (released as Platinum in English) in October 2008, Official Gyms held casual tournaments at each location. Each participant received cosmos holofoil copy of Bronzong G.
The top 3-4 winners (depending on age division) would each receive a cosmos holofoil copy of Cyrus’s Conspiracy, and the top winner would receive a gold Victory Medal. This medal was identical to the 2007 one. Other prizes were available as well, such as coins and sleeves.
Bonds to the End of Time Release Commemoration Gym Challenge
To celebrate the release of the Galactic’s Conquest expansion (released as Rising Rivals in English) in December 2008, Official Gyms held casual tournaments at each location. Each participant received foil-stamped copy of Alakazam and a Team Galactic’s Invention G-109 SP Radar.
Winners would receive a foil-stamped Luxray promo card. It is also likely that winners of these release tournaments received the gold Victory Medal promos, similar to the previous release commemoration tournament. Unfortunately there are no confirmed reports of this.
2009 continued with 2008’s pattern of having Gym Challenge tournaments with new expansion releases, and would even refresh the promotional basic energy cards distributed previously with Gym Challenge events. Additionally, new promos would be introduced every few months for Gym Challenge winners and participants.
2009 Gym Challenges
Initially, similar to previous years participants could receive promotional basic energy cards. However, unlike previous years, these were numbered and instead of featuring the Gym Challenge foil stamp, were cosmos holofoil.
A cosmos holofoil Rainbow Energy card was also given at some locations as participation price for various Gym Challenges, including release commemoration ones.
June Gym Challenge
Similar to the Challenge Hiroba events in June 2009, Gym Challenge events would begin issuing a Porygon-Z promo to participants. This card featured a a graphic of the next set emblazoned across its text box for the upcoming Advent of Arceus expansion (released as Platinum: Arceus in English).
Advent of Arceus Release Commemoration Gym Challenge
Official Gyms across Japan hosted tournaments in July 2009 to celebrate the release of the Advent of Arceus expansion (released as Platinum: Arceus in English). Participants of these tournaments received a Beginning Door promo card with the set logo on it. Some locations also issued other Gym Challenge promos like Rainbow Energy to participants.
Players who placed highly were rewarded with a Pichu promo card, also featuring the set logo.
The winner of each location’s tournament received a Mothim promo card, also featuring the set logo.
Summer Vacation Battle Campaign
In August of 2009, Gym Challenge events in stores all around Japan began to host the Summer Vacation Battle campaign.
Players would be able to go to a store hosting a Gym Challenge to get a stamp card and earn points. These points could then be traded in for prizes.
- Attendance: 1 point
- Playing a match: 1 – 2 points (With a 60-card deck: 2 points, 30-card deck: 1 point. Up to 10 points per day)
- Purchase DP / DPt products at an Official Gym store: 1 – 2 points (Booster packs: 1 point, Starter decks: 2 points. Up to 6 points per day)
- Make friends: 1 point (up to 1 per day. Confirmed by going to the shop owner with your new friend)
10 points: Coin
Players could select from a variety of coins given away at Gym Challenge events. The new coins released for this campaign were a Jirachi and Rayquaza coin
20 points: TCG Accessories
Upon reaching 20 points, players could choose an official TCG accessory. Available items included card sleeves, damage counter boxes, and deck boxes.
30 points: Previous promo card
At 30 points, players were able to select from a previously distributed promo card. These included some previously-exclusive promo cards. One such first-hand report describes the cosmos holofoil Roseanne’s Research as an available card, which explains why the card is so much more easily obtainable despite it being a prize card for making it into Battle Road 2007 Summer‘s final tournament. The Luxury Ball from 2008’s Gym Challenge events was also available.
September Gym Challenge
Participants in September Gym Challenge events would receive a Feraligatr promo with the upcoming HeartGold Collection expansion’s logo in its text box. Similar to the Meganium promo issued during the same month at Challenge Hirobas, these were meant to advertise the upcoming expansions.
In addition, the launch of the L-P promos also refreshed the cosmos holofoil energy cards given to Gym Challenge players. These would replace the numbered DPt-P promo energy cards given out at Gym Challenge events earlier in the year.
Pokémon Card Game LEGEND Battle
To celebrate the release of the HeartGold Collection and SoulSilver Collection expansions in October 2009, both Gym Challenges at stores in Japan and Challenge Hirobas around the country hosted the Pokemon Card Game LEGEND Battle (the expansions were the first in the LEGEND series of Japanese expansions).
Participants of both the Gym Challenge and Challenge Hiroba events received a stamped cosmos foil Sentret.
Players at the Challenge Hirobas who won 3 consecutive times in the Card Get Battles received a stamped cosmos holofoil Professor Elm’s Training Method promo.
The rarest of the 3 promos was given out to only winners of the Gym Challenge tournaments hosted under the Pokemon Card Game LEGEND Battle. This was a stamped cosmos holofoil Copycat. Notably this one is stamped with the SoulSilver Collection expansion logo, while the other 2 promos were stamped with the HeartGold Collection one.
November Gym Challenge
Starting in November 2009, 3 new Victory Medal promos featuring Pikachu were released for the 1st-3rd place winners of Gym Challenge events.
Additionally, winners also received Lugia and Ho oh themed card sleeves, deck boxes, and damage counter cases. The card sleeves were specific to this event, but a black version of the same design was available for sale at retail. Winners could also receive a gold Kyogre coin.
In 2010, Official Gyms largely didn’t issue any more new promos, instead leaving that up to the larger Challenge Hiroba events. However, there was still one release event held simultaneously at Gym Challenges.
Clash at the Summit Release Commemoration Tournament
In July of 2010, both Official Gyms (via Gym Challenges) and Challenge Hirobas would celebrate the release of the new Clash at the Summit expansion (released as Triumphant in English) with tournaments at locations around Japan. Official Pokemon Center stores would also participate by hosting “Card Get Battles” are their locations, similar to Challenge Hiroba events.
Participants of any of the 3 kinds of events would receive a cosmos holofoil Electabuzz promo card stamped with the expansion logo.
Players who won 3 consecutive games at any of the events would receive a cosmos holofoil Indigo Plateau promo, also stamped with the expansion’s logo.
Challenge Hiroba events in 2010 took over most of the new promo distributions in the L-P promo era, while Gym Challenges would continue to issue the promo cards that were introduced in 2009. This primarily included the Pikachu Victory Medals and cosmos holofoil energy cards.
The Gym Challenge events would be refreshed with new branding in 2010, and in 2011 would be overhauled with the release of Pokemon Black and Pokemon White‘s TCG expansions.