The Tale of Toshiya Tanabe

In the year 2000 at the age of just 11 years old, Toshiya Tanabe from Sapporo, Japan would go on win Pokemon TCG tournaments across Japan, and even competed in one of the earliest international tournaments, the 2000 International Tropical Mega Battle.

Documentation of Tanabe’s run throughout the Japanese tournament circuit and in the 2000 TMB highlights how seriously the Japanese TCG tournament scene was compared to overseas.

Hokkaido Regional Tournament (World Challenge Summer 2000)

Sapporo was the capital of the mountainous Hokkaido region in Japan, meaning that during the World Challenge Summer 2000, Tanabe had the opportunity to compete in the regional tournament that occurred on July 16, 2000. Since he was 11 years old, he would compete in the juniors division for players 14 years or younger.

Trainer’s Magazine showing the results of the World Challenge Summer 2000

He would eventually place first in the juniors division of the Hokkaido region’s tournament, earning him an invite to the 2000 Tropical Mega Battle Best in Japan Deciding Match.

Toshiya Tanabe’s placement

Placing first in this tournament would earn Tanabe a No.1 Boy Trainer card from the World Challenge Summer 2000, with both his name and the region printed on it.

Tropical Mega Battle Best in Japan Deciding Match

Just over a month after his victory in the Hokkaido regionals, Tanabe would be invited to the Tropical Mega Battle Best in Japan Deciding Match in Tokyo, Japan on August 26, 2000. This was the national championships to determine the country’s best player for the juniors division.

Tanabe would end up placing 3rd in this match, which while not the top prize, would also earn him a trip to Hawaii the very next day to compete in the international Tropical Mega Battle in Hawaii.

Trainer’s Magazine page showing results from the Best in Japan Battles. Tanabe can be seen on the left in the circled photo.

This victory would also earn Tanabe a customized No.3 Trainer with his name and photograph.

International Tropical Mega Battle

On August 27, 2000, immediately after the events of the Tropical Mega Battle Best in Japan Deciding Match, competitors were flown to Hawaii to compete in the International Tropical Mega Battle (also known as the World Exchange Battle). They were to compete in the “World Communication Battle” held on the second day of the tournament.

The other competitors in the event had spent the previous day doing fun activities prior to the World Communication Battle. Because the top Japanese competitors had spent the previous day competing in Japan, they didn’t participate in these activities and were flown in separately. Jason Klaczynski (participant and eventual champion) would describe the international group’s first meeting with the Japanese competitors as follows:

We went upstairs and I saw lots of kids.. they had that look professional Magic players have, it’s hard to describe, kind of like an intelligent “I’m better than you” look. I ignored it and while everyone hid their deck I didn’t mind showing mine, I don’t think any deck besides a Wigglytuff or Haymaker was in someone’s deck box. It IS Base and Jungle, remember. We ate a fancy lunch and watched unusually long Japanese Neo commercials with Imakuni dancing. We headed to the tournament.. we were told we’d all be given the same 90 cards to make a deck with. Interesting. More interesting was the fact that the deck we’d make was a 40 card deck. We’d be playing 4 prizes.

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

Klaczynski and Tanabe would later face off in the in finals of the event, with Klaczynski emerging as victorious.

An excerpt from Trainer’s Magazine showing Klazynski and Tanabe at the event
Tanabe receiving his runner-up medal

Later sales

Over 20 years after the events he competed in, Tanabe listed his trophy cards and other memorabilia from the event for sale on Yahoo! Japan Auctions as user ‘execa22657’. This was likely an auto-generated username, as Yahoo! Japan will generate randomized usernames with 5 alphabetical characters and 5 numbers.

Original Yahoo! Japan page retrieved in May 2021
Translated version of the page

No.3 TMB Best in Japan Trophy

The trophy for his 3rd place finish in the Japanese national championships was auctioned off in its original case and ended at ¥12,011,000, roughly $109,000 USD on April 18, 2021.

Name Badges

Tanabe also auctioned off 3 name badges from the event: his own and 2 guests’.

Tanabe’s badge front
Badge reverse with drawing by Pokemon TCG illustrator Kagemaru Himeno

For his badge, Tanabe’s auction ended at ¥751,010, or roughly $6,800 USD.

Tanabe also brought 2 guests with him, one of them a family member, and another unknown guest. Both of these guest badges were blank on the back.

The family member’s badge sold for ¥58,555 ($530~ USD), and the unknown guest badge sold for ¥61,000 ($550~ USD) on March 28, 2021.

Runner-up Medal

Lastly, Tanabe also auctioned off the medal he received for his 2nd place finish. Due to the presence of multiple “silver” medals, it’s likely that this medal was awarded to all attendees, while the champion, Klaczynski, received a gold version.

The medal would sell at ¥799,666, or roughly $7,200 USD on March 28, 2021.


Credit for connecting most of the dots in this saga go to qwachansey on the EFour forums.

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