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Roseville Pokémon player dominates the competition

The 8-year-old recently won two city championships
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Logan Roden may only be 8 years old, but he can compete in a Pokémon trading card game with the best of them. Or, rather, he can beat the rest of them. He doesn’t shy away from battling older competitors, some of whom have played since Japanese mega-company Nintendo created the Pokémon video games and later introduced the card game to North America in 1998. Logan can rattle off the names and rules of each card in the deck, quickly explaining the difference between “trainer,” “supporter,” “energy” and “evolver” cards. He’s a walking dictionary of this strategic game, able to recite tactical moves and other Pokemon-related minutia stored in his brain. “He’s so fast with the cards,” says his dad, Robert Roden. “He intimidates people just with that.” Logan, though, isn’t easily intimidated. His parents call him a “detail boy” because he can also list the names of all his regular opponents. “One of them is really good and I usually can’t beat him,” Logan says, while sitting at the dining room table in his Roseville house. “But he wasn’t playing with his best deck.” In late November, Logan beat this kid and two others to earn the title of champion at the Pokémon Trading Card Game City Tournament in Cameron Park. Eight kids total battled in his division. Two weeks later, he once again won first place in a city tournament, held in Carmichael. “It’s exciting and suspenseful and I didn’t know if I was going to win or whatever,” Logan says. “I like the suspense and interacting with other people, and it’s kind of addicting.” The city-level tournaments are the first events in the Championship Series, and premier rating points awarded there go toward a potential invitation to the World Championships held in San Diego in August 2011. The third grader at Sargeant Elementary School now has his sights set on winning more city tournaments before he attends the California competition in March. But advancing all the way to the world tournament isn’t necessarily his ultimate goal. “National would just be a big accomplishment,” Logan says. During a tournament, competitors divide into three divisions: juniors who are born in 2000 or later, seniors born between 1996 and 1999, and masters who were born in 1995 or earlier. Logan and his older brother, Cohen Roden, began learning the Pokémon game about a year and a half ago after they found a deck of cards and a rulebook. As they familiarized themselves with the game, they built up their decks and eventually started competing in a free Sunday league at A-I Comics on Sunrise Avenue in Roseville. Store manager Ruth Sparks said between 12 and 20 people typically attend their league games. “Currently, in America, Pokémon is the most popular card game,” Sparks said. “On the West Coast, it’s probably between Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh.” In those Sunday leagues, Logan challenges players of all ages. “There are teenagers and college kids, and some of them are scared of him and his ability,” Robert Roden says. “But they’re all supportive of him.” Soon, dad joined his kids’ Pokémon craze. Together, the family has traveled to Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Pasadena and other locations for tournaments. “It’s a really good bonding experience for them and their dad,” says Logan’s mom, Melisa Roden. “I tried playing one time. I had this romantic notion of learning, but even if you learn how to play a game, it changes every time.” She says her son used to be reluctant to learn how to read but playing this game inspired him because he wanted to be able to understand the cards. Now Logan and Cohen spend hours collecting packs of cards and reassembling their decks. Logan also teaches some of his other siblings the rules of the game. He’s one of six children. But all this Pokémon focus doesn’t mean his grades suffer. In fact, he’s one of the top students in his class and considers math his favorite subject. The active child has been his school’s reigning tetherball champ — although he’s been “off his game” lately, he says — and just finished his fourth season playing recreational soccer. “I want to be a professional Pokémon player and soccer player (when I grow up),” Logan says. In the meantime, he’s perfecting his game with the help of new cards he won for finishing first in the Cameron Park tournament. Logan got a medal and 18 packs of cards. “He is the best sport in the world,” Melisa Roden says. “He gave three packs to his brother and three to his dad. They have really fun rivalries.” And when Logan won the Carmichael tournament, he did the same exact thing. Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. ---------- How to play the Pokémon trading card game: · You and your opponent each need a 60-card deck. You need counters to keep track of the damage on the different Pokemon in play, and a coin for flipping. You may use the game’s playmat but it’s not required. · You and your opponent take the role of competing Pokémon Trainers · During each turn, a player can boost his or her Pokémon’s attack power by adding “energy” cards to that Pokémon, or play special “trainer” cards or evolve the Pokémon into stronger forms · Your goal is to knock out your opponent’s Pokémon by attacking with your Pokémon · For complete rules, visit www.pokemon.com