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Tigard student headed to Pokemon World Championships

SUBMITTED - Carson St. Denis, right, shakes hands with an opponent during the 2013 National Championships. St. Denis is a phenom in the game of competitiion Pokemon battles. He has been to the World Championships in the Pokemon card game division, and is ranked in the top 25 in the country for the video game.Carson St. Denis wants to be the very best. Like no one ever was before.

St. Denis, 13, from Tigard, is a master in the world of Pokemon — a strategy video game that pits imaginary monsters against one another in battle — and he's just scored another victory.

St. Denis qualified for the National Championships next month and has already secured a position at the World Championships in Boston in August.

It’s a feeling St. Denis is familiar with.

In 2013, St. Denis won the National Championships, in addition to a trip to the World Championships where he was eliminated in the quarterfinals

There are two types of Pokémon tournaments, one based on the video game and one of the card game. St. Denis is a master at both.

The video game allows players to catch and collect monsters — called Pokémon. After training them to become more and more powerful, their monsters square off against other players' monsters in battle.

The card game is similar, with players collecting trading cards of their favorite monsters, each of which holds special powers and abilities.

Pokémon is all about strategy, St. Denis said.

“I like thinking about what my opponent is doing and finding different things to predict against and play,” he said. “It’s really good for strategy. Unless they are a really well known player, you probably don’t know what they will do, or their skill level.”

After winning the National Championships in 2013, St. Denis took a break from competing and said he was drawn to the video game by some friends who played non-competitively.

The friends would battle against one another for fun, while St. Denis learned the ins and outs of the game.

“It was fun,” he said. “My friends would smack me around until I got decent at it. Last year, I really started practicing and did pretty well.”

That’s an understatement.

St. Denis won both the Seattle and Florida regional championships this year, and took second place in the Portland and California championships.

St. Denis is a seventh-grader at Oregon Connections Academy, an online school based in Scio. The online classroom gives him the freedom to travel to competitions when needed, he said, while still keeping up on his schoolwork.

He attended last year’s world tournament as a spectator, to get a feel for this year’s competition.

St. Denis said he practices online and talks with other players around the world on ideas and tips.

“The online community is really nice about sharing ideas,” he said.

Players accrue points with each competition. St. Denis’ next tournament will be the National Championships in Indianapolis, Ind., next month.

It normally takes all year to collect the necessary points to qualify for the National Championships. St. Denis has more points than any other player in North America in his division. He is currently ranked second in the world in his division, and in the top 25 of all players, regardless of age.

St. Denis, however, said that he doesn’t consider himself one of the best players in the world — he said he still has things to learn.

“It feels pretty good (to be ranked so high),” St. Denis said. “I still don’t consider myself to be that good of a player unless I do well at Nationals, or Worlds, but it’s cool to think that people see me that way.”

St. Denis said he plans to continue playing the game for a few more years, at least. He has another two years in his division before he moves to the adult division known as “The Masters.”

“Unless something big happens, I’ll keep playing,” he said.

By Geoff Pursinger
email: gpursinger@commnewspapers.com
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