For Simon Brundage, winning isn't everything.
On Aug 12. through 14, the Sherwood 15 year old will be in San Diego to compete for the title of Pokémon Trading Card game world champion and said he is almost as excited about meeting the other top players.
'I'm more just going for fun, but I'm also going for the win too,' said Brundage, who will be a sophomore at Sherwood High School this year.
To get to San Diego, Brundage advanced in regional, state and national competitions in the senior division, made up of young people age 11 through 15.
By contrast, the masters division, reserved for those 16 and older, is filled with a significant amount of older challengers.
'There's plenty of adult players,' Brundage said. 'There's a lot more masters than there are in any other division.'
Karen Brundage said she's pleased at how far her son has come so fast.
'He's only played for a year,' she said, adding that Simon is very focused.
Brundage has been collecting the cards since they came out and estimates he has more than 1,000 cards in his collection. He said it was his cousins, who are 'insanely' into Pokémon, who got him interested in competition.
When he's not focusing on Pokèmon, Brundage plays high school soccer and is planning on going out for track this year. He hopes to get his driving permit soon as well.
In school, he enjoys writing and history.
While nervous about this weekend's matchup, Brundage said he never expected to get this far. Ranked 29th in North America, he was one of only 40 contenders invited to the tournament.
'There will definitely be an intimidation factor from people I've never met but (who) are extremely good,' Brundage said.
The first place prize is a $7,500 scholarship and a free trip to the next world competition.
To prepare, Brundage said he's been playing with different leagues and testing his skills with friends at least twice a week.
'I'm hoping to score really big because I'm pretty confident about what I'm working on right now.'
HOW TO PLAY:
The Pokemon Trading Card Game is a collectible card game based on a popular Japanese video game series that hit the U.S. by storm in the late 1990s.
Pokémon characters are used in anime, manga, toys, books and trading cards.
Brundage said the strategy of the trading card game is to knock out six of a challenger's opponents before they can knock out six of yours, all done by laying down just the right cards at the right time.
Most card packs, which contain nine cards and cost $3.99 per pack, contain random cards. Specialty cards can be purchased online but are so pricey that Brundage will arm himself with ones borrowed from friends when he travels to San Diego.
Brundage said he plays out moves in his head before he plays them.
'You've got to come up with a way to keep your opponent from stopping you,' he said.