Durbanite Zahir Hamid was one of the winners of the Pokémon national tournaments and recently represented South Africa at one of the biggest annual gaming events – the Pokémon World championships in Yokohama, Japan. Get It caught up with him and asked him a few questions.
When did you start playing Pokémon?
I have been playing since Pokémon launched in the 1990s, but competitively I played from 2013 to 2015 and again now from 2021.
What makes you a better player than others?
I have experience in all of the major card games and I usually dedicate a lot of my time to something when I start it, I prefer to give it my all.
Was this your first time attending the Pokémon World Championships?
I won the South African nationals in 2015, so I attended that year, which was awesome! I was fortunate to win again in 2023. Solarpop sponsored my trip to Yokohama in Japan, the city that hosted the Pokémon Championships. The event was held on the weekend of the 11th and 12th of August, and it was amazing. The venue was enormous and there were people from all over the world attending. There were people playing the trading card game, playing online. There was a streaming section and side events. There were thousands of people and, from start to finish, the atmosphere was amazing! Ove four hundred people played on day one. In TCG Masters, Juniors and Seniors tournaments.
We also had the largest group from South Africa at the tournament, bigger than we’ve ever had.
How did you prepare for the Championship?
A lot of testing online and playing locally in Durban as well. We have two leagues in Durban – Bat Cave in Hillcrest and Unseen Shoppe in Westville. I play at least once a week, unless the stores are doing bigger events, then I’ll play on Saturday and Sunday. I also play online for fun.
Why do you love Pokémon?
It’s an amazing game that has consistently been good for a very long time. I enjoy it all the time.
What is your favourite Pokémon?
Ninetales is my favourite. It’s the one that I liked from the start, looks a bit like my dogs.
Did you think you’d win the SA tournament?
I knew I had as good a chance as anyone but I’m not nearly as good as I used to be, so I wasn’t as confident as I used to be during 2013-2015. It worked out pretty well in the end though.
How did you do at the World Champs in Japan?
I didn’t do as well as I had hoped and didn’t get to the second round. I should’ve done better but we try again next year. Moeen Mungalee, who was also sponsored by Solarpop, competed in the Open Masters category and he made it to day two, which is an incredible achievement.
When will you start preparing for the 2024 championships?
I’m getting straight back into playing again this weekend, so that I can start getting points for next year, the event will be in Hawaii. I’m ready to play again!
If someone would like to join a league, what would you recommend?
Go to this website https://www.unplugyourself.co.za/events/ to find a Pokémon trading card game event near you, have a go at playing and see if you enjoy it.