A year after finding a ton of success in worldwide Pokemon video game tournaments, Phillip Barragan, a student at Brittany Hill Middle School, is taking on a new challenge.
At 10 years old, he won five regional championships and was even ranked No. 1 in the World in the Junior Division at one point.
Now that he’s 11, things got a little bit tougher. Phillip is now in the Senior Division, in which he has to compete against those 11-17 years of age.
Even against much stiffer competition, Barragan continues to find success. The 11-year-old is currently tied with four others for the No. 16 spot in the World rankings. He placed in the top eight at Europe and Latin American International Championships, top four in the Oceania International Championships, was second in the North American International Championships, won three regional championships and was in the top 16 at the Pokemon World Championships.
When he was at the world competition, his battles were broadcast live on Twitch and YouTube and his final battle got more than 180,000 views.
“The competition is definitely a lot harder,” said Phillip, who has been playing Pokemon competitively since 2014. “I am playing against a lot older kids now.
“The battles were stressful (at the Pokemon World Championships). My face didn’t look like I was stressed. But inside, my heart was beating 100,000 miles per hour."
These trips have taken him all around the world including Brazil, The United Kingdom and Australia, where Phillip played against some of the best players in the World.
It’s been a great experience for the middle schooler, who has already traveled more miles and been to more countries than many adults.
“It’s amazing how Pokemon can take you to amazing places,” Phillip said. “I got to meet a lot of new friends and travel to new places that I never thought that I would.
“Australia was my favorite place to visit plus the kangaroo was delicious. It was pretty fun and there was a lot of cool places there. I also rode my first roller coaster there.”
Perhaps the best part about Phillip's travels was that it was paid for by Nintendo. Each tournament a player has success in, they accumulate points based on what place they finished in any given tournament. Those points can be used to earn free trips to foreign countries.
“If you are in the top four, they will play for your International Championship trips,” Phillip’s father, Phillip Sr.. said. “That includes hotel and flights for him and a guardian. They give you a set amount of money. Pokemon paid for his international travels.”
To train for these tournaments, Phillip spends hours training with other top players online and gets assistance from his parents Jacqueline and Phillip Sr. on what creatures to use on his team as well as what fighting moves to use in battle based on what type of opponent he is fighting.
“We research other teams and get ideas that way,” Phillip Jr. said. “There is a lot more strategy involved in the game than you would think. There are certain terrain you fight on and there are traps you have to be aware of all of it.”
And now it’s become a family affair.
Phillip has been teaching his younger brother Jaxon how to play and he’s finding success as he’s tied for the No. 15 ranking in the World with seven other people.
“We got him into Pokemon and he’s actually doing pretty well,” Phillip said. “The new season just started and now he’s into it like us.”