Long Haired blonde male who is playing cards
Dawson Michel, a former Pokemon trading card game city champion, looks at his cards.

Tom Filbey, a Pokemon professor, which is a title granted to judges appointed by TPCI, is a tournament organizer for the Pokemon Trading Card Game in Nebraska and is welcoming back in-person tournaments in Nebraska as COVID-19 cases die down.

“I know that in hard times such as these, communities like ours can be the only thing that keeps some people going,” he said. “As soon as stores started allowing tournaments back in store, I didn’t care whether or not they were sanctioned. I just wanted to get back out and see people playing.” 

Many trading card game groups on Facebook and Discord have an online community page that players could use to find Discord or Zoom-centered games.

Dylan Goodrich, a Magic: the Gathering player, said online tournaments filled the void when face-to-face tournaments were on hold.

“While it wasn’t as fun as in person Magic(the Gathering) it was still better than nothing,” Goodrich said.  

While most are glad to have their hobby return to normal, others said that more should be done in regards to COVID-19.

“I love being back and seeing all of my friends in person again. But the pandemic isn’t over, we should do something to ensure we aren’t spreading this disease,” said Drew Ahlberg, a Pokemon trading card game player.

Many local game shops have rules in place to make sure of that. HobbyTown USA at 70th and Van Dorn in Lincoln follows the mask mandate set in place by Lancaster County, as well as having employees handle trading card binders to minimize the number of hands touching them. 

“It just isn’t the same if you aren’t all at the table,” said Falk, a Magic: the Gathering Lincoln commander league competitor. 

Legendary Wolf Games in Omaha and HobbyTown USA in Lincoln are hosting weekly tournaments for most card games, and players will be able to play with their friends again.

Brendan and Dawson 1 scaled - Trading card game tournaments return in Nebraska
Dawson Michel and Brendan Pham playi a match in a tournament

“This game is great, my favorite memories with my best friends exist because of it,” said Dawson Michel, former Lincoln city champion for Pokemon: the Trading Card Game.

Michel said participating in tournaments isn’t just about winning.

“I remember my first out of state tournament,” he said. “Me and my friends went down and had a blast. We all did terribly but it was worth it none-the-less.”

Hey, I am NIcholas Fullerton a senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln about to graduate with a Bachelor's degree of Journalism-Broadcasting.