11-Year-Old Pokemon master prepares to duel for crown in National, World Championships

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Jackie Causey, 11, poses with prizes for winning the regional Pokemon tournament in May. (Photo submitted by Shanon Causey)

Lewisville resident Jacqueline Causey, 11, has defeated enough opponents that she’s earned worldwide recognition as Pokémon trainer. Jackie placed 27th in the 2015 Pokémon World Championships besting players from more than 30 countries.

She is ceaselessly working on strategies to top her placement at the world games this August, for which she has already qualified.

Jackie was named the Pokémon Spring Regional Champion at the 2016 Pokémon Spring Regional Championships in Athens, Ga., in May. She’ll travel to Columbus, Ohio, this weekend as one of eight Junior Division Spring Regional VG Champions from North America brawling to clinch the coveted national champ title using the video game Pokémon Alpha Sapphire.

“She of course wants to do well at the North America tournament,” said her mother, Shanon Causey. “It’s a chance to represent and show pride in our wonderful country.”

Jackie said, though she has no reason to be nervous, she’s laboriously trying to shake pre-game jitters.

“There are a lot of people there,” she said. “We have new Pokémon that are available and I don’t have as much practice with the new Pokémon. They allowed a lot more legendaries in the spring regional season and the ones that they added are pretty powerful Pokémon.”

But Jackie said that, since last year, she has developed a routine to keep her calm and focused. It normally involves hugging her stuffed Pikachu in her lap. She also likes to casually chat with her opponent.

“It’s not that I’m bored when I’m playing the game, I just get distracted easily,” she said. “Talking helps me focus so my brain doesn’t wander. It’s usually somewhat about the game.”

She said that normally doesn’t help at Worlds as her opponents often don’t speak English.

“So I can’t really talk to them while I play. But I don’t think I would have done better if they were English speakers,” she said.

Jackie will also use a special Pokemon edition of the Nintendo 3DS console, with a slightly bigger screen. It was awarded to her for winning the regional competition.

“The bigger screen helps me see things and not mess up as much,” she said. “Like I can make sure the cursor is on the move that I actually want to play. It doesn’t happen too often, but pressing the wrong move on accident has cost me tournament games.”

Game Freak developed Pokémon, which is published by Nintendo, for the Game Boy handheld gaming console in 1998. It has since developed into a booming franchise which includes more than two dozen games, movies and TV shows.

The game gets its name from mythical creatures, or pocket monsters, raised by human trainers who can evolve into stronger Pokémon. Players take on the roles of trainers who try to catch all the Pokémon in the game’s universe and train them for battle.

In last year’s world games, Jackie could choose a team of six Pokémon to use in the tournament — four of which could be used in each battle. She said she used Landorus, Thundurus, Amoonguss, Kangaskhan, Sylveon and a sixth whose name she cannot recall.

In the World Championships this August, she will play with an entire different set of Pokemon, she said. But she hasn’t decided which will fill her Pokedex.

Jackie credits her achievements to her older brother Dale, an accomplished trainer in his own right. Every day, he plays with her to teach her strategies and help her choose which Pokémon to use in battle.

“Jackie and Dale played against each other quite a bit,” said Shanon Causey. “It helps when you have someone there who can give you advice while you play against them.”

Causey said that she used to be much stricter in limiting the time they spent playing the game because she thought it was a waste of time. That changed when she realized the high level of strategic thinking required to succeed in the game, she said.

“In fact, the more they play Pokémon the better their math skills get,” she said. “Dale can do probabilities in his head and its actually pretty amazing.”

She’s still surprised that her children have become better problem solvers because of the game, she said.

“They spend a lot of time working out synergistic combinations of Pokémon to use against other combinations,” Causey said. “I don’t think there’s something they could do like reading a book on strategy or combat that would be as effective with practical applications as the hands on experience they get playing the game.”