Since he was 8 years old, Omari Travis has been a Pokémon fan, watching the television show, mastering the various video games and collecting some of the hard sought-after trading cards. Now 23, the Antioch resident is well on his way to becoming a Pokémon master and heading to the National Championship this spring.
After a full day of head-to-head Pokémon video game battles, Travis took first place in the Senior Division at the 2014 Pokémon Championship Series in Southern California last month.
"I first started playing the Red and Blue series in 1996," Travis remembered. "I kept moving up in the games and it seemed like a natural step to start playing in the championships."
Travis competed in his first Pokémon championship series competition in 2009.
"I had a pretty good year in 2010," he said. "But then did just OK in the 2011 and 2012 series."
The Pokémon Championship Series has tournaments all over the country. The more competitions competed in the more points collected. Points are given out based on how well a player does in each championship series.
Travis has competed with several of the different Pokémon video games over the years. This current series uses the newest X and Y games.
Since October, when the 2014 series began, Travis has competed in four series championships. The win in Long Beach pushed him over the top in the points, making him eligible to not only attend the National Series Championship in Indianapolis, but also receive free airfare, hotel and some other extras.
In past tournaments, Travis has had the opportunity to visit not only Indianapolis, but also Hawaii, Texas and, one of his favorites, Seattle. Through the series he's met several new friends whom he gets to meet up with in the various cities the championships take place in.
"While in Seattle I was able to go up top to the Space Needle, which I've always wanted to do," he said.
His championship award at the Long Beach illumination-style competition awarded him a trophy, a cash award, a new 3DS video gaming devise, combination of 72 booster packs from current Pokémon TCG expansions, 120 Championship points, hat, binder, playmat, and a pack of sleeves.
"I also get the chance to travel, meet new people and have fun doing what I like," he said.
Travis said that the one thing he has learned through playing the game is that Pokémon is an easy video game to learn and is fun for all ages. No matter how old he gets he intends to keep playing and following the series that has given him considerable enjoyment throughout his life.