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Polaris Altares Chooses Pikachu

The 12-year-old Pokémon Tabletop Card Game contender tries to collect 'em all.

By Angela Cabotaje Photography by Chona Kasinger December 21, 2022


Polaris Altares loves Pokémon like a stereotypical Seattleite might love Gore-Tex or pour-over coffee—deeply and without fail. It does, after all, run in the family. Dad Brian and mom Adelaide own Tabletop Village in Chinatown–International District, a store and hangout space devoted to tabletop games and tournaments, especially Pokémon Tabletop Card Game (aka Pokémon TCG). Amassing Pokémon is just an occupational hazard. 

Brian collects Mewtwo. Adelaide's into Ditto. Younger brother Cyrus has Charizard. And 12-year-old Polaris? He's got the biggest, and arguably most adorable, collection of all: Pikachu. "I started getting into collecting when I was five or six," he says. "Pikachu was just really cute and pretty cool."

Today Polaris estimates he has over 1,000 Pikachus, from plush toys and Pez dispensers to bobbleheads and, of course, Pokémon cards. "He helps out a lot in the store, and he helps other kids and even adults learn to play [Pokémon TCG]," Brian explains. "A lot of his collecting is gifts from friends and family and at the store, so it accumulates."

Although Polaris doesn't think he'll ever stop collecting, he does have another goal beyond catching as many Pikachus as possible: making it to 2023 Pokémon TCG World Championships in Yokohama, Japan. Last year, he ranked in the top 10 juniors in the nation. This year, he's competing in the senior age bracket.

At November's Pokémon Latin America International Championships in São Paulo, Brazil, Polaris placed in the top eight. It'll still be a ways to earn an invitation to Japan, Brian says, but until then, Polaris will be bouncing around regional tournaments and helping his dad out at the shop.

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