Henry Maxon loves soccer, school and hanging with his friends. The 12-year-old also loves Pokemon, a game he’s played since the age of three when a cousin gave him some trading cards.
But Maxon is no ordinary player. He’s among the best in the world, using some of his well-honed math skills to take down competitors. In fact, at the Pokemon World Championships in Kona, Hawaii earlier this month, the seventh grader at Arbor Schools in Sammamish finished fourth in the Senior Division, getting knocked-out in the semifinals to the eventual champion (and his good buddy) Toler Webb of North Carolina.
This marked Maxon’s first year in the “senior division,” meaning he was competing against 13, 14 and 15-year-olds. Last year, in the junior division he finished 11th. In the tournament, players are permitted to bring six Pokemon that have certain moves, items and abilities, with only four of the Pokemon in play at one time.
“The first person to knock-out the other person’s four wins the match,” said Maxon, adding that he was pleased with his performance. “I didn’t have high expectations coming in, so getting fourth in the world was a big deal for me.”
In addition to a trophy and a box of Pokemon cards, Maxon’s characters will get programmed into an upcoming game.
As a result, other players will be able to download Maxon’s team and they will be able to battle them.
Asked what he likes best about Pokemon, Maxon said its the community of players from all over the world.
“It is such a fun game that can be really complicated, and complex and hard, if you know how to play it right,” he said. “So, it can be a fun competition, and I love competition.”
Maxon comes from a geeky family. His father, Lou, is the creative director at digital media agency Radarworks. But the trip to Hawaii wouldn’t have happened without his grandfather who cashed in his frequent flyer miles in order to send Henry to Hawaii.
He’s hoping to qualify for the senior division next year, taking place in Vancouver, B.C.