Competitive Pokémon player Wolfe Glick has taken Pokémon fandom to a whole new level by creating a real-life Pokémon gym in New York City.
Glick, who won the 2016 Pokémon World Video Game Championships (VGC), transformed luxury Italian shoe store P448 into a “water-type gym” for a day. Several challengers lined up outside the temporary gym to join the event, as shown in the now-viral video. While waiting, they were given water bottles and the chance to view others’ battles on a large screen in preparation for their own matches.
“I opened up the first real-life Pokémon gym,” he claims at the beginning of his 10-minute YouTube video
, which has garnered over 1.5 million views since it was uploaded on Jan. 24.
People from various locations, including Nevada, Louisiana and Maryland, purportedly traveled to New York City to either participate in or observe the one-of-a-kind event.
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Serious challengers found themselves playing against three professional trainers: Aaron Traylor (a two-time regional champion), Aaron Zheng (a Worlds semi-finalist and two-time national champion) and James Baek (an international champion).
“Challengers will face off against three professional trainers in order to win a chance to play against me, the gym leader,” Glick explains in his video.
The gym leader’s team consisted of Quaquaval, Tatsugiri, Pelipper, Coalossal, Barraskewda and Palafin, with Coalossal being the surprise element as a rock-type Pokémon with a water-type Tera Form.
Participants who managed to defeat Glick received a rare badge with a purple Poké Ball and a free pair of shoes valued at $345 from P448.
According to Glick, the event “took months of planning and hundreds of hours of work.”
The YouTuber revealed at the end of his video that he hopes to hold a real-life “Pokemon Elite Four” event next.
In Pokémon lore, the “Elite Four” is a trainer class and title given to four trainers who are recognized as the best in their region. Pokémon Champions are the only ones who surpass their abilities.