The Professor Program is a collective of dedicated and knowledgeable Pokémon fans. A Pokémon Professor is someone who has a thorough understanding of the Pokémon Trading Card Game and of the scheme of the Play! Pokémon format.
Becoming a Professor
Before considering to become a Professor, players must have an account on the Pokémon.com website and be at least 18 years of age (previously 15 from 2003 to 2005). Potential Professors are then required to pass an exam, which tests their knowledge of game mechanics, card rulings, and the organized-play guidelines. A minimum of 80% of the questions must be answered correctly before a player is allowed to enter the ranks of the Professor Program. Players who don’t pass the exam may take it again after a brief period.
Pokémon Professors often act as rule judges at Pokémon tournaments. They ensure that the rules of the game are followed during tournament games while answering questions players may have. Pokémon Professors can also be Tournament Organizers, League Leaders, or may assist in the organization, execution and marketing of Play! Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) events.
Professor Rewards Program
Similar to the Players Rewards Program, this service awards Professors for their dedication to Play! Pokémon. By performing duties as detailed above, Professors earn "credits", which can be redeemed on a monthly basis in a "Professor Rewards" store. Those who are Tournament Organizers and Professors earn 10 credits for every tournament they report within 14 days of the event date. Professors that judge at an event (as long as they are not the Tournament Organizer) also earn 10 credits. Those who are League Owners or League Leaders and Professors earn 25 credits after a season's results have been reported to The Pokémon Company International (TPCi).
Credits earned or spent are displayed in a statement in the online My Pokémon account, with brief descriptions on individual transactions. The majority of items available for Professors to buy are exclusive to the Program, and include items such as clothing, jewelry, equipment, toys and TCG-related merchandise.
The Pokémon Professor Cup is a non-sanctioned event that is held annually to thank Professors for their hard work and dedication to the growth of Play! Pokémon. This casual event is where those who usually work as judges and Tournament Organizers have a chance to play instead. In order to qualify for the Professor Cup, Professors must earn at least 50 credits during the TCG season.
Trophies are handed out to the top three professors in the tournament. In addition, in a typical year, the top four professors won a eight gigabyte Apple iPod Touch, and the top sixteen professors won a Nintendo DS. All competitors receive a commemorative item.
The tournament structure runs much the same as normal Play! Pokémon sanctioned events, initially using Swiss Pairings, followed by single-elimination rounds for the top 16 players.
As one of the most respected of the TCG community, Professors are obliged to follow a number of Core Values that ensure every event in which they participate runs smoothly and promote the good will of Play! Pokémon itself. Violations of these values may result in a Professor being withdrawn from the Program.
A Professor must act with integrity at all times. A Professor should be fair and unbiased, whether judging a tournament or resolving a dispute. Personal feelings about players can often cloud a judgment call. A Professor must not take these feelings into consideration when resolving an issue between players, parents, venue staff, or spectators.
A Professor must be an honest individual. It is critical to the integrity of the Program that its members have a reputation as trustworthy and honest. If players can't trust a Professor, then their decisions and rulings may become questionable. TPCi may also contact Professors to assist in player or venue investigations. If a Professor has been known to be dishonest, the integrity of the investigation may be jeopardized.
Professors are trusted with a great deal of responsibility. If a Professor is a Tournament Organizer or League Leader, it is critical that all event reporting is done in a timely manner. In addition, a Professor working at an event is responsible for ensuring that all event prizes and participation rewards are handed out according to the event guidelines.
To maintain a higher degree of respect, Professors should act professionally when acting in an official capacity. Foul language, horseplay, smoking, drinking alcohol, and similar activities are unacceptable while actively representing the community. Players, parents, spectators, and venue staff should be addressed courteously, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or physical or mental capacity. In addition, it is unprofessional to publicly make negative comments about Pokémon, the Pokémon Trading Card Game, or TPCi without first trying to resolve issues with TPCi via private communication. Negative comments made publicly only hurt the brand, the game, the company, and the organized play program.