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Pokémon card featuring real-life Pokémon player - one of only around 20 ever made - sells for record $132,000

Division runner-up Takahiro Ikeda was immortalised on this one-of-one Trainer card during a 2001 competition in Japan.

Takahiro Ikeda's promotional Trainer card from the 2001 Neo Summer Battle Nationals
Image credit: PWCC/The Pokemon Company

Someone is the proud owner of a Pokémon Trading Card Game Trainer card featuring a photograph of a former competitive player, which just sold at auction for a record-setting $132,000.

Pwcc Marketplace, one of the largest buyers and sellers of trading cards, announced that a 2001 Pokémon Japanese Neo Summer Battle Road National No. 2 Trainer card sold at auction on September 14th. The card was rated Gem Mint 10 by Certified Guaranty Company and featured a photograph of former competitive player Takahiro Ikeda. He is standing in front of a poster featuring the legendary Ho-oh, and the card boasts a cosmos holofoil background.

The popular trading card game was rarely in the habit of slapping real faces on their cards, but the organisers of the 2011 New Summer Battle event thought it keen to print promotional Trainer cards for the top three players in both the junior and senior divisions. These players previously fought through seven events hosted across Japan using the unique Hall of Fame System that ranked all of the cards with certain star values and placed a budget on each competitor’s deck.

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Ikeda, along with his other division finalists, all received a one-of-one Trainer card bearing their likenesses, and PWCC reports that few other events repeated the promotional prize. That means cards like the one that sold at auction are vanishingly rare - only about 20 are thought to exist, either in collections or in circulation.

According to collectible value tracking platform CardLadder, the $132,000 final bid is the highest amount paid for a Trainer card from this tournament, and Ikeda finished just shy of the crown as his division’s runner-up. The Neo Summer Battle’s sibling tournament, the Neo Spring Battle, followed a similar trajectory and was supplementary to the traditional summer events, which were held when most children would be out of school on holiday.

Ikeda will hopefully not take too much offence at the fact that his Trainer card did not sell as highly as two recent Trophy Pikachu Trainer cards, one of which raked in an impressive $440,000. It’s hard to argue with that smug, little rat face holding its trophy. The sale of highly valued Pokémon cards survives in the wake of an explosion in popularity over the last three years - livestreams cracking cases of first-edition booster boxes might have waned, but the public appetite for ultra-rare pieces remains.

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