Eduardo Cunha’s journey through the world of competitive Pokemon has culminated in a dream trip: an invitation to vie for a world championship at the franchise's crowning esports tournament.

The global following of the Japan-made Pokemon franchise is hard to overstate. Since the original 151 adorable creatures in 1996’s Pokemon Red and Green, the inaugural video game has gone on to spawn 857 additional trainable critters, dozens of movies, a long-running anime series, smartphone apps and a trading card game-turned-collectors paradise where rare items can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. In February 2022, an ultra-rare Pikachu card sold at auction for $900,000 (about ¥130 million).

For all that growth, however, there’s something the Pokemon world has never seen, even with the championships occurring in different cities across the globe since 2004: its marquee esports competition being held on the franchise's home soil.