Just days ago, Logan Paul and Floyd Mayweather squared up for a special exhibition boxing match that saw a clash of titans: one being a boxer widely considered the greatest in the history of the sport and the other a controversial but wildly popular YouTuber and podcaster. One of the most notable moments of the fight was the chain hanging from Paul's neck: a 1st Edition Shadowless Charizard card from Pokémon TCG's base set that had been graded by Beckett as a BGS Pristine 10. Paul, after the event, explained to reporters that the card was one of three in existence and could be, now that it was seen at this high profile event, a million-dollar card. Now, what many Pokémon TCG collectors wonder is if this will impact the hobby for collectors. Let's take a look at what may happen.
First, understand this: it's impossible to trace the current wave of hype surrounding the Pokémon card collecting hobby solely around Logan Paul. Some do believe the current situation to sit on Paul's shoulders, as his participation and enthusiasm for the hobby hit a peek in 2020 when he began to purchase Base Set booster boxes for hundreds of thousands of dollars to auction off packs for live box breaks. Following these breaks, the Pokémon TCG landscape shifted with "investors" and sportscard collectors turning into scalpers, clearing shelves of products, and reselling for high amounts in the secondary market.
It is important to understand, though, that the situation is not entirely due to Logan Paul. It comes down to this:
- Pokémon has waves of popularity. It is the biggest media franchise in the world. Pokémon GO took over the world in 2016 and, despite popular belief, was bigger than ever in 2o20. The increased attention on other aspects of the franchise in 2020 was sure to turn to the TCG.
- Pokémon cards were wildly popular in the late 90s. Everyone collecting at that time were kids, many of whom would have to save money here and there for packs. Now, those kids are adults and, when something alerts them to the reality that the Pokémon TCG is going strong now with dozens of sets to collect… they're going to use that adult money to make childhood dreams come true.
- It's the franchise's 25th anniversary this year. The last time there was this much hype in the TCG was for the 20th anniversary. This is absolutely by design.
- The pandemic had its impact. Product was harder to get and easier to scalp because it was more difficult to create product. This led to new buyers finding older, out-of-print sets and driving up the price of those by buying it all up.
- YouTube as a whole has a huge Pokémon community, with some creators such as Leonhart creating communities around opening cards.
So what we saw with Logan Paul wasn't an inciting incident but rather part of a building storm.
We're beginning to see product back on shelves… so will this hugely public appearance of Paul's "million-dollar card" clear the shelves again? Personally, I think we're going to continue to see the scalper situation plateau. As intense as the secondary market is, the Pokémon Company is again the machine behind the biggest corporation in the world. The restrictions keeping them from printing to whatever pace they wanted are largely lifted. Battle Styles is everywhere and, while some say it's because it is an undesirable set, the truth is that it has massively hyped cards and was bought quite a lot. The reason we're seeing shelves stocked with Battle Styles isn't that it isn't desired, but it's because people have had their chance to buy and open it.
What the Pokémon TCG community should prepare for, which I predict will create bigger spikes in the market, are August 2021's Eevee-centric set Evolving Skies and then October 2021's 25th Anniversary set. Personally, while I think we'll see spikes in interest, I do believe that the Pokémon Company has made moves that have lessened and will continue to further lessen the drought in products created by scalpers and all of the above. Logan Paul might have a million-dollar Charizard, which can for sure create new interest… but the Pokémon Company is a $95 Billion dollar corporation, and it is very much in their interest to have shelves filled with their products. I believe, in a short while, everyone who wants cards will be able to get cards.