Pokemon Trading Card Game art
Screenshot via The Official Pokémon YouTube Channel

Pokémon TCG Illustration Contest disqualifies some of its finalists amid AI art accusations

Other entrants will take their place in the finals

In case you haven’t been following the Pokémon Trading Card Game scene lately, a recent art contest for it became mired in controversy when it was suspected several entrants had submitted AI generated artwork. While The Pokémon Company has not explicitly commented on the matter, it has since confirmed that some of the contest’s finalists have been disqualified.

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Over 10,000 pieces of fan art were submitted for the Pokémon TCG Illustration Contest, with 300 of them making it to the first round of the finals. A link to the results was shared on June 14 via Twitter, and the replies were soon filled with accusations that some of the chosen pieces were made with AI. It was even claimed that several entries had been submitted by the same person going under slightly different names, which is against the contest’s rules.

A follow-up post from the Pokémon TCG Twitter account on June 25 states that select entrants have been disqualified for violating the rules. However, it stops short of confirming it was because these entrants submitted AI art, only concluding with, “We’re committed to upholding the integrity of the Pokémon TCG Illustration Contest and appreciate fans’ continued support as we celebrate the artistic abilities of the talented Pokémon community.”

Regardless, the general response from fans has been positive, with most people assuming the AI generated art will be removed. What’s more, new finalists will be picked to replace the disqualified ones, so those who missed out originally have a second chance. At the time of writing, though, the pieces of art commonly alleged to be AI generated are still present among the top 300 on the contest’s website.

It’s perfectly understandable why the community got up in arms about some of the finalists potentially being AI generated. So many people probably spent hours crafting and refining an art piece that could match the same level of quality as a professionally made trading card, only for their work to be passed over for something that was made in far less time by someone typing a prompt into an art generator. Not to mention many artists argue that these AI art generators effectively steal from others’ work since they scrape the internet for existing art to base their creations on.

Hopefully, there won’t be any further controversy surrounding the contest. I can’t imagine what the uproar would be like if an AI generated piece of art won one of the top prizes, which is to have your art be turned into an official card for the TCG.

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Michael Beckwith
Staff writer covering all kinds of gaming news. A graduate in Computer Games Design and Creative Writing from Brunel University who's been writing about games since 2014. Nintendo fan and Sonic the Hedgehog apologist. Knows a worrying amount of Kingdom Hearts lore. Has previously written for Metro, TechRadar, and Game Rant.