O’Hara gamer competes at Pokemon World Championships after winning North American title
O’Hara resident Jeremy Rodrigues, 19, spends about an hour a day playing Nintendo Pokemon despite carrying a heavy class load at Case Western Reserve University.
His enjoyment of the video game has opened options for the Fox Chapel Area School District grad.
He recently went to the PokemonWorld Championships in Nashville, Tenn., for a three-day marathon.
“The lesson is to get out there and try to do achieve something. Most people can do some pretty amazing things,” Rodrigues said.
The college sophomore got into gaming as a high school freshman. He first started watching YouTube videos of head-to-head competitions, with the opponents on stage and their battle displayed on large video screens.
In 2014, he went to his first competition. Rodrigues plays in the masters group at the VGC (Video Game Competitions) events.
This July, he won the North American championship, one of four international meetings. His victory earned him a bye to the world championship where a $5,000 scholarship was the top prize.
Rodrigues said he enjoys the logic and reasoning required to solve puzzling play. He compares the basics to chess, which he played when he was younger. With Pokemon, he customizes his pieces. He develops ideas by playing on a simulator and conjures predictions to outwit his opponents.
“You’re trying to solve situations. [Pokemon] exercises a level of critical thinking most classes don’t even touch upon,” Rodrigues said.
The gamer knows about high level academics. He came into college with 10 Advanced Placement classes from Fox Chapel Area High School. He is triple majoring in philosophy, political science and economics -- and doing it in four years.
“I’m exerting myself but [I’m] being very organized and efficient,” he said.
Rodrigues also added Air Force R.O.T.C. this year to his schedule.
“I’m keeping my options open,” he said, refusing to deny running for president in the future as he jokes about his ultimate career goal.
Switching between academics and video games stifles burnout, Rodrigues said.
″[When you] are highly dedicated to something not academic at a rigorous level, you are focused,” he said.