After AI and cheating allegations, Pokemon disqualifies entrants in its official Trading Card Game art competition who "violated official contest rules"

A selection of Charizard cards from the Pokemon TCG.
(Image credit: The Pokemon Company / Creatures Inc)

It's been confirmed that "select entrants" in the top 300 finalists of the 2024 Pokemon Trading Card Game Illustration Contest have been disqualified due to allegedly violating the "official contest rules."

Earlier this month, the top 300 finalists of this year's Pokemon TCG Illustration Contest were revealed. The results have been a long time coming – entries were submitted between October 12 last year and the end of January this year – and you can imagine the wait for the artists competing has felt even longer. The prizes are huge – alongside cash prizes for the top spot as well as a select number of runners-up, the grand prize winner and those who submit the best standard card and 'EX' card illustrations will have their entries turned into real-life promo cards. 

However, while the top 300 was full of impressive submissions, it seems not all of them should have been accepted in the first place. A statement posted on the official Pokemon TCG Twitter account reads: "We are aware that select entrants from the top 300 finalists of the Pokemon TCG Illustration Contest 2024 have violated the official contest rules. As a result, entrants in violation of the rules have been disqualified from the contest. 

"Furthermore, additional artists participating in the contest will soon be selected among the top 300 finalists."

It's not been confirmed which rules have been broken by the entrants in question. However, when the top 300 were revealed, many fans alleged that some of the submissions appeared to be AI-generated. This was met with severe backlash since it seemed that some may have used programs to generate their work rather than create it from scratch like the rest of the entrants. On this, however, it's worth pointing out that the rules don't seem to directly make any specific mention of artificial intelligence. The main rules were that contestants could only submit artwork that's never been published or submitted to other contests, they could only enter three illustrations, and whatever they submitted couldn't include any inappropriate content or violate any rights such as copyright, privacy, or intellectual property rights. 

If it was determined that AI was used for any of the artwork submitted, there's an argument to be made that it could be considered to potentially be in violation of copyright since AI programs learn from examples of other artists' work. That aside, there's an extra point in the rules that states sponsors have the right to disqualify entries "not consistent with the spirit or theme of the Contest." Regardless, it's not been officially confirmed that this is the case or if it's the reason certain entrants have been removed from the Contest, so it might be a different issue entirely.

In addition, the statement doesn't outline which submissions have been disqualified or state how many have been pulled. It adds, "We're committed to upholding the integrity of the Pokemon TCG Illustration Contest and appreciate fans' continued support as we celebrate the artistic abilities of the talented Pokemon community."

Be sure to check out our ranking of the best Pokemon games to find your next RPG adventure. If you're looking for something new to play, on the other hand, don't miss our guide to the best card games.

Catherine Lewis
News Writer

I'm one of GamesRadar+'s news writers, who works alongside the rest of the news team to deliver cool gaming stories that we love. After spending more hours than I can count filling The University of Sheffield's student newspaper with Pokemon and indie game content, and picking up a degree in Journalism Studies, I started my career at GAMINGbible where I worked as a journalist for over a year and a half. I then became TechRadar Gaming's news writer, where I sourced stories and wrote about all sorts of intriguing topics. In my spare time, you're sure to find me on my Nintendo Switch or PS5 playing through story-driven RPGs like Xenoblade Chronicles and Persona 5 Royal, nuzlocking old Pokemon games, or going for a Victory Royale in Fortnite.