Pokémon TCG Illustration Contest Battles AI Art

The Pokémon TCG community is calling out the contest judges for not spotting AI.

The Pokémon Illustration Contest announced its top 300 and the Pokémon community has called out many submissions for being AI creations.

The Pokémon Illustration Contest returned for 2024, giving fans a chance to have their art featured on a trading card. The guidelines state that the submissions must be for standard cards (not full art, for example) and show a Pokémon in a dynamic pose, maybe that was inspired by an attack or ability. One of the rules states that artwork must be "original" but that didn't stop many possible AI images from sneaking into the top 300, enraging Pokémon fans all over the internet.

Pokémon Fans Accuse Illustration Contest of Featuring AI Artwork

On Twitter/X, the official Pokémon TCG account announced that the top 300 quarter-finalists for the Illustration Contest have been selected. A link to the "glorious artwork" was shared, allowing users to scroll through all of the art, categorized by Pokémon type.

But upon a closer look at the art, many started to grow suspicious that many submissions were AI generated.

One X user pointed out that many users were blatantly breaking the contest guidelines by submitting multiple artwork under different names and also using AI art, which uses existing artwork as its inspiration for generating images. They showed some of the suspicious entries, noting that they were able to search for "Vaporeon swimming" and other terms and find similar existing images almost instantly.

"This is really ridiculous how they think putting AI trash like it's art while having artists putting sweat and tears in their work just to get overshadow with AI. SMH," said one angry fan.

Pokemon AI artwork

Said another TCG player: "Please reconsider all of the AI image entries. They’re not art. You will send such a loud message by disqualifying them and replacing them with art from true artists that had a chance stolen from them by people that cheated and broke the rules. Please Pokémon, do the right thing!"

The complaints continued to pour in, with Pokémon players saying they are "disgusted" by the amount of AI art that slipped in and others demanding the Pokémon Company "do better." Multiple users demanded that the AI entries be removed to make room for artists who they felt had spots stolen from them. Others said that if an AI submission won they'd be done with the game altogether.

In defense of Pokémon, some X users pointed out how hard it can be to spot AI art sometimes. They speculated that the judges were not able to see the "clear signs" and most likely didn't intentionally snub real artists. One fan discussed some of the telling signs of blatant AI artwork in a thread on X.

"And that's the thing, really. It's everything combined in an AI art piece, and that's why it can be so hard to explain to non-artists, and why it's important to not start witch hunts and only call things out when they're hurting others," they wrote, adding that the AI artist and the judges should both be ashamed.

Many applauded the user for the thread and for pointing out all of the tell-tale signs of possible AI forgery. However, Pokémon has yet to make any statements regarding the suspicious entries in the contest.

Olivia Richman


Olivia is a long-time esports journalist and editor who covers just about every game but has a deep love for the FGC. Her goal is to find community-driven stories that bring a new perspective to the esports scene. In the past, she has worked for Team Liquid, Rogue, Inven Global, Dot Esports, Upcomer, and more. Outside of esports, Olivia enjoys Kirby, Pokemon TCG, Fallout, and writing science fiction. She can be found trying out new foods, traveling, or hanging out with her two orange cats.  Fun fact: Olivia can do some video game and cartoon impressions!