The Pokémon Company announced today that as a part of their ongoing 25th anniversary celebrations a special edition Professor Willow card will be released this summer. This release, which will also coincide with the 5th anniversary of Pokémon GO, will be the first time the mobile gaming professor appears in other Pokémon media and will be the first crossover between GO and the Trading Card Game (TCG). Currently little is known about the special edition card other than a promise for more information at the end of May. It was also teased in the announcement that this is the “first leg” of the collaboration, so it’s possible further cards featuring characters created for Pokémon GO are also planned. For now, let’s dive into some wild speculation about the Professor Willow card.
Professor cards fall under the Supporter category. These cards feature depictions of characters and generally give players the ability to alter the contents of their hands in different ways. A common action on Professor cards is to fully discard your hand a draw seven new cards, allowing a player to reset an unfavorable hand or search for a particular card to advance their play. While it seems safe to assume the Professor Willow card will follow a similar theme, hopefully a new, unique action will be introduced since this is also the first time a professor from a spin off property (i.e. not a main series game) has been featured on their own card.
Despite his frequent appearances in Pokémon GO to guide players through events, little is known about Willow. Though his home region is undisclosed, we know he used to be an assistant to Kanto’s Professor Oak. He has also expressed a love for exploring and being outdoors, which suits his backstory as an only child to an ecology researcher and outdoor enthusiast. He was involved in the storyline for the release of meltan and melmetal, featuring in The Two Professors alongside his mentor Professor Oak, the only time he has been voiced. Lastly, his birthdate is July 21, making him a Cancer.
To imagine a potential Professor Willow card, let’s start by looking at Professor Oak’s appearances in the TCG. As the original Pokémon professor, Oak has appeared on a number of cards over the years. His original card in the first base set, released in 1996 in Japan and 1999 in the United States, features the “discard your hand, then draw 7 cards” action which has become common for Professor cards, an unexciting direction for a new, special event card. One of the more powerful Oak cards currently in use allows a player to search their deck for three Pokémon of different types to play immediately. A “search” card like this would tie in well with Willow’s love of exploration, and also potentially make it very potent in the right deck. Interestingly, meltan also has a card featuring a search ability, allowing you to find and play more meltan cards to your bench for the cost of a metal energy. A player could quickly snowball an army of powerful melmetal with this ability. Giving Professor Willow the ability to search your deck for metal energy in a deck built around meltan’s multiply ability would be a powerful way to harken back to the discovery of the hex nut Pokémon.
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Lastly, the design of the Professor Willow card will also not be revealed until late May. Professor cards naturally often feature the characters in or near their laboratories. In this case, though, an outdoor setting, perhaps with his trusty camper nearby, would suit the card well. Regardless, the art on Pokémon cards rarely disappoints, so we can look forward to a stunning special edition card.
As expected, The Pokémon Company continues a slow drip of information regarding 25th anniversary events, products, and cross-platform collaborations. The fact that this is listed as a “first leg” of the tie in between TCG and GO is an exciting prospect. In the future, will the GO team leaders and Team GO Rocket team leaders make appearances? Only time will tell, but the incorporation of Pokémon GO into older, fully established Pokémon properties bodes well for the future of the mobile game.