He caught 'em all, now what? Toronto Pokemon master snags all available characters in North America
'Forget P90X:' Pokemon Go player catches 142 creatures, loses 25 pounds in the process
Three and a half weeks, 266 kilometres and 25 pounds later, Roberto Vazquez says he's the first Toronto Pokemon Go player to catch all 142 Pokemon available in North America, found around the Greater Toronto Area.
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After posting on social media and asking other players if they had accomplished the same feat, Vazquez, 24, feels confident in giving himself the title.
The wildly popular Pokemon Go virtual reality game works by sending users around the city to capture creatures called Pokemon, which pop up on a player's screen when they visit certain locations.
"I'm a little scared to check my phone bill," the professional photographer said, after scouring the city to catch them all.
"At first, I was just playing around just like everyone else," he said, beginning his journey on July 8. "But as I got closer to the actual number, I just got more dedicated to actually finishing."
On one journey, Vazquez tracked a fire character, Charmander, to the University of Toronto's Scarborough campus, where he had to contend with nature to capture his prey.
"There's a woods in the back of the school," he said. "That's basically the only place in the city you can catch a lot of them. I remember I would go there, and come night time, it's all dark, so you're basically in the woods at 10 o'clock at night and you can't even see … so there would be 20, 30, 40 people with flashlights on their heads just trying to look around, trying to capture these guys while you have coyotes, deer running wild there."
His most exciting moment, though, was the day he caught a Snorlax, basically a huge, panda-like character.
Within the game, players only have a certain amount of time to catch each character once their tracker informs them a Pokemon is nearby. One day, while waiting in a certain area, he saw a rush of people go past him.
"I knew just by looking at my phone that if it was a big group over there ... I knew he would definitely be there," he said. "So I basically had to run three, four blocks just to make sure that I had him."
The game has involved a lot of running, according to Vazquez, taking him to every region of the city and making him walk 20 to 40 kilometres a day. It was painful at times, but he says he also lost 25 pounds along the way.
"You go out, you get to see the city, you get to meet people and you don't think about that until you're home and you're ready to sleep."
"Forget P90X," he said, referring to the boot camp-style exercise program.
Catching all these Pokemon has also helped with his career.
Vazquez says his travels throughout the GTA have brought him to surprise locations, sometimes perfect spots for his fashion and commercial photography shoots.
"Right beside Mount Pleasant there's a little park, and they actually have this huge, huge, huge bridge with a bunch of graffiti and stuff," he said. "It's definitely a place I wouldn't be walking around unless I started playing the game, and so I got to utilize the space. It fit so well with the actual concept, just the structure of the building itself on the path to the bridge. It was just beautiful."
'I guess I have to start a new account'
But of course, the best moment of the journey was catching the final character, number 142.
Players have to catch the same weaker character several times, along with "candies," in order to evolve the Pokemon into its more powerful counterpart. Sometimes you have to catch that first version 25 to 100 times before it will transform, according to Vazquez.
He was on the hunt for a Venusaur, the upgraded version of a Bulbasaur.
"I knew where he was going to normally show up because certain characters will show up in certain areas throughout the day," he said. "This one character I basically had to stay at Allan Gardens for two, three hours just for him to show up.
"I was determined," he said. "I was like, 'You know what, if I have to stay here 10 hours I definitely will because I need just one more character.'"
And now that he has caught all he can, Vazquez has plans to do a little travelling. Other rare Pokemon characters can only be caught on certain continents.
Looking at the Pokedex photos above, you'll see Vazquez has "seen" 143 Pokemon, a stat players say essentially pinpoints a cheater. Since there are only 142 characters in North America, a player cannot see 143.
Vazquez admits he had a friend in Asia attempt to get him a Pokemon unavailable here, but he received a warning. He decided he'd rather not lose his account, so he'd save the glory for when he catches the character himself.
Conveniently, he's headed to Asia for work in the near future.
"Might as well try to hit two birds with one stone, right?"
But in the meantime, "I guess I have to start a new account."