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Fresh Mdws bros to play in nat’l video game tourney

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Two Fresh Meadows brothers’ passion for Pokémon paid off after they each won their division in a regional championship of the popular video game and are now headed to compete in a national tournament.

Brendon Zheng, 8, won the junior division of the competition held last week in Washington, D.C., while his brother, Aaron Zheng, 13, placed first in the senior division.

Aaron, a student at the Trinity School in Manhattan, said he has been a fan of the video game for five years and won eight straight matches to capture his division title.

The brothers now head to Indianapolis to compete in the national tournament, to be held next month.

“It’s just something to do in my spare time,” said Aaron, who also plays the piano and clarinet and participates in cross-country track, swimming, basketball and soccer. “There’s a lot of things to think about [in the game.] There’s a lot of strategy to it.”

The tournament rules differed from the basic structure of the role-playing video game, with participants being given six Pokémon and choosing four of them to battle their opponents with attacks like fire, water, gas, electricity and steel.

The brothers each won a Nintendo DS, an all-expenses paid trip to the national tournament in Indianapolis and a medal.

“I was really happy when I won,” said Brendon, a student at PS 188 in Bayside.

The 8-year-old said he has only been playing the game for two years.

“My brother told me some stuff about it and I became interested,” said Brendon, who is also a fan of the Pokémon card game.

Brendon said it took him a while to adjust to the game during the tournament, but “eventually I found out [how to beat the other participants] and caught on.”

Brendon said he practiced for a week before the tournament.

While he practiced playing on the Nintendo DS, a handheld game system, his brother used computer simulators to gear up for the tournament.

“It’s just a different feeling,” Aaron said about competing. “In the competition, people crack down from the pressure.”

If the brothers are successful in Indianapolis, they will compete in the international tournament, to be held in August in San Diego.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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