Sunday, August 30, 2015

Pokémon World Championships 2015: Masters TCG Winner

Jacob Van Wagner
The following is an interview with Jacob Van Wagner, winner of the TCG Masters division in this year’s Pokémon World Championships. Jacob used a deck that combines Blastoise with Archie’s Ace in the Hole.

Where are you from, and how did you get into playing the Pokémon TCG?
I’m from Happy Valley, Oregon. I got into the game when my little brother discovered a league close to our house. I was reluctant to go but once I went the first time (now six years ago), I was hooked immediately.

What made you choose to use this deck for Worlds?
I had tested the deck a bit prior to the event and wasn’t comfortable with the chance of dead hands, however my good friend and teammate Travis Nunlist thought that after the results of US nationals, this deck would be a solid play for worlds. I was still somewhat reluctant but decided I’d have more fun with this deck than anything else, and ended up playing the same list as him for day one.

This idea has been floating around for a while, but most players decided it wasn’t reliable enough. What changes did you make to the deck to improve your chances?
We (my testing team and I) wanted to focus primarily on consistency and just add in a couple of things for the matchups we expected. We were expecting a larger amount of night march so we included the copy of Wailord and Articuno. The day one list also included a copy of Bunnelby, which was helpful in getting back Superior Energy Retrievals, Computer Search, etc.. It also had the potential to deck someone out if their deck ever got done to just a few cards, but that situation never occurred.

What were some of the other Pokémon in your deck, and what were they used for?
The deck included Keldeo EX, Wailord EX, Articuno ROS, and Mewtwo EX as attackers, two copies of Exeggcute for their Propogation Ability, and two copies of Jirachi EX and Shaymin EX for added consistency. Wailord EX and Articuno were included as techs against Night March and Raichu variants. Wailord has a lot of hit points and can hit for 120 damage, which will knock out all of the Pokémon in both of those decks. Articuno’s Ancient Trait allows you to take two prize cards when you knock out a Pokémon, and flipping a single heads lets it deal sixty damage, which knocks out most attackers in Night March and knocks out Zubat/Pikachu in Raichu variants. Mewtwo EX is primarily helpful vs decks that also utilize Pokémon with large energy costs, such as other Keldeo EX, primal Groudon EX, and Mewtwo EX.

If you couldn’t get Blastoise out on the first turn, what did you wind up doing? Did you generally have to concede those games?
If I knew I wasn’t going to get Blastoise out that turn, I’d try to just get at least the water down on a Keldeo so I could start powering it up manually, and either try to prepare my hand for the Archie’s Ace in the Hole the next turn, or play a different supporter such as N or Professor Juniper. If neither was an option then I can’t imagine I’d win that game.

In the second game of the finals, you had to go through a lot to get Blastoise out on your first turn. What was your thought process?
I wanted to leave myself with more options to discard conservatively if I drew weird combinations of cards, such as Ultra Ball and Superior Energy Retrieval. After not hitting the Archies off of my first draw with Shaymin’s Set Up, I realized I just had to hope for some good luck and see an Ultra Ball or the Computer Search, as either of those would give me the options I needed.

Do you think a variant of this using Primal Kyogre could work in XY-On, or does the deck lose too much in the rotation?
I think the deck really thrives on the "unlimited" damage cap with Blastoise and Keldeo EX. It doesn’t seem to me like it’d have as much strength in XY-on.

What about Expanded? Do you think this deck will see play there?
I do think it has potential in Expanded. It would basically have the same weakness as it does now, the need to go first so you can get your combo off before your opponent has the chance to mess it up for you.

How does it feel to be a world champion?
It feels amazing. I’m honored that I’ve gotten to represent my country at the highest level and earn the title.

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