Monday, September 7, 2015

Pokémon World Championships 2015: Juniors TCG Winner

Rowan Stavenow
The following is an interview with Rowan Stavenow, winner of the TCG Juniors Division in this year’s Pokémon World Championships. Rowan used a Landorus/Bats deck in this year’s tournament.

Where are you from, and how did you get into playing the Pokémon TCG?
I am from the Toronto area in Ontario, Canada. I first got into Pokémon with my friends at school-they were trading the cards and I though they looked really neat. My brother Grayson also thought they were cool, so we started to learn how to play at home. When we went to the local card store (Comic Connection) in Oakville, we found out that they had a league on Saturdays and some players there helped us learn more.

What made you choose to use this deck for Worlds?
I am familiar with Landy Bats and have played it for about eight months. I like decks with options, and I feel that my deck has lots of them. For example, I can snipe Pokémon on the bench before they evolve, or I can deal heavy damage to the active. Also, I thought the meta would have lots of Manectric, which of course would be a good match-up for me.

What did other folks think of your choice?
One of my friends was talking to my dad at the beginning of the tournament. He asked about what deck I was playing and said “Did Rowan bring ‘Old Faithful’?” Another friend was always saying “I can’t believe you are playing Landy Bats”, or “you are playing Landy Bats again?” Well, I wasn’t the only one to bring Landy Bats to worlds-turns out it is a pretty good deck.

“Bats” decks have to make sure they place damage counters when and where they will be most effective. What are some general rules you use to decide whether to evolve?
I generally ask myself these three questions:
1. Will the bat get knocked out if un-evolved?
2. Does my opponent have a large threat (something with potential to do a lot of damage) in play?
3. Can I get a knock out if I evolve the bat (bench snipe)?

If the answer to any one of those questions is “yes”, I will generally evolve the bat.

In the finals, you were paired against a Primal Groudon deck. What was your overall strategy for that matchup?
Well, to be honest, I didn’t really expect to get to the finals. In the Top Four I was matched up against one of my friends. He is a great player, and he was playing Toad/Bats, which is a really hard deck for me to face, but I managed to get past it.

Now, as far as the finals matchup, during Swiss matches on Saturday I encountered two other Primal Groudon decks. My overall strategy was to snipe the Groudon while they were on the bench and before they became active. When they did become active my hope was that they would have enough damage on them so that my Hawlucha could one-hit them. I also didn’t want the Groudon to knock out any of my EX Pokémon. Giving up two prizes was something I wanted to avoid, and since Hawlucha can do so much damage for a single energy while only giving up one prize, I felt that was the way to go. I won both of those matches, so felt I had a good strategy in place, and it worked for the first game of the finals as well. I was going to use that strategy in the second game, but didn’t really need to because my opponent drew dead, and his Computer Search was prized.

Your finals opponent defeated a deck similar to yours in the Top Four. What did you do differently to get the win?
I tried to use Hammerhead as soon as possible, before he could get a Hard Charm on his Groudon.
The Top Four player attacked with Bunnelby. Dealing damage to the Groundon while they were still on the bench is a key strategy to win the match-up. While Bunnelby is attacking, no damage is done to the Groudon.

Any other tips?
The ability of Wobbuffet (or Silent Lab) to turn off Shaymin’s Set Up Ability was a difficult part of the match-up. The Set Up Ability is a great help in drawing cards and increasing the overall consistency of my deck. There were a few times that I couldn’t use Set Up, and had to hold my Shaymin in my hand. During the tournament, I saw other players making the mistake of benching Shaymin, while its Ability was shut down. I tried really hard to be aware of this.

I notice that when taking multiple prizes for knocking out an EX, you usually take prizes that are not adjacent. Is there a reason for that?
In some cases my deck may have been clumped, meaning two side-by-side prizes could be the same.

What does it feel like to be a world champion?
It feels unbelievable to be a world champion in my first year playing Pokémon.

Did you do anything else at worlds (or in Boston)?
On Friday, I was fortunate enough to win my first three matches. After that, I didn’t have to play anymore, so I could spend the afternoon playing in side events with my friends. I also went to the fifth floor of the Sheraton hotel as often as I could to trade cards and test matchups. On Sunday, after the closing ceremonies, I went on a Duck Tour of Boston with my family.

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