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Yuki Fujimori

A Special Interview with Haruto Kobayashi, the winner of WCS 2014 Junior Division!

I'll bring you an exclusive interview with Haruto Kobayashi, the winner of WCS 2014 Junior division!

01/18/2015 by Yuki Fujimori

Hello readers!! I'm Yuki Fujimori from Japan, and this is my first article at Today I'll bring you an exclusive interview with Haruto Kobayashi, the winner of WCS 2014 Junior division!

Haruto started playing the game at 1st grade of elementary school, and now is 6th grade. I held this interview at Tokiwa, the cardshop where He playtested everyday before WCS. From this interview you will know how he thought about his deck, metagame and his WCS experience.
In addition, I also had special interviews with Haruto's father Kiyotaka Kobayashi and the owner of the card shop Tokiwa Wataru Suzuki. You can read them below Haruto's interview.
I hope you enjoy all of these special interviews!


Part.1 Interview with Haruto

You already had an interview with The Pokemon Company on its official blog(, so today I'd like to ask you what you didn't tell them in that interview. But first of all, congratulations!!

Thank you very much!

This must be what the most players are interested in: What made you win WCS? What do you think was the biggest reason you won?

It's hard to decide the biggest one. The deck I chose was just great and I was confident in it.

So, how did you build it?

Wataru Suzuki and Toshifumi Ohno helped me a lot. Wataru advised me to play the second copy of Latias EX.

Which card in your deck was the most powerful and effective in WCS? Latias EX?

Actually not. It definitely enables you to deal with every kind of decks including Pyroar, but makes your deck less consistent at the same time.

We generally did't play Tropical Beach and Scramble Switch in Plasma. How did you think about playng them in it?

They both worked very well in my deck. Beach was really effective in almost every situation!

With putting a Beach to your deck, you only played one Virbank and two Lasers. Didn't it cause any problems?

Never. Play skills can make it up. In fact, I finished 2-0 in almost all the matches!

You played Scramble Switch. Did you try other Ace Specs while playtesting?

Yes, I tried them, but I felt it the best way to set up Latias EX.

How long and much did you playtest before WCS?

About three hours every day since June. From half past 3 p.m. to over 6 p.m. But during weekends and holidays, I playtested all day long.

Six Japanese Junior players, including you, made the cut and went to the top 8 this time. Six out of eight. Why could they make this success?

I guess foreign players made light of the Japanese Juniors. Why Japanese Juniors succeeded was, after all, they were strong and well skilled.

Tell me more about it. What made them that strong and skilled?

When building a deck, fathers usually build a skelton list and sons make changes to it through playtesting. Foreign Juniors did't seem to practice enough to me. For example, during the matches in WCS, sometimes they even didn't know or remember the texts of the cards I used. I believe we Japanese Juniors practiced and playtested much more and harder than they did.

How did you think about the other Japanese Juniors who played in this WCS?

Skilled so much, but seemed they didn't tend to build thier decks by themselves. I often build decks by myself, and it helps me thinking widely.

You were playing Plasma for months, but what and how did you make changes to the Plasma you played in WCS?

I expected there would be some Pyroar decks, so after talking and discussing with my family, then I decided to add what could fight against it. I wondered what to put to my Plasma; Sharpedo, Latias, or Jellicent... I finally chose to play Latias, and Wataru Suzuki advised me to play two copies of it instead of one.

You also chose to play Tropical Beach with reducing Virbank and Lasers. Why and how did you do so?

Toshifumi Ohno advised me to play Beach in my Plasma. I was firstly doubtful of it, but after playtesting I felt it really good. With two Virbanks and four Lasers, like regular Plasma, you often have to keep OHKOing your opponent's Pokemons, but with having a Beach in your deck, you have other options you can't do with regular Plasma.

That was the first time for you to play in WCS. What was the most surprising thing for you in WCS? What was the biggest difference between WCS and Japanese tournaments?

The place where we played was surprisingly big, large, and noisy. But especially, the most amazing thing was that I could meet a lot of people coming from a lot of countries! Many foreign people came said to me "Congratulations!" after the final match. You just can't experience it in Japanese tournaments.

Then, what did you feel hard and difficult there?

Above all, the languages. The foreign players I played against sometimes didn't understand what I wanted to say even when pointing the cards. The judges and staffs helped me so much that I could manage to deal with such problems, but it'd have been much harder without their help.

In WCS 2014, every match was 50 minutes / best of three games. Was it good or bad for you?

It was great for me! Even if you lost a game, you still had enough chance to win the match. I didn't get so nervous during the matches thanks to that system.

Which do you prefer; the Japanese tournament system or the WCS one?

In Japan, every match is 30 minuites / best of one and your tournament result depends too much on luck. If you hope to do your best and get satisfied with your result, I think best of three system is better.

You will play in the Senior devision in WCS 2015. Do you have something you are worried about?

Almost all the Senior players are taller and bigger than me. That is, well, somehow intimidating for me. Some foreign Juniors I played against were sometimes slapping the table and shaking the chair when they faced a bad match-up or situation. If some Seniors do the same, that will be a bit frightening.

Lastly, tell me your resolution for WCS 2015.

I just want to get a better result than the Japanese Seniors did in WCS 2014!

Good luck with your 2015 season! Thank you very much, Haruto!


Part.2 Interview with Haruto's father


Firstly, let me ask you the same question I did to Haruto: What made him win WCS? What do you think is the biggest reason he won?

He practiced and playtested day by day, so I'm sure his win was the result of it.

I also strongly believe so. He said he playtested until every night. Weren't you worried about him?

I didn't want him to regret his result, so in order to "enjoy" WCS, we decided that we did our best even in practicing and playtesting.

He said he build his decks by himself. To be honest, is it true?

He dosen't want to listen to what others say, so even this time he at first built his Plasma by himself. For instance, before WCS, he even made a Plasma deck with Magnezone, but when he was playtesting with Hitoshi Omura via Skype, the Magnezone Plasma turned out it didn't work. Many local Master players, such as Wataru Suzuki and Toshifumi Ohno, gave him big advices and he finally made that list.

Let me ask you the same question I did to Haruto again: Six Japanese Junior players made the cut and went to the top 8 this time. Why could they make this success?

Simply because they were experienced and skilled so much. They, the Japanese Juniors and their parents together, are trying hard and hoping to do their best all the time.

How is about the circumstances around the Japanese Juniors? Was it a big factor for this success?

I feel the Japanese tournaments, both the official and the unofficial ones, are very hard but challenging for the Juniors playing seriously and competitively.

That was also the first time for you to attend WCS. What was the most surprising thing for you as a father? What was the biggest difference between WCS and Japanese tournaments?

I was impressed that the WCS Judges were always watching and taking care of the Juniors, trying not to leave them alone. That was what I felt better and different from the Japanese tournaments.

How do you think about the tournament system of WCS 2014? Didn't you feel 50-minute matches and 7 swiss rounds too long for Haruto?

It certainly was long, but while playtesting Haruto sometimes played seven successive matches and even continued playtesting after that. In addition, he plays very fast so I was not so worried about it.

How do you want Haruto to play for WCS 2015?

He will play in Senior division in WCS 2015. I hope he make the cut, but above all, I want him to talk and communicate with a lot of foreign players coming from different countries than he did this time.

Thank you for your precious opinions, Mr. Kobayashi!


Part.3 Interview with Wataru Suzuki, the owner of the card shop Tokiwa


What kind of boy is he? How is he different from other Junior players?

He really enjoys playing the game. Meanwhile he always looks eager the most to defeat opponents he plays against than anybody does.

Why did the Japanese Juniors make that success?

The system of the Japanese official tournaments is quite severe for them, but because of it, only the picked players take part in WCS. Moreover, the connections and relationships among Japanese players are solid and strong. I think that helped their success.

Recently, it seems the number of the Junior players is smaller than that of the Master players almost everywhere. How do you think we can make it much bigger?

As you know, there are so many kinds of TCGs and attractive board-games for children. Pokemon TCG, I think, is one of the most difficult and complexed games among them. So before realizing that Pokemon TCG is really an amazing game, children tend to move into other games such as ones having gaudy texts or easy ways to win.

It surely is. Pokemon itself is very famous for kids, but its TCG seems a bit difficult for them to start to play.

Especially in Japan, I feel the PTCG products except for its booster packs are not enough. Recently they've been releasing products for beginners, but I suppose those who usually don't go to TCG shops are hard to continue playing the game only by themselves. We need to make up circumstances where such players can enjoy playing it more.

Lastly, tell me your resolution for 2015.

We have an official tournament in Hokkaido this year, so I strongly hope to get an invitation for WCS 2015 and take part in it with Haruto!

Thank you very much Wataru!


Thank you for your reading!  I hope you got interested more in Japanese Juniors!!

Interviewed and translated by Yuki Fujimori a.k.a. うきにん

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