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Jay Lesage

"Interviewer's Questions" - Worlds Invites at a Glance

A two-part article that explores different perspectives of getting a World Championship invitation.

07/09/2018 by Jay Lesage

Hey there, 60Cards readers! With Worlds inching closer towards us, I figure I’d start up the conversation by interviewing players form different sets of knowledge and wisdom. These interviews are rather self-explanatory, as they detail players as they work towards a World Championship invite. This will be a two part article, as there are many perspectives that can be explored via the same set of interview questions.

Richard Halsall Interview

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I chose to interview Richard because he is a good friend of mine locally who was hungry for his invite within the first year. His fresh insight into the game is valuable, and here we can preserve his first year thoughts. 

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What is your name?

Richard Halsall. 

How old are you?

I am 30 years old, already a grandpa. 

Where do you play locally?

Comic Connection in Hamilton, Ontario. 

How long have you been playing Pokemon?  

I’ve been playing for one year. If you count all the way back from base set, I’ve been active for three years total. 

How did you get into Pokemon?

It’s always been something I’ve enjoyed since being a kid. Ever since watching the Pokémon X and Y series, I’ve wanted a way to get more involved into the game. I looked up some stuff on YouTube, and watched Alex Wilson’s finals match against John Kettler at a Regionals, and ever since then I was hooked.

How often do you practice?

I practice 2-3 hours a week, and I practice at league every Tuesday.

Do you have any weird practice strategies?

I do solitaire hands whenever I’m by myself. I always try to face my deck’s worst matchups the most — to me, if you can manage yourself mentally to a 50-50 against that matchup, you can be confident in your deck selection going into an event. When I am away because of my job, I practice more because I don’t have a chance to play face-to-face with people. I need to retain my sharpness by practicing 4-5 hours when I’m away so I can understand board states better. Staying sharp and being mentally there is key. 

How many CP do you have right now?

406 CP.

What decks got you to this point in the season?

In the start, I relied a lot on Golisopod-GX variants to get my first CP; I was a fan of Acerola and chaining First Impressions. Gardevoir was a huge threat back then, and keeping it at bay with damage healers were huge. The end of Q2 to where we are, I relied a lot on Zoroark/Lycanroc; I liked this deck because it caught my eye as the best ZoroPod counter coming out of European Internationals. Ever since the deck has come out as an archetype, it has evolved immensely, and can pressure aggression consistently. 

So we have our World Championship Invite. How did we get there?

A lot of grinding. I got points at 4/6 Regionals, and had very consistent finishes throughout League Cups. I played in around 20 League Cups throughout the season, and managed to put up several Top 8s at those. 

Were there ever moments when you doubted you could get an invite?

Oh yeah, always. After my terrible Hartford Regionals performance, I was in the roughs for sure. I was also let down in my hometown Regionals in Toronto. It was always after a bad Regionals performance when I felt down. The temporary morale drop fuels you into making yourself a better player, and push yourself towards an invite. I usually would get over that kind of stuff in a day. 

Would you say it’s healthy to bomb a Regionals once in a while?

Yes! Especially as a new player who can go on hot runs sometimes, it’s humbling to be put back into a mindset that you have a lot to learn.  

What was your most successful moment? 

The win-and-in set that I faced in Memphis. I started off the tournament 0-1-1 and clawed my way back into a scenario where I could make Top 32 if I won my final round. Unfortunately, I got absolutely destroyed by Yoshi Tate’s Wishiwashi-GX deck, which made me ineligible to make it to Day 2 of the event. It meant a lot to me because I was very prepared for that tournament, and I tested a lot alongside my partner Chris Venier. I had a lot to prove after coming Top 256 in Fort Wayne, and then bombing Hartford. There was a lot on the table. 

What was your biggest learning experience? 

My most humbling learning experience has been every time I have faced a “more established player”. For example, when I played [Jay Lesage] at a League Cup in Oshawa, I watched every move [you] made in a meticulous fashion. It’s always just the operation of cards the players play in, the strategy, the tactic, and everything coming together to give you the most optimal chance of winning. Another situation was when I played Sam Chen at Collinsville, and he had an unfavourable matchup against me. Even though it was favourable for myself to beat him, he was able to maneuver his way through the matchup in order to win.

What’s your biggest goal as a player?

To try to establish myself on the Ontario/Canada Pokemon scene. My first big goal was to get my World Championship invite, but going forward now that I’ve obtained it, I’d like to have a solid placing at the World Championships. My short term goal is to make Day 2 at my first World Championships.

What do you think of when you hear World Championships?

I think of the best of the best of Pokemon. For those who don’t travel a lot, it’s a chance to make new friends, see a new city, and explore a new scene. It’s great to test your skill against the “elite” within Pokemon. Take for example, I was a spectator last year at Anaheim Worlds 2017 and I had a blast.

Would you say being a spectator is worth it?

Especially if you’re new to the scene, or if you just love Pokemon as a whole, it’s an amazing experience. Walking around, I learned different practice regimes, different relationships from countries, and see new strategies that I’ve never seen before. Not a lot of people can say they’ve watched the best play, let alone Top 16 members from their own Rating Zone. It was phenomenal. 

What are you most excited for at the World Championships?

Exploring Nashville, and really holding my own against the world. 

Any shoutouts?

Of course, shoutouts to you for interviewing me, always a pleasure. Shoutouts to my buddies on DrampaFree, and to the community as a whole for letting me play the game I love. Special shoutout to the Ulians, for being my travel fam! Follow me on Twitter @RichHalsall24 to see me on my journey throughout Worlds!

 

Jacob Lesage Interview

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I interviewed myself as a Master who has made T16 NA effectively three times, and now has had to come down and play a regular season due to real life obligations. It’s interesting to see my own contrast in playing ability.

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What is your name?

Jacob Lesage 

How old are you?

I am 21 years old. 

Which area do you play in? 

I play in Barrie, Ontario, Canada, just outside of Toronto. 

How long have you been playing?

I’ve been playing for 15 years!  

How did you start playing Pokemon?

I got into Pokémon when my brother gave me a Suicune card for my 7th birthday. I ended up eating it and telling him how much I hate Pokémon. The next day, I apologized and asked him more about the cards. Later on that month, we picked up an old Tutorial Box Set (like a really old disc software) and popped it into our computer. Ever since that day, I’ve loved playing Pokémon with my family! 

How often do you practice? 

I practice almost every day for upwards of 5 hours. It’s useful that I coach, because I can earn money while theoretically “testing”. It’s a nice bonus to the job.

Does coaching help you with your game? 

Yes, coaching helps immensely. I’m able to constantly put myself in a state of “Pokemon thinking”, which allows me to handle burning out at the end of a long day. It also helps me to notice the fundamentals of playing a game that we play over-and-over constantly. Being able to share your thoughts with other world-class players, or even novices is excellent to get more insights into an idea. 

Do you have any weird practice strategies?

Coaching is the biggest ace up my sleeve. Like I said in my previous article, sometimes I use negative conditioning with an elastic. Other times I’ll just go ahead and try and win “x” number of games before I sleep. All depends how hungry I am for a win!

What decks got you to this point in the season?

I’ve been all over the place with decks, but Buzzwole, Wailord, and ZoroPod have gotten me the most amount of points throughout the season. I love switching it up constantly — it keeps me happy throughout otherwise stale formats. 

How many CP do you have right now? 

349, just one CP shy of a League Cup win to get my invite! Ugh. Gotta Top 512 at NAIC for my invite. 

That’s a fair bit of CP. How did we get there? 

I haven’t played too much this season, and I’ve challenged myself to play my absolute minimum to get my invite. I’ve played in four Regionals (Fort Wayne, Hartford, Dallas, and Toronto). I score T32 at 2 of them, and made T64 at one of them. I also have a bunch of League Cup finishes, but didn’t attend many during Quarter 2 and Quarter 3. As a result of this, I didn’t max my finished due to “real life” obligations. 

Did you ever doubt that you’d get your invite? 

I started to doubt myself getting an invite before I attended Toronto Regionals. I whiffed making T32 by tying my win-and-in to Charlie Lockyer at Dallas Regionals: we had both just played a long Wailord mirror match, and were unable to finish the series as a result of our deck’s slow nature. This made me lose my confidence, despite starting off 6-0 at this Regionals. How does a person blow a 6-0 lead? That’s realistically what I asked myself. 

Is it healthy to bomb a Regionals?

It’s healthy to bomb a Regionals at some points — it’s key to keep your mental afloat. A bombing means that you were either unlucky, unprepared, or careless. If you haven’t bombed a Regionals in a while, I highly encourage you that when it happens, you embrace it; otherwise, it may be a cold comedown.  

What was your biggest learning experience? 

My biggest learning experience this season was entering Toronto Regionals with little to no experience with Buzzwole/Lycanroc. I was initially going to play Greninja at the tournament, but decided against it the morning before because of some advice I received from Jimmy Pendarvis. At the tournament, I asked Ryan Sabelhaus the best way to beat the BuzzRoc mirror, to which he told me his secret — from there on, my BuzzRoc mirror matches were a breeze!

What’s your biggest goal as a player?

To be an idol for the future wave of Pokémon. Yeah, I’d love to be a World Champion, but I’d rather become a cemented legend within the Pokémon community for time to come. Most specifically, continue to further my Canadian legacy.

What do you think of when you hear World Championships?

I think of the greatness that comes from several cultures. I think of the people who trained for years to get to this point, and it’s the highest pinnacle of Poke-excellence! I also think of all the good memories I’ve had at previous World Championships. I lastly think of all the possible prizes and what awesome things I could do with the cash.

What are you most excited for at the World Championships?

I’m most excited for the friendships that I’ll get to celebrate, as well as enjoying new ones. The social aspect to the game is thrilling, and I like seeing new places. It’s a great cultural place!

Any shoutouts?

Shoutouts to my brother Zach for getting me into the game, and shoutout to Rich Halsall and Mark Dizon for really supporting me this year although I haven’t been prominent in the Canadian scene. Shoutout to all of my students within the PokeAcademy (and their parents), as well as my father, Marcel Lesage. Shoutouts to everybody who has ever supported me, or continues to show support. Thanks to the community, my dreams are possible.

 

Michael Pramawat Interview

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I decided to interview a friend of mine, Michael Pramawat, because he is one of the legends of the game. He obviously holds some secrets as to why he has been top dog for so long. He talks about what it’s like being lonely in the Top 4 of NA.

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What is your name?

Michael Pramawat.

How old are you? 

I am 30 years old. 

Where do you play?

I play in Indianapolis.

How long have you been playing? 

I have been playing for I guess 17 years?  

How did you get into Pokemon?

My school friends had the Pokémon games for the Gameboy, and they got me onto the video game. From there, I naturally progressed to seeing Pokemon cards at school. We didn’t even have any rules, like my friend had a Diglett card. From there, we got theme decks, and found a Pokemon league, and went from there.  

How many CP do you have right now?

Right now I have 1884 currently 3rdin NA. I finished 5th last season, because of two players in T16 NA popping off at NAIC. 

Wow! How did we amass this much CP?

So umm, I went to every major event in the US and all the Internats. I also went to Vancouver, and I got points at all of those tournaments. Sometimes I’d finish 5-2-2 and scrape together points, but at the very least I’d walk out with something. It also helped that I won two Regionals this season. I got a few T32s and T16s this season which helped a lot. 9that Madison was a little disappointing, but it is what it is. 

Were there ever moments when you doubted you could get T16?

It helped a lot I that I was able to win the first regionals of the season. Personally for me it’s been more about staying in the top four. I’ve been in the top four for the entire season. There were moments where I thought it was shakey to stay in top four going into Brazil because I knew I had pressure to perform well in order to retain my place, and I ended up making Top 32 there which let me secure my top four spot going into NAIC. There was also concern in Australia but that was because the top four was dominated by myself, Igor, and Azul. Joey Ruettiger came flying in with so many top finishes around that time, and almost took my spot. 

Did you bomb an event this year at all?

I bombed some Cups and stuff, but I was fortunate to always play a safe deck for Regionals tier events and above. There were moments where it was close though! For example, in Toronto, Russell Laparre convinced me to play one of Drew Bennet’s (DBK) decks in the form of Zoroark/Ninetales. Needless to say, I barely scraped by. I managed to put together a 5-2-2 finish with the deck, by playing at my absolute best. I was worried because I’ve had a streak of earning points at regionals, and I was thinking “man, this might be the one”! Once you’ve reached a certain skill level, you can relatively bank on earning 5 wins. 

What was your most successful moment?

It was definitely my first regional win this season with Night March. So, I made day 2 with a 7-1-1 record, and it was also a friend’s birthday that night so we went out and didn’t get back in until 4 or 5 in the morning. So, we had to play that day and I only got two hours of sleep. I basically chugged a bunch of Red Bull that morning, and went off to play. I was 3-0-1, ID’d my last round, went back to the gas station, bought more Red Bull to stay awake, and ended up winning the top cut rounds hyped up on Red Bull while absolutely brain dead. It was the funniest and most redeeming round for me. 

What was your biggest learning experience? 

My biggest learning experience is to take what people say with more criticism about what is good and what is bad. There’s a couple tournaments where I just played what people told me to play. Since there’s so many tournaments back-to-back, you just start to listen to other people since you don’t have the time. For example, take DBK’s Zoroark deck — that didn’t go well. In Brazil, Xander Pero convinced me to play Espeon/Garbodor — the deck also felt subpar in my eyes. The only reason I saw success with Espeon was due to gameplay errors on my opponents' side which resulted in penalties.  

What’s your biggest goal as a player?

The biggest goal is to win Worlds. That’s something that has escaped me once before when I got second in 2010. I’ve already won an Internationals before, which was really cool, but I want to win Worlds. 

What do you think of when you hear World Championships?

I think about the most prestigious of tournaments — it’s the only place where you know you’ll be playing alongside Japanese players (which is cool because usually they’re secluded in their own player zone). You have a chance to be remembered forever.

What are you most excited for at the World Championships? 

Some of the coolest things as an attendee is seeing what is in store for next year (like the sneak peeks of the new set/video games). The swag is also really cool; I love the Worlds exclusive stuff. As a player I’m zeroed in on the tournament itself.

How often do you practice?

I try to practice at least 1 day a week, but I’ll generally theory a lot independently. I think about these things constantly — I’d say I theory for about 10 hours a week at least. 

Do you have any weird practice strategies? 

One thing I like to do with myself since I end up on stream a lot, is to check out my old games and see if my thought process matches what I did. If it doesn’t, I start wondering what happened there, and then begin to criticize myself. 

Do you have any advice for somebody aiming to be the next Pramawat?

I would say the biggest thing is being self-aware that you’re always making mistakes. It’s not a bad thing! I know I make little mistakes all the time, and they are happening. The best thing you can do is not deflect blame and to recognize that you’re making mistakes even though you don’t see it. You need to know that in order to improve yourself. You’d rather try to play as perfectly as you can and lose, rather than lose because you overthink messing up.  

What decks got you to this point in the season? 

The big two shoutouts are Night March and Zoro/Lycanroc, with Night March being the deck I got the most points with. I estimate it netted me at least 350 CP, maybe more? I’ve gotten basically one whole invite off of just Night March. I also got a bunch of points with Gardevoir and Volcanion, both netting me 100 points each. I got a few points with Drampa/Garbodor, as well as Buzzwole. Greninja got me a decent chunk of points too, maybe around 70 CP!

Any shoutouts?

Shoutout to my sponsor team ARG, follow me on twitter @michaelpramawat. I post tournament stuff and what’s going on with me. Thanks to TCEvolutions for giving me some really cool dice, and they’re some of my favourite to use at tournaments. 

Conclusion

Well there you have it! Until the next piece of my article, you'll have to enjoy the above interviews. See you next time readers, and remember — get lucky, and run hot! 

-Jay Lesage

#PlayPokemon  

[+21] okko


 

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