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Zach Lesage

Asking the Players - How Do You Play Pokemon?

Zach interviews players with differing amounts of Championship Points and seasonal goals in search of the answer to an often unanswered question: how do you play Pokemon?

04/03/2018 by Zach Lesage

Why Do We Play Differently?

Hey 60 Cards readers, have you ever asked why some players play the game differently than others? Perhaps some of you only go to a single Regional Championships per year while your favourite player travels around the globe weekly. Looking at the game as it grows into competitive powerhouse is a subject than I haven't covered before so I am excited to bring a unique group of players to share their travel plans, their strategy to obtain Championship Points for this season, and an interesting collection of decks! While every player is different, we all enjoy playing the game as much as we can so without wasting time, lets jump into the first interviewee, 60 Cards very own Caleb Gedemer:

Caleb Gedemer Interview

Name: Caleb Gedemer

Location: Wisconsin, United States

Age: 19

Years Playing: Six Competitive Seasons

CP Total: 1215 CP

Favorite Pokemon: Shaymin

What was the last major event that you have played in? 

The 2018 Bogota, Colombia Special Event.

What made you decide to play in that event? 

It was a great opportunity to give myself a potential boost into the Top Four of the North America Rankings. Also, I was already feeling solid about Top Sixteen of the North America Rankings, but wanted to get a leg up after missing Championship Points at 2018 Oceania Internationals in Sydney, Australia.

What deck did you end up using? Feel free to share a list!

Why did you choose that deck?

It is the most consistent deck and it gives me the best opportunity to out-play opponents.

How did you do?

1st Place.

Why are you at your current amount of Championship Points?

My dedication to the circuit is the reason why I have the current Championship Points that I do so far this season I have finished around 20th the past three seasons, missing the Top Sixteen of the North America Rankings, and I decided that I would fully committed to this season. I usually get burnt-out midway through, but I’ve promised myself I’m going to go to literally everything that I can. I am a strong player and I believe I can earn a spot in the T16 if I don’t get burnt-out. I have a coaching cliental and have placed well at the largest of events that I have played in.

What is the furthest you have ever travelled for a Pokemon tournament? Why did you travel so far? 

The 2018 Oceania Internationals in Sydney, Australia in February! I had a paid trip and wanted to push my boundaries to discover what my body could physically handle as far as traveling goes.

What other major events are you planning on going to for the rest of the season? Why?

We’ll have to wait and see!?! I can say that I am vying to give myself the best chance to make the Top Four of the North America Rankings now!

Do you believe you will land within the T4/T16 of North America? Why?

Yes, I am fully committed this year and playing the Pokemon TCG competitively has become my full-time job this season.

Is there anyone who you would like to shoutout or are there any parting comments you would like to leave?

My girlfriend is an amazing woman and thanks to all my friends from the Dump and Team DDG, my lovely sponsors, too!

Thank you for all of your responses and best of luck for the rest of the season!

Jay Lesage Interview

Name: Jay Lesage

Location: Ontario, Canada

Age: 21

Years Playing: Eleven Years

CP Total: 257 CP

Favorite Pokemon: Jirachi

What was the last major Event that you have played in? 

The 2018 Dallas, Texas Regional Championships!

What made you decide to play in that event? 

My brother, Zach Lesage, convinced me to join him on his trip to try and get some Championship Points for my invite!

What deck did you end up using? Feel free to share a list!

Why did you choose that deck?

I chose Wailord-EX because I enjoy playing deck-out decks and I felt confident in my match-ups going into the tournament. At this point in the meta game, Wailord-EX was considered favourable versus Zoroark-GX variants and Night March decks.

How did you do?

I went 6-2-1 after starting 6-0-0 in the tournament to fall within the T64 of the tournament after hitting some rough matches in the seventh and and eighth round of swiss. I faced a Wailord-EX mirror match in the last round which resulted in an expected tie. I was slightly disappointed with my run, after starting out 6-0-0, but I couldn’t do anything differently.

Why are you at your current amount of Championship Points?

I have taken a slight step back from previous seasons, where I was Top Sixteen of the North American Rankings for the past three years, because of school. I have ultimately used strategies this season that I have picked up from becoming a veteran player over time to obtain my current Championship Point total.

What is the furthest you have ever travelled for a Pokemon tournament? Why did you travel so far? 

The 2017 Oceania Internationals in Melbourne, Australia in February of last year if I remember correctly! I had a paid trip from TPCI and I wanted to diversify my international experiences playing the game. My personal goal for the 2016-2017 season was to attend all four International Championships and I am grateful that I was able to complete my goal!

What other major events are you planning on going to for the rest of the season? Why?

I am planning on going to the 2018 Toronto, Ontario Regional Championships and the 2018 North American International Championships in Columbus, Ohio to round off my season. Toronto is a short drive for me and the North American International Championships lands on my birthday weekend! 

Do you believe you will hit your invite? Why? 

Yes! I have enough major tournaments and League Cup points available to me to obtain my invite! I have played this game for over a decade so I am used to feeling pressure throughout the season to perform.

Is there anyone who you would like to shoutout or are there any parting comments you would like to leave?

Yeah of course, this interview has reminded of a lot of memories of myself playing the game with my friends and family; such a long journey. Shoutouts to Zach Lesage for introducing the game to me and shaping me into the player / person I am today. I also couldn't have done it without the personal bond between my friends and my father for their their continuous support of my passion for the game!

Thank you for all of your responses and best of luck for the rest of the season!

Ryan Allred Interview

Name: Ryan Allred

Location: South Carolina, United States

Age: 27

Years Playing: Three Years

CP Total: 834 CP

Favorite Pokemon: Alakazam


What was the last major Event that you have played in? 

The 2018 Portland, Oregon Regional Championships

What made you decide to play in that event? 

I can't afford to miss any major events to stay in the Top Sixteen of the North American Rankings race. 

What deck did you end up using? Feel free to share a list!

Why did you choose that deck?

The deck has a strong matchup against any Zoroark-GX deck and it seemed like the best build when played against other Lucario-GX decks.

How did you do?

5-4-0, a very disappointing finish. I don't feel like I practiced enough with the deck and the lack of preparation meant I didn't play as well as I could have.

Why are you at your current amount of Championship Points?

I have been able to attend every North American Regional Championship and every International Championships so far this season. I work a 9AM-5PM job Monday through Friday and a side job a couple nights a week. Fortunately, I have managed to make Day Two pretty consistently at those Regionals, but I completely bombed both International Championships so far. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a deep Regionals run yet, so I'm sitting at fifteenth or sixteenth right now for the Top Sixteen of the North American Rankings race. My job is fairly accommodating to my travel, but I do have to hustle to make all of the time off work.

What is the furthest you have ever travelled for a Pokemon tournament? Why did you travel so far? 

The 2018 Oceania International Championships in Sydney, Australia. I had the stipend to attend from being within the Top Sixteen of the North American Rankings, so it drastically reduced the cost to attend and it was one of the best opportunities to earn Championship Points all year. I didn't earn any, but it sure would have been nice to nab some.

What other major events are you planning on going to for the rest of the season? Why?

I'm attending every remaining International Championships and every Regional Championships in North America. Like I said above, with my position in the Top Sixteen of the North American Rankings, I just can't afford to miss anything!

Do you believe you will land within the T4/T16 of North America? Why?

I believe I will land within Top Sixteen of the North American Rankings. We are nearing the finish line and my position in the rankings is tenuous, but I only need to maintain my current performance to keep my place. I don't see it as an absolute certainty, but I believe I will most likely still finish within Top Sixteen of the North American Rankings.

Is there anyone who you would like to shoutout or are there any parting comments you would like to leave?

Shoutouts to PRO-Play Games and Ultra PRO, the best sponsors in the game! Shoutouts to my teammates Zach Lesage and Danny Altavilla who are fighting with me to stay in the Top Sixteen of the North American Rankings

Thank you for all of your responses and best of luck for the rest of the season!

Melanie Cousineau Interview

Name: Melanie Cousineau

Location: Québec, Canada

Age: Old enough to have a fifteen year old daughter and thirteen year old son

Years Playing: In my second full season playing competitively and about three years knowing that Pokémon is actually a real game! 

CP Total: 234 CP

Favorite Pokemon: Pikachu


What was the last major event that you have played in?

The last big event that I went to was the 2018 Regional Championships in Charlotte, North Carolina.

What made you decide to play in that event? 

I wasn’t really planning to go to that tournament because of how far it was from my home but I actually decided to go because my boyfriend and I really needed Championship Points. 

What deck did you end up using? Feel free to share a list!

Why did you choose that deck?

Choosing a deck is always a battle for me because I'm not that experienced with making a "meta call". Since I have started playing, I always play a deck that I have play tested for a while and that makes me comfortable in my deck choice. It usually boils down to Trevenant BREAK in Expanded (for last year) and Volcanion-EX in Standard. Most of my Championship Points I have earned this year is by playing Volcanion-EX, but for Charlotte, I didn't think it was a good play anymore. Fortunately, my boyfriend showed me a list that I would like, the Buzzwole-GX deck with twenty energy. It appeared to be a good choice! 

How did you do?

I went 5-3-1 to place 166th (T256) in Charlotte to get another 30 Championship Points.

Why are you at your current amount of Championship Points?

I got my other Championship Points from coming T128 in Hartford, CT with Volcanion-EX. I also received Championship Points by making Top 4 at two League Cups in the first quarter with Espeon-GX / Garbodor and Greninja BREAK respectively. I actually maxed out during the second quarter by winning two League Cups with Volcanion-EX. Unfortunately, I am having a hard time now on my third quarter, but I am working on it! I have a son in the Senior Division who got me in to this and he already has his invite, but still enjoys to play so we travel to as many event we can. I have a full time job, but recently found a second job, in which I work one or two nights more a week, to help with all the extra expenses… It helps with the extra! We always drive to events (instead of flying) and offer rides to friends to help share the expenses for Pokemon trips - it diminishes the cost significantly! I also try to bring packed lunches to help offset the food costs at tournaments. 

What is the furthest you have ever travelled for a Pokemon tournament? Why did you travel so far? 

Collinsville, IL was the furthest Regional Championships that I been to, clocking it in at a seventeen hour drive from my home. Additionally, Charlotte, NC was a solid fifteen hour drive, Fort Wayne, IN was a long twelve hour drive, and we will most likely do Roanoke, VA for the same distance we as well. Hartford, CT was a walk in the park at a measly seven hours and I am excited for the upcoming Toronto, ON Regionals, my closest Regionals, which is still a four and a half hour promenade. From living on the Eastern side of Canada, we don't have any choice except travelling far if we want to be competitive at all. For my League Cups, I am lucky enough to have a lot of stores within a two to three hour range. Almost every weekend is dedicated to this passion that my son, boyfriend and I share.

What other major events are you planning on going to for the rest of the season? Why?

As I stated above, I am planning on going to the 2018 Roanoke, VA Regional Championships in about a months time. I want to go to this event to try and obtain my World Championship invite.

Do you believe you will hit your invite? Why?

I really hope that I can hit the 166 Championship Points that I am missing to have my invite to be able to share this experience with my son! In the past two years, I was a spectator, but this year I want to be at Worlds as a competitor! I want my son to be proud of me and I know he will remember what a wonderful time we shared in his teenage years going on our Pokemon adventure.

Is there anyone who you would like to shoutout or are there any parting comments you would like to leave?

I would really like to thank my son Étienne Dupuis. for introducing this game to me. Another shoutout to a very special man who helped me grow in the game and makes me believe that I can actually be a real player, not just a “PokeMom”, a man who I ended up falling in love with, Zachary Fortier. A big thanks to all The Green Tea Underground members for your help with play testing and lending cards! The Toronto and Montreal guys, I love you all. And I have to say that there is one person who really inspired me...who made me believe that parents could be good too in this game, I met him in Toronto three years ago, a great PokeDad, thank you Rob Davies!

Thank you for all of your responses and best of luck for the rest of the season!

Frank Percic Interview

Name: Frank Percic

Location: Ohio, United States

Age: 21

Years Playing: One and a half years

CP Total: 933 CP

Favorite Pokemon: Buzzwole

What was the last major Event (Special Event, Regionals, Internationals, Worlds) that you have played in? 

The 2018 Portland, Oregon Regional Championships!

What made you decide to play in that event? 

The constant need for Championship Points among the Top Sixteen of the North American Rankings makes travelling to essentially every event mandatory. I've been traveling everywhere I can manage so far and Portland was no exception!

What deck did you end up using? Feel free to share a list!

Why did you choose that deck?

I was very comfortable with the deck already and it seemed like a good answer to both Buzzwole-GX and Lucario-GX.

How did you do? 

T128

Why are you at your current amount of Championship Points? 

Blind luck and a basic understanding of the game 

What is the furthest you have ever travelled for a Pokemon tournament? Why did you travel so far? 

Furthest I have traveled was for the 2018 Oceania Internationals in Sydney, Australia. The only reason I went was I would be later reimbursed by Pokemon for the trip for being within the Top Sixteen of the North American Rankings.

What other major events are you planning on going to for the rest of the season? Why? 

All of the major events inside the United States along with each of the remaining International Championships. This is all due to the Top Sixteen of the North American Rankings race.

Do you believe you will land within the T4/T16 of North America? Why?

I surely hope so! I have a few hundred points or so above the last available spot and I don't plan on slowing this streak down any time soon.

Is there anyone who you would like to shoutout or are there any parting comments you would like to leave?

Uhhh, follow me on my Twitter @ PokePercic. This will from now on be the only place I will publicly post Pokemon related anything. Also check out Dead Draw Gaming!

Thank you for all of your responses and best of luck for the rest of the season!

Danny Altavilla Interview

Name: Danny Altavilla

Location: Florida, United States

Age: 21

Years Playing: around fourteen years total

CP Total: 800 CP

Favorite Pokemon: Exeggutor

What was the last major Event that you have played in? 

The 2018 Portland, Oregon Regional Championships!

What made you decide to play in that event? 

I wanted to see my west coast friends who are some of my favorite people that I never get to see.

What deck did you end up using? Feel free to share a list!

Why did you choose that deck?

It flew under the radar, had auto wins against some of the most heavily played decks, and it was a fun break from playing Zoroark-GX variants.

How did you do?

I went from first seed to T16 overall, but the two friends who played the deck with me also made at least T32 so it was as a great day!

Why are you at your current amount of Championship Points?

I have tried my hardest to max out League Cups which brings me to five out of eight total League Cup wins this year.I think the other Top Sixteen of the North American Rankings players aren't utilizing League Cup Championship Points as often, so the gap gets filled. I also have only missed points at two or three events this season which keeps me close to the top!

What is the furthest you have ever travelled for a Pokemon tournament? Why did you travel so far? 

The 2018 Oceania International Championships in Sydney, Australia. I only attended that event due to the Top Sixteen of the North American Rankings pay out. I honestly don't think I could have gone without that kind of financial backing.

What other major events are you planning on going to for the rest of the season? Why?

Not sure on specific events, so let's just say as many as I can.

Do you believe you will land within the T4/T16 of North America? Why?

Yes. I was seventeenth for three of the last four years and that specific fourth year, I was still within top twenty if I remember correctly. Its only a matter of time before I get that last fifteen Championship Points to push me into the Top Sixteen of the North American Rankings.

Is there anyone who you would like to shoutout or are there any parting comments you would like to leave?

Shoutout to Ultra PRO and PRO-Play Games for being the largest contributor to my travel in the game! Without their support, I am not sure I would be able to continue attending all of the events that keep me within contention for the Top Sixteen of the North American Rankings race.

Thank you for all of your responses and best of luck for the rest of the season!

What Can We Learn From This?

Well, I know that I have personally learned a plethora of knowledge by interviewing such a diverse mix of players within this game. In this group of players that I have interviewed, there were players aiming for the Top Four Rankings in North America, players aiming for the Top Sixteen Rankings in North America, players who have their invites to the World Championships, and players who are still hungry to nab that precious invite! While the similar goal is to play in the World Championships, it seems that every player is chasing a different personal prize this current Pokemon season! While the structure may change for next season, it is still valuable knowledge to know why players travel, play the decks they do, and to look at every players perspective.

See Ya In Sao Paulo!

Well, as for me, my next major tournament will be the 2018 Latin American International Championships in Sao Paulo, Brazil. While I did recently entertain the idea of going to a Regional Championships in Stuttgart, Germany, I ultimately decided not to go. Why you may ask? Well, I opted to stay home that weekend because the expected cost of the trip for me would have hovered around 1500.00$ which is out of my range based on the current prizing structure of Regionals. Alternatively, I have gone ahead and booked travel for the remainder of the North American Regional Championships including Salt Lake City, Toronto, Roanoke, and Madison. I am personally excited to travel to so many cool places within North America and this slight break will allow me to play test with better results.

For updates on my travel plans, tournament schedule, premium deck lists, strategies, and my most recent articles, feel free to check out and follow my professional Pokemon Twitter @ zlesage_pokemon. If I you ever see me playing in a Pokemon tournament internationally or if you are local to me in the Greater Toronto Area, feel free to chat with me at any time. I always enjoy talking to new players, people from around the world, and aspiring Pokemon trainers! 

Until next time,

Zach

[+24] okko


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