Chat With The Champs #001: Stephen Silvestro
By Kenny Wisdom
Welcome to the inaugural Chat With The Champs column. For the uninformed, Chat With The Champs is a new, bi-weekly (hopefully!) column brought to you by Kenny Wisdom, Team B-Side and SixPrizes.com. Each column will be an interview with an important figure in the game, be them players, collectors, professors, etc! Our goal is to take user-submitted questions (for the most part), and present them to who you want to hear from. If you have any suggestions, or would like to be featured yourself, please e-mail Kenny@Kennywisdom.com with the subject line “Chat With The Champs.”
This time around we’re going to be featuring the 2009 Master’s Division World Champion Stephen Silvestro! For those who don’t know, Stephen is a Floridian player who was able to capture the gold this year with the now-infamous Raybees (Beedrill + Luxray GL). In this interview we’ll be learning about why he chose Raybees, how it feels to win Worlds, and how he responds to those who say his win was predominantly luck-based.
I hope you enjoy the interview, and again, if you have any questions, comments, ideas, or would like to be featured yourself, please leave a comment here or e-mail Kenny@Kennywisdom.com.
Without futher ado…
Kenny Wisdom: Firstly, thanks for sitting down with us to do this interview and kick off the new “Chat With The Champs” column on SixPrizes.com.
Stephen Silvestro: No problem, I like 6p a lot and don’t mind helping out whenever I’m asked.
KW: How does it feel to be the 2009 World Champion? I know you’ve probably answered this question countless times, but being the best in the world at something has to get you a little giddy, right?
SS: I’m hardly the best in the World. The great thing about this game is that anyone can beat anyone, on any given day. The key is to have a consistent deck that you know inside and out.
KW: Where did the decision to play Raybees come from? I know you played it at Nats, but where did the idea come from, and how confident were you in it’s performance at Worlds?
SS: The original idea for RayBees actually came after the last battle road before US Nationals. I built a beedrill deck and realized how good it was. I had 4 Poké’Blowers and immediately I saw how good gusting was. My friend Aaron Curry used the same exact list I did at the battle road. After that we came to the conclusion that blowers weren’t reliable enough to gust when I really needed to.
After playing it at Nationals and going 7-1 in Swiss, eventually losing in Day 2 to Steven Bates, I immediately knew what needed to be fixed in the deck. Going into Worlds I tested so hard that I knew I had a 50/50 or better with the entire room. Ask any player today, and they’ll tell you that’s enough.
KW: Along with that, if you had to do Worlds over, would you play Raybees again?
SS: In a heartbeat. A lot of people looked at my report to see that I started 1-2. In all actuality those were some of the most ridiculous losses I’ve ever had. In round 2 Matthew Lambou T1’d my Baltoy, and in Round 3 I prized all 3 of my grass and never saw a Multi Energy (thus I didn’t use “Band Attack” all game and sat there while he killed off my entire field).
KW: Stepping outside of Worlds-oriented questions: What are your plans for the current season? We often see players who reach Top 4 at Worlds take it easy for the next season, knowing they’ve already earned their invite. Is this your plan, or are you still going to play as competitively as ever? Do you think that will help you or hurt you when the big show comes?
SS: This is a tough one, because I’ve already found myself a little rusty and making misplays in a game. I’m still planning on attending somewhere around 10 cities. I don’t play for the invites or anything else, I love this game and have an amazing time whenever I pick up a deck to play with.
KW: Your Father is also a prolific player. Do you think playing together helps your relationship as a family?
SS: We have a very strong relationship, and Pokémon has a great deal to do with it. But I am very confident that we’d still have a very strong bond, even if we woke up and the game was over tomorrow.
KW: Do you see yourself playing into the distant future? 5-10 years from now? If so, what keeps you in the game? If not, why?
SS: That’s such a long time off that I don’t even know how to effectively answer that question. I’m going to keep playing as long as my schedule will allow me to attend events. Pokémon has been such a huge part of my life for the past 9-10 years that I’m not sure how I could ever just up and drop it.
KW: A lot of SixPrizes users wanted to know how much time/effort you put into the game. Do you test with/against every deck before going to a tournament? Do you keep a close eye on the new sets coming out and plan ahead?
SS: I test a lot before big tournaments. Usually I have a copy of pretty much every big deck out there and test them against whatever deck I’m working on at the time. During my average week I’d say (Not counting tournaments) I’m between 15-30 games played(Live/Apprentice). As far as the second one goes, I don’t actively look at translations from the new set. People tell me about them, but I rarely look into it.
KW: Do you pay attention to the player base of the game at all? If so, is there any player, or are there any teams that you think are wrongly overlooked by the majority of players? On the flip-side of that, are there any players that you think are overrated?
SS: There are a lot of misconceptions with the “teams” in Pokémon.
As far as players go, I think Gino has the worst of it. I’m sure I’m going to get slammed for this by some people, but he wasn’t always the way he is now. You’d never guess it now, but we used to be pretty good friends. I know a lot about his personal life, and believe me he hasn’t had it easy. By no means does it justify the “gangsta” act he tries to pull off, but cut the guy some slack.
KW: As the champion, what is the best advice you could give to a brand new player who someday wanted to accomplish what you’ve accomplished?
SS: Build a consistent deck and learn your matchups.
Consistency is the key to winning in this game.
KW: How would you address an attack on the credibility of your win? Futhermore, how much do you think luck played a part in your win? How would you compare yourself to past champions as far as skill is concerned?
SS: This is a tough one. The only deck that I was even remotely afraid of losing to was Fabien. I had every single matchup accounted for in my deck. This is the best I can do for credibility.
Significant People Beaten:
2nd Place, US Nationals
1st Place, Brazilian Nationals
1st Place, UK Nationals
1st Place, Italian Nationals
1st Place, France Nationals
1st Place, US Nationals(Former Champion SR, Kevin White)
There are more, but I can’t find the PM for the list
Thanks to a certain member of the PokéGym pointing that out to me, I had no idea!
At some point, everyone gets fortunate in a win. Luck is where opportunity meets preparation. You can’t fake out an entire tournament, ha.
If you look back, people are always ripping on every former champion that’s NOT name Jason Klaczynski. Sorry guys, Jason can’t win every year!
KW: Privacy seems to be a big issue in the game today. Information on new decks and deck ideas is kept under tight wraps by the most elite players who seem largely uninterested in releasing lists, testing with those outside their groups, etc. Do you think this helps or hinders the game, and why?
SS: Well, would you be in a hurry to release something that can beat you and potentially cost you thousands of dollars? I don’t think it has any affect on the game. Doesn’t hurt, Doesn’t help.
KW: What are your hobbies outside of the game? Do you play any other T/CCGs? Sports? What does the world champion do when he’s NOT playing?
SS: I play a lot of Madden 10 lol. But Pokémon and my girlfriend Michelle take up a lot of my time.
KW: Finally, be honest, how many of your Worlds decks have you bought?
SS: I bought 3 lol. I wasn’t aware they were sending me 5 copies hehe!
KW: Thanks again for sitting down with us, are there any comments you’d like to make/shout outs you’d like to give before we wrap this up?
SS: Any time, I like 6p a lot and would love to help out whenever needed.
I’d just like to shout out to the people who are so often overlooked. TPCi and the rest of the Big Event Staff. Remember guys, without them there wouldn’t be a Worlds or a Nats!
Kenny Wisdom is a Masters division player hailing from Washington State, and a regular contributor to SixPrizes.com. He can be reached on Facebook as well as Twitter. He goes by kwisdumb on the Pokégym, SixPrizes, and HeyTrainer.org.