Kenny’s Wisdom: Mail Tiiiiiiiiiiiime

As I mentioned last week, this article is going to be a Q&A of sorts. I asked readers to submit their questions via comment or e-mail, and that you did! I tried to include a nice mix of serious strategy talk and more relaxed personal questions, just to give the article a nice balanced feel. We’ve kind of got a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get to it.

We know we all love you, so the main question is – DO YOU LOVE YOURSELF, MR. KENNY WISDOM?

– Jason Windham

A: “The only thing I put before me is doe ray”

Do you think David Cohen is a bad friend?

– Jason Windham

A: The. Worst.

What do you think of Durant’s legitimacy?

– Anonymous

A: Durant and I have a weird relationship. When the card was first spoiled, I loved it and immediately started brewing lists (which is something I almost never do), but discovered that I wasn’t really into it, and that it didn’t work. I wrote it off almost completely until it started popping up and winning a tournament here and there. Then it started to win a huge string of tournaments, and my current record against it is something like 2-5.

Anyway, I think it’s a legitimate deck. Is it tier one? Not in my eyes, but this may be partially because it’s not played heavily/doesn’t win often in my meta. Another point I’d bring up is that you absolutely cannot discount this deck as legitimate/a threat. Even if you’ve never played against it or you think it’s bad, it’s something that’s out there that can win. Not saying you should tech heavily against it like it’s LuxChomp or something, but at this point in the season you definitely shouldn’t be discounting Durant.

What exactly is your problem with having a diverse format?

– Robert A

The is a first time for everythingpokegym.netI’ve spoken about this in length in other articles and all over the internet, so I’ll try and keep it brief here.

I don’t necessarily have a problem with diverse formats, I have a problem with formats that are too diverse while at the same time being luck based (I would also make the argument that the more diverse a format is the more luck based it is because of matchups, etc. but I digress). My ideal format is one with a small handful of decks, where I can dedicate my testing time/tech slots to playing against the decks that I know are going to be played.

My favorite format I’ve ever played it was LuxChomp 2010, which was highly representative of the kind of format I’ve laid out above. I never played when Gardevoir SW was the top dog, but I’ve been told I would’ve enjoyed that too.

The problem I have with this meta is that there are too many decks, and I don’t have enough time to build, refine, and test all twenty decks every week to make the appropriate choice. Yes, paying attention to your metagame is an important skill, but it’s still not a surefire way of making a deck choice, and with how many decks there are I’ve seen metagames change drastically week-to-week.

At the bottom of all of this though, I hope that everyone understands that I concede that what I see as a good meta isn’t necessarily a “healthy” one. My perfect world is playing against the same 2-3 decks every round where it really comes down to who has a better list and who plays tighter, but I fully understand that not everyone enjoys the same things as I do.

What do you think of Japan’s Palace Format? What do you think about it coming to the States?

– Anonymous

I think it’s my favorite thing to happen to Pokémon since I graced the game with my presence!

I’d love to see it come to the U.S. and elsewhere. It seems like a perfect answer to the “We want more formats but TPCi can’t ban cards” ordeal that Pokémon players have been dealing with for quite some time.

However, I’m not entirely sure how likely that is. To the best of my knowledge the only experimenting with formats that I’ve seen TPCi undergo were the RS-on side events at Worlds and things like that. I’d like to think that Palace format is being heavily tested in Japan with the end goal being to release it in different markets, but given the information we have that doesn’t seem all that likely.

What did you do in your past lives to become a Ginger?

– Tyler Ninomura

Moved 50 damage to my Reuniclus and passed the turn when my opponent had 1 Prize left and a Yanmega Prime active. ;)

Who do you think the best player(s) on earth are? How about the most underrated?

– Anonymous

This is a hard question to answer because, as I’m a relatively new player and recording matches is a new phenomenon in the Pokémon world, I haven’t seen a lot of the big name players play.

If we’re going by the players that I have seen play, I would have to say Ross Cawthon is by far the best player I’ve ever played against, and is obviously a world-class player in his own right. The amount of thought and attention to detail that Ross puts into every single one of his plays is unrivaled.

David Cohen is also a very good player, but for entirely different reasons than Ross. David is one of the best in the World because he intuitively knows how to play Pokémon. I’ve never seen anyone adapt to a deck, format, or card as fast as Cohen.

If we’re talking the most acclaimed players who I have not personally played against, I’d probably go with Kyle Sucevich. US Nationals is the most difficult tournament to win in my mind, and the consistent rate at which he’s been successful at that event is astounding.

A top 5 list of the best active players would probably look something like this…

  1. Kyle Sucevich


  2. Ross Cawthon
  3. David Cohen
  4. Jason Klaczynski
  5. Tsuguyoshi Yamato

Delving into the world of underrated players, the one that immediately springs to mind is Tyler Ninomura. I may be a little biased as he is my boyfriend, but I’ve never seen someone (save for Ross) make the correct play as often as Tyler has. There have been numerous occasions where I’ve birded one of Tyler’s games and walked away because I was sure the game was sealed with him on the losing end of it, only to then be told how he won with no problem. The kid is just insane.

Also, there’s probably very few of you who have ever heard of local player Polo Le, but trust that he’s someone who everyone is going to be talking about in the upcoming years. Polo has stepped his game up tenfold in the past season, and is more then ready to break out on a bigger scale.

Who do you think the best deck designers on earth are? How about the most underrated?

– the same Anonymous from the last question

What about Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor?

Again, this is a difficult question to answer for a few different reasons. The first of which being that I haven’t been around as long as some and therefore don’t know all of the best decks throughout time and who they were designed for. Additionally, getting credit for deck designing/deck building is weird in Pokémon, as because decklists aren’t posted in any official capacity, it’s hard to track down who exactly came up with the idea.

I’d have to say that Tyler Ninomura is probably the best designer on the planet though. Here is his list of credits…

– Helped design The Truth, Ross Cawthon’s 2010 World Championship runner-up deck.

– Invented Flygon Lock, the deck that put him through the grinder at X-0 and was responsible for David Cohen’s 2nd place finish in Seniors, among others.

– He’s responsible for numerous innovations to lists, including the addition of Cobalion in contemporary Chandelure lists, and many smaller feats.

I’ve worked with Tyler on numerous occasions, and although a lot of his decks are far from perfect, his ideas are always sound and when he’s on point, he’s on point. The biggest skill Tyler brings to the table is his ability to both invent AND innovate decks. Most players are good at one or the other (or none!) but he brings both skillsets to the table, which is why he’s such an important asset to both of the teams he works with.

I’m sure there’s more that I’m forgetting. Stephen Silvestro and Aaron Curry are definitely up there for inventing RayBees and Sablelock, but I’m afraid I don’t have as much first-hand knowledge of exactly what they’ve created.innovated, so it’s hard for me to really speak confidently about it.

What is your favorite tournament ever?

– Spencer B.

Hands down, Worlds 2011. It was my first World Championship ever, which is pretty awesome in and of itself. More so it was my first real vacation as an adult, and San Diego was a wonderful place. Meeting all of the people I’ve only ever known online (including a bunch of fans!) was fantastic.

The biggest part was obviously witnessing David Cohen win Worlds, though. It’s pretty neat to say that I’m legitimate friends and teammates with the current world champion, and anyone who knows me knows that my friends doing well is very important. Ross Cawthon is also someone who I’m not sure I would consider a friend, but is a player that I admire and am at the very least acquaintances with, so that was pretty great too. Oh, and an all Washington final was pretty sick. :D

What is your favorite game/match you played in?

Spencer B.

This was a tough one, but the match that resonates with me the most is probably my win vs. Ross Cawthon at Washington States 2010. It was the last round, we were both X-1, and I was pretty sure I wasn’t getting in if I lost. Not to mention that the only other time I had played Ross he absolutely destroyed me.

Anyway, I don’t think the match was all that memorable. It was a LuxChomp mirror and I went first and then ran a little hotter than him. It just sticks out in my mind because I was extremely nervous, it was one of my first top cuts ever, and because I beat Ross it was one of the first times that I ever thought to myself that I was actually a decent player.

I’m sure there are other matches that were better as far as actual back-and-forth intense gameplay goes, but that’s the one that sticks out the most in my mind.

Do you have a favorite David Cohen story?

– Anonymous


My favorite moment though was probably after Worlds this year, when we were back in the hotel room ready to go to bed, and his Mom was telling the story of how she thought that most people in the world had some form of autism, especially creative types, and everyone who played Pokémon, etc.

Cohen freaks out and starts talking about how he didn’t know he was special, why didn’t his Mom tell him he was special earlier, was he more or less special than me and our friends, etc., etc. This went on for probably thirty minutes, culminating with “I don’t care if Einstein maybe had autism. Einstein never got any poon!”

Where do you buy your cards on the internet? I’m a new player and this is stumping me. Help!

– Casey P.

Well, let me first say that whenever you get the chance, you should buy from your local card store! Without a local shop to host tournaments and leagues you probably wouldn’t play as much Pokémon as you do now, and without that infrastructure in place Pokémon might not even exist! Whenever I get the chance, I buy from my local shop here in Olympia, WA, Gabi’s Olympic Cards & Comics.

However, if your shop doesn’t have what you’re looking for or you simply don’t have one, I buy almost exclusively through Troll and Toad. I feel that they have the best price to service ratio of any Pokémon dealer I’ve come into contact with, and have an absolutely huge selection. I’ve placed dozens of orders and have never had a single problem with them, and all of my orders have come ridiculously fast. I don’t know why these guys aren’t bigger than they are, they should be the absolute kings of the Pokémon singles market world.

If for some reason Troll & Toad doesn’t have what I need, I’ll look around on eBay where you can usually find pretty low prices, but sometimes the service can be sketchy. I’m also not really a fan of eBay’s policies in general, so I try to avoid them as much as I can. Voting with my wallet, etc.

I listen to a Magic: The Gathering podcast where they ask each guest if he or she has any “scumbag” stories they’d like to tell. That is, stories about players who are awful, lie, cheat, or steal. Do you have any to share, mr. wisdom?

– Anonymous

memegenerator.netI listen to that same podcast! Big ups to The Eh Team.

Anyway, I really don’t have all that many scumbag stories, and the ones I do have are fairly tame.

There was a player from our area who got caught cheating in the top cut of a States or Regionals tournament, and then upon getting the chance to “work off” some of his ban from a local TO, stole packs that he was supposed to give out to winners of a tournament. I find that particularly lulzy.

There was also a player who I played at Regionals in 2010 who was the worst slowplayer/rusher I’ve ever seen. He overextended early game and took 4 Prizes to my 0, and then slowed down his play considerably once he realized that I had a better board state and given infinite time would win the game. In addition to slowplaying, he tried to rush me through my turns, eventually getting to the point of saying “are you going to make a move? is it my turn?” literally as soon as I would draw for my turn.

Naturally, I called a judge, he immediately stopped, I crushed him and then he rage-dropped from the tournament. :D

You often talk about Team B-Side and all of its members, but can you explain why a team is important to becoming a good player? I don’t have a team and whenever I hear your awesome stories it makes me feel like I’m missing out.

– Anonymous can’t speak for any others, but being a part of B-Side has been the single best thing that’s ever happened to my Pokémon “career”, working with a dedicated group of players to perfect decks and break formats is why I’m as good of a player as I am today. The rate at which I’ve been able to advance because of working with players 10× better than me is astounding, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

More so than even improving as a player though, the camaraderie that comes from working with a team is the main reason I attend tournaments. We all have our in-jokes and wear team shirts and whatnot for tournaments, and it’s just a really great feeling to have a group of friends that you can be so close with.

Also, even if you’re not apart of a team, I would argue that the majority of successful players out there do actually have a team of sorts. I’d be hard-pressed to find a single competitive player who can say that they don’t test or talk about the game with anyone else, and can contribute all of their success, lists, ideas, and the like solely to themselves. Even the people that scoff at the notion of teams (mostly old bitter players) undoubtedly have a group that they work with, it’s just a matter of semantics.

I would say that the main advantage to having a solid sized group is just how purely efficient you can be. At any given time at one of our testing sessions there are a few players brewing lists, a few physically building decks, a few grinding out games and reporting results back, etc., etc. Everyone has their role (I’m personally a deck tuner (meaning that I can think of ways to optimize decks at times, but never invent the idea) and a “villain” (meaning I will play the meta deck vs. the secret deck as many times as possible to make sure the SD has legs)) and it just makes the whole process of playing Pokémon that much easier.


Mark A. HicksThanks for the questions, everyone! I got a lot more than I could’ve ever imagined, and it looks like I’ll be making this a semi-regular occurrence. I know that this article didn’t exactly have any awesome decklists or secret technology or anything, but I hope it was entertaining enough that you enjoyed it and would like to see it again.

If you hated it, feel free to let me know, and don’t worry too much because we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled competitive writing next week!

Thanks again to everyone who wrote in!


Reader Interactions

15 replies

  1. Ross Gilbert

    Not to immediately pick holes in your “best player” list but….. are you aware that Sammi Sekkoum is a multiple-time national champion who gets invites to worlds every year and has top cut all but one year he went. Oh yeah, he also got second a couple years back.

    I challenge you to find anyone who performs as consistently well as him :D

    (Your list had 4 Americans and a Japanese guy so thought i should point out that the UK has some good players too!)

        • Ross Gilbert  → Oliver

          Went 7-0 in Swiss at Worlds last year (Yamato and Pooka didn’t cut, Jason didn’t qualify). More Nats titles than any of them (Yes, i know it’s the UK, doesn’t make it easy). More Top Cut appearances in Worlds than any of them. Not to mention his Worlds resume is MUCH superior to “Pooka’s”.

          Just seems a pretty US-centric list…….

          (P.s. If it’s possible, put money on Sammi top-cutting Worlds this year. It’ll happen!)

        • Ross Gilbert  → Oliver

          Ok, i got bored of doing the work i should be doing so i looked at the Worlds results from 2008-2011 (the only years that results are fully available). This means we can look at who performed best the last FOUR years at the biggest tournament (and, as we’re talking about best in the world, the most appropriate):

          2011    2010    2009    2008

          Pooka DNC DNC DNC DNC
          Ross 2nd DNC Top 16 DNC
          Cohen 1st DNC SENIORS (2nd) SENIORS DNQ
          Jason DNQ DNC DNC 1st
          Yamato DNC Top 16 Top 32 Top 32
          Sammi Top-16 Top 8 2nd Top 16

        • Anonymous  → Ross

          I agree that Sami deserves a spot. However, many of the best players say that US Nationals is at worste as difficult as Worlds and at best more difficult some years. US Nats is routinely a bigger tournament by number of competitors.

          I would probably go
          1) pooka
          2) sami
          3) ness
          4) yamato
          5) too many people to fit into the fifth spot…

          IMO, Cawthorn and Cohen are for sure in the top five. Ross didn’t even “earn” his top cut spot. Fulop literally beat him in the last round and then circled the loss option on the slip to the “give” Ross a spot in the top cut. Cohen could break into this list, but he needs a better Master’s division track record.

          Best part is that this ia pure debate. It is hard to toss out a definitive top five.

        • Anonymous  → Anonymous

          BTW I think that Ross and Cohen are EXCELLENT players. I was just merely explaining why I didn’t think they deserved to be in the top 5. That unfortunately required me to talk about Ross’s entry into the Top Cut at World’s 2011.

    • beyblade1410  → Ross

      I met sammi sekkoum in florida for the citys marathon. NICEST AND COOLEST GUY EVER FAR BETTER THAN JASON, JASON’S A NOOB.

  2. theo Seeds

    Where did that picture of the LuxChomp card come from?

  3. Anthony Smith

    Omg Blue’s ears when “Maaaaaaiiiiiillllllll”

  4. Kenny Wisdom

    It’s not letting me reply to specific posts for some reason, but yeah I’m aware of Sami, and agree that he is one of the best players in the world. I could easily see dropping Cohen off of that list for him. The list definitely wasn’t meant to be definitive (and without further video coverage and having a pro point system, it really can’t be) and there’s probably a dozen more players who could make their case to be in the top 5.

    Anyway, good discussion going on, hope people can look past just the top 5 list, etc. Thanks for reading!

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