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Five Brotherly Interviews on Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of the Pokémon TCG

Hello all! It has been quite a while since my last article, but I am excited to be back with another piece!

What I have for you here are neither words of competitive wisdom nor format-breaking deck lists (mostly because I can offer neither). Instead, I have interviewed five accomplished pairs of brothers from our Pokémon TCG community with hopes of creating an interesting and entertaining read to help break you from the grind of school, testing, work, or whatever else is currently on your mind.

Many thanks to these guys for taking time to answer my questions! Without further delay, let’s get into the interviews. Enjoy!

Note: Most of these interviews were conducted prior to the recent announcements concerning the World Championships invite structure. Consequently, participants’ answers may reflect this.

Table of Contents

Ryan and Kyle Sabelhaus

Ryan and Kyle
Ryan and Kyle

Where are you from and how long have you been playing?

Kyle: Hello! We’ve been playing competitively since 2004 when our family moved to Florida, and we currently live and play in South Carolina. Our neighborhood development was new; so many kids were moving into it just like us. When we went to help one of these kids move, we found his Pokémon card collection and it reminded us of all the fun we had when we first played. After that we found a local League and we haven’t stopped!

What are your accomplishments in the Pokémon TCG?

Kyle: We have been fortunate enough to accomplish a lot in our decade of playing Pokémon. I have won 7 State Championships, a Regional Championship and made the top cut of Nationals and Worlds multiple years. Ryan has won 4 States and 4 Regionals, with a 2nd place finish at Nationals and top 16 finish at last year’s Nationals. Together we have qualified for Worlds 14 times.

What are your future goals in the TCG?

Kyle: As true competitors, we are both chasing the dream of becoming the World Champion. After Ryan came so close to becoming the National Champion in 2013, we both are driven more than ever to win in upcoming years.

What’s it like having a brother heavily involved in the TCG?

Ryan: Being brothers in this game has given us someone to push our abilities in all aspects of the game. Bouncing ideas off of each other for decks, creating the perfect deck lists, and finding the best in-game strategies are just some of the areas that have led to success in a decade of in-house competition. We also find an abundant deal of pride in the abilities of each other, and find that feeling of our brother’s success just as great, if not greater, than our personal successes.

What is your favorite deck of all time and why?

Kyle: My favorite deck of all time is Dark Tyranitar/Electrode e, also known as Pow!Tar. The deck was so fun because you purposely would try to lose the beginning of the game, giving up Prizes to your opponent to eventually turn the tide with the help of Rocket’s Admin., Scramble Energy and Pow! Hand Extension. I also feel I should give an honorable mention to Flygon Delta, as this deck won me 3 State Championships and a 3rd place in a two-weekend span in 2007!

Ryan: I guess my favorite deck of all time would be the Team Plasma variant that I got 2nd place at U.S. Nationals with. The deck was very fun to play against almost everything in the format, while also having a dominant control over the mirror match. Also, seeing the expression of many opponents that couldn’t get around Life Dew was pretty great.

What is your favorite thing about the trading card game?

Kyle: The community is definitely the best part about this game. They’re basically our family. Our best memories are mostly from hanging out with our closest friends at Pokémon tournaments. The skill involved in deck making is also another great part of this game that we both enjoy. It’s fun being able to think creatively and decipher strategies that others haven’t thought of yet, especially if those deck ideas turn into tournament-winning decks.

In your opinion, what could make the game better?

Kyle: I guess one of the main problems with this game would be the best-of-three match with a 50-minute time limit. We haven’t really had too many problems, as we practice to make sure we play quickly and effectively, but it seems to be a problem for almost everybody in the game. Both of us can agree that we would certainly not want to go back to best-of-one series, though.

What are some other hobbies/things you like to do?

Kyle: We both love to play sports, particularly basketball. Both of us have played for before and we play pretty well together on the court. Working out has also been a pretty important thing for both of us, as there’s honestly not much else to do in South Carolina. We also really enjoy playing Madden on the Xbox One. If either of us ever have free time away from school and homework, you can usually find at least one of us on Madden throughout the day.

What are your future goals in life?

Ryan: Well, my goal after school is to eventually get my doctorate and become a psychiatrist. I am working on a dual-degree in pre-med and psychology right now, while also doing independent research on pathophysiology. Other than that, I guess I’m just looking to keep in touch with good friends in this game and keep playing Pokémon.

Kyle: I am currently studying at Clemson University to become an accountant, which is certainly one of my main goals as a career is important. Through my time in the Pokémon community I also try to reach out and expand the game as much as possible, as I feel it’s important to give back to this community that helped make me into the person I am today. We like to stream content during the summer or whenever we have free time, and I am always excited to provide live commentary at streamed events.

Kevin and Erik Nance

Kevin and Erik
Kevin and Erik

Where are you from and how long have you been playing?

Erik: I have lived in the good old north state (North Carolina) all my life. At one time I really didn’t like the state in which I lived, but I have since grown a fondness for it that will probably see that I never move anywhere else. As far as the Pokémon TCG, the first tournament I ever played in was the Southeast Regional Championship in 2005. My brother and I didn’t play competitively until the next year, however, so that puts me at eight years of playing (both competitively and for fun).

Kevin: I am from Trinity, NC and I have been playing with my brother since 2005.

What are your accomplishments in the Pokémon TCG?

Erik: Competitively, my accomplishments are as follows: Top 16 2006 World Championship, Top 32 2010 World Championship, Runner-Up 2010 US National Championship, 1st Place 2008 Southeast Regional Championship, 3rd Place 2006 Southeast Regional Championship, Runner-Up 2010 NC State Championship, Runner-Up 2012 NC State Championship, 2006 Gym Challenge Winner (NC), numerous City Championship/League Challenge wins, and multiple top cut finishes at the State/Regional Championship level.

Non-competitively, I consider my writing for SixPrizes as a great accomplishment. I always strive to provide high-level content for readers, and most of what I’ve written about has been large, sweeping topics that really get at the heart of what it takes to be a good player. I exercise my love for Pokémon in other creative ways too, as I recently had a Pokémon-inspired art show in Greensboro and have sold many Pokémon-inspired paintings.

Personally, my success with the Pokémon TCG has been a huge factor in landing me at least two jobs (not including writing for SixPrizes). It has also shaped me into a better human being, from helping me deal with social anxiety to learning how to perform well under pressure. I owe a lot to a game many think is exclusively for kids!

Kevin: I will try my best not to say anything false on this:

Top cut at Worlds in 2007. Appearance at Worlds 2012. 1st in Regionals 3 times. 2nd in Regionals once. 1st in a Gym Challenge in TN (2006). 1st at SC States (I think it was SC). Top cut at multiple States. 2nd at Nationals (2012). 15+ City Championship wins. I think I came in 2nd at a League Challenge.

Again I might be mixing up some years and information, but I think this is fairly accurate.

What are your future goals in the TCG?

Erik: That’s a tough question. North Carolina specifically has had trouble keeping Tournament Organizers recently, and so the competitive scene here has suffered. If I could, I would help out in this area, but I have some personal things that need my attention.

Without commenting further on that challenging situation, I want to play competitively more often and continue to write quality articles. I also plan on starting a League at my most recent place of employment (Geeksboro in Greensboro). There’s a great need for a place where Pokémon TCG fans can meet up and play in North Carolina; I hope to help out somehow with this.

Kevin: Truth to be told, I have always wanted to come in first at every single type of tournament (City, State, Regionals, etc.). So I guess I’d like to win a League Challenge, Nationals, and, of course the biggest tournament of all, Worlds. I think that is my biggest goal, is to win Worlds. I have put so much effort into the two Worlds appearances, and I only made top cut once.

What’s it like having a brother heavily involved in the TCG?

Erik: Honestly, if my brother weren’t involved with the Pokémon TCG, I wouldn’t be either. I know he would say the same. When we got involved with the game in 2005, there was a lot of money being pumped into organized play in the United States. Over the years, this support has spread out to other countries, and so we’ve seen a stark decline in prize support. We don’t play solely for prizes and money, but a lack in this area coupled with some of the troubling formats we’ve seen before has pushed both of us to the brink of disinterest in being involved.

That said, having a brother who plays this game is a constant reminder of what the Pokémon TCG is truly about: making friends and having fun. Both my brother and I are competitive-minded, so part of that “having fun” aspect means trying to one-up the other in deck building and performance. It’s that trait that pushed us into competitive play (my Gardevoir RS/Magneton DR/Magmar TRR could never beat Kevin’s Turn 2 Dark Slowking TRR deck), and it’s another piece of what keeps us going.

Kevin: Honestly, Erik is the one who got me into the game originally. Yes, I played as a youngster, when it was the craze. But I quit, and during high school Erik convinced me to start playing again. If it wasn’t for him still playing the game I probably wouldn’t be involved. I haven’t been able to put in as much effort these past couple of years, but thanks to us riding the game out, we have kept each other involved. This year I am hoping we can both finally put some time into it together, again, like the good ole days.

What is your favorite deck of all time and why?

Erik: I know I’ve answered this question differently before, but I feel obliged to go with the Steelix Prime deck I played at the World Championship in 2010. To create that deck I had to recall years of deck building experience as well as discard popular notions of what a competitive deck needed to look like for that format. I managed to “break the format” with that deck and would have placed much better had I not run into the only deck in the entire tournament utilizing Infernape 4 LV.X.

That would be my favorite deck because it’s one I created. My favorite deck to play, however, would probably be Metanite (Metagross DS 11/Dragonite DS) or Flariados (Flareon-EX/Ariados UF). Those decks were the ones I started with, and with multiple ways of running them, they introduced me to the value of proper deck building.

Kevin: I won’t go into much depth because the deck was incredibly intricate. It didn’t make any sense, and I never won any big tournaments with it. I think the timing of the deck was unfortunate, because of sets getting rotated. But I named the deck Scythe. It set up with Jirachi DX. I played Swampert-EX CG (for Energy recovery), Gardevoir e DF (to shut off Powers), Scizor-EX (to tank and not die), Gardevoir EM, Latios * (Stage 2 killer), Warp Energy, Cyclone Energy, Rainbow Energy, Metal Energy, Giant Stump, and Warp Point, Switches. Basically, I would Stump away any big Pokémon that were about to die and then I would set up a Scizor with 4 Metals. Heal him with Garde. I had to tech in e, because he actually ended up being a strong attacker, and he was able to slow down the unlimited damage decks (like Metanite). Sounds crazy but I was able use Wishing Star 3 to 4 times T1 and T2 to consistently set up a T2, or T3 at the latest, Energy Recycle onto the big pokes. It worked wonders. Tons of fun to play, and I would usually win 90% of games, despite whatever the matchup.

What is your favorite thing about the trading card game?

Erik: As I mentioned before, my favorite thing about playing this game is the connections it offers with such a diverse, friendly community of players. The game is all about making friends and having fun, even to the point that it’s written into the rules (“Spirit of the Game”). As the father of a two-year old, I’m more than happy to introduce my daughter Naomi to the game. It’s family-friendly in a way that other games aren’t.

Kevin: I have two answers for this question: traveling and lifelong friendships. Traveling has been such an amazing thing with the game, and I would have never been to half the places I have without Pokémon. But I also have to say that the friends I have met through playing have been just as important. The Pokémon community is incredible, and I don’t think any other game can provide the same closeness and atmosphere.

In your opinion, what could make the game better?

Erik: Organized play (“Play! Pokémon”) needs help, if not to a drastic degree. There has been a lot of criticism aimed at them, and I believe it’s rightly so. We are currently months into the 2014-2015 season, and the location for the World Championships has not been announced and neither has the requirements for getting an invitation to Worlds. Unless I’m mistaken, I currently have no idea how many Championship Points are needed to secure an invite to this prestigious event that may or may not be taking place.

This is not the first time issues like this have happened (if it were, I wouldn’t be writing this). Play! Pokémon to much of the competitive community has gained the reputation of always taking one step forward and two steps back. We gain a wonderful tournament structure that appeals to identifying player skill (best-of-three) but get hit with a change in rules that makes ties and intentional draws a game-busting issue (yes, I’m talking about the exclusion of the “significant game” rule that would clear everything up). We get an impressive system for travel awards, only to have those awards sent out way too late for anyone to actually use them. We get League Challenges with little direction in how League Challenges should be managed. I could go on.

Understand this: I know exactly what it’s like to work with a lean staff that services many. It can be exhausting, thankless work that presents more issues than it does solutions. At the time of this writing, there’s a job opening for an “Organized Play Project Associate.” This is good news because it means the game isn’t going to die (hah), but I think it also represents a need for some change/help/whatever.

I have many friends and acquaintances tied closely to Play! Pokémon, so it’s not easy to say this. Having played this game for so long though, there’s an observable pattern of poor performance. And while many people are quick to point a finger or defend P!P with their lives, there’s still the game at stake. Yes, it continues to grow, but that’s mostly because of the attraction to the Pokémon franchise. Even people at the heart of this community have trouble figuring out what’s going on at times, and I don’t think it’s because — as some people have suggested — P!P wants to maintain a small, close-knit community for the TCG.

Kevin: Money support. When I first played the game, there were many lucrative opportunities. You could win not only a substantial cash prize, but paid trips as well. I’m not saying that this is entirely impossible now, but the opportunities are few and far between. Last year’s Regionals winner wasn’t even offered money or a trip (I don’t think they were offered a paid trip at least). Instead, they received six boxes of cards. Often times it can be hard to sell boxes. So zero monetary gain, and more cards. More cards that I can keep using at the next tournament, and yet again win nothing worthwhile. I don’t mean to talk negatively on this subject, but it is a bitter topic for me. I know a huge pool of players that might take this game seriously if there was something worth winning. The lack of substance in the prize support has also been a huge reason for why I haven’t been taking this game seriously anymore.

What are some other hobbies/things you like to do?

Erik: I’m enjoying a budding career as an artist right now, so I’ve been doing a lot of painting. I’m also a stay-at-home dad and a team leader at church, so in my “free time” (if you could call it that), I like to watch Elmo’s Potty Time and keep my daughter Naomi from falling off things. When Naomi’s asleep, my wife and like to watch X-Files or read serious, thought-provoking books (that or parenting books). I’m a sucker for good horror movies and Halloween’s my favorite holiday. Favorite book? The Grapes of Wrath. Favorite bands? The Strokes, Of Montreal, mewithoutyou. Favorite food? Thai/Indian. Favorite color? Orange. Favorite cereal? Life. Favorite thing? Life.

Kevin: I’m a fairly sociable guy who tends to spend his afternoons and weekends outside. When I’m not hanging out with friends, you can find me playing volleyball, basketball, tennis and soccer. Like my brother, I have a passion for painting…although I paint for recreational purposes. As far as the gamer world goes, I like to play League of Legends, Smite, Hearthstone, Halo, and Super Smash Bros. My favorite shows include Attack on Titan, Full Metal Alchemist, Kill la Kill, Eureka 7, Naruto, Gurren Lagan, Cowboy Bebop, Jojo’s Bizarro Adventure, all of the Miyazaki films.

What are your future goals in life?

Erik: Over the past couple of months, my life has changed dramatically. I left a full-time job working with kids and adults on the autistic spectrum to pursue my creative efforts — mainly painting and writing. Meanwhile, my wife has traded her “stay-at-home parent” status with me to work at an organization that does event planning. I also picked up a job working as a barista at the aforementioned Geeksboro. Phew…

My goals are to be the best parent and husband I can be, paint weird paintings for those who have unique tastes, make really good coffee, and go wherever God leads me. We moved to Greensboro recently without much of a plan, and within two weeks both my wife and I secured jobs (ones we weren’t even looking for). I don’t say that to give the impression that we’re a completely irrational pair, but rather that I feel I’ve tapped into something I feel I’m called to do. I’ve also learned more about myself over the past month than in years, so there’s that too.

Kevin: Truthfully, I’m uncertain of that for the time being. Currently, I am working full time. I graduated college at UNCG as a psych major, HDF minor. I will probably have to go back to college to receive my masters. And honestly the biggest goal of mine is to find my life passion. I dabble in so many different areas, physically and mentally, but I have yet to figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life.

Michael and Frank Diaz

Michael and Frank (circa 2010)
Michael and Frank (circa 2010)

Where are you from and how long have you been playing?

Frank: We’re from New Jersey. I learned how to play out of the Base Set starter deck rulebook, and taught Michael as he grew up. We started playing competitively in 2003.

What are your accomplishments in the Pokémon TCG?

Frank: We’ve both placed in the top 4 at the World Championships, me in 2010 and Michael in 2012. Michael also won US Nationals in Seniors in 2010. Aside from those big ones, we both have other strong finishes at Nationals and Worlds, and wins at City, State, and Regional Championships.

Michael: 11 Worlds invites, 4th at Worlds 2012, National Champion in Seniors 2010

What are your future goals in the TCG?

Frank: Win everything.

Michael: I think my biggest goal for the remainder of my time in Pokémon is to continue qualifying for remaining World Championships.

What’s it like having a brother heavily involved in the TCG?

Frank: It generally makes it harder to stop pushing forward with being competitive. It takes a lot to continue playing at a high level, but if one of us isn’t motivated, the other usually is, so we keep the momentum going.

The dynamics also change over the years. I went away to school for 4 years, and now Michael is away. Each time we’ve had to adapt to the changes.

Michael: It makes testing and theory a lot more accessible. When we were just starting in 2003, Frank would build all my decks but he could hardly use me as a testing partner. I was too young. As I got older and more able to give Frank a challenge, we learned strategy together; eventually it became mutually beneficial for us to discuss and play with each other. I think that’s what made us the players we are now.

What is your favorite deck of all time and why?

Frank: I think the Empoleon/Bronzong deck that I got top 8 with at Worlds in 2008 was the best deck I’ve ever played. Jimmy O’Brien, who we tested with, played the exact same list on his top 4 run that year.

Michael: T2 Dark Slowking has to be my favorite deck of all time. I remember playing Dark Slowking at almost every Cities in the 2004-2005 season. Back then, there was really one opponent in particular I worried about: David Shoyket; he also played Dark Slowing exclusively. We’d go back and forth beating each other at Cities almost every weekend; there were a lot fewer Juniors back then and they certainly weren’t as well informed as Juniors are nowadays. We were both really fortunate to have older players building our decks for us (thanks Frank!).

What is your favorite thing about the trading card game?

Michael: That’s tough. I really value winning and I think competition is healthy but I can’t refuse that the people are the reason I play the game now. Traveling for hours and taking unlucky losses is hard; anyone who’s felt the sting of an 0-2 drop after having driven 2 hours for that last Cities know the feeling. Without having an additional incentive to travel to events, I’d find it hard to justify spending my time at tournaments.

In your opinion, what could make the game better?

Michael: I don’t really have an opinion on anything that might improve the game; I haven’t had the time or honestly even the impetus to think about that. I just play the game and enjoy it—it’s simple.

What are some other hobbies/things you like to do?

Frank: I spend a lot of my time working these days. I’m a Quality/Process Engineer for a paper manufacturer in NJ. Otherwise I like hanging out with friends over games and drinks. I love going to Applebee’s for half-priced appetizers.

Michael: Lately, school has taken up almost all of my time. At school, it’s hard enough to leave campus to visit friends or family, let alone find a tournament or even a deck. I spend most of my time here playing club hockey and rugby; I also really like music and I make mashups in my spare time.

What are your future goals in life?

Frank: For now, just keep doing what I enjoy. Win games of Pokémon, build my career, and enjoy time with family and friends. I’ll roll with the punches as they come.

Michael: I imagine I have the same goals as any college kid might: get a solid job after graduation and eventually have a family. I don’t really mind the specifics just yet but I’ve got plenty of time to figure those things out.

Daniel and David Lopez

Daniel and David
Daniel and David

Where are you from and how long have you been playing?

Daniel: We are from Orlando, Florida and have been playing for a little over 5 years now. Our first 2 years of playing were in high school, so we didn’t travel at all. Florida Regionals in the spring was basically our version of Nationals. The 2011-2012 season was when we started venturing out of Orlando for tournaments beginning with the inaugural Florida Marathon thanks to Harrison Leven, ending the season with our first Nationals where we both made cut.

What are your accomplishments in the Pokémon TCG?

Daniel: 1st Alabama States 2012, 3rd Florida Regionals 2013, Top 64 US Nationals 2013, Top 8 Florida Regionals 2014, 2nd Alabama States 2014, 3rd Georgia Regionals 2014, Top 64 Worlds 2014

David: Top 64 US Nationals 2012, 2nd Georgia States 2013, Top 64 US Nationals 2013, Top 4 Florida Regionals 2014, Top 4 Florida States 2014, Top 4 Alabama States 2014

What are your future goals in the TCG?

Daniel: In the near future I would like to win a City Championship. I haven’t won a City in almost 3 years, I guess that can be attributed to how stacked some of our local tournaments can be. Winning a Regional is also another goal of mine, and not too unrealistic. Ideally I would like to perform extremely well at Nationals and Worlds, but as long as I’m having fun I don’t care too much about the end result.

David: I want to top 4 US Nationals or Worlds someday. Earning an invite via the grinder or off a top 8 at US Nationals is also something I’d like to do when I won’t be able to play as much as I’d like.

What’s it like having a brother heavily involved in the TCG?

Daniel: It certainly makes play testing a lot easier, but aside from that we both approach the game very differently. I spent a good chunk of Cities last season, for instance, playing silly and gimmicky decks but once my brother started to rack up wins and good finishes it sort of pushed me to start playing seriously. I was able to get Points from four Cities, but I didn’t make a single finals appearance. With a little luck at Regionals and States in the latter half of the season I was able to squeeze out an invite.

David: It’s pretty good. I don’t really enjoy playtesting or playing non-tournament games (I’ve disappointed countless children who’ve wanted to play me) so to have someone make me playtest is a good thing. I do enjoy theorymoning which is something we do often.

What is your favorite deck of all time and why?

Daniel: I would have to say Lugia/Cofagrigus. After Cities and not doing so well at Virginia Regionals last season, we had two weeks to prepare for Florida Regionals. Jim Roll was able to win a City the weekend after Virginia, so I used that as inspiration for our deck. David and I tested a 1-1 Cofagrigus PLF 56 line in our deck for a few nights leading up to the tournament and finally settled with what we thought was a great list. At the end of day 1 and day 2, we ended up as the 5th and 8th seeds. We were both eliminated from cut by Ryan Sabelhaus piloting Dragonite PLF which we did not bother to tech in a counter for.

David: Anything with Gengar SF in it was always fun for me. I played Gengar with Dialga g, Donphan Prime, Machamp SF, Nidoqueen RR and all sorts of other guys around the time I started. The formats back then were incredibly fun and Fainting Spell flips were exhilarating. As for recent times, Lugia/Cofagrigus was another deck I actually enjoyed playing. It’s hard building a unique deck nowadays but I always try to add something different into any deck I play.

What is your favorite thing about the trading card game?

Daniel: I really enjoy matches with friendly people, where we can just have an awesome conversation until things get down to the wire and we quiet down a bit. I’ve had some excellent matches against Harrison, Justin Sanchez, and Kyle Sabelhaus where we were just dead silent game 3 after all the fun we had games 1 and 2.

David: One thing I always enjoy doing is helping out the younger kids with their decks and giving general advice about the game to them. Making friends all across the country is great as well and especially making connections with Poké-parents. Traveling to different states and just seeing how different parts of the country are is always great to see as well.

In your opinion, what could make the game better?

Daniel: There are so many things people want to change about the game, but one aspect that isn’t addressed too often is cheating and shady behavior going on with some well-known players. The reason I can have fun games with certain people is because I can trust them to play fair, which makes the game very enjoyable. Having to worry about slow-playing or seeing an opponent declump/reorder their deck in the middle of a search is really disheartening.

David: Going back to single games but adding more rounds is something I want to see happen. Also changing how invites are earned is something I would like to see. You really have to grind and travel (especially living in Florida) but I’m not too sure how to change it. The current invite structure is ok.

What are some other hobbies/things you like to do?

Daniel: Due to some degree of luck in Pokémon, it doesn’t completely fulfill my competitive urge. I really enjoy training for local races and competing in that aspect. I’ve spent 2014 recovering from injuries and not running in a single race, so I really look forward to making a big splash back on the competitive scene and hope to rack up some age division awards. I’ve also more recently taken on weightlifting as another hobby, but I won’t share any of my embarrassing nicknames in that regard.

David: I’ve always enjoyed running and recently started working out. Both are great stress relievers. I also play a decent amount of Smash Bros (Melee mostly) whenever I have free time. As far as watching sports, I love watching MMA.

What are your future goals in life?

Daniel: I am currently majoring in industrial engineering and set to graduate next Fall. As of now I am employed by a small electronics manufacturing company but when I graduate I would love to have the opportunity to work for a large company, and maybe someday work my way into project management. In regards to running I would love to qualify for some of the big marathon races such as Boston and New York, but I am in no rush to accomplish those goals.

David: I’m currently an engineering intern at a civil engineering firm in Maitland, Florida. Obviously after I graduate I’d like to move up the ladder so to speak and just keep improving in all aspects (hobbies/work).

Dan and Dave Richard

Dan and Dave
Dan and Dave

Where are you from and how long have you been playing?

Dave: We are from Shelby Township, Michigan and we have been playing since 2001.

What are your accomplishments in the Pokémon TCG?

Dave: My accomplishments are mostly from Juniors, but I won Canadian Nationals as a Junior in 2005, got 2nd at US Nationals in 2006, won US Nationals as a Senior in 2011, and top 8’d 2013 Nationals as a Master.

Dan: Most of my accomplishments were also in the younger age groups. I qualified for Worlds every year that I wasn’t in Masters and was able to get 3rd in the 2005 World Championships with Ludicargo/Ninetales. In Masters I’ve been kind of quiet, but in 2011 I ended up as the 43rd ranked player in the US after only playing in 5 tournaments, just missing my invite, but ended up grinding into Worlds.

What are your future goals in the TCG?

Dave: I’m not as committed of a player in TCG as I used to be but I would like to have another Nationals run.

Dan: Future goals in the TCG? I just hope to keep playing.

What’s it like having a brother heavily involved in the TCG?

Dave: It was really nice to have a brother that was very skilled at the game that you could test with at any time, and it was also awesome to win tournaments with Dan.

Dan: It’s great. Having someone to bounce ideas off of and a permanent travel partner was always cool.

What is your favorite deck of all time and why?

Dave: My favorite deck of all time was either Turn-two Zapdos because I played it all of 2005 and found lots of success with the deck or Life Dew-Plasma because it was a deck that I personally helped create with the help of Mike Diaz and Curran Hill.

Dan: It’s hard to say. I guess my favorite deck is the Stage 1 deck our group piloted at 2011 Nationals.

What is your favorite thing about the trading card game?

Dave: My favorite thing about the Pokémon TCG is that I have gotten to travel all over the United States to play a card game.

Dan: My favorite thing about the game has to be the trips. Going on vacation to a different place and seeing a bunch of people you only see a few times a year is always the highlight of the tournaments for me.

In your opinion, what could make the game better?

Dave: In my opinion, the game would be better if social media did not exist because there would be more of a variety of cards in each deck list and would get rid of netdecking. Since that’s almost impossible, I could also say getting rid of Expanded format, entry fees, and best-of-three rounds because it makes it harder for rogue decks to be good. Part of rogue decks’ advantage is the surprise and after one game of playing against it you can easily figure out a better strategy of how to beat it.

Dan: I’m not a huge fan of the paying to play either. Being someone who’s played for most of my life, I’ve seen the prize structure deteriorate a ton over the years. If a tournament has entry fees, there should definitely be a better prize structure. Some of the Regionals nowadays are one-third the size of Nationals, but the prizes don’t seem to live up to that accomplishment. I would like to see free trips or scholarships make a return.

What are some other hobbies/things you like to do?

Dave: My other hobbies are playing basketball, soccer, and playing FIFA with the boys.

Dan: I have a lot of similar hobbies. When I have spare time I love playing sports, video games, or just hanging out with friends.

What are your future goals in life?

Dave: My future goals in life include getting my mechanical engineering degree in four years and being happy. Maybe I could get a dog someday.

Dan: And future goals? I really have to think for this interview. This is deep. Haha. I guess I just hope to continue my education and find a job in the medical field. I also hope to continue playing this game until it burns out, no matter where I end up.


Thanks for reading!

Jacob

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