Phoenix Rising

An Interview with 2015 Oregon Regional Champion Jacob Van Wagner
jacob van
Jacob at US Nationals 2014.

With Spring Regionals just around the corner, I thought I would take the time to do a quick interview with my good friend and back-to-back Oregon Regional Champion, Jacob Van Wagner. We talk about everything from his favorite Pokémon to what he’s likely to play for Regionals. Enjoy!

Kenny: First of all, thanks for doing this interview. Why don’t you tell the people a little bit about yourself and how you got started in the game?

Jacob: Hi Kenny! I’m more than happy to interview. My origin story is a pretty short one. I’ve been playing since late 2009, competitively since 2010. One day my brother discovered a Pokémon League at a local card shop. Being 9 years old at the time, he needed a chaperone, so that’s how I was introduced to the game. A theme deck and a few games later, I was hooked. Flash forward six years, and here we are.

Kenny: And how are things going this season? You’re just a few Championship Points from clinching an invite, yes?

Jacob: Things are going … okay. I am only 9 Points from my invite, but it stings because I would have had it much sooner had I not bombed various events, City Championships specifically. I’m playing in Washington Regionals this weekend so hopefully I’ll be able to clinch the invite there!

Kenny: Speaking of Regionals, you won Oregon Regionals 2014 with Virizion/Genesect/Ho-Oh, and the same event this year with Seismitoad/Slurpuff. How did it feel to win back-to-back Regionals?

One of Jacob’s favorite cards.

Jacob: It was really, really satisfying. Especially after bombing most City Championships both years. It probably won’t really register with me until Nationals, just like it did last year. It’s easy to forget about the byes that a Regional Championship comes with.

Kenny: What do you plan on playing for the Standard portion of this week’s Washington Regionals?

Jacob: I’m between four or five different decks right now, but the one I’m hovering around the most is Exeggutor. I’ve always been a big fan of lock decks and this one fits that category very well.

Kenny: Exeggutor is one of my favorites too! Washington is unlikely to have Day 2 Swiss, meaning that only the Top 8 players will get to play Expanded. Do you have a plan on what you’re going to play, should you make it that far?

Jacob: I’ll probably make that decision the night before, assuming I even make it to that portion of the event. It’s not really something I’ve thought too much about yet, to be honest.

Kenny: How do you feel about Expanded in general?

Jacob: I like it a lot! It gives us tons of cards to bring back into consideration, making the potential variety of decks much higher. My only disappointment is that there aren’t more high-level events in the format. It would be cool for a States or Regionals to have Expanded Swiss rounds both days rather than just Day 2 for Regionals.

Kenny: Playing in an area that only plays Expanded for LCs and Regionals Top 8s, have you put the time in to experiment with the format at all?

Jacob: I haven’t really put too much time into trying to “break” the Expanded format yet. Most of my Expanded decks have just been me taking a Standard deck and adding Level Balls and a Tool Scrapper to them, rather than trying to come up with more innovative ideas.

Kenny: As someone who has benefited from it, how do you feel about this year’s Worlds invite structure?

Jacob: I think it’s fine. It allows for an easier invite, so the skill base at this year’s Worlds will be lower. The real excitement will be the second day of Swiss. There’s where you’ll see the real creme of the crop, so to speak.

Kenny: Moving onto some of our fun questions … what is your favorite Pokémon?

Jacob: Ditto. I love the little blob. Big fan of the episode from the first season of the anime where Ditto does the Transformation, but fails to get the eyes right.


Kenny: What is your favorite card?

Jacob: It’s a coin flip between Ho-Oh-EX (specifically the full art version) and Archie’s Ace in the Hole. The first “competitive” deck I built was Garchomp with Garchomp LV.X. Yes, I mean the Stage 2, not the much more popular SP card. Garchomp LV.X had an attack that, for no Energy, would put a Pokémon from your discard pile onto your Bench as a Basic, then attach up to 3 Energy from the discard pile to it. Both of these cards function similarly and always remind me of that stupid deck I built back in 2009.

Kenny: What is your favorite deck?
Without See Off, Rhyperior was difficult to get into play.

Jacob: Mew Prime/Rhyperior LV.X. The deck functioned around using Mew’s See Off attack to put Rhyperior LV.X into the Lost Zone. You would then use Rhyperior’s LV.X’s attack to do huge amounts of damage. The deck was insanely fun to play, but was never too competitive.

Kenny: What does Pokémon mean to you?

Jacob: I’ll probably play Pokémon until I’m either physically incapable of doing so, or the game dies. Luckily, at this rate I don’t see either of those two things happening anytime soon!

Kenny: What do you like to do outside of Pokémon?

Jacob: Right now my only other real hobby is Hearthstone, but I haven’t had too much time for that lately. Between Pokémon and work, it has been pretty neglected.

Kenny: What would you do if Pokémon suddenly stopped existing?

Jacob: Well, I’d have more time for Hearthstone, that’s for sure. It would be really saddening, but that’s life.

Kenny: Time to wrap up. Any shout-outs before we go?

Jacob: Sure! Shout-out to all the amazing friends I have here in the Pacific Northwest. You’re all amazing and I don’t know who or what I’d be without you guys. Same goes for everyone on Honor Roll. You guys have helped me grow so much as a player and a person, and I hope I’ve done and can continue to do the same for you!

Huge thanks to Jacob for doing the interview, and good luck to him at Regionals this weekend!

That’s all for today. Feel free to let me know (either in the comments or via email) what other topics you’d like to see me tackle. It can be difficult to come up with interesting topics each and every week, so definitely let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see!

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