Hey everyone, this week I have an interview with one of the top players from the most recent version of the Power Rankings! Kevin Baxter has had an incredibly consistent season and will be a player to watch out for this year at Nationals and Worlds. Enjoy the interview!
Alex: Alright, let’s start out with the basics. Where are you from?
Kevin: Cincinnati, Ohio.
Alex: Gotcha. I know you recently graduated — what are your plans for after college?
Kevin: I’m interviewing for jobs. I actually should be hearing back from one tomorrow.
Alex: Oh sweet! What field are you going into?
Kevin: Biomedical engineering.
Alex: Well good luck with the job! Do you have any hobbies outside of Pokémon?
Kevin: Thanks! I’m playing in a rec ultimate frisbee league this summer.
Alex: Nice, I love ultimate. Have you been involved in sports a lot during your life?
Kevin: Yeah I’ve played baseball, basketball, soccer, and some tennis since I was young and played almost every intramural in college.
Alex: Can you tell us about your history in the game?
Kevin: I started playing around when Next Destinies came out in 2012. 2013 was my first full season and I got Top 16 at a few States/Regionals along with a couple of Cities wins. Unfortunately I ended up missing my invite to Vancouver by 10 points.
Last year in the 2014 season things went a lot better and I managed to finish in the Top 16 NA at the end of the season. Most of my points came from playing Plasma Lugia/Snorlax and Rayquaza/Emboar/Delphox. This year is going almost as well, I’m clinging to a Top 16 spot going into Nationals.
Alex: Are there any big matches from your playing career that stick out to you?
Kevin: In my first year I was kind of a slow player, so a few of my top cut matches went to sudden death. I lost every sudden death game and winning any of them would have given me the invite that year, so that’s always in the back of my mind to play fast enough that time doesn’t keep me from winning matchups that I should.
I had a good series against Frank Diaz in the finals of Massachusetts Regionals last year and another one against Pooka in Top 8 of Wisconsin last year. I lost both of those, but it helped teach me to look for outside-the-box strategies to win games. I think I remember my losses more than my wins, which pushes me to keep trying to improve.
Alex: You mentioned your Top 8 match from Wisconsin Regionals 2014 against Pooka. You made some waves in the competitive scene at that tournament by playing Zoroark. How did you end up playing Zoroark at Regionals?
Kevin: I had gotten my invite the previous weekend in Massachusetts, so I wanted to play something fun to celebrate. On the 8 hour drive home we were throwing around ideas and Zoroark came up. I built a list and it tested pretty well against the popular decks at the time (Blastoise, Yveltal, VG) because of the non-EX attacker and 1HKO potential. So I took a chance on it and it worked out. I actually tried to get Zoroark to work for this year’s Wisconsin Regionals as a throwback, but I couldn’t get it to beat Seismitoad.
Alex: What is been your favorite deck of all time?
Kevin: RayBoar with Delphox by far. Mystical Fire was so good it could get you 180 damage on turn 2 and keep you from losing to N. Unfortunately, Trevenant decks and Garbodor decks gained popularity and I had to drop it after Spring Regionals.
Alex: I still don’t know how you got that deck to be consistent, it never worked for me. So what draws you to the Primal Pokémon-EX that you have used a lot recently?
Kevin: Well, 240 is a very large number. I wanted to try to make both Groudon and Kyogre work since I saw the scans. There’s always a slight advantage when you’re playing a deck your opponent hasn’t tested much against. I’ve been switching between the two decks based on which I felt was better in the metagame at the time. Unfortunately, Kyogre is dead with all these 1HKOs flying around, but Groudon has gotten better with Mega Turbo and still has Focus Sash.
Alex: Yeah the surprise factor is definitely nice. Do you feel like these decks give you the opportunity to make the “out of the box” plays that you mentioned before?
Kevin: Kyogre was pretty straightforward in how it played, but many decks just weren’t prepared to handle such a big card that helped set up the Bench when it attacked. Groudon definitely has some tricks up its sleeves though. Scramble Switch gives it a lot of flexibility and it’s easy to access with Korrina.
Alex: You’ve driven to a lot of tournaments recently. How do you like to pass the time in the car?
Kevin: Haha, you know I only listen to the best music. Taylor Swift, Paramore, Selena Gomez, just to name a few. There’s also the game called “My Cows” where you count cows you see on the trip. Another good one is the Pokémon Alphabet game. On the way to Kansas Regionals, my car was able to name 457 Pokémon from memory before we got too tired to keep going.
Alex: Lightning round!
Trump Card Ban — Yay or nay?
Alex: Chipotle or Qdoba?
Alex: Night owl or early bird?
Kevin: Night owl
Alex: Android or iPhone?
Alex: Do you frequent any Leagues in your area?
Kevin: I might if there were any. The closest legit Leagues are in Columbus.
Alex: So who makes up your main testing group then?
Kevin: I don’t test as much as I should. I play some on PTCGO. I get together online with Hovercats to test/talk about decks. The closest players to me are Henry Prior and Carl Scheu, so I’ve met up with them occasionally. I also message several other people through Facebook to talk about lists.
Alex: Along those same lines, do you have any rivals in the game?
Kevin: I play against a lot of the same people in League Challenges and Cities around Ohio. So during the Cities grind, a lot of people are my rivals. I share ideas and lists a lot, so there isn’t really anyone I specifically try to metagame against, but sometimes it feels like people are gunning for me, haha.
Alex: Lastly, what is your favorite Pokémon?
Kevin: My favorite Pokémon is Nidoking. My playmat has the whole Nidoking line on it. It was designed by my girlfriend as a birthday present. So if anyone sees me on stream in the future, I’ll probably have the mat out. It’s gotten a lot of compliments.
Thanks a ton to Kevin for doing this interview and good luck to him at Nationals! Feel free to check out TeamFishKnuckles on YouTube for a couple of Kevin’s decklists and other interviews. I’ll be back with another interview in two weeks. Stay tuned!