Can Too

Interview with Top 16 Ranked Brandon Cantu
brandon cantu
Brandon at Worlds 2014 in Washington, DC.

Hey everybody, I’m back again with another player who was featured in the Power Rankings a while ago. This week I’m talking with Brandon Cantu who is currently ranked #4 in Championship Points in the US and Canada. Brandon has put up a very impressive run in the last 10 months with a Top 16 finish at Worlds 2014, 2nd Place at Houston Regionals, 1st Place at Mississippi States, the list goes on and on. He has very quietly accrued nearly 700 Championship Points and I am very glad to be able to help you all to get to know him better. On to the interview!

Alex: Thanks for doing this interview! Can you tell us where you’re from and how old you are?

Brandon: I was born and am currently living in San Antonio, TX. I am 23 years old.

Alex: What do you do for a living?

Brandon: I sell Pokémon plush toys and figures.

Alex: Oh wow that’s really awesome. Do you have any hobbies outside of Pokémon?

Brandon: I enjoy playing Super Smash Bros. with my friends as well as a few other fighting games but other than that not much.

Alex: Do you compete in any tournaments for the other games or just Pokémon tournaments?

Brandon: I do plan on going to Smash tournaments in the future but as of now I do not. I am trying to get competitive at the game.

Alex: I really dig Smash too but I haven’t gone to any tournaments either. Who’s your main in that game and what about that character attracts you to them?

Brandon: I main Peach because of her randomness. I like the ability to pull a very powerful item and turn the game around as well as the frustration it can give my opponent as I can get lucky.

peach turnip
You never know what Peach may dig up.

Alex: Does any of that translate to the type of decks that you like in Pokémon?

Brandon: It does kind of, yes. I cannot remember playing the same deck back to back for a tournament since last year at States when I played Blastoise for four straight tournaments. I guess I also tend to favor decks which are played less or not at all. For example, this year at States I played Seismitoad-EX/Aromatisse XY/Malamar-EX, Donphan PLS/Raichu XY, and Exeggutor PLF/Swampert PRC 36/Slurpuff PHF. I sometimes just like to throw a little twist on a popular archetype as well to make it my own.

Alex: Being unpredictable can definitely come in handy, especially during Cities where local players can try to metagame you.

Speaking of Pokémon, can you tell us a bit about your history in the game?

Brandon: I played my first tournament in 2013 when Dragons Exalted came out and managed to get Top 16 at Houston Regionals, my first tournament, but I didn’t really go to any other major tournaments the rest of the season. 2014 was my first year where I started to try to be competitive. I did manage to get my invite that year. I acquired 235 of my points that year around States with Blastoise and I later played the deck for Worlds landing me a Top 16 spot. I finished 17th in rankings last year just missing the paid trip to my first Nationals. I tried to make sure that didn’t happen this year and have firmly secured my Top 16 spot for Nationals and hopefully Worlds.

Alex: What has been your most memorable match in your career?

Brandon: My most memorable match was my Top 4 match last year at Louisiana States against Jake Morgan. I was playing Blastoise and he was playing Darkrai-EX/Garbodor LTR/Sableye DEX with 2 Absol PLF. He won game a close Game 1 and then I won a more convincing Game 2. In Game 3, I have taken 2 Prizes and he has taken 4. I have Keldeo-EX with 140 damage on it. He has 2 Garbodor set up with Float Stones and a fully powered up Darkrai-EX and Absol. I check his discard see that he has gone through a Float Stone and has both attached. I then see my only way to win is to try to deck him out even though he still has about 10 cards in deck. I then manage to get heads on a Pokémon Catcher and Tool Scrapper only 1 of the Garbodor so it does not get free retreat from Darkrai. After many turns of passing I manage to deck him since he does not have 3 Energy left to retreat it.

garbodor ltr 16-9
A keen observation helped Brandon identify Jake had ran out of gas.

Alex: Wow, that’s impressive. Many players don’t see those alternate win conditions when they come up. So is Blastoise your favorite deck of all time or is there another deck that you’ve enjoyed more?

Brandon: Blastoise is easily my favorite deck of all time. I have played it much more than any other deck. It holds a special place in my heart since it gave me my first States win as well as a good performance at Worlds. I played 3 Dark/Garb decks, 2 Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX decks, 2 Plasma decks, 1 Pyroar deck, and 1 Landorus/Drifblim/Palkia/Raichu/Mewtwo (RossCawthon.dec). I didn’t really feel like the deck was that good of a meta-call for Worlds but I felt like I played it well enough to where it did not matter as much.

Alex: Alright lightning round time!

Best Safeguard Pokémon: Sigilyph or Suicune?

Brandon: Suicune

Alex: Favorite big event: Nationals or Worlds?

Brandon: Worlds

Alex: Jirachi-EX or Shaymin-EX

Brandon: Shaymin-EX

Alex: Best gaming company: Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo?

Brandon: Nintendo

Alex: Favorite genre of music?

Brandon: Taylor Swift!

Alex: Summer or Winter?

Brandon: Winter

bayleef happy
Brandon likes Bayleef … but not Meganium!

Alex: Do you go to any Leagues around San Antonio?

Brandon: Not really. I go to one occasionally when a new set comes out to makes some trades but that is about it

Alex: Who do you usually test with then? Do you test a lot online or do you meet up in person?

Brandon: I usually just play random people on PTCGO. I should test more. I try to test a lot right before a large tournament. My main testing partner is probably Max Armitage.

Alex: That partnership has definitely worked out for you then. Both you and Max have had very successful seasons this year. How far do you find yourself having to travel for tournaments?

Brandon: I have actually traveled quite a bit this year. I recently drove with some friends from Texas to Georgia which was a good 14-hour drive or so.

Alex: Do you guys drive everywhere or have you had to fly to some tournaments?

Brandon: I have only flown once before and that was to Worlds last year. I try to avoid flying because I get air sick I found out and it’s cheaper to drive.

Alex: So, what would be your ideal location for Worlds?

Brandon: I would love to see it held at different locations around the world such as Tokyo, Japan or somewhere in Europe but that would lower attendance as well I’m sure. I definitely would not go if I did not have a paid trip to go outside of the country.

Alex: That’s understandable. Hopefully the US would get more paid trips if it was out of the country.

Lastly, what is your favorite Pokémon?

Brandon: It is a toss-up between Bayleef and Flareon but probably Bayleef. I like Chikorita as well but I do not like Meganium oddly enough.

Thanks again to Brandon for letting me interview him, it was a pleasure. I’m looking forward to seeing strong finishes from him at both Nationals and Worlds, as well as the opportunity to finally meet him.

Also, be on the lookout for my Underground article next week. It’ll be all about Canadian Nationals and how the metagame will shift for US Nationals. Take care!

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