City to City with a Junior Division Champ
02 Jan, 2013 in Play! Pokémon
Fresh off a string of solid performances at Pokémon TCG City Championship events, Junior Division player Ethan Heise explains his winning ways.
The Pokémon TCG City Championships tend to be among the smaller events in the Championship Series schedule, but for some players they’re a big deal. One person who thinks so is Ethan Heise, who has played in City Championship events across three states, winning virtually everywhere he has competed. As a Junior Division player, Ethan has already been to a World Championships, and he’s seen success in various tournaments across the United States. We asked him to share with us what he likes about playing Pokémon, and how he uses the City Championships to prepare for bigger events that follow.
Pokemon.com: Thanks for taking time to talk with us today, Ethan. First, would you tell us how you’ve done so far during the Pokémon TCG City Championships?
Ethan: Well, I’ve earned the maximum points I can earn in the City Championships, but I still attend all the ones I can. My brother has just started playing in the Senior Division, so he’s still trying to earn more points—but I like to play because it’s good practice. I also like winning the card packs and medals!
P.com: How have you done in the City Championship tournaments you have played in, then?
Ethan: I’ve played in eight City Championships and I’ve won seven of them. I went up to Michigan to play in a couple tournaments, but the rest have been around here. The only match I lost is where I got knocked out in a top-cut round. We play a lot around here in Cleveland, too. There are a lot of places that offer competitions that aren’t far away, including Toledo, Columbus, and into Pennsylvania.
P.com: That’s a lot of playing! What keeps you going to Pokémon tournaments week after week?
Ethan: Most of all, I just like seeing all my friends who play the Pokémon TCG. But I also just like playing Pokémon. I play Pokémon video games, too, but I play a lot more Pokémon TCG.
P.com: Do you travel with your friends when you go places for competitions?
Ethan: I get in touch with my friends so I know who will be at a tournament. And there’s a League night nearby almost every night, so I get to know a lot of players. And they all play in tournaments so I see them there. We’re playing in League about twice a week.
P.com: We understand that you just went on a family vacation to Florida, and played in a Pokémon TCG City Championships tournament while you were there. Tell us about that.
Ethan: Yeah, and I won down there, too! But it was fun because we could wear shorts because it was so tropical and warm down there. I played in Regionals down in Florida last year, too. I knew some people from before, but the people I didn’t know were really surprised when I told them where I was from!
P.com: What do you think it is about Pokémon that makes people want to be friends, even though you’re always competing fiercely against each other?
Ethan: I’m always trying to make friends just because it’s a lot more fun to play against friends than it is strangers. I know most of the other Junior Division players in my area. I even knew most of the players from the United States at the World Championships last year.
P.com: You’ve played in pretty much every level of tournaments, from smaller City Championship events all the way to the U.S. National Championships and World Championships. What size of tournament do you like most?
Ethan: I liked Nationals a lot. It was fun to travel there, and I saw so many other Pokémon players that I knew, especially friends from outside Ohio. And I loved seeing the big Pikachu inflatable!
P.com: What do you think of the competition being tougher at these bigger tournaments?
Ethan: Well, it’s harder, but I like that. A lot of my friends around here have moved up into the Senior Division, so I like going to places like Nationals to go against more people my age.
P.com: Your brother is in the Senior Division. Do you two play against each other a lot?
Ethan: We play all the time against each other! We usually play different decks. It’s a good way to practice. If I beat him, we’ll switch decks and play and see if the outcome is different. We can then tell if one deck is better than another, and make changes. We look online for deck ideas, but after we make a deck we find, we’ll make changes to fit how we play.
P.com: What about League nights? Do they help you figure out which decks work best?
Ethan: League nights are good for playing against decks that you’re not used to seeing. There’s always someone there who’s playing Pokémon that we haven’t seen. It’s a good way to see what my weaknesses are in my own deck.
P.com: How much do you discuss strategy with your friends?
Ethan: Not very much. Sometimes we’ll discuss strategy at events, but we mostly just talk about other stuff. I don’t want everyone to know my secrets!
P.com: Have you been using pretty much the same deck for all the City Championships you’ve been playing in, or have you been mixing it up?
Ethan: I’m running a pretty popular deck right now that’s winning quite a bit, but I’m still making small changes.
P.com: Have you been playing an ACE SPEC card in your deck?
Ethan: Yeah, I’ve been using Computer Search so I can set up really fast. Plus I’m playing Sableye and I can use it to get Computer Search out of my discard pile and use it again and again. I thought about Gold Potion, which is really good, too. But I can get away with using Max Potion instead, as well as some Energy Switch so I don’t have to discard any Energy.
P.com: What do you think of the introduction of Pokémon-EX cards into the format?
Ethan: I like them a lot. The games are a lot faster, especially because you draw two Prize cards when you Knock Out a Pokémon-EX. You might only have to Knock Out three Pokémon to win. Pokémon-EX do so much more damage, too.
P.com: Are you a card collector as well as a competitive player?
Ethan: The regular Pokémon-EX cards look pretty good, and the full-art cards are beautiful—they’re amazing! If I get a full-art card, I will try not to use it in my deck, only so I don’t accidentally damage it. The textures on the full-art cards are nice, too. So yeah, I like to collect and keep the best-looking cards.
P.com: You really like everything about playing Pokémon. Why do you think people should play Pokémon?
Ethan: It’s just a really good experience playing with other people. It’s also fun to collect the cards. But it’s just fun!