Jonathan Hiller, U.S. Nationals Senior Division 2rd Place (VGC)
Can you tell me a little about your experience at Nationals?
My experience at Nationals was really great. I had won at Regionals the year before. It was interesting going back, as I didn’t do as well at Regionals this year as I did last year. I went in with lower expectations for this Nationals, but it turned out really well.
What did you do to prepare for Nationals? Did you change up your team?
Yeah, I made a new team after Regionals, because I didn’t think the team I had would do well enough at Nationals. And after the Japanese National Championships, the entire strategy in America kind of shifted.
What happened at that event?
The move Swagger became really popular just overnight. The Japanese Masters Division winner had a team of Pokémon with Swagger, which I believe had Thundurus and a Cresselia. So that became really popular and people had to kind of play around that.
Did you go back and build your team to defend against that?
I did go back and make sure it was better equipped to handle it. Swagger didn’t really have any presence at the U.S. National Championships, but I was ready for it.
What kind of teams did you see at the U.S. Nationals?
Rain was a popular strategy. Most teams didn’t really have any kind of theme, but there was a lot of Cresselia, Metagross, Thundurus, and Scizor. Those Pokémon were really popular.
Who do you play against to practice?
Before Nationals, I was playing with my friend Toler Webb (U.S. Nationals Senior Division 3rd Place) and other people over Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection in the Global Battle Union on the Pokémon Global Link. After Nationals, I haven’t played with Toler much because he lost to me in the Semi-Finals.
Is there a little bitterness there?
No, it’s really just the competition. We don’t want to see each other’s teams before Worlds.
Brandon Smiley, U.S. Nationals Senior Division 3rd Place (TCG)
Can you tell me how your experience at Nationals went this year?
It was my first time placing so well in the event. I got 3rd and my cousin got 4th, so we both were pretty lucky. We both got the trips to Hawaii, and we hadn’t played much this season.
How did you qualify for Nationals?
I got in through the Regionals, and I won 1st Place there.
And have you changed up your deck since Nationals?
I changed it up a lot. With the new set, Black & White—Dark Explorers, coming out, I changed up a lot of different things.
What would you say the key tech is in your deck?
For me, it’s Super Scoop Up. That just changed so many games if I flipped heads. If they were about to knock something out, I would just flip a heads and they couldn’t. It worked a lot.
What decks are you expecting to see at Worlds?
I’m expecting a lot of Darkrai-EX decks—Darkrai-EX/Smeargle decks or Darkrai-EX/Mewtwo decks. Also, I expect to see some Vileplume decks.
What Pokémon are in that deck?
It has Accelgor (Black & White—Dark Explorers, 11/108), Chandelure (Black & White—Next Destinies, 101/99), and Darkrai-EX. I’ve been facing that deck a lot.
Are you doing last minute changes before Worlds?
Yeah, I’m testing a bunch of decks. I’ve never been to Worlds before, so I know the competition is going to be tough. I’m expecting to face a lot of good players.
Are you eyeing the players that won last year?
I’m eyeing everyone just to be ready for anything.
Good luck to all of our Worlds competitors!