This is the second of two parts of my interview with the 3rd place finisher in the recent Pokemon World Championships, Jay Hornung…
WW: “Any strategies for deck building or card buying you could share?”
JH: “Starting out players just build their deck, which is the best way to start. Once players begin to get a feel for the game and what kind of decks are popular they become better at building stronger decks and decks to counter what is popular at the time. If we build a deck that has a hard time against what we know is going to be popular than we need to either find a new deck or fix the problems with our current one.”
WW: “Besides Pokémon, what other interests/hobbies/sports are you involved with?”
JH: “I’m an extremely active person so many of my other hobbies reflect that. I’m an avid runner and I also enjoy weightlifting, rock climbing, and swimming. My true passion though is Martial Arts, which I was introduced to while attending Iowa State. I’ve trained in Judo, Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido, Muay Thai, and I’ve also trained a little bit in mixed martial arts.”
WW: “Is there a crossover from your martial arts training to your Pokémon TCG competition? Are you winning by threatening to harm your opponents? :)”
JH: “I would say the biggest crossover between the two is hard work pays off and the level of people you train with will directly affect your performance. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to train with a lot of really experienced Martial Artists. The better the people I trained with the quicker I became better. I could feel myself improving more in 1 month training in a certain gym than I did in 4 months training in another gym.
It’s the same thing in Pokémon in the sense that nearly all the top players play together. The few days before Worlds last year everybody I was preparing with had at least a Top 8 at US Nationals (a 1000 person tournament). Many of the top players understand the benefit of practicing with other top players.
As for the second part of your question, no I haven’t been threatening any of my opponents. In fact there are actually quite a few other players from around the world that are very active in Martial Arts as well and Pokemon has been just another thing we have in common. People kind of get this image of a stereotypical Pokémon player when the truth is a handful of us spend more time at the gym than we do at the card table.”
WW: “Are you satisfied by how the Pokémon TCG has evolved over the years? Anything you’d like to see different?”
JH: “The Pokémon Company does an amazing job of listening to the player base. They take feedback both positive and negative very well and are constantly attempting to improve the game for the players. Many of the changes I’ve wanted to see over the years have been minor and issues that the company has already addressed. I simply can’t stress enough how customer friendly the company is. I think there is always going to be little things that need to be tweaked, but the important thing is the company continues to recognize and improve on these things.”
WW: “Any last advice to new players?”
JH: “It seems so cliché, but have fun and make friends. The player base is so welcoming to newer players of all ages. This is a huge draw for parents and younger children, but there are quite a few older kids as well. I would say I see players as young as 4 and well as players well into their 60s. While in tournaments players are separated by age divisions, at leagues older players are very welcoming and helpful to newer players of all ages. The other thing would be the player base is just so diverse. I know doctors, lawyers, teachers, military personnel, and just people from every background and career you could image.”
Congratulations to Jay Hornung. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced Pokemon TCG player, you’re welcome to join the Ames, Iowa league at Mayhem Comics every Tuesday evening. An exciting year is ahead as more of us are gearing up to travel to earn championship points so we too, hopefully, will compete at the Pokemon World Championships 2013 in Vancouver, British Columbia!