Interview with Shintaro Ito (World Championship Runner Up)

Please find the original Japanese-language article here. Note my translation is not a perfect translation and I have rearranged and reworded some parts of the original article for clarity and readability. Find also some explanatory comments inside square brackets, italicised. This website is in no way affiliated with Pokemon, Nintendo, Creatures Inc or GAME FREAK inc, and claims no rights to the original article. 

Results History

Pokemon World Championships 2016 Masters Division Champion

Pokemon World Championships 2019 Masters Division Runner Up

Battle Carnival Spring 2013 Nagoya Champion

How did you start the Pokemon TCG? 

Please tell us how you started playing the Pokemon TCG.

I first bought Pokemon cards in my first year of primary school, but I started properly playing in my third year of middle school.

When did you first play in a tournament?

I decided to participate in an official sanctioned tournament for the first time in 2008, but unfortunately it was cancelled. I had no choice but to go to a store tournament, and about 70 other people in the same situation were there.

There were many players there who had played at the World Championships, and they very kindly taught me things even though I was just a beginner. The fact that I became acquainted with them was one factor that caused me to want to delve deeper into Pokemon.

What were you doing before you started playing the Pokemon TCG?

When I was three years I old, I bought “Pokemon Green Version” and from then on Pokemon was always in my life. I love the video games, and when I was in year four of primary school I participated in an official tournament called the “Pokemon Battle Tour.” The me back then had no knowledge of how to play properly, so I got destroyed by my older brother who was in year six, haha. This frustration prompted me to study the game like an addict, and in high school I even played in a “Pokemon Battle Off” tournament.

Your best decks

Please tell us your strategies. 

This is very difficult to answer because when I'm playing I use lots of different strategies…

Certainly. You always come up with unexpected strategies, so we are excited to see what strategies you will use this time.

The process of searching for card combinations that no one else has thought of is fun, and it's the best feeling when you actually make the deck and are able to perform well with it, haha.

I think I've been using cards that are immune to being attacked by certain Pokemon for a long time. In 2013 I used Suicune, and I've also used Hoopa and Vileplume. I think that I rate cards which counter Pokemon EX and Pokemon GX very highly. 

How do you build your creative decks?

Before I became a Japanese representative in 2013, I didn't have much confidence in my abilities. If I played popular meta decks, I felt I wouldn’t be able to win the mirror match. This was one big reason I started making rogue decks. Now that I've developed confidence, I'm able to make decks with the intention of beating the mirror match, so sometimes I use meta decks.

Things that are important when deck building 

Can you please tell us the things you find important when making a deck?

First off, I build all the decks that are popular, as well as the less popular decks. I use these to practice, and will look for decks that are particularly strong against popular decks.

How many decks do you make in this first stage?

Not that many… about 40?

Isn’t that a lot!? 

I'll think to myself, “Oh, this decks looks fun,” or “I want to try the deck that person is using,” and naturally the number of decks will go up. Rather than wanting to win, I find the process itself enjoyable. Of course, if you win it will be even more fun, so I work hard.

Your most memorable tournament and the cards you used 

What is the most memorable tournament (or match) that you have played so far?

The match I had with Koujiro Tsuruta at the Pokemon World Championships 2016. Tsuruta is a very strong player who, around the time I started playing, placed in the top 4 of the World Championships 2009.

So the game was memorable because you got to play against such a strong player?

He was one of the players I'd been wanting to play against, so that was great. I'd been wanting to play against this player I had looked up to for a long time, and to play against him in the setting of the Pokemon World Championships really left a lasting impression on me. He was also the first Japanese player I played against at the World Championships, so that might have been a factor as well.

Your favourite card and why 

What is your favourite card?

Terrakion from the Black and White expansion “Red Collection.” I used the card when I first became a Japanese representative in 2013 in a deck which used Terrakion and Suicune.

Terrakion was a card which made the games I played really fun. You can dish out 90 damage for one Energy with “Retaliate” but this depends on whether your opponent chooses to meet your conditions – it's a passive option. The other attack, “Land Crush” requires three Energy but can actively do 90 damage.

Essentially, you can choose to play Terrakion passively or actively depending on the situation. It’s no exaggeration to say that this card helped me learn a lot about strategy.

What hobbies and specialities do you have outside of Pokemon cards?

I've been swimming since I was three years old, and across high school and middle school I was in the swim club for six years. That swim club taught a Japanese swimming style called “the swimming style of the Bushi" [Note: another word for samurai]. It's tradition for alumni to teach current students, so sometimes I teach there. In summer, there's a training camp for 10 nights and 11 days, so I always make sure to go to that. It’s hard because every year it's just before the World Championships, but I turn it into a positive by thinking that this exercise will give me physical strength, haha.

Gyms you frequent

[Note: Gyms are the equivalent of local leagues.]

Which gyms do you go to often?

I often play at the “Konan Gym” in Yokohama. I’ve been going there since I started participating in shop tournaments, so I've been playing there quite a while.

There’s a rumour going around that you used to jig school to go and play the Pokemon TCG… 

Konan Gym is usually held on a Sunday, so it’s not like I was jigging! I would leave home telling my parents that I was going to school, so to match my story I would wear my school uniform. I’m sure people misunderstood what I was doing because of that, haha.

Please find the original Japanese-language article here


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