Player Spotlight #4: Austria's Champions Luca and Lukas
This is another episode of Player Spotlight, where we're going to introduce the current top players in the Pokémon TCG. Today we're here with Luca and Lukas from Austria. They placed 2nd and 1st at Austrian Nationals last year and qualified for Day 2 at Worlds. The ECC isn't on the list of the tournaments they've visited yet, but they're going to change that this weekend!
Hey guys, thank you for taking your time to answer some questions. First of all, would you please say a few words about yourself?
Luca: I'm 19 years old and live in the capital of Austria, in Vienna. I really want to become a doctor somewhen in the future, but the entrance examen in Austria is really hard, so I gotta try again in July - wish me luck! Right now, I'm studying Law and work voluntarily as a Paramedic.
I'm the current Austrian National Vice Champion, which I'm very satisfied with. I started playing 8 years ago and started collecting cards even earlier (I got my first cards at the age of 3), but I never really played competitively. After I finished school and got my drivers license, Lukas and I decided to start becoming competitive, which was around two years ago - and it definitely paid off since then! I'd say that my favourite deck is "pl0x", which evolves around Gardevoir and Gardevoir lv.x from "Secret Wonders", because it was absolute fun to play and I managed to win my first game at Nationals against my arch enemy Jonas, who was the best player in Austria at that time.
Lukas: My name is Lukas Peer, I'm 18 years old, I live in Vienna Austria and I am currently studying Statistics at the
University of Vienna and I am the reigning Austrian National Champion in the Masters Division.
I started playing when I was 9 years old, so I'm now playing for almost 10 years, but those 10 years only contain about 2 years of competetive play, since the Austrian community is rather small compared to other European countries and I never travelled alot to other countires.
My favourite deck of all time has to be Blastoise/Delcatty (both Platinum). I don't know why but I loved this deck straight from the beginning, although it was never really considered a Top-Tier deck. I had a lot of fun with the synergy and achieved one of the two National finals I made it to in my career with it. Right now I like 'Rainbow Road' in the Expanded format very much. For those of you who don't know it, it is built around Ho-Oh EX and Xerneas BKT. The cool ting about it is, that you can explode on turn one whilst it has plenty of room for extraordinary techs.
Pokémon TCG Austria's channel on YouTube
Many Pokémon players are following you on Facebook and YouTube - as two of the faces behind Pokémon TCG Austria. What's it about for you?
Luca & Lukas: Most of you probably don't know that PTCGA actually consists of 3 members, Luca, Lukas and Matthias. While Luca and Lukas play the Trading Card Game competitevly, Matthias does all the important stuff in the background e. g. editting videos.
We started our Youtube channel and our Facebook page in March 2015 because we had the intention to gain interest in the Trading Card Game among the Austrian people, so it was kind of a promotion for the TCG since we have a rather small community here and we simply wanted to attract more people. We think we managed to do that but of course we always want to improve and gain more attention.
After Worlds 2015 we made contact with Pokemon Cardmarket and by now we are in a happy business relationship as we can call Pokemon Cardmarket our faithful sponsor.
Make sure to check us out on Youtube and Facebook where we provide tournament coverage, featured matches, Vlogs and much more! We are always happy to gain new viewers.
As this will be the first European Challenge Cup for both of you - what do you expect there?
Luca: I expect many long rounds, great people, a lot of fun and a LOT of big competition! Nearly every strong european player will compete at the ecc, I heard, that even players from Brazil and the USA will attend as well, that's just crazy and amazing at the same time. This is going to be my first tournament where I expect to play 9 rounds at day 1, without even being in topcut, because you still have to play 5 more rounds the next day. I'm totally looking forward to meet new people and see the fellow ones, I haven't seen since the last tournament. It's always a pleasure to come together at a big tournament and spend an amazing time together - one of the things I really love about big, international tournaments. Nationals in Austria always is a smaller tournament, where nearly everybody knows each other (except for last year, where German and Austrian Nationals were mixed) - I think, that it's a similar situation at the ECC, because most of the top players know each other.
Lukas: I expect a bunch of people I will meet there. Some for the first time and some, which I haven't seen in a long time. That's probably the thing which I am most excited for.
I am very aware of the fact that the ECC is a tournament which is very attractive to the best players in Europe which means that you will have to fight for a win in every single round in the tournament. I think we all know that feeling at Nationals where the judges hang out the pairing for the first time and next to your name is one written which you never heard of before. That is exactly one thing I expect to differ the ECC from Nationals or even Worlds because I am much more familiar with the player base in Europe than with the one from South America for example.
Furthermore it's mentionable (and quite obvious too, actually) that the ECC will be my first tournament with 9 (plus hopefully 5 additional) Swiss rounds. I expect that to be quite a challenge to, because you have to play your A-Game for 9 consecutive rounds on Day 1 which requires a good stamina.
Image courtesy of 60cards.net
What is your goal for the competition? Reaching Top 32 - or even more?
Luca: Reaching Top 32 would be my goal, everything after that is just an amazing bonus for me. There are so many factors that can be game deciding: how much sleep you got, if you ate and drank enough before and during the tournament, which matchup you are facing, even the smallest misplay can count! But we're playing Pokemon and this game is also luck based - the coinflip before the game can change so many things. But we'll see, how thinks work out in the end. If you stay focused and are little bit lucky, everything is possible in my opinion.
Lukas: The meta game is immensly versatile right now. This means the probability of succeeding highly depends on the
match-ups you face during the tournament. Therefore I have a goal, which is making it to Top 8, but no
I want to get to Top 8 because the ECC is a Regional Championship with the Nationals CP-structure so Top 8 would mean 200 CP which is huge due to the fact that a Regional win only gives you 150 CP. Thus, a top 8 at the ECC gives you an automatic boost compared to your opponents who also want to make it to Top 22.
The Standard metagame is widely spread. It seems that one can have success with almost any deck. Without going too much into detail about your deck choice: Do you focus on a few decks when playtesting, or do you try to get a good overview about all of them?
Luca: I always try to get a good overview about the current meta decks, which decks had success in which countries and which players I expect to play which deck - normally I make a top 10 of meta decks and compare how well they did in certain countries (I love the internet and Virbank City).
If I decided to play a certain deck, I usually try to test its matchups against the top 10 list of decks I created earlier, I try to adapt the decklist little bit, play around and somehow I always found a good build in the past. During testing for the ECC I did the same - and found a decklist with which I am very comfortable with!
Lukas: In the past, I always acrued my best results with decks not anyone expected. I wouldn't call them rogue decks but old decks, which some people forgot about. If I prepare for a tournament, I always analyze the current Meta-Game and try to make the best Call. And most of the time I end up playing a deck, which tends to fly under the radar's of many other competitors.
That is my general strategy for preparing and I also executed it this time and came to a conclusion. Of course, there is always a risk in playing 'Non-Meta-Decks' but I had more situations where it payed off really well, than vice versa.
How would you describe the development of the Standard metagame since the release of BREAKthrough?
Luca: Breakthrough had a few good cards in it, but it didn't really change the metagame in my opinion. It brought back some great Item/Supporter cards as Skyla, Fisherman, Superrod, Town Map and Float stone. I also love Zoroark and its Break Evolution, Mewtwo ex Y is also a cool card, but that would be all. And it seems like more players have the same opinion as me - decks like Vespiquen/Zoroark or Mewtwo Y variations have spread and I'm definitely also expecting these decks at the ECC!
Lukas: I honestly think that BREAKthrough's impact on the metagame was too big. It had a lot of playable stuff in it, don't get me wrong there, but it definitely didn't change the whole metagame. I'd rather see the deck as an addition to the metagame as it was before because all the decks that have been good before are still playable, there are just some more now.
To name an example: Mega Mewtwo Y. Zoroark is a great addition to the metagame now to but what I most liked about the set were it's reprints. Judge was important because we needed a way to manipulate our opponents hand besides Red Card and Ace Trainer, I use Super Rod in almost every deck now and Skyla is a very underrated supporter in my opinion, since you have enough ways to draw the cards you need on your turn and Skyla gets you the missing piece in many cases.
Let's have a short view in the future. BREAKpoint becomes legal after the ECC - what cards do you consider to make an impact on the metagame?
Luca: I think, that Breakpoint is going to change many things. It contains super powerful Item cards, which are going to shift the metagame in an interesting direction. Puzzle of Time, Fighting Fury Belt, Delinquent - all of these cards are pushing some decks in expanded so much, maybe some cards will be banned again. What I really love about this set is, that it contains Break Evolutions, which are more playable than EX cards. Darkrai EX and Ho-oh EX aren't bad cards, but cards like Trevenant Break or Greninja Break are just awesome - and they don't allow your opponent to draw two price cards after a knockout. I'm really looking forward to play my first tournament with this set being allowed!
Lukas: I think what i said about BREAKthrough also fits my BREAKpoint description. Some deck-ideas already started popping up in my had, for example Greninja or Trevenant/Aegislash. There are a bunch of other cards I like in the set, I won't go into detail now, but Garchomp/Delinquent, Fighting Fury Belt, Darkrai EX, Ho-Oh EX seem promising but right now I can't think of a Top-Tier deck featuring one of those cards.
What's maybe worth mentioning is that I have a very strong opinion on the Garbodor 'reprint'. Most of the decks nowadays use abilities on the first turn (Scoundrel Ring, Set Up) so Garbodor can't block them anyways. Additionally, most decks run Pokemon with abilitis themselves which means Garbodor would habv a downside to them too. That's why I think Top-Tier decklists will more likely contain Hex Maniac than Garbodor since it's much more versatile.
Even further into future - are you going to Worlds in San Francisco this year?
Luca & Lukas: Of course we're going! Once you experienced this amazing feeling and atmosphere, you never want to miss it again, that's why we already have booked our flight! Lukas, Matthias and I are really looking forward to this extraordinary event. Lukas and I are trying to get a travel award and end up in the european top 22 this season (like last year) while Matthias is going to enjoy his well earned holidays.
Thank you for the interview and good luck for the ECC!
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