After interviewing the #1 player in North America, we’re following up with #2, Jayson Harry! Over the past few years, Jayson has been one of the most consistent players in the game. In addition to being one of the top rated players nearly every year, he finished 3rd at last year’s US National Championship. Once again, he’s proving his skills this year. Let’s hear from him!
For those who may not know you, can you tell us a bit about yourself? Where are you from, what is your history with Pokémon, etc.?
I grew up in Arizona, but have lived in Kentuckiana since 2007. I played Wigglytuff/Haymaker in tournaments hosted by Atomic Comics in Phoenix when the Pokémon TCG first came out, but lost interest at the beginning of the Neo block. I returned to the game during the 06/07 season where I won a Regional and got top 16 at Nationals. I’ve been in love with this game and the community that surrounds it ever since.
Right now you are ranked #2 in North America for Masters with 39 Championship Points. How did you go about getting to such a high number, and what do you attribute your success to?
I recognized that points from City Championships will potentially be an even bigger factor than in previous years in earning a Worlds invite. With that in mind, I set a goal to top cut at five events, and gave myself a lot of chances to do so by attending the Atlanta portion of the Georgia marathon as well as tournaments in Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri and Indiana. I ended up winning two in Indiana, two in Georgia and one in Missouri, which was a lot better than I expected. The main factor contributing to my success was probably just the large amount of tournaments I attended.
In this format, there seems to be a ton of viable decks. Do you think it’s better to pick a deck and stick with it, or do you change decks based on the metagame?
For the previous two seasons, I played Luxray/Garchomp almost exclusively. Even though we are only half way through this season, I have already played nine different decks and have won with seven of them. There are too many fun, yet competitive decks in this format to stick with just one! I have had to make some deck choices based on metagame – for example, switching from my Virizion deck to Aaron Curry’s Electrode variant after bad showings the first two days of the Georgia marathon.
Do you playtest a lot, or do you prefer relying on theory and discussion with your friends? Also, would you rather play online or in person when you practice?
Outside of tournaments, I mostly just play fun decks at the local league – although I used to playtest often. For serious deck testing and list development, I think the best tool out there is Apprentice.
At this point, you are well on your way to earning an invitation to Worlds this year. Do you plan on going to Nationals still? More importantly, will you be making the trip to Hawaii?
Nationals is without a doubt the best tournament of the season. I wouldn’t miss it for anything. I do plan on making the trip to Hawaii.
In two of the past three years you have finished third or higher for rating, and here you are again. As a consistent performer, do you have any suggestions for people who might be struggling to do well at tournaments?
When I got into competitive play, I just looked at what the best players were doing and tried to imitate that. This is made even easier when the top players in the game, such as you all over at The Top Cut, make their top cut matches, strategies and opinions available for everyone to learn from. A resource like that would have been invaluable to me as a new player. Luckily, I had some excellent online testing partners to learn from instead, such as Johnny Kettler, Justin Sanchez, Carlos Maldonado, and Emre Arslan just to name a few.
What are your goals for the rest of the season?
Getting top 4 at Nationals again would be a dream come true.
Do you have any other hobbies besides Pokémon?
I play chess and Starcraft, and am an avid fan of Starcraft pro gaming. I enjoy all kinds of board, card and video games. I love traveling, hiking, biking, camping and cooking.
Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?
Good luck! Thanks for supporting The Top Cut!
Thanks again to Jayson for taking the time to answer our questions! Without a doubt, he is one of the game’s rising stars, so don’t be surprised if you keep seeing his name pop up. Plus, he is one of the friendliest players in the game. We wish him good luck for the rest of the season!