In this interview, I was able to speak with one of the game’s rising stars, Ray Cipoletti! In his first season, he was able to make Top 32 at Worlds, and he’s following it up with another invite this year. Let’s hear from him!
Congratulations on your invite to Worlds! How did you earn your points?
I started with 60 points from Top 32 at the World Championships. To start off the season I got second at a Battle Road, then won 4 in a row, then got another second! To follow that up I managed to win one City Championship, get a second and two Top 4’s. My biggest win of the year came during these past Regionals where I managed to win Virginia locking up my invite!
For those who may not know you, can you tell us a bit about your history in the game?
I got into this game due to an interesting set of events happening all at once. Basically I had a lot of medical issues that prevented from doing basically anything physical. I also couldn’t play video games or anything for the longest time thanks to epilepsy so there was not much to do. My brother was already into the Pokémon TCG so he told me to try it and that is how I started. I had played Magic before as well so I was familiar with the competitive card game scene. Now I have been playing competitively for 2 seasons and managed to win Cities, States, Regionals, and qualify for Worlds twice!
In your first two seasons, you’ve been able to qualify for the World Championships. How were you able to have that kind of success so quickly?
To be honest I am not really sure how I’m able to do so well. The game was really easy to learn and I like being competitive, so I practiced playing a lot when I first started and everything just fell into place.
What has been your favorite deck to use this season? What have you been using currently?
Definitely Darkrai variants. I played Darkrai exclusively throughout Cities and at the Regionals I won. Darkrai has so many choices sometimes with things like Junk Hunt and the mirror matches are pretty fun for me. I have yet to be bored of playing Darkrai. I played Darkrai at the one State I went to where I Top 4’d.
How do you feel about the current state of the game?
Personally I really don’t like it much due to Hypnotoxic Laser. I’ve won and lost too many games off of that Sleep flip, and I hate when matches are decided by that one coin flip. Hopefully the game will improve with the next sets.
What are your plans now that you have your invite?
Relax!!! I’m going to be doing commentating during Regionals. Our TO has hired GGs Live to cover our Regionals, and he asked me to commentate! I’m really excited for this opportunity and it’s going to be a lot of fun. I also judged two State Championships so I have not played that much lately.
What do you enjoy most about the Pokémon TCG?
The people! I go to all these tournaments because I love hanging out with all the friends I have made in this game and making new ones! I also enjoy the competition and winning. When you win a big event like States or Regionals it feels really good, as you know haha.
Do you have any hobbies besides Pokémon?
I used to but due to health issues I had to stop them. Pokémon is currently my only hobby. I’ve been playing League of Legends as well for fun if that counts!
As a newer player who was able to have a lot of success quickly, what advice do you have for new players trying to burst onto the competitive scene?
Playtest! Playtesting helps improve your skills a lot. Practice makes perfect. Also try to make connections, this is huge. If you are able to make friends with someone who is a lot better than you and practice with them it will help you get better faster. Having an open mind will help to. Don’t always just think your way is the best way. Take people’s advice into consideration and listen. I’ve seen players with potential never able to blossom because they refuse to take help from people who are better than them because they already think they are the best. I think the best way to improve is to listen.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
Thank you for the interview and see everyone at Nationals and Worlds!
Thanks to Ray for the interview. He has some great advice in there for new and old players alike. Without a doubt, he’s had a ton of success in a short period of time. I’m sure we’ll be hearing from him again soon!