In this interview, we were able to catch up with Jay Hornung, one of the game’s biggest stars. Of course, Jay earned his invite by taking 3rd at last year’s World Championships, so we want to see how his season is going. Last year we were able to get an in-depth interview with him, so be sure to check that out if you’d like to know more about Jay! Without further adieu, let’s get to the interview.
Since you already had an invite from last year’s Worlds, have you approached this season any differently? Are you taking it as seriously as you would have if you didn’t have the invite?
Yes I definitely think I’m taking the game less serious this season, but not due to having the invite. Over the last few years the game has been dumbed down dramatically and we no longer have these very complex mirror matches like Gardevoir/Gallade or Luxchomp. The game is very straightforward and much less complex, which in my opinion leads to much more boring game play. While I still enjoy playing the game, it’s become too mundane to really sit there and play test for hours on end.
The upside to this of course is I feel like I really don’t need to play test as much either. Just a few games with a deck in general will let me realize what changes need to be made and a single game or two against popular match ups will let me know how to play against them.
Almost every tournament I’ve played in this year I’ve walked in with a list I’ve either never tested or made several card changes to that I never tested. Despite doing this all season at major tournaments, I haven’t had any really bad 2 AM decisions yet. This would have been unthinkable in years past with more complex decks and complex game interactions.
Worlds is a tournament I’ve always taken very seriously. In years past I’ve come very close to the title, but it has always just eluded me. I’m very grateful to have another shot at it this August in Vancouver. Worlds is also the largest scholarship/prize tournament of the year, so it’s very important to me that I’m as prepared as possible.
In years past it seems like players who take a year off and then try to play Worlds cold have really struggled. This year I knew how important it was for me to stay up on the game and play in tournaments, and my competitive nature has really stopped me from not taking a casual approach to tournaments. So while I do feel like I care about the game less this year and have spent more time focusing on other aspects of my life, I’ve still kept a very competitive attitude when I show up to tournaments.
What has been your favorite deck to use this season? What have you been using currently?
Probably by far my favorite deck has been Darkrai EX. I’ve basically played the card since it came out last year and found a lot of early success with it. I’ve just had to adapt the deck based on the format. I also really enjoyed playing Blastoise early in Cities, but considerably less later on due to how common and boring the mirror was.
Recently at States I played Big Basics and Darkrai finishing bubble, bubble, 1st.
How do you feel about the current state of the game?
I’m not a huge fan of the current state of the metagame, but I also feel like it’s not as bad as players make it out to be either. I have 2 big issues with the game right now; the first is turn 1 wins. However, I think a player can do a lot to help prevent getting donked such as playing more basics and not playing basics with low hit points. My second issue is the sleep flip that comes with Hypnotoxic Laser, because I feel like it adds to much randomness to the game.
I’d also like to add that something desperately needs to be done to balance out the first turn.
I really like the large variety of decks that are competitive and some directions the game is heading like Stadiums actually needing to be played. I would like to see a reprint of Desert Ruins and Cursed Stone though. I think a Desert Ruins reprint would go a lone way to help balancing out EX’s and bring Stage 2’s back to the competitive scene.
You’ve been able to qualify for every World Championship dating back to 2004. How do you explain that kind of consistency over the years?
Honestly, I feel like people look at my record and see my finishes and think I’m this amazing player. However, when I look back at those events all I can see is the lucky breaks, amazing top decks, and near misses. Anybody who has done well at any major event and said luck didn’t play a crucial part is straight up lying.
So I guess the most honest answer to that question would be a combination of consistent deck building, good meta calls, smart playing, great teammates, and more luck than I certainly deserved.
As a veteran player, do you have any advice for players trying to enter the competitive scene?
Surround yourself with good friends and teammates because they are the ones that will ultimately decide how you do competitively. Constantly ask yourself “what can I do for my team,” rather than “what can my team do for me.”
Every major finish I’ve had in this game has been due to the help of somebody else. I would be nothing without my brother, my friends, and my teammates. This is something I always think about and always remember.
Going along with this, when I look back at this game it’s not the tournaments I’m going to remember; it’s all the stupid stuff I did with friends. Running around downtown San Diego with Con, Gino, and Alex looking for fictional Canadian basketball players, having prank wars with James and Drew in Hawaii, etc.
To sum it up your friends will make you or break you in this game, but don’t get so focused on the game you forget about the things that are most important.
Do you have any hobbies besides Pokémon?
I love being really active and enjoy running, weightlifting, and martial arts.
What do you enjoy most about the Pokémon TCG?
Honestly it’s the people that I enjoy most and the only reason I still play. I’ve made so many close friends over the years that I couldn’t imagine saying good by to. They’ve been there for me through the good times and the bad both in this game and out of it. It’s really hard for me to explain it to my friends that don’t play, but I literally grew up with these people.
Is there anything else you’d like to say to our viewers?
I just want to say thank you to The Top Cut for giving me the chance to do this interview. Also make sure to check me out at Six Prizes!
As always, it’s a pleasure to talk with Jay. He is one of the legendary figures in the game, and he always has great things to say. I’m sure we’ll be able to catch up with him again at some point as the season progresses. Thanks, Jay! Good luck with the rest of your season!