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Top o’ the World Player Profile
Tom Lafleur -
10) Who is your most difficult competition?
Well, when I lived in Killeen, Texas, I would say Mark Anders was the toughest for me. In Kansas, I played at Collector's Cache - they had a couple of guys on their "Team Cache" who were pretty tough. My son Thayer (currently ranked 128 Globally) is probably the best player I have ever played. He is 13. I have taught him everything I know, but he hasn't taught me everything he has learned. He's pretty smart!
11) What do you win at tournaments?
Right now, nothing. I provide all the prizes for tournaments at Spooky Mountain. There is no charge to be a member of our club, and the tournaments are free. Everyone wins a prize - holographic cards and lots of chocolate for the top 8 finishers, and lesser rares and prizes for the rest. We also give a handfull of commons to the last place guy/gal so they can improve their deck. I also give out promo cards to the top 3 finishers - usually pre-release Aerodactyl, ivy-leaf Pikachu, or Computer Error - something like that. I usually buy 4 or 5 boxes when the new set comes out, so I can make a "tournament set" for the players to see exactly what the cards can do, some cards for my own decks (and Thayer's), and the rest for prizes. I think it is good to give every participant of a tournament something. I ran large tournaments at Ft. Hood with my buddy Phil Robinson (late 1999), and we made sure that everyone got a Japanese card just for attending.
12) What are some of your most thrilling victories?
They all involve Gust of Wind. One time, I was down on prizes, but my opponent only had 10 or 12 cards in his deck. I gusted up his Rhyhorn (huge retreat cost) and waited. After 3 turns, he had enough energy on him to retreat, and I gusted him up again. 3 turns later, he retreated again, and I gusted him again. He drew a switch and switched, and I item findered for another gust. He finally scooped him up, but it was too late and I decked him. I should have lost - he was really mad that he metagamed one Rhyhorn in his deck. A couple of times it was Ditto vs. Ditto, and we were both building up our benches. You've got to save your gusts for the right time - or you can lose the game. Anyway, he had a promo Mewtwo with 2 energy on it and another one with no energy. In 2 turns, I gusted them both up and got 2 quick knockouts.
13) And your most devastating losses?
Well, I lost turn 1 with my Slowking deck. I was using Psyduck to stop trainers until I could set up the 'Kings. I had 3 search cards, energy, and a Psyduck. Well, he won the flip, had a Rocket Zapdos, played a lightning energy and comp searched for a plus power for the win. Another time, I was playing at Rama Llama Comics in Dallas, Texas. and had a starting hand of a Hitmonchan and 6 fighting energy. My opponent had an Electabuzz. He hit me for 10, I hit him for 40, he played 3 plus powers and Thunderpunched for the win. What are the odds, with 14 basic Pokemon in the deck and 10 search cards, to draw that hand? Oh well, the luck of the draw.
14) Did you compete in the TMB, STS, or any other large-scale tournaments? If
you did, how’d ya do?
I went overseas in May of last year - the first STS was in June. I get back from Germany in mid-December - will miss the next one too. I guarantee that Thayer and I will be at the NEXT one, though. My club is sending a guy to the TMB this year. His name is Andi Diedrich, and he is currently ranked #1 for his age in Germany. I think he will represent us very well. He is a gifted player and a really nice guy.
15) If you had to ban one card, what would you ban?
Well, I am a big fan of a ruling by the DCI to restrict certain power cards to 1 or 2 per deck. I think that baning is pretty extreme. I guess if I had to pick, it would be Rainbow Energy. Banning it would really reduce the power of Dark and Steel. Also would make you play with more energy if you want to play a 3 color deck, which would reduce the insane number of trainers many players use. it is also tougher to use tournament worthy basic Pokemon in an off-color deck without Rainbow.
16) What deck do you think is the funnest to play?
Well, I really like Moltres with Alakazam. I love playing Muk. I really enjoy rain dance. I think Stage 2 pokemon are great - just take some thought before throwing them into your deck. My rule is one evolution chain per deck.
17) What do you think of Wizard’s ideas of No 15+ qualifiers, Prop 15, etc.?
I am against age restrictions. Games are meant to be enjoyed by people all ages, and Pokemon is a great game. I've lost to quite a few 8 year olds in my time, and let me tell you that age isn't the biggest factor between players - it is experience. Some of the best players in the world are under 15 years old, but some of the best are older. It isn't fair to not allow them to compete - this isn't boxing or wrestling, where a 100 lb weight difference is going to really matter. This is an intellectual game with clear-cut rules. Anyone who knows the rules and has access to cards can win a tournament. I think the prop 15 is a good idea. Mixing up the format for specific tournaments is GREAT! Eliminating card sets because they are old or overpowered is not.
18) What does it mean to be ranked as one of the best Pokémon players in the
It is a great accomplishment. Competitors should strive to be the best. I'm just sorry that Wizards can't take their league badges one step further and award patches to players for recognition of global ratings. Some form of visual recognition that a player can sew on to a jacket or pin on to a shirt, which can't be earned by playing 10 league games. It must be proven after many tournaments and a great tournament record. Recognition is great for young and old alike. The greatest pride I took as an Infantry Company Commander was seeing one of my soldiers receive an award for an exceptional performance of duty. Take a look at a child who brings home an "A" on a report card, or one who receives a badge from Wizards for attaining a global rating of 1800. Pure joy. If you like this idea, write them and tell them. Your voice will be heard.
19) Do your friends/schoolmates know you play Pokémon? Does it give ya a good/bad reputation?
You have to be proud of who you are. Your real friends should be proud of you too. I believe that you should also be well-rounded as a person. I was a champion 175lb wrestler in High School - and also played 3rd board on the Chess Club! Get over the nerd/jock attitude (or whatever they call it today). You can be anything you want to be - and will regret it if you don't pursue your dreams. Never be ashamed of your hobbies or interests.
20) If you could have 100 Smeargles or 100 Japanese Woopers, which would you
rather have? =/
I'd rather have 25 signed 1st ed water energy from Ness. If he sends them to me, I will send him 25 signed 1st ed basic energy of his choice. "To Tom from Ness"
21) Who do you believe is the best Pokémon TCG player in the world?
Not Phil Mondiello. Seriously, let WotC invite the top 32 players in the world, by DCI ranking, to Seattle next year for a three day mega tourney. I will be in Seattle for the next 18 months (starting mid Dec) and volunteer to help plan it. Let that tournament decide who is the best. Another way is to have state championships, and then send those 50 players to Seattle for a National Championship. Don't forget the guys in Europe and around the world, though. They are trying pretty hard, and don't have the opportunities you in America have to attend tournaments.
22) Any other hobbies?
Lots. Almost all of them involve games, but the biggest one is my family. Thanks and love to my wife Madeline for supporting my game-playing hobbies, my son Thayer for being a guinea pig on all my new deck ideas, and my little boy Sam who is destined to be the best of us all. Last bit of advice - if you want to be a master, read "Mastery" by George Leonard. It will change your life. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org Best of luck to you all.
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