Interview with a Junior Division
The Pokemon.com crew talked with Brendan Zheng shortly after his victory at the Autumn Regional Championships.
Brendan Zheng is no stranger to Pokémon tournaments. He has been a runner-up at the National Championships, finished in 3rd place at the World Championships, and earlier this month became the 2012 Junior Division Champion at the Autumn Regional Championships held in Philadelphia, PA. Not only that, but he’s also watched his big brother Aaron win back-to-back National Championships in the past two years!
So, when we had the chance to talk to him about his experiences at the Autumn Regional Championships, there was no way we were going to miss the opportunity! Read on for Brendan’s insights into competing and having fun at Pokémon tournaments.
Pokemon.com: Thanks for talking with us, Brendan. Let’s start by asking how you did in the recent Autumn Regional Championships.
Brendan: I placed first in the Philadelphia Regionals! I felt pretty good about my chances because I won this competition last year and I did well at Worlds this year, too. I only took one loss the whole weekend, where I got kind of unlucky.
P.Com: How did you prepare for this event?
Brendan: Well, I’m pretty much using the same team as I used at Worlds. But, I also played in the Autumn Friendly tournament. I used the Autumn Friendly to test small changes to my team to prepare for Regionals. I wasn’t quite as concerned with how well I did at the Autumn Friendly, but it was good chance to see what changes I wanted to make for Regionals.
P.Com: When you go to a Regional Championships, what do you look forward to doing the most?
Brendan: Definitely meeting my friends! That includes people I’ve met in the Pokémon online community, as well as friends I play Pokémon with locally at home. There are a lot of people I only see at tournaments. I don’t tend to practice much at the events—I usually just hang out with my friends, talking about Pokémon and stuff.
P.Com: What do you and your friends like to do when you’re there?
Brendan: We usually just hang out during the tournament. Sometimes, if I’m with friends that I already know from my area, we’ll hang out afterward. And we always get together on lunch breaks.
P.Com: These Regional Championships took two days. Smaller tournaments might take only a single day. Do you think your experience at Nationals and Worlds helps you at longer events?
Brendan: Well, since I played in both the Pokémon TCG and video game events, I like it. I can play in the Pokémon TCG event that starts on the first day and play in the video game event that starts on the second day. If it’s all in one day, it’s a little too much pressure to try to play both events.
P.Com: With your win at the Autumn Regional Championships, you’ve already earned a trip to the National Championships. Tell us how important it is to get this out of the way so early in the Championship schedule.
Brendan: It’s just really relaxing knowing that I don’t have to do that well at the upcoming Regionals. I’m still going to go to the other two Regionals to see how good my opponents are. It will also let me experiment with some other teams. I’m anticipating that the format will change, so I plan to playtest some different teams.
P.Com: This year is first time that Winter Regional Championships are being held. Are you excited about the addition?
Brendan: At first, when I heard about it, I thought that was kind of crazy. But I’m fine with it! It just gives more people a chance to go to Nationals. I think that’s really good for the players and the community. It also gives me more chances to test my team against more people.
P.Com: What do you think is unique about the Pokémon tournaments?
Brendan: I think they’re unique in that when you go to a tournament, you get to meet people you’ve only met online before. Tournaments are really fun because you make friends with those people every time you go to one.
P.Com: What about when new players join the Pokémon circle? Do you think it’s pretty easy for them to fit in and meet new people?
Brendan: Yeah, I think so. We share strategies and help with research.
P.Com: Your brother Aaron is a great player, too. We know that he helps you quite a bit with your own team. Are you thinking about trying to build your team completely on your own soon?
Brendan: Probably pretty soon. He’ll be leaving for college before long, and I’ll definitely have to make my own teams by then. I’ll be in the Senior Division by then, too—so I’ll have to start making adjustments.
Think you have what it takes to beat Brendan’s Pokémon team? You can compete against his excellent World Championships team in the Pokémon World Tournamentright now in your Pokémon Black Version 2 or Pokémon White Version 2 game! Get the 2012: Junior Division Challenge event to play against Brendan and the three other top finalists from the 2012 World Championships.