Ian Robb is only 16 years old, and he’s already been making a name for himself in the Pokemon TCG community. After winning two Regional Championships in the Senior Division, the new Master has already been in the Top 8 in four different regionals and had a good showing at Internationals.
His win at the Collinsville Regional Championships after a close match with Natalie Shampay and her Buzzwole deck solidified him as someone to watch. But despite his success as a Junior and Senior, Robb found himself “in shock” at his early-on success in the Masters Division.
“I was so nervous going in,” he admitted. “It’s so much bigger than Seniors. There’s more people. More rounds. I don’t know if it’s just me, but there’s more prestige in Masters in the Pokémon community.”
While Robb has definitely shown he’s just as good as some of the biggest names in Pokémon (he took first place with ZoroPod at the Collinsville Regional Championship back in February, and then placed fourth at the Madison Regional Championship in June after losing to Igor Costa), it also has made him feel a bit disappointed when he looks back at his time in Seniors.
“I did really well in Juniors and Seniors. And there are many people in those divisions with great accomplishments,” Robb explained, “but the Pokémon community doesn’t look at them as highly.”
Even though he has noticed a difference in strategy, skill and play style going into Masters, one thing has remained a constant for Robb: The friendliness of the Pokémon community. While he was admittedly nervous that he might face some unkind faces as such a young player, so far the community has been very welcoming.
And that’s key when you travel to almost every regional in North America, and every League Cup in New England.
“I love regionals because I enjoy playing the game at a high level,” said Robb. “It’s very fun. I love the super hard, good games… The ones where whoever makes a small error, it’s over for them. Those are the greatest games.”
He recalls a crazy close game at a regional last year where it was so back and forth that it came down to whoever drew Guzma first. After a lot of digging, and an Instruct with Oranguru, Robb was able to get a Guzma into his hand and secure the win.
Robb has always been into strategy games and loves math. After a short stint playing Magic, his dad introduced him to Pokémon, and he found that he enjoyed it way more. Since the game played out in similar patterns each time, he said it was easier to come up with winning strategies to outplay opponents.
Unfortunately, the current format has been very underwhelming for Robb. Usually he will practice a lot with friends, but he’s found himself not practicing as often, and he hasn’t been performing as well as he’d like this season.
But with cards like Professor Elm’s Lecture in the newest set, Robb is excited to see the game change up a bit. Right now, there’s not a lot of room for comebacks, and he’s hoping the new set will shake things up.
For the time being, Robb plans to continue traveling to regionals. Since he’s homeschooled and taking community college courses, he’s able to make his own schedule. And he always makes time for Pokémon. And his goal is to always make it to Day 2. At least.
“I’m still learning. Even the best players make mistakes,” Robb said, offering advice for new players. “It’s okay to make mistakes. You just have to learn from them.”