“Good morning, or depending on when you’re watching this, good afternoon, good evening or good night!”
There is a good chance you may have heard this sentence many times before, it’s becoming a familiar catchphase within the Pokémon world coined by non other than Ross Gilbert, the host of PTCG Radio. His Youtube channel PTCG Radio has surpassed an impressive milestone of 50,000 subscribers today, sharing Pokémon news and TCG tips to the masses, racking up a mind-blowing 3000 video’s since the channel’s inception back in 2013.
We are delighted to announce that Ross has joined us for an interview today to discuss his fantastic achievement and find out where he wants to take his channel in the future.
First of all, a big congratulations on reaching 50,000 subcribers on your YouTube channel! It is clear to see that you have worked hard and invested a lot of time into this channel, making lots of sacrifices to successfully build PTCG Radio into what it has become today. 7 years ago when starting this channel, did you ever envision you channel transforming into the successful one it is today?
Not at all. I honestly thought 5,000 was out of reach. For the first 3 years I really was just making sporadic videos because I kind of felt that I should be. It was the Summer of 2016 and making a video on Mega Audino winning Worlds (uploaded the second the final ended) saw the channel starting to grow. Even then the idea of 50,000 was just ridiculous.
Tell us a little bit more about the connection your channel has to Donphan and Mamoswine, how did these two Pokémon become such popular figures on your channel?
Mamoswine is a hard one for me to really explain. I love him and it’s one of those things if you don’t see it like I do, I don’t think I can explain it. It’s just so cool!
Donphan is easier to explain. Donphan Prime is my favourite card ever - Bar none. I top cut UK Nationals with a speed version of the deck in 2011, back when nobody knew who I was and I really hadn’t established myself as a player. It was the card that made people think “oh wait, he top cut with WHAT!?”.
Looking at the Pokémon TCG, what cards or sets do you find yourself collecting? Following on from this, do you have any future goals or aspirations for your collecting?
When I started collecting, the HGSS (HeartGold, SoulSilver) era was just kicking off and I started collecting complete sets. It was a lot easier back then! Nowadays, collecting is very difficult as my card budget really needs to be directed more towards making decks for tournaments.
As for the future, I do intend to make a collection of Archie cards for my son Archie (he’s 6 months old now) and finishing my collection of Misty cards. I also think it would be cool to get a complete collection of GX and V cards, though that’s easier when they all rotate out and the price drops.
Do you have a favourite TCG Illustrator? If so, why do they stand out from the rest?
My favourite artist is Mitsuhiro Arita, which is not an unbiased answer given that I was lucky enough to interview him on stage at Dallas Regionals a couple of years ago (that was a fun weekend!). Having said that he drew the amazing Donphan from Aquapolis, the awesome Mamoswine from Crimson Invasion and almost every week I discover new exciting cards I adore the artwork of, only to discover Arita was the illustrator. The Trapinch from EX Sandstorm would be a great example of this.
Yes, I did get the chance to meet and interview him but the amount of amazing cards I loved before knowing they were his would have made this my answer anyway. If anyone needs an example of his work, remember THAT Charizard? Or base set Pikachu? Plus, he's so good he drew ALL of the regular art Tag Team GXs. That's gotta count for something, right?
Which TCG format do you currently enjoy playing with? Have there been previous formats that you wish for the Pokémon TCG to bring back? If so, which?
I’m generally a fan of the standard format. I find it tends to change quite a bit with every set, plus the rotation every year. I love playing Expanded but the format tends to be slower moving and the larger card pool does lead to some game-breaking combinations. I also have a weird fondness for just playing theme decks.
Honestly, Standard is my favourite but if it’s the Pokémon TCG I’ll play it. I’ve even started working on running my own alternate-format tournaments with Steffen Eriksen and Dragon Shield. I love weird formats!
Which decks are your all-time favourite decks? without revealing any of your TCG secrets, what do you enjoy most about these decks?
I have always gravitated towards aggressive decks. Speed Donphan is my favourite deck ever as it can generate a quick victory. I once won a 3-round Tournament (Battle Road as it was back then) in 4 turns! Landorus EX decks were fun and recently I’m playing a lot of Excadrill CEC. Honestly I do lean towards Fighting decks.
I also love making counter decks. In 2014 I took 5th place the European Challenge Cup with a Flareon / Leafeon / Drifblim / Zoroark / Stunfisk deck that just countered all the best decks. I am always trying to make this style of deck. It’s difficult but when it works I feel like I’ve solved the puzzle.
You have made the leap into making your YouTube channel a full-time occupation, please tell us, how have you found this switch? Is there anything you have struggled with in this transition?
Not quite full-time I’m afraid, I still teach part-time, but it’s so nice to not be teaching full-time and to be putting more time into YouTube. The biggest challenge really is that I’m in my 30s with a wife, mortgage and 2 children. Were I single and living alone I could support myself on a lot less money! The biggest struggle has been dedication, working long and weird hours when you need to so you can provide the best content. It’s the dream though and I love it.
How have things affected you with the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic?
The best thing has been the UK schools closing due to the government enforced lockdown, so now all I do is spend time with my wife and children and create videos. It really has given me the time I need to do things I just wouldn’t do otherwise, like the Community Raid Hour stream every Wednesday.
The downside to the lockdown is the ad revenue decreasing. Financially it’s been a huge hit but I make videos and chill with my kids all day. It’s really hard to complain as long as the bills get paid.
The Sun & Moon TCG ended in November 2019, which set(s) did you like the most? Are there any specific cards or game mechanic you wanted to see but didn’t during this era?
I remember the cards being revealed for Guardians Rising. Everything from Tapu lele to Choice Band, from Field Blower to Garbodor and Aqua Patch. That set was absolutely nuts with playable cards. As an analyst and deck-builder, it really did make things interesting.
In terms of game mechanics I was pretty happy. I tend to spend more time looking at what is available and how it works over worrying about what they could be doing. Nowadays, I consider what the format would be like with proper Ability Lock but I don’t recall anything in the S&M format that I really thought was missing.
Looking forward, there are some amazing sets due to be released, what are your thoughts on the Dark type with Darkness Ablaze and do you think this will become meta in the current format?
I think Eternatus VMAX will become a Tier 1 deck on day 1. Without Crobat V I think the requirement to only play Darkness-type will be too much. But we will have Crobat V, 270 damage for 2 energy on a 340HP is going to be hard to match. It’s difficult to see how Pokémon like Pikachu & Zekrom GX, Dragapult VMAX and Zacian V will keep up with this when they can’t OHKO Eternatus VMAX but they will be OHKO’d by it.
I don’t think too much of the other Darkness stuff will be format-breaking (other than Crobat V but that’s not really a Darkness Pokémon, it’s for everyone!) but I think Eternatus VMAX is legit.
With the upcoming Sword & Shield Video Game DLC, there will be some notable Legendary Pokémon returning. How do you see these Pokémon impacting the TCG in future sets?
I really wanna see Regidrago. It’s pure Dragon and they HAVE to make a card out of it so we’ll finally see what’s happening to Dragon Pokémon. Recently we’ve seen marquee Pokémon like Zacian and Eternatus get really, really good cards in the TCG so I’m very interested to see whether these new Legendary Pokémon will be treated with the same reverence.
What are your thoughts on the Pokémon VGC? Would you ever consider creating some content on the VGC again?
I absolutely adore the Pokémon VGC. When Sun & Moon launched I learned VGC and attended some smaller tournaments, picking up some Championship Points and everything. For me this is a time issue. I play the games a lot but it’s challenging learning the meta, building a team and testing it proves to be something that I’ve struggled to find the time to do properly. I definitely intend to do it again. Hopefully soon.
Outside of the hobby now, do you have any hobbies or interests?
I have far too many hobbies. I am a huge fan of both video and tabletop games and dedicate a lot of time to those. Pokémon obviously takes top spot for both but it’s not the only one. I am a huge fan of the NFL and NBA and really miss sports right now! I also watch too many films.
Where do you see your channel progressing in the future? Without revealing too much, do you have any plans you can tease the readers with that may be happening on your channel soon?
I really don’t know in terms of future plans. I am very aware of the fact complacency will hurt me so I’m always thinking of and trying new things. For me it’s really about reacting to the audience and seeing what they want me to cover. Always looking for new ideas and really just hoping I can one day hit 100,000. They give you a plaque for that. I want that plaque. I think it’s achievable, it just might takes another few years.
Having said that I’ve been lucky to get opportunities like commentating at official Pokémon events, writing columns for magazines and actually being commissioned by TPCi to make some videos just last week so honestly I’m just excited to see where I can take this.
The number one goal is to have this be my sole living by the time my eldest child (she’s 2 now) goes to school. I want to walk her to and from school every day. That really is the dream.
And finally, will we see you at Worlds 2021 London (providing the event still goes ahead)?
I WILL be at Worlds 2021 if it goes ahead in London. It’s no secret that commentating Worlds is one of my biggest dreams but that’s not my decision to make. Maybe I’ll earn an Invitation to play but with 2 young children it’s hard to attend enough tournaments in order to qualify. Still, if I go with a spectator badge I’ll be there. I have a lot of faith it will be a lot of fun.
Finally I’d just like to say thank you to so many people. Obviously PokeGuardian for aiding me in covering the new content and for always being available to answer any questions I have. Thanks to Antoine Boulay for the translation help and random facts. Thanks to David Hochmann for translation, mathematical help, unlimited format help and just being awesome. Thanks to Becca for showing me it was a good idea to travel and play this game so much (And for lending me So. Many. Cards!). Thanks to Joe from Serebii.net for being a huge help the last couple years. Thanks to everyone at TPCi who has done me a solid. There’s a few people there!
Thanks to everyone I’ve ever casted with, travelled with, tested with, talked Pokémon with. Thanks to everyone who’s every sent me a kind word or a message giving me a tip about something I didn’t know. There really are just too many people to name. I’m so sorry to anyone I’ve missed! Also my wife for putting up with me, there are times when this stuff really inconveniences her, but she’s awesome.