Interview: Jonathan deJoseph – 2016 National Champion

Considered as one of the best players in the country, Jonathan deJoseph has another title to add to his ever-growing collection of conquests: the 2016 National Champion. Known in the Southeast Asian Community for winning the 2015 Singapore Area Grand Prix and popularizing the Knights of the Round in the process, he’s set up himself once again for another shot at the World Championship in Japan this September.

Fellow F&F Author and Level 1 Judge Paxi “fourlies” Alcantara managed to seat him through a brief interview regarding his Nationals experience and his thoughts on his counter-intuitive deck choice, and the metagame in general.

After all, who in their right mind would play Valentina 2.0 when most decks have at least one Black Moonbeam, and Barrier of Shadows?


fourlies (f): What was your preparation like leading to the tournament?

Jonathan (JDJ): What preparation?

I didn’t really have the time to prepare. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ After working on a Saturday morning I started brewing some decks to play with. I made Yggdrasil Sacred Beasts, Rezzard Stealth, Sylvia Flare, and Machina X. It was an instinctive decision. Play with what you know.
I haven’t slept since after work on Friday to finish the decks until the event itself, which ended around 12:30am last Monday.

f: You’ve played Valentina 2.0 from previous tournaments to great success… What made her stand out from the other deck options?

JDJ: So I ended up looking at Valentina 2.0’s big breasts… I mean big beasts and started to ponder how I will be able to make it work against the current meta. I’ve reviewed the current decks and thought of ways on how to dodge anti-J-Ruler techs, and anti-Regalia cards without compromising Valentina’s effectiveness.

But that was not just the dilemma, I need to find a way to answer these decks as well while I’m setting up for the kill. So I trimmed down possible decks to face: Machina, Fairies, Sacred Beasts, and Necrolance.

Flame Trap is the answer to three of these decks, which are all swarm decks, so I increased Flame Trap to four copies. Then I need it to be consistent, so I put Blessing of Yggdrassil to search for the Fire Magic Stone required to trigger it.

The only remaining problem then was how to make the Will production consistent. Without the Dual Stones, I need a way to fix Will, and Deep Blue, the Phantom Board was perfect for that purpose. Valentina needs Water Stones for her search Regalia ability, and Deep Blue changes Water Will to Fire, or Wind – that utility is too tempting to ignore.

f:Speaking of Deep Blue and Blessing of Yggdrasil, I saw you had a turn 1 where you ended up with 3 stones and a regalia in play and no cards in hand… Is this the god draw for the deck? How do you recover from having no cards in hand?

JDJ: The turn 1 hand which led to three stones in playย  was an accidental god draw (Editor’s note: the hand was 2 Blessing of Yggdrasil, 4 Deep Blue, the Phantom Board). It’s easy to recover from there since Valentina has a search ability. On turn 2 you’ll have 4 stones to search for 2 more Regalia, plus whatever you would draw on your turn.
I’d normally search for Laevateinn, the Demon Sword, and Excalibur, the God’s sword, do Judgement on turn 3, and start hacking. Also, having seven God’s Art at the ready for use is a huge advantage – think of it as virtual cards that you have in your hand.

f: What does a more common opening hand look like? What do you look for when you mulligan?

JDJ: I mulligan for Deep Blue and a copy of Blessing. An early Artemis, the God’s Bow against aggro decks helps as well.

f: I know a lot of people consider playing Valentina ballsy with an un-chasable destroy J-Ruler spell legal in the format… Want to share your strategy with others?

JDJ: I don’t really want to go that deep into strategy details. ๐Ÿ˜› The deck’s gameplay shifts to an entirely different strategy (Editor’s note: Huanglong? Probably Huanglong) on boarding especially if i know my opponent has Black Moonbeam.

f: We respect you keeping your trade secret (Editor’s note: Whoops.). What card/strategy surprised you the most from the other players in the tournament?

JDJ: It was actually the R/R Green Beast that almost caught me off guard.

f: Do you consider it a viable tier 1 strategy? Or was it more due to shock value?

JDJ: Might not be tier 1 but it works. ๐Ÿ™‚

f: Any advice you want to share to the readers who’ll be visiting the Philippines for the Area Grand Prix in August?

JDJ: You are not prepared ๐Ÿ™‚ Hahahaha!

I’m looking forward to the challenges that they will bring. ๐Ÿ™‚ And I am hoping to play with them on top tables.


And with a challenge like that, we can imagine that the last few months of the competitive season will be action-packed! Thank you Jonathan for your thoughts and congratulations! JDJ’s winning decklist can be found HERE.

Photo by Pete Tan.

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