Interview with Tour Champion: ToF

By Eo Ut Mortus.
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He's come quite a long way from being the random with the Latios avatar to Smogon's newest trophy-holder. We recently managed to pull Smogon Tour 13 champion ToF away from his six-figure job to have a few words with him. Read about his Smogon Tour bid, his insights on battling, and perhaps even some of his dirty little secrets in this article.

The Interview:

Eo Ut Mortus: So you won Tour. That's a big deal for a lot of people, but maybe only "kinda" a big deal for some. Where do you stand?

ToF: I've been at it for a long time, so simply from that standpoint it's a pretty big deal to me personally. However, as I grew older and realized how bad this game has progressively gotten as the generations have passed, it definitely holds less significance in my life than if I won in Season 8.

Eo Ut Mortus: Yeah, I remember you were also a contender in Season 8 (before getting obliterated by the mighty KRACK). Was that your first actual bid for tour, or did you have some earlier, "noobier" runs?

ToF: Season 8 was definitely the first time I "put it together" so to speak in each of the relevant tiers. I did play in some weekend tours in prior seasons, but was pretty much limited to strictly OU. In the time between season 7 and 8, I put in a lot of work into discovering how both UU and Ubers work, which was pretty much the reason why I qualified for the playoffs, given my abysmal OU record that season.

Eo Ut Mortus: Five seasons and an entire Pokemon generation passed between then and now. What compelled you to make a run for Tour again?

ToF: I think there were several reasons that motivated me to try for the illustrious trophy. First and foremost, I'm moving onto the real world very soon with the completion of college, and I figured I might as well give it a last run to try and get the trophy. Second, Tour is my favorite tournament on Smogon, and I love the grind associated with qualifying for the playoffs. Last but not least, I felt like I was somewhat robbed in season 8 with the UU game against Krack (not to take anything away from the man, he's a great player of course), and there was definitely internal motivation to kind of overcome my previous season 8 blunder. Also, if KG can win a tour, I most certainly should be able to. :P

Eo Ut Mortus: You had 22 points in ADV, 14 points in DPP, and a whopping 0 in BW. You've shown proficiency in BW in the past, most recently in SPL. How come you didn't amass even a single BW point in Tour?

ToF: Simple. I didn't play in a single BW tour. Not one. Part of this had to do with me being busy on those weekends. Part of it had to do with me having zero motivation to play a tier that is so determined by team matchup. I figured since I'm most proficient at ADV and DPP, riding those tiers would be enough to make the playoffs, and I somehow qualified with the 5th seed haha.

Eo Ut Mortus: Beginning in DPP UU / OU, you've been labeled as a stall player. Most of your ADV / BW teams don't do much to shake that impression. How did you get away with using stall throughout the finals, most notably in the final set itself?

ToF: This is a misconception. Every "stall player" can most certainly play other styles as well; however, like most of them, I prefer stall simply because in my opinion, it's the safest kind of playstyle to utilize against the majority of opposing team styles. I didn't have much information on Malekith in the finals, and figured it would be the safest option to use teams that I'm most comfortable with. The ADV team was pretty much full stall with the ability to win against opposing stall teams in CM Blissey, which is what I expected from Malekith. In DPP, my team wasn't as stallish as say Earthworm's full-stall team, but was moreso anti-metagame. In the previous rounds, I used these teams with a few modifications. You have to pick your teams based on the player you're facing. For example, in the decisive BW game against IFM, I figured stall would be a terrible option considering he's an offensive player, and resorted to utilizing VoltTurn instead. In Tour, you have to play to your own strengths as well as your opponent's weaknesses.

Eo Ut Mortus: What do you consider most instrumental to your success, be it a mentality, a skill or a trait, or external factors?

ToF: First and foremost, everyone that wins a tour or an OST has to have good luck. Having good luck can include actually being lucky (be it through critical hits, move effects, etc) as well as not getting unlucky. Although I would like to think that all of my wins this Tour were clean, they weren't and you definitely need good luck to be successful. In terms of my specific playstyle, I think my prediction ability is quite good for such a subjective game. This trait extends both prior to games in terms of choosing an appropriate team, as well as during battle (via double switches, predicting switches and making appropriate moves, etc).

Eo Ut Mortus: Speaking of luck, since Season 8, many Tour winners have come under fire for winning with the aid of luck. You are certainly no exception. Do you have anything you would like to say to the haters?

ToF: It's funny that this "bashing" of sorts has started since season 8, when a bunch of these " current veterans" that were noobs back then and didn't have the balls to say shit to the tour and OST winners prior to season 8 that also won with luck. A bunch of the haters nowadays joined at similar times to the recent tour winners, which probably explains the animosity, most likely jealousy or whatever. No winner of a trophy has won 100% clean. Not Earthworm, not Loki, two of the more well-respected battlers. You need to be both good and lucky to win tournaments like these. The "haters" really don't mean anything to me, and probably helped fuel my desire to win this trophy. At the end of the day, I have something that they desire; the faster they realize both the luck and skill cards need to be in your hand to win tournaments like these, the better their chance of winning becomes.

Eo Ut Mortus: If you had been eliminated before the top 16, who would you have wanted to see playing the final match?

ToF: There's a lot of people that have been on the site as long as me that have come close to winning a trophy that deserve it. DracoMalfoy provided me with my ADV team as well as the base of the finals DPP team I used, and he's been at a trophy during the recent Tours, so I would have liked to see him in the finals. Also Spain versus Brazil seems like quite the rivalry matchup.

Eo Ut Mortus: Do you think that the competitiveness of Tour has increased, decreased, or remained about the same since ST8?

ToF: I think it has definitely increased. While a lot of the top players from the past do not participate anymore in the Tours, the new wave of BW players have definitely proved themselves more than formidable. On top of this, BW as a generation is harder to grasp and consistently win at because of team matchups. Since the Tour playoff format increased from 8 to 16 participants, it further increases the difficulty of attaining the coveted purple trophy, as you have to go through more challengers to ultimately reach the top.

Eo Ut Mortus: Alright, lastly and most importantly: favorite Pokemon?

ToF: Haha hmm...Latias is my favorite Pokemon, and it's kind of annoying that I can't use it as much competitively because I think it sucks in a metagame filled with Tyranitar.