2009: 1st Place California Regional, Top 4 US Nationals, Top 8 World Championships
2010: Top 16 California Regional, Top 8 US Nationals, Top 8 World Championships
2011: Top 16 Washington Regional, A Solid 1-6 at US Nationals
2012: 4-3 California Regional
2009 Regionals: Champion Plaque, invitation and trip to compete at the National Championships in St. Louis, Missouri
2009 Nationals: Invitation and trip to compete at the World Championships in San Diego, California
2009 Worlds: Customized DSi, various Worlds exclusive items
2010 Regionals: Invitation to compete at the National Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana.
2011 Nationals: Invitation and trip to compete at the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii
2011 Worlds: Customized DSiXL, various Worlds exclusive items
2011 Regional: Invitation to compete at the National Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Fun fact: Huy is the only American that won both the 2009 and 2010 customized DS from the World Championships.
Biography and History
Huy "Huy" Ha is known for being one of the VGC players in the past few years, and is especially recognized for his interesting and unique teams. He entered the competitive scene in 2009 after being introduced to VGC by Smogon's very own Paul "makiri" Hornak. He took a Trick Room team to the California Regionals, where he utilized interesting sets and Pokemon such as Transform Smeargle and Lapras. Huy blew through the competition and won the Regional 7-0. His account of the 2009 Regional can be found here. After winning Regionals, Huy flew out to St. Louis in hopes of becoming a national champion. He played well, and fell just short of winning, finishing in the Top 4 after losing to runner-up Allen "imperfectluck" Liu, another 2009 Regional Champion. However, because of his impressive finish, Huy won both an invitation and airfare/hotel for the 2009 World Championships, held in his very own home state, California. (This means Huy didn't even have to pay for VGC this year, winning trips to both Nationals and Worlds!) At Worlds, Huy finished with a 3-2 record overall, losing to eventual runner-up Tasuko Mano in the last round, but his resistance was high enough for him to finish in the Top 8. Because the play-offs were only for the Top 4 at the World Championships that year (whereas they have been the Top 8 for both 2010 and 2011), Huy did not qualify to compete for the elimination rounds. However, because of his strong finish, he won a Pokemon Worlds exclusive DSi along with other cool goodies! Huy's experience of the 2009 World Championships can be found here.
As one of the top American players in 2009, Huy had made a name for himself and was expected to be one of the top competitors in 2010. Interestingly enough, his little brother, Duy "comi$$ioner" Ha managed to win the California Regional that year while Huy only finished in the Top 16. However, he still qualified for the National Championships, where he performed quite well, finishing in the Top 8. He had to beat his own brother in the Top 16 after they were unfortunately (or fortunately, since at least one of them would be guaranteed a trip to Worlds), but lost the following round. Still, with an impressive Top 8 finish, Huy became one of the fan favorites to win the World Championships. At the World Championships that year, Huy managed to finish with an incredible 5-1 record in the first day, only losing to Japanese player Isao Yoshiaka. He was then seeded 2nd going into the second day, and as one of the four Americans who qualified for the Top 8, the pressure was on. Unfortunately, the hax gods just weren't upon Huy in his quarter final matches as he was met with 2 critical hit Water Spouts within the first turn. He was therefore eliminated by 7th seed Wataru Onishi. Huy used what is in my opinion the coolest VGC 2010 team I have ever seen, using an incredibly bulky Trick Room Selfdestruct Mewtwo along with Parasect. His account and team of the 2010 World Championships can be found here.
Huy's finishes in VGC 2011 are not what one would expect from such a high quality player such as himself. He finished in the Top 16 at Regionals, losing to good friend Paul/makiri in the Top 16. At Nationals, he faced 2009 National Champion Mike "OmegaDonut" Suleski in one of the most entertaining matches in VGC history. Their match, which was appropriately narrated by incredible emcee Nick McCord, can be found here. An interview with them, held by YouTuber "PokePress," can be found here. I think I speak for everyone when I say that we were all surprised after Huy just kept on losing his matches at Nationals. He finished with a 1-6 record overall, with his one win to a bye. Not bad for a seasoned veteran, huh?
Having not taken VGC 2011 seriously at all, I'm not sure what players were expecting out of Huy for VGC 2012. The metagame wasn't as stale as it had been before, and it is often compared to VGC 2009 for being so similar in terms of Pokemon. Huy went to the 2012 Fall Regionals with his very own "Ash" team, which abused Black/White's sleep mechanics, using Pokemon that were linked to Ash such as Pikachu and Butterfree. He finished with a 4-3 record overall and placed 33rd. His experience at that Regional can be found here. Despite the fact that Huy hasn't taken VGC seriously (or maybe he considers using Ash team serious), he is still one of the best players in VGC history and his accomplishments clearly reflect on that. He is also just an incredibly nice and helpful person, and is a moderator on Smogon. Despite the fact Huy claims he's not going to Nationals and that he's quitting, I can guarantee you he will be a name to look out for at future VGC tournaments this year. Here's to the people's champ.
Hi Huy, you suck! Introduce yourself.
Hello! I am Huy, I'm 22, and I'm one of those addicted to Pokemon for life sorta people. I got started with competitive Pokemon way back in 1999 and haven't really looked back since.
Man you've been playing for almost as long as I've been alive! Anyway, how did you get involved in VGC, what made you stay?
In 2009 I had taken a hiatus from Pokemon because Singles had gotten stale for me but my mate Paul Hornak aka zerowing aka Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho aka makiri sent me a message about a Nintendo sponsored tournament in my area and that I should check it out. I looked at it and it was literally a 4 minute drive from where I live so I decided it wouldn't hurt to give it a go. He gave me a team a week before and we just ran with it. I ended up winning unexpectedly and won a free trip to Nationals. There, I got to meet a ton of people and the social aspect is what keeps me coming back. The doubles aspect was also really refreshing. I loved that there were so many more options for what you could do in one turn and it sort of made me remember why I love this game.
Yeah, I think doubles is a lot less stale and a lot more interesting than singles is. Well, why don't we start off with VGC 2009, one of your most successful (and your first) seasons. What teams did you use? What was Regionals/Nationals/Worlds like?
I honestly wasn't that great in 2009. I relied on zerowing a lot for my teams because I wasn't very strong in building teams and would have to rely on him for Pokemon anyway. There weren't very many simulators around to test things in so I would just roll with his ideas and play with that. Regionals, Nationals, and Worlds were still very rough around the edges. It was the time they ran VGC in a large scale and I felt really bad for everyone that got screwed by the lottery or the tiebreakers. At the same time, I never took the fact that I got in for granted and just had a lot of fun meeting people and playing Pokemon. I was shocked to see so many people that played Pokemon in one place, even if a lot of it was TCG.
Regardless, you became really well known for being one of the most consistent players that season. What about VGC 2010, which was another incredibly successful season for you. What teams did you use, and what was Regionals/Nationals/Worlds like?
2010 was a lot better for me. I had become ingrained in the WiFi community and learned to RNG myself so I had a lot more access to Pokemon than I did in 2009. I found that I didn't really like testing stuff too much though so I would just mostly try to have fun when I was playing on NBS or Pokemon-Online. Late one night Fish and I were playing around on NBS using silly stuff and I decided to try out a Trick Room Mewtwo with a Brave Iron Ball Weavile for Fling. We both thought it was hilarious that it seemed to work very well so I just kept that in my back pocket until Worlds.
For Regionals, dtrain and I were watching some Japanese battle videos and saw someone use a Hitmontop that died right away so we decided to look into it to see what it did. I was surprised by the damage output a TechniTop could put out and showed it to Paul and skarm and we ran from there. Paul put together TopOgre and it just seemed like the best way to roll. I replaced Palkia with Giratina because I liked having the extra bulk and just ran thorough Regionals to qualify.
For Nationals, I decided last minute to use a slower more defensive team. It basically abused Giratina to set up Tailwind and Thunder Wave things in order to get my slower bulkier Pokemon a speed advantage and let me clean up. It worked decently well and did manage to help me win my trip to Worlds.
For Worlds, I took a bunch of the 'gimmicks' that I had been playing around with online and stuck them together. Having seen the Japanese play the year before, I knew I should be expecting alot of slower bulky Pokemon from them so I decided a Trick Room team was the best way to go. I ended up making a pretty successful team with that Trick Room Mewtwo and got my way all the way to the top 8. That entire year was an incredible experience. VGC had blossomed into something huge and I got to meet a ton of amazing people from Smogon.
Darn man, you really have a lot of history behind you. Anyway, I'm curious about what you have to say about the team the Mighty Ducks. You're recognized as one of the original members and co-founders, what do you have to say about that?
Ducks was really nothing more than a stupid gimmick. At Nats in 2009, Paul, Duy, FiveK, Fish, dtrain, and Bonta-Kun hung out together and I think Duy just dubbed us Team Goblet, Team Bianca, Team Hot Skitty on Wailord Action, and a bunch of other stuff. At worlds that year, I nicknamed all my Pokemon after Mighty Ducks characters and after one of my wins, Duy, Fish, Paul, and PBB started quacking ala the Ducks movie and it was just an inside joke for a while. For Regionals 2010, the Seattle crew decided it'd be funny for us to coordinate and wear team shirts. We were playing around with a silly Mighty Psyduck logo that FiveK made and Nick McCord's friend actually ended up being amazing and made the current logo. We stuck it on a shirt, and with some help from Nick McCord who blew up the publicity during the tournament it just sort of took off from there. I think it's ridiculous that an inside joke stemming from nicknames has gone so far but it's pretty amazing!
You've been playing this game for a long time, who do you think are some of the best Juniors/Seniors/Masters players throughout the years.
There are a ton of good players that really deserve their moment in the spotlight. For Juniors, there's no denying that your brother and Grace Arnold are forces to be reckoned with. Knight Sylvane gets mention for having a baller name.
Seniors are a little weird. It's such a small age group that it's very hard to gauge. It's too hard to pick out the best because there's so much talent in such a small pool. But I know it's definitely not you. (this is false)
As for Masters, I don't think anyone has really motivated people to win as much as DeagleBeagle. No one really wants to lose to him. Makiri, OmegaDonut, and Sixonesix are the players that I have the most trouble playing against. And you can't forget about World Champ Ray Rizzo.
Wow, thanks for the compliment. Anyway, you have used some gimmicky teams such as your 2010 Worlds and 2012 Regionals one, what is your mindset going into a tournament with that kind of team?
I don't really feel like they're gimmicks! The reason I use them is because they are fun and unexpected. People plan so much for VGC that when you throw something different at them they have to figure out a new way to react and by that time it's too late. I feel like I'm at an advantage when I use something different because I know what they want to do, but they don't know what I want to do so I can sort of push them to play the game I want to play.
Fair enough, I think it's pretty awesome you use those kind of teams. Your Worlds 2010 team was really incredible, I wish I could have seen it win the whole tournament. On another note, how have you been preparing for VGC 2012, what was Fall Regionals like and will you be going to Spring Regionals / Nationals?
I don't really play too much to practice. Sometimes I get an idea for something silly (like an Ash team) and I'll get on PO and play around a bit, but nothing too serious. I do talk a lot with Duy and Cassie about potential concepts that would be cool but usually I get too lazy to make something so the idea just sits in my head until I build a team. Fall Regionals was fun. I went in using an almost full on Ash team to have some fun and catch some people off guard and maybe frustrate a few more with Butterfree. I ended up going 4-3 which was better than I expected. I knew the team had a load of weaknesses but I didn't care. Just like the real Ash.
Speaking about Duy, what is it t like, having a brother who is at your level at VGC and has done better than you the past two years? (Wow, this sounds awfully familiar...)
Duy's a great asset to have. He and I have the same mindset when it comes to Pokemon so it's really easy to bounce ideas off of him to see what he thinks. It's really nice having someone right there to talk to about Pokemon and I think it's awesome that we both get along so well. Sometimes he does get mad when I make stupid mistakes during matches but he'll end up giving me his views and it only helps me get better.
Yeah, having a sibling is really great for practice in general! Do you want to tell everyone what happened in VGC 2011? You didn't seem to take it seriously at all.
I didn't like any of the Pokemon. I basically banned myself from using Amoonguss and Terrakion and I was behind because of that. I couldn't really catch people offguard like I usually do and it ended up killing me. My slower, bulkier style of play didn't stand a chance against Terrakion. I was either crit or flinched in like 90% of my battles so that didn't really help =[ But regardless, I still had a lot of fun rolling through Regionals with Choice Band Vanilluxe.
CB Vanilluxe is the strongest. Anyway, you often say you are retiring from Pokemon, how much truth is behind that?
I couldn't ever retire from it. I said before, I think I'm one of those lifelong addicts. I might quit Smogon because of politics or whatever but I don't think I could quit Pokemon/VGC. I don't really spend that much time playing so it doesn't interfere with my life and I've met so many amazing people through VGC that I couldn't really give it up
What are your thoughts California in general? It's one of the most competitive areas for Pokemon in the whole world.
It's great. I couldn't imagine living anywhere else. There's so many different cultures here that I find myself learning something new everyday. I have so many opportunities here that I wouldn't have anywhere else. As for Pokemon, I think it's great being in such a competitive area. It pushes you to play your A-game. I wish VGC had the same local support as TCG though. I know there are tons of VGC players here but we don't really meet up outside of the events. Also In-n-out.
Speaking about California, they also have some of the most well known TCG players in the world. As you now play TCG too, what do you think about the game in general? How about in comparison to VGC?
After 3 years of being around TCG I broke a promise that I made to myself in 2000 to never play Pokemon TCG again. It was just hard seeing everyone around me playing TCG and not get hooked. I'm not very good at all and I'm definitely still finding my way around the game but it's a lot of fun. I would never drop VGC to play TCG because I could never be that good but it's a good way to meet other people that play Pokemon.
Cool, TCG is really different from the VGC but they're both hella fun! What do you do outside of Pokemon?
I just graduated from college with a BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and am trying to start my career. I recently got a job in a lab at a great University nearby and am loving it so far. I'm hoping to get into a grad school in the future and continue my education.
Outside of that I'm a fighting game junkie. I play alot of Street Fighter VI and I've been trying to get myself into Marvel vs Capcom. I'm hoping to play in a few of the major tournaments soon and not go 0-2.
Nerd. Anyway, final shoutouts?
Shoutouts to WiFi for being an amazing community and giving out the free Pokemon. You guys make it so easy to get involved in the VGC scene and definitely help make it grow. Shoutouts to all my duckie friends, especially TEAM GOBLET. Shoutouts to Cybertron for this amazing project that you've put together.
2010: Top 8 Seattle Regional, 1st Place San Francisco Regional, Top 16 US Nationals, 23rd World Championships
2011: Top 4 San Jose Regional, Top 16 US Nationals, Top 12 Worlds LCQ (1 short of an invite)
2010 Seattle Regional: Invitation to compete at the National Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana.
2010 San Francisco Regional: DSi, trophy, invitation and trip to compete at the National Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana.
2010 Nationals: Invitation to compete at the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.
2011 Regionals: $300, invitation to compete at the National Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Biography and History
Introduced to VGC by his very own brother, veteran Huy Ha, Duy "commi$$ioner" Ha started playing competitively in 2010. He went to the Seattle Regionals with Huy and Paul, and managed to place in the Top 8 before being eliminated by Paul. (Paul had actually ran on the first turn of the battle by accident, but Duy decided to battle it out rather than take the win. What a gentleman!) After a decent run at Seattle, he then attended the San Francisco Regional, the very Regional his brother had won in 2009. Duy swept through the entire Regional and won, claiming his brother's previous regional title. His finals game can be seen here, and his warstory can be read here. Interestingly enough, Duy had actually qualified for Nationals two times in 2010. He took the exact same team he used at Regionals to Nationals, and managed to finish in the Top 16. Everyone thought that him being matched up with Huy for the trip to Hawaii was a joke. It wasn't. Duy was eliminated by his very own brother in the Top 16, but won a invitation to compete at Worlds that year. At Worlds, Duy finished with a 3-3 record, defeating both the 2010 US National Champion and the 2010 Japan National Champion. His finish placed him 23rd in the world.
The following year, Duy had a relatively successful season. He finished 3rd at the San Jose Regional before having to face Paul yet again. Their match can be found here. Having won both an invitation to Nationals, along with a $300 travel allowance, Duy traveled with Huy to Nationals in hopes of another successful Nationals run. His match against kinderlew can be found here. Duy qualified to compete in the second day, and was just two matches away from winning another invitation to the World Championships, but was knocked out by 2010 US National Champion Wesley Morioka's brother, Stephen Morioka. Duy then went to the Last Chance Qualifier, where he swept through his first four matches before having to play Luke "tad38" Swenson for the invitation. Duy sadly lost, ending his 2011 season.
Duy recently attended the Oregon Regionals in the fall, but did not place in the Top 4 after having some bad luck and losing two of his matches. Still, he is a strong contender to win the California Regional in just two months, and I have very high hopes and expectations. He's proven himself that he is an incredible trainer, and possibly even the better brother?! We'll just have to see how the Ha's do the rest of this season.
Hi Duy! Thanks for taking some time to talk to me today! Why don't you introduce yourself?
Hi guys, I'm Duy "commi$$ioner/bianca222/samsung" Ha. I'm one of the original Team Goblet members and also the younger brother of Huy.
You're also the cooler brother... How did you get introduced to VGC? What made you stay?
I got introduced to VGC by Huy. Pretty much, he dragged me along to the SF Regional. It was only a five minute drive so I figured Wynaut? After watching Huy win the whole thing, he took me as his travel companion to St Louis for Nationals where I met Smogon users for the first time ever (I didn't even have an account back then, but there I was meeting big name users like Paul and Fish). Pretty much, everyone that I have met along the way in my career has made me stay in touch with the community!
That was back in 2009, right? Did you have any idea of what was going on in 2009?
I had no idea what the heck was going on in VGC 2009. When I was at the regional watching one of Huy's matches on screen, I straight up had to ask the guy behind me what Dark Void and Trick Room did (I ended up playing the same guy the next year in my first round at San Mateo, oh the irony). I never played competitive Pokemon at all up until the end of 2009 where I finally learned about EV's and IV's. I did enter the lottery at Nationals, but I was using some team that Paul gave me to test for everyone. I honestly would not have had any idea what to do if I actually got selected.
You started playing in 2010, where you had a pretty successful season. What are your general thoughts on that season? What was Seattle like?
2010 was an amazing season for me as a player; the actual meta itself was only an average meta. It was a lot about protecting your Ubers to fight their Ubers. Seattle was a great experience for me because it was my first ever VGC. I did not really practice that much for it, I was more or less expecting the 09 meta, which I did play around with on Pokemon Battle Revolution. It was Huy, Paul, Jason, and I road tripping from Davis to the great Northwest where we met up with skarm, Firestorm, and Articuno64. I was nervous coming in because I was probably the most inexperienced Pokemon player of the group and I wanted to prove myself. I got to the Top 16 after having to face HagridTwin in a tough battle that I probably shouldn't have won, but I earned my first Nationals invite at Seattle. I then fought Paul in Top 8, where he accidentally clicked run on the first turn. Marriland gave me the choice to replay or take the win and being the gentleman and great friend that I am, I fought Paul. I probably would have won all of Seattle if I had just taken the win, but it was still a great experience and I had SF the next week anyways.
Speaking about San Francisco, what was winning it like? Wasn't it the very Regional your brother won the previous year? Was there a lot of pressure for you?
SF was even more nerve wracking because I had to live up to my performance from the last week. I made it to the Top 32 again, and I just took off. All my matches were a blur and I was in the zone. I felt like no one could stop me. I got to Top 4 where I just sat and waited in the corner while waiting for either Deagle or Chris Tsai, all top notch players. I ended up playing Deagle, and while he claims hax, I claim clean victory. And the rest of SF was history. I didn't really feel any pressure at all and Huy even rooted for me on the sideline!
How did Nationals go for you, and what was facing Huy in the Top 16 like?
Nationals was probably the greatest thing ever. I met so many cool users, including yourself ;). I was nervous coming in because it was a better pool of players and I even had to come from behind to make the top cut, eliminating great players such as PBB, Chalkey, and Jayque from contention for top cut. I was half assing it when I fought Huy, and there was really no fighting or arguing after. He was the better player, so he definitely deserved to advance.
Regardless, you still qualified or Worlds. What was your experience like......and how did you finish? What teams did you use throughout the year? What do you have to say about your first year of playing VGC?
TPCi went all out for Worlds. Amazing venue, cannot believe you missed it Mr. 17th Place :P. I never practiced best two out of three, and it is still the weakest part of my game, so pretty much I was getting steamrolled form the start. I had to do well though to buildup skarm's resistance, so I was able to finish a solid 3-3 while taking out Wesley Morioka and the Japanese National Champ. I, to the amazement of some people for some reason, used the exact same team throughout the entire year. I kept the same nicknames, same spreads, and everything. I felt comfortable with the team, so why mess with it? Looking back though, if I had converted it to a TR team, then I might have been able to go the whole way, but that is the past. Overall, it was a great year, everyone played hard.
Not a bad way to end the season in 2010. You saw a relatively successful season last year as well, but fell short of qualifying the World Championships by one round at both Nationals and Worlds. What was VGC 2011 like? What did you think about the metagame? How did Regionals, Nationals, and Worlds go for you? What was it like, missing out on an invitation to Worlds by so close?
VGC 2011 was so stale that I don’t even know why I competed in it. Speed ties, the same six Pokemon, and team preview meant that it was a very unimaginative game (although some players were able to break out and use cool Mons). It became, “Hey I’ll bring the six best Pokemon and counter shit.” Personally, I felt that that mindset ruined teambuilding, something that I love. Regionals was a disaster in Seattle because I had never played and had no idea what Prankster did. After an embarrassing finish, I learned the meta in a week and got Top 4 in SJ Regional, again losing to Paul.
Nationals was a blast, as more people came out to hang out and I was able to make top cut again. I ended up losing to Stephen Morioka, who deserved it, just one win shy from a Worlds invite. The man has my number, I just cannot beat him. For LCQ, I began losing interest in the metagame and I lost interest in whether or not I qualified. After winning the first 4 rounds CLEAN (some girl complained about hax, but when it’s your paralyzed Terrakion and 3 HP Scrafty vs my +1 Scarfed Terrakion, Thundurus, and a 100% Sashed Chandelure, it’s good game), and Huy eliminated, I recall being told that everyone on IRC was going nuts for me to qualify. But then I had to face tad8 and while he played a good game, two crucial full paralysis put me on the sideline for the first time since Worlds 09 in the exact same building.
Yeah, I remember watching that very LCQ match and it was down to the wire. What are your thoughts on the current metagame?
VGC 2012 is fun. There are so many possibilities that anything can happen. The only thing that I would change is team preview so people can build teams instead of bringing six anti-meta Pokemon.
I agree. Did you end up going to a Fall Regional? What was that like for you? How did you prepare for it? Are you attending a Spring Regional/Nationals? Have you been preparing for them thus far?
I went to Oregon with a bunch of guys from my school and I even roomed with Stephen Morioka and his friend! They are two great guys and it was a great weekend. I prepped for it by teambuilding and playing a lot with fellow user muffinhead, who is probably becoming better than I am. It was not as enjoyable as I wanted though because I had a paper to write and right after the tournament I had to haul my butt home to get to my 8 AM class the next morning. I will be attending the Pleasanton Regional in the Spring, but I haven’t started prepping for it yet.
What is it like, having a brother who is also incredibly good at VGC and is well known in the community? Are you guys competitive about doing better than each other at tournaments?
It’s great to have a brother. When no one is online, he is always right there to bounce ideas off of. And if Huy is not awake, then Luy is always online ready to bounce ideas off of. We are not too competitive with each other; if anything we support each other. When I lost my first match in Oregon because of me misplaying, I immediately called him to update him on my status and see if he had any advice.
Neat, I feel the same way. On another note you ran NPA (National Pokemon Association) this past year, what was that like? What did you like about the tournament, and what didn't you like? Will we be seeing this tournament in future years?
It was definitely an interesting experience hosting a league. I liked it because we all knew each other and it was just a for fun tournament instead of us playing for actual prizes. If I could change one thing about it, I’d change player interest and the metagames. NPA was concurrent with Fall Regionals, so activity died because people began prepping for it. I need to refine the tournament system, and hopefully (if people want) I will run it for a second season.
I certainly would be interested in playing! I thought it was a really neat tournament and it was a lot of fun, bar the massive activity wins towards the end. Anyway, what do you do outside of Pokemon?
I’m a 3rd year Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior student at UC Davis. I just like hanging out with friends, playing basketball and soccer, and picking up mad biddies.
Sounds like a pretty chill life, bro. Any final shoutouts or concluding words?
Muffinhead is the GOAT and this will probably be the last season that I take Pokemon too seriously.
Mike "Skarm" Papagianis with fellow competitor and friend Huy "Huy" Ha at the 2010 U.S. Nationals.
2005: 2nd Place Pokemon Emerald Challenge
2010: Nationals LCQ Qualifier, Top 8 U.S. Nationals, 19th at Worlds Total Winnings
2005: Invitation and trip to Seattle
2010: Invitation to compete at U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, Indiana
2010: Invitation and trip to compete at the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii
Biography and History
Mike “Skarm” Papagianis has been around the block of competitive battling since the early days of 2002. Due to being Canadian however he was exempt from playing in the VGS as well as in VGC 2009. However when it was announced the following year that the tournaments would be open to all nationalities, Mike took his chances and flew down to Seattle to compete with the other Mighty Ducks using his trusty Topogre team but fell short of the invite. His account of the event can be found here.
With even more determination than before (and with a few tweaks to his Regionals team), Mike flew down for a shot to compete at U.S. Nationals by playing in the Last Chance Qualifier and was successfully able to qualify for U.S. Nationals the following day. With his 5-2 record he went on to play against Alan "Metabou" Schambers in the top 16 where he won in a best of 3 matches. He would then play against eventual finalist Len “Alaka” Deuel where he would later lose. Their best of 3 matches can be watched here: Part 1Part 2 His account of the event can be found here.
With a trip and invite in hand, Mike went on to represent Canada at the 2010 World Championships where he finished with 3-3 record. Although he had a disappointing 2011 season, Mike is a top player and is someone to look out for at this years National Championships!
Fun Fact: Mike is the only Canadian Masters Division competitor to have qualified for the World Championships through U.S. Nationals.
Thanks for accepting this interview with VGC Spotlight Mike! Why don't we start off by introducing yourself to our readers?
Hi everyone I'm Mike "skarm" Papagianis, currently 26, and one of the resident Canadians. I've been playing Pokemon since it first hit the shores of North America in the 90s, and online competitively since 2002.
How did you get introduced to the VGC and competitive play?
I won a trip in 2005 to Seattle via Nintendo's official contest and came second in the event there. It was a huge success and I continue to play because of all the fantastic times I have had as well as getting the chance to meet so many people from Smogon.
Editors Note: Read here for more information about the "Battle in Seattle"
It sounds like you had a blast! What was it like competing in the VGC?
It is a lot of fun. People who haven't done it don't realize the entirely different environment playing in person with a large crowd spectating than online in your own home. Plus, the best part isn't even the Pokemon, its hanging out with everyone else there.
So true, so true! What kind of teams did you use at the events you attended?
In 2005 I used a Chlorophyll team with Groudon/Exeggutor/Blissey as the main mons, as this was see 6 pick 3 singles. In JAA, I ran a standard beatdown team focusing on Mewtwo, Kyogre, and Snorlax.
More recently I've toyed with different style teams. In 2010 it was known that the Ducks favored "TopOgre", designed by Huy, Paul, and myself. It was a solid regionals team. For Nationals I ran a standard Infernape/Palkia lead as that seemed to work well against most match-ups.
In 2011... well... Simisear is overpowered so I can't win.
I guess you could say I like to keep it simple in real life events and play beatdown. Finesse sometimes leaves too many openings for bad luck.
Simisear is powerful alright! Do you have any memorable experiences from the VGC that you would like to share (specific battles you had or anything you did outside tournament play)?
That's a tough question because there are so many amazing experiences. I'll start with my favorite battle. I'd definitely say that while maybe not the most amazing battle ever, it has stuck in my mind. The JAA Chicago Regional finals against Calvin Chan, where I exploded on the first turn and he double protected. Starting down one mon and having to claw back for a victory was very fufilling, and intense.
Outside of the arena everything is enjoyable to me. I think the nights spent hanging out with a large 30+ group at Scotties in Indianapolis drinking and playing cornhole was the most fun I had in recent years.
This is the first time Canada is having their own Regionals and Nationals tournament. How are you preparing for VGC 2012
That can be summed up in two ways: Huuyyyyyyyyy what are you using? Synrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre what are you using?
More seriously though, I've been playing around with some stuff on Pokemon online, but will be practicing more on GBU closer to the event. I'll be constructing teams with a few close friends from the States and practicing amongst ourselves.
Which Canadian players should VGC players look out for in the coming months?
Randy Kwa. The guy has proven that he's an excellent, if more reclusive and unknown player.
What you do outside of Pokémon?
I play League of Legends relatively competitively with some familiar faces from Smogon like Synre, Groudon80, and TTS. Outside of that I enjoy spending time with my wife and family, traveling, and cheesy B-Horror movies are some quick things I can think of.
Sounds CHEZZY, jk ;) Any closing words you have for our readers?
Part 1: Fly Rayquaza.
Part 2: Simisear.
Part 3: Coming at a VGC near you.
Adam posing with several well known competitors (and Zog) down in the bottom left corner at the 2011 World Championships.
2010: Round 3 UK Nationals
2011: Top 4 Paris Nationals, 27th World Championships
2011 National: Invitation to compete in the 2011 World Championships in San Diego, California.
Biography and History
European Adam "Dozz" Dorricott blended in well with the American players when he came to San Diego for the 2011 World Championships. With an incredible sense of humor (and soccer skills), Adam was a pleasure to be around the entire time and made the experience a lot more enjoyable. Having started VGC in 2010, he attended the UK National, but lost in the third round. He then began preparing more seriously for VGC 2011, and his eventual team utilized common metagame Pokemon such as Tornadus and Scrafty as well as unique Pokemon such as Stunfisk and Durant. After getting haxed out of the 2011 UK Nationals, Adam was motivated to do well at Paris. He blew through to the Top 4 before losing to eventual winner Lionel Fey. He represented Europe at the 2011 World Championships, where he finished with a 2-4 record, netting him 27th place. Adam hasn't been playing VGC for very long, but he has shown that he is a strong competitor. He will be attending both UK and Paris for their National Championships this year, and will be a threat to everyone attending. He also drew the logos for Duy/commi$$ioner's NPA tournament last year, and can be found around the forums with a pretty Artist badge!
Hey Dozz! Why don't you introduce yourself?
Yo, I'm Adam "Dozz" Dorricott. I'm 19 years old, and a UK VGC player. I'm pretty chilled out, all round hilarious, and much much cooler than Zog.
Yeah, Zog sucks :D Anyway, how did you get introduced to VGC? What made you stay?
My friend Chris (aka PorkLoin) got me back into Pokemon when I was at school with him, as I'd barely touched it since the Game Boy Colour days of my childhood. We spent free periods together, and got addicted to playing the same way as I did when I was younger. He found a post online about VGC 2010, so we thought it would be a nice idea to go along, and see what Pokemon was like outside of our community of just us two and a couple of school friends. I was also enticed to stay by the fact doubles was something entirely different, and I felt that I could actually get my teeth into, by having loads of strategies to play with, rather than the "switch boost switch" kinda thing we'd been playing with in singles. I'd spent way too long Swords Dancing and the like, and needed something fresh in my life.
Your first year of playing was in 2010, where you lost Round 3 at UK. What team did you use, and how ready were you going into your first tournament? What was it like?
I wasn't really fussed about doing well, as I knew there would be much better players there. I ran some stupid team with Diagla /Palkia /Rotom /Metagross in. I didn't know what RNG, or flawless IV's were, so I stood no chance in all honesty and could in no way call myself "ready". I hadn't even tested on stuff like Pokemon Online, as I didn't know about it, so It's no wonder I got spanked by Kinneas.
I absolutely loved the event though. A hall with hundreds of likeminded players made for a great day out, I talked to so many cool people about something I loved, and didn't feel at all out of place. I immediately knew that this was something I was going to get more into in the coming years, building off the sort of things I learned in 2010 as a spectator for most.
You were unknown to most of the online community until your strong finish at the Paris VGC in 2011, and you had a signature Pokemon: Durant. What was that Nationals like for you? What was your team like, and how did you prepare for the tournament beforehand? Did you attend any other Nationals that year?
I went to the Birmingham UK Nationals, and I think that was what prepared me for France. I got a serious case of the hax there, and that motivated me to go and improve my game on the continent. I booked up for France, as it gave me a little while to prepare and got back on Pokemon Online, trying out an assortment of stuff that I thought just worked really well in my eyes, suiting my style of play. I had no idea how different the strategies would be over there so I went in a bit blind in that regard.
With regards to the team, I kept Tornadus, Scrafty and a really aggressive Thundurus from my original Birmingham team. I also took a Specsfisk and a Scarf Haxorus to that national, as they were working online for me at the time. Then came the Durant. my team was Terrakion weak, and I was going through my in-game pokemon to find a good counter for it. I found Durant, who I'd used in-game, and after seeing him outspeeding Terrakion, he was an absolute must for my team. I didn't really test him too much online, but I took a risk on him, which seemed to pay off on the day, and he claimed a massive amount of scalps, not only Terrakions, but some Genies in tailwind, and the rogue Hydreigon. Being one of the only users of Durant, and it being such a surprise package, it became my signature Pokemon, and I'm allegedly known as "Durant man" in Spain.
The actual event was great. I traveled overnight with a really nice group of guys, and I was in a really really competitive mood that day. I wanted to win so badly, but I was pretty tense, knowing I'd have to be at my best to do so. I think I played well all day, and the gods of the hax, admittedly were on my side in one match.. Me and Chris had decided that if one of us got an invite, we'd both take an holiday to San Diego to use it. When I won my top 16 match, I was over the moon, and to go on and get third was even better, considering the community all considered me as a nobody. It was nice seeing the UK win Juniors and Seniors, and I know I let Lord Gatr down by not making the clean sweep for Britain. You can see one of my matches here.
As one of the many Europeans who attended the 2011 World Championships, what was it like, representing Europe and UK? Did you expect to do well, going into the tournament? How did you practice and prepare for it? What team did you use, what were your matches like, and how did you finish in the end?
In all honesty, I thought I was going to get spanked at Worlds, so I didn't set myself particularly high standards. My main goal was to not go 0-X, so I took that as a target to begin with, which I thought was realistic.In the run up I practiced a lot with my friend Chris, and with some close friends on PO. I spent a good few late nights with Chris trying to find something to "rip the meta a new one" and counter lots at the same time.
I did go to a tournament in the UK to test out some awful ideas, and Koryo tipped me off about a scarf Chandelure lead when I played him using it. He ran it with a Helping Hand Terrakion, but I had to make some changes due to my hatred of Terrakion. Chris' dog passed away, and he looked like a Stoutland. I looked at Stoutland online, and found him to be a great support Pokemon, with Intimidate and Thunder Wave and Helping Hand, so in honor of Dougal the dog, I switched in Chandelure/Stoutland, for the near useless Haxorus/Stunfisk I took to France. It was known as "Dog and Candle" or "Pig and Whistle", the latter named after a Pub me and Chris stopped at.
My matches were a real mixed bag. I got some bad luck in my first match, which spanked my confidence, and another firm beating before lunch. My confidence was shot, but Wolfey did his best to bring me up over a Subway. After lunch I got a win, which meant I'd achieved my goals. the last two were close, but losses, and my final match, funnily enough, Durant came through, avoiding a Rock Slide after a flinch, and smashing a Terrakion for 6. It wa son the TV as well, which was nice, as people were actually watching me battle. Fortunately, both my wins were on TV, so I looked like a decent player to the casual onlooker, even though people openly laughed at my Durant. More details are in my warstory, on each battle. I ended up 2-4, so I'd avoided the whitewash, and I don't think I can complain about that.
What was your overall social experience of Worlds like? What did you think of the American community? How about just the entire Pokemon community at Worlds? Did you have a good time despite your overall finish in the tournament itself?
Worlds was the sickest experience I've had in years. I was kicking about for four days, and I loved every minute of it, from meeting people on the Thursday, watching LCQ on Friday, competing Saturday, and watching finals on Sunday, it was incredible. You American guys are great. I'll get to everyone I met in the shout-outs, but, I couldn't believe how friendly and accepting everyone was, even though I'd only posted about 30 times on Smogon about Worlds, even if my accent did help things along. The overall community, outside of the players has some great people as well. The staff don't get enough credit, as they're all really good humored people, even playing along with me jokingly asking for an English to American translator. Nick McCord makes the events, and I envy how you got him at every regional last year. He commentated briefly on one of my televised battles, and I couldn't help but smile all the way through hearing some of his quips. The parents I met were nice as well, and I've got a lot of respect for them taking some of you Seniors around the country, and supporting you in your Pokemon endeavors. I had a great time, and I'd love to go back again, even if I'm not playing, that's how good the experience was, it makes the finish much less of a talking point.
How have you been preparing for VGC 2012? UK Nationals is in just two weeks: how ready are you? Compared to VGC 2011, do you feel more or less confident?
This year, I've tried to keep off PO, though it's such a good tool for making quick teams, and seeing immediately how they work out. I've done more random matchup to find out what the rest of the world is using, rather than the small playerbase online. With regards to the team-builds, I've theorymonned with a lot of people, including Wolfey, Zog, Human Keely and Gec. I always seem to end up talking to Fishy when I'm at wit's end about teams as well, and she always gives me great advice. I don't want to use really standard Pokemon across the board. I try to be different and interesting and that really hinders my teambuilding at times.
In all honesty, I'm not at all ready. I haven't got a team I'm comfortable with yet, so I'll be putting in some long shifts trying to sort one out that really works for me. I'm much less confident than last year, as by France, I knew my team was definitely decent, but this year, I think some of the more prepared players are going to make life really hard for me. If I can rack up some good wins, with a solid team in the run-up, my confidence will be back up though, and I might get into the spirit in the last couple of days.
What do you think about this metagame in general?
I think it was a good choice of meta by TPCi, as everyone was really wanting to be able to use the massive amount of Pokemon there now are to play with in the national Dex after the Unova additions. It has ended up getting focused on some very popular Pokemon though, which I think is a bit disappointing, with more DW Pokemon becoming viable. This was always going to happen though, and I think I called it in a thread about metagaming (Just saying). They did make a good call in banning Dark Void, as it was a pain having to be prepared for it in every team carrying a Smeargle. Staying away from the Ubers was also nice, as I'm not a massive fan of playing with them, but that's just a personal preference, it could still make for an interesting game.
Moving away from Pokemon itself and towards the players, what's the European scene like for you? Who are some of the top players that come to mind? What do you think about the community and how the tournaments are run?
I really like the European scene. I made a lot of friends last year, and I hope there's more people I'll be able to speak to this year. with regards to top players. The UK has a stupidly large bank of tough players this year, like Mrs Blackbird, Osirus, Kinneas, GEC, Keely, Zog, Havak and the underrated Koryo.
Then the continent ships in great players like Ruben, Albert and Drug_Duck. I think it's a great community although totally different to the US. Even with the language barriers and national pride, everyone seems to get along really well. That's not to say that tempers don't flare with flag waving, and foreign swears being thrown about in the heat of a battle. The tournaments are run pretty well, the staff have their work cut out getting translators in the right place for each battle. They have to translate all sorts all day, and I admire their patience. I was lucky enough to get a rather attractive girl in Paris, helping me with my French and German. I think I'll try find her again!
Yummy ;) What are your thoughts on Top 4 trips this year? How about the fact European Nationals will be run under a single elimination format yet again, despite US Regionals now using swiss?
The top 4 trips is a great step forward. We've all been asking for it since last year, and you can't fault TCPi for getting it done. It should be interesting getting more people from each nation at worlds, as most from the EU, only get the two with the trip going out there like France did last year. I would have liked them to keep the invites for 5-8 though, but that's purely for me, as I'm game to use my saving to fly myself out there.
With regards to the format, as much as we'd like Swiss, like the US is getting now, I think it's a safer decision keeping single elimination. There was some problems with the lack of top-cut in the US I believe, and with the time constraint of getting it done in a day, single elimination. is probably easier, as with one big division, organizing people for Swiss ties could be carnage. The pressure of single elimination is mad though, and and the only reason I'd look at Swiss next year, is to take the pressure off a bit, and allow a bit of room for hax, and errors.
Swiss would be great moving forward, though I would much rather have single elimination with the old environment to be honest. Just a quick question, how many European Nationals will you be going to?
Currently, it looks like two. I found some cheap coach travel to France, so I think I'll be heading back there, and obviously I have to go to the UK, as it's such a great event to be at, regardless of finishing position.
Nice, good luck at them! Well, to finish up, what do you do outside of Pokemon?
I'm an absolutely massive football fan. I support Tottenham Hotspur religiously, so this year is a good one for me. I play football regularly as well, which is why I always have cuts on my knees thanks to playing in defense. I'm mad about music as well, I play drums a lot, and a bass guitar as a second instrument to keep me busy.
Sweet! Do you have any final words or shout-outs?
If I had to say anything to VGC players, it's use cool Pokemon! Use your favorites, and don't forget to have fun with it! I enjoyed last year so much, as I saw Durant, a favorite of mine tearing things up, and I can guarantee this years team will have a favorite in.
I have to do shoutouts to my Uk home boys, PorkLoin, Osirus, Rees, Kinneas GEC, Keely (should be 4/4) Zog I guess. Also, the Ducks have taken me in, people like Paul, Huy, Duy, dtrain, and my old NPA team evan, Synre and Fishy were all top guys. Team Seniors need one as well, which goes to Cybertron, Unreality, Maski, Babbytron, and Human last year. Wolfey needs one in particular for keeping me motivated, even at the bottom of the barrel. I can't thank all of you enough for making my VGC experience what it has been, and I probably wouldn't be here without you all. :)
Sorry to double post but I've decided this week will be a special battle week! LudiImpact gave me this idea, and I think it's really neat. I'm going to be contacting all the people I have interviewed thus far for a battle (preferably Wi-Fi, but PO is fine too) and will be uploading all of them to my Youtube channel. As we move forward, I would hope that the battle comes along with the interview, but this week is for everyone to just catch up on interviews, watch some great battles, and suggest some stuff that you guys would like to see for the future! Thanks!