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It's a cold day in San Diego, and before me is a gigantic structure that can only be described as a tower. The sleek black structure appears as slick as glass, although who really knows. At the top floor is my quarry. I glance down at the note in my hand that was unexpectedly left on my office desk two days ago. The note reads:
"After having to suffer indignation from Philip, his 7085 brothers, and his cheerleaders, I'm rewarding myself with a vacation to Australia. You do this one."
I curse under my breath. A strong wind picks up and blows the note out of my hand and onto the door of the tower before me. I look up to take in the structure, and it seems to stretch so far into the heavens that the clouds move around it.
As I walk up a flight of stairs to knock, the door swings open and a very large man that could only be described as a bear greets me. He tells me in a very gruff voice to follow him into the elevator, and I do. When I reach the top floor, I realize that the room I'm now in is shaped as a large glass dome and situated well into the Earth's upper troposphere. Before me sit two men in lounge chairs with Nintendo DSi's in hand. They stop and eye me with wide smirks stretching across their faces.
As if from nowhere, a chair emerged from the floor in front of me. I take the hint and sit down in the rather comfortable chair. Placing my hands gingerly in my lap, I grin as I recall that unlike Mekkah, my memory doesn't suck and I can remember the interview without writing on Jimbo's enormous form.
Alright, so first thing's first, can you shed some light on your backgrounds? Where are you both from? Age? Occupation? Hobbies? The works.
Huy sets down his DSi on a pedestal that emerged from the floor next to his chair and leans back, clearly to demonstrate how relaxed he is.
My birthday is next week... What should I say?
A man rushes over, seeming to have also appeared out of the floor, and whispers in makiri's right ear over the shoulder of his chair.
I am 22 at the moment, and I'm pretty much a big slacker. The job market in California is pretty awful because of the recession, so at the moment I am not employed, but I am going to school for now hoping to finish with a degree in nursing.
I look around the large tower, wondering how he managed to set himself up here while being simultaneously unemployed...
I'm a big fan of sports and music. I listen to basically every genre there is, from J-Pop to rap, if I like the music I listen to it. I also watch loads of tennis and various other American sports.
I know the feeling. That's how I am with music, too.
Background... Well, I've lived in northern California for the entirety of my 21 years and I'm currently a 4th year Biochemistry major at UC Davis. Other than Pokemon battling, I'm an avid Street Fighter player and Pokemon collector.
So you're both from California? Is that how you met each other and why people say you're like two peas in a pod?
We actually didn't meet in real life until the summer of 2009. But for a long time on Smogon, we were among the few West Coast people on the site, so we chatted a lot.
Our background is kind of funny—we got paired together in a tournament and had no idea who the other person was. We clicked during our battle... Which I should have won if not for that lame Static paralysis on my Kingler.
Haha. Yeah, my Pikachu Static'd his Kingler and won it for me. We've been friends since then; we just get along so well and have so many common interests.
Haha, awesome. What kind of battle was it?
It was an RPT tournament called the 219 ways of death and was run by ricepigeonkkm.
Sounds interesting, although I have no clue what that—
Before I could finish, Huy interjected as though he could read my very thoughts.
...we were randomly assigned 8 Pokemon based on numbers.
I nod in understanding and look slightly confused by his omniscience.
Both teams were probably really bad as you can tell by a Pikachu beating a Kingler.
Yeah, hah. Seems like it must have been fun, though, so who cares.
Yeah, it was a really fun tournament. I thought I had a cakewalk since his username had all those numbers and all, but nooo.
Huy rolls his eyes visibly at makiri, who scowls in response.
Now, I know that you're both into the VGC community and that you both did well for yourselves last season. Tell me, what is the experience like being part of such a community?
Huy's eyes seem to glow at the mention of VGC.
The community is what makes VGC so great. It's such a different experience to do what you're passionate about with people who share the same love for the game.
I've always been interested in battling at the official tournaments. I missed out on the JAA and the Emerald Tournament in Seattle, but in '08 I joined and made Worlds placing second in LA. I told Huy about it the next year and forced him to join. He won with a team I made for myself, surprisingly. I just wanted him to test it!
Yeah, he gave me a team like a week before and told me to run with it and it just sort of snowballed. I wasn't expecting to get anywhere in '09, but having zwing behind me really helped.
Since then, he's come into his own and we're both major pioneers in the metagame, which is really cool.
That's really exciting! Now, makiri, you say you're both pioneers? Can you elaborate a bit on what you mean by that?
Well, last year is a perfect example of us being pioneers. In Seattle we decided to run the now infamous TopOgre team, and it performed so well that many other people picked up on it and won or placed really well at other tournaments.
I've heard of that! That was you who started it?
Yeah! It was actually a joint effort between the two of us.
That's really cool, actually.
Most people give me the credit because I won with it, but we both put tons of effort into creating that team.
Hitmontop even ended up on the poster for Worlds 2010 because of it. That must make you both really proud.
Yeah, that wasn't something I was expecting.
I only just now notice that Huy is signing papers on a suited man's back. The papers appear to have Cresselia logos on them. I decide to wait a moment and listen to makiri some more before throwing out the next question.
Oh yeah, the following Hitmontop got from it was amazing. I really enjoyed making an uncommon UU Pokemon such a major factor in a game filled with Ubers.
Sorry, I'm back now.
Always late to the party...
Huy shoots makiri a glare that could cut butter.
So, while we're on the subject of VGC, I'm curious about what you two think of the VGC 2011 rules? Only Unova Pokemon and all.
It's a change of pace. It's almost as centralized as RBY, but with no old Pokemon to fall back on. It's going to require some thinking and lots of work to make a new TopOgre or ZapChomp.
I really like it. It's forcing a lot of people out of their comfort zone and making them try new things. It's fun seeing all these new Pokemon trying to fill the roles of the older Pokemon.
I wait for a moment for more from either of them, though their lips seem tightly sealed on the matter. I frame my next question carefully to see if I can get some juicier details out of the pair.
Without spoiling your planned strategies, any ideas what we should be on the lookout for this season?
Trick Room is going to be a very prominent strategy this year. It's so much easier to set up with the new properties of Mental Herb.
Lots of help from Gob.
Sensing the confusion in my facial expressions, makiri elaborates.
He's a character from Arrested Development. He's really into illusions.
Steelicks and Jimbo will be really happy to hear that the big, slow 'mons are going to be some of the hardest to stop.
Jimbo sure could be a bit more useful this year.
We all laugh at the thought of Jimbo being useful.
And what about weather, seeing as it was so popular in VGC 2010? Without any of the permanent weather starters available, how do you think it'll fare?
It's up in the air. There isn't much that takes advantage of any of the weathers. I've played around with rain and sun, but it just isn't as effective without old mainstays like Kingdra or Jumpluff.
Yeah, there are only a few Pokemon that can take advantage of the weather and even fewer that can effectively set it up.
So it'll be a strong, bulky metagame with little weather and lots of trickery. Sounds exciting.
I think it will be.
It's definitely going to be exciting to see what starts popping up at regionals.
Maybe you two were expecting this, but I just have to know. What are the Mighty Ducks?
Oh man! Originally the ducks started off as "Team Bianca", and then grew into "Team Goblet" during Nationals of '09. It was just a name we gave our small group that related to a bunch of inside jokes.
It really started as a gimmick. Huy was wondering what to name his Pokemon for Worlds '09, and eventually he settled on characters from the Mighty Ducks movies. While he was battling a group of us began a duck chant, and it really evolved from a small group of friends into what we are today: a large group of friends. We of course battle and train lots, but our primary focus is getting together.
As he finishes speaking, I notice banners with the Mighty Ducks logo descend from the tops of the windows along the sides of the dome.
And now it's a full community that trains together and has major representation at Worlds. That's really impressive. It's funny how stuff like that works out.
I really never expected what became of us. If you saw a duck shirt, you were scared of what might come next.
Feared throughout the land, eh?
Yeah! The best part of the whole duck gimmick is that The Pokemon Company plays along with it. The MC even started a duck chant for us in Seattle.
I'm not sure whether they like us or not, because we do so well at Regionals and other tournaments. I think they really enjoy what we've been bringing publicity-wise for them, though.
Yeah, that sounds about right.
Yeah, even IGN started asking us what the deal was!
It takes a bit of courage to ask the next question, but I blurt it out after a bit of thought.
Do I get a T-shirt for this interview?
Haha, we'll talk to our publicity manager and see if he can hook you up.
I do a shallow fistpump and makiri winks. In the meantime, I notice that Huy is making hand motions in the air and one of the suited men in the room is scrambling about as if he's looking for something.
I've always thought about trying VGC, but it's kind of a scary prospect jumping into a fluid group like that. Any recommendations for newcomers?
Sleep with our manager.
The suited man that was flailing about stops dead in his tracks and stares blankly at makiri with his jaw open and head slightly hanging.
Just get in there and don't be afraid to make mistakes. The community is more than willing to help newcomers learn the game.
...or you can do what Huy said.
The suited man sighs a sigh of relief and returns to looking for whatever he was looking for.
There was a huge spike in new players last year and they've all planted themselves firmly in the community.
I recall my next question after a brief respite and lean back in my chair with a smile as I ask it.
VGC was only recently recognized by Smogon as an official metagame, as you're both well aware. Here's your chance to speak out: if you had chaos and his beard on a leash, what would you do to better represent VGC here at Smogon?
I would love to see more VGC tournaments. Representation in the tour would be a great start, too. There is already a slot in SPL, which is great.
Yeah, I'm really enjoying VGC in SPL.
Yeah, I saw that. Are you both kicking butt and taking names?
I'm not the 5th highest paid player for nothing!
The building we're in makes a lot more sense to me after a statement like that.
I decided to move on to bigger and better things than playing by being the manager of the Stark Sharks. I write the paychecks.
Is Huy on your team?
Haha! He wishes he could afford me!
I wish, but because he cost so much during the draft I had to settle for sixonesix... who isn't that bad himself.
Yeah, there are a lot of players who flew under the radar simply because people don't play VGC enough to know better.
Yeah, and then costed less than they were worth, I imagine.
I actually think there was inflation because of the lack of knowledge. Almost every VGC player had gone above the average salary. ninahaza went for 9k and he didn't even sign up!
Haha. Well, we've been going on here for a while, so I have one last question for you all before we part ways...
I didn't do it!
I look at him confusedly, and watch as the suited manager fellow charges across the room to makiri's side. They exchange whispers, and the suited man walks off and makes a phone call.
If I asked you two to battle right now with VGC 2011 rules, who would win?
makiri points to himself confidently.
I would definitely win; I'm currently 4-0 against my partner here.
Hah! I'm like 0-4 against him..
Huy looks more than a little sad as he makes this confession.
Ouch! Pikachu always triumphs over Kingler, eh? I'll make a mental note of that for C&C when I cycle back around. Anything else you guys would like to say before we go?
makiri makes some crazy gestures with his hands and starts spouting out names in a gangster accent.
Shout outs to all my bros: Big J, K-Town, and true niggaz don't give a f*@&!
Love out to WiFi for providing me all 'da sweet 'mons for VGC! Also a shout out to andrea as my favorite trade thread partner!
God bless and good night, my man.
I stand up and thank them for all of their hard work and thought out responses. I turn towards the elevator, and both the publicity manager and several huge bodyguards stand next to it. As I walk towards it, I'm called after by a now standing makiri...
I'm surprised you didn't ask about my name!
No one actually knows what it means! They see the name and wonder that it's awfully girly. I used to get confused for jumpluff.
I notice that the suited men behind me are clenching their fists and decide to play along with makiri for my own safety.
It also changes a lot, so I've noticed. zerowing was the original, right?
zerowing1991 was. I dropped the numbers in 2007, and then changed to this in 2010.
Huy looks up from signing more Cresselia-stamped papers to chime in.
Bring back zerowing1991!
No love for the numbers, makiri?
I dropped the numbers because people thought I was born in 1991, which was kind of infuriating. Last year I changed to makiri because I thought it was a cool name and kind of cute. katya had gotten me into tennis last year and the first match I watched was Maria Kirilenko vs Maria Sharapova. It's kind of silly looking back, but I love the name despite all of the pleas to go back to zerowing. It makes people take me less seriously when I battle.
Aha, it all makes sense now! Alright, well, unless there are any other questions you'd like me to ask, that's that.
I wait for a good half-minute before turning back to the elevator and the waiting guards. All I can think of while walking into the elevator heading for the ground floor is if this manager fellow is going to give me a T-shirt or not.
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