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My plane safely lands on the other side of the globe. I step out carefully, wondering if I will fall off. Such a thing does not happen, but instead I am greeted with a happy "Hola senor!". Setsuna had, somehow, arrived in Australia before me...and I'm supposed to be familiar with interviews in Australia. Oh well.
A car rental, a confusing navigation system, and many kangaroos later, we arrive at our host's gorgeous beach house. There's a beach volleyball court outside, and above us waves a familiar looking flag with Kingler on it. We both suddenly feel like eating some cookies. When I press the door bell, instead of a gentle ring or ding-dong, a loud "HAAAAAAAAAAA!" is heard. From inside, we hear someone storming down the stairs and shouting "Catch this! Destructo...." We both dive out of the way as soon as we hear it, which turns out to be just in time as the flash of light destroys the wooden door. A blue fellow with golden, radiating hair stands in the frame. "HA! Thought you could surprise me?" he flaunts. When we explain we are not with any of the DBZ villains we know of, though, he invites us in.
Alright, so first things first. Can you tell us about the person behind the Smogon username Blue Kirby? Where are you from? Age? Occupation, education level, and all that kind of stuff?
No problem. I've just recently turned 21, and I'm from Perth in Western Australia. When I don't answer to Blue Kirby, usually Michael is a pretty safe bet.
As he said this, I wondered how many people would actually try calling him Bee Kay or Blue Kirby in real life before trying the Michael approach.
I'm in my final semester of Computer Science at the moment, so things are getting very interesting on that front. When I'm not studying or doing something Pokemon-related, I'm a fan of soccer and have been known to play a bit of Halo from time to time too.
A lot of people around here have assumed I'm a fair bit older than I actually am, I wonder if there's something to that...
I would guess that's because you are such an amazingly serious person...
Only when I have to be! See: our CAP ASB thread. (editor's note: Smogon Gold Members only)
Do you know what you're going to do after Computer Science is "finished"? Are you planning on getting a full-time related job, or do you already have one?
The plan seems to have changed a few times already, and I'm sure I'm not alone in that. I've planned on doing postgraduate study for a while now, but I'm also currently interviewing for a full-time job in information security at an accounting firm. It's actually more interesting than it sounds, I swear!
At this moment, I imagined him wearing a three piece suit and an earpiece, a "security" tag on his chest, protecting mysterious information from curious eyes.
If all goes well, I'll end up doing both, with a healthy dose of Pokemon to keep me sane as well.
Computer Science, huh? That's certainly an interesting career. Speaking of that, right now there a lot of good things going on in Smogon, some of which involve coding projects that you are leading. Do you mind telling us a bit about your expectations for these projects and so on?
I have pretty high expectations for Smogon's development in the near future and beyond. Articuno64 and I are stepping into chaos' shoes, and we'll be making sure the site stays on track both in terms of its direction and technically too. We've got a lot of new and exciting changes on the horizon.
For example, the first project I'll be leading will be in relation to Smogon's media presence. I'll be doing some coding on-site to allow users to interact with videos and podcasts, as well as making sure we're on top of our game with the quality we're pumping out. And that's just the start of things to come, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled!
Sounds nice, about as far and high as the road gets in this competitive Pokemon community. Where did that road start? How did you get into Pokemon, then onto Smogon, and then into Sumo V- I mean into programming for Smogon?
My addiction to Pokemon began many years ago. My very first game was Pokemon Yellow! My brother had already been playing Blue version for a while, and we eventually helped each other fill out our Pokedexes. Imagine that, two real life Pokemon masters...
When Gold and Silver came out, we began playing competitively with our neighbours too. Back then, my Jolteon with four Electric-moves really was where it was at. Thunder for power, Thunderbolt for accuracy, ThunderShock to finish off weakened opponents, and Thunder Wave to slow them down. The whole package, really.
This continued with the release of Ruby and Sapphire, when I looked up my first competitive battling guide to gain the edge. I found a GameFAQs guide, where to my horror, I learned having moves of different types was actually the way to go. Imagine the surprise of my opponents when my Sceptile busted out an Earthquake! From this guide, I eventually found Netbattle, and not long after that, Smogon.
I never really paid much attention to Smogon until Diamond and Pearl, where I hopped on the wifi board to net myself some cool Pokemon. The plan was never to end up where I am now. I guess life's strange like that. HOO HAH!
That's interesting. I always wished my sister would jump onboard with me and play Pokemon too, but I guess she was too busy with other things...
I mumble an awkward "Heh, yeah, she sure is..." which earns me a poke in the ribs.
People also know you for being the Captain of Oceania's team, Blue Kirby, which has won the World Cup twice before and is currently competing against US West in an impressive finals for this year. What would you like to say in this regard? Have you liked this World Cup more than any other? If so, why?
Suddenly, Blue Kirby opens the window and fires another blast of light at what appears to be a crocodile with a cowboy hat. "WEST BESTAAAGH!" it shouts before running off with its tail between its legs. After making sure it's gone, Blue Kirby returns and needs the question repeated for him before he can answer.
Some of the best times I've had on Smogon were with the Oceania crew during the World Cup series. The primary reason I've found myself always drawn back to this site one way or another is the people, both from Oceania and elsewhere.
From the word go, we've had some amazing players step up to represent us. I think my favourite thing about our team is that amongst the big names, we have plenty of hard hitting players that aren't as well known for whatever reason. The World Cup is really a time for those guys to show everybody else what they're made of, and they certainly haven't disappointed so far!
This year, we're in for another nail-biting finish against West as you said. I've got faith in Earthworm to pull this one out (again), but everybody has played amazingly to get us this far.
I can't really say there's any World Cup that stands out as my favourite -- our team dynamic has always been strong, as has our competition. I can only hope this will continue in World Cups to come.
I'd like to give US West a shoutout too for being great competition this year. No matter what happens, we'll be back next year too!
Is there anything about your team that you believe to be the key to its rather consistent success, other than the mentioned factors such as player quality (whether their names are known or not)?
Without a doubt it's the team chemistry. From day one each year, our IRC channel has always had both players and supporters helping each other improve and generally just hanging out. We also set up a forum each year to make sure we're as prepared as possible going into each round. If we all jumped in and played as lone wolves instead, I doubt we'd have put up the performances we have each year so far.
From the moment we started this interview, I've been wanting to ask you something: back in mid-2009, the first issue of The Smog was released and you played a major role in getting the magazine off the ground. How did the idea of having an on-line magazine sound to you in the first place? How much do you think it has changed since then, in your opinion?
Back then, it was definitely a novel idea, and I wasn't sure how it'd be received. I remember we were scrambling to get ourselves together for our first release, and luckily it went down nicely.
Since then, The Smog has attracted a whole range of talented users, which has lead to more of a rhythm and hence polished product. It's taken a good direction and is in good hands now, and I hope it continues to go from strength to strength in the future!
How about the other popular Smogon pioneer project, Battling 101? You've been big in that too, as big as it gets in fact. How do you feel about the way that is now? Any plans to improve it with technical enhancements?
I've always had a soft spot for Battling 101, as it was really where my Smogon "career" began back when it was under the guidance of Aeolus.
Eventually, I took over leadership as you mentioned. That lasted for about a year, and I've kept an eye on it ever since. Each time a group of leaders has stepped up, they've brought with them their own unique ideas and views, and the project has clearly benefited from this.
Battling 101 continues to develop, and I can't wait to see what you guys have in store for it. There are few things I'd like to give the project in terms of technical features, and I'd love to work with the current crew to sort them out. I can see at the very least that we could improve the signing up process both for the tutees and the poor guys that have to manually assign tutors.
Like I said before, we've got a whole range of improvements in store for Smogon, and odds are that everybody will be able to take advantage of this regardless of what their interests are. Stay tuned!
At this point Setsuna is drooling and I am rubbing my hands.
That sounds great! Now it's time to shoot this question that, you know, you can always expect in a Pokemon-related interview. What is your favorite Pokemon, Michael?
I bet it's Zubat because he has bat ears.
I would've thought as a cave man, you'd have more experience with Zubat yourself Mekkah.
Zubats are no match for my club. I barely notice them.
In times gone by, my answer would've been the faithful Jolteon that I mentioned a little earlier on. Since Ruby and Sapphire though, Metagross has taken the cake. I loved the fact that Metagross turned out to be such a great finisher in Diamond and Pearl; if only it got some more toys to play with in Black and White...
Okay, now that we've asked the only question we actually came for, I think we can actually wrap this up. Thanks for this, BlueKirby. You can expect the censored version to be published soon, and the uncensored version will be available for download for Smogon Gold members!
Part of me knew that you didn't care about the rest...
You can always come to me and purchase a behind-the-scenes account to access your own material...
I'd also like to remind Smogon Gold members about our upcoming Sumo Volleyball tournament, make sure you're around for that if you haven't signed up already!
With a confident "Hoo! Hah!", we are walked out of the door. The crocodile seems to be taking another attempt at trying to eat the Kingler flag, but we pay it no mind. We have an article to write, after all.
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