Interview with Jumpman16

By Jimbo and Sarenji.
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I knocked on the door to the gymnasium. A little slider opened, and an eye poked out.

“Who’s there?” a sultry voice said, the voice of a real man. The voice of Jumpman. “I’ve had a long day.”

“It’s The Smog,” I said. “Jimbo and Sarenji.”

Jumpman let us in. B-balls bounced everywhere—off the walls, through hoops, and off ceiling pipes. Jumpman—for he was known only by this name—stood, smiling, in the middle of the court. He gave us a white-toothed thumbs up.

Okay, first off, our readers would like to know who the real Jumpman16 is, so could you introduce yourself?

I've been involved in competitive Pokémon for almost nine years now. I joined Azure Heights in October 2000 after stumbling upon it in a search, and I've kind of never left. Despite a brief—relatively—hiatus from 2002-2004, I've been pretty involved and have never stopped loving this game.

To be more specific, the “real” Jumpman16 was considered a great competitive battler from 2004-2006, but I've since let my passion for actual battle wane in favor of other facets of competitive Pokémon—and there are many.

Your fame has never died, but your true name remains relatively unknown. Inquiring stalkers, like Kristy Haruka, have asked for it. Mind sharing?

I have been called exotic, but dangerous. Take that as you may.

I will. Could you tell us a bit about your hobbies, outside of competitive Pokémon?

Well, some would argue that the cartridges' Battle Towers and Frontiers would not technically fall under competitive Pokémon, and it's hard to argue with that. But this is one of my favorite hobbies, aside from being the one with which most of our readers would be familiar.

In fact, exploits in the Battle Frontiers and Towers are the subject of the vast majority of my posts not concerned with competitive Pokémon policy... I love to create teams, refine them, and test them against the AI of the respective cartridges. I would probably not list this as such an enjoyable hobby if the threads in Stark Mountain devoted to records in said Towers and Frontiers were not among the most popular on Smogon—chaos recently ran some statistics on Smogon's threads in our five years, and the Diamond and Pearl Battle Tower Records thread was the second-most viewed thread of all time (behind a older thread we cannot remember that has since been purged).

However, I would be remiss to not list “real” hobbies—I enjoy writing music very much, both lyrics and music, and I enjoy playing my piano just the same. I also enjoy reading, playing and following all kinds of sports, and poker.

I also like to hit the nightclub scene here in Pittsburgh on the weekends to dance, which I've contrasted humorously many times with my “secret” persona of “Pokémon Master.” The final hobby I'll list is overusing quotations marks.

That is an intense lifestyle. You mentioned earlier that you had a long day. What did today, or any other “typical Jumpman16 day,” “entail”?

Well, I work for Xerox Corporation nine hours a day on weekdays, which does not leave me as much time as I'd like to partake in the hobbies I've already listed. In the last 18 or so months, I've devoted much of my time to preparing for business school—be it by taking a class in Business Statistics at the University of Pittsburgh, or studying for the GMATs (LSATs for business school), or writing essays for business school applications.

That does sound like long days. Do you plan to stay with Xerox after finishing business school? And, you probably want to do something business related—is there anything specific?

I “specifically” (there's another one) want to find an occupation that will allow me to utilize my creative abilities to make a lasting impact on the country, or even the world. [He chuckles.] That's probably taken virtually verbatim from my Wharton application. I can't be more direct than that, unfortunately—I trust that a proper business school environment will essentially nudge me in the right direction as I learn the fundamentals of business from and among the best.

That is definitely something admirable to strive towards. You once said that the Suspect test is the best thing that happened to Smogon. Do you like where the Suspect process is at the moment? Is there anything you would change about how it's going?

I think it's going pretty smoothly at the moment, and that only things I could actually change now that would make sense would in turn conflict with the aim of the Suspect Test itself. It's easy to say “I could have started it 3-4 months sooner” but that's not really a “change.”

And it's also not much of a reach to state that we never should have tested Deoxys-S, or Wobbuffet, but this could only confidently be stated after information gained from the Suspect Test process itself has been analyzed, since in both cases, the Suspects were much less threatening in theory than they proved to be, but only after months of actual experience—Dual Screen and Taunt in Deoxys-S's case, and Tickle in Wobbuffet's—did we learn how uber they really are.

These two examples of several I could cite begin to underline just why I feel the Suspect Test Process is indeed the most important thing to happen to competitive Pokémon. Before a few of my colleagues and I actually decided to come up with a way of revisiting the competitive tiers and even the banishment of moves (Double Team) and the necessity of clauses (Species), such ideas were mere talk, or wishful thinking that wasn't getting anywhere.

This is much of the reason that I personally am not as interested in competitive battling—I would rather leave my mark on the competitive landscape of Pokémon than on a ladder.

It is certainly a milestone for Smogon, in our opinion. Excuse us for going a bit off-topic, but now is the time for perhaps the most important question of this interview. What is your favorite Pokémon?


Always and forever.

It's good to hear you haven’t betrayed Espeon yet. That must be love. It also explains your avatar, but it doesn’t explain your signature. What is the story behind that?

Well, as I mentioned, poker is one of my true hobbies. I've been playing for about four years now, and am “lucky” enough to have won over a thousand dollars on the internet and in casinos and home games in that time span even after stopping for a good 18 months.

There's a popular painting of dogs playing poker, so I figured, why not bears? Teddiursa is probably my seventh favorite Pokémon simply because it is so adorable (all of the others in my top-10 aside from Dragonair are Pokémon I've used either ingame or competitively, or created competitive movesets for, or both).

So one day in 2005 I got the idea to draw a picture of it with some chips and some cards, scan the sketch, color it in with Photoshop, and animate it with Image Ready. Teddiursa raising the 7 and 8 of diamonds is funny because this hand is not considered an optimum hand in Texas Hold 'Em... even though many good players would raise such a hand because it can make a well-concealed “monster”... not unlike a pocket monster.

I'm sure you appreciate that pun.

You know, Pokér should be a Pokétch app one day. Do you think that becoming an admin of Smogon paved the way for Barack Obama?

I think that my recent invitation to his Trophy Garden is all the answer we need to that question.

[He chuckles devilishly, and his white teeth are almost blinding.]

In all seriousness, there are serious corollaries that can be drawn between the inauguration of the first African-American President and my own personal efforts with the Suspect Test Process. His efforts are obviously worlds more important than mine, but I believe that when all is said and done, we both will have striven to impart change we can all believe in.

That is really admirable. Is there anything you want to tell us so we can pretend we asked a question to get you to say it?

Pokémon beats Pokémon with move.

Readers, this is true wisdom. Jumpman, thanks for taking your time to interview with us. We really appreciate it.

“Hey, thanks, guys,” Jumpman said. “It was fun. Peace.”

Then, he jumped to the moon.

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