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I get off the plane in Sydney's airport, looking around the Arrivals section for my partner. Or rather, I am having a hard time finding the Arrivals section, because my partner is occupying it completely. I wave to him, and Jimbo waves back, though he has a surprised look on his face.
"Wait, Mekkah? What are you doing here? I was expecting tennisace!" he asks.
"He said he was busy, so I offered to stand in. I was trying to call you about it, but you never picked up the phone."
"Oh, right, erm..." Jimbo coughs. "That's because I'm, er, not mafia, you see. Or wolf. Definitely not either of those."
"You should definitely give me your role PM after this, then," I say with a smirk, while quickly writing something down on my notepad.
When we're in Jimbo's humongous hired car, we decide to change the topic of conversation to something more comfortable.
"So, who are we headed for?" I say curiously.
"We're interviewing Earthworm today. It was hard to find his location, as not even his co-workers at McDonalds knew where he lived... but I have a special inside contact that could tell me everything I needed to know."
"Why didn't you just interview him, then?" I joke.
"Her," he mumbles.
Jimbo coughs again. "Nothing. We're there." He turns onto a small driveway of a single-storey house.
"I wonder what he's like in real life," I ponder aloud as Jimbo rings the doorbell with all his might. From inside, we hear a voice saying "wormbot, open the door", and moments later a metallic, not-quite-humanshaped robot welcomes us into the house. He leads us upstairs, into a small room with a boy inspecting the only plant in there. Just as we come in, he turns towards his computer, does a single mouse click, then turns around and notices us.
"Oh, hi!" he says, standing up. "Sorry, I need to finish this battle and then I'll be right with you." He turns around again. We come closer and see that he's indeed playing Shoddy Battle, sweeping a random ladder opponent with a Gyarados. He types a quick "tfp", though his opponent had already left, and turns to us again.
"Well, um, hi! wormbot, get us drinks!" he says to the robot, who has been standing in a corner quietly until now. With a polite "Yes, master!", the robot walks past us, presumably towards the kitchen. Due to a lack of seats in the room, the three of us just sit on the floor together.
Alright, Earthworm, to start us off, could you tell us more about your real life self? Age, location, job, education, that kind of stuff?
Sure. I'm 19, living in Sydney, Australia. I am currently doing a Computer Science degree at Uni, and I'm in second year there. There isn't really much else to say since I spend most of my time online.
And as most people know, one of the main things you do online is play Pokemon. Can you tell us about your Pokemon history? How'd you start playing and how'd you end up at Smogon?
While he is thinking about his answer, wormbot comes back with three glasses of milk. As he puts it down, the doorbell can be heard again. The robot is commanded to open the door once again. He comes back with a boy wearing a cap over his head, half concealing his face.
"tennisace? I thought you were busy!" Jimbo says, agitated.
"I am busy! I am playing..." He whips out a pink DS. "...Robo Unicorn Attack for DS!"
tennisace turns it on, and loudly he begins to sing along with the music coming out. "Always, I wanna be with you..." Jimbo makes a hushing sound and he turns down the volume of both his DS and his humming, but continues playing.
Earthworm has gone back to looking at his plant, perhaps still thinking about his response, and I snap my fingers. He seems to come back to reality, and answers.
Well, like most people I know that still play at my age, I started with Red / Blue and kept playing from there. I started competitively in RSE after I discovered Netbattle somehow (I don't remember how). I basically copied other people's Pokemon until I had a team of pretty standard stuff, and then I did reasonably well against all the randoms on Netbattle.
I found Smogon while I was playing Netbattle, since one of my friends there (Vulcan Fury, who at the time went by haxubers) told me to sign up. I wasn't going by this name back then though. After a couple of years hiatus during which I played competitive Mario Kart DS, I returned to play DP. I originally used the same name I used on Netbattle, but because of the ladder, I made a lot of alts and the first one I got really high with was Earthworm, so I used that on Smogon.
The robot seems to be trying to look over tennisace's shoulder to see what he's playing. Annoyed, tennisace shouts "wormbot, get out!" Surprisingly, the robot responds "Bye-bye, please make me come back soon!" in a girly voice, and leaves the room.
Of course, unlike most people who still play at your age, you're widely considered one of the best Pokémon players on Smogon right now. Do you agree with that? And how did you get there in the first place?
Earthworm thinks long and hard about this, as if he's fighting a dilemma between a modest and confident answer.
I'll answer the second part first since it's easier. Like I said, I first got high on the ladder as Earthworm, and when I did, I managed to stay consistently high and compete with the other high ranked ladderers at the time. After a few months of laddering quite consistently, I turned to the Tournaments board on Smogon where I started to join just about everything so I could test myself and have fun there.
I think I have been one of the most successful tournament players in DPP, along with a few others like Maniaclyrasist, Gouki, reachzero, panamaxis, and Loki. What really boosted my 'ranking' for people, I think, was when I won the Smogon Tour. I think that, in addition to my deep finishes and wins in other tournaments, is what makes people consider me one of the best.
I know I can compete with some of the best Pokemon players on Smogon in DP, and I do still get deep into tournaments, so I must be somewhere up among the top players. At the same time though, I do think that my seemingly consistent good luck has played quite a part in my DP success.
Is there anyone you find it particularly difficult to play against? If so, why?
Again, Earthworm ponders his answer carefully, to the point where even tennisace starts making impatient guestures.
For sure. I absolutely never feel confident when I am playing against Gouki, because I always feel like he is in control even when I am 'winning'. If anyone watched the Battle of the Week match I played against him, I won a significant early speed tie but still lost. For me, confidence seems to play a major part in whether it is difficult to win.
You've obviously played a lot of tense matches by now. Are there any particular moments or battles you remember that stand out?
There are quite a few. One very significant 'thing' was winning the Mewtwo vs Mewtwo speed tie against Gouki, which basically decided the match, in the final battle of the Smogon Tour that I won. My recent battle against panamaxis in the semi-final of ST6 was tense the whole way; every turn felt important. The BotW match and my finals match against hanke are two that I lost that drive me crazy because I messed up.
Besides Pokémon, you also seem to be an avid mafia player and host. What do you like about mafia?
Playing mafia is really fun, because it is all about tricking people, seeing through other people's tricks, and making the most out of what you're given. Hosting is a lot of fun too, because you can create fun new ideas to play with as roles and and then observe how people deal with what you give them. I even leave puzzles and tricks for people to figure out in my games as a host!
Apart from the actual game, there is also a strong social aspect in Circus Maximus, and it was Smogon Mafia that led me to IRC in the first place. I've since been regularly using IRC for more than two years I think, and there are still quite a few of the same people that were around then playing now, like Gmax and Mekkah for example!
What are your favorite memories of Mafia, playing and/or hosting?
I really enjoyed playing as the wolf in Zelda Mafia because I was able to play a major part in the game and have a lot of control, even though it was eventually overcome by an agreement between two sides. I think I actually eliminated about a quarter of the players during that game. Chaos Mafia was the game I enjoyed hosting most out of the three so far because there was a lot of unpredictable variation, which was a lot of fun to watch!
Between questions, I hiss "Your role PM. Now." to Jimbo, who doesn't respond, other than by his face turning radish red.
I see. Hypothetical question: you can take three Smogoners on a date to McDonalds, seperately. What would those dates be like? What would you talk about and what would you order them?
Earthworm laughs at this question, and mumbles something. tennisace does not seem to be satisfied with mumbling and nearly throws his DS at Earthworm, who quickly revises his answer.
Well, I would definitely take jumpluff. That would be a fun date, and we would probably be able to talk about a lot and joke around since we already do a lot of talking on IRC and on the phone. I would probably order her McNuggets and fries. For the other 'dates', I would probably take Junior, since I still haven't met him despite him living so close to me. I expect it would be kinda awkward at first, but we would probably get more comfortable talking as time passed. I would probably order Junior a Big Mac and get myself a Quarter Pounder. The third person I would take to McDonalds would probably be Gmax, and I'm sure we would get along fine and be able to talk about a lot of mafia stuff. Since he is from India, he would probably not eat cow, so I would get him nuggets.
Jimbo looks as if he suddenly had an idea, and, without hesitation, asks the deadly question we have been waiting for.
Please describe your relationship with user: jumpluff in 1-2 sentences.
jumpluff and I are really close and have been for almost two years now. We know each other very well and talk very often including on the phone as I mentioned earlier, and we plan to meet sometime in the next few months, which will definitely be fun!
Happy to have conquered his nervousness, there is now a smile on the boy's face.
So, for the final anticlimatic question: what is your favourite Pokémon, and why?
That's an easy one! My favourite Pokemon is Espeon, and it has been since I first saw it in GSC. It's my favourite because of its aesthetics—it has a really nice pink colour and looks very sleek. I also like how the name looks. While I probably wouldn't ever try to use Espeon competitively in OU like Jumpman16 did in his BotW, it is still an easy pick for my favourite.
As Earthworm and tennisace begin to argue about whether Espeon is pink or purple, we quickly thank Earthworm for dedicating so much of our time to this interview, and leave quietly. As we're about to drive away, the door opens again. It looks like tennisace is coming out, in hysterics. He seems to have taken off his cap... revealing quite the hairlength for a boy. This wasn't tennisace after all!
"It was me all along! Hahaha!"
Earthworm stands at the doorway looking astonished.
"I even told you I was playing Robo Unicorn Attack!"
"I thought you were both playing it..." Earthworm responds, completely baffled.
We laugh and drive away, though Jimbo's laughter stops when I ask him for his role PM.
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