Interview with blarajan
Interview done November 2012 by Charmander. Avatars by elcheeso
So, blarajan, give us some background information on yourself. Who are you on Smogon, and what do you do? What do you like outside of Smogon? Do you have any interesting hobbies you'd like to share?
My name is Rajan. I'm an 18 year old freshman attending the University of Maryland, College Park. I generally enjoy hanging out with friends, which has been significantly easier and more fun at a university setting, listening to music (shitty pop music is my vice), playing video games, eating, swimming, sleeping, and really just having a good time. I don't really do anything "interesting" but I have a rather avid interest for law in general, and really like reading a great legal thriller. I want to go to law school after my four years here. On Smogon, though, I'm a bit different. I generally focus on the Little Cup forums, and post sporadically in other places. I also play tournaments a lot. I think I've finally made a bit of a name for myself with my Grand Slam performance, so here's to hoping I do well in the top 8. On Smogon, I guess I'm a pretty likeable guy. I'm rather ridiculous at times, and frequently profane, but it's all in good fun, and I've made a ton of friends from this website. I think in general most people like me (or at least can stand me!) and I'm pretty easy to talk to. As of now though, my only two goals on Smogon are making Little Cup a better place in general (boosting the forums and improving its standing among players) and winning Grand Slam.
That's very interesting; it's always good to see someone with goals on Smogon. People who have aspirations help Smogon improve day by day! Going more in depth in the Grand Slam, specifically Little Cup, what were your initial thoughts about the Little Cup Open? Did you have any prejudices about it, either positive or negative? What were your predictions about the results of the tournament?
Honestly, and I don't mean to sound cocky (okay maybe a little!), but I was fairly positive I'd win it overall. I used to be very diffident regarding my tournament playing, as I didn't think I was very good and always got intimidated by playing. But after that unfortunate setback in the UU Open (R1 out D=), I realized there was no reason for that. Honestly since then, I've gone into every tournament I've signed up for thinking I'll win it overall, and have been much more confident overall. I think my current Grand Slam performance demonstrates this. While I didn't win this Open in the end (damn you McMeghan!), I still made it to finals, and had generally really good games, so I'm happy with it overall. I thought with my skill in Little Cup, more so than most anyone, that I'd be able to take it, but what's done is done. It was a good finals.
Awesome, I'm sure your high level of confidence was a huge factor in getting you all the way up to the grand finals. Was the big match against McMeghan anything like you expected? Did he use any wacky sets or strategies that threw you off? Unpredictability is very helpful in winning matches, especially in a tournament setting where you usually won't have prior knowledge of your opponent's team.
Well, uh, nothing "wacky" besides wtf ParaFusion Murkrow. I mean the Finals were just games. I'm a little salty about my luck regarding Speed ties and some things, but they were good games, and I'm glad I lost to McMeghan, who legitimately enjoys LC now, as opposed to someone else. Oh, he also named his Riolu after me, which was sweet and infuriating.
How nice. I guess luck overrides confidence and cockiness. That would be the only justification for the following...
[18:14:31] <blarajan> i'm not cocky i'm just going to win
Now, outside of the LC open, what's your current opinion on the metagame? A lot of people have different opinions on top-tier Pokemon such as Mienfoo and Misdreavus. Even top players disagree about the fairness or brokenness of some of these Pokemon. Would you mind giving us your insight on the current banlist and metagame?
Honestly, I think I have a rather different take on the metagame than most. For example, I don't even consider Mienfoo a top tier Pokemon. It's very easily splashable, but it's not even really on my top 5 list. The most dominating forces of the metagame in my opinion are Drilbur (number 1), Misdreavus (number 2), Murkrow (number 3), Lileep (number 4), and Riolu (number 5). The reason I view this is because of the way the metagame is. Mienfoo is an easily splashable Pokemon that happens to be really easy for beginner players to use, and is a very easy addition for teams. Its utility is what gives it its value; but I don't think it's that great in this metagame, especially with Misdreavus, Murkrow, and Drilbur being so common, with Life Orb Scraggy getting around it, with it being smashed by +2 Tirtouga if weakened, etc. The rest of the meta being so dominating makes that less threatening.
The current meta is a sand-based meta, and there's no problem with that, as there's a ton of room for exploration and diversity in Sand. Under the archetype, I've honestly managed to create many different kinds of builds, even with my huge Misdreavus obsession and my desire to use it on every team ever. Drilbur is the most dominating Pokemon in the meta by far, with its ability to revenge everything in Sand, and how freaking hard it hits. Likewise, Rapid Spin support is a godsend, and Stealth Rock is cool support. Lileep is another great Pokemon in AND outside of sand. With sand up, it gets a 1.5x boost to its Special Defense, which honestly allows it to wall basically everything with its incredible mixed defenses. Outside of sand, it's a great check to sand (it survives a +2 LO Drilbur Earthquake at full health), and is a great stop to multiple metagame threats. Misdreavus and Murkrow are the other side of the meta, causing the infamous 19 tier Speed ties single-handedly (sorry Staryu). Their insane diversity causes a lot of headaches when building, but fortunately neither are impossible to deal with considering the rest of the metagame. Finally, Riolu is the other all-star of the metagame, as its ability Prankster in tandem with Copycat and its good support movepool (Roar!!) makes it a very, very difficult threat to watch out for. Otherwise, there's still Scraggy, Tirtouga, Dratini, and other difficult to manage boosters, or other more defensive Pokemon such as Chinchou, Magnemite, Porygon, and such. Then, there's Snover, who's as anti-meta as it gets, and basically stops a ton of sand in its tracks. There's actually so much diversity in this metagame, and while some Pokemon are "the best," there are still so many other Pokemon and team types that aren't getting as much love as they should be. It's very easy to innovate in Little Cup and in this metagame. I honestly think it's perfect.
I'm actually glad you mentioned the metagame being sand-based, because I'd love to know exactly what you think of Snover. You mentioned it being anti-meta, which I whole-heartily agree on. Do you think sand teams have a tough time fighting Snover, especially when coupled with Staryu? I've honestly found every single sand team I've played (except Bloo's) to be very, very pressured by Snover and easily sweepable. Do you think double rush is even worth it when it makes at least half of your team weak to Ice-type moves? Do you think sand will continue to be dominant if Snover even more in popularity?
Honestly, I don't think a well built sand team should have problems with anything, let alone the Pokemon most commonly left to beating sand. If you have troubles beating that Pokemon, how can you consider your team in any way successful? There are a variety of ways to deter Snover from screwing your team in sand. Magnemite and Bronzor make incredibly solid checks, resisting both of its STABs. Likewise, Pokemon such as Misdreavus can avoid the 2HKO from Blizzard with a bulkier spread. Other Fighting-type Pokemon can threaten Snover rather easily. Stealth Rock is guaranteed on sand, so it's all about applying pressure and playing well. Staryu doesn't make that any more difficult in my opinion, especially with Pokemon such as Lileep and Chinchou being common sand staples.
Drilbur / Sandshrew isn't even that great in my opinion. I think it does a very good job in smashing all teams without Snover or Lileep, but any team with those is greatly hindering your team. In my opinion, the most important thing about Little Cup is maintaining balance. I don't think in this tier in particular, where type synergy is actually really important and defensive synergy is basically necessary, that it's not a good idea to have 3 mono ground Pokemon on the same team. Granted, I recognize the offense is fantastic out of those two in tandem, and provides for fun games. I just don't think it's a good idea personally, and have only used dual rush a few times. I think sand will be popular throughout the entirety of Little Cup, as it's an incredibly effective playstyle.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on that! I'm sure lots of poorly constructed sand teams have trouble with Snover and Lileep, and the suggestions you gave will definitely help people out.
On a last note, what is some advice that you'd like to give to new LC players? A lot of people say the metagame is easy to learn, while many say that LC is one of the hardest tiers to get into. What do you think new players should keep in mind when constructing their teams and battling? If there is anything else you'd like to add, please do so.
Honestly, I think the most important part of playing Little Cup is making sure you're having fun with it. There are so many ways to accomplish this that it really should be your biggest priority. Improving comes with having fun first. I think in particular that the tier is pretty easy to learn, but it's only difficult because it's so different. Getting a grasp of the mechanics is first as well. Then regarding teams, it's important to actually take type balance and defensive synergy into account. Those are actually very important in Little Cup, probably moreso than in many other tiers. Make sure you can handle the threat lists, or at the very least, sand, Murkrow, Misdreavus, Scraggy, and other important threats. Improving battling comes with playing the tier. We have the ladder on PS! (which needs YOU!) and others on #littlecup that do not ever mind battling you or helping you out. Please don't hesitate to post in the forums or ask questions if you need any assistance. We're happy to help.
Awesome, thanks for the advice to new players and LC veterans alike; I surely learned a lot from this. To anyone reading this, like blarajan said, we'll be happy to help you out on #littlecup, so that should be your go-to place for really any LC-related endeavors. Anyway, thank you again blarajan. I will look forward to another interview with you in the future!
No problem, and thanks for the interview!