Ask the Leader (p1)

By The Dutch Plumberjack. Released: 26/6/2020.
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Have you ever looked at the leaders of Smogon's major sections and wondered what they were like? Do you want to know about the experiences, opinions, and thoughts of the people who run the forums? A while ago, you guys were given the chance to ask the leaders of some of our major sections their questions, and here are, over the span of three articles, the answers from OU and NU leader Finchinator, (former) Head Tournament Director TonyFlygon, and C&C leader martha!

Finchinator TonyFlygon martha

Art by tiki.


Which tier do you prefer, OU or NU, and why? — Ryota Mitarai

I prefer OU usually gameplaywise because it has a larger playerbase and a lot more opportunities in tournaments; NU is a great change of pace with a smaller, more personable community, and I quite enjoy it as well. My preference for OU tends to surround tournaments and my dealings with those, but I actually feel like the OU community does not truly exist as a collective and is fragmented into a lot of social circles instead. Because of this, while I prefer playing OU and participating in OU tournaments, I actually prefer the NU community from an interactive standpoint. I know this answer is all over the place, but I hope this gives sufficient perspective!

What's it like being an above average player? — BP

I honestly wish for the days when I was a ladder nut and things were so simple! I remember summers during late middle/early high school where I just spent hours after camp or work laddering without a care in the world before I reached close to the level I am at now. With this said, being a "top" (or rather, above average, as I do not consider myself the best player given how many talented players there are out there) player is actually quite fun in some ways. People look up to you and wish to learn from you, which I cherish, as I love giving back and making a positive impact on others. In addition, being a top player leads you to facing strong opponents, which can be very fun and test your capabilities. I feel like the more good players I face, the better I get. This is why I continue to compete and always make sure to put my best foot forward in the face of strong competition.

What was the last thing you ate? If you added a pinch of salt to it, would it be better or worse? — Estronic

I had a cheeseburger for dinner, and I think that a pinch of salt would have made it a little worse, but it would not have made a big difference.

What is your opinion on sandals? — Estronic

I like them during the summer but refuse to wear them when it is below 65 degrees Fahrenheit outside!

As people who are most associated with big official tours but also play in BSPL, PUPL, OMPL, and a bunch of other random tours, which low/non-tier tournaments have you had the most fun dipping into and why? — MZ

Probably UUPL, RUPL, and NUPL. Assuming I am on an active team, I find these to be very exciting, as they tie together the tournament community and the fringe parts of the lower tier community, which happen to have a lot of willing contributors and capable players who are very friendly and welcoming. The high level of competition coupled with the ideal environment goes a long way for me. I will go out of my way to participate in these for as long as possible because of that!

Why is Rabia the best NU contributor ever? — Rabia

Eternally are you going to take this slander?

What video game genres do you play, and what's your favorite video game(s)? — ThatRandomPerson42

Honestly, I only play Pokémon nowadays. I used to play generic sports titles (Madden, MLB the Show, etc.) when I was 13 and younger, but ever since I started playing Pokémon competitively I have found myself far less motivated to play any of those games.

Ultra Necrozma or Eternatus Eternamax? — LaBalladeDesCieux

Ultra Necrozma for sure!

Thought on 1v1? — LaBalladeDesCieux

Fun, but not for me personally.

Who do you fuckin hate in smogon — Ruft

Anyone who uses their time on the website (or on connected platforms like PS/Discord) to spread hate, take down other users, and create hostile environments. This is intended to be a fun community that largely consists of hobbyists, not a place for infighting and privacy invasion!

Why is ketchup so overrated? — Zneon

I think ketchup is fine, but people who overuse it disgust me!

Most broken Pokémon in OU that is yet to be suspected? — Jerry the great

(Single Strike) Urshifu.

What is it like to moderate the forums? — Jerry the great

Rewarding, but also taxing at times.

What do you think about Draft Format? I am asking because Smogon players just started out pretty recently to compete in bigger Draft Tours. Do you think it could have a more serious competitive future, and what do you think about the format in general in a competitive environment? — Astoria

I have recently been playing a fair amount of draft between my school's IRL Pokémon club and now some tournaments/leagues on here, and I have to say that it is very fun! I implore those looking for a major creative outlet to give it a try, as the possibilities are endless, and so many decisions are put in your hands!

All of you have been involved in some or several sections during your time here; is there anything in particular that has prompted you all to branch out as much (or as little) as you have, and do you still see yourself spreading yourself out more in the future? — The Dutch Plumberjack

I spread out to whatever outlets I enjoy, so I suppose my footprint on this website is a reflection of my personal enjoyment of so many different facets of Smogon itself! I hope to spread out to even more outlets if they are willing to have me, and it is the right fit for me from an enjoyment perspective. Only time will tell what specific developments are to come, however.


Once more: Which badge is the best/worst looking out of them all? Similarly, is there any badge you would want but wouldn't realistically obtain? — Kalalokki

Aesthetically my favorite is actually the Super Moderator badge, which I ended up getting. No CAP. My main post bit goal is the blue WCoP trophy, though that isn't really a badge. I also really like the Artist badge, but I'm bad at drawing stuff.. :'(

How is the quarantine going for you? Any hobby or activity you started to do because of it? — Estronic

The last few months have been terrible for me, not gonna lie. I've worked through all of it since I'm essential personnel, and I've never been this tired and depressed in my life, which is quite the milestone given my history. That said, things are looking up, and I've actually been getting some days off too. I haven't really picked up any new hobbies so much as I've used this one (Smogon) as an escape and source of stress relief. I will say I've gotten into running, especially late at night. It's proven to be a great way for me to stay in shape while also giving me an hour or so to be alone and relax.

Do you love me? — Estronic

I only love my dad, my sister, my girlfriend, correct move orders on competitive Pokémon teams, and MAYBE BKC.

Mine is for all of you. What's your favorite READ you've made on an opponent? It can be tournament play, ladder play or just for fun, in any tier or generation. — Empress Mobile

My favorite READ was going for Earthquake with Lando as Eternal Spirit went for Spikes with Ash-Gren during our WCoP playoffs game last year. Greninja could've taken out my Lando and transformed into its Ash forme, but Eternal Spirit is pretty much the most aggressive player in our circuit. In fact, before the game I had somehow even planned this specific scenario to ensure I wouldn't get overrun by Eternal Spirit's aggression, which wins him many, many games. We were down 1-4 at the time of my game, to add to the tension and nerve it took for me to click Earthquake there, but it worked out and I won the game.

Name your favorite Pokémon from each generation (or single favorite one from all generations) and explain why. — ThatRandomPerson42

Gengar, Slowking, Flygon, Toxicroak, Genesect, Heliolisk, Komala, and Dragapult, with Flygon being my favorite of all generations.

Gengar (and Haunter) have been a favorite ever since I first started watching the anime for being able to make me laugh with their pranks. Once I first started playing competitively during DPP, I also realized Gengar is a very good Pokémon. Two of my closest friends and I used a draft system to play each other on PBR, and our picks were lasting until we gave them up. I had Gengar from the start and never gave him up.

I've adored Slowking ever since the second Pokémon movie. The "I could use pants" line he drops while standing in the middle of a blizzard is arguably an all-time elite movie line. Toxicroak I like mostly because the concept of a ninja-like poison dart frog is really cool to me, but also because I've loved using it competitively in lower tiers ever since DPP UU. The Genesect pick similarly stems from a competitive standpoint, as I was extremely into BW Ubers back when I was making YouTube videos. Genesect runs that tier and was by far my favorite Pokémon to use. I arguably popularized Choice Scarf Genesect back then on the PO ladder, which Edgar can confirm.

Heliolisk has one of my favorite designs ever. I'm not even sure why I like it so much, but I do. Komala conceptually might be my favorite Pokémon ever and is probably the Pokémon I would want as a pet if that hypothetical were ever asked of me. I adore its design, and the way its ability works is so fitting. Dragapult is the latest addition to my ranks, and it's the first Dragon-type that really rivaled Flygon for me. The way its tail gradually becomes more transparent is such a nice touch. I'd probably rank Dragapult third now behind Flygon and Gengar (+ Haunter).

Flygon has been my favorite Pokémon since I played Sapphire for the first time. I caught and trained a Trapinch in the Route 111 desert without knowing whatsoever that it would turn into a dragon. In fact, I was getting quite fed up with how shit Vibrava was until it evolved at level 45, because they only really learn Dragon Breath and Crunch by leveling up in Sapphire. When it finally did evolve, however, I completely lost my shit. The coolest shit I had ever seen up until that point. I literally only used Flygon to complete the game from that point onward, and here we are today, and it's still my favorite (obviously..).

Best Pokémon game in your opinion? And why? — LaBalladeDesCieux

Emerald, and by a healthy margin at that. I first bought Sapphire, and I later also bought Emerald after I realized my friend could go to the Battle Frontier and I couldn't. It was a tough decision, because I vastly preferred the font Ruby and Sapphire use, and I passionately defended that point for years. That's probably the least surprising thing ever to anyone that knows me even a little, but hey. I think the Battle Frontier in Emerald is the best thing that's ever been in Pokémon games.

An honorable mention has to go out to Pokémon Battle Revolution, aka PBR. PBR was my start to competitive Pokémon, and without that game I doubt I'd be here writing this post. I have countless great memories of playing that game and the friends I met through it along the way making YouTube videos as well. I absolutely adore Pokémon Colosseum as well.

How did you get into the Smogon community? — LaBalladeDesCieux

That was 100% Omfuga after he reached out to me on Twitter. Omfuga, a prominent tournament player at the time, and I knew each other from the Pokémon Online days, and he was in SPL 7 at the time. I wasn't really playing Pokémon then, but I helped him build the team he used against ict (Icey Tea at the time) all the way back in 2016. Omfuga was going to manage in NUPL after SPL and convinced me to sign up so he could buy me. I did and I had a lot of fun, so I stuck around. I immediately fell in love with teambuilding again, and my NUPL teammate Pearl snuck me onto Team Europe for WCoP that summer. I've been actively involved since.

Who is the person you respect the most on Smogon? — LaBalladeDesCieux

Hard to say, because it's hard to really know someone when you only know them through Smogon. My man aim dominating the game right now is the first thing that comes to mind. I've met many great people that are accomplishing great things both on and off Smogon. From a Tournaments point of view I immediately think of ABR, BKC, McMeghan and SoulWind. Hogg inspires me to be a better person, especially online here on Smogon.

What's your favorite Pokémon of each typing? — Zneon

Fav mons tony

(I'd put Haunter over Weezing, but I figured repeating an evolutionary line would be lame..)

Do you agree on gen 8 being the worst generation of Pokémon? — Jerry the great

NO! I like every generation, though I HATE spectating RBY OU games in team tournaments more than anything else.

If you were to unban Dynamax from any tier, which would it be? — Jerry the great

Doubles? I will say that I've thoroughly enjoyed learning Battle Stadium Singles the past few months. This is the official 3v3 format that does allow Dynamax, and it genuinely was perfectly fine if not positively strategic. Try the format if you wanna play a tier with Dynamax!

If you became the richest man/woman alive, what'd be the first thing you'd buy? — Jerry the great

I was thinking about this not too long ago, and I unironically might start with movie rights. I'm really into movies and can't wait to finally go to the movies again after the lockdown ends. There's certain books and video games I'd love to see a good movie about. Buying rights and being a movie producer would probably be my career change at some point in life should I suddenly be that rich. I'd also fund a LOT of medical studies that I'd have faith in myself.

Everyone in leadership positions has to deal with blowback at times; have you had any particularly bad experiences with this, and how do you handle them in general? — The Dutch Plumberjack

I log off for a while and go do something else. There are times where it truly gets to me, which is usually when I'm under a lot of stress as is from work or other irl responsibilities. I again refer to my support system and therapist for this. Venting on Discord helps here, too!

I think (or at least hope haha,,) that no one would ever expect themselves to end up in a high-ranked staff position when first starting out on the site. How did you experience your rise to prominence / have you ever felt the need to pinch yourselves? — The Dutch Plumberjack

My first memory of 'rising to prominence' is when Hogg nommed me for a CC badge and jokingly said that "a Community Contributor badge is necessary for Tony to consolidate his takeover of Smogon". I had been around on Smogon for about a year at that point, and I became a UU moderator and Tournament Director not long after that. I also took over the Team Europe WCoP team from Pearl that year and signed up to manage in the first Smogon Snake Draft, which pulled me into the Tournaments community more and more. I've never really looked back since.

Interview MARTHA

What is your favorite thing about the section(s) you lead? Is there anything you wish was different about the section(s)? — Ryota Mitarai

My favorite thing about C&C is getting to work in teams with really great people and contributors. The UU QC team has always been a great group to work with as well as being full of good friends, and the GP team has always been amazing to work with since I started contributing to the site in late 2017. I wish that there were more interested new contributors, both writers and GPers, who would make the section even more fun to be in. If you feel like you want to contribute but are scared to, just starting out here was such a good decision for me, and there will always be people to help you if you need it.

How are you able to juggle your responsibilities on Smogon as well as everyday life? — BP

Balancing responsibilities isn't too hard for me; I view Smogon as a hobby and something that I want to spend my time on. If things outside of here are more important, I'll prioritize those.

Name your favorite Pokémon from each generation (or single favorite one from all generations) and explain why. — ThatRandomPerson42

  • Gen 1 — Dragonite
  • Gen 2 — Azumarill / Espeon
  • Gen 3 — Blaziken / Altaria
  • Gen 4 — Roserade / Garchomp
  • Gen 5 — Serperior / Volcarona
  • Gen 6 — Diancie
  • Gen 7 — Primarina / Tapu Lele
  • Gen 8 — Hatterene / Frosmoth

I've never really been able to explain why I have my favorites because they just stick out for me usually by design or by me using them either in game or in Smogon tiers a lot.

What's your favorite Pokémon of each typing? — Zneon

Fav mons martha

What is it like to moderate the forums? — Jerry the great

I like moderating C&C because it's less infracting bad users and more working with people and organizing resources to help newer players. I haven't had much experience with other forums, but I like my section and the power that I have to help improve the site and analyses to get newer players more up to date with Smogon tiers.

All of you have been involved in some or several sections during your time here; is there anything in particular that has prompted you all to branch out as much (or as little) as you have, and do you still see yourself spreading yourself out more in the future? — The Dutch Plumberjack

I used to be branched out a lot, but I've found just being able to focus on one or two areas of the site instead of too many improves the level and quality of contribution and leadership that I can give. If other sections interest me, I would want to help out, but having too many responsibilities is also a factor.

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