The VGC Spotlight: Featuring 2011 Regional Champion Robbie "biffsterPKMN" Miles!

Welcome to The VGC Spotlight!

The most recent interview was with Robbie Miles on June 2nd, 2012.
Check out any past interviews below.

Let me start off by introducing myself. My name is Aaron Zheng, also known as Cybertron and the current United States Seniors VGC National Champion. I've been a huge fan of Pokemon since I started playing in 2005, and when Pokemon started its Video Game Championship circuit, I found a true passion in playing. In addition to playing, I also enjoy promoting the game and expanding it as a player. I have a Twitter and YouTube, where I provide VGC coverage and videos. Feel free to check them out! (Following and subscribing wouldn't hurt either!) Onto the actual thread...

The VGC Spotlight started out when I was brainstorming some ideas for possible VGC articles to write. One idea stuck out in particular; an article dedicated to talking about some of the best VGC players in the world. My good friend makiri recently recommended a really neat idea that is somewhat similar to that. Rather than an article, why not make a thread?

The VGC Spotlight aims to highlight a couple of players every week, whether they are seasoned veterans like World Champion Ray "Bluecookies" Rizzo, or rising stars such as 2011 US National Champion Wolfe "Wolfey" Glick. It also aims to reach out internationally rather than just covering American players. Although it has only featured Americans and Europeans thus far, I hope to reach out to Korean and Japanese players one day. I'm also trying to cover all three age divisions rather than just Masters because there are some excellent players in the Seniors and Juniors division.

I'm obviously a big fan of Pokemon and VGC. I've been fortunate enough to meet so many incredible people throughout my four years of playing, including the people I have interviewed thus far. For those that play TCG, you probably know about a group of elite individuals recently created a website called The Top Cut, in which they feature player interviews, game coverage, and weekly shows. I want to be able to match their level of coverage one day and expand further. There is a lot of potential in competitive Pokemon, but someone needs to take the initiative to do all of the work. Although this is just taking it step by step, I really hope and dream that Pokemon will be able to match the coverage of other video games.

I'd also really appreciate any feedback on the thread and how it's done, along with advice. I have ideas going forward (Special battles with players in their best metagame, IRL interviews with the winners of Regionals / Nationals / Worlds, voice interviews via Skype, etc.) Please let me know what you think of how I'm currently running the thread!

As of April 8th, 2012, dtrain and I have written a total of 21 interviews. We have interviewed a 2x World Champion, a Worlds Runner Up, 2 Worlds Semi-finalists, 3 National Champions, 4 National Runner Ups, 4 National Semi-finalists, and 12 Regional Champions / Runner Ups. There are still many more to come, and although activity has slowed down recently, there will be plenty more as there are over a dozen European interviews in the works.

Below, you can see the links to each individual week and its interviews.

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

Week 7

Week 8

Week 9

I love the idea! This way people will be recognized for their achievements from all over the world. Just wondering, do we post some of their achievements or do we just nominate? Also, if yes do we say ALL of their achievements or just some?
Nominations won't be necessary. I have a list of around 50 people in mind who I want to interview. Dozz gave me an excellent idea of interviewing a veteran, a rising star, and an international player every week. I really liked that idea, and I think I'll be doing that.
I support this, especially the part on the international players. I feel that too little recognition is given to non-Americans, but there are several amazing non-American players. Also, many good players aren't well known, mostly because of the popularity of the most famous players, so their opinions now can be heard.
It's a Raypeat! Two time World Champion, Ray Rizzo

World Champion Ray Rizzo


2008: Top 4 Regionals, Top 32 Worlds
2010: Top 16 Regionals, Top 16 Nationals, 1st Place Worlds
2011: Top 32 Regionals, 1st Place Worlds

Total Winnings

2008 Qualifier: Invitation and trip for five days to compete at the World Championships in Orlando, Florida
2010 Worlds: Trophy, customized DSiXL, trip for 4 to Japan/NY/Hawaii for a week, invitation and trip to the 2011 World Championships
2011 Worlds: Trophy, 3DS, trip for 4 to Japan/NY/Hawaii for a week, invitation and trip to the 2012 World Championships

Biography and History

The first player I will be writing about is... the 2-time World Champion, Ray "Bluecookies" Rizzo! Ray is one of the most respected and best Pokemon VGC players, and his accomplishments clearly reflect on that. He is the only American to ever win the World Championships in the oldest division, and safely defended his title at the 2011 World Championships. Ray is one of the oldest VGC players, having started with its inception in 2008. Ray finished in the semi-finals at the New York Qualifier, losing to the eventual winner, Jay. His warstory of the 2008 Regionals can be found here. Because of his strong finish, he was invited to Florida, with free airfare, to compete in the 2008 Video Game Showdown, a tournament that pitted America's and Japan's best VGC players in a single elimination tournament. Unfortunately, Ray lost in the first round against a Japanese player at the World Championships and was eliminated. The following year, Ray attended the Pennsylvania Regionals. However, because the participants of the 2009 Regional was solely off a lottery, Ray was not chosen and was not able to compete that year. In 2010, Ray utilized Giratina, Infernape, Kyogre, and Metagross at the Newark Regionals. He eventually finished in the top 16 in what was the biggest Regional throughout the whole world, winning a Nationals invitation. At Indiana, Ray finished the 1st day with a 5-2 record and thus won a invitation to represent the US at the 2010 World Championships. He lost in the top 16 to eventual winner Wesley Morioka. Having to pay out of his own pocket for the World Championships, Ray managed to squeeze into the Top 8 with a 4-2 record as the 6th seed. He was clearly the fan favorite after all three of the other Americans, Huy Ha, Ryan Schambers, and Alan Schambers all lost in their quarter finalist matches. Ray managed to defeat the 3rd seed, Takushi Morishima and advanced the the semi finals. He then took down 7th seed Wataru Onishi who had just managed to defeat VGC veteran Huy Ha. The finals between Ray and Yasuki Tochigi was nothing but incredible. Yasuki had defeated Ray in the swiss rounds the day prior, and Ray put in everything he had to pull out a 2-1 victory in the finals after losing the 1st game. With that, Ray became the first Seniors (now known as Masters) American World Champion after Japanese player Kazuyuki Tsuji won in the previous year. Ray's account of the 2010 World Championships can be seen here.

With an invite and trip secured to the 2011 World Championships, Ray used Regionals to test a prototype team he had created that involved Substitute Hydreigon, which was used in his eventual Worlds team. Ray eventually lost in the Top 32 at the Newark Regionals. Although he attended Nationals, he did not have an invite and solely went through the LCQ so his friends could make it through. Ray then attended to 2011 World Championships with one of the most creative teams in VGC history. Ray utilized Pokemon that were never before seen in the VGC 2011 metagame, such as Gothitelle and Escavalier. His team can be found here. Since VGC 2011 only had around 12 viable Pokemon, Ray made sure his team was able to counter all of the biggest threats and surprise his opponents. His EV spreads were brilliantly created to tank common hits and outspeed threats. Ray finished with a 5-1 record after the first day, with his only loss to UK National Champion Ruben. He faced off against 2011 National Champion Wolfe Glick in the quarter finals, and squeaked out a win. He then rematched against Ruben in the semi finals, and was able to take him down 2-0 with Gothitelle. Ray then faced against Italian National Runner Up Matteo in the finals, gaining a 1-0 lead before losing the 2nd game. With some deceive switches and moves, Ray managed to win the 3rd game and was crowned the 2011 World Champion. Ray is a fan favorite to win the 2012 World Championships, and will be back at Kona to defend his title. He has also qualified for Worlds every single year he has played, only missing an invite in 2009 because of the lottery system.


I walk into Ray's dorm when his two trophies fall from the counter and crush me. Eventually, Ray is able to lift the two trophies off of me. He apologizes, and I laugh. I can barely recognize him, hair flowing down to his eyes and beyond. He invites me to sit down, and we begin talking. I stare in awe, still shocked at the fact that I am sitting in front of the world's best Pokemon player.

So Ray, let me start off by thanking you for letting me interview you. I guess I can start off by asking you to introduce yourself, although I'm sure almost everyone already knows who you are.

Ray responds by saying "I am Ray "MSankey" Rizzo, 2 time VGC world champion, just beat the shit out of zog with leer entei." I giggle a bit.

So, how did you get involved in VGC? You've been playing since it started in 2008.

Ray looks around and reminisces a bit. "When Pokemon announced that they were hosting the first IRL Gen 4 tournament and first IRL tournament since JAA, it sounded like it would be a lot of fun. After reading some of the awesome JAA warstories, I knew I couldn't pass it up even though I had never played doubles before and only played singles on Shoddy. I also wanted the free trip to Florida."

Yeah, 2008 was a pretty cool year. I remember finishing in the semi finals in the Juniors division at that very qualifier. What happened in 2008? What allowed you to perform so well in the future years?

Ray jumps into his answer immediately, saying "I was a total beginner to doubles in 2008. There was no online simulator for doubles like there is now. I just decided to take the team that won the Japanese Nationals in 2007 and tested it a few times against friends on WiFi to make sure it worked fine. There was also no RNG back then, so all my Pokemon had lousy IVs which ultimately costing me. However, that multivalued me to get better for future years , especially since the experiences at Worlds was a ton of fun."

I zone out for a bit, remembering my personal experience in 2008. "Huh," I thought to myself. It was the exact same thing for me!" A goofy smile ends up on my face, and Ray has to get my attention by calling my name repeatedly.

Oh, sorry about that. So how would you reflect on your experiences at the 2008 NY VGS Qualifier?

"Well, it was a lot of fun meeting fellow Pokemon players IRL for the first time. IT was also cool because no one really played doubles back then, so the teams I played against were all so unique. It was much different than what you see in tournaments nowadays."

Yeah, 2008 was a pretty cool experience for me too. What was your reaction to not getting a chance to play in 2009 because of the lottery?

Ray scoffs a bit before responding. "09... to be honest I was ready to quit after the lottery fiasco in 2009 if 2010 had the lottery. But luckily the lottery was removed. That was probably the biggest improvement in the VGC so far. And I love what Mike Liesik is doing with VGC since he took over. The improvements he made are really noticeable, and I'm looking forward to seeing where VGC is heading in the next few years.

I smile at the mention of Mike Liesik, the organizer behind all the VGC events.

So, tell me about 2010. You used some pretty unique and cool teams, especially at Nationals. What did you use? How did you practice with them? And most importantly, how did you manage to do so well at the World Championships while other players underperformed?

"Well, at the start of VGC '10, we had an online simulator to practice on called Netbattle Supremacy. But it was very glitchy, and probably the biggest improvement to online training came out later that year. Pokemon Online. I trained a lot with users PokemonBattleBrain and Mrs Blackbird back then. We were all obsessed with the same strategies and worked together on perfecting them. For Regionals, we were all using Scarf Giratina and Infernape. For Nationals, we were all using T-tar and Lugia. And for Worlds, PBB and I both used the same core of Kyogre/Ludicolo/Grodoun/Cresselia. We all had different versions of the teams we liked, but it was good playtesting with fellow good players and discussing the teams. I would credit my worlds success with my knowledge of the Japanese metagame and players. Since my experiences at Worlds in 2008, it was clear how much better the Japanese were than the Americans. I knew if I wanted to have success in Worlds I not only had to have knowledge of how Americans play, but also Japanese. I battled against the Japanese a lot on PBR, and looked at all their winning teams on Japanese blogs and other online sites. I think that knowledge definitely helped me in Worlds.

Definitely, did you feel any pressure going into the top 8 at the world championships? How about after you were the only American remaining in the top 4? And what about your finals match? Didn't you actually lose against Yasuki the day before?

"I knew my Top 8 opponent's team before our match, so I was able to theorymon vs his team the night before and I felt pretty comfortable being able to beat him, so I wasn't too nervous. But once I got into the top 4 and my match was on TV, considering that I didn't know the guy's team and with how much was on the line for this match, I was definitely feeling pretty nervous. Once I won that match though I felt really relieved."

Wait, didn't you actually win 2-0 in your semi final matches?

"Yeah, I won both my Top 8 and Top 4 matches 2-0. Anyway, after I won my Top 4 match I was feeling really good. I knew I would be coming back to Worlds the following year. I spent the time between the Top 4 and the Finals going swimming with Ruben, Albert, PBB, and a bunch of other guys. That helped me relax. I didn't think I was in too good shape vs Yasuki since I had lost to him the day before. And if he chose the correct lead Pokemon (the same ones he used vs me the day before), he would have been at an advantage. But luckily, for some reason (maybe he was nervous), he didn't lead with them and combined with the hax I got I was able to win a match I didn't think I would."

Absolutely, that was an incredible win. I remember the excitement around everyone on Smogon with the live stream and everything. So, let's talk about 2011. You attended Regionals but didn't finish in the Top 16. You also attended Nationals but didn't compete. What's up with that?

"Yeah, I went to DC just for the social aspect of the event. Me, TTS, dtrain, and TTS's friend Max all drove down and met up with Andrea and Chad. We then got a private tour in DC from evan, so that was a lot of fun. The actual team though... I didn't have a team, hadn't played on PO at all, and got ll my Pokemon from andrea in line."

Haha, wow, I didn't even know that!

"Yeah, I just remember losing early to Rock Slide hax." I roll my eyes, and think "who hasn't?" "Actually, I think I had 1 Pokemon for my team that I got the night before from Metabou. Then in Newark, I had started theorymoning stuff the week before. That's where I came up with bulky Sub Sitrus Hydreigon. I gave the spread and set to TTS and he used it too. The rest of my team was just more standard Pokemon from andrea that I just threw together. I had mainly just wanted to test out the Hydreigon idea and it ended up being pretty good, so I kept testing it on PO trying to perfect the set, which I eventually ended up using in Worlds. So I would say Regionals was a success for me. At Nationals LCQ, I don't even remember what I used but I beat Chad in Newark, and he defeated me at LCQ. But the whole weekend was a ton of fun. And I won one of the side tournaments for like 2 packs of TCG cards."

I grin at the mention of the Pokemon TCG.

Alright, final tournament related question. Tell me about 2011 Worlds. Obviously, you used a really creative team. Tell me about the players and your team.

"Well, I had been testing the core of the team on PO since early July. Thundurus, bulky Psychic, bulky Conkeldurr, Bulky Sub Hydreigon. That was the main core of the team. I worked on perfecting those sets for the last 2 Pokemon for the last month and a half before Worlds. And for people who don't know, I used Gothitelle because it's faster than max speed Amoonguss and can Safeguard before it Spores."

My eyes light up at the mention of max Speed Amoonguss, the very set I had used at Regionals, Nationals, and Worlds.

"As for players, Wolfe was definitely a player that caught my eyes while I was spectating Regionals and Nationals. His prediction skill was pretty elite IMO and his team was very solid. It had a lot of not commonly used ideas like Taunt Hydreigon so I knew he was going to be a threat at Worlds. I actually had him as the biggest threat at worlds since the Japanese weren't going.Wolfe was of the reasons that caused me to use Escavalier."

Definitely, I practiced with Wolfe all the time in VGC 2011 and he was an incredible player, probably one of the most underrated prior to Nationals. A lot of players thought he just got lucky winning DC since his team was so strange, but his consistence performances have proved everyone wrong. Anyway, I wanted to bring up another topic. Your 2010 finals opponent, Yasuki, did not come to Worlds although he had an invitation and trip. What do you have to say about that?

"Well, he had an online blog that he used to update pretty frequently, but he shut it down at around the time of the disaster in Japan. He said he was quitting Pokemon. I don't know if he got affected badly by the disaster or if he really was just quitting, but it was a shame that he couldn't make it."

Yeah, especially since he had the free trip. How about Ruben, Matteo, and other noteworthy opponents?

"Oh yeah. Ruben is also very good at predicting. I have been friends with him since 2010 and had played with him a lot before, so I knew how he loved to use a lot of standard Pokemon. However, he plays pretty flawlessly during the battles, so he was a tough opponent. Matteo, on the other hand, I never knew until Worlds. He was another new player who was very good. His team was also good, using rarer Pokemon such as LO Eel. He predicted very well as well."

Yeah, all three games in the finals were pretty one sided though, right?

"Yeah. Though he and the other Italian (Francesco) both ahd the exact same team, and I had played Francesco the day before in swiss, so I was pretty comfortable playing Matteo."

I suddenly recall a key fact that Ray told us about his team.

Oh yeah, I also remember that you made your whole team female to counter the Haxorus they were using?

Ray smiles when I mention this. "Yeah! I RNG'd my whole team female because I saw the Italians used Rivalry Haxorus and for anyone else who decided to use it against me. So luckily, that actually helped me."

So what were your reactions after winning Worlds both years?

"It's tough to say which one felt better. 2010 was awesome since it was my first time, even though I kind of haxed the guy in the finals. Even thouh I had been haxed against all the rest of VGC 2010. Come VC 2011, I didn't really hax anyone, but it was my second time. Both felt winning. IT was really satisfying winning 2010 with Gothitelle though, and I wish I could have used it in the finals.

Haha, yeah! I saw the match were you used Goth against Ruben and it was really incredible. Just a few more questions left. Did you enjoy 2010 or 2011 Worlds more? What location did you like more? If you could change anything about VGC, what would it be? How about the social experience at VGC? Finally, tell the readers a bit about yourself outside of Pokemon. Oh, and explain the whole MSankey thing.

Ray cracks up at the mention of MSankey. "Basically, drcossack's name is Mike Sankey, so MSankey is short for MSankey. And in 2010 Worlds, me, BadIntent, and skarm all named our trainers MSankey after our good friend drcossack who said he was going to like 3 different regionals, Nationals, Worlds, and didn't show up to any. That's the short version."

"I'll describe Skarmbliss next. This was back in 2009 and the NBS days. Smogon had pretty much shunned VGC back them and didn't care about it at all. There was no subforum for it. Even though a few of us tried to get one, like me, Paul, PBB, etc. They even made a Little Cup subforum before VGC. We eventually just gave up on Smogon and started our own little community that would only be focused on VGC. We made our own NBS server to train for VGC, and that's how it started. Now, there are a lot of members but back then it was just a small group of like 10-12 of us."

"As for the first question, I would say Hawaii was the best location. The resort was beautiful. I liked the 2010 rules more as well. 2011 was really limited to the number of viable Pokemon and how many different movesets you could use. Like some ubers such as Mewtwo and Dialga had a ton of viable movsets, which I thought which was neat."

"If I could change one thing about VGC, it would be giving out scholarships as TCG does. Also, the social experience at VGC is amazing. Definitely the reason I started playing and kept playing."

"Outside of Pokemon, I go to college at Drake University in Iowa. I am an actuarial science major. I love hockey. I am busy with school a lot, and the Regionals are at a bad time and far away, which is why I haven't gone and won't go in April. I haven't really had a reason to play, but I still come on IRC all the time to chat with everyone."

Absolutely. One last thing I thought of, how have you been preparing for VGC 2012?

"Simple answer. I haven't been."

Thank you so much for letting me interview you today, Ray! Any final words to all your fans out there?

"No. Wait, yes. I would like to say happy birthday to my biggest fan. Today is his birthday. User drcossack."

Ray battling at the 2011 Newark VGC Regionals.
Good idea, but I can't support it until OminousOppressor gets unbanned and interviewed. He is a VGC Elite.

There are definitely quite a few people who can offer insight on multiple divisions such as both Seniors and Masters after being in both (not including the pre-VGC 2011 seniors division) and Juniors and Seniors.


Has anyone in this family ever seen a chicken?
is an Artist Alumnusis a Forum Moderator Alumnus
I must say Cybertron, I'm impressed ma boi. Looks like someones really put the effort on this, and it's well worth reading. Hats off to you. Ever considered journalism? You picked a strong candidate for your first interview to boot, so you can't go wrong there.

I'll be intrigued to see some more of these, particularly newer players take on the scene, but that will wait. Keep it up.
Did I just read that entire interview x_x Brilliant idea Cybertron :D

Nice Idea to get interviews with the Old time players, but even better to hear from those of different countries and those who are very new and underrated. VGCs outside of america will probably have huge differences in metagames and such and it seems brilliant to be able to hear how different it is. The newer and underrated players bring new perspectives in how you can get around the metagame to really get a better view on how you can go about winning.

Good Luck Cybertron, gonna be lots of work doing this so thanks =D
Nice article, I enjoyed it! I would love to see more of these. Keep up the good work. (:

EDIT: Also, a possible video/voice interview could be cool as well. I know I really enjoyed the Smogast on VGC a while back.
You should interview world champion kamz and international stars Shota Yamamoto, Sejun Park, and others. Very good read and I hope you continue this AMAZHENG idea!
I definitely will be interviewing Kamz but Shota and Sejun will be harder to write about. I have both of their emails but Shota hasn't responded to me in months. I can definitely do bios for them but an interview will be much harder because of the language barrier. Thanks for all the responses guys, this looks like it will be a very promising series!

EDIT: Yeah, I'd like to do some stuff involving videos too. I'll see what I can do about that moving forward!
Splendid interview! Being Ray must get pretty fun, winning tournaments and etc. Sort of the role model of VGC, yet next to impossible to live up to!


My vast and supreme will shall be done!
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Going to sticky this, I am very impressed with what you did for the first week Aaron and you far exceeded my expectations. Keep it up man, awesome job.
Haha brilliant. 10/10 great read Aaron, I wasn't expecting anything close to this good.

But COME ON RAY rofl you just had to mention the leer entei, I was totally loopy on the green stuff it's no wonder. Might get a couple more bottles of that Midori for Birmingham now I think about it. I want it to be VGC already. :O


i've been crawling through the falling
is a Forum Moderator Alumnus
This was pretty damn great, I thought it would be a few simple questions really, a great read.

"No. Wait, yes. I would like to say happy birthday to my biggest fan. Today is his birthday. User drcossack."
Happy birthday Sankey!

also I feel the need to link this looooool


I'm the Best. You're a Towel.
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Very good read, well done :)

Reading these kinds of posts just makes me more excited for the European National events.

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