2012 Regional: Trophy, trip to compete at the National Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana, Round 1 & 2 Bye at Nationals.
Biography and History
You may think that Alison "Fishy" McDonald is just an average Pokenoob, who, like many of the girls in VGC, are dragged along to support their friends or boyfriend. If you thought that, you should know that you are completely wrong. Alison has been playing VGC since 2010, where she attended the LCQ in Indianapolis and was knocked out by our very own Synre. She also attended the Seattle Regional as well as Nationals LCQ last year, where she lost in Round 3. Finally determined and ready to win, she attended the Colorado Regionals just two weeks ago where she managed to go undefeated and win the entire tournament. You can read about her experience here. Alison is one of the only two female Regional Champions in the Master Division, with the other being ryuzaki, who we interviewed a couple of months ago here. Don't let her looks fool you at Nationals! She'll steal both your heart and the game away from you. :naughty:
Hey Fishy! Thanks for taking some time to answer my questions! Why don't we start off by having you introduce yourself?
HELLOOOOOOOOOOOOOO NURSE JOY. My name is Alison! My last name is that of a restaurant. I love Smogon. I also love video games. My favorite movie is Dragon Heart, and if you get the chance to spend five minutes with me, you'll quickly learn that I enjoy people very much, especially when I'm able to make them laugh and smile. Uhh, yeah. I'm a giggly girl that loves Pokemon, pretty typical right?
Typical... right... how did you even start playing Pokemon? And what about VGC?
I started playing Pokemon the moment I unwrapped my Christmas present in 1998. I popped in Pokemon Red Version into my grey brick of a Game Boy, and entranced myself with this wonderful world of pocket monsters. Pitted against my rivals with my cuddly-cute to ferocious friends, I quickly learned all that I needed to become a Pokemon Master. A league champion, if you will. Lots of grinding, lots of potions, and of course, lots of Poke Balls. And waaaaay too many Zubats.
I first got into VGC in 2010, and it's purely because of some of the more seasoned players like Huy, Paul, etc. I was invited into a certain IRC channel which seemed more social to me than anything, but its main discussion always revolved around the VGC metagame. I used to battle on Shoddy Battle religiously, my favorite tier being UU. My style is a mix of gimmicks and technical finesse, and learning more about the VGC metagame, one that only involves doubles, I was elated to learn that I could use combinations of a huge variety of Pokemon. It was like the ultimate chance to customize a team and be even more unique in my gameplay!
Awesome! Can you tell us what your first VGC tournament and experience was like?
Strictly battle-wise, it was pretty unimpressive. I lost in round 2 in 2010 against some noob that was using the standard TopOgre lead, and after I lost I realized that my team wasn't as strong as a lot of others. I hadn't really put much time into it - I think I started practicing a month before the tournament. OTHERWISE, it was absolutely phenomenal. I had already met a few Smogoners up to this point, but this amazing weekend I met a bazillion more. It was other-worldly to spend so much physically with people I already spent so much time talking to online. The fact that we were all together for Pokemon just made everything that much sweeter and sillier, in the best way possible.
Heh, I like the way you said that, I definitely agree. Let's talk about your most recent VGC tournament, which was Regionals in Colorado just two weeks ago! How did that go?
Spring Regionals was only the second regional I had ever attended, and it was certainly the better of the two. I ranked first place! I went to the Colorado regional, which was the smallest of all the Regionals, but it's still no easy task ranking the best out of 90 people, and I was pretty surprised to eventually find myself in the 7th round vs. the second best player. It's almost overwhelming to practice for months and months and months before an event, and then find your hard work paying off in an event that only lasts a few hours. I ran a trick room team, which is probably at this point my favorite strategy. You don't really run into many speed ties in trick room ;). Colorado had a good crowd of people, too! There were a few Smogoners who attended that I only learned about after the event, and they congratulated me via visitor messages. It always tickles me to meet people in the flesh and then later discover their internet personas that have been lurking in existence all along. Most of my battles were a little nervy and tense, but the last one was definitely the most difficult, and I was happy that it was. I felt I had really earned my win at the most crucial moment. I won with a collective 25HP on my side, and as soon as my HARIYAMA landed its close combat, I was bewildered that I had just become a champion. My team was Chandelure/Hariyama/Abomasnow/Metagross/Nidoking/Gastrodon. I love this team very much, and I still have no idea what I plan on using at Nats!
Team "BRING THE FRANK"
I remember playing you so many different times on PO! You had a really cool and fun team. Can you tell us more about your thoughts on the Colorado Regional itself, and how it was run? Did it go smoothly?
The Colorado regional was run pretty smoothly, although there were three rounds where pairings had been messed up for whatever reason. There was also some slight confusion about who needed to get hack checked after the first few rounds, but eventually it was made clear that if you were hack checked once, you would be fine for the rest of the event. I didn't attend a fall regional, so I have no comparison base. The location was fine, very easy to get to, and the timing is only a problem for those people that loooove to hit their snooze button. Unfortunately, I am one of those people, but as drowsy as I was because I was too excited/nervous to sleep a lot the night before, I wasn't about to let myself be TRUANT. Yeah, I'm that guy.
Thanks for the feedback! What are your thoughts on the current Regional format, as well as the prizes? Do you think there should be a top cut?
Regardless of Regional attendance, there should be a top cut. In the end, one's success in a tournament should only be determined by themselves and their efforts, not by the efforts of their opponents whom they've already beaten. That's so backwards! I can't really speak on how TPCI should manage their budget - I was pleased with the top 4 getting invites to Nationals and travel money (although I can't really complain as I got the best package out of everyone !_!). It may not be a bad idea to offer half the travel stipend the top 4 players get to the bottom half of a top 8. Even the slightest reward for hard work will inflate a player's appetite for greater success!
Yeah, it would be nice to see more prizes for the top finishers, especially at large Regionals. Are you excited for Nationals?
OBVIOUSLY. Even if I hadn't won a trip and hotel room, I would be going. So far, as soon as Nationals ends, I start ticking off 365 days until the next tournament. I'm fortunate this year to almost be as excited to compete as I am to see my friends (old and soon to be new!) in Indianapolis, but I have to admit that I wouldn't attend these sorts of events if it weren't for the community that I get to congregate with. These events are lovely because of the huge nerdy atmosphere that flourishes everywhere, but they're doubly lovely because I get to share them with my internet friends!!! And frankly, we're all just (the fuggin best) friends at this point - Nationals 2010 was the ice breaker for a lot of people I think (at least for me) but now it's like a big family reunion. Poffins for everyone! I'm so fucking excited.
I agree wholeheartedly, Nationals was my favorite tournament last year, heh. This year will even be better since we don't need invites to play now! On a more general note, what's your favorite Pokemon and Pokemon game?
My favorite Pokemon is Octillery. It starts with an O, it has one of the best diverse move pools ever, and it was my UU sweeper. Its cry is neat, too. Also it has a dreamworld ability that got it banned. He's just the most beastly thing under the sea. If I ever found an Octillery plush I might die. FAVORITE GAME IS POKEMON SILVER VERSION. 2nd Gen is the best. Soul Silver was a dream to play through, but you cannot beat the classics.
My favorite gen. was 2nd too! I was like what, 5 years old back at the time? I have to ask you though, what's it like being a competitive female Pokemon player? You're the second female Master to ever win a US Regional!
Haha, well, it's like anyone else winning a regional I guess. You're recognized as PRETTY OKAY at Pokemon, you win a nifty trophy and trip to Nationals , and you feel super cool. Oh yeah, and you get random guys telling you that it's so cool you play Pokemon, since not many girls do. I'm not really sure what drew me to video games when I was a wee little lass, but I just remember loving my brick Game Boy to death, playing such favorites as Donkey Kong, JAMES BOND, Pokemon, etc. If anything, I was just happy to represent the idea that female gamers can be just as fierce competition as anyone else! I told everyone all day I was going to win, then I did it. HUAHUAHUA
Haha, it is super cool that you play Pokemon in general! Since you've played VGC for 3 years now, what are your thoughts on all the previous years?
My thoughts on previous VGC years… I haven't attended a Worlds event yet, but I plan on doing so this year, so 2012 might be my favorite year for VGC Pokemon. Winning a regional has already tilted the odds toward that favor. :D For me, nothing can really compare to the trip I had in 2010 to the Nationals event…I had to sneak out of my house for a weekend to even go, and although I got in a mess of trouble afterward, it was so worth it. Nationals of 2011 was amazing, but I think a lot of people were trying too hard to replicate all the fun we had in 2010, which was an impossible feat. Still, some people attended the event that hadn't come in 2011, and singular memories were still created during that poke-weekend. Nationals this year already has a damper - no Canadians!! I will miss Articuno64, skarm, Firestorm, atlas, Phiddlesticks, and other such canadians that will not be able to attend this year due to their own Nationals tournament. BUT, that only means I will be rooting for them to win in tandem with us Americanos~
I'm definitely looking forward to Worlds the most this year. I probably cannot comprehend the variety of people that will be there, and all the merchandise, gaming, popular Pokemon celebrities, etc. I'll be reunited with most of my Canadians too!! Yes, they're mine. Plus, this event is in HAWAII. It's going to be so awesome! It's a roundabout dream come true that I actually get to visit Hawaii for reasons related to Pokemon. Can it get any better than this?
Play Pokemon? Win prizes? Go to Hawaii? Make friends all around the world? Nope, I don't think it can get any better! Thanks for answering all my questions today! Do you have any final words or shoutouts?
Uh, everyone? Shout out to Cassie for being the most helpful little angel in RNGing my team for me, and even dishing out some last minute Pokemon while I was in Colorado. I tried RNGing myself - fuck that. I have great admiration for everyone that RNGs, even if it seems like nothing to them! Really though, everyone in the VGC community has a tender little niche in my heart. VGC has never made Pokemon so fun for me, and I would have SO much more time on my hands if it weren't for VGC and battling/practicing for live events that I could probably have graduated college and been a super hero by now or something. I can't wait to crush everyone's ribs again at Nats, they've had plenty of time to heal.
From left to right: Picollo, Daflo, Flame, 13random37
2012: 4th Place Germany National
2012 National: Trophy, trip to compete at the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii
Biography and History
Although relatively unknown, German player Florian “Daflo” Wurdack is as competitive as they come. He originally started playing competitively in 2009 however he had just missed the VGC that year. The following year though he placed in the top 32 and in the top 16 in 2011. Although he ran into bad luck these past few seasons, he pulled off a top 4 victory after facing UK’s very own tblakey in the top eight at this years Germany Nationals. With an invite in hand, Florian will be a name to watch out for as he represents Germany at the World Championships this year!
Thanks for accepting this interview Daflo! Please introduce yourself to the readers!
Well, my name is Florian but everyone knows me here as DaFlo and some others know me as chico, yes the famous chico who was playing all the time on the Skarmbliss Pokemon Online Server ;). I'm 17 years old and from Bavaria, Germany.
How did you get introduced to Pokemon? What about competitive battling and VGC?
It's not that long ago when I started playing Pokémon. I picked up Ruby when it came out, followed by Emerald and Leaf Green. Those times were awesome and I can remember catching Latios on Ruby during school ^.^ At this time I had no clue what competitive battling was, I just wanted to have fun with some other schoolmates. I started playing competitively in 2009, when I joined the German forum called "Bisafans" where several tournaments and weekly tours were held. I played way more Wifi than Shoddy. I don't know how I missed the VGC 2009 in Germany but I was sure that the following year I would be ready to compete.
My first Pokemon game was Red. Thanks for making me feel old :P
Anyways what has your tournament experience been like?
I got T32 in my first VGC during the 2010 season which was alright because I gave my sister an autopilot team and she won Juniors, so I got to go to Hawaii which was such an awesome experience. In 2011 I went to compete in Paris for a chance to place high enough to win a trip to San Diego. Unfortunately I lost in T16 because I made a misplay against the person who placed 2nd afterwards because I forgot that he switched one of his Pokémon out and it did not have its boosts anymore. I also felt pretty bad because my sister was also knocked out in T16 and I was pretty sure that I would have got a trip but I had to move on. Also there was still one VGC left, the one in Germany! But this time I felt better because my sister won once again in the senior division so I had no pressure. This time I was knocked out in T16 again by “appi”, where I was just unlucky because Volcarona burned both my Scrafty and Tornadus. So I went to the World Championships for the second time as a spectator. I took part at the LCQ but lost in R3 in a mirror match. When the rules for VGC 2012 were announced, I started preparing for the next season. The first VGC I took part in for 2012 was the one in Essen, Germany. I knew I would make it to Worlds. I breezed through the first three rounds and made it into the finalist lounge. My matches also didn’t depend on hax compared to previous seasons. When I was battling in my T8 match against TBlakey (who is btw such an awesome person and would have definitely deserved to go to Worlds) for the first time ever, I could feel the electricity. My knees were shaking so hard because I have been waiting for this moment so long. When the match was over, I couldn’t describe my feelings, it was just amazing. So it was definitely an awesome experience. Afterwards I was so happy that I didn’t play the semi finals seriously, though I must admit I should have won the whole thing. ^^
It sounds like you have a lot of experience using Volcarona (whether being beaten by it or using it on your opponents). Just like me and Zebstrika (although he doesn't stand a chance in VGC12 :(). How did you prepare for the VGC? Where did you practice? Were you confident with the team you chose?
I was practicing all the time on Pokemon Online, where I was able to test many teams. After lots of testing I was sure that I would use Volcarona. I didn’t want to make it too popular but as you can see I ended up doing so. On the day of Germany Nationals my team worked out great. The team worked like I wanted it to but I found some changes I would like to make however I don’t know why I didn’t make them before the VGC. It was just spontaneous. You can read about my experience here along with 13random37.
Who were you scared of playing when going into your respective Nationals?
I was really afraid of playing against my friends Massi, Yoshi (13random37), Drug Duck, Flame and some others but in the end I just had to battle against Flame in the semi finals. I also thought that I couldn’t beat tblakey because it really seemed that he had the perfect team against my team.
What were you feelings going through your most recent Nationals? Were you nervous? Did you get more confident as you kept on winning? What was your closest match? What was winning your Top 8 match like, knowing you had just won a trophy and a free trip to Hawaii?
Actually I wasn’t that nervous because I knew this year I could finally make it to Worlds as a competitor. So I was self confident and it continued on when I was defeating my first opponents, so was pretty cool. My closest match was the T8 match as I mentioned before and to be quite honest I did not really care about the trophy, because I was finally going to Hawaii as a competitor not like 2010 where I had to watch the battles. :/
It must feel great to finally compete this year after seasons of spectating matches! Are you excited for the World Championships in Hawaii? For those that haven't gone before, tell us what your experience was like?
I have been to Hawaii in 2010 so I can tell you that this it’s the best place on earth. It’s just what you would imagine it to be. I would also suggest staying a couple of extra days while your there and taking in everything. Basically don’t play Pokemon the entire time and explore what else there is to do while your there! ^^
I agree with everything you said. If your in Hawaii, you should make sure to live it up! So how will you be practicing for the World Championships? Who are you afraid to play against in August?
I will just keep on playing on Pokemon Online, testing several stuff. I think I’m not really afraid of any American. :P They should better be afraid of us Europeans!
What's the European scene like? What do you think of your tournaments vs. American tournaments?
Just be happy that you have Swiss. BO1 Single Elimination just sucks. And the Europeans who I met this year and the past few years are amazing. There were so many cool people from the UK, Italy, Spain and France. I hope we won’t get a region lock because in my opinion people from different countries keep these events alive.
What is your favorite Pokemon and game?
My favorite game would have to be Pokemon Platinum because it was the game where I learned RNG which was really exciting! Outside of Pokemon I would say Fifa.
What you do outside of Pokemon?
I will be finished with school next year and will be off to university. I also play table tennis where we compete in teams at the high leagues.
Sounds great! Any final words or shoutouts?
Yikes, it's been quite the while since the last interview. No, I am not dead! I still have a ton of interviews from Regionals and even from EU Nationals. I'll try to get a few up this weekend, but there should be a ton more coming after the second week of June since that's when school ends for me. Don't worry, there will be a ton between now and US Nationals to keep the VGC drive strong!