Where are you from, and how did you get into Pokémon?
I’m from Oak Forest, Illinois. I have played Pokémon since I was around six, with my first game being Emerald. Ever since then I’ve been a huge fan, getting every main game in the series and a ton of the spin-off games.
How did you get into competitive Pokkén?
I used to play VGC, but as the years went by, I lost interest due to how the metagame wasn’t as diverse anymore. I feel that nowadays, it revolves around finding a “perfect” team that everybody uses, such as CHALK. I liked watching the people who could do well with unique teams, but I started playing badly when I attempted to do the same. Then, Pokkén Tournament was announced. I hadn’t played any fighting games before besides Smash Bros., but I was still interested in maybe switching from VGC to this. What convinced me to buy the game and play it competitively though, was when Sceptile was announced to be playable.
Speaking of which, you mostly played as Sceptile-what attracted you to that character?
Sceptile has always been my favorite Pokémon. It was my first Pokémon, so I’ve always had a special connection with it. No matter what, I was determined to get good with the character, and luckily, it was a cool “ninja” with a moveset that I liked and enjoyed playing with. What got me interested in it the most though was his mobility. I like playing mind games with my opponents, and Sceptile has a ton of cancelable moves and movement options to make that work out fantastically. My favorite move in the main games is Leaf Blade (largely because it was Sceptile’s signature move), so seeing it do it also made me fanboy out a bit.
Which other characters do you use?
While it might not be the strongest character in the game, I’m well known for having a good Empoleon. Like Sceptile, it has a lot of movement options due to it sliding across the stage. Also, Empoleon was my starter of choice in Diamond, which I played just as much as Emerald when I was young. I’ve realized I can only play my absolute best when the character I play as is one of my favorite Pokémon and has a moveset I enjoy, and Empoleon fit both of those. Machamp also fits that description, and it does well against Aegislash, a character I’ve lost to a lot. I've only picked Machamp up recently, but I still think I’m pretty decent with it.
What was your strategy during the finals?
I knew for a fact Rokso was going to go with Gengar during game one. He was probably thinking I’d use Empoleon, similar to what we did at NEC 18, but I was “in it to win it” so I stuck to my best character. For his Gengar, I wanted to rush in to beat it as fast as I can, but that can be hard since Gengar is a tricky character. My traps (Leech Seed, Bullet Seed, etc.) definitely helped me make Rokso land where I wanted to and corner him, netting me the first game. After that, he switched to Garchomp, and for that character, I mixed up rushing in on him with making him come to me, setting traps depending on the situation. I had to get into his head much more here because Garchomp can basically erase half my health with one combo if I guessed wrong.
Are you worried that the upcoming "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate" will take attention away from Pokkén?
Not at all. With Smash being on the Switch now, that just means we will have more consoles to work with (Pokkén always required two Switch units to work at its best), so I welcome Smash entirely. However, I am worried because sometimes the Smash community can be harsh on any Nintendo fighting game that isn’t Smash itself. I don’t get why-most of them probably haven’t tried the game, but I’m not about to bad mouth them. I just think it’s unnecessary to insult a game that won’t be affecting your competitive scene in the slightest.
What would you like to see next from Pokkén?
I’d like to see even more fighters and supports obviously. We don’t have a Normal or Rock-type fighter Pokémon, and I always say for those types I’d like Lopunny and Rhyperior. It’d also be cool to have another surprise pick, kind of like Chandelure. I like the game the way it is, so besides balance patches, I just want to see more characters.