Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Pokemon US Nationals 2016: Pokken Seniors Winner Interview

At last weekend's US Nationals, we interviewed Wayland, winner of the Seniors division of the 2016 US Nationals Pokken Tournament competition. Find out why he uses Blaziken, and what his strategy was in the finals:


Steven: Hi, I’m Steven Reich, here at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio at the Pokémon US Nationals 2016. I’m here with Wayland, who is the winner in the Seniors division of the Pokkén Tournament event that they had here. So Wayland, first of all, where are you from?

Wayland: I am from Douglasville, Georgia.

Steven: So, you came all the way up here. And Pokkén has only been around a while, but you were involved in Pokémon before that. How did you get introduced to the Pokémon franchise?

Wayland: When I was younger, my little brother handed me a Game Boy. Once he finished his game, he was like, “Here, go play this.” It ended up being Sapphire for the Game Boy Advance. And ever since that, I love Pokémon.

Steven: You said the first video game-you’ve been playing video games since you were 3, and the first one you played was actually the Mario Baseball game on the Game Cube. So, you’ve been into video games for a very long time. So, you were pretty much interested in Pokkén pretty much right when it was announced. What was your reaction to the announcement of the game?

Wayland: Okay so, when they announced it in Japan for the first time, when they were showing the game play of it, I was surprised. I was like, “Is it coming to the US?” I was super excited, and it was really nice.

Steven: Yeah, it’s something different. We haven’t had a true Pokémon fighting game, and of course, now we do. So, the character you play is most of the time, in Pokkén, is Blaziken. What attracts you to that character? Why do you play as that for the most part?

Wayland: When I first played Sapphire, my starter Pokémon was Torchic. So, my favorite Pokémon is Blaziken. Well, it kind of grew on me. And when Pokkén came out, I remember my friend calling me at 3 o’clock saying there was an early access event. And I was like, “Is Blaziken on it?” And he was like, “I don’t know, man.” I’m like, “Come on!”

Steven: I could see the connection there. Absolutely. I’m sure a lot of the folks at home had maybe a similar experience with Smash Bros. or Pokkén, about whatever their first starter was, they want to be able to play with that in some of the side games. Alright. Well, let’s tell the folks at home about the finals then. You were paired against a guy. He used, over the course of it, two different Pokémon. He used some Lucario and also some Shadow Mewtwo. Let’s start with Blaziken vs. Lucario. What’s the things to watch out for in that type of match?

Wayland: If you’re going to win, for Blaziken, you’re going to have to use a lot of Flare Blitz to cut him off, because he has a lot of counter moves. You can counter break him. Lucarios love to counter. Another thing is you don’t have to really stay spaced, because really can’t space you out if you put him towards a wall. Once he’s in a wall, he’s kind of in a bad position. And when you have Burst against his Burst, you technically have a huge advantage.

Steven: And what about Shadow Mewtwo, the other character he used? What are the things to watch for there, and how did you react to it?

Wayland: When he switched to Shadow Mewtwo, I really wasn’t fazed. Most people would be fazed, but Shadow Mewtwo-people switch to Shadow Mewtwo when they want power. But his health is super low, so it takes only a few hits to take him out. And I have some counter piercers, some good moves. Everyone says since he goes to Burst faster and I go to Burst faster, it’s like, I better Burst pretty fast. I’m like, I have my Burst and it gives me a speed boost, so I’m already good.

Steven: Yeah. Speed, obviously, in any fighting game is extremely important. So, in Pokkén, you also get something called a Support Pokémon. I noticed you-I think you always chose Cresselia, which is a little bit of a healer. Is there a particular reason for that, other than, obviously, the healing? How do you decide when exactly to use that? Because you don’t necessarily want to use it right away when the meter fills up.

Wayland: Cresselia is only used once per turn, she summons fast, she gives a large health bonus, a large synergy bonus, and a large-it takes away negative status on you. So, my moves hurt myself. I hurt myself when I do my moves. When I hurt myself, it doesn’t take away my full bar, it takes away my green bar. So my darker shade of green is still there. That’s the health I can recover. So, when Cresselia is charged and I’ve used enough of her, and I have my Burst-if I know when I used her, my Burst will come out, I’ll just say I can use Cresselia, get my Burst and get all of that HP back that I already wasted.

Steven: There’s definitely a management aspect there that you have to keep any eye on, and think very quickly. That’s quite impressive. It sounds like Cresselia is a very interesting Assist Pokémon to use in this game. One more thing about Pokkén. For a while, we didn’t think there was going to be any DLC beyond the initial release. But it seems that recently there’s been some rumblings in Japan. Why don’t you tell us about that and what you’re hoping for.

Wayland: Japan’s official Pokkén tournament, they announced there’s going to be a new character on July 20th on the arcade version. But, we don’t know if it’s coming to America. Everyone’s hoping it would be Darkrai or another Legendary or Empoleon. But I feel like it’s going to be a different type of Pokémon. Because we have a fire type—I’m thinking it’s going to be a water type, because we don’t have any water types.

Steven: Well, we’ve got Suicune, but that’s about it. So, we don’t have any conventional bipedal ones. So maybe if they want to fill that void. Of course, I know some folks are still wishing there was a playable Hawlucha, ever since Pikachu Libre.

Wayland: Hawlucha, Hitmonchan. And I think that’s it.

Steven: So, we’ll have to see what happens. Hopefully, whatever does get revealed later this month does come to the console version. Alright. Well, thank you very much, Wayland. This has been Steven Reich from the Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, Ohio at the Pokémon US Nationals 2016.

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