I was exposed to Pokemon in the spring of 1999 thanks to a friend who always bought his copy of Pokemon Blue to school. He played it so much that I presume he let me borrow it because he had finally become bored of it. Well, it was either that or he was addicted to it and needed a withdrawal. No matter the reason, I got my hands on the game I wanted to play more than any other, and was hooked immediately. I actually couldn't figure out how to catch Pokemon during my first playthrough, so I just used my starter, Squirtle, and ended up with a Blastoise by the time I was in the S.S. Anne. I restarted when I finally figured out how to catch Pokemon, and beat the game for the first time with a party of Charizard, Raichu, Shellder, and maybe Zapdos.
Over the next three years I played and followed Pokemon religiously. I watched the TV shows, perused the message boards on GameFAQs, and learned just about everything one could about the game at that time without playing competitively, and without the abundance of resources that we have now. Thanks largely to playing Pokemon Stadium, I even became cognizant of the importance of stats--not just movesets--and how vital the move Thunder Wave is. I beat round 2 of Pokemon Stadium and was nine Pokemon short of competing the Pokedex in Pokemon Yellow without the use of a Gameshark, but I wanted more.
In 2001 I finally made my first account on GameFAQs, "thegreatestgamefan." The name was a bit arrogant, which I suppose would be a bit fitting given the events that would soon ensue. By this time I was really into GSC and thought I had what it took to beat anybody, which was rather silly in retrospect considering my crowning achievement at this point was beating Red with a party of level 50 Pokemon. A user by name of The President had a "rate my team" topic in which offer feedback and constructive criticism for those who were playing on mIRC. I wasn't privy to mIRC's existence at the time, so The President must have gotten a good, hearty laugh in when I posted my "brilliant" team that had a Hypno with Shadow Ball. He merely responded, "Well, at least people are using this topic."
Early in 2002, I read my first mIRC war story on either the Pokemon Yellow message board or the Pokemon Gold one. I was ecstatic when I found out that there was actually a competitive scene, and wanted to join in immediately. As I used internet in the age of dial-up and because mIRC was not the most intuitive simulator in the world (it was a text-based simulator in which all commands had to be input manually), I asked if there were any other simulators. A user on the Pokemon Yellow message board by the name of Pidgeotto told me about the Azureheights PBS, which did not have to be downloaded but only supported RBY and was riddled with several game-changing glitches. While I wanted to play GSC, it's as the old adage goes, "Beggars can't be choosers," so I was grateful to have something.
Green Green Fan
I made my debut on Sunday, April 28th, 2002, around 8:15 PM. The TV in my room had the popular sitcom "Malcolm in the Middle" on, but I didn't care about Andy Richter's guest appearance or the misadventures of three ugly children's quest to cope in an unforgiving society. The only thing that mattered was proving that I had the unmatched intellect and prowess required to leave an indelible mark in the history of a game that I had already felt I had mastered. Unfortunately, my ingenious strategy of leading with a Charizard failed miserably as it couldn't even take 50% off the opposing Exeggutor with Flamethrower and was subsequently put to sleep.
Over the next three months I dabbled with teams that had the likes of Mr. Mime, Nidoking, Vaporeon, and Raichu in it, achieving little success. Thanks to playing quite a few number of games and closely following a "rate my team" topic on the Yellow board, I began to use the game's staple Pokemon: Tauros, Snorlax, Chansey, Alakazam, etc. The timing was perfect, as there was a tournament called the "Tourney of Doom" on the Pokemon Blue board that featured many of the era's prominent names. Elated to play in my first tournament, I quickly signed up and was paired against DeadTrainer in the first round, someone who had been playing in tournaments for a year or two and easily defeated my ridiculous lead Snorlax team 4-0. However, it wasn't all bad: DeadTrainer was, by far, the most experienced player I met, and I learned a lot from talking to him after the game.
In August I felt some end-of-summer heat in my best game yet against another veteran tournament player, Shrouded, who I took to the limit. It came down to my Alakazam and his Tauros. I used Psychic and got the max roll (50%), but his Tauros landed the game-ending paraslam. I was able to beat him when we played again, but he used a more experimental team, replacing his Tauros with a Venomoth, so my win wasn't as gratifying as it could have been. We had the rubber match shortly after, this time with both of us using our best teams. I won once again in what was the first "big" victory I had: Shrouded was the first tournament player that I beat, which motivated me to keep playing and keep trying to improve.
In October I hosted my first tournament, which I called the "Tourney of Stuff," also known as TOS. The name was a knock off the "Tourney of Doom" that took place back in July, and while it was only half the size of the aforementioned event, it did shape up to be a solid gathering of up-and-comers. One of them, Redwall Dude, who had more experience than me, beat me up a few times in some tune-up matches but showed me some interesting techniques, most notably Slowbro, who I knew nothing about. I figured that it could be my wildcard, and was so impressed by its sweeping potential that I thought it could compensate for my inexperience compared to the rest of the playing field.
After a big win in an exciting exhibition match against one of the top stars at the time, Shuveit, my ego was boosted to legendary proportions, leading me to believe that I was one of the best. Luckily, it wasn't time for me to be put in my place yet, as I managed to win my first ever tournament game in November with a win over Ratster, who was an experienced veteran, and then barely defeated Syberia, the winner of the Tourney of Doom and a big prospect, at the end of the year to find myself in the finals against MetalMew, yet another promising player who was also trying to climb the ranks.
I ended up facing Shuveit again, which I thought would be a good opportunity to further show people that I was the real deal and how unstoppable my Slowbro team was. Unfortunately, Shuveit had other plans, entering the battlefield with a wisely constructed counter-team that obliterated me. To this day it's the only time I've ever lost 6-0 in RBY, and I'll never forget when he sent in Venusaur while my Slowbro was resting. While it was a devastating loss at the time, it taught me the importance of never relying on one gimmick and broadening my knowledge of the metagame. I still had a lot to learn.
New teams, new metagames, new rivalries
I delved deeper into the game in 2003, exploring Pokemon besides the OU staples, and ended up with my first UU team. Golduck was there to replicate Slowbro's job, and I also had Electabuzz, Mr. Mime, Venusaur, and maybe Tentacruel. Changing things up worked well, as I actually defeated MetalMew in the finals of TOS with this team in January to start the year off on a high note. Winning a tournament is great, but defeating an OU team with an UU one made it feel even more satisfying. A user named Hipmonlee also happened to be experimenting with UU Pokemon--perhaps it was fate that we would run into each other in the PBS waiting room on that day. I won the encounter in what was a very competitive game without knowing who he was, and was elated when people told me that he was actually one of the elite players. I got a hold of his AIM account and we would end up playing each other around 40 times in what could be described as a rivalry between a young lion trying to prove that he belonged in the same pack with the alpha males, splitting the victories for the most part. One of our bouts was the famous "90-minute classic" in February which is still one of the greatest games I've ever had to this day.
I was enjoying playing a different tier as well as playing with different rules. I had memorable bouts against Haste2 in the first Random Pokemon Tournament and then Nitro, the most successful player of antiquity, who I miraculously managed to defeat with a team of five Pokemon in a type clause tournament. However, my ego got the best of me after that huge win, which Nitro was happy to chop down to size in the second round of TOS2, the sequel to TOS which actually garnered a lot more interest, which was reflective of how competitive the GameFAQs territory had become. My loss to Nitro in TOS2 taught me a couple of valuable lessons: never rest on your laurels, but don't magnify wins and losses, either. It's easy to get distraught over a loss, or overly excited over a win.
I figured that if I could consistently win in spite of the occasional crushing loss, that would be a laudable achievement to pull off in a game in which you aren't always in control of your destiny, to say the least. I was also fortunate enough to have been a part of GameFAQs when it was at its peak: there were a good 30 tournaments or so over the course of 2003, which came out to three tours a month on average. Thus, I was able to have some exciting rivalries against some of the superstars of the era such as Hipmonlee, Shuveit, and Nitro, and also fellow prospects, most notably Lesm and kuleguy18, the latter with whom I had quite a few exciting bouts. After the year was over, I won a record-setting 12 tournaments and sat comfortably in the neighborhood of 60-70 wins--not bad for somebody who started playing when he was still in middle school. I attribute this largely to the dedicated, hungry playerbase and my desire to learn as much as I could about the gen.
Whereas I was a one-trick pony in 2002, by the end of 2003 I was one of the most versatile cowboys in the ranch, having won tournaments in RBY OU, UU, RU (what we called NU back then), and beyond. When it came to OU, I dabbled with several different kinds of teams: a Slowbro team, a Zapdos team, a non-lead Gengar team, and so on. I was hoping 2004 would be even better, but, sadly, GameFAQs would crumble.
Swan song and the croak
I started 2004 off on a bang for both GameFAQs and myself, hosting TOS3, a double-elimination tour that featured four metagames: RBY OU, RBY UU, GSC OU, and GSC UU. After losing my first-round game, I made it all the way into the finals and defeated Lesm in an RBY UU contest. Unfortunately, TOS3 would be GameFAQs's swan song: only a few more tours took place from March 2004 to June 2005, which marked the end of competitive RBY in the GameFAQs territory. I won the last tournament of the era, scoring a victory over StS. After a brief celebration which included calculating my overall statistics--about 18 won tournaments and around 75-90 wins--I packed my things, bid GameFAQs farewell, and began my days as a vagabond.
The godfather of speed
In the beginning of 2005, a user by the name of Jolt135 created a challenge that he called a “90-minute blitz,” in which the player had to advance as far as possible within, well, 90 minutes. While attempting this challenge I realized that it would actually be possible to clear the entire game in just three or four more hours, a claim which was dismissed as nonsense at the time. Back then, speedrunning Pokemon wasn’t viewed as feasible due to its reputation as a long, arduous journey that required investing time catching and raising multiple Pokemon. Furthermore, there was no information available as to how one should tackle a speed run, making the attempt seem even more daunting.
I formed the original blueprint for the speed run, clearing the game with a time of 3:07 (the first world record). I only used Squirtle and Zapdos for battles, and Squirtle would be the preferred Pokemon of choice for the next several years or so until Nidoran M entered the spotlight. I wrote a walkthrough which divulged my strategies; it can still be found on GameFAQs to this day.
A big vision in a big world
Due to the rise of RSE and Netbattle, the competitive world never felt so large to me. When I started out there were only a few territories, but now there was a flourishing independent scene; one could, for example, go to Smogon, PokeRealm, Morlord, CAM, Battle Arena, Hell's Flames, and also very successful regional scenes such as Pokemonexperte, Pallet Town, and Brasil Pokemon. However, the caveat of this sudden development was that RSE was the main attraction, leaving the older gens to shrivel up and die. Given how much time I spent on GameFAQs as an RBY player, I wanted to be its central pioneer, not only preserving its legacy but exposing it to this new generation that would hopefully play it.
Thus I undertook the great labor of starting my own organization, which started out as a generic message board with no name. I was also trying to come up with an event that had never been done before to both shake things up and help get my fledgling territory off the ground. After some brainstorming I proposed a tour that in which RBY would be played in GSC mode. I called the event the "Vision Becomes Reality" (VBR), which was kind of a lame name, but one that indicated both the beginning of a new territory and my "vision" of a new way to play coming into fruition. The tour featured players from GameFAQs, Azureheights, Pojo, the Netbattle forum, Smogon, and various Netbattle servers. Unfortunately, my forum didn't quite take off yet, so I actually had to communicate with the participants via AIM and email instead of using said forum as the main method of contact. It was a fun experience overall, though, and one that prepared me for the responsibilities required to run an organization.
The tradition continues and (temporarily) ends
The VBR took place from August 2005 to September, and concluded with my victory over JMC in the finals. After waiting a couple of months, I reopened my forum as "The Alternative" on November 2nd, 2005, as a boisterous claim that what I was running was far superior than the leading brand, at least when it came to gen 1. From November to January I wrote analyses for every fully evolved Pokemon without, for the most part, help from anyone else. I also constructed tiers, ran a Netbattle server, ran yearly seasons with a point system, and had a hall of fame. Though most of these things didn't age very well and were executed poorly, to say the least, it did set the blueprint for what would come years later. What was most important, however, was that I was able to get THE Alternative active enough to where it averaged at least one RBY tour a month from 2006 to 2008, and played a role in developing and fostering a new playerbase.
Sadly, as the old adage goes, "All good things must come to an end." The playerbase was dwindling and I wanted to focus my energy on other endeavors, so THE Alternative closed its doors on June 18th, 2008, immediately after the conclusion of TOS7, which was a hard-fought contest between myself and long-time member HizardcoreMike.
Around the world on the internet
With RBY dead on GameFAQs and the ascension of RSE, I had to learn this new tier if I wanted to make a name for myself. I learned the basics in a server called CAM (short for "Certified Assassin Masters"--there couldn't be a more fitting name for a place ran by socially awkward teenagers), which was actually one of Netbattle's more populous corners in spite of its irreverent name. Since nobody knew who I was, I went by the alias "KingRBY," which people misread as "Kirby." They hosted daily server tours, so it was easy to get games in and learn. I quickly rose through the ranks and became a moderator there; however, after its winning its six-month anniversary tournament in August 2005, which was the biggest event it ever had, I realized that I was a big fish in a small pond.
After an infamous brief stint in PokeRealm (the SmogonJr of antiquity), I went down south--way south, as a matter of fact--to Brasil Pokemon in December, which was the second largest server on Netbattle. The competition was a lot tougher here, and their server tournaments often had 16 participants instead of the usual 8 on CAM. I went by yet another name, "O Americano louco," which elicited amusement from several of them. Nonetheless, the token gringo was not there to serve as comic relief: I continued to learn and hone my skills in the ADV arts, winning a healthy amount of server tournaments and distinguishing myself from the dozens of randoms. Once Brasil Pokemon shut down in February, its successor, Saint Seiya Brasil (if you didn't think it was possible to find a dumber name than "Smogon," you never played in the Netbattle era), took the #2 spot, and I played there on a regular basis until June 2006, winning quite a few tournaments along the way and having become recognized enough that people would randomly message me and compliment my game.
Verrückten Abenteur in Deutschland des NB-Meisters
When I decided I had enough of being called "gringo buma" and seeing the word "batalhar," I headed to the land of the noble Germans, making an appearance in Pokemonexperte's official server. I was surprised that a few of them actually knew who I was, but I was not welcome with open arms as they were tornament players on Smogon. What resulted was the first RBY tournament in Pokemonexperte's history, a history that dated all the way back to 2000. At the time, this German empire was the largest in the world, with a userbase, post count, and tournament scene that dwarfed Smogon's, making this a golden opportunity to get some mainstream exposure. I went undefeated in the tournament up until I played German legend, peter pan, in the finals, who took the first the game in our best-of-three series. Luckily, I was able to rally back and win the set in three games, earning his respect and eventually had a great deal of the German playerbase on my side, as I decided to play on Pokemonexperte full-time from June 2006 to November 2007. During this time I was able to win an RBY OU, UU, and tradebacks tour, completing the RBY cycle and earning a reputation in some peoples' eyes as the best overall RBY player. While I didn't win any of their GSC and RSE tournaments, I had a few respectable performances and proved that I was an all-around player.
One player that helped me reach this level was Majin Tupac Z. We were as diametrically opposed as night and day: he disliked me because I was more laid back and bubbly, whereas he rubbed me the wrong way with how seriously he took things. Regardless of our feelings for each other we had a great rivalry in 2007, facing off in tournaments about 40 times across RBY, GSC, and ADV and a plethora of metagames. In the heat of battle he voiced his frustration about me being one of the few who always had a chance to beat him, but we had mutual respect for one another.
Our rivalry culminated in the 2007 Pokemonexperte Meisterschaft, which was the annual tournament of champions that featured five tiers: RBY OU, GSC OU, RSE OU, RSE UU, and ADV 200. The ten highest ranked players in the hall of fame would play each other in swiss format, and the player with the best win/loss ratio won the event. Majin and I squared off once more, and I was able to defeat him in one of Pokemon's biggest stages. One of Majin's infamous tirades ensued, but I always interpreted this as his unique way of showing respect. Although we both had the same win/loss ratio (21-14), I beat Majin in our set, making me the true winner of the event in several peoples' eyes, earning me the title of "NB-Meister." At the time it was probably my most prolific victory ever--it felt good to pull off such a feat after five years of bouncing around and learning multiple metagames. I played and won my last tournament a month later in November on Pokemonexperte, the Boltbeam Zam cup (RBY with trades), earning enough points to be in the top 10 of their all-time hall of fame. I left to invest my time in another German organization.
The Grand Slam and the Triple Crown
In March of 2007, Pokefans (then known as Pokemon Inside) opened its doors. It competed with Pokemonexperte, offering more tournaments, monthly seasons known as the Pokemon Inside Championship (PIC), and a very detailed hall of fame that kept track of every single tournament a player participated in as well as how high they placed. All of this combined with a more intuitive forum made it the most active regional organization by the end of the year, and one of the strongest playerbases around. After leaving Pokemonexperte at the end of 2007, I played here regularly--what a sound decision that was. After a solid 2007 in which I won an RBY UU tournament and pulled off a few top 8 finishes, I was able to add two of the most ostentatious feathers in my cap in 2008: the RBY Grand Slam and the Triple Crown. The former meant that I won a tour in every extent RBY metagame (OU, UU, tradebacks), while the latter was awarded to me in recognition for winning a tour across three different generations (RBY, GSC, and RSE). First I won the Hulk Hogan Cup in June (RBY with trades), then the Lovelykiss Cup (GSC OU), and then the Impergator Cup in October (RSE UU) to win the Triple Crown. In addition to this, I was able to make the semi finals of an RSE NU tour, the finals of an RSE tour, and win an RBY tour in December, which was a magnificent conclusion to a year which established me as one of the most versatile players of the Netbattle era. Furthermore, it cemented my legacy as the king of the chromatic mountain. I could finally say that, after six and a half years, I was the best the tier had to offer.
Ein trauriger Abschied, um neue Herausforderungen zu entdecken
As successful as I was in 2008, I "only" finished in 6th place of the Jahresrückblick, mostly because I was not actively playing DPP unlike many other players. Released a year later, the 4th generation was now in the spotlight, which meant that RSE was slowly being kicked to the curb and RBY was once again left to die. With THE Alternative dead and yet another tier to compete with, the future of the archaic arts looked bleak indeed. I tried to get into DPP in 2009, but things just didn't click like they did when I tried to learn RSE. Thankfully, Pokefans still hosted RSE tournaments: I made the finals of an Ubers tour and then won a Doubles tour on December 15th to barely keep my streak of winning at least one tournament a year alive. I also may have been the only player to have finished in the top 4 or higher in practically every RSE metagame, which was a unique honor to have. Finally, after four years of competing in the German circuit, I left in March 2010 in an attempt to return to my roots.
The mask burns out
I was personally invited by the creators of a new RBY territory that purported to be the successor of THE Alternative, RBY2K10, to join them in their efforts to keep gen one alive. I took their offer, of course, sadly leaving Pokefans in the process. As much as I enjoyed my time spent in the German circuit, I felt there wasn't much else that I wanted to accomplish, whereas investing my time in RBY2K10 presented a new challenge. Now I was a hardened veteran who had to prove he could excel against another new generation of players, and did that by winning their "grand opening" tournament without dropping a single game until the finals. Sometime later in 2010, I participated in their second OU event, where I met one of my rivals, Crystal, in the early rounds, and won in a close set to advance into the semi finals. As much as I disliked his attitude, I have to admit that we would go on to have quite a few memorable encounters from 2010-2013. I'm lucky to be able to say I got the better of him more often than not.
Without going into too much detail, I'll just say that RBY2K10 failed mostly because its founders were too immature and abrasive, especially towards those who were actually there to participate in discussions, play in tournaments, etc. On that note, I'm happy that its anniversary tournament in March 2011 which offered a cash prize to the winner bombed; it was actually canceled--in the finals--because the finalists couldn't be bothered to get it over with. While RBY2K10 was killing itself, I was killing it on their unofficial server, Global Casino, in a desperate attempt to find the answer to my question, "What is a mask?" For the first time since my days in the Brazilian circuit I was playing with a different persona, this time as Hector Gold, a pompous, bombastic Mexican aristocrat who looked down on everyone else and had grandiose visions of leading the world into a golden era. Maybe Crystal was the impetus for this character, as I knew him as a jerk who spoke broken English. Well, whatever the cause, Hector Gold was born in March, shortly before the beginning of the aforementioned failed RBY2K10 anniversary tournament.
Hector Gold made his debut on Smogon, in which he asked a cryptic and bizarre question, "What Is A Mask?" He then proceeded to declare how much he despised liars while reassuring everybody that his "sangue" was royal and pure. I did the same thing on other forums, and Hector became an instant sensation. What really made Hector brilliant, though, was how successful he was on the Global Casino server. I was shocked that nobody made the connection right away, as this was clearly not only a strange gimmick that came out of nowhere yet was a gimmick that was good enough to form an astonishing 25-5 record against practically every notable RBY player. During my brief yet amazing run I managed to beat a decent chunk of the participants in the tournament, and had a blast from start to finish. I believe what allowed me to have the run that I did was my innovative team, which had a lead Starmie that would later be known as FriendlyMie on it. Its moveset was Blizzard/Psychic/Thunder Wave/Recover, which made it an effective choice against the omnipresent lead Gengars at the time, and Blizzard stopped Exeggutor from walling it. My highlight games were against Crystal in what was probably my best overall game of the year and a game against Nitro of all people that went about 250 turns.
I thought Hector Gold had a lot of untapped potential that was, unfortunately, never realized, as I had created him at the worst possible time. As much as I was having fun, I knew that the end was near. So I intentionally made it painfully obvious that I was Hector Gold, and announced my "retirement" in July, after not playing RBY for a few months. I announced my retirement on both RBY2K10 and THE Alternative; more than 600 people from Smogon visited within an hour. Of course I had to make a comeback.
A brief return and a long farewell
In February of 2012, when RBY2K10 was on its last legs, it launched its second-year anniversary tournament in a final and desperate attempt to save itself from extinction. This time an even bigger cash prize was offered, and more people signed up. Around this time I began spewing cryptic dosages of vitriol towards Kevin Garrett of all people, who I targeted because I felt he symbolized Smogon's unjustified hyperbole of their playerbase, whereas I had now been around for 10 years yet had not received the respect I had deserved. I ended each message with jumbled forms of Kevin Garrett's name and the start date of the anniversary tournament (2/15/12).
I made my return on the Global Casino on that date with an easy victory over Redemption, also known as Red Warrior, who played RBY frequently for a few years. If Netbattle had a ladder back then I would have been #1, for I managed to pull off three consecutive seven-game winning streaks to finish with an overall 21-3 record against a considerable portion of the tour's participants, such as Magicmushroom, Tiba, spies, WaterWizard, and Crystal. Sadly, the archaic arts were on the brink of collapse: most people now played on Pokemon Online, which didn't support RBY, and with RBY2K10 dead there was no place for us to go. I left and bid farewell to the Netbattle era after my fantastic run, waiting for better days to come.