Part three - the cup quest
GGFan: However, while the lights were shining bright on that big stage, you were also fighting it out in the mountains in your quest to win the cups. First you won the Saffron Cup, which had a strange gimmick. What are your memories of this one? You had to win a lot of games, and every set was best of one. Was there a lot of pressure towards the end?
You also managed to win the first of Pokemon Perfect's three tournaments of champions, the Vermilion Cup. This was clearly the most stacked event the organization had ever hosted (up until a certain other cup). Not only did you win this, but you didn't drop a single set. Moreover, you were able to defeat big bad marco in the first round and then his second coming, Alexander, in the finals. I imagine you have a lot of memories of this one.
Lusch: I like Vermilion Cup. I like the tournaments of Champions as whole. But to be honest, I mostly don't remember specifics about a tournament. I opened the site now to look it up. It was a stacked field for sure. Great! It's always a nice feeling to win vs such strong competition. It was ma goal and I reached it. I knew every stage would be difficult, but once I got to the final, I was determined to win it. Ah, this was the 3-0 vs Alexander. I remember now.
I won the first two games and he did not even want to play the third one. That was amazing to me. It showed me the respect I had earned amongs my competitors. He did not believe he could win 3 in a row against he, so he wanted to give up...I did not take that offer though. I wanted to play the next games as well. And he then agreed. It was only one more game in the end.
GGFan: That's kind of funny, actually. I played him in the semi finals, and I was the one down 0-2 against him. I managed to rally back and force a fifth game, which I ended up losing partially because I went with a really bizarre team choice.
Lusch: When I look at the threads of these tours, some memories come back. I think I will look them through as we have the remainder of the interview.
GGFan: Do you have any memories of your victory over marco? As you said, he gave you a lot of trouble, so it must have felt good to get a win against him. I would say he was your most notable rival overall.
Who would you say is your biggest rival? Marco or Peasounay?
Lusch: I have no memories. It was not too special because it was not a KO stage...
may I add: Mad respect for Alexander. i don't want to give the impression that it is otherwise. He is a great player that I have a lot of respect for.
Biggest rival, yea... it's either marco or Peasounay. I cannot pick one of the two.
I think marcoasd is one of the few (maybe even the only) top RBY player that I have a negative win record against. I don't keep track of them, but from the feeling.
GGFan: You're 7-5 against me, by the way. So that's one.
Lusch: Ah well, we did not play many games. There's surely players who have a winning record against me. But I meant players I've played a couple of times. and I meant tournement sets, not single games. Does it mean you have won 7 of our twelve single games vs me?
GGFan: No, I mean we played 12 times and you won 7.
You have a winning record against me in case you were curious. But you probably knew that.
If only I didn't play in the Smogon WCOP, it would have been 5-5. Oh well.
Lusch: Ah I see. Yea... it would not have been hard to figure out since we did not play a lot against each other. But I did not specifically know it.
Did we face in WCoP? Wow I cannot even remember that. I don't think we did.
GGFan: So, now we're in the middle of 2017 and you were trying to win the Indigo Cup, which was the second tournament of champions. I think your journey to the top 4 was easier than it was in the Vermilion Cup, but you still had to overcome some hungry and solid players to get there. It was here where you squared off against Peasounay, who bested you in a great five-game set. Was it disappointing to lose knowing that it was your mission to win all of the cups? Do you have any memories of facing your rival in such a high-stakes encounter?(edited)
Lusch: First there was the Saffron Cup, as you mentioned earlier. One quick word to that one. I liked the format as well, it's something different for a change, and creates hypes around the "armys" of players. I challenegd Beds first because I wanted the strongest possible doll. Beds was the Season Champ at the time, I believe.
I won, but funnily enough I remember that game. It came down to a Tauros 50/50, which I won.
GGFan: Yes, he accumulated a prodigious 56 points in season 10.
Lusch: Beds did not hold opponents off as well as I hoped, so i had to step in the ring sooner than I though. My dolls did not last long in that tournament, and I ended up linek's doll at the end. I managed to defeat linek and Golden Gyarados in the end, and managed to not be eliminted in my time as linek's doll. Another goal of mine reached.
So the next Cup, Indigo Cup. I think before that might have been the Tokusane Cup where I entered with Peasounay but both of us lost our r1 games. I lost in indigo to Peas in the semis. It was another close one, but it simply was his turn this time. I cannot win all close games vs great opponents and this time it simply was his time to take the win. And he won the tournament as well. Becoming Indigo Champion. I had to wait for this one as well...
GGFan: Yeah, and you at least went positive in that tour, which is an impressive achievement in its own right. In fact, you and I were the only ones to have an overall positive win/loss record in all three of the tournaments of champions.
Lusch: Yea, i know this one. Those tournaments were always great for me. I think it's because of the same phenomenon I tried to describe earlier. I have an easier time playing against good players than not as good players. Good players are easier to act off.
GGFan: With that said, let's talk about the Fuchsia Cup, which holds a special place in your heart. This is probably the most stacked tournament Pokemon Perfect ever had, not only because of the playing field, but because of the rigid prerequisites for entry. I remember qualifying at the last second because I won season 12, which was the most competitive season since 9, the one you won. After I won, you congratulated me and I said, "Everybody knows you deserved this one." I appreciated that. It took place about a year after my controversial and unfair elimination in MT27 at the end of season 9, so it felt great to get that redemption.
So I was alongside the likes of you, Peasounay, marco, Alex, etc. You went on an incredible run, making it all the way into the finals without dropping a single game. I managed to crawl my way into the finals with some clutch victories against my rivals of yesteryear. And so, the set that should have happened a year ago in season 9 was happening in the finals of the Fuchsia Cup
Lusch: Yea, Fuchsia definitely was a special one for me. Maybe the most special tournament ever.
GGFan: I know you wrote about this one in great detail on Indigo Plateau. You considered your win against me in the second game one of your greatest accomplishments ever. For those who don't know, you bested me with Venusaur, who happens to be your favorite Pokemon.
Lusch: It was another Cup, one of Champions at that. I was still on the hunt for Cups, but to be honest, at that time in 2017 I felt kinda burned out a bit. I did not play Seasons anymore for a longer time now because it's kinda stressful and felt I needed a break. I wanted to give everything I had to win this one before giving myself a rest.
I also wanted to win a tournament finals with Venusaur. I tried to in MT27 when I lost vs marcoasd, but I wanted to try once more. And I thought there'd be no better stopping point than Fuchsia, a Champions Cup.
I don't remember my sets vs the other players, but I do remember the finals vs you. Both games were close. They were well played, and I really performed great there. It was yery satisfyying. I achieved the goal of winning another Cup, against the best of the best (nothing less was this tournament) without even dropping a single game... And on top I won the final game using my favourite Pokemon, Venusaur. It was the perfect end for that phase.
GGFan: I remember you hinted retiring from the game after winning. Did you seriously consider leaving after pulling off that win?
And it's interesting that you tried to win with Venusaur a year ago but failed, just as I nearly won a season but failed a year ago. Everything came full circle a year later: I won my season, we played our big set, and you won with your favorite Pokemon.
Lusch: No. I just wanted a break. I did not know at the time how long and if I will maybe even retire completely. But retiring completely was unlikely. I had practiced it for a while now: i only joined tours I wanted to play and left others out. For example, I did not play the seasons at the time and did not enter tours like RBY Cup or the Global Championship on Smogon.
GGFan: I also remember you said that, to win this tournament, you had to beat the four best players in the game. I appreciated the great compliment--a far cry from the usual toxicity and immaturity that plagues the competitive Pokemon world.
Lusch: yea. I am not a perfect example of the average Pokemon-community member. We still play the same game, and we're only people. No need to be mean or whatever to look cool on the internet
GGFan: It was also significant for me to still receive that kind of praise despite having started playing so long ago. 2017 was a special year for me too.
Lusch: It's funny how the circle really came together for both of us at the time, really.
GGFan: It's interesting, yeah. The season victory, the big game, the Venusaur that could, overcoming the demons.
I had to beat Alex, Beds, and marco to play you. Definitely rivals of yesteryear.
Part four - first world cup, second spl
GGFan: After winning the Fuchsia Cup and stepping down from the Master Tournament scene, you played RBY for team Germany in the first WCOPP, which I believe is one of the greatest team tournaments of all time for certain reasons which won't be divulged here. How was that experience?
This was a long tournament that lasted nearly three months. One person told me that you weren't invested in it, and actually played one of your sets while under the influence of alcohol.
Lusch: Oh yea. I played it, but I don't think we had that great of a team. Maybe I'm confusing years.
GGFan: Did you get along with your team members? Was it refreshing to be in an environment in which only German was spoken?
Lusch: Yea, i mean, no excuses. i had a few beers. It was not planned. i was scheduled to play TIN but met some friends when coming home from a sport event. We talked and went to get a beer together. I was like 40 minutes late to the schedule with TiN, which is not normal for me. I am always on time.
I got along with the teammates, yes. The motivation was not the highest, let's just say. We were happy that we got a team together, tbh. Yea. I personally do not enjoy team tournaments as much. But if it is a german team, I like them more. It's more fun for me.
GGFan: We played in WCOPP. In my opinion, this was a much better set than our encounter in the Fuchsia Cup. I remember how close game 1 was; it came down to my paralyzed Exeggutor needing to land Sleep Powder on your Tauros to win it, which it unfortunately failed to do. Then, game 2 was decided by whether or not Hyper Beam would miss, which it did. Both games were very close. Do any of the sets you played in WCOPP stand out, such as ours?
Since you ended up losing to Idiot Ninja, I presume that was the first (and last) time you drank alcohol before entering the battlefield.
Lusch: No. Like I said. This WCoPP was not one I took very seriously. My Team was nowhere near good enough to win the tour. i don't remember who I played in it and how I went, except for the TiN games since you reminded me of it and the circumstances were different
Oh well. I usually don't drink when playing a tournament set, yes. But at the time, like I said, our team was not exactly ambituous, so I had to decide to have the spontaneous drink with some friends or play a game of Pokemon not many people cared about anyway.
I sometimes hit the ladder when I had a few though.
GGFan: Fair enough. I was on team North America, a team which I'm sure you remember caused a lot of controversy. For me, it was a totally different experience. So 2017 is over. You had managed to win two of the three tournaments of champions and reached the semi finals of the one you didn't win. Although it seemed like you were going to take a hiatus altogether, you ended up writing down your name in the SPL signup sheet once again, which is seen as sort of a "who's who" of the decade. What motivated you to play again, considering you had already excelled in this environment?
What were your expectations going into SPL IX? Because I was unbanned hours before the signup period was over, we had the most stacked RBY pool in the event's history. Did you feel you had a lot to prove, or were you only in it to enjoy yourself regardless how many games you won?
How did you feel about the Power Rankings this time? You were ranked #2 this time. Obviously, Peasounay was the king of the mountain. Do you feel being ranked just one spot below him was justified?
Lusch: Yea, i felt a bit tired and did not want to play SPL, actually. Isa contacted me because he was the new manager of the Classiest and he wanted to retain me. Eventually I signed up. I didn't have much of a history with him, but he had a reputation as an RBY expert nontheless. He always comes across quite intelligently and might never have been an completely elite player (must have been before my time, if so), but he could judge players very well. He definitely knew his stuff about RBY. The fact that he wanted me and thought of me as one of the best RBY players got me to sign up. Had it been a different manager, I probably would not have.
GGFan: What would the rankings look like if it were up to you? The pool consisted of you, Peasounay, marco, me, Alexander, Metalgross, Idiot Ninja, roudolf, Diegolh, and badabing/Earthworm.
Lusch: Well, of course once I signed up I wanted to win as much as possible. It did not go my way this time. I was tired and better should not have signed up. My performences were not up to the standard I set for myself. A little bit of misfortune played a role as well. It felt like whenever I was bringing the Zapdos, my opponent had the Rhydon and when I had the Rhydon my opponent would bring Lapras...
In therms of Power Rankings. I think they were justified if we discount the motivational factors. I had proven at this point that I was one of the best players of RBY OU and it makes sense to put me up there. In terms of shape, I was definitely not Number two though.
GGFan: It's interesting how negatively you perceived yourself in spite of your success. We're all our worst critics, as the old adage goes.
Lusch: That question again. Let's see. I cannot see the form and status of others, idk...
1-3 Peas, marco, Lusch
4-6 roudolf, GGFan, Alex
7-9 Metal, TIN, Diegolh
10 badbing (not ordered within)
yea, definitely true. I was always very critical of myself.
GGFan: You thought very highly of roudolf. I imagine you played him a lot on the ladder in 2017, where he dominated.
Lusch: Well. It's funny actually. I did not even know he had gotten that good. I remember in some event (maybe it was even WCoPP '17), Linkin Karp had to play him and asked for my help to prep. And I said "you don't need my help to beat roudolf13". That was because I played him on ladder before he was great. We only played twice though, I think. And both times he would not play well and lose because of it.
That alone shows how disconnected I have actually been from the full time playerbase in 2017, only returning to compete in select Cups
GGFan: Do you remember our set? You used a Sandslash of all things in game 1, which caught me off guard, but luckily my Starmie didn't get fully paralyzed and landed the Blizzard. I imagine you gave Sandslash a try because you knew I had a tendency to run Reflect Chansey? Then, in game 2, as you alluded to earlier, I got the team matchup right. I figured you would use Zapdos, so I brought Rhydon.
Lusch: Yea. I used Sandslash vs you, because you would spam Reflect Chansey at the time and there was some other tendency that I don't remember that made it a good pick. I played it poorly though. Got too impatient with it, risking it against your Starmie. I got punished for it. I remember roudolf coming at me after the game like "I see what you did there", indicating he agreed with my choice of running Sandslash.
GGFan: Maybe it was to outspeed Rhydon if I ran it in game 1.
Lusch: I don't recall, maybe your Starmie usage was low as well. I don't remember.
GGFan: You actually inspired me to use Sandslash myself. Ironically enough, I pulled off the win with it against roudolf's Greek comrade, Christos, in week 3 of WCOPP 2.
Lusch: It's nice to hear. I like using stuff that does not get too much love. I don't do it very often though. You gotta find a balance. It has to make sense. Not only using it for the sake of being different. How often have I seen players (especially in SPL where they all wanna show how innovative they are) derivate from the norm and falling on their asses with it. When the standard moveset would have won the game but they were lacking the good move...
GGFan: Speaking of innovation, SPL IX was where I showed off more of my creations, Harden Snorlax and Defense Curl Chansey. Harden Snorlax played a huge role in helping me beat Peasounay.
Since your win/loss record wasn't up to your standards, was it you who decided to let Troller come off the bench, or was it your manager? How well did you get along with the team this time?
Lusch: Yes, my win loss record was not there. Going 1-3 before the break. I wanted to play my old friend Peasounay, even though it meant I had to face another great player and it would not make it easier to get a better record. Peas was 1-3 at the time as well. I had exams int he following two weeks. So I coud use the break. My record was obviously another argument to give Troller his first SPL spotlight. I said to Isa it would be better to bench me for two weeks. He did that then. After the weeks he had to decide who to put back in. I would have accepted every decision. He put me in again and I was able to redeem myself with two more victories. I got along with the team well. I have to mention Troller here as well. he was obviously pissed that he did not get to start, but he signaled from the start that he would support me. he did in the first weeks, but it faded out a bit after that. We pretty much did our own stuff from then onwards.
The team was good though. We had a way better team chemestry than any other team I had up to this point.
GGFan: Ultimately you would go negative in SPL IX. Given how this was the most stacked RBY pool in the event's history, did it bother you to not live up to your expectations, or was it easier to deal with considering how great almost everybody was?
Lusch: It bothered me a little. The competition does not influence my goal and after all. I wanted to win every game. To achieve that, though, I would have needed to play better and be a bit more fortunate overall in this tour. To be honest, I don't think I would have had a better record if it was a different playerpool. I simply did not perform...
GGFan: I'm not sure about that. I actually watched your games against badabing. I think you would have lost that set if not for how well you performed. Most wouldn't have won those games.
Lusch: Well, even if I performed well against Badabing (I don't remember), that was just one set. Overall, I was not satysfied with my play in that tournament. But those kind of tours exist as well.
Part five - coming close, rivalry with troller, struggles
GGFan: After SPL, you made your return to tournament play on Pokemon Perfect, where you entered the Cerulean Cup and made the playoffs, losing to roudolf. How disappointing was this loss, considering you were on a mission to win all of the cups? Also, what are your opinions on roudolf? He didn't last very long, but dominated while he was around. Would you put him on the same pedestal as Peasounay and marco?
Lusch: I don't remember it anymore. Surely I wanted to win the Cup, but I don't think I had enough time to spare to qualify for all the weeks? My chances where slim anyway. Cerulean is the one that got away for me in a sense. I liked the format, but ultimately could never qualify for all weeks because I did not have the same time to ladder as some of my opponents.
regarding roudolf. He's definitely a good if not great RBY player. I would not put him in the same pedesral as marco or Peasounay, though. The reasons you already mentioned. He simply did not play for long enough imo.
GGFan: Around the same time you entered the Cerulean Cup, you teamed up with your manager, Isa, in the Viridian Cup, and actually won the whole thing, beating him in the finals. Was this a memorable tour for you given your relationship with Isa, and was this the first time you played him? What are your opinions on Isa?
Lusch: Yea, it was somewhat memorable. Most importantly, it was another Cup that I could cross off the list. About Isa: I personally was never really a "smogoner", but realized that smogon is quite big in the competitive community. Even if RBY was always treated as the stepchild on this site. Still, Isa was the big "smogon-RBYer", I felt, at least. I respected him and always liked it when veterans or well known good players who did not already play regularly (on PP) anymore came back to play. That is why I asked him to play.
GGFan: Do you have any memories of the set against him?
Lusch: I remember that I had it in the bag in the second game already, only to make a mistake, which Isa used brilliantly I have to say. Not many would have punished that one. All of a sudden it was 1-1 and the set was mine to lose. Luckily I kept it together.
GGFan: You continued your cup quest in the Indigo Cup, where you had a great run, making it all the way into the finals, where you met Troller. This would be the first encounter against one of your most notorious rivals, in my opinion. You were swept three games to zero. Do you think Troller may have been motivated to win this because he was benched?
Lusch: Ah, yea the Troller game in Indigo Cup 2018. He played well, obviously. He probably was motivated because he got benched, yea. We had a good game 1 that he won. Then in g2 I managed to KO his Snorlax and Tauros on two subsequent turns with my Counter Chansey. I still lost the game because he got some really insane luck. But I had my fault in it too. I opened myself up to that luck, even if it was not necessary. After that he won the third as well, but I cannot remember details.
GGFan: In May of 2018, you returned to the Master Tournament scene. Was there a particular reason you wanted to make a comeback in this setting? You already won your season and seemed content. Your comeback started in MT43, in which you lost in the semi finals to none other than Troller. Now having lost your first two sets against him, did he become somebody you desperately wanted to beat?
Lusch: Yea, I returned to MTs. That was simplay because I wanted to prove to myself again that I am one of the best RBY players around. I was not content with the way I had played over the past half year. I was not performing how I used to. So I decided to give the regular curcuit another go and shoot for the rankings gold, which was also something I had not achieved yet.
In the first MT of the season, I played Troller in round 3. We played right after our bo5 of the Idigo finals. Both of us were not as focussed as we were thanks to playing many games at once. It was a wild, fun series, that I lost in 5, It was close though, and could have gone my way as well.
GGFan: You had your chance for redemption in the next Master Tournament, where you once again reached the semi finals and once again faced Troller. Unfortunately, you lost once again as well. Was it frustrating to lose so much to Troller, or did you accept it because of how good he is? On that note, where do you rank him alongside the game's other titans? Do you feel he's on the same level as Peasounay, marco, etc?
Lusch: In the next MT I lost to him again. This time I definitely should have won the set. I got the shorter end of the stick in the pivotal game 4, when I was leading 2-1. He had only his paralyzed Reflect Seismich Toss chansey left, while I had an Alakazam and a low health Lapras. He already used more Seismich toss than I had used Recover over the course of the battle. All that needed to happen was for my Zam to spam recover whenever he hit one Toss. But he beat my Alakzam because of a series of FPs and managed to take down my Lapras with only one Seismic Toss remaining.
After that he needed to win g5 though, but he was able to transport that momentum into the game and did so. But now to answer your question on where I rank him. Yes, I do rank him alongside the other game's titans such as marcoasd and Peasounay.
GGFan: You capped off the season by making it into the semi finals for a third consecutive time, which is an impressive feat in itself. There you faced Metalgross, and ended up losing that one. Looking back at this season, was it nothing but disappointment for you, or did you feel it was an accomplishment to be consistent? Also, what are your thoughts on Metalgross? His name isn't thrown out there often and he is often ridiculed as being the game's "good bad player." Do you think that's a fair assessment of him?
Lusch: Yea, I had a great set vs Metalgross. It went the full five games and was close. But he manged to win it and it was deserved, he played really well. Metalgross has improved a ton. And I actually realized it the first time in that exact set. I think the reputation he has/had might have been justyfied in the past. But it was around that time when he really improved. That statement is inaccurate for about 2 years now, for sure and he is one of the better players in the field now.
Well, I did not reach my goal for the season, which was to win it. But I lost to very good players along the way. And everytime I put up a good fight. I got close to winning those games as well, but you can't win 'em all. I was overall not unhappy whith my play this time. I had a long term goal in mind anyway, which was to earn a rankings medal, and a golden one at best. I was still in the running at this point.
GGFan: So you were on a mission to prove you were one of the game's best players. You won the Viridian Cup, but you were still hungry to win something besides a team tournament. After coming close each time in the previous season, you started off the next one on the worst foot possible, getting knocked out in the first round of MT46 by an unknown player. Did the loss hurt your confidence, or did it not bother you much?
Lusch: I got knowcked out in r1 by Lord Thorx. I don't think I played bad in this one either. I probably did not play well enough anyway, but he was the luckier player and there was not too much to do for me.
GGFan: Your fortune didn't turn around in the subsequent tournaments, as you got the unlucky pairing in the second round of MT47 and went up against marco, then lost in the second round yet again to an up-and-comer, Christos, in MT48. Unfortunately, you went from making the semi finals three times in a row to losing in the second round three times in a row, as you were knocked out in the second round of the World Championship. Would you say this period was the most difficult one you ever endured?
Lusch: Against marco, I don't want to search excuses all the time, but in this one again, he was simply significantly more lucky than I was. This singular set, I played really well, certainly was the better player. But luck did not want me as the winner.
Against Christos in MT48, I do not recall the set anymore, tbh. Losing it fits the picture, though. And in the WC, I lost to marco and ErPeris, while beating samy0w in r2. Not ideal, but also not alarming. I had 3 good opponents and lost to two of them... My deciding games vs ErPeris were not the luckiest either, I remember. Don't wanna sound like it's only luck, but you do need some luck along the way to go far. In this season, I simply did not get it. I did not play bad in those two past seasons, but luck did not cooperate overall.
GGFan: Although your prospects of winning another season and getting the gold did not go as well as you had hoped, you did nearly win yet another cup, when you made the finals of the Fuchsia Cup. Of course it had to be Troller standing on top of the mountain, and you would end up losing to him for the fourth time in a row. Do you recall this set and your emotions afterwards?
Lusch: Fuchsia Cup, I don't remember exactly. But I just checked the posts in the thread, and Troller spoke about "sad games" and I wrote about wanting to have some clean games vs him for once. So I suppose I got unlucky there as well.
to be continued...