Arguably the greatest of all time, marcoasd rose to promience in 2014, when he won an earth-shattering seven Master Tournaments and compiled an insane 77% win percentage. However, unlike some of his peers, marco was able to maintain his brand of dominance up until 2018, when he decided that enough was enough and rode off into the sunset. I invited the Bruno Sammartino of our game on The GGFan Experience to discuss his legacy, rivalries with myself, roudolf, and Alexander, his quest to win the World Cup, the ghosting controversy, his opinions on the state of the metagame today compared to yesteryear, and much, much more!
Part one- rough rookie days
GGFan: Let's start from the beginning. How did you discover Pokemon, and how did you discover the competitive scene?
marco: Obviously, I googled pokemon red blue yellow and I found rby2k10, then Pokemon Perfect, so I started playing on Pokemon Online; I discovered Pokemon Showdown later
GGFan: You found RBY2K10 in 2013, and entered your first season on Pokemon Perfect that same year. What are your memories of your early tournament bouts? Unfortunately, you didn't win a single one.
marco: I used to be bad, I got one point in my first season. I don't remember much of it, but the important thing about it is that I was trying to build teams and it was not working; I realized that I needed to import teams that had been built and tested by players with more experience
GGFan: What resources did you use to get better? How did you find these teams, and how often were you playing in your quest to make it past the first round?
marco: I was reading stuff on RBY2k10 (which can't be found anymore), I was playing a bit randomly (on the ladder) and at some point I got mentored by Isa - which was the thing that helped me the most in improving quickly
GGFan: Do any of the new teams you started using stand out? What were you using prior to your training under Isa, and what were you using after?
marco: My teams didn't stand out: I was a noob who had nothing to do with the player I turned out to be, I was using things like Substitute (mono Ice) Chansey, to give an idea; Isa was using solid stuff, lead + S4 + filler structure
GGFan: Things started to look up towards the end of 2013, when you won your first tournament set and ended up advancing into the semi finals of the RBY2K10 Revival Tournament. This was a "who's who" of the era that had the likes of me, you, Isa, Crystal, M Dragon, etc. In the second round you scored an upset victory over Crystal. Do you remember the set, and how it felt to pull off the win?
marco: Yeah I remember that, at least relatively speaking. I was surprised, the final game came down to a 50-50 HB roll (Tauros vs Egg). Crystal_ was and still is one of the players I looked up the most, so I was thinking way too much my moves - he got bored as we were playing. Sorry!
GGFan: In the semi finals we met for the first time. Do you have any recollections of our first encounter? I've read some of your writings about me in other forums, so I was aware of how you respected me and wanted to take home the win.
I remember game 3, actually. Back then you had a penchant for using Thunder Zapdos, and it ended up swinging and missing against my Slowbro, which completed the Amnesia sweep as a result.
marco: Honestly, this is where my memories get shaky but I'm pretty sure that I was not ready for the challenge and lost it pretty badly. I was lucky enough to escape deafeat against Crystal, couldn't ask to get away with it once more.
I'm surprised to read that it came down to game 3 (it was best of 3 I guess, or was it best of 5 at that point?)
GGFan: Well, whether you were ready or not, your momentum carried into 2014, where you went from worst to first. You won two Master Tournaments in a row to win your first season, defeating the players who previously bested you along the way.
No, it was bo5. I won in 3.
marco: As far as I remember, that tournament was an early one. I wasn't very experienced/trained by that time.
It makes sense now.
Part two - from worst to first; receiving the chromatic torch
GGFan: In Master Tournament 7, you defeated M Dragon in the finals, who had beaten you before. How did it feel to win your first tournament, especially by overcoming one of your demons?
marco: Well, M Dragon is not strictly a RBYer, he's just one of the best pokemon players in general and at the time he was not the kind of guy who used to welcome you nicely! So, I feel like tables turned sooner than he thought.
GGFan: Do you have any memories of the set?
marco: Honestly, no.
GGFan: What are your opinions on him as a person?
marco: I feel like he changed through time. I appreciate that.
GGFan: How was he in the past?
marco: Well, I didn't get to know him as a brother or close relative or whatever, but he wasn't very welcoming
GGFan: Ah, I see.
In Master Tournament 8, you defeated Lutra in the semi finals and then HAGRID in the finals, who was another person who had beaten you in the past. Do you have any memories of these games or at least your emotions after knowing you had won both two tournaments in a row as well as the season in dominant fashion?
I know you've had a strong relationship with Lutra, so I imagine you have special feelings regarding this set.
marco: Beating Lutra definitely was one of the keys to getting where I wanted to. Everyone these days forgets, or doesn't even know how good of a player he used to be (and still is if only he feels like)
I feel like our relationship was not influenced at all by that series, or any we ever had
HAGRID was an average to good player as far as i remember
GGFan: But I imagine it felt like a "coming of age" for you to beat him.
marco: still, definitely not a bye; I've read some interviews and I feel like this generation of players believes a bit too much in the myth of "bad players, suboptimal strategies" before 2015
GGFan: Do you have any recollections of the games against Lutra and/or HAGRID?
Also, what do you mean by that?
marco: Yeah, Lutra, you, Isa, Crystal and MDragon were in the list. Jorgen was too, but he quit (or turned full GSC) as I was starting, so..
I remember that Lutra was using his usual "Do you like RBY Eggs" team (Golem, Lapras, no Snorlax), so I won the last game unleashing Victreebel. He didn't see it coming. Against HAGRID, it was a water mirror for 3 or 4 games out of 4, possibly double water Starmie + Lapras at least once.
I mean that post 2015 players underestimate RBY players 2010s: the playerbase wasn't as deep, but optimal strategies were well known. You had been using S4 teams for a long while at that time.
GGFan: Yes, I see what you mean now. The general concept has always been the same.
marco: Also, there were many dangerous players in the group right behind the champions. The champions themselves (just like Crystal, for example) are ranked after some random performances like one SPL that turned out to be their only major tournament after Body Slam tragedy. You just don't get to understand how good they used to be.
GGFan: Well, I think one argument that's hard to retort is that, in cases like Crystal, they simply did not play enough, whereas their peers were far more invested into the game. Do you think it doesn't matter how often you play when determining something like Power Rankings?
marco: Of course, that's exactly what I mean: RBY before and after Body Slam tragedy are two entirely different games. Some old players didn't even get time to figure the new tier out: we struggled too...
About Power Rankings, I don't know. Sometimes it feels like adding apples with oranges.
GGFan: We'll get to Crystal's ranking later.
marco: I try to rank players depending on both their recent results and their skills (if I know them...), the same way I rank pokemon depending on a mix of the current trends and their power level. Both things matter.
GGFan: So, you had gone from the runt of the litter to the alpha male. You were obviously hoping to pull off the hat trick by winning Master Tournament 9, which would have been your third in a row. We faced each other in a hyped rematch in the second round, for we had both won two tournaments in a row and were seen as arguably the two best players in the game. Do you remember your emotions going into the set? I ended up winning this one in three games as well.
marco: I knew that it was going to be one of the toughest set of games I could ever get. Again, these days players will never get the chance to see how good you used to be before the tragedy.
GGFan: Do you have any memories of the set?
marco: Not really, maybe I can see myself trying to crit your Slowbro with Lapras and/or Chansey. You were in love with him and of course he loved you back!
GGFan: Yeah, game 3 was deja vu all over again, actually. Slowbro completed the sweep once again at the expense of your Zapdos.
Now we're in August and you've established a reputation as one of the best players around. You bounced back from your loss to me quite gracefully, winning Master Tournament 10, setting up our third encounter in the finals of Master Tournament 11, which had a real "Friday night fight" feel. While you had been dominating in the Master Tournament scene, I remained the one person you had been unable to beat. You finally beat me, pulling off a three-game sweep. How did it feel to not only beat me but win your fourth Master Tournament?
marco: It surely felt great, that was one of the most important victories of my poke-career. I know that my answers about this era are very disappointing: I don't remember any of it anymore. We talked about these things in some older interviews so I decided to make some room in my memory and I deleted those files.
How it felt? It felt like I definitely fulfilled my dream, which was to be able to say that I understood how the game that I loved as a kid was supposed to be played competitively. It's just like an extension of "catch em all", it was for completion's sake.
UNFORTUNATELY, THERE WERE SOME PROBLEMS
but I didn't know at the time!
GGFan: Are you referring to the mechanics changes?
GGFan: Yeah, our rivalry culminated towards the end of this era.
Perhaps you could derive happiness from it if you look at it that way.
It ended on a high note, with the two of us duking it out in the finals of tournaments.
marco: It looks glorious indeed, perfect ending. Still, it would've been great to keep that ruleset, but oh well...
GGFan: With that said, it wasn't over yet, though: we squared off in what was, perhaps, the most exciting rematch in Pokemon Perfect history, facing off in the finals of Master Tournament 12 as well. I beat you twice, so it was only natural that you would pay me back. You ended up beating me in this one as well. It was official--the torch had been passed. Do you have any memories of this tournament?
marco: Unfortunately, not much. At the time I felt like I was the greatest to be honest, but I knew that every time I was about to play one of the greatest players of that era, I could've lost
GGFan: I remember game 4, actually.
It was a long stallwar between our two Chanseys. Your Chansey came out on top with just one Thunderbolt left, which was enough to kill my Tauros. I would have won otherwise.
marco: Oh, i remember now. I switched back and forth with Tauros and I had realized I was going to win that way.
GGFan: Yeah, it was incredibly close, but you got the win.
I'm disappointed it didn't come down to a 5th game, as it would have made for a more apropos narrative. I sweep you, you sweep me, then we go the full distance. But I'm sure you didn't mind winning in 4.
marco: Haha, of course I didn't. I wanted to get more, in the next tournament though.
GGFan: Well, that ended up being our last Master Tournament encounter for two years, which I suppose was quite fitting. I abdicated my throne, which befitted you very well, as you would go on to win another two Master Tournaments to end up with seven victories, which is still the record to this day. Do you think your run in 2014 is the most dominant year in the history of the game? How do you feel about it in retrospect?
marco: I don't know whether it is the most dominant year or not - that's your job! - nor i care, honestly. All I know is that I got a lot more than reaching my initial goal, the metagame felt great and I was having fun.
GGFan: Let me show you your numbers in 2014.
But, before I do, how many games do you think you won that year, and what do you think your win percentage was?
marco: I think I was able to win 2 in 3 games or slightly better
I don't remember how many games I used to play every year, so I can't say
I'll guess, triple digit
marco: I've read this already, but this shows you I don't care all that much about numbers
almost 78% is great
GGFan: You dropped just three notable sets that year: one to me, one to The Joker, and one to mibuchiha. I want to ask about the loss to mibuchiha, as it occurred in the semi finals of the World Championship. Did it matter to you to be on the receiving end of a huge upset loss--especially in this particular tournament? Or did it not matter to you given what you had already accomplished?
marco: Well, losing is always bad but you have to crack some eggs to make an omelette. First of all, your opponents are no road cones: they're supposed to win their share, and even without this consideration... what's the point of playing games if you're supposed to win all the time?
GGFan: Did it not matter to you how often you won?
marco: Well, I told you the reason that got me started... I feel like my win rate, success and so on is more of an induced desire
you play, you do your best to win, you train to get better and that's it: to me, that's way more than enough
GGFan: Fair enough. One final thing about 2014: in September, a survey was conducted where 20 players chose the five best players of all time. You were ranked #1 in a landslide; do you remember the survey? If so, do you think it was justified?
marco: I remember that, well I think so
GGFan: Care to elaborate and share your thoughts?
marco: It's pretty simple, I felt like it was result based and pretty deserved
GGFan: Interesting. Do you feel, then, that the achievements of your peers were not as significant as what you achieved in 2014?
And that you already deserved to be known as the greatest ever?
marco: I mean, I understand what you mean: there are many criterias and you can claim that you had some going for you or other people could've had other criterias going for them
but all in all, I honestly felt like it was a good call
I mean, i figured out that I had won more than anyone else on PP
I don't want to look like David Robinson - I'll tell you this story
the man was standing at 7'1, looking like a statue, could jump damn high and so on - when he first dunked he started celebrating and his friends thought he was trolling themI don't want to look like a troll
Part three - a new year, a new metagame; sophomore struggles
GGFan: Well, regardless what your intentions were, you had a lot to live up to in 2015. We've seen players have dominant years similar to yours but fall off. Unfortunately, you got said year off on the wrong foot, getting knocked out early in the Global Championship and Supreme RBY Tournament as well as not winning your first season in ages, when Mister Tim barely edged by to end your streak. Do you have any memories of these tumultuous first three months? Were you phazed at all by these upset losses, or did you know that you would go back to your winning ways?
marco: Had body slam tragedy happened yet?
GGFan: I don't believe it was implemented on Pokemon Online yet.
We were still playing on that simulator; we didn't make the jump to Pokemon Showdown until later.
marco: I didn't see it coming of course, but it happened and I was not too broken about it anyway
GGFan: You were knocked out of the first round in both the Supreme RBY Tournament and, more shockingly, a Master Tournament. Do you remember the sets?
marco: I wanted to go back to winning, but by that time things were becoming different - I had reached my goal already, so I just changed my goal: I was competing for the sake of doing so
GGFan: So you were somewhat disinterested.
marco: I had to do that, because I had two options: go that way, or quit playing
I don't remember any of it, and even more I don't remember when the tragedy kicked in
I was not disinterested, but I found myself in need for motivations which were not part of my original plan
GGFan: What motivated you to keep playing?
marco: Hard to tell... I feel like team tournaments became a big part of it sooner of later
I started mentoring players
and to this very day, I couldn't pull myself back from a serious Team Italy run
give me Alexander, Bomber, Joe and I'll go to war any fucking day!
GGFan: Speaking of which, at the end of 2014 you signed up for SPL. As somebody who has always been a staunch symbol of Pokemon Perfect, what led you to Smogon and motivated you to play in the event?
marco: At the time I was playing as much as I could... I would've signed up to compete against 10 yo or grandpas in my hometown if only I had the chance too
it was binge time I guess
GGFan: Was there any other reason for playing so much other than because you were having fun?
marco: I feel like it was just binge: I embraced the new goal and I did embrace it too much I guess
GGFan: Fair enough. So, you found yourself enjoying your binge, this time in Smogon. Did you have any certain goals going into SPL?
marco: winning as much as possible I guess... but I quickly found myself playing a game I didn't sign up for
GGFan: What are your memories of your first SPL? Memories of the team, your games, and the atmosphere.
What game was that?
marco: we had to sign up months before the beginning of the tournament, so Body Slam tragedy happened in between
GGFan: Oh, I see.
The mechanics changes.
You never liked them.
marco: I liked most things, just like the team and everything; Tesung was a fucking alien, one of the best players I've ever seen - him and Lavos - our team was ok but eventually we lost in the playoff
personally speaking, it was a disaster but it was predictable: I don't look at myself as a guy who's talented and quick to get into something
for everything good that I've ever done, I've always needed to work hard on it so I knew I was out of my habitat
still, I finished with a decent 6-4
but I didn't like my performance on any level whatsoever and I was horribly unlucky too
GGFan: You ended up going 5-4 in the regular season, and you won your playoff game to go 6-4. Did you feel stressed throughout the tournament because of the insanely high expectations you had to live up to, or were your emotions in check?
marco: both things, I knew I was paid a high price and I was paid in order to play a different tier...
GGFan: Would you say you struggled to adapt to the changes?
marco: so, it could also work like an alibi, doesn't it? but at the time I was just too busy testing
I had to go through what I had gone through from July 2013 to early 2014
during a tournament
Yes I did, hell yes I always do... that's just my major flaw
GGFan: Yes, I would say that's accurate: you did not dominate in SPL like you were expected to, and you were losing tournament sets that you probably would have won otherwise.
You had to learn a new style of play.
marco: Absolutely, on the other hand Isa got used to it quickly and figured out Reflect Rest Lax was the way to go and he claimed the best record
Then I answered back with IceLax - that's my invention I can say
GGFan: What was your opinion on the RBY pool? It consisted of you, Floppy, Metalgross, The Joker, Raish, The Chaser, Lutra, Tiba, Hantsuki, and Isa.
marco: There were some great players, but SPL 9's pool was better
GGFan: What would your player rankings look like?
marco: I don't know, it's hard to rank players after a major incident like that
it's about being quick to react and Isa was the best at doing so, but you can only say that in hindsight
I would've cancelled power rankings to be honest with you
GGFan: Well, they ranked you #1. You're being exceptionally modest there.
marco: We're talking about a different game, they just didn't know
GGFan: Do you have any memories of your games? Who were you most excited to play?
marco: I remember messing up with teambuilding, everything was new... I remember everything going wrong with freezes and bullshit... all in all I was not excited at all because I didn't get to play the tier I had signed up for and obviously my performance was heavily influenced
GGFan: Going back to 2014, what teams did you like running before the new mechanics were implemented, and what were you running afterwards?
marco: I remember beating Isa, at least
I liked Starmie, Chansey (which at the time was BeamBolt), PhysLax, Exeggutor (which at the time was Stun Spore), Tauros, Lapras (which at the time was Confuse Ray + Body Slam, but at some point I was using Sing + HB). In 2014 I liked Gengar, Chansey (which at the time was BeamBolt), PhysLax, Exeggutor (which at the time was Stun Spore), Tauros, Lapras (which at the time was Confuse Ray + Body Slam, but at some point I was using Sing + HB); the secondary weapon was Starmie + Zapdos, classic movesets, and obviously Starmie was Psychic because Gengar used to be a common lead.
GGFan: So you were on the FriendlyMie bandwagon as well.
marco: immediately after that, I realized that the best way for me was to use the same team - but at that time Chansey had to be Reflect + Seismic Toss, and Lapras Sing + HB
at some point, Egg was changed to Double Edge
I was using FriendlyMie since the get go, possibly also in the set where I beat Crystal
Gengar was around, you couldn't lead with TBolt Starmie
GGFan: Yes, that's right. The metagame wouldn't shift in that regard for quite some time.
marco: also, the lead became Alakazam
GGFan: So, after losing in the first round of tournaments and not dominating in SPL, you started to resume your winning ways in March, when you won Master Tournament 18. Do you have any memories of this one? I imagine this one must have felt good after what you had to endure prior to this victory.
marco: I don't remember it, but I feel like I was more concerned about learning the game again
to be continued.....