Peasounay, considered by some one of the greatest players ever, left an indelible mark in history by winning an astounding 230 games in 2017 alongside several notable tournaments to have one of the most dominant years of all time. I invited the old-gen icon on The GGFan Experience to discuss how he broke in, his road to greatness, his legendary rivalry with none other than myself, "the year," and much, much more in this interview that covers Peasounay's entire career.
Part ONE - Trying to break the glass ceiling
GGFan: Did you play on the ladder before entering the tournament scene on Pokemon Perfect?
Peasonay: I did play roughly for a month on the ladder before registering on PP, like most people I tried out a lot of teams/pokemons/movesets. I actually managed to get into the top 5 within the first few days because at that time (sept 2015) the ladder wasn't very active and the highest score was around 1370 or something (the italian coco frizzante was the best ladder player at that time for those who remember him but idt he played tournaments at all). I believe the first MT I played was around mid october so I had some ladder experience since I played a lot, but at that time I wasn't reading anything about strategy (besides the seven deadly staples article) so I was basically self-learning by trial and error (to give you an example: i remember that I used to spam electrode lead because i thought it was good. I had a double electric team with electrode, lapras, no snorlax. Another one of the team I loved was jolteon - victreebel - slowbro - persian - chansey - lapras. it was p bad, I thought persian to be on par with tauros, snorlax to be bad...)
GGFan: You made your tournament debut in Master Tournament #20 on Pokemon Perfect, back in October of 2015. You were swept by jacob. Do you still remember the set? Were you disappointed to lose three in a row in your first outing, or did you see it as a learning experience?
Peasounay: I remember not playing very good teams (like a double electric with lapras instead of snorlax) and not getting an easy time with rng in the first two games (he said something like "lol rby is crual" or close to that) but overall I probably had very little idea to what I had to do, especially since he was playing standard teams, and at that time the standard teams you were facing on the ladder were... not standard. I also remember that he played Zam lead in the first two games, so i thought "i'm gonna counter him by leading egg in the third game" and in that third game he led with... jynx. I got bodied that set. I saw it as a learning experience : I realized that even if I was doing okay on the ladder ranking wise, the tournaments were something above. That's when I started reading a lot of the PP strategic content because I realized how much room I had to improve. The disappointement came from the fact that I had to wait for a month to get my next tournament game, and I wanted to face good players to see how they played (I did not know about replays at that time). I remember that since Disaster Area was my only reference as to what was a good player (lol) I kept messaging him on the Old gens chatroom in PS (before it was renamed RoA) to play him. I started training with the standard teams I found on PP but he played the wild stuff he still plays now so I lost a lot. Made me improve though because he was giving me a lot of tips
GGFan: You won your first set a month later in MT21. How did it feel to win so quickly after getting swept? Did it boost your confidence, or did you not take it seriously? Unfortunately, you were swept once again in the next round by Bedschibaer. Were you nervous going up against an experienced and established player for the first time?
Peasounay: It felt good actually, it did boost my confidence. It was against xJoelituh i remember it. I had played, trained, and read a lot, so I felt a lot more confident going in. The fact that it was 3-0 was also due to some good RNG on my part. I remember that my go-to team on the ladder was a Jolteon big 4 dragonite team, and well i got some dnite miracles going on in one game where he said "dude everytime i try that on the ladder it misses". Took me a while to realize how shit this pokemon actually is. For the other games my playing started making more sense since I started to actually look further than 1 turn ahead. I know since can sound crazy but I was mostly self-learning on the ladder at that time and had basically no pokemon experience beforehand so it was a huge improvement for me. Today the standard pokemon player can learn in no time how to be operational in RBY but I still consider that I learned and improved quickly at that time. As for the next round against Beds, I also remember scouting him : piexplode had released the commentary of the previous MT finals between him and alexander. I watched it a bunch of times and since I knew he was way better than me (hey, he won a tournament, must be a god !) i started to search for angles i could take advantage of to even the odds. There was the premises of me doing a heavy scouting of my opponents, which I then always did for the rest of my "career". I remember that he played Jynx lead a lot, so I built a gengar + jynx team with the plan of exploding my lead gengar on his jynx and then sending jynx to be 5-4. Of course, he led zam that game.
Anyway obviously looking for specific angles to counter beds at that time did not work out at all since he was 3 leagues above me in terms of skill. I got bodied really hard, probably more than how much i got bodied vs jacob during the previous tournament but since I had very little skill i was completely unable to analyze it. I remember that it felt disappointing because when I won vs xJoelituh during the previous round i felt "all this work and effort I'm putting into the game are making me win more, it works and I should continue" just to eat another wall 1 round later. Don't get me wrong, I considered it normal to lose against such a better player, but i was disappointed that it was a bodybag and that I couldn't get anything going (getting outplayed every turn ofc).
GGFan: For the first few months, you were able to beat lower ranked players but couldn't win a single game against experienced ones, namely Alexander, Golden Gyarados, and Charrol Astra. Were these losses frustrating? Do you recall any of the sets against them?
Peasounay: It was the same as it felt vs beds : I started elevating from low ranked players which I was happy with (i was quite consistent on the ladder too, always being in the top 5 [which was easier to access at that time than now] which was nice) because as I said some of the efforts i was putting were working but eating a complete wall each time i faced a better player was annoying because there were no match, i was just getting bodied. I remember studying the MT19 final video of piexplode because it was Charrol Astra vs Golden Gyarados, i watched it a lot, then came into the games vs them and lost. It was frustrating for months because even though I was playing a lot it just didn't work out vs the better players. I still wasn't very good though, I played way too aggressively and didn't build long term plans. I remember a game vs Golden Gyarados where I had my reflect chansey vs his zapdos and we traded because I didn't want to heal, I was thinking '"if I heal i give him a chance to crit me, so i'm just gonna trade to make sure he dies" too. So there was still room lol. It was also at that time that I started talking to Lusch a lot, because even though he was a bit better than me, he had the same problem vs the better players in the tournaments. I remember him telling me "To be honest it seems like the better players in RBY are also luckier". It was the time where we started to practice a lot together because he also wanted to get past that bloody round 2 in MTs, and not just go "beat a low ranked player round 1, lose to good player round 2".
I know nowadays it seems crazy to seem to have such a struggle vs good players since now even the low ranked players are at least solid and can take games from you but at that time there were so much less ressources that the gap between the low ranked (which i was part of) and the better player was really huge.
GGFan: Even though you lost in the first round of MT25 to Alexander, this was the first time you were able to win at least one game against a bona fide star. Were you happy to pull this off, or were you still disappointed?
Peasounay: I remember that set actually : It went 3-1 for alexander, and the game 4 ended up in a tauros ditto which he won ! Given it was mid 2016, it was the period of time during which he was crazy good so it was frustrating not to go to that game 5 but it was definitely an improvement, so I was a bit happy. Only problem : had to wait a month for the next tour, man that was the worst. Back to the ladder in the mean time.
GGFan: At the end of June, you started to realize your potential as a serious contender. You signed up for the International League, where you managed to sweep Golden Gyarados, securing your first win over a recognized name. This was also where we squared off for the first time in what was a highly competitive set. Were you excited to play against me, and do you remember the set? It was the first in what would be one of the game's greatest rivalries, in my opinion.
Peasounay: This is the period where I started to improve drastically and fast. I should probably talk about it a bit : april-june 2016 is one of the first key moments of my career. Before that, the only way I tried to improve was by playing on the ladder over and over again. I had hit a wall and needed to do something else to improve, so I started watching replays (something I wasn't doing much). The two players I was looking the replays of were marco and alexander, but mainly alexander. The reason for it is quite cute : at that time I did not really care about any other tier than rby, i knew nothing about them, so i thought that every player only played one tier. We were at the time where alexander had an incredible run on PP, with his 4 in a row mt winning, and he had just started RBY. I thought "how can someone be so good at this game after only a couple weeks of playing ? If he can do it, it means it's possible, I need to do the same", but I did not realized yet that he had a lot of pokemon experience beforehand, did not know he won OLT on smogon (I hadn't set a foot on smogon yet), so I really thought he was a beginner like me. I began watching all of his replays to see what he was doing. Literally 100% of his RBY replays. I also watched marco's replays a lot since he was considered the best at that time, but my biggest source of inspiration was alexander. During that period they were spamming alakazam + reflect chansey teams, so I started doing the same, because if it worked for them, it should work for me.
By completely copying them, their teams, their plays, what they were doing, I started improving a lot, and I mean a lot. In terms of plays, but also in terms of confidence. I felt more in control of what i was doing during the game, because copying them made me understand a lot of things about RBY, especially in terms of gameplanning. Even if I wasn't doing it as well as them, I was flirting with a cloud of optimal rby plays, so i began understanding the meta a lot better, playing better, and feeling more in control which boosted my confidence. The spots where I had no idea what to do in started being rarer. I also started having a style. It was theirs, but most of my teams were simply alakazam, fishlax, reflect chansey, and lapras/starmie/slowbro/zapdos as last (I wasn't using rocks at all then because i hated them, i'll get to that probably later). Until then I was just using everything weirdly without knowing why and having teambuilding that made sense.
Also, this was the time where marco had set his challenge on PP, where you'd face him in 45 games. I took on his challenge and lost 15-30, but playing so much against him made me improve a lot. He was giving me a lot of tips during this challenge, which made me improve a lot. I also read his avanzata article http://netbattle.forumfree.it/?t=70812490 seeing all these teams and the reasoning behind how they were built made me understand a lot more about the meta, how you should build in it, how you should play it... so long story short the time around International league was a time where I changed my way of studying the game. I played marco, and watched alexander. I improve more in those 2 months or so than i did from the time I started.
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I don't remember specific details from my series with golden gyarados, I was a lot better going in and it did made sense that I took some games over him, but 3-0 was too much : i haxed him heavily, so not much to remember from. I wasn't that thrilled about it, I was just generally thrilled to have improved so much at that time. I also remember losing 3-0 to ortheore in very close games, and losing 3-0 to marco in close games too (with one he stole with a final hyper beam tauros crit on my slowbro). As for our games, I remember them being RNG heavy, both ways, so the set was intense, but not particularly interesting gaming-wise. Given how went our different encounters in the future, it's quite funny that our first set was already intense. So even if i ended up 6-9 in this tournament, I was happy because the content of the games were much better from my part. In a game like RBY, you should never care about the score, only about the content, and my content was significantly better.
Part TWO - FROM CONTENDER TO CHAMPION
GGFan: You also won your first Master Tournament a month later. So, after nine months of keeping at it, you were starting to see tremendous results. I imagine winning MT26 felt nice, not just because you won it, but because of who you had to go through. You swept Ortheore, avenging your loss to him in the International League, and went on sweep both Mister Tim and Bedschibaer in the finals. Now the "3" was next to your name instead of the "0." How gratifying was this victory for you?
Peasounay: Before talking about that, I should probably mention what happened on smogon at that time. I had never set a foot on it before, and I saw the link towards the sign-up thread of the second edition of the RBY cup. I decided to register because hey, it's a RBY tournament. But i had no idea it was some sort of a qualifier for smogon classic, I knew it after the tournament had passed. To me it was just a random RBY tournament on another forum. It ended up being the tournament that started me getting more known in the community : the PP RBY community knew i was a decent player, but smogon had never heard of me. I ended up reaching the semi-finals of that tournaments without much struggle, quite the accomplishement since it was a 256 man tournament i believe ? The smogon players were really a lot weaker than even the low ranked players on PP. I honestly think the top 32 of RBY cup was way weaker than any PP master tournaments. Anyway in my run i faced mounts, gorgie, conflict, zf (one of the worst mannered dude i faced in pokemon), and in top 8 I beat earthworm. Believe it or not I had absolutely no idea who any of these guys were. To me they were just names i had to beat. I remember earthworm pming me to schedule and telling me something like "i'm available at those times on smogtours" and i answered something like "idk what that is let's play on PS i'll be on old gens". I was really clueless lol.
So during my series with earthworm i was surprised that so many people were joining the game as spectators since to me it was a random rby series for a random tournament. I ended up winning easily because he played quite bad, notably exploding a paralysed exeggutor on my chansey when he knew i was gonna click reflect. He definitely wasn't in his A game so i won and qualified for the semi finals. It was after this game that ojama pm'd me "welcome to team france" and added me to the skype group for the next world cup. That win definitely started to make me known on smogon. Sadly, I lost to ciele in the semi-finals after he haxed me heavily (like he did for most of his tournament wins). I was disappointed on the spot but ended up being happy about my performance. With the joining of team France, I was finally getting results for all of my hard work on the game. So i was in team france for Wcop 2016 and it was still funny because I knew 0 of the guys who were on the team, ojama, mcmeghan, not a single clue. Someone told me "you're in the team of the famous mcmeghan" and i said "idk who that was". My mind was really only obsessed with RBY. Wcop did not go well for the team as we didn't make playoffs in an unlikely scenario, but I went 2-1 and made a very solid showing :
- I won against TraceofLife of team Asia, he wasn't very good but got favorable RNG and i still managed to win, which was goof - I won against Golden Gyarados in close games, I was very happy about that because a couple of months back he was destroying me, so once again i was seeing the results - I lost against Hipmonlee in very weird games. I got a bit unlucky and he played odd way that threw me off, and i wasn't able to adapt at all. I don't think he played that series very well, but i made some plays that were "off topic". RBY Cup + Wcop 2016 in which i did two very solid showings were what started the foundations of my 2017 dynamic, and it's what gave me some visibility on smogon
Now to talk about MT26 : it was a great tournament for me. I was playing really good (relatively to my skill level of the time, i wasn't clearly not as good as what i was later) thanks to the momentum of my smogon tournaments, and I also had the bit of luck you need to win a tournament. I won convincingly against SunnyR (lost a game because i played jynx lead, which i never used before and which i used less than 5 times in serious tournaments games in my entire carerr because it's a pokemon i hate and think is garbage. That game probably fed that feeling. At that time i was using zam lead in 95% of my games). Won against Ortheore in close games (the score does not tell the whole story). He got mad on the thread regarding the games which was I think a complete overreaction given what had actually happened. Played very good against teal6 as well, and then beat tim in finals in games where i had good luck, and then beds in games were i played very well, and saw my reflect chanseys not getting breaked by zapdoses and tauroses. That win felt really good, it was my first RBY OU tournament win (I think i had won a Mewbers tours on smogon that year beating golden gyarados and alexander in semis and finals ?), in which i played well and beat tough opponents. After working so hard, playing so much, failing and failing at just getting past round 2 of those MTs, I finally got my MT win. I was really proud to get rewarded after all my hard work regarding the game.
GGFan: Yeah, I was going to talk about your performances in the RBY Cup and WCOP, but you already did that. Interesting how you had no idea who those people were and only cared about RBY. Now having this knowledge about how committed you were to getting better, it's no surprise that 2017 would be a year for the ages.
One thing you said that intrigued me was that you claimed there was a dearth of resources that one could learn from in 2015 compared to now. Could you explain this a bit?
Peasounay: At that time PP was the biggest hub of rby ressources, and it had more than you could ever hope to find on smogon, but compared to other games in general, I think there wasn't much ressources. Sure you had individual analyses, the viability rankings, but you didn't have other guides about different thematics like "how to build a team", "should you play for freeze or para pros and cons", "should you play a sleeper lead or an anti-lead" stuff like that. Also, there was a sample team in a PP thread but a lot of those teams were quite specific and unstandard. You had to figure out all by yourself. Today you don't really have those ressources either, but you have something else of importance : replays. If you want to learn all this, you can just go to the SPL replay thread and watch a bunch of high level rby games. You have a ton of them to see how top players play, and what teams they use. Back in 2015 until mid 2016, replays in RBY weren't as much of a thing : players were not saving them, and the SPL replays (for example) weren't a good source of inspiration because a lot players were actually quite bad at rby. I honestly believe that if the average level rose drastically in 2018, it's because you had that golden PP generation who fought in SPL and gave to the community high level replays to study from.
GGFan: In addition to the RBY Cup and WCOP, you also played in the RBY Global Championship. Unfortunately, you lost early on. Do you recall what transpired here?
Peasounay: I had completely forgotten that, I remember reaching round 3 and facing 3 players who clearly didnt know RBY and losing to heavy RNG. I remember being frustrated because it was one of the first time in tournaments that I lost against a way worse player simply due to RNG. But otherwise nothing special.
GGFan: I also want to talk about the Stadium OU World Championship, which took place in May that year. You actually won the whole thing, beating Lutra in the semi finals and none other than Troller in the finals. However, since you didn't mention it, I assume the win didn't mean much to you? Note that, at this point, Troller didn't break out yet and Lutra was basically retired. Was that why?
Peasounay: It's quite simple : stadium is probably one of the worst RBY metagames i've ever played (other one is no-sleep RBY) and i've basically played every possible RBY tier. There was nothing fun about this tournament, every game took easily 150 turns, chansey, alakazam, snorlax could run substitute, and hyper beam had the recharge turn even if it killed a pokemon. It was just pure paralysis luck and stall dittos. Also, i remember that I lucked Lutra like hell in the semis (i'm sure if you ask him he still remembers this series) and I also got lucky in the finals against troller. The final series was a pain to finish because the games were so bad, he even suggested that we played standard rby but i refused. So I didn't have much pride winning this.
GGFan: Along with the Stadium OU World Championship, you knocked off Alexander to win the Mewbers World Championship in April. Did it feel satisfying to beat Alexander, even if it was in a different metagame? How did it feel to win the event?
Peasounay: I was happy to win my first tournament, but since it was a different metagame, I didn't think much of it. I considered it some sort of a side event. But I really enjoyed the metagame. As of today Mewbers is probably still one of my favorite RBY metagames. I remember that when I got into the finals against alexander, I scouted for his teams and counterteamed him to oblivion, which obviously worked. I think it was the first time there was a Mewbers tournament somewhere ever, so nobody had optimal teams at all. My counterteaming worked which was a good thing because until now in RBY OU it had backfired a lot, and i managed to apply my strategy with my counterteams, so that was a satisfactory part.
GGFan: Going back to Pokemon Perfect, you ended the season on a high note, making the finals and missing out on winning the whole thing by just one point. Both you and Marco finished with 23 points, while Lusch had 24 points to win what was probably the most competitive season in Pokemon Perfect's history. Was it frustrating to lose in this fashion, or were you satisfied to have made such tangible progress?
Peasounay: i remember it and i wasn't that much frustrated. It was a 3 way finals with marco and lusch, so basically the hardest (but coolest) configuration I could have at that time. I remember getting obliterated by hax game 2 against marco (his mono psychic alakazam solo'd my slowbro which he had no answer to) but overall he was better, and same against lusch, close games where he was a bit better. So i was happy to reach finals once again but no frustrated. As for missing out the season win by 1 point I wasn't that much disappointed either because 1) I had lost to alexander round 1 in the first mt of that season so it would've felt weird to win a season without performing in one of the mt 2) winning + then making a finals was such a step-up compared to my previous result that i was just happy to reach the top of the pack. I thought "there will be other seasons, just keep improving."
GGFan: It's interesting that you said you got to play in WCOP because of beating Earthworm. Since Lusch also went deep in the RBY Cup and lost in the quarterfinals to Marco, I wonder what would have happened if you were the one who faced Marco and he were the one who faced Earthworm. Maybe Lusch would have played in WCOP and he would have been ranked #1 in the SPL power rankings.
Peasounay: well i should specify that ojama had contacted me before that to know if i was interested. he always did a very thoughtful scouting for each wcop, so beating ew was only the confirmation. As for Lusch, he might've been a bit less known that me at that time, but i'd consider he was a bit better. But i don't think Lusch would've played in wcop because team germany already had beds, who wasn't necessarily better, but was way more experienced. So i assume there was no reason for team germany to take the risk. I have stuff to say about spl PR in 2k17 too but i suppose we'll get to that later
GGFan: Yes, answer the other questions first, then we'll talk about SPL.
In season 10 you were red hot. You made the finals of MT28, the semi finals of MT29, and the semi finals of MT30. In addition, you finished in 5th place of the World Championship. While you didn't win any of these events, you were now producing results consistently. Are you someone who values consistency over winning, or do you have a "win or nothing" mentality?
Peasounay: I was definitely powering up, winning an tournament doesn't always mean something but performing consistently does. It's quite funny because even though I definitely value consistency, the only thing I wanted was to win every tournament I got in (duh). I think that when you haven't won much, the only thing you want is to win, when you've already won a lot, even though you still want to win events, you're more mature and know that you need to get lucky to win tournaments so if you've won a lot you know you had your share and you can be more satisfied with performing well. So my answer is in between, I value more consistency, but only for others, i want to win and that's it. But the thing i value always value the more is content. I judge player by content.
GGFan: Speaking of the World Championship, however, you faced off against the two players you idolized, Marco and Alexander, and lost both encounters. Do you remember your mindset going into the sets against them? Given how much you tried to emulate them, I imagine you put a lot of pressure on yourself.
Peasounay: I did put some pressure on myself but not because they were my opponents : since i was starting to have good results but wasn't winning, I needed to beat that last step, which is to beat the best players in the finals stage, so facing the best players in early stages, in a tournament format where you have multiple bullets, is good practice. Had i faced beds or lusch in those games I would've felt the same. Of course, since marco and alex were clearly the two best, it felt disappointing to get swept both times. The heartbreak in that tournament was to lose the tiebreak with lusch to reach top 4. I lost that one in very close games and got left out of top 4, which was composed of marco, alexander, lusch, and beds. We were basically the top 5 of the pack at that time (i think you came back into it later), and the one who was left out of it was me, the number 5 was me, so it showed me i still lacked something, and that was a bit frustrating to deal with, but it gave me more motivation to get to that final step because i hated that feeling.
TO BE CONTINUED...