SPL III took place during the apex of the dark ages, that period of time in competitive RBY's history when the chromatic arts were only contested sporadically, such as in this very event.  Indeed, gen one had gone from number one to one tournament a year, as the only true RBY event that took place in 2012 was the second-year anniversary tournament on RBY2k10, which took five months to finish and marked the death of the organization dedicated to competitive RBY, leaving us with Smogon, which included the tier in SPL.  It's only natural, therefore, that this year's pool would reflect RBY's troubled times and be even more underwhelming than the previous two.  Or, maybe I'm being too pessimistic.  Maybe the old adage in show business applies here: "Acts one and two don't matter--it's only act three that counts."  I honestly had no idea what the pool looked like as I was writing this paragraph.

What I was doing at the time: As we were in the dark ages, there wasn't a whole lot I could do.  RBY2k10 flopped as expected and I had no interest in playing in tournaments on Smogon, not even surreptitiously for amusement.  I did, however, announce a comeback after a long respite that began in July 2011 and compiled an overall 21-3 record in the Netbattle Casino server against a considerable chunk of the playerbase, but my real return wouldn't truly start until next year.

The RBY pool: Carl, Austinf, commi$$ioner, Royal Flush, Crystal, Tiba, SkyNet, TV-Rocka, Pocket, evan, The Shark, Huy, zarator, Ditto, theamericandream38, Nachos, Hantsuki, Jorgen, Mekkah, Agammemnon, twash, Steven Snype, M Dragon

In terms of stability, this was easily the worst SPL yet. A record-high 23 people played RBY, and, although I admittedly did not examine the pairings thoroughly enough, even a cursory glance revealed that way too many of the mains were subbed out way too often.  Speaking of which, how did the mains stack up back then, and how do they compare to the playerbase now?  This year featured Royal Flush, Tiba, Crystal, The Shark, Porengan, Pocket, evan, Austinf, Carl as the specialists.  However, activity was shaky here, so I may be giving too much credit in certain players’ cases, but I digress. I have no idea who Royal Flush, evan, Austinf, and Carl are (I only know Carl now because of the research I conducted on the first two SPLs, so that doesn’t really count).  I assume The Shark was The Chaser, who was still in the process of trying to build a resume as the reliable RBYer. This event marked the debut of Tiba, who is one of the most polarizing figures in the history of the game. Glorified by some on Smogon as the messiah for the numbers he put up in tours such as this (though this one wasn’t much to write home about) and scrutinized by the ones who put up big numbers all year round, he is nonetheless somebody who actually put in the time and effort to learn about the tier, so I have to give credit here and acknowledge him as somebody who stands out as a glint of gold in a turd field.  Another shiner was Crystal, who made a big name for himself on RBY2k10 and was attempting to keep his momentum going here. I have history with both Tiba and Crystal: I beat the former during my comeback run this year, which inspired him to post a video of beating me on the ladder a year later, heating up what was a rivalry that was never meant to be. Meanwhile, I had great tournament bouts against Crystal on both RBY2k10 and Pokemon Perfect, and also had memorable exhibition games in 2011 and 2012. Even though I disliked Crystal as a person, I have to acknowledge his prowess in the tier, which means that, for the first time in SPL’s history, one of the actual best players in the game was a part of the event.  That wasn’t enough to make this a significant event, though, as the rest of the pool was severely lacking. In addition to never having heard of roughly half the playing field, a green Chaser, a Tiba who was still trying to figure the game out, we have Porengan coming back for an encore, who, as I mentioned before, was not an RBY main and only played it for this tour. Finally, there’s Pocket, a senior citizen who was so old that he was actually one of my victims in the 2005 Smogon Tour. Here he is, all grown up with nothing to show for it other than getting a chance to play RBY because the options were so limited.

 

Overall, I would say that, while SPL III is probably the biggest mess yet, Crystal’s inclusion made it the most significant in my eyes, as it was the first time somebody got in for establishing a reputation for himself outside Smogon.  

 

Where I would have ranked myself: I was playing some damn good Pokemon in 2012, even if it was a small sample size of 24 games (still more games than the part timers).  Furthermore, I had a winning record against Crystal, who would have been the clear #1 had there been Player Rankings.  Thus, I'd have to put myself on top for the third year in a row.  Let's see if the competition continues to heat up in SPL IV.  

Publication date: 3/23/2020

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