No, that's not a typo: for some reason, RBY was omitted from SPL V despite the tier flourishing on the ladder and on Pokemon Perfect, which had tremendously developed its tournament scene in 2014 and established itself as the most competitive old gen. None of them had anything on RBY at this time--not even BW, which wasn't far removed from its time as the current gen. Why RBY was not a part of the event can be attributed to Smogon's idiotic and insular staff having no concept of the outside world as usual, but that's a discussion for another day. Today, we look back at the first SPL that took place during the height of RBY's new golden age. My curiosity has been piqued, I must admit, for I want to see just how drastically the field has transformed from a flock of clueless randoms to some of the highest achieving players in the tier.
What I was doing at the time: I had been active on Pokemon Perfect for almost two years now. After dominating in 2013, I fought valiantly to keep my throne, remaining the one person who the new lion, marcoasd, couldn't beat. After besting him in the RBY2K10 Revival Tournament and Master Tournament #9 I was confident I could stay on top, but the determined marco finally beat me in August of 2014, winning our final-round encounters in both Master Tournament #11 and #12, forcing me to recognize that not every year can be yours. Actually, 2014 was a lot of fun for me and holds a special place in my heart, given my status as one of the tier's all-time greats at this point. I was grateful to be in this kind of position to begin with, as frustrating as those two losses were initially. It was a memorable experience to play two consecutive final rounds in the tier's epicenter in what was seen as a collision between the game's two best players.
At the beginning of 2015, around the same that SPL started, I surreptitiously entered the first Global Championship and won it, resulting in one of the most controversial tournaments in Smogon's toxic history. Since the site's version of the anti Christ obviously could not win anything--especially an event of this magnitude--the tournament was essentially restarted, with Tiba winning the fake version. This was an eventful time for me, that's for sure.
The RBY pool: Hantsuki, Lutra, Raish, Isa, marcoasd, The_Chaser, The_Joker, gene, Metalgross, Floppy, Raichy, Bedschibaer, KratosMana, During Summer, e7e, Tiba, Golden Gyarados, royal flush, Soulgazer
The first thing that needs to be addressed is the size of the pool. 19 people ended up playing RBY this year, which is the smallest it's been yet. To make matters better, the overwhelming majority of these 19 were RBY mains; only KratosMana, gene, royal flush, Raichy, and Soulgazer weren't. I have no idea who the first two are, sorry. I only know royal flush because he played RBY in SPL before, but that's not saying much. I believe Soulgazer participated in a couple of tournaments on SmogonJr under the alias "little nigga," which is a testament to the legitimacy of that organization. As for Raichy, I actually played him in a tournament on Pokemon Perfect, so I knew he had at least a little relevant experience.
The bench consisted of Raichy, Soulgazer, KratosMana, Golden Gyarados, e7e, Bedschibaer, Tiba, and During Summer, which is honestly fantastic considering what I saw in the previous four installments. Smogon needed a franchise star to represent RBY in the sidelines, so it may as well have been Tiba, who performed very well in SPL in the past and would go on to win the Fake Championship by the time this one was over. e7e was a well-known player on the ladder and also had experience in the Master Tournament scene in Pokemon Perfect. As I said before, Raichy had competed in Pokemon Perfect in the past (even if it was only one or two tours), so you knew he wasn't totally clueless. Golden Gyarados, During Summer, and Bedschibear were all recognized prospects on Pokemon Perfect: Goldie won the first World Championship, while both Bedschibaer and During Summer were coming off final-round appearances in the Master Tournament scene. This was a loaded bench by Smogon's standards.
Now let's look at who the starters were (or who were supposed to be, at least). This year we have marcoasd, Isa, The_Joker, Raish, Lutra, Floppy, gene, Hantsuki, Metalgross, and The_Chaser. Overall, I have to admit that this was a decent lineup, and one clearly head and shoulders above anything we had ever seen before. In 2014, marco had one of the most dominant years in the history of the game--in the game, not just in RBY. He won a record setting seven Master Tournaments, compiling an overall unfathomable 77% win percentage along the way (read the first episode of "Number Wars" to learn more: https://www.theggfanexperience.com/numberwarsepisode1). He was the best player in the game at the time and needed to be here. Alongside him was Isa, who filled the role of "Smogon RBY star" very well with a few respectable performances in the past going for him. I don't think he was ever one of the all-time greats like certain Smogon chickenmonkeys claim he is--mostly because the brunt of his numbers resemble a sample size and come from Smogon when RBY was at its worst there--but he obviously knew what he was doing and brought something that was arguably just as important to the table: star power. The same can be said about Floppy, who was now somebody with a plethora of experience on his side, having played in every SPL (or most of them) and establishing himself as a franchise talent.
Before he used Pokemon Perfect as his springboard into prominence on Smogon, killing it in the process, Lutra was admittedly a great player for about a year or so. After a highly productive 2013 (easily the best year he ever had), Lutra would retire from full-time play in 2014, only playing sporadically to this day. On that note, if this took place in 2014 I'd have to rank him among the best, but he had already been inactive for a long time by this point. Still, I can't deny that he was a recognized RBY main, which is the most important thing in this event. The Joker was a great prospect on Pokemon Perfect; he recently won a Master Tournament and, as somebody who played him several times in 2014 would know, clearly exhibited tremendous potential. As for Raish, while he lacked achievements outside reaching #1 on the ladder, he was nonetheless a respectable player--and a real RBY main for a change. This was the first year Metalgross was an RBY starter, but he played in a few Master Tournaments in 2014 and even had a great encounter against none other than yours truly in the fourth round of the Global Championship, so it was already safe to say he was also a genuine RBY main. Hantsuki played in tournaments all over the place but had trouble achieving notable results; however, she was at least somebody who clearly knew how to play the game, which is a lot more than I could say about the majority of the starters from the first four SPLs. That brings us to gene and The Chaser: I have no idea who the former was, as I said before, while the latter was on his quest to join the likes of Isa, Tiba, and Floppy as a "Smogon superstar." There has to be somebody like that in every SPL, as this is Smogon, after all. Overall, this was easily the most stacked SPL yet. I wouldn't say it was an optimal lineup, as a couple of deserving talents were left out, but this was not just one step in the right direction--it was a one-hour walk. If I were able to optimize it, I'd replace The Chaser with Mister Tim, who had a great rookie year and was continuing to put up numbers in 2015. I'd put myself in over gene, as I was the recognized #2 talent on Pokemon Perfect. Maybe I'd replace Floppy, but having two Smogon RBY players is alright and Floppy was probably the best choice. If I did, however, I'd consider ALLALA.
The power rankings: This was the first SPL to feature power rankings, so I thought it would be prudent to peruse them, then rank them myself.
6. The Chaser
8. husk (ended up not playing)
9. The Joker
2. The Joker (very solid player who recently won a Master Tournament and was one of only three people to take a set off marco in 2014)
3. Isa (had a lot of experience going for him, was successful in SPL in the past but did not play RBY where it was played the most)
4. Floppy (the same can be said for him, but Isa knew the tier better)
5. Metalgross (had next to no results at this time, but had been playing regularly in the most competitive territory and also had a big run in the Global Championship)
6. Lutra (was far removed from his dominant year, but experience always kicks in during the heat of battle. I thought of ranking him a little higher, but I feel that that Metalgross had more momentum going in, given that he was a full-time player)
7. Raish (great ladder player, but a dearth of achievements outside that and was not active in the tournament scene. Still knew the tier well)
8. Hantsuki (played RBY quite a bit, but that's it)
9. The Chaser (had prior experience in SPL, but did not seem to play outside this one tour)
10. gene/husk (sorry, no idea who either of them are)
Where I would have ranked myself: 2014 was marco's year. Regardless how opinionated I am, I nonetheless always express myself with unvarnished candor, and it would be foolish to argue that I was #1. Besdies marco, however, I feel that I was among the very best, as I nearly made it into the finals of four Master Tournaments in a row, completing what was overall a very consistent year. My momentum did not enervate come SPL season; it would be me taking home the first Global Championship trophy, and I continued to go deep in Master Tournaments. Also, I actually played a decent chunk of the pool, putting up a notable win/loss record against them. If I were in this SPL, I'd be #2.
Publication date: 4/3/2020