2016 saw the rise of two new megastars, Peasounay and Lusch, as well as the continued ascension of Alexander and Bedschibaer.  Marco was doing his best to hang with this crop of new talent, but it wasn't easy.  Not only that, but the playerbase had been growing and improving on both Pokemon Perfect and Smogon, as the Global Championship, Supreme RBY OU Tournament, and RBY Cup had now become staples in the latter.  Meanwhile, Pokemon Perfect was developing its cup scene and World Championship, becoming even more heated than ever before.  The seasons were red hot too, with the 9th one, which took place in the summer of that year, being one of the most competitive periods of time in the organization's history.  This was the year when RBY had reached new, unfathomable heights, one could argue.  At least I do, as this was when Pokemon Perfect truly began to feel "big" to me, as intangible as that is.  Maybe it was the increased number of tournaments, maybe it was the new talent, or maybe it was the bond that we all shared, regardless how we felt about each other.  We felt that we were better than Smogon and had more to offer, while Smogon had to be politically correct when writing up those Power Rankings by only giving us a cursory glance, or, even worse, undermining us completely.  It was an interesting time to be a part of.

Our sentiments weren't universal, however, for the very owner of the site still openly pandered to Smogon and continued to abuse his authority at my expense, causing two of my most controversial blow ups, nearly resulting in me leaving forever.  Had I took my Poke Ball and walked home at the end of 2016 (which came frighteningly close to occurring), my magical 2017 would have never happened.  There would have been no garbage, no legendary tirades, and no getting unbanned from Smogon mere hours before the deadline passed.  But that's all a story for another day.

What I was doing at the time: The general consensus from my peers seems to be that I was much better in 2017 than I was in 2016, but even without going back to the replays I knew that wasn't entirely true.  As usual, I started off the year on a high albeit controversial note, surreptitiously entering the Supreme RBY Tournament on SmogonJr and defeating Alexander in the second round.  My vanquished opponent, possibly out of cowardice because he knew what would happen had he uttered my name, said he lost to "ggfan," which caused Lutra to restart the entire tournament.  In a move that ended up backfiring even worse than what transpired in the Global Championship, Alexander ended up winning the fake version--after losing to me before.  So, one or way another, I won yet another big RBY tournament and carried the trophy back to the mountains, where I ended up finishing in the top 4 in five out of eight Master Tournaments (five out of my last six) and was among the final four in the aforementioned season 9, where extortion and politics resulted in my elimination.  I also nearly made it into the semi finals of the World Championship, though I admit that luck of the draw benefited me huge in that one. 

What was apparent, though, was that I was not at the top.  By this point I was more of a veteran stepping stone that the main stars had to go through in order to prove themselves, based on my results.  I was still playing some good, if not great, Pokemon, but my arm was not raised as much I needed it to be.  However, I was fine with being in this role, as I was still good enough to put up numbers consistently and go deep in tournaments more often than not.  Nonetheless, I won't be delusional and argue that I was on the same level in regard to success as the heavy hitters that year.

On a side note, this was actually the year I heard about SPL.  I didn't know anything about it prior to 2016, and thought it was, quite frankly, a joke that they would claim to have the game's best players yet ostracize me for no reason, so I actually created an alternate account and signed up:

"In a tournament infamous for its shameful mediocrity and egregious corruption, it's high time that I finally give the socially inept computer-science geeks of the world a golden opportunity to rise from their sweaty, filthy computer chairs and cheer for a true hero who has more talent in his pinky finger than the rest of you putrid sycophants have in your entire cottage cheese, stretchmarked bodies. I, GGFan, have decided to join this tournament!

As my 15-year anniversary is coming, what better way to celebrate than by putting an end to our petty feud in which I've been humiliating you and exposing you for the deceitful reprobates you really are? While I've had no tolerance for your juvenile insouciance towards a beloved and respected icon of this industry such as myself, I admit that I, at times, was rather cruel. It was cruel of me to surreptitiously enter the 2015 Smoron World Championship and win it, win more old-gen tournaments and tournament matches than all of your so-called "best players in the world" combined, and be the eternal thorn on your ugly side. For the longest time you had your empire, but not its King. I've decided to take the throne. With all of this said:

Player Name: GGFan
Tiers Played: RBY OU / GSC OU / ADV OU
Timezone : GMT +9
Significant Time Missed?: No

I will undoubtedly lead my team of infantile losers and make them mature winners, just like me.

IMPORTANT NOTE: All teammates may also contact me at GGFanHappyLegend@gmail.com"

It's interesting how this post would be a harbinger of what was to come.  I admit I was extremely abrasive here, but I may as well have been humorous and facetious since my message would have been removed regardless what I said.  It's also funny that I would get banned for attempting to sign up, whereas next year my ban was lifted because they wanted me in.

 

The RBY pool: Crystal, Bedschibaer, Alexander, Lusch, Tobes, Golden Gyarados, Metalgross, Nails, Peasounay, The Chaser, We Three Kings, Tamahome, Veteran In Love, Bomber

 

Last year, the spotlight was shared between Smogon and Pokemon Perfect, but here we see that this was clearly the Pokemon Perfect show.  Lusch, Peasounay, Alexander, Golden Gyarados, and Bedschibaer were all recognized names, while Metalgross had participated in his fair share of tours in 2014 and 2015.  Even Crystal, who represented Smogon, played in Pokemon Perfect's first two seasons.  The other Smogon players--Tobes, The Chaser, and Nails--had little to no involvement with the game outside this tour, widening the already huge gap even more.  Had marco decided to play and I wasn't banned, this could have been a lineup for the ages, but we would have to wait one more year.

It's hilarious how politically correct Lutra had to be when writing these rankings, as he doesn't even refer to Pokemon Perfect by it is name, as seen in his description of Peasounay, for example: "He finished off 2016 with back-to-back 2nd places in the RBY community's seasons." Whether he was told not to say its name or did so purely out of loyalty to Smogon isn't certain, but what IS certain is that Smogon obviously looked down on Pokemon Perfect, and wanted to make it clear to the monkeys in the jungle that achievements there superseded any sort of success elsewhere, regardless how extraordinary said achievements were.  This explains why this year's Power Rankings might be the worst of all time, with Peasounay being #1 because he made a run in the RBY Cup despite never playing in SPL before, whereas Alexander was ranked #4 because "he has doubters, particularly after going 0-3 last SPL."  (Note that only two of those sets were RBY.)  Meanwhile, Bedschibaer was also ranked lower because he did not achieve enough on Smogon, even though he had arguably been playing the best Pokemon in his life at the time and was now an RBY starter for the third year in a row.  The political tension was palpable.

OK, enough with the politics--let's examine the pool.  This is easily the most stacked one yet, and one of the most stacked of all time.  Lusch and Peasounay were well on their way to greatness and were also two of the best players Pokemon Perfect had to offer.  In 2016, Alexander managed to win every tournament in a season as well as win a tournament of champions, the Indigo Cup, so he was coming off the most dominant year in the game and was another no-brainer.  Bernard, as he usually did, heated it up at the end of the year, accumulating the most points ever in a season and also nearly won the World Championship, putting him in elite status.  Golden Gyarados, however, did not stand out compared to his peers.  Nonetheless, he had four top 4 finishes in the Master Tournament scene in 2016, and was also coming off two consecutive final round appearances at the end of the year.  This in conjunction with his stellar record in ROAPL, which played a significant role in helping his team win it all, gave him both momentum and a political edge compared to others on Pokemon Perfect, as he had a strong presence on Smogon.  Overall, I think Goldie was a decent choice: he had half a decade of experience, he had played in SPL before, and his results had improved as a whole.

Now let's look at what Smogon was offering this year.  Crystal came back after a long four-year hiatus, providing some much-needed star power, as Isa and Tiba were nowhere to be seen.  After him, though, things get quite bleak: The Chaser was only known for playing RBY in SPL, Tobes played it a little more but still not much, and then Nails had no resume whatsoever at the time.  In the border between the two organizations stood Metalgross, who had played in Pokemon Perfect in the past but seldom played RBY at all in 2016, only appearing in a couple of tournaments on Smogon.  While he had a considerable amount of experience under his belt as a starter, he didn't really stand out here due to his long absence.  He was still obviously a cut above his Smogon comrades, though.

In regard to activity, everybody except Golden Gyarados and The Chaser played every week, who were both replaced by their subs due to not winning as much as their managers would have liked.  Clearly, as Pokemon Perfect continued to rise, so did the strength of the playerbase and the desire to win.  For the Pokemon Perfect batch, it was to showcase how great they could be, while the Smogon boys needed to prove they were still the only game in town that mattered.  The RBY pool had never been this competitive before, nor did it have such a compelling backstory.

The power rankings: As I alluded to earlier, the Power Rankings were written with a lucid political bent that was about as subtle as the race, age, and relationship status of Smogon user "niggabro8967." For example, to rank Metalgross #2 for the sole reason that he had a winning record in one of the two or three tours he played all year ("He also went 2-1 in this past year's WCoP.") while ranking Bernard lower because "he had doubters" (yet just as much experience playing in SPL, and a positive record in the past to boot) is beyond stupid.  Then there was Alexander, who was ranked #4 (despite having one of the most dominant years ever) because of his so-called "doubters."  Then there was--nevermind, forget it.  Here are the rankings.

Smogon's rankings:

1. Peasounay

2. Metalgross

3. Lusch

4. Alexander

5. Bedschibaer

6. The Chaser

7. Crystal

8. Tobes

9. Nails

10. Golden Gyarados

My rankings:

1. Bedschibaer: This actually wasn't an easy decision to make, but I feel momentum is intertwined with logical rankings, and Bernard was killing it over the last few months leading up into the tour.  He not only accumulated a prodigious 56 points in the last season of the year, but he also won a Master Tournament, made the finals of another, and had a great run in the World Championship, where he didn't drop a single set going into the finals and also beat Alexander along the way.  Both his ability and momentum were at their peak at the time, so Bernard is once again #1 in my eyes.

2. Alexander: Had an incredibly dominant year overall, winning four Master Tournaments in a row, the Indigo Cup (tournament of champions), and went deep in the World Championship. 

3. Lusch: Won the most competitive season in Pokemon Perfect history, went deep in both the RBY Cup and World Championship.

4. Peasounay: Nearly won the RBY Cup, won his first Master Tournament, came within a hair of winning season 9, was still getting results at the end of the year with yet another 2nd place finish in season 10.

5. Golden Gyarados: The most experienced player in the tour.  Helped carry his team to win ROAPL, had some solid performances in the Master Tournament scene, and his momentum was high going into the tour with two final-round appearances in a row.

6. Crystal: Was a great player a few years ago, but times had changed and so had the mechanics.  Still far more battle tested and proven than his lower-ranked peers, however.

7. Metalgross: This was a tough call.  I considered giving him the nudge over Crystal, but with no notable results outside his World Cup appearance (three sets), I can't do that.  Obviously more proven than the ones below him, though, and was going into his third year in a row as a starter.

8. The Chaser: SPL was his domain, and he went positive the year before.  Never played outside this one tour, however, so it's impossible to rank him any higher.

9. Tobes: Had experience in both SPL and World Cup.

10. Nails: Sorry, but he had no track record whatsoever to speak of at the time.

Where I would have ranked myself: Ranking myself this year was a cumbersome task because, while I did not win season 9, for example, I was also not defeated in a set.  I don't want to go into the details right now (as this episode of GGFan controversy should be saved for another day), but my elimination occurred from being disqualified by administration rather than by losing all of my precious Pokemon.  Regardless what happened, I was among the final four in that season and would have won my second-round games 99% of the time, which would have resulted in my fourth consecutive semi-final appearance.  After this season I managed to rebound from one of my worst losses ever (in another tournament) and found myself going somewhat deep in the World Championship as well as making it into the semi finals of the next two Master Tournaments, but controversy reared its hideous head once more, once more removing me from the tournament before I had a chance to finish my run.  Ultimately,  feel it would be erroneous to describe my 2016 as a bad year: despite frustrating bouts with administration that would have caused most to leave the organization, I bounced back and kept performing well. 

Moreover, when I analyze what my results were versus what they could have been, they were still more impressive than a considerable chunk of the pool, so I'd rank myself over Golden Gyarados, The Chaser, Crystal, Metalgross, Tobes, and Nails for sure, which leaves numbers 1-4.  Although I beat Lusch this year, I did not end it on a positive note, while he also advanced farther than me in the World Championship, so I'll give him the edge.  Peasounay is another player that I defeated in 2016, and, honestly, this one was a lot to harder to decide because of how neck-and-neck we were in regard to results.  Nonetheless, he had been playing really well going into the tour and was in a good place mentally, whereas I was not happy at all due to what transpired in that last Master Tournament, so I'll rank him over me as well.  Both Alexander and Bedschibaer are no-brainers that don't need to be discussed, as they were on the top of their game at the time and knocked me out of the World Championship.  Overall, I'd say #5 would have been a fair ranking for me.  I was clearly able to beat my peers, but their results and momentum were simply more impressive.

Well, I certainly didn't expect this to be so long--it makes the upcoming one feel even more daunting.

 

Publication date: 4/13/2020

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