Interview with Captain L

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Please introduce yourself! What is your name, and how long have you been playing competitively?

My name is Landon Trybuch, I’ve been playing Smash competitively since 2010.

Which character do you currently use, and what is it about this character that you like?

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I play Pikachu exclusively in Smash 4, but that’s mostly because I played him in Brawl. Although I’ve never had any other tournament viable characters in Smash 4, that wasn’t the case in Brawl. In 2009, I started trying to learn the game seriously by playing a ton of Wifi. My original main was actually Pokemon trainer, because I thought the switching mechanic was really cool. My squirtle was pretty decent, but like a lot of Pokemon trainer players back in the day, I felt severely handicapped by the other two. So I tried a character who I hoped would be better: Captain Falcon.

Now anyone who knows Falcon in brawl knows that he’s a trash tier character, but I was determined to be an amazing Wifi Falcon. That didn’t really pan out unfortunately, as the character’s weaknesses became really apparent very quickly. I also had a point in time where I played Luigi, and he was doing pretty well. I don’t really remember why but eventually I decided to try a character that tier lists ranked upper-mid (I specifically remember not wanting to choose a top tier). Pikachu was the obvious choice because I really love Pokemon, and when I read a guide and learned what Quick Attack Cancelling was, I immediately fell in love with Pikachu as a fighter in smash.

When moving to Smash 4, I originally thought that Pikachu wasn’t very good since they took out quick attack cancelling. I was playing a lot of Shulk in the early 3DS days, but I very quickly realized my Pikachu was still way better (probably due to 5 years of brawl/PM experience on him). At every tournament I went to, I used Pikachu exclusively for my serious matches, because like I said, in this game I’ve never had another tournament viable character.

Now, to answer the original question, I like Pikachu because he’s safe. That’s not the reason a lot of Pikachu mains out there like him, but it’s what I like about him. He can throw out moves that are very difficult to punish, get out of any bad situation using Quick Attack, and punish laggy moves from anywhere due to his incredible speed and burst mobility from Quick Attack. I think my favourite move that Pikachu has is down tilt, and every other character I play I try to use more down tilts than I should just because I’m used to Pikachu’s being so incredible. It comes out on frame 7 but ends on frame 19, so you can use 3 of them per second! It honestly has less cooldown than his jab, which keeps you in place until frame 22.

tl;dr I like Pikachu because of character loyalty from brawl and super-fast moves

If you have to name a few characters that you dislike fighting, who would they be?

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Pre-patch Luigi was a pain, but now that he’s gone, it’s a difficult question. Sheik gives every character a hard time, and Pikachu is no exception. For me specifically, my playstyle largely revolves around playing safer than the opponent, but that’s not really an option against Sheik. At the same time, I think a trait I dislike in a character is those that have huge and effective hitboxes. In that sense, fighting against Sheik is really not so bad. The 50/50 from her d-throw is really annoying though, since I don’t like the idea of having to flip a coin to survive whenever I get grabbed at 90.

Mini Sheik-rant aside, I mentioned that I don’t like fighting characters with huge and effective hitboxes. This really makes me dislike fighting Rosalina, because it just feels like anywhere I try to go some random Luma hitbox will send me flying. I also dislike fighting a lot of the heavyweight characters in the game (DK/Bowser/Dedede/Charizard/ROB) but I won’t deny that all of those are good matchups for Pikachu. Things like Mario up-smash are also annoying to deal with, but I think I’ve gotten a better grip on that matchup since I play it quite frequently.

How do you feel about the Smash scene here in Vancouver?

On a national level, we’re a little weak. There’s no denying that, but also we don’t have the 90 man weeklies that areas like SoCal has. In terms of the Pacific Northwest, I think that our top 10 is probably better than the top 10s of all of our neighboring regions, though I know Alberta would contest me on that claim. That was not true at all in the Brawl days, where BC was weaker than AB, WA, and debatably Oregon too.

I really like that our scene is starting to travel more, because I think that’s the best way for our players to improve as a whole. Wifi is not the greatest practice, and playing the same people over and over gets diminishing returns after a while. Going out of province and fighting good players is accelerating our scene’s overall skill growth. As for the size of the scene, I think if absolutely everyone showed up to a BC tourney, we could probably hit 70 or 80 man tournament. That’s pretty good, much better than Brawl ever had in BC. Could it still grow more? Absolutely. But I think one of the biggest impact that the top players can have on growing a scene is getting recognized nationally so that the local stream monsters are excited to actually learn the game and come to a Vancouver local. So that’s what I’m trying to do, give a reason for all of the Vancouverites who sit at home and watch Smash 4 on twitch a reason to come out to a VSB once in a while.

If you have to name a few other notable players in the area, who would they be?

Big D, Focus, Firefly, Len, Kantrip, Mata, Uber, Bundtcake, and Agias are the 9 other players besides me who currently make up our top 10. Of them, I would say that it’s mostly Big D, Focus, Firefly, and myself who are known in the surrounding region, and that’s mainly because we’ve been travelling out of province for the last couple years. Every person I mentioned above is very skilled, and I’m excited to see them travel more and make names for themselves on more than just a local level.

Please share your experience at Vancouver Battle Royale. What are your thoughts on the new venue and the way the tournament ran?

The venue was incredible, the stream setup was great, and the free swag was a great surprise (I’ll admit I didn’t really read the tournament description, so when I got there and found a free candy table… it was like Christmas in November!) The only thing that I was sad about was that free parking was incredibly difficult to find, and I had to settle for using a parking meter (and parking for 8 hours even though the limit was 3 hours, oops.) Of course, I’m in a minority as a driver, so if that’s the only tradeoff for such a nice venue, then I’m definitely okay with it.

Having enough setups allowed the tournament to run smoothly, and although doubles took a little bit longer than it should’ve due to entry overlap, the staff and volunteers did everything they could to ensure that singles ended at a reasonable time, and I’m very thankful for that. I always have to wake up really early on Sundays so it’s nice when Saturday tournaments can end at 9 instead of 2 am.

You defeated your demon Big D to win this tournament. How do you feel about this, and what are some adjustments you made to achieve the win?

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Well, I don’t really want to give away my secrets since there’s another big tournament with big prizes a little over a week away. There was certainly a change that I made, but I’m going to keep it to myself until it stops working. Though I’m sure Big D has already analyzed his loss and is going to come at me with a new mindset next time we meet. As far as my thoughts on winning go, I think it was really only a matter of time. Ever since our game 5 last hit set at the VSB finals, I felt every set we played was winnable for me – that wasn’t always the case. I’m just glad that I won when it mattered, and I hope I can turn this isolated tournament into a whole streak of tourney wins. The “L” isn’t gonna stand for Loser anymore!

There’s an inside joke about Landon is Esam’s biggest fan, with Esam being the best Pikachu. What are your thoughts on that?

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Top players are not celebrities to me, I think that it’s important to have that mindset if you want to compete with them. Now that being said, I’ve only met Esam twice in person, but our interactions were very brief and I would hardly say I know him. So to be clear, I am not a fan of Esam as a player because to me he’s an opponent that I’m going to have to beat if I want to become the best Pikachu (which is just one step closer to best player). BUT, I can’t make a judgement call on the person Eric, because I don’t know him yet.

Also, Big D is aware of the fact that I make a strict point of not being a fan of top players, so he decided to tell Esam that I’m his “biggest fan” at EVO this year. I was a little bit chapped because I felt like it invalidated me as a player and reduced me to just a fan, but I’m over it now.

If you were to give advice to someone who wants to get competitive in Smash, what would you tell him / her?

Don’t touch the blastzone.

But in all seriousness, I think that a lot of new players have an artificial wall in their head where they think “All attacks must be used offensively” and “Shield/roll/spotdodge/airdodge must be used defensively.” I think this is the biggest trap for new players, because it becomes very obvious what they’re trying to do. If they start attacking you, it’s clear that they’ve put themselves in some kind of “attack mode” where they just want to hit you. Alternatively, when you start pressuring them, their only options seem to be shielding or dodging. It’s really important to know that a lot of your character’s attacks create space in front of you and SHOULD be used in a defensive/cautionary manner. At the same time, shields and spotdodges can be used very offensively, and I don’t even just mean by running in and shielding. Trying to catch a landing by shielding under your opponent to read their aerial is what I would consider offense, since you’re trapping your opponent, and against a lot of characters, you virtually guarantee that you’ll be able to get a punish when they hit the ground. There’s a lot of examples of things like that, but I also want to pass on a piece of advice that Nerd (a Washington brawl veteran) told me a couple years back. He 2-0’d me in tournament and basically said afterwards “Stop spotdodging defensively, spotdodge is an offensive option. If you commit to it, you’d better be ready to hit them right afterwards.” That stuck with me, and I think it’s even helped to shape some of my decision making process today.

I know that you were probably expecting the whole “Watch good players and analyze WHY they’re using moves” spiel, or “Go to smashfests and tournaments” but you can find that anywhere so I figured I’d try to help break people out of their new-player mindsets.

 

If you want to contact Captain L check out his facebook page and follow him on @captainlpika

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