Interview with Pokémon eSports champion Bennett Piercy
In just a few short days Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon will be here. To help shed insight into what to expect from these new games, I sat down with Pokémon National Champion, Bennett Piercy. Read on to learn more about these exciting new Pokémon games!
Paul Hunter: Pleasure to speak with you, Bennett. Tell me a bit about yourself, and how did you get into the competitive Pokémon scene?
Bennett Piercy: I’m 17 years old, live in Calgary, and I play Pokémon competitively. Most notably in 2015 I won the US Nationals and that’s where most of my involvement comes from. I’m also just a regular huge fan of Pokémon.
BP: I had really high expectations for them and I was not let down at all. I think they were really great editions. The new games, Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon, are going to be ramped versions of them. They’re going to be a continuation of the story with brand new features.
PH: Each new Pokémon game must change up the competitive scene. You’ve got more Pokémon to consider in your teams, new moves, and new mechanics. How did Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon affect the eSports community?
BP: I think the biggest change that came with the new games was the addition of terrain. Especially the Tapu Pokémon that have the ability to activate terrains in the beginning. There are four different terrains and they have different passive effects each turn. Some will beef up specific Pokémon types, while others can block Priority attacks, as examples.
PH: Let’s look ahead to the new Pokémon games, Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. What suggestions do you have for fans who are deciding which version to get? Or should they get both?
BP: The main difference between the two is there are some Pokémon exclusive to Ultra Sun and some exclusive to Ultra Moon. So what you can do is go online and see which are in each game, and then decide which you want to catch. But honestly, I think there’s so many differences between the games it’s probably a good idea to get both. Or, if you play one and really enjoy it, then get the other one as you’ll enjoy it as well.
PH: Yeah, I know the new Ultra Recon Squad will have two members appear in one game, and two different members appear in the other game.
BP: Exactly why I like to get both versions. You’ll be able to see the story from new characters’ perspectives and new angles. Plus after you’ve finished one you’ll really appreciate the uniqueness and differences between both versions.
PH: Do you have a sense as to whether the Ultra Recon Squad are friendly, or are they villains?
BP: I don’t know a whole bunch about them to be honest, but they seem connected to the Ultra Beasts. Maybe there’s going to be a storyline about them and the Ultra Wormholes, we’ll have to see. Nintendo has shown enough just to get us excited about it.
PH: Necrozma seems to be a major focus in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. What you can tell us about this Pokémon?
BP: Necrozma was catchable in the previous game. It’s a psychic type and there’s a lot of mystery surrounding him. I’m not really sure what role he’s going to play but it seems like he’s going to be the centerpiece. It also seems like there’s going to be new fusion forms with Solgaleo and Lunala, which seems really cool. The designs look very interesting.
PH: Wormholes appear to play a huge role in the new games. Some of these Wormholes will take you to the homeworld of Ultra Beasts, this sounds like a really cool feature. How big of a deal is this?
BP: So in the story Ultra Beasts are Pokémon that come from another dimension. You can see a little bit of them in Pokémon Sun and Moon. In the new games you’re going to see a whole bunch of different environments of where they come from. You get to see Ultra Beasts on their home turf.
PH: There’s going to be some new Ultra Beasts introduced as well. What can you tell me about them?
BP: I’m super excited for them and think the new ones look really cool. There’s UB Adhesive, UB Assembly, and UB Burst already announced. For me in particular, UB Burst is really cool looking, and its special move is so interesting. It tricks Pokémon into letting their guard down then it blows its own head up.
PH: Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon introducing a new Pokémon you can ride.
BP: Yes, they are. In previous Pokémon games you had HM (Hidden Machine) moves that you could use outside of battle. But then in Pokémon Sun and Moon they replaced that with ride Pokémon. It was a really welcome change for the fans. Instead of teaching your Pokémon certain moves you just call on a Pokémon to ride it. Not only is it more convenient but it’s more fun to do. So now in Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon they’re introducing Mantine rides, which lets you surf between the islands. It’s a great addition, and as you know, Pokémon Sun and Moon takes place on a group of islands.
PH: In Pokémon Sun and Moon we were introduced to Team Skull, who you’d fight. In the new games we’re getting a second group called Team Rainbow Rocket. What can you tell me about them?
BP: This might be the single biggest thing I’m excited about in the new games. In all the other games there’s an evil team and they always have really well-written main villains. In this game they’re going to bring back the older villains and put them all together. It’s going to be really interesting to see all these adversaries come back, I can’t wait.
PH: What are your thoughts on the new Battle Agency facility? It looks like you’ll be able to rent Pokémon in there.
BP: Yeah so before we had QR teams, which lets other players upload Pokémon you can then battle. Now it seems you fight NPCs using rental Pokémon to go to battle with. It’s a really neat idea because if you don’t know what Pokémon you want to catch, you can rent Pokémon to see what you like. There’s no better to figure out which Pokémon you like than actually using them.
PH: In video games I’m a huge fan of collecting, I guess it’s just my thing. Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon are giving us new collectable Totem Stickers. What can you tell me about them?
BP: So in Pokémon Sun and Moon they introduced Totem Pokémon. They’re basically really big and really strong versions of regular Pokémon. It seems like in these new games if you collect enough Totem Stickers then you might be able to get Totem Pokémon as a reward. I know a lot of Pokémon players love Totem Pokémon so it’s a pretty big deal.
PH: From an eSports perspective, how do you anticipate Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon will impact the scene?
BP: It seems like the Pokémon VGC (Video Game Championships) is going to be ramped up this year. Every year it gets bigger and bigger with more people wanting to compete. Recently they introduced International Championships, instead of just National Championships. With each new game more players want to compete in them so it’s a really exciting time.
PH: How the balance playing Pokémon professionally and managing your school workload?
BP: Now that I’m in Grade 12 I have a little bit more work to do. At the same time with the launch of the new games there’s a lot to be excited about. It’s just about finding the balance between getting your schoolwork done and having time to play.
PH: Well the good thing about Nintendo consoles is they’re portable, so you can find time to play during commutes and breaks.
BP: Yeah, one of my favourite childhood memories was taking the bus to school every day and I’d always have my Pokémon game with me. I was always playing the whole way there and back (laughs).
PH: Aside from the main Pokémon games, how else can gamers get involved in the Pokémon community?
BP: Global Link is a great resource if you want to get more involved. They are really good at sharing their data from online competitions. You can see which Pokémon are the most popular, and of those Pokémon what percentage of moves they have. 70% of this Pokémon have this move, that sort of thing. Also what items they have, what abilities they have. It’s so useful if you’re a new player.
PH: Last question, in just a few words how would you describe your reaction to the news that Pokémon is coming to Nintendo Switch.
BP: It would have to be “exciting.” It’s really nice to see how Pokémon is moving forward and diversifying, it’s going to be cool.
PH: Well, thanks a lot for your time Bennett. I’m really looking forward to the new Pokémon games and best of luck in the upcoming competitions.