Interview: Chatting With 2015 US National Pokémon Champion Bennett Piercy!

Nintendo Canada invited us to interview Bennett Piercy, a Pokémon National Champion and all-around expert on the series. Theo, our Nintendo specialist who lives and breathes anything from Nintendo had the chance to speak with Bennett.

Theo: Tell us about your first ever experience with Pokémon games, how old were you, what was your first Pokémon game and how did you get involved with Pokémon?

Bennett: I was around eight years old when I got my first game. On the bus to school, there was a kid who had a Pokémon game, I think Pokémon Diamond, and I thought watched it, thinking it was fantastic. I asked my parents for the game and Nintendo DS for Christmas and I was absolutely in love with it from there and have basically played the games nonstop from there.

Theo: What is it about Pokémon that makes it so special and unique?

Bennett: I think partly it’s just how interesting the Pokémon are, there are so many of them and they are so well designed, and there is so much variety. There is really something for everyone in it.

Theo: There was a big announcement at E3 this year, with Pokémon coming to the Switch in the future. How do you feel about it, and what additions do you want to see be made for this version on the Switch?

Bennett: I’m not sure for specific changes that are coming, but I’m sure that whatever they decide to go with will work as they’ve had a lot of hits in a row. I’m really excited that it’s coming to the Switch assuming that this game will be around for a really long time and will take Pokémon into the future.

Theo: A couple of years ago we had that big Pokémon Go craze, and and I’m wondering what features you’d like to see in the future, and how what was it like at your school or neighborhood when the game was first released?

Bennett: I live right the street from the University of Calgary, and I saw more university students playing Pokémon Go than the kids in my high school. It was pretty funny, actually and there was a lot of Pokéstops around there. It was pretty cool but I’m more into the main series of games, and there are elements of Pokémon Go that are deep but the main series have more to offer overall and are more complete.

Theo: With Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon coming out on November 17, what are you most excited about with the new games, even though details aren’t available at the moment?

Bennett: I think the number one thing I’m most excited about is Team Rainbow Rocket! It’s crazy! There have been so many good villains in the Pokémon games and it seems like they are taking it all and making a super team out of them. It’s pretty exciting!

Theo: Out of all the Alola forms, which is your favorite and why? What about your least favorite and why?

Bennett: My favorite is Sandslash because it seems like such a natural evolution. My least favorite, that’s hard, they didn’t make too many forms and I think that’s why they focused on getting them all right. I don’t think I have a least favorite.

Theo: You won the US National Championship in 2015, could you tell me about that experience when you won and what was the overall experience like?

Bennett: It was surreal. At that point, I had only gone to one event in the US at that point, it was the Seattle Regional and I did pretty well there but I was still a relatively unknown player, so it was neat to come in and make it big on the big stage.

Theo: After being the Champion, did you feel any pressure afterward, playing in future championships and against friends?

Bennett: The only tournament I felt that way was World that same year and maybe after, and I didn’t too well at that tournament. After that, I changed my outlook a bit and now I think it’s more about having fun overall, it’s not fun if you’re not enjoying it and stressing out about it and just practicing. It’s a really rewarding experience playing at the highest level!

Theo: In terms of your Pokémon team, I’m curious to know what made you choose that team and how many Pokémon have been rotated to meet current trends?

Bennett: Every year they switch the format (at tournaments) so I have to have new teams coming and going, but my favorite team I use was the team I used at the 2015 US National Championship. That team was changed a lot in development, it started by being ridiculous and then narrowed down to being sort-of ridiculous and it ended up working. That’s the thing I like about Pokémon, there are so many options how you can construct your team and you can follow a common archetype and that’s a great way to get into it. Once you know what you’re doing, it can be a good idea to try and do something a little less common and try to make your own unique strategy. It’s cool, there are so many ways to do it.

Theo: For new players and those who want to get involved more, which Pokémon would you say is a must for any team?

Bennett: This year for the 2017 season, I think the number one must use Pokémon is probably Arcanine, which is neat because it’s been around since the very beginning but this is the first year its really been in the spotlight. It’s got good typing, a lot of good moves, and a great ability in Intimidate, which lowers both your opponents Attack stats.

Theo: For newcomers, what tips and tricks would you give them to become the ultimate Pokémon Champion?

Bennett: The best advice I could offer is to practice. It takes a lot of practice to get up there, and to have fun with your friends – it makes a big difference if you’re playing with other people.

Theo Talking about Pokémon tournaments, what’s the next one you’ll be attending?

Bennett: I’m not sure at the moment. There are local events in Calgary about once or twice a month so I go to those, I guess the next will be one of those. Bigger events, I’m not sure but I recently went to the Vancouver Regional about a month ago. I’m looking to get back into it.

Theo: Where do you see yourself in the next few years and does that include continuing with playing Pokémon or do you see yourself playing other games?

Bennett: I really hope to continue playing Pokémon, it’s a good game. I play other games, a lot of Nintendo games in particular, but I think Pokémon is the game for me.

Theo: I have some rapid fire questions for you, so feel free to throw out the answers! What’s your favorite Pokémon game?

Bennett: Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon

Theo: What’s your favorite non-RPG Pokémon game?

Bennett: Pokémon Snap!

Theo: Favorite Pokémon?

Bennett: Nidoqueen, from my National team.

Theo: If you could be any Pokémon who would it be?

Bennett: Alakazam

Theo: What game is inside your Nintendo 3DS right now?

Bennett: Right now its Tamagotchi Life, another game I’m getting into

Theo: Do you own a Nintendo Switch?

Bennett: I don’t yet but I’m looking to get one. I’m really excited about it.

Theo: In terms of the Switch, what games are you looking forward to playing when you get one?

Bennett: I’m dying to play Super Mario Odyssey, it looks incredible – I have friends who played it and they said really amazing things about it.

Theo: Zelda games or Mario games, which do you like better?

Bennett: Mario – it’s because I haven’t played enough Zelda games, I’m sure they are amazing as well!

Theo: Who was your starter in Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon?

Bennett: I think it was Popplio.

Theo: Out of the original starters, Charmander, Squirtle, or Bulbasaur?

Bennett: Bulbasaur for sure – I am huge Bulbasaur fan.

Theo: Snapchat or Instagram?

Bennett: Snapchat

Theo: Last movie you watched and the last TV show you watched?

Bennett: The last movie I watched was 2001: A Space Odyssey and American Dad.

Theo: Chocolate ice cream or Vanilla ice cream?

Bennett: Vanilla

Theo: Do you like fidget spinners?

Bennett: I’m indifferent to them

Theo: Poutine or Beaver Tails?

Bennett: Poutine – I’m a crazy big poutine fan!

Theo: If you have a Pokémon as a pet, which would it be?

Bennett: Probably Groudon so I can make it sunny whenever I wanted.