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Cloudhead Chat: An Interview With Rideae!

Cloudhead - October 11, 2017

Everybody loves Pokémon, and the Smash community is no exception. We were thrilled to see Abadango's Mewtwo win Pound 2016 back when we all thought he was still mid-tier. We cheered our lungs out when Tsu-'s Lucario took ZeRo to the brink at Frostbite 2017. We even had an entire saga all about Greninja, and we spam OSfrog in chat every time we see one on stream.

So what better choice to kick off my Cloudhead Chat interview series than this guy? He can play Pikachu with the best of them, as he's shown by defeating three of the top 15 PGR, including Nairo during his dominant Super Smash Con performance. While Rideae brings the thunder down in Florida and across the nation, I'll be interviewing him today for SSBWorld!


Hi Rideae! Thank you for doing this interview with us!

Hey! No problem man, glad to be here.

So it's been a pretty good few months for you in terms of Smash. 25th place at CEO 2017 and 17th place at Super Smash Con stack up really nicely. How have you been doing the past while, in terms of Smash and in terms of everything else?

Thanks! They've been my best placings so I feel accomplished when looking back at them. I've been doing especially well in terms of Smash, with 2017 being my most successful year so far with the placements and wins, it feels like the hard work is starting to pay off. My only gripe is being unable to travel primarily due to lack of a sponsor/team/money. In terms of everyday life I've been alright, school has me stressed out as it does everyone. But other than that I can't really complain.

I think we all feel you on the school part, but that's great to hear that the game is going well! Now you probably drew the most attention by beating Nairo at Super Smash Con, but you also eliminated Fatality at CEO Dreamland and Tweek at CEO 2017. What's the experience like when you go up against one of those top 20 players, and after you get off the stage with a win?

Oh man, it's actually pretty funny you say "walk off the stage" cause all of those wins were off stream which is why I think they were even remotely achievable for me, as I get incredibly nervous and playing on stream always makes it worse. I feel I can play more like myself when there are less people watching offstream. It's an indescribable yet addicting feeling. It sounds cheesy, but you can truly feel the rush during the set and it just makes you want to be there and nowhere else. To be honest, I've never experienced anything like it before. For me, the rush is in the middle of the set when it's 1-1 or 2-1 either favor and you're just looking at the stage select screen, reflecting on what's happening, regardless of the end results. The wins feels good, but it's more than just the accolade of a win that makes competition addicting for me. In the end, it's just something you have to experience first hand to truly understand.

That's amazing, and congratulations again for getting those victories and experiences! Now, I hope you'll forgive me for moving on from generic interview talk and get right to Pikachu stuff.

That's no problem at all, I know people always have a lot of questions so I'm happy to answer them!

Where would you say Pikachu lands on the tier list in today's meta?

The thing about tier lists is that you can either make them subjectively or objectively, and when you try and mix those two things together it just involves a lot of bias. I would say objectively Pikachu is probably relatively high tier if you're just looking at results because ESAM does well at big events and seeing him outside of the top 8 or top 16 is rather uncommon, so if you're looking at things objectively I would say somewhere around there. Subjectively though, I personally would say Pikachu is anywhere from 7th-14th, with the potential to improve. That's also high tier, so in general I think Pikachu is a pretty good character.

Funny that you mention ESAM. I was wondering if you thought Pika was just as "busted" as he does.

I think him and I both agree that Pikachu isn't top 5 at the moment, but we can both say that Pikachu is pretty good. However, I do think he views the character in a much higher regard than me.

So on that note, why would you say Pikachu has a little bit lower representation at the top level than some other characters around that area on the tier list?

I think Pikachu has less representation because he is a very difficult character to master. I can't tell you how many times a person has come up to me wanting to main the character and asking me for help, only to drop him a few weeks later because it was too difficult. I like to think of Pikachu as Sheik but with more kill power and not as good of a neutral, so that leads me to believe Pikachu is as difficult or more difficult than Sheik, so it makes sense to me that there isn't much rep amongst the top level.

On the subject of Pikachu being difficult to master, let's talk controls. ESAM and Captain L both use the complicated Bidou control scheme (they're probably the most famous representatives who do), and you've expressed interest in it as well. What is it about Bidou that Pikachu in particular benefits from so much?

Hmm, I know Bidou helps with perfect pivot crouching which enables more safe dtilt opportunities which lead to potential jab locks, tech chases and untechables, but other than that I think it's just the fluidity of movement and the accessibility of upthrow RAR thunder, as well as upthrow wavebounce thunder. There could be more to it than that but asking Captain L or ESAM may give you more information since they have been using Bidou for quite a while now. I don't know if I actually want to switch yet but it's something to think about.

Well Captain L and ESAM don't follow me, so I can only interview the Pika main with good taste. ;)

LOL good point, I do use the best alt by far so I can understand that.

Now, about the three of you, actually - I'd say you, ESAM, and Captain L are probably the Pikachu mains who have gotten the most recognition worldwide. But how about other Pika players - are there any of them that the Smash community (or maybe just me) is overlooking?

Oh of course! There are a lot of Pika mains that are actually really good, they just don't have the exposure necessary to surfacing quite yet. I'm privileged to have lived in Florida and to have had the likes of MVG and other popular Florida streams streaming tournaments here which definitely lead to exposure, so for the ones that don't, it's important to remember that that doesn't equate to your skill as a player. But yeah, to name some off the top of my head I would say Kishiru, Karoegu, Tachyon, Scourgemom, PikaForLife, Nero, and RvRProduct are definitely good reps of the character and are on the come up. I know for a fact I'm missing a few but the point is there are others that are also good, and of course I know there are a few other Japanese Pikas that I'm missing.

All good names that we should check out! Now, a similar question: we already know how strong Florida is, with Salem, ESAM, MVD, Manny, and the like all making PGR. Are there any other Floridians who you think have the potential to reach ranking or notoriety that they haven't yet?

Oh without question yes. Of course I'm biased here, but I would even go as far as to say that there are a good amount of players who are already at that level, but they just don't have the exposure yet. Florida is considered to be the land of the hidden bosses for a good reason in my opinion, there are some scary good players here that don't go out of state. Some that come to mind right off the top of my head are probably Wormynugget, Rival, Child, RoguePenguin, Eden, MuteAce, Mugi, and Ewok. These are all FL players that I believe would be considered notable if they had the opportunity.

If I remember correctly, we'll be seeing Mugi this weekend at 2GGC: Fire Emblem Saga, so there's a good chance for us to check out one of Florida's hidden bosses!

Yes! I expect him to do well and to turn some heads. However, I don't think he's been out of stage to compete before, so I just hope nerves don't get to him.

Then best of luck to Mugi this weekend! Now, I've only got so many questions, so luckily there's been a lot of good questions from Twitter in the past few days! You feel up to answering some fanmail?

Of course!

This first question is a good one from @DachiTeaSSB. For a new Pikachu player, what's important to practice that's technical, but practical?

First off I just want to compliment how you worded that question because you always want to focus on what's practical first, but sometimes what's practical is also technical, like Melee Fox for example. I would say getting your quick attack cancels and short hop down airs 100% consistent, as well as your upthrow RAR thunders and up tilt RAR thunders. All of those lead into kill confirms which are incredibly valuable for Pikachu.

Great tips! Now one from @Skarlettbloo. What makes the Pikachu-Captain Falcon matchup bad for Falcon, and what should Pikachu do to take advantage of it? (With you being in the same region as Cashmere, one of the best Falcon players in the world, you're probably the best person to answer this one!)

I could write an essay with proper formatting and in text citations on this one, but I'll make it short and concise to fit the question better. Essentially what makes the matchup not in Falcons favor is Pikachu's small hurtbox making it difficult for Falcon to get what he wants which is a grab, falling upair, or a dair. Basically anything to lead into a combo. Notice how I said "not in Falcon's favor" though; I think the matchup is obviously in Pika's favor, but when played like it should I think it's no worse than 6-4. If the Falcon is consistently landing his kill confirms and 0-deaths I can see it being 55-45. But back to why it's bad for Falcon. The combination of Pikachu's small size and the offstage gimping potential along with how hard Falcon gets combo'd makes the matchup clearly in Pikachu's favor. Basically you want to maximize your punishes you land on Falcon. Which is obvious and already implied, but vs a character like Falcon it's emphasized because he can kill you off of a hit in many different ways, so you want to give him as few chances as possible. That, along with taking his stock early offstage are the things you'll want to be abusing.

Cashmere, watch out, this guy knows his stuff. So now on to another specific matchup, and it's one that not a whole lot of people see. @pikafan470005 wants to know: how would you go about dealing with Zelda?

Oh man that's a weird one. You would think with Purple Guy being in FL I would know the matchup really well but I actually don't because he's in south Florida which is over 4 hours away, and there aren't many Zelda's to begin with. But from what I know so far, as Pikachu you basically want to abuse your small hurtbox by crouching to avoid Zelda's gimmick of killing you early with a sweetspot back air or forward air. Baiting out neutral b is also important in the matchup because we all know Zelda's love to combo break with it, so if you know what combos are true and what ones aren't, you can start playing the mind games. If you pull back on the combo you knew wasn't true and they go for the neutral b, you can easily just wait and hard punish it with a charged forward smash or something. You also have to space your hitboxes well enough to not get up b'd out of shield, as that will kill VERY early. All of that along with gimping her offstage is how I typically go about the matchup. Oh, also make sure you constantly mixup your DI on her down thrown to in and out DI, since her dthrow > up air kill confirm is a 50/50 based on DI.

Now i've got one from @SSG_Smash aka SirShyGuy, who is a very skilled Pikachu in his own right! Do you think Pikachu will continue to be relevant as the meta grows to focus on characters like Cloud and Diddy, and can someone truly solo main Pikachu?

Oh yeah SirShyGuy is actually one of the Pikas I didn't mention if the earlier question! He introduced me to "shy tilting" which is a Pikachu tech in its own right. But to get to the question, that's definitely a loaded one. I'm going to say I honestly don't know. I can't tell because it's too early in the game's meta right now, and there could be strategies and/or tech we don't even know exists right now that could in the future that could possibly change how we view Smash 4 entirely. Since all of that is a possibility, I can only answer this question under the context of if I think Pikachu is solo viable right now in this meta. To answer that question I think he is, but it depends on what your goals are as a competitor. For example: if you want to be the best in the world and have results like ZeRo, Pikachu most likely is not solo viable. If you want to be the best player in your state and be 1st on the PR then that's definitely achievable with solo Pikachu. Or if you want to be a top 10/5/3 PGR'd player then I would say it's probably possible, just takes an extraordinary amount of hard work.

Now I can't have you answering competitive Pikachu questions all day. Here's a good one from @Swagnamite7700. Which Pikachu is your favorite: the original chubby Pikachu, or the new slim Pikachu?

Oh man I've actually been asked this a few times already, and I always give the answer of slim Pikachu because that presumably makes his hurtbox in smash much smaller!

Ooh, optimal! @VB3SSB4 also has a very important question. Why is this gif the best Pikachu gif of all time?

Very important indeed. Breaking it down scientifically, I would say it's the best Pikachu gif of all time because it Pikachu looks happy. Thank you for showing me this wholesome gif!

You're very welcome, and thanks to VB3 as well! Okay, winding down, so here's one more question. You already answered this question from @Karamel_King_. He asked you what your favorite sauce is. And the answer was?

Buffalo sauce!

Yes! Now, he's probably seen your answer, so I wanna elaborate some more. What makes buffalo sauce the best sauce?

Hmmm I don't know, I think it's just because I love wings and ranch has too many calories LOL. Gotta eat moderately healthy I guess.

Good call! Plus, it matches your orange Pikachu alt... maybe it was meant to be?

Ohhh I see what you did there. Maybe, even though I don't prefer the color orange LOL

I see! Life has a funny way of making things happen, I guess.

I think that's as much room as we've got! Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day, Rideae, and good luck at all your future events and in life! You know I'm rooting for you!

Thank you so much! It was an honor, and good luck on future interviews! Bye guys!


You can see Rideae at Who's Your Pappy 10 in NorCal on October 22nd, streamed on twitch.tv/rpsville!

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