Outspoken and insightful, PokkénArena’s Admin FlySociety|Jonathan “Milln” Conaway has definitely been one of the most entertaining personalities I’ve talked to while I’ve been at SRK. As an admin of Pokkén Tournament’s largest competitive-centered website, few are more in-the-know of what’s happening in the Pokkén scene than this man. He was a commentator at KiT, just recently won the large Georgia monthly GwinnetBrawl, and has obtained and relocated his ever-expanding work to PokkenArena.com. The man seems to have 48 hours in a day, all dedicated to advancing Pokkén. I couldn’t think of a better person to talk to about the string of good fortune that’s happened in the series lately, then America’s most visible Lucario player.
Crow_Spaceboy: Last time we talked, we were discussing the state of the Pokkén scene. A lot has transpired between then and now, that’s directly tested the scene’s health.
Milln: Well, it’s all been great. [laughs] Yeah, we’ve had a lot of really good events. Let’s see, we had Worlds, we had Summer Jam, we have the Fall Classic, we were at KiT last January, we’re going to be at Winter Brawl with free entry and a $1000 dollar pot! Big E really believes in us, and has said as much. He’s said he wants his events to be our home, and I’m okay with that, for sure. We’ll see how the rest of the community feels about that over time.
Crow_Spaceboy: Were you surprised at what happened with the Evo 2017 Player’s Choice donation drive?
Milln: Pleasantly. I went into it very cynical. We’re going against Marvel vs. Capcom 3 which… unanimously, everyone across the FGC agrees should have already been at Evo. And it’s kind of unfair and annoying and silly to put it up against 8 other games. And.. half of them.. weren’t even choices. Like… whose really going to donate to Nidhogg, over Marvel and Killer Instinct? I like Nidhogg, respect to anyone that did donate to them, I guess. But it’s not an Evo game.
Crow_Spaceboy: I hear ya. I wrote about Windjammers. [laughs]
Milln: [laughs] Yeah, and that’s a great game. But for Evo? It doesn’t need to be there. Same reason eSports don’t need to be at the Olympics. [pauses] Windjammers, though…!
Crow_Spaceboy: Oh, Olympics. For sure.
Milln: After about five days it became clear that the battle was going to be between Marvel and Pokkén. Everyone else put in their meme money and just kind of watched. ARMS got $1,337. That was funny. Yeah, overall, I was happy with what the Pokkén community accomplished. I got us on Jet Set Radio Live, got a little cross-promotion going on between them and PokkénArena. We got the involvement of lots of Pokémon VGC players, got them to shout us out. We just did what we could. We presented our story, did a 24-hour stream of going through our history, hyping the game, played some ranked. And hey, we raised 60,000+ for charity, that’s most important.
Crow_Spaceboy: Pokkén has its roots in Final Round, in a lot of ways. That was the first non-invitation tournament in the US, and it was the first time anyone could really just sit down and play. As the admin of PokkenArena, talk to me about what you think Final Round means to your community.
Milln: It’s our anniversary event. I kind of don’t want to say anything else? It’s a great place, we’ve got decent registration numbers. I think I heard some Japanese players were going to come, but then the Evo drive happened. I’m not sure what their status is on that anymore. Europe is definitely coming, though. A lot of people around the states are coming, obviously.
Crow_Spaceboy: That’s a good segue, because I wanted to ask about some big names you were looking forward to seeing at Final Round.
Milln: Well, Crow, everyone’s a big name to me because I love everybody in the community…
Crow_Spaceboy: [laughs] Okay, that is the most political answer…
Milln: Honestly, I do think very highly of our community. I’m just excited to see people. To answer your question though… CatFight, Swillo, SuicuneMaster if he ever gets back from Australia, Ouroboro, myself, Deity… ANGELDARKSONG. Make sure you type that in all caps. There’s so many strong players coming.
Crow_Spaceboy: Do you have a favorite to win?
Milln: The joke is that I told everyone I was going to win everything in 2017. Didn’t in win KiT because I made excuses all weekend, but not Gwinnet! That’s one! That’s one down. Georgia is a very strong state. They have Ouroboro, Scatz, JDA7, Teejay… Had Obscure, but he moved to Florida. So, like, Charizard, Machamp, Pikachu, Lucario… lots of matchup knowledge. We have a great new Lucario named Nexinitus that took out Ouroboro at Gwinnet Brawl. Ouroboro just got 2nd at KiT. That’s not a random he beat. Nexinitus was pretty excited too, when he won, heh. Outside of him… even though I won the tournament, I feel like Jda7, our Pikachu player, was the protagonist of that event. [laughs] Him doing well at Gwinnet Brawl really set him up to do well at Final Round. He beat a lot of his demons in bracket.
Crow_Spaceboy: I didn’t know all these great players were Georgia. That’s fascinating to me, because Georgia is also known for being really strong at Namco games. Their Tekken scene is really strong. RTD is one of the best in the world in Soul Calibur. It seems like Pokkén’s just another 3D game for them to flex in, I guess.
Milln: Georgia is just really strong and knowledgeable in fighters, in general. Jda7 is a really good example of what I mean by how strong practice mode can make you. I think every Pikachu 6Y he did was a just frame this weekend, except maybe one? In the entire tournament. His combos are point. His spacing is on point. He took out Nexusinitus and Ouroboro. I was really proud of him. My grand finals set versus him was so nutty. Lucario’s mix-ups don’t work on Pikachu because of Volt Tackle. Also, Pikachu is just, in general, a neutral-heavy character. The majority of the game was just in this teeth-grinding footsie war. We had two time outs, and how they happened are crazy. Dude, let me tell you. I am a super fan of that kind of neutral. It’s so intense. I remember one of the Evos with USFIV, and the two characters are not pressing buttons, and just moving in and out of poke range, I’m in the crowd just… going nuts, screaming, getting progressively louder. I feel that type of game in my heart.
Crow_Spaceboy: Any thoughts on the new arcade characters?
Milln: I’m going to wreck with Scizor. I’m going to play the hell out of that Bug/Gundam. Not Bug/Steel. He’s Bug/Gundam.
Crow_Spaceboy: [laughs] And Gundam’s weak to nothing, right?
Milln: You can’t destroy Gundam metal!
Crow_Spaceboy: What do you like about Scizor over Lucario?
Milln: He has mobility options. Scizor looks so much fun. He looks difficult and complex, but satisfying to play. He’s boosting around everywhere. He can dash infinitely. He has an air stall with his R option. He has jump cancel combos. He has actual cool things and meter management. Swords Dance is going to be so fun to screw around with. It’s a counter attack move that gives you a set of swords behind your back. You can have up to 2 sets at a time, and each sword gives you followups to your special moves. He’s got a dragon punch. Long combos. He can shoot the swords from Swords Dance as a projectile.
Crow_Spaceboy: He sounds like a character designed for the air dasher crowd.
Milln: Bug. Gundam.
Crow_Spaceboy: More appropriately, I guess… He’s Virtual On.
Milln: Right? It really feels like I’m playing Ex Versus now in field phase.
Crow_Spaceboy: Did you have anything you want to say about the new World Series announcement, and patch? [TPC did announce yesterday that the Pokémon Championships would run the Wii U version this year, but no word as to if it would be patched/DLC would be offered prior to the event. – Editor]
Milln: I don’t have much to say because there’s not enough information yet. They basically said “Yeah, this is a thing.” My reaction is “Oh, okay. What else ya got?” We need more information about locations and tournament version. The balance changes in 1.5 are cool. Lots of buffs and lots of new stuff. It doesn’t sound too crazy but it really is rounding out and polishing the game. One of the cool things about Pokkén is that every character is really strong, and this patch really focused on helping out the bottom tiers. I’m glad that the air recover tech is being fixed. I didn’t have a problem with the buffer on that state not being there, but it’s just so weird that you can’t buffer in this one state in the game when you can everywhere else. All in all, we just need it here, in the States. I think if they finally release the arcade characters, it’d do really well.
As usual, I left my conversation with Milln excited about Pokkén Tournament’s future. It’s hard not to feel that way after you talk to him. He’s an effective hype man for his game, and given recent his tournament results, he’s looking to position himself as a top player, too. Any community that wants to bolster numbers the way Pokkén has could use someone that’s as open and loud about their excitement for their game as Milln is for his.