Troy "Puppeh" Wells is only 19 but his Super Smash Bros. career has been longer and more eventful than other pro players in the scene.
The Virginia Beach native first caught the community's attention at CEO 2019, where he took sets off of big-name top players like Nairoby "Nairo" Quezada, Eric "ESAM" Lew, and Ezra Samsora Morris. He placed fifth at just 16. Now, Puppeh is currently the highest-ranked player in Southern Virginia's Power Ranking. He's 28th on the Spring 2019 PGRU and considered one of the best Pokemon Trainer players in the world.
But it's only the beginning for Puppeh. After overcoming very personal challenges and taking on some of the best players in the world, Puppeh is looking to dominate in-person tourneys. With the Smash community on his side, Puppeh is set to overcome anything in his path.
Puppeh: The Past
Setting: Virginia Beach
(Not a big deal)
In 2019, you were ranked 28th in Ultimate. How do you feel about being a top Ultimate player at such a young age?
I don't think it's too big of a deal. I've been playing the game longer than most people older than me so I just think of it based on how long you've been playing rather than your age.
When did you first pick up Smash? What drew you to it?
I played it as a kid when I was like five years old and under. But I started going to tournaments when I was 11. I was drawn to it originally because it's a fun game on the GameCube. I kept playing it over other esports because it's a 1v1 game — and if you lose you can only blame yourself. On top of it just being a fun game to compete in.
Which character were you originally drawn to?
When Smash Ultimate first came out, I played Isabelle because I'm a big Animal Crossing fan. I dropped her because she just isn't really good enough to compete at the highest level. I started trying a bunch of random top tiers and had the most fun with Pokemon Trainer, which is why I stuck with him.
You had a rough time the past two years after coming forward with your story. What made you continue to play Smash? How did the community react?
I continued to play because it's just my passion in life and what I enjoy doing. If I wasn't competing in something I have no idea what I would be doing. As far as the community reaction, it was more widespread than I expected which is unfortunate. But I don't really know what to say people still make comments about it to this day.
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Puppeh: The Present
Do you think the tier lists matter in Smash? Or do you feel like any character can win major tournaments?
I think most people take tier lists too seriously. They for sure matter at the top end of competition but any character can win a tournament. At the absolute peak of competition at major tournaments though, I think only around 20 characters could win.
How often do you practice?
I used to practice way more than I do nowadays. Most of my practice just comes from going to every local tournament I can. Sometimes I'll watch other players' videos to try to pick up new things and learn about matchups I'm not the best at.
So what are some of Pokemon Trainer's weaknesses? How do you work around them?
Pokemon Trainer is a really all-around character with not that many weaknesses. And the ones he does have can be covered pretty well by switching depending on the situation. Although it's not PT's worst matchup, my personal least favorite is Zero Suit Samus. As far as what his worst matchup is in the game, it's definitely Young Link.
What are some things you've been wanting to improve this past year?
I've been wanting to become a more consistent player under any conditions I have to play in. I think I've gotten a lot better at dealing with things out of my control and just focusing on the game itself.
Did you feel online tournaments counted during COVID-19?
I personally think online competition is pretty much irrelevant. I think people overrate how much the game has developed during the whole pandemic. Most people who were good before it all will pick up where they left off — with a few new people sprinkled in as well.
You've been killing it at locals. What is one of your favorite moments at one this year?
My favorite moment at locals this year is losing my first few and having to really soul search and realize what was going wrong. And after all that I came back a better player than I've ever been and have won 13 in a row now.
How do you stay focused during matches?
I just try to zone out everything else besides the game when I'm playing in a serious setting to train myself to focus during any tournament. I stay determined because I haven't accomplished even close to enough to settle down yet. I want to be number one in the world and keep that spot. And until then I'll stay determined.
What do you think of the state of Ultimate's pro scene right now?
I think the Ultimate scene is currently in a good spot. Most local scenes are thriving right now and I think thats one of the things that makes the community great. Nothing beats going to LAN events with big crowds and everyone who enjoys the same game watching it and having a good time.
I'm super excited for in-person tournaments to return since I've been really itching to get back and compete — and refused to do online. I'm trying to go to every major I possibly can and show I can be the best.
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Puppeh: The Future
(Hopeful — for Master Chief)
What is your goal this year?
My goal this year is to keep being dominant in my region and convert it to a good performance at every single major I go to — and hopefully winning one.
What made you decide to register for Genesis 8?
Genesis is one of the biggest tournaments of the year and the only time I've been was Genesis 4. I really enjoyed it so I'm excited to go back and hopefully have a good showing. It will be pretty much the hardest challenge of any tournament considering how stacked it always is, on top of me having to travel as far as possible within the US to get there.
Who do you think will be the last Smash DLC?
People ask me this a lot and I have absolutely no idea because most characters have been out of left field. I'm personally hoping for Master Chief — even though its a long shot — because I think he's a sick character and Halo was a big part of my childhood.
Do you think it will truly be the last Smash DLC?
I think there will definitely be at least one more after the "last" character in the second Fighter Pass.
Where do you see the game going after there are no more DLC announcements?
I think the game will be in a fine spot for a really long time. It can honestly only go up from here with how young the scene still is. There's a lot more left in this game and it's only the beginning.
Esports writer and editor with a passion for creating unique content for the gaming community.