Meet Denial PonPon!

It’s Wednesday afternoon, and PonPon has just finished his slot on Smitepro. We’ve been trying to fit time for this interview in for a week or so now, and our schedules finally have worked out. I’ve watched him stream all summer, and I’m excited to find out if he’s as fun and easy going in real life as he is on stream. He’s smiling and spinning something as he answers the call and says hello.

Hey, thanks for doing this! Let’s start with the basics. Do you have a name you’re okay sharing, and how old are you?

Sure, I’m Daniel, and I’m 21.

And how tall are you? All the Smite players so far seem to be giants.

6’2”

I laugh and so does he.

What is it about Smite and tall people?

We went to Pax, and we’re all pretty tall. I can’t remember who was the shortest, but it he is like 5’9” I think.

So do you go to school or work?

Both. I go to school at ASU for computer science and work part time doing IT work. I actually had to go up north to help someone. Someone switched the power and reset buttons, and they couldn’t figure out how to turn on the computer. I was worried it was going to be a complicated problem, but it was just a simple switch.

Is there anything specific you’d like to do with computers after school or are you just happy with being in IT?

It’d be cool to do something software related or game design.

With all that height, did you play sports in high school?

He’s laughing in a self-depreciating way that lets you know he still finds humor in himself.

No. I wasn’t really good at sports. I’m functional – but not great. I played baseball when I was young. In high school I was the first chair flautist. I was a bit of a band geek. I never did marching band though. The idea of being up at 5:30 in the morning and marching in like 90 degree heat didn’t appeal to me at all.

Where do you live that’s so hot that early in the morning?

I live Arizona. Have all my life. I was born in Glendale and then moved to Scottsdale when I was 3 or 4. Now I’m in New Tempe for college.

So what do you do outside of smite for fun?

Outside of Smite, I play flute. I’m trying to get back into it more. I hang out and go out with my friends, and we play lots of Dungeons and Dragons together. I have a Rubik cube collection. Sometimes I go to the office and mess around with computers and parts.

What kind of games do you like to play? Like, what’s your favorite game to play to relax from smite?

I play Step Mania, Rogue Legacy, Pokemon. I really like streaming games like those now that I stream on Smitepro.

Favorite food?

Four cheese tortellini in alfredo.

At this point we have a conversation about food. I tell him about my pasta making and love of baking, and he shares a story about his brother-in-law (who is a professional chef ) and his love for his copper pots. I promise him homemade pasta if he ever comes to my area.

Favorite color and why?

It’s really more a favorite color combination, black and red. I just really like the color scheme. They have been my favorites for like, forever.

Got a girlfriend or boyfriend?

I have a girlfriend. She’s been out of town for a month and half, so I’m really excited to see her. We’ve been together for almost 3 years now. I do want to marry her, but that’ll all happen later.

I get nosy at this point and ask about his girlfriend and where she’s been. He has that happy sappy look on his face men get when they talk about the girl they love. It’s the look that lets a woman know he’s a great boyfriend. It turns out his girlfriend has been in Ireland for almost 2 months doing archeology work.

What’s with the beard?

My girlfriend is out of town and I was sick with mono, so I didn’t really want to shave, so I let it grow. Then it was decent size so I decide to see what it would be grown out. Once it got a little long it was getting caught in stuff like on soda cans. She gets home in 12 hours, so if she wants me to shave it I will.

Again, the way he talks about his girlfriend just shows how sweet he is. At this point, one of my children comes in to ask for a snack. We get side tracked from the interview and talk about kids. He’s the youngest of 4 and has 3 older sisters. I think that there is no wonder he’s such a seemingly wonderful guy. Growing up with three sisters must make you an expert with women.

How did you get into Smite?

League of Legends went down for a patch (I used to play LoL at a high competitive level), and Capslockfury and I were watching a Smite stream and thought it looked cool. We hunted down some beta keys, and we didn’t log into LoL for like 4 months after. I felt like I was actually in the battlefield, and I like the art and the concept of playing as a god. It was different from other MOBAs, and it was really nice.

Why the jungler?

Because I was a highly rated LoL jungler, so I have a good mind for timing buffs and ganking lanes. It’s fun to know where everyone is. It’s like playing a mind game with the enemy, and I like that role a lot.

What advice would you give to people who want to use Smite as their profession? How can they stream and play to make money?

I don’t fully live from Smite, but I almost could. Mine was really pure luck. I’ve been streaming since League of Legends with only like 5-15 viewers. I started streaming Smite when there wasn’t really anyone streaming Smite. I ended up with like 40-50 viewers. Then a spot happened to open on Smitegame, so I messaged Bart and was lucky enough to get the spot. So, I wouldn’t do it the way I did. So I guess my advice would to be like Drybear. Make Youtube content and mention your stream at the beginning and end of videos and just remove the stream info when you aren’t streaming. I think the way Drybear has his set up is the way to do it.

Do you go to the gym or anything? It seems like everyone in Smite has been working out.

I don’t go all the time or anything, but I was going for a bit. I lost like 30 pounds from working out and eating better. I had to stop going to the gym while I had mono, but I’m going to try to get back into it.

So who is your favorite god to play and why?

Kali, because I think she’s really really fun. She’s got a straightforward kit, so other gods have more interesting ones, but I have had so much fun building her tank, speed, dps, and everything in between.

How did you end up playing with Denial eSports?

Well Curse fell apart, and I wanted to focus my personal life (school, going to the gym and such) and stream more and at better quality. All that started to fall into place, and I missed playing competitively. I started talking to Denial about playing with them and trying some practices together, but then I got mono. Once I got over the mono I was able to scrim with Denial.

What do you think about Denial so far?

I have more contact with people in Denial outside of the team than I ever did with people in Curse. The team is all really great too. We have fun playing together, and even if a scrim is going badly, we all joke around and have a good time. It makes it so we can talk about how to improve and work on strategies without anyone putting blame on anyone else. It’s a really great place to be and everyone has been really cool.
What do you think about the ddosing in the EU tourneys and the Dignitas Cup?

It’s really easy to get ddosed. For example, we’re talking right now and it would take two keystrokes to get your IP address and then spend $5 and have a bot ddos you. It’s so easy to get someone’s IP from Skype or IRC (like Dignitas was using for the tournament), and I don’t think people realize that. It’s really up to players to do everything they can to protect themselves by using proxies and such. I think Denial EU would have trounced us, and Dignitas probably would have beaten Cognitive Gaming if not for the issues though. It feels bad wining off of someone disconnecting though. No one likes that. Hopefully more teams will be able to afford VPN protection to help keep these attacks from happening.

Who would you want on your fantasy team, assuming you and your teammates couldn’t be on it?

Zapman, ranged; TheBest, mid, Sprayarn, solo; ShadowQ, support; and either Shing or Lassiz on jungle. I think Best is the most mechanically skilled mid in the game right now. Sprayarn gets how to play the solo lane and has a wide god selection to make it work. He can play more than Odin or Guan Yu and win the lane. ShadowQ is a great theory crafter and support, and Zap is a good shot caller and mechanically is good. So most of Dignitas.

He laughs as he says this. I have a hard time not adding a smile face after typing it, because that’s the kind of good humor he brought to the conversation. Dan (he prefers this to Daniel – good back story to why he started going by Dan) is a great guy over all. He really is just like what he seems on stream. He’s laid-back and fun; he’s thoughtful and considerate. He doesn’t present himself as anything other than himself, and I know everyone at Denial is excited to have him with us; he fits right in.