June 24, 2009 by Scott Rodriguez
since breaking on to the Denver scene, Ryan’s game has always mimicked
the elite players. After a great showing in Vegas 2009 (1st
in Amateur Doubles and 6th in Amateur Singles),
Knapton recently followed it up with a dominant performance at Nationals
in Atlanta (1st in AS, 2nd
in AD and 2nd in SPS). He took some time out
of his day to sit down with CO Foos and talk about his recent success.
off, congratulations on your newest title and other top finishes at
Nationals– way to represent Colorado!
With you and Robin dominating so much recently, maybe the Jims of the
world should take notes and move to the middle of nowhere if they ever
want to cash in something lol. How’d you get into foosball living
in Breckenridge anyway?
Thanks X. I got into foosball completely
by accident. A friend basically forced me to play on his team
while we were at a bar, and in one game I went from hating foosball,
to being amazed with it. The forward on the opposing team kept
scoring, and I literally had no idea how the ball was even going in.
Previously I had never seen anyone control the ball like that, so I
thought the game was pretty dumb. Seeing someone play it on that level
instantly changed my perceptions. I still don’t know if it was
a euro-toe, rollover, or backpin that he was using… but seeing that
it played like that is what got me hooked.
posted some rad pics of yourself snowboarding…do you think you brought
anything from that sport to foos…like determination or focus?
Those would be big ones for sure, and
I’d say yea, snowboarding competitively for over a decade definitely
helped with getting decent at foosball.
In one aspect you have the general learning
process, which itself becomes meta-learning when you really learn how
to learn something well. A specific example of this would be something
like: learning how to find the right people to learn from. So
instead of me having to go through the torture of “learning” a bunch
of worthless garbage from bar-hacks who use to be able to destroy me
on the table, I went right to the best I could find. This happened
to be the Inside Foos videos, where I basically just ended up copying
most of what was working for Billy Pappas.
Also with snowboarding, visualizing is
important. So before you do tricks in the pipe or off jumps or
whatever, you have to be able to visualize in your mind how the trick
will work… like where’s the position of your shoulders, how bent
are your knees, where’s the pressure on your feet, where and when
do you move your body, and what will you be looking at during the trick.
If you don’t know this stuff and you hit a decent sized jump, you’ll
most likely just end up hurt. The same goes with anything like
that, so with foosball I think I’m pretty good at mentally visualizing
certain mechanics of the game like the right stance and grip, and exactly
how the player figures interact with the ball and such on my passes
and shots, and then, from being able to visualize it so well, it really
makes execution easier.
Something else I don’t think too many
foosers know about me is that for a couple years I was one of the top
20 or so Rubik’s cube solvers in the world. I went to Words
in 03 and Nationals in 04. I’d say cubing is actually a lot
closer to foosing because the process is really the same. You
have all these algorithms (which would be like learning a shot) that
you’ve memorized and practiced, then learn what the situation looks
like on when to use those, and hopefully at that point when you attempt
to use it, the execution of it is flawless.
pretty rare that I’m shocked by hearing something from a relatively
new player…but…wow…that’s some great stuff right there. That
explains a lot about your game!
first thing anyone notices about your game is your sweet looking 5 row.
Why did you choose the stick series, and how’d you get it so good
I chose it only because I was too crappy
to control the ball if it was moving around. Lol. I grabbed
Pimp (Darryl Papineau) after my second tourney (he won it), and asked
him to show me how to pass. I already knew the difference of the
stick, brush, and chip series, but I couldn’t do any of them.
He suggested the stick series I’m sure because I couldn’t even walk
the ball up or down the 5 row yet, and showed me exactly how to practice
the wall and lane options.
I got good at them by practicing them
in super slow motion, but yet trying to make them perfect. At
first I’d try to do 10 in a row of both wall and lanes. That
actually used to be super challenging. Then I’d do them in sets
of 25. Now I do them in sets of 100. Same with shooting
now, 100 at a time, and in a good practice session I’ll do 10 of those.
I can still literally feel how much smoother, more efficient, and accurate
my shots are on the last couple hundred, than the first couple hundred.
I think to have a really great shot, you probably have to put in some
extra effort like that at some point in time. And then that of
course helps tons with playing a four-day tourney and not having your
arm seize up –which use to happen to me. I remember only shooting
push-side rollers on Big City at a Rocky Mountain Open event, and he
yelled at me something like, “why would you shoot a push-side on that
defense!?” I didn’t say anything to him… lol, but it was
only because my arm seized up and I couldn’t go pull side.
Also, I got good quick because my goal
was always to be the player at weekly tourneys that had improved the
most over the last week. When you start from being the worst there
is, well that is actually pretty easy, just show up extra early and
put in some practice. For pros and anyone who’s been playing
for years and years, I doubt that would really even help, but doing
that as a beginner and still doing it to this day has definitely helped
out with getting good quick.
been butchering people up front, but you still stick with the simple
style of play – have you been tempted yet to mess around with other
passing series and shots?
Nope, I’ll be sticking with sticks
and rollers. On the stick series you’ll see more options with
some hacking, ticking and wall bounces when the tables are brand new
and the timing is the same as I’ve practiced. And with the roller
I’ve been working on extra options with that too like walking the
ball around, extra flip setups for different reads, and 7’s on purpose.
So I’m by no means getting bored with keeping my game simple with
sticks and rollers.
playing all the badass Colorado players, do you ever feel sorry for
all the other Amateurs on tour?
We have it good here in the aspect that
if you want to play against some of the best, and get good quick…
just go to Ecks on Fridays and some of that talent is bound to wear
off on ya.
I guess I only really feel sorry for
the beginners on tour who show up and pay quite a bit of money only
to not even have a chance to really compete on a similar level since
there is no beginner division at some of the tourneys.
I feel having won some beginner events
like that was a good stepping stone to tour events and a great reward
for having put in a lot of practice over the previous couple months.
I’m still super proud that I was able to get those titles because
it seemed to me that everyone I played even in those beginner event
had way more experience and some were outright sandbaggers who I had
seen had top finishes in beginner events from years prior… Anyways,
if it weren’t for the beginner events, my main events would have been
Rookie… and I remember thinking I could never do well in those because
people like Princess and Pickle were still Rookies, and I never thought
I’d be able to play on their level.
Also, brand new women players I feel
bad for on tour. Like up here at the MLT tourney, there are a
handful of girls that got real good at this game over the past year…playing
with real shots, blocking techniques, clears and passes from the 2-rod,
set pull shots or pull-kicks on the 3 rod… so I think it would be
super rad to suggest to them to compete at Colorado State, but I just
can’t do that because even with as good as they’ve gotten, they’d
still get murdered in the Beginner and Amateur Women’s events.
Basically I’m saying there is a need for a Beginner Women’s event
because I just don’t see how any new girl player can really get into
this game when their main event of Am Women, they would be playing really,
really good and experienced players like Dana Thompson, Sarah Maliepaard,
Heather Genter, and Steph Walters, who are all still Am on the IFP.
I don’t know what any of their introduction with foosball tournaments
was like, but congrats to all them for sticking with it. So I
think if you want to get new players touring, or even just going to
their one State tourney or whatever, there needs to a better incentive
for them than “yea, come play foosball for an entire weekend.
You probably won’t win one single match out of all your events…
but um, eventually you will”. So I think the tour stops have
to cater to the true beginner a bit better if we want the player base
that a yes? lol
your mind frame heading into an event now? Do you expect to win? Do
you let slop get to you? Do you get emotional? What are some keys for
touring newbies looking to take home a title?
At the big events, now I just make sure
I warm up before every match if I had not played for a bit. At
the HOFC this year I saw how Tony Spredeman prepares himself before
big matches, so I really tried to replicate that at Nationals, and it
definitely helped with being able to start matches with the same energy
level and focus that I usually finish with.
Mentally I try to focus on just giving
an effort I can be proud of, so getting bent out of shape about slop,
or riding an emotional roller coaster with whatever happens just seems
like a waste of energy and a distraction that I’m able to avoid well.
I’ve had some big wins with even being down 1-4 and just never gave
up, so just staying in the game, without making any single point too
important is probably the way to go.
are some great thoughts, Ryan. I always see players at all levels getting
so cranky over slop and bad luck, and it really stifles their game because
they are so emotional. Plus they never look within to see the real reason
they aren’t winning – they just aren’t executing well enough.
I expect it with rookies and semi pros, but even some pros get bent
out of shape. It totally keeps them from moving up to the next level.
got a lot of wins recently, which do you love the most and why? I know
punking that Semi Pro team at TX State for a brand new table has to
be up there…they probably thought they were home free in that playoff!
HaHa! I thought they were home
free too! I had never beaten Teddy Sprouse in a match before,
so I thought that was gonna go against in a big way.
I guess I don’t really have any favorite
wins, but I do have favorite losses. Like the loss to Terry Moore
in Open Singles, Terry Rue and Matt Steward in Open Doubles at the Hall
of Fame Classic, the loss to Tom Yore at Nationals, the loss to Ryan
Moore and Rob Mares in Handicap at Colorado State, the losses to Trad
Powell at both CO and TX State. All those matches I love because its
obvious who should win, but yet I played well and gave ‘em matches
that had to have made them at least slightly nervous at times.
going to forget I heard about your best matches being losses…continue...lol.
Back to the Sprouse / Rose, Shovlain
/ me match though… I did really like that one for a reason other than
winning the tables. Right after the match Chris Hagerman congratulated
me and asked if I wanted some tips… of course I did, and he showed
me exactly why I should learn a pull-kick to add to my pull on the 2-rod.
I had wanted to learn that ever since Stickfoot told me I should, but
I couldn’t ever square the shot off. He had some perfect trick
tips for it, so I was finally able to learn it, and that pull-kick ended
up being a big part of why I did so well at the National Singles.
Vegas, you won a title just picking up a random partner on the spot.
I also know you’re still looking for a partner for CO State in a couple
weeks. How is that possible?? Are you still flying under the radar,
or are you just turning down weakos on the downlow?
Jeff Lee wasn’t a random partner.
I knew from his results he was capable of getting to the finals, and
we ended up talking on the phone about possibly playing together, then
eventually agreed to, at which point we ended up having a couple detailed
conversations over the phone about our game plan.
heard some story that you just walked in with no one
lined up and won it. The legend begins…
For CO State the only reason I don’t
have all my partners locked down is that I’ve been giving the answer
of “maybe” to most people. “turning down weakos”?
Didn’t you check if I wanted to play an event? HA!
We gave each other “maybe” anyways, so maybe I’m the weako.
I also thought Shovlain would be making CO State, so I thought we would
team up for Rookie and Am Dubs, but I found out he’s ranked too high
for Rookie at this, and not even making the tourney… so that’s why
I’m still thinking of who I’d like to play with in Rookie Dubs.
touché! Although I asked you about CO State before you got all these
wins! I pride myself on scoping out new talent!
started off as a pure forward, but now you’re winning singles titles
too…which do you like playing better
– singles or doubles?
I use to like doubles better because
I always played decent in those. I never want to let my partner
down, but in singles sometimes I’ve played less than my best.
Now I like both though especially since I’ve had a lot more practice
in singles over the last couple months while Billy Sargent and Josh
Derringer were living up in Breck. Having regular weekly foos
session with those guys along with Jorge, Paco, Kyle Ireland, Matt Knebel,
Nate Dogggg, and Scott Thomas helped my transition game a ton.
if you’re going to learn a brutal singles game, those are the guys
to do it with! Lol.
do you most look for in a partner? Backpacks of the world need to know!
“Backpacks of the world need to know!”
lol. Here’s how it goes I guess:
- Am I afraid to play against
you because you are that good? Well in that case I want you on
- Are you gonna be truly disappointed
if we lose? Cuz that can just happen and I don’t wanna take
the chance of letting anyone down.
That’s really about it. I’ve
almost always worked well with everyone I’ve played with, even at
all the draws.
you think you can follow in Michaels and Rose’s
footsteps and make the jump to Semi Pro’s fairly easily?
Yeah, definitely. Both Dave Michael
and Darren Rose were a good inspiration this year with seeing them go
directly from cleaning up in Rookie events last year, straight into
destroying the Semi-Pro division at the HOFC this year. Darren
even told me he liked it better this year with just being able to focus
on the Semi-Pro events and not having to worry about some of the sloppy
shit you see in Rookie events, along with the race to 7 on the losers
Denver, who do you hate playing the most (asides from Jake lol)?
I don’t hate playing Jake Valencia.
I’m actually looking forward to attempting to not making the same
mistakes that I’ve made while playing him the last couple times.
I like Jedi and am not the least bit
afraid of playing against him now, but at my first tourneys in Greeley
it was annoying to get both destroyed on the table and verbally by someone
who should know they are just playing a beginner. Who knows though,
maybe some players like that end up being a driving force for players
like me to get better though. Another guy was Jim, from that same
Greeley tourney. He pulled the same shit and made me feel bad
for even being there one time. That’s bullshit to be nothing
than kind to someone who shows up knowing they are just a donator, but
wants to get better.
I also don’t like playing tweakers.
And people who were willing to kick my
ass all night long on the table while I sucked at the game… but then
won’t play against me since I got decent. I remember one guy
in Fort Collins who’d whoop my ass all night on Fridays at the Trailhead…
then once the tables turned… he’d play complete scrubs on the crappy
table –one handed- just to show off how rad he was to them, rather
then be involved in a decent game. That shits lame, and I’ve
seen a good amount of it.
do you love playing the most…who brings out your
No one specific, but my “A” game
comes out whenever I’m playing pro-masters in tourneys. I end
up going into those games with the realistic expectation that I’m
going to lose… so my focus ends up being on just attempting to play
a match that I can be proud of. As soon as the pressure is off
like that, but yet still wanting to give 100%, well then good things
happen and I’m able to execute and perform just like I’ve practiced.
you taken down a master yet? If so, how did it feel? If no….um……hmm…do
you think you’re close or do you think you’ll hang out at the kiddies
table for a while still??
I beat a couple masters at TX State.
Tom Spear with Shrunk in the Open Doubles for 9-12 or better, while
I was playing with Jason Shovlain as my goalie. Chris Reyes.in
Open Singles in a 3/5. There were a couple other PMs a Rookie
and I took out in the draw, but I don’t remember their names.
Although not a current Master, former World Champion Rick Martin (me
playing with you in a 3500) at CO State. I was happy with all
those wins, but by no means did I walk around acting like I play at
a Pro-Master level.
those are some good wins!
are your long term goals in this game?
Well, Big City has $5 of mine in his
wallet that I lost in a 2/3 match to him right after a beginner and
I destroyed him and Davin (and everyone else) at a tourney… so I guess
I’d like to get that money back… and possibly $5 more, just for
I really don’t have any goals with
it though. As long as it is enjoyable to go to the tourneys I’ll
keep playing. Thanks again for wanting an interview, X. I’m
stoked to have had some good finishes on tour this year and getting
a chance to do this.
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