Layer 1 from the Draplin/Noper Match.

Layer Tennis How It All Went Down

Backstage with Radu "Noper" Mac & Aaron Draplin

by Andrew Huff

At the dawn of creation, there was a big explosion, and in the midst of that blast was a man -- well, a being anyway. A being who could survive an explosion, conjure up worlds and take an acid all in one afternoon. Who is he? And how much for a hit? That's one of the questions I hoped Layer Tennis players Aaron Draplin and Radu "Noper" Mac would answer in our post-match interview. In the locker room deep in the bowels of Layer Tennis Stadium, Draplin was still a little amped from the adrenaline of the match, while Noper was a bit more mellow.

So, how did you guys feel the match went?

Draplin: Andrew, I think it went well. That's precisely what I think.

Noper: I'm actually surprised of how well it went. I like how the commentary constructs the narrative around the visuals... it was a good match. Draplin and Koxvold were hot.

I heard from Jim Coudal that there was some interesting pre-match discussion going on. "Trash talk," I think he called it. Care to share? What did each of you say to each other?

Draplin: Jim is a bit of sensationalist. That guy can spin a yarn. You don't get a word in edgewise around that jabberjaw. That said, any spirited rabble-rousing from my camp was in the best of spirits, free of any vitriol, angst or mean-spiritedness. Plus, in the spirit of "International Brotherhood," I tried to get all Kofi Annan on that motherfucker. You know, one with Romania. One with the world. One with the universe.

Noper:Mmm, no, no trash talk, not that I know of, maybe after I left the room... hahaha. No! We talked about the theme of the match, Kofi Annan style.

Beyond the trash talk, what sort of plans did you make for the match? Because it comes off as a definite narrative, and I wonder how much of that was premeditated.

Draplin: There was no trash talk, Huff. Please get yer questions right. I don't know what standard of journalism you hold yourself to, but I'd hope it's high on the food chain.

Noper: We just said we're gonna do Creation, from there on each of us was on his own. Me being first, I tried to come up with an idea for the opening, so I had to plan a bit ahead, but after Aaron's response (Layer 2) knocked me out, I had to adapt.

Draplin: Regarding narrative, we agreed to go after some sort of creation/psychedelic thing, cuz hell, it sounded fun. I've been thinking about the cosmos a whole lot, lately. And shit, freaking myself out along the way. Sometimes, I'll listen to Coast To Coast AM real late at the shop, about demon spirits and skunk apes and shit, and I'll be all scared going down into the parking basement to get my car. I don't know why I'm even writing this. You know, matters of the supernatural, both here on Earth and wayyyy out into that big universe. I mean, come on. Just for one second, think about this: Does space end? Or is it infinite? Really try to wrap yer head around that one. Suddenly, I feel very spiritual, or tuned in, or afraid, or all of the above. What was the question again?

Was there a conscious decision to play a wordless game for most of the match?

Draplin: Now you are on to something. Yes, there was. I think it's only natural to let some type push an idea through, but I think it's become a bit of a crutch in some of the matches. In fact, it's taken me out at the knees in a couple matches. Hubacek, that bearded little gremlin, he beat me with words. Some misspelled. Good street fighting skills from that guy, and I'll forever love that little bearcub.

Noper: Yes, Aaron proposed this and I was very happy. My English level is not that high, so I would not have been able to maintain a proper dialogue with witty words. As you can see I went the MJ way on my word serve when Aaron destroyed me with his.

Draplin: Yeah, type is a little weird in these matches. Too much wit. Too much snark. I'm more and more interested in stuff that is just shapes. Is that.

Draplin, we didn't see much of your typical style this match -- other than the galaxy icon toward the end. How hard was it to emulate Noper's style?

Draplin: Style is a weird thing. I'd hope my "style" would be known as someone who can adapt to a situation, and make good solutions based on what is in the projects best interest. In layman's terms: I ain't no one trick pony, and I tried like hell to push myself today, into shaky territory in the spirit of, "Fuck it, why not?" Maybe I could surprise myself, and, push Noper into some weird zones. Sounded fun.

Noper: I was happy about that, actually. After Layer 2, I was really worried.

Did you guys follow Jason Koxvold's commentary? Did it influence your play at all?

Draplin: He's pretty good with the words. You know, shit's going so fast, you forget to read the stuff, trying to get ready for the next volley. This shit is pretty tough. I have a lot of respect for the folks who do this. It's tough working that fast, and staying on your toes. Take it from me.

Noper: Yes, Koxvold was funny as hell, literally. Following his idea, I tried to emulate Donald Sutherland in Layer 3. Didn't do it very well I think... but I tried.

What story do you think is being told in this match?

Noper: This is the the story of a guy who fucked things up and the Big Bang came, big explosion, big flare, planets came into existence. When the aliens attacked and the fight began... never to be over... Even now, they fight and fight and fight.

Draplin: Yeah. Some sort of cosmic creationism/big bang/consciousness-expanding realm. Or not. Or turn that inside out, chew on it, and look at it through the mind's eye, with and open heart, riffing on the celestial vibrations. Or, let's just fuck stuff up, and have some fun. You pick, Huff!

Did either of you have a favorite layer by your opponent?

Draplin: Noper's serve really floored me. Just incredible. The guy's got skills, and an adventurous way about how he tackles stuff. I like that. Honestly, all of Noper volleys were good. Weird legs on those characters! Spooky!

Noper: Layer 2 was deadly to me, it was tough for me to come with something ok afterwards... deadly vectors.

Thanks again for hitting the Layer Tennis courts today.

Draplin: Huff, you are a good kid. Keep it up. I like yer style, man, I liiiiike yer style. Thank you.

Noper: It was a blast -- loved every moment of it.

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