This international break has been BRUTAL. Not only has there been no men’s club football for the past two weeks, but the football that has been available to us are Nation’s League matches, an international tournament that nobody asked for and fewer actually care about. The well of Tottenham Hotspur stories dries up significantly during these weeks.
So that’s why I was so glad to find out about lambdal/text-to-pokemon. Take the recent trend of text-to-image AI image generation, and then mash it with every Millennial’s favorite Japanese Saturday morning cartoon and you get some pretty strong Dustin catnip. (Note: I’m not a Millennial and never watched Pokemon, but even I can appreciate that this is one hell of a thing.) The idea is simple: enter a text string into a box and an AI trained on thousands of images of Pokemon will create a bespoke one for you.
Sounds fun! Naturally, I used it to see what a computer would do with Tottenham Hotspur player names. For science. Let’s start with our captain.
So I like to imagine that this image is from the perspective of an opposition striker staring down the barrel of a gun (one on one into space, say) and what’s filling the frame of his vision is not the gaping goal, but a blue, smiling, Hugo Lloris, ready to smother whatever chance that striker thinks he’s about to take. Yes, that blue Pokemon with the gold cockerel trim is absolutely saving that shot. No question.
This is perfect. Leave it to an AI to generate a Harry Kane Pokemon that is essentially just... a cartoon image of Harry Kane. Our writer’s chat had fun with this. Matty: “You know he’s just a normal type, too.” Sean: “It’s like the final form before turning into a Titan.”
...OK, I have a confession. I cheated on this one and used the phrase “pigeon man” instead of Richarlison’s name to generate this image. But honestly? I couldn’t come up with a better one myself if I tried. However, since you’re wondering, this is what the AI actually made for Richy.
I like it. Not only because he looks fearsome, but also because it appears that Richarlison (which sounds like a real Pokemon name) appears to be wearing a severed human head on top of his own head. We’re going to pretend that head is Neymar’s.
So I confess that I’m a little disappointed with this one. It’s not just that Sonnymon has two weird wooden things coming out of his back that seem to serve no purpose and one of which is at an incongruous angle, but because while the AI seemed to pick up that the person should look vaguely Asian it just doesn’t capture anything about Son. A Sonny pokemon should radiate joy and delight. This one looks like his special power is self-crucifying whenever he’s attacked. 2/10, would not catch.
OK, now we’re getting somewhere. This is clearly a Fighting-type pokemon though I’m willing to accept that Perisic is a dual type, possibly Fighting/Ground or maybe even Psychic. He does after all seem to have a pretty good mind-meld going with Harry Kane.
This... THIS is what this AI model was made for. This right here. It is Cuti Romero’s essence, perfectly captured in Pokemon form. It’s perfect. I have nothing more to add.
I think if you showed me this image, unbidden, and said “This is a Tottenham Hotspur player,” I would’ve said General Ho. Built like a tank, kinda slow, but definitely not someone you want to fuck with in midfield.
I have questions. Why is his right hand some sort of shield? What’s up with the pointy hat? Is he in the process of pooping out a basketball, and is that his main power? Are the arrows on his shirt attempting to equate the poop-basketball with his head? Why would anyone want to catch this?
I do appreciate how the AI knows so much about Eric Dier that not only has it constructed him a truly top-notch Pokemon, but it also looks not entirely dissimilar from an artichoke. This is impressive work. The AI is fully COYS.
This Pokemon perfectly captures how I feel watching Royal attempt to cross a ball into the box from the right flank. Outstandingly tragic. I want to give it a hug and not make it fight anything more dangerous than, say, a Magikarp.
No no no, AI — this is not Antonio Conte as a pokemon, this is Sean Dyche as a pokemon. Let’s try this again.
Much better, thanks.