After Jason Inman defeated Mark Donica in their Innergeekdom Title Match back in April, the defending champion spoke about how he wanted his next title defence to be a worthy competitor who had got there by defeating some of the best competitors in the division. It looked like he may get his wish as it was announced that there would be 5 1v1 matches leading to a Fatal Fiveway Number 1 Contender Match for the chance to face him.
And then Kalinowski got involved.
“The Killer”, fresh from his split with The League, approached Commissioner Thadd Williams and through questionable methods arranged a new format for the next run for a title shot: a tournament containing 16 competitors. It’s a good job Thadd was able to find a way to fit everything in because Round 1 has thrown up some lovely matches.
In this piece, I will take a quick glance back over each match and have a look to what’s next for the competitors.
Hector “The Nightmare” Navarro 15-16 Adam “The Haymaker” Hlavac
The tournament opened with a match between former Superhero News teammates Navarro and Hlavac. Round 2 could not separate them but Round 2 put the ball in Hlavac’s court as he showed his knowledge ofMovie Release Dates, while Navarro landed on Opponent’s Choice and was forced to toil through Middle Earth, giving “The Haymaker” a 3-point lead heading into the final round. The former champion successfully answered his 2 and 3 point questions and though Hlavac missed his 2 pointer, he successfully answered his 3 point question to make Navarro answer his final 5 pointer to stay in the game. Scores & Soundtracks proved to be his undoing but you could see that he knew the answer and just couldn’t pull it under pressure, while Hlavac goes on to the next round.
Hlavac clearly has good knowledge across most categories and his performance on Movie Release Dates will have certainly made his opponents take notice, however he has shown in both this and his last Fatal Fiveway that Middle Earth is a weakness and he will need to sort this quick in order to make the final. Navarro is another well-rounded competitor and as a former champion I’m sure we’ll see him continue to compete somewhat regularly in the division, but he does have areas of weakness – notably again Middle Earth – and also does not seem to be as strategic as some of the other top competitors in the division. He can certainly pull off results against top competitors, but I don’t know if he has the consistency to make another run for the title.
“The Urban Gladiator” Jay Washington 16-18 “The Golden Mic” Emma Fyffe
The first of 2 Round 1 matches between The Viper Squad and the Fyffe Club saw a meeting of the managers. Both competitors traded blows in Round 1, with Fyffe taking a 1 point lead, but again Round 2 caused the killer as Jay got a respectable 4 points but Fyffe managed to steal 2 points before spinning Spinner’s Choice and selecting her wheelhouse, Harry Potter, which gave her an 8-15 lead that Jay could not overcome despite his best efforts.
Jay’s 16 points despite a hit-and-miss first 2 rounds shows that he can be competitive at this level, but to compete against the top contenders in the future he probably needs to improve his general knowledge and get a couple more categories that he can run convincingly. Emma once again got lucky and if she can get Harry Potter in Round 2 or in the later stages of Round 3 then she can be competitive, but I don’t know if she has the depth of knowledge across the board to match up against most of the contenders in the next round. She also need to be very careful not to answer too quickly as a couple of times she has given a wrong answer and then tried to change her answer afterwards.
Rachel “The Crusher” Cushing 20-5 “Marvellous” Markeia McCarty
The second matchup between the Fyffe Club and the Viper Squad saw Markeia McCarty make her Schmoedown debut against arguably one of the most dangerous competitors in the division. While Markeia did not have the best of starts, scoring just 3 points in Round 1, The Crusher crushed it with a perfect round and the bonus to take an 11 point lead. Cushing then took advantage of the score to try out Star Trek in Round 2 to take her lead to 17-5. McCarty did not have such success on DC Movies and the match was over with a wrong answer on the 3rd question – A KO victory for Rachel Cushing.
Rachel sent out a message to the rest of the division and Jason Inman with this performance, the perfect round showing her breadth of knowledge and the good performance of Star Trek – a weakness for many competitors – suggests that she is going to be very hard to beat moving forward. As for Markeia, a debut is always going to be difficult as you get used to being at the table and under the lights, so to come up against one of the strongest competitors in the league was always going to be difficult. Hopefully we see more of her this year, but with the pace the league is moving at we may not get a chance if she remains solely in Innergeekdom.
Mike “The Answer Man” Carlson 11-14 Eric “Super Zip” Zipper
“The Answer Man says”: this was not the most high-scoring of matches. Both competitors went 5/10 in Round 1, but Zipper got a strength in Round 2 with the category MCU, scoring 8 points, while Carlson spun Star Trek and only managed 6 points, whilst also allowing Zipper a 1-point steal. In Round 3, the Answer Man couldn’t catch a break and missed on all 3 questions to give Zipper a TKO victory.
At 0-2 in the division and with more talent coming in recently, I think Carlson will struggle to have any regular success in Innergeekdom anytime soon as he doesn’t appear to have the depth of knowledge across the board to compete at the top. He did suggest that he may go into “the main thing” though and I would be very interested to see how he does either in Singles or Teams. As for Super Zip, we may have uncovered a new danger in the division. He clearly has some knowledge gaps as suggested by a 50% success rate in Round 1, but if he can blitz a category like MCU which is getting deeper by the month then he could be a danger. It will be hard to judge him fully until he is forced to answer in Round 3, but until then Zipper looks on course to be a contender in both the Innergeekdom and Teams Division as part of The World’s Finest.
Mike “Killer” Kalinowski 20-9 Jared “Too Smooth” Haibon
Probably the match I was most looking forward to this round, Kalinowski had already made clear his disdain for celebrities in the league but rather than have someone like Rachel deal with Haibon, he took on the job himself. He came out of Round 1 with an 8-6 lead and I got the feeling that he’d been putting in some study on Middle Earth. Unfortunately for Haibon, he did not appear so comfortable in the category and paid the price when he spun Opponent’s Choice in Round 2, scoring 3 points but also giving Kalinowski 3 points. Kalinowski came up to the wheel and landed on Spinner’s Choice, picking DCEU. The man formerly known as “KO” checked to multiple choice for the first question but after that he was well and truly going for the kill, picking up 2 points on every remaining question to seal the KO victory with his final question in the round.
After starting the season 0-3 across Singles and Teams, the win was a huge result for Kalinowski, made even greater by it being a KO over a competitor who had previously looked strong in this division. Having seen him in interviews, he clearly studies not just the movies he could be asked questions about, but also his opponents to know how to take advantage of their weaknesses. As for Haibon, he has mentioned going into Singles and Teams which I would enjoy seeing, but I hope he continues to compete in Innergeekdom as he clearly has the general knowledge but has been unfortunate to get categories that he is weak in for Round 2 in his last 2 matches. But before anything, he has a new adventure to begin: engagement! Congratulations to both him and Ashley!
“Crazy” Coy Jandreau 9-14 “Amazing” Mara Knopic
Coy won his first ever Innergeekdom match in a Fatal Fiveway that saw him beat Kalinowski with the infamous “Pudding” debacle, but had gone winless in his 2 matches since. He started this tournament against everyone’s favourite Brown Dwarf Star – Mara Knopic. Mara sarted an amazing debut (pun fully intended) by going 8/10 in Round 1, while Coy could only manage 3 correct answers. After spinning DC Movies in Round 2, Coy could only score 2 points but also gave 2 to Mara, while she extended her lead after spinning Star Trek to make the score 6-14 going into Round 3. Coy hit his 3-point question but missed on his 2 and 5-pointers to give Knopic the win by TKO.
I’m looking forward to seeing where Mara goes from here as though she did not have the best Round 2, I don’t feel that it was one of her strengths, whereas Round 1 suggested she has a very good general breadth of knowledge within the division. She also seemed very relaxed compared to most debutantes and I can’t help but wonder if she has picked up some tips from Dan Murrell ahead of competing. It was interesting too to see Kalinowski taking the chance to talk to her and try to get some gratitude for bringing her into the tournament, especially as he never did this for any of the other 5 players who got a chance because of the expanded tournament. Does he think that he can get Mara on his side down the line? As for Coy, he clearly has some areas of great strength but not enough to regularly be competitive in the division. He is a very fun competitor though and I still can’t help but enjoy watching him be involved in something he clearly enjoys. As the division grows I would love Coy to become one of the early opponents for players looking to make their debut. Oh and Coy: that moustache is a thing of beauty!
Mark “The Enforcer” Donica 16-11 Sean Gerber
Originally meant to be a match between the old and new members of the Lion’s Den, scheduling issues meant that former champion Robert Meyer Burnett had to pull out at the eleventh hour and Sean Gerber of Superhero News came in to replace him. Donica took an early 7-5 lead in Round 1 and his victory was all-but guaranteed as Gerber struggled through Star Trek in Round 2, before The Enforcer earned 7 points on MCU. With an 8 point deficit going into Round 3, Gerber guessed his way to his 3-point answer but was unable to correctly answer his 2 or 5-point questions and he became the next competitor in the tournament to lose via TKO.
This is an important win for Donica as he looks to get over his loss to Jason Inman in his last match. He has showed once again that he has a good breadth of knowledge and I would safely name him one of the top 5 competitors in the division. With Kalinowski and Cushing still in the tournament though, I don’t know if he will be able to feature in back-to-back title shots. As for Gerber, I think this result should be taken with a pinch of salt. Outside of the Free 4 All, this was his solo debut and it came at short notice, limiting his chance to prepare. He appears to have a decent breadth of knowledge and was just unfortunate to land on Star Trek in Round 2, a category that has been the undoing of so many competitors. Hopefully we’ll see him get another shot soon.
Keetin “Magic” Marchi 13-10 “The Dark Knight” Rosie Knight
Marchi made her return to the league against debutante Rosie Knight in the final match of the round. Both competitors put in good showings in Round 1, answering 7/10. Being a regular recently on Jedi Council, when Knight spun Star Wars in Round 2 I thought it was game over for Marchi, but Knight had a horror show and only scored 2 points while Marchi stole 2 points to keep it level. Marchi spun Opponent’s Choice and was given DCEU, scoring 4 points while allowing Knight a 1-point steal. The Dark Knight went 0/3 in the final round and Marchi got the win via TKO.
I’m happy to see Marchi get the win here as I felt that she had a good showing in her debut match but was caught out a bit under the lights and also suffered from being in by far the stronger of the two Fatal Fiveways. She is another competitor with a wide range of knowledge, which will always give her a chance. Interestingly, Marchi mentioned post-match that she has been getting some coaching from “The Outlaw” John Rocha. We may have been getting hyped about the 5 Horsemen, but maybe Rocha is looking to expand the stable further. As for Rosie, I must admit I was disappointed. She fell apart after a strong start and what was meant to be her wheelhouse turned into a Round 2 nightmare that didn’t even appear to be down to nerves. She made a big point about how the league was letting anyone in and inadvertently proved her point before calling the game a fix. It looks like she could be involved in a historic moment for the league though as she was called out by Matt Cruz, who has become the first Patron to successfully audition for a place in the Schmoedown. I can’t wait to see how that goes down.
What did you think of these matches? Who caught your eye in the First Round? Who do you think will earn the chance to take on Jason Inman at the next Live Event? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.