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. Round 1 gave us some wonderful matches, with a mix of experienced competitors and new fan favourites making their way through to Round 2.
As I did in the last round, I will take a look back over each match and give my thoughts for what’s next for each competitor.
Rachel “The Crusher” Cushing 19-14 Eric “Super Zip” Zipper
The second round began at Collider Collision II with a match between Rachel Cushing, who was coming in off the back of a crushing (sorry!) KO victory over Markeia McCarty, and Eric Zipper, who TKO’d Mike Carlson.
Anyone wondering if Cushing could put in another dominant performance soon got their answer as she followed up getting the Innergeekdom Division’s first Perfect Round 1 (including the bonus question) against McCarty by doing it again here, while Zipper could only muster a respectable 7 points.
The Crusher spun Marvel in Round 2 and worked her way through the category to go 4/4 for 5 points, while Zipper chose to spin away from Star Wars and landed on Star Trek, which he struggled on for 2 points while giving Cushing 3 points from 2 steals.
19-9 down going into Round 3, Zipper knew he had to go 3/3 in order to avoid the TKO and while he started well, Lord of the Rings proved his undoing on the 5-point question and The Crusher had the victory without having to answer in the final round again.
It’s hard to imagine someone stopping Rachel winning the tournament right now as she is clearly on a roll, she was 15/15 on her questions and 2/2 on steals today and with consecutive Perfect Round 1s, even Jason Inman must be getting nervous. She has such a breadth of knowledge but also enough depth in her knowledge too. Speaking on the Schmoedown Rundown following Collision, she stated that she is confident she can work her way through any Innergeekdom wheel slice and it’s hard to argue with that, while she also stated that she has been watching all the Innergeekdom matches so she will have picked up on any areas of weakness in her opposition. As for Zipper, he has some work to do in order to join the top echelon of Innergeekdom competitors. His reaction to spinning Star Wars showed he has no confidence in that category, and this match has also exposed Star Trek as a weakness, both of which will be capitalised on should he spin Opponent’s Choice in the future. More than that he needs to improve at the game, having burned 2 repeats in Round 1 and used the final one in Round 2 – all for questions that he still got wrong. His depth in some categories will help him stay competitive against some of the top competitors should he get questions in those categories, but he cannot afford to rely on luck moving forward.
Mike “Killer” Kalinowski 20-7 Mark “The Enforcer” Donica
Anyone who says Kalinowski was giving himself an easy route to the title by avoiding Rachel Cushing in Round 2 is crazy as I would consider Donica a top 5 talent in the Innergeekdom Division and this was the one match that I was not comfortable in predicting ahead of time, though I did give Kalinowski the slight advantage following his impressive defeat of Jared Haibon.
The Knights of Ken got their first run-out in the league, but things did not go to plan for them as Donica was made to enter first despite being the favourite and things got even worse once the match started. Donica is usually so reliable in Round 1 but could only pull 5/10 in this match, while the spelling of “Frigia” rather than “Frigga” was the only thing that stopped Kalinowski from having a Perfect Round. What must have been even more galling for Donica was that on the final question of the round, he used a JTE rule but was unable to pull the correct answer, while the repeat allowed Kalinowski to realise that he had misheard the question and change his answer to the correct one.
The Killer deferred his spin going into Round 2 and Donica came away with Star Wars, a definite strength, on his first spin. Unfortunately for The Enforcer, he continued to struggle, checking to multiple choice on 4 questions to go 2/5 for 2 points, while Kalinowski came away with 3 points from 2 steals, including one where Donica did not take the time to fully think through his answer and make sure he was right before saying. Things looked like they may finally be looking up for the Knights of Ken though as Kalinowski spun away from Heroes only to land on Opponent’s Choice. Donica had clearly done some homework on his rival and having picked up on some visual tells from the Haibon match, he assigned Kalinowski Harry Potter, a category that he was 2/6 in going into this match (stat courtesy of Frank Janisch!). Kalinowski has clearly been studying though as he backed up his successful Round 1 answer in the category by going 5/5 for 8 points to seal consecutive KO victories.
Much like Rachel Cushing, Kalinowski is putting the Innergeekdom Division on notice with these performances, as his only misses in the match were the “Frigga” question that he clearly knew but couldn’t quite pull and 1 multiple choice steal attempt that was looking for a specific word from a quote. With the studying he has done in all the categories and the research he does on his opponents, I would confidently name The Killer in the Top 3 Innergeekdom competitors and will be shocked if he doesn’t make the final. As for Donica, well something seemed off throughout the match with his performance and once the 24-hour spoiler ban elapsed he posted on the Schmoedown’s Facebook group about how he struggled in his prep the days building up to the match and then during the match itself, before realising that he had been having an extended panic attack. Thankfully, he has since sought help and now has medication to help in the future, so I think while it is a disappointment, this match is one that he can write off as a bad day and look to come back stronger than ever. Massive respect to Donica for being so open about this, the more people that can be open about mental health, the better!
“Amazing” Mara Knopic 17-9 “The Golden Mic” Emma Fyffe
A 1-0 record made Mara Knopic the favourite against Emma Fyffe (2-1) despite the lack of Schmoedown experience, but she didn’t have the best of starts in this match as she found herself up against it in Round 1, using repeats on the first 2 questions on the way to a 5-6 deficit by the end of the round.
Going into Round 2, she got herself back on track, answering 4/5 in the category of MCU for 7 points, while the one steal chance she game Emma was missed. Coming to the Wheel herself, Fyffe originally spun DCEU, but clearly did not feel confident enough in the category and spun again, landing on Marvel. At this point, things went horribly wrong for the manager of the Fyffe Club as she only managed to earn 1 point in the category, while Knopic was able to steal 3 of the 4 opportunities that came her way for 5 points, leaving the score 17-7 in favour of the Brown Dwarf Star.
Fyffe went into Round 3 knowing that she needed to hit all 3 of her questions and while she started well by getting 2 points in the category of Weapons, Tech, Vehicles & Magical Objects, she was unable to get her 3 point question in Back to the Future – possibly making an enemy of Schmoedown Rundown host Brad Gilmore in the process – to give Knopic the TKO victory.
Knopic’s Round 2 performance in both Marvel categories will be a good reminder to her rivals that she is a dangerous competitor, but we probably need to wait for her semi-final match to get a more accurate idea of her breadth of knowledge as 5 points this time certainly didn’t match up to her 8 points against Coy Jandreau. If I was to group the Innergeekdom competitors into 3 levels right now she would be in the middle group, but a good showing in her next match could push her into the top category. As for Fyffe, she again showed that while she is strong in a couple of categories, she does not have the breadth of knowledge to compete at the top of the division. In her post-match interview, she was saying about how many of her questions in Round 2 were about films that she chooses not to think about. That is not going to get you wins against the high-level competitors and I think the recent performances of Kalinowski and Cushing in Innergeekdom and other competitors like Ben Batemen and Andrew Ghai in the Singles and Teams Division shows the importance of studying ahead of your matches, especially in the Innergeekdom Division where there is a much shorter list of films to watch and research.
Adam “The Haymaker” Hlavac 18-4 Keetin “Magic” Marchi
Having both made their Innergeekdom debuts in the Fatal Fiveway won by Mark Donica, Marchi and Hlavac were up against each other again for the final spot in the semi-finals.
Ahead of the match, I would have picked Adam as the favourite provided he could stay away from questions about Middle Earth and while he did miss on the question in that category, he took the lead on Question 3 and never looked back, building up a 8-1 lead by the end of Round 1.
Going into Round 2 and Keetin initially spun Middle Earth but did not seem sure if she should stick with it or spin again. I was yelling at the screen to stick and in hindsight she also said that she should have stuck when speaking to Jenn Sterger after the match, but she chose to spin again and ended up with DCEU. This category clearly isn’t one of her strengths and despite checking down to multiple choice 4 times, she answered 2/5 correct for 2 points, while giving away 3 points from 2 steals. She did manage to steal 1 point back on Adam’s first question in the category of Villains, but following that he correctly answered his remaining 4 questions for 7 points to confirm the win via KO – the tenth consecutive Innergeekdom match to finish with a KO or TKO!
Adam once again showed that he is a dangerous competitor due to his breadth of knowledge, especially considering Villains again covers any franchise. However he did miss what was a relatively easy Lord of the Rings question which leads me to think Middle Earth remains a danger for him. As for Keetin, this was a bad match and really didn’t do her justice. As she mentioned, she had been prepping to face Emma Fyffe before Kalinowski decided to change things up. While I don’t know how Keetin preps, I imagine that she has focused on categories like Harry Potter that she knows Fyffe will be strong in to ensure she does not give possible steal opportunities. Had she prepped to face Hlavac, I feel that she would have done more studying in comic book categories like DCEU. I think more than this though, she got in her own head early in the match. She appeared to struggle under the lights on her debut but was under less pressure against Knight as she was not playing form behind. Missing on Middle Earth and Harry Potter in the first 4 questions to go 3-1 down against a dangerous competitor possibly flustered her and once that happens it’s very easy to fall apart under the pressure. Sadly, I made the mistake of scrolling down to the comments on the video and the number of people saying she has no place in in the league was disgusting. Not everyone can be a title contender, but she brings a lot to the division and much like Coy Jandreau brings a fun personality to matches. I would love to see her make a return soon to get over this disappointment with a match against a competitor like Fyffe or Coy.
After Mara’s victory, KOmmissioner Kalinowski entered her post-match interview to announce that she would be playing Rachel Cushing, which in turn means that he will be facing Hlavac.
These will be 2 good matches and while I think any competitor could win on the day, I’m predicting a Cushing v Kalinowski final as they just don’t seem to have holes in their game at the moment.
What did you think of these matches? Who caught your eye this round? Who do you think will make the final? Let me know your thoughts below