LET THEM FIGHT PART II: The Team Matches We Want in 2019!

LET THEM FIGHT PART II: The Team Matches We Want in 2019!

Back in 2018, I made a decision to expand my focus to include the Movie Trivia Schmoedown – a combination of movie trivia and WWE entertainment. As the brand grew, my writing on here came to an end in November 2018 as I was given the chance to write for their new website, TriviaSD.com along with a number of other Schmoedown bloggers. Recently it was announced that as the crew’s focus is needed elsewhere, it was announced that the site will be coming to an end. This means that the Schmoedown will be making a return to this site!

First of all, I want to give a big thank yous:

  • To Schmoedown creator and Chairman of the league Kristian Harloff and TriviaSD.com Managing Editor William Bibbiani for giving me the chance to write for the site
  • To the cast and crew, who continue to create an amazing product that is just going from strength to strength
  • To the fans, who have helped to create such an amazing community

Over the coming weeks, I will be posting my articles from the site onto here. As some of these are almost a year old, some of them are somewhat outdated and may have proved to be completely off the mark.

Posted to TriviaSD.com 7/12/2018


What a year it’s been in the Teams Division! The Patriots’ domination ended at the hands of Above The Line, leading to their breakup. Above The Line successfully defended their title but relinquished the belts when Samm Levine stepped away. The Shirewolves formed and went 4-0 to claim the vacant title. Oh, and a little thing called Anarchy saw a bunch of new teams form!

The Teams Division is probably the strongest it has ever been, with so many teams that could make a push for the belts. And the best bit about this depth: there are so many amazing match-ups that we are yet to see! Yesterday I picked five matches I’d love to see in 2019 from the Singles Division and now I give you five matches for the Teams Division:

Who’s The Boss? vs. Founding Fathers

A match that I think many of us expected to see during this year’s Ultimate Schmoedown. The Founding Fathers’ loss to KOrruption put an end to that hope but at least we can feature on this list! This match gives us the original three Singles Champions in Rocha, Murrell and Reilly, while Ben Bateman is a clear talent and I would argue that his 4-4 record in Singles doesn’t do him justice. Who’s The Boss looks like one of the strongest and most well-rounded teams in the league, but you’d never rule out a team containing Rocha and Murrell. This could potentially see a new record points score!

The Paddington Two vs. Top That

Two teams featuring competitors we have not seen much of this season. There is clearly a wealth of knowledge between them but perhaps a lack of experience in the league, so a match between these teams could be evenly matched. Add to that the history between Atchity and the Top That guys (Atchity beat them with Rotten Tomatoes back when they were still known as IGN) and this could be a chance for Goldman and Vejvoda to finally get some revenge on “The Kahuna”.

Wildberries vs. Kinda Funny

Kinda Funny made a great debut this season by beating Funhaus via TKO, and now… they need to challenge the Wildberries. Josh Macuga and Nick Scarpino put on a good match early this season in the Singles League and if you now add Greg Miller, Eliot Dewberry and manager Ricky Hayberg to the mix, you can guarantee things are going to get loud and boisterous!

Critically Acclaimed vs. The Odd Couple

Potentially a contender for match of the year, this match sees one half of the Patriots as well as Marc Andreyko – who has really started to reach his potential this season – facing off against former Singles Champion William Bibbiani and his partner Witney Seibold, who has yet to compete in Singles but has done great in Teams. There is such a wealth of knowledge between these four competitors and plenty of experience to boot. Could this be the match where Andreyko finally gets one over on Bibbiani?

Superhero News vs. World’s Finest

How great would it be to see a matchup between these two teams that debuted this season? Sean Gerber and Sabina Graves have taken over the mantle of Superhero News and worked their way to a 1-1 record before being split up during Anarchy. The World’s Finest have a 2-1 record which included a loss in a Number 1 Contender match to the Shirewolves and a match against Superhero News could be a great way to return from their Anarchy split. This match could conceivably come down to who manages to spin Comic Book Movies in Round 2!

Let me know what you think of these matches. I’d love to hear what matchups you’d love to see in 2019!

LET THEM FIGHT: The Singles Matches We Want in 2019!

LET THEM FIGHT: The Singles Matches We Want in 2019!

Back in 2018, I made a decision to expand my focus to include the Movie Trivia Schmoedown – a combination of movie trivia and WWE entertainment. As the brand grew, my writing on here came to an end in November 2018 as I was given the chance to write for their new website, TriviaSD.com along with a number of other Schmoedown bloggers. Recently it was announced that as the crew’s focus is needed elsewhere, it was announced that the site will be coming to an end. This means that the Schmoedown will be making a return to this site!

First of all, I want to give a big thank yous:

  • To Schmoedown creator and Chairman of the league Kristian Harloff and TriviaSD.com Managing Editor William Bibbiani for giving me the chance to write for the site
  • To the cast and crew, who continue to create an amazing product that is just going from strength to strength
  • To the fans, who have helped to create such an amazing community

Over the coming weeks, I will be posting my articles from the site onto here. As some of these are almost a year old, some of them are somewhat outdated and may have proved to be completely off the mark.

Posted to TriviaSD.com 6/12/2018


The Schmoedown has come a long way from its early days and one of the more notable ways it has changed – aside from the look of the show – is the roster of talent available. Each season we see the roster growing and growing as new talent joins the league. Just look at this year’s rookie class, which includes Mara Knopic, Ethan Erwin, Jeannine the Machine and Chance Ellison to name just a few, while other stars like Mark Reilly and Dan Murrell have also returned from breaks.

One of the best bits about an increased talent pool is the ability to schedule more matches between competitors who have never played each other before. There will always be matches that people would love to see for a number of reasons, ranging from potential storylines, to tests of who is the better of two superstars… and then other matches that will just be downright fun! As we come towards the end of the season, I have put together a list of matchups that we don’t appear to be getting this year that would likely provide some great matches in 2019.

Rachel Cushing vs. Dan Murrell

Everyone always gets excited at the thought of Dan and Samm Levine facing off to see who truly is the GOAT, but as they have already faced each other before Samm’s incredible run, I have had to look elsewhere for a worthy opponent for Dan. Last year’s Rookie of the Year has been one of the stars of the Schmoedown over all 3 of the main divisions, with an accuracy percentage that very few can match. It’s just a matter of time until she comes into the GOAT conversation, so what better way to get things rolling than with a match against “Dangerous” Dan Murrell?

William Bibbiani vs. Lon Harris

Two titans of movie trivia whose Singles records don’t really represent their ability. Bibbiani (5-5) and Harris (3-2) will be facing each other early next season in the Teams Division, but a Singles match could also be fantastic! Harris has made it clear that he wants several less mainstream categories brought into the league, but I get the feeling that if anyone could know the names Harris throws out, it would be Bibbiani. Interestingly, both competitors are very impressive in Round 1 but a bit more hit and miss in the later rounds… so how about we make this an Iron Man match and see if “The Beast” can school “The Professor?”

Drew McWeeny vs. John Rocha 

Two titans of the Schmoedown who have at times proved to be inconsistent in the Singles Division. Rocha and McWeeny both have vast ranges of knowledge and their strong suits seem similarly matched. I can almost guarantee categories like Biopics and Westerns will be on the Wheel for this match and, as a one-off, maybe McWeeny go back to his original nickname of “The Sheriff” in order to take down “The Outlaw”?

Brianne Chandler vs. Stacy Howard 

Former teammates going against each other will always make for an interesting story. With Brianne’s only match outside the Teams Division this season being her Free 4 All victory, there has not really been a chance to see her take on any of the Viper Squad since she walked out on Stacy and Jay at last year’s Spectacular. Will time have been a healer, or will the Viper Squad be looking to get the one up on Miss Movies? One thing we know for certain: we’d be getting some great entrances in this match!

Ken Napzok vs. Tom Dagnino

Like Chandler vs. Howard, this match would see former faction mates going against each other. Napzok famously walked away from the Lions Den at this year’s Collider Collision and took Mark Donica with him, and he has also been heavily involved in managing Mike Kalinowski and Chance Ellison as part of KOrruption. Dagnino meanwhile kept hold of JTE and is currently working with Ben Bateman and Mark Reilly. We got a tease when the two faced off between rounds as Who’s The Boss? faced KOrruption. If you had these two face off in a match, the trivia would probably be okay, but the lines we’d have from these competitors could make it one of the most fun matches to watch next season!

Winners and Losers from the 2019 Ashes

Winners and Losers from the 2019 Ashes

With all the rugby, football and cycling going on over the last couple of months, there was one sport that was grabbing my attention more the usual: the cricket. The reason for this was clear: the Ashes was on and taking place in England.

The first Test at Edgbaston saw England go on the back foot, losing star bowler James Anderson after just 4 overs on the way to a 251 run loss. The weather proved crucial at Lord’s as England ran out of time to collect the wickets they needed, resulting in the 2nd Test ending as a draw. In the 3rd Test, an inspired performance from Ben Stokes snatched a 1 wicket victory from the jaws of defeat and left hopes of an England series victory alive. This was soon ended, however, by a 185 run victory for Australia in the 4th test at Old Trafford that confirmed they would retain the Ashes. Perhaps they partied too hard following that result, as they struggled at the Oval, with England winning the final Test by 135 runs to draw the series 2-2.

While some players had ludicrously impressive performances throughout the series, there were others who – to put it kindly – stunk! Today, I will be looking back at the biggest winners and losers from the series.

The Winners

Steve Smith: Making his return to Test cricket following a ban for his part in the ball-tampering scandal, Steve Smith was always set for some rough treatment from the partisan home crowds. Such were his performances in the series though, that when he walked off in the final innings for a series-worst 23 runs, he was treated to cheers and applause. How did he do this? He became the star of the series. His 774 runs in just 7 innings has already put him as the top run scorer in Test cricket this year despite starting over half a year after most players. Try as they might, England were unable to get him out when it mattered, while he also made a number of key catches in the slips to play a key role in retaining the Ashes.

England’s opening bowlers: Losing star bowler James Anderson after just 4 overs in the first Test could have derailed the series for England before it had barely begun. However, England recovered well. Suddenly thrust into the leadership role within the attack, Stuart Broad excelled with 23 wickets (best in the team) at an average of 26.65 runs per wicket. In place of Anderson, Jofra Archer came into the Test team for his debut and showed just how good he can be. His pace and bouncers had batsmen rattled and he finished the series with just 1 wicket less than Broad for an average of 20.27, the best average of any England bowler in the series. With Anderson, Broad and Archer all huge dangers, England have the flexibility moving forward to appropriately rest the ageing Anderson and Broad while remaining dangerous. And the best part… Jofra should only get better with more experience!

Ben Stokes: Already a national hero this summer for his role in England’s Cricket World Cup victory, Ben Stokes produced an innings that will go down in legends during the 3rd Test at Headingley. With England chasing a 2nd innings score of 358 following a 67-run disaster in the 1st innings. With everyone getting out around him, Stokes did what his teammates were finding impossible to do, digging in and giving England fans the slightest of hope. When 11th man Jack Leach came in with the score at 286-9, things looked to be over, but Stokes went from staying in to smashing the ball wherever he could, eventually hitting a boundary to win England the Test with a score of 135*. Expanding on this match, Stokes was the highest scoring batsman for England (441 runs) and contributed 15 wickets with his bowling despite a shoulder injury making him a specialist batsman in the last Test. After the summer he’s had, he’s in with a great shot of winning Sports Personality of the Year.

Jack Leach: While Stokes got the glory from the 3rd Test, that match also helped to make Jack Leach a cult figure. After a 92-run stand as nightwatchman against Ireland, Leach continued to show his ability to get in and stay in as a tail-ender even against an elite bowling attack, becoming a cult figure with his repeated cleaning of his glasses. Though his own run totals were limited, it gave England a chance when they get towards their final few batsmen, while he also brought some danger to the bowling attack with 12 wickets for an average of 25.83. It looks like he’s done enough to hold his spot even if Moeen Ali returns to form.

Rory Burns: So things didn’t really go well for either set of openers in this series, but Rory Burns was head, shoulders, knees and toes above the rest of them. He finished the series with 390 runs, second only to Ben Stokes in the England team and was the only England batsman other than Stokes to hit a century, with a high score of 133. The opening pair has been a real issue for England for years. It feels like Burns has done enough to cement himself as one of the pair.

Marnus Labuschagne: Steve Smith’s concussion that saw him miss the 2nd innings of the 2nd Test and the entire 3rd Test could have been critical, but instead it brought his replacement Marnus Labuschagne to the fore. Despite taking a Jofra Archer bouncer to the head almost immediately, he went on to become Smith’s doppelgänger, reaching 50 in each of his first 4 innings. Smith’s return saw him stay in the order and be promoted to 3rd on the order. Creating a long-standing partnership as inevitable as death and taxes, it looks like he and Smith will be a fixture in the team for them to build their batting line-up around.

Aussie bowling: While the England batting was often poor, they were not helped by the best bowling attack in the world being on form. Pat Cummins was the bowler of the series, taking 29 wickets over the 5 Tests for an average of 19.62. Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon both contributed 20 wickets. Even maligned bowler Mitchell Marsh managed to take 7 wickets in just 1 Test. Such was the quality of the options available, Mitchell Starc was only involved in 1 Test. While England’s poor batting certainly helped, don’t expect them tobe the last team to struggle under the Australian onslaught

The Losers

David Warner: Steve Smith wasn’t the only one making his return to Test cricket following the ball-tampering scandal, as Steve Smith was part of Australia’s opening pair for all 5 Tests. Unfortunately for Warner, the similarities ended there as he finished the series with a disappointing 95 runs total. While that is already the worst total for an opener batting in 10 innings, what makes things even worse is that 61 of those runs came in a single innings, while he became the first opening batsman in any Test series ever, to be out for eight single digit scores… ouch!

Jason Roy: There were plenty of questions over the selection of Jason Roy as an opener in this series. Clearly a talented player, he is not currently cut out for opening in Test cricket. Over 4 Tests, Roy totalled just 110 runs with a high score of 31. He looked a bit more comfortable when moved down the order for the 4th Test, but still needed to work on batting to stay in. He made way for Sam Curran for the final Test as Stokes was playing as a specialist batsman, but will hopefully be given another chance around the number 5 spot and against a more forgiving bowling attack.

Joe Root: Joe Root is a fantastic player and arguably England’s best Test batsman. Unfortunately, the pressures of captaincy appear to be having an effect on his batting, where he is struggling to keep his average up. Add in some questionable selection decisions and use of his bowlers through the tournament and a number of costly drops, and things don’t look good for him. The fact that England came away with a drawn series and looked good value for the win had it not been for the reduced overs in the 2nd Test – despite being arguably the second-best team in the series – has potentially just saved Root from losing the captaincy.

Tim Paine: He may have just retained the Ashes, but this was not a good series for the Australian captain. There were a number of questionable selection decisions (the final Test looked to have a dream wicket for Mitchell Starc) and tactical decisions (his decision on winning the toss at the final Test was proved horribly wrong). His batting wasn’t great, and he had a number of costly drops as wicketkeeper. But by far the worst facet of his series was his use of the DRS reviews. It got to the point that it felt like every decision he made relating to DRS was the wrong one! Retaining the Ashes – and how recent Smith has returned to the Test squad – may help him keep hold of the Ashes for a little longer, but if feels like his days are numbered.

RWC2019: Players to Watch – Pool D

RWC2019: Players to Watch – Pool D

We are just days away from the start of the Rugby World Cup and we now know the players who will be on show. With the 31-man squads finalised, it’s time to start taking a look at the squads and looking at who will stand out during this tournament. In 2015, Nehe Milner-Skudder made his all Blacks debut in August, before going on to be a star of the tournament and make the tournament dream team, along with Japanese fullback Ayumu Goromaru, who definitely wasn’t known to the masses before the tournament.

With so many people who aren’t die-hard rugby fans set to watch the tournament, or many whose knowledge is maybe limited to their own nation’s players, I decided to do something similar to my Players to Watch in the Six Nations article, and expand that to each team of the World Cup. While I try to watch as much rugby as I can around the world, you’ll see that even I have blank spots as I select some players that may be bigger names in their teams, but they still may be lesser-known names to the wider public.


Journey to RWC2019 series:


Who are you looking out for during the tournament? And so we make it to Pool D:

Australia

Samu Kerevi may have 20+ caps to his name already, but I would argue that he has never really made a name for himself until this season. Though the Reds failed to make the playoffs this season, Kerevi finished in the top 10 for carries (220 – 1st), clean breaks (26 – 5th), defenders beaten (71 – 2nd) and offloads (26 – 2nd). He has carried that form into the Rugby Championship and has surely secured himself a spot in the Wallabies midfield.

Wales

The Wales squad has been relatively settled in recent years, allowing all the players to establish themselves, but for this I have gone for Josh Navidi. Having competed for minutes with Martyn Williams and Sam Warburton, he is a great openside flanker, who is at home anywhere in the back row – giving Warren Gatland more options with Taulupe Faletau out injured. Dangerous at the breakdown, he is also well accomplished at holding a player up to turn the ball over with a maul and his skills with ball in hand are massively underrated.

Georgia

Vasil Lobzhanidze was going to be my pick here, until I got the chance to watch Georgia’s warm-up matches against Scotland. While watching this, fly half Tedo Abzhandadze caught my eye and I was shocked to find that he was already a regular starter for the senior side despite being just 20 years old. Captain of the Georgian U20s team that beat Scotland and Fiji in the most recent World Rugby U20s Championship, the young 10 showed his range of skills at Murrayfield and controlled the game well. Now the question will be how he holds up in a major senior international tournament.

Fiji

I was going to write about rugby league convert Semi Radradra initially, but when push came to shove I couldn’t ignore Viliame Mata. The Edinburgh number 8 was named Players’ Player of the Year at the end of season Pro14 awards. Part of the Fiji 7s squad that won Gold at Rio 2016, he is an incredible danger in the loose with his strong running and ridiculous offloads. The thought of him, Semi Kunatani and Leone Nakarawa in the pack together is mouth-watering!

Uruguay

Probably one of the hardest to pick due to my own unfamiliarity with the Uruguayans. While I was tempted to go for Gastón Mieres, one of the Uruguayans making a name for themselves in Major League Rugby, I found myself instead picking Felipe Berchesi. Playing for Dax, who were just relegated from Pro D2, he is used to a decent level of rugby, while he has over 30 caps for Uruguay including 3 starts at RWC2015 and also featured at the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens.


I’m running a fantasy rugby league for the World Cup on the Rugby Magazine website, and you are all invited to join! Simply follow this link and use the Unique Token: b6c1e40d48e6

Will you be picking any of these players in your squad?

#GOATWATCH: Which Faction is the Greatest of All Time?

#GOATWATCH: Which Faction is the Greatest of All Time?

Back in 2018, I made a decision to expand my focus to include the Movie Trivia Schmoedown – a combination of movie trivia and WWE entertainment. As the brand grew, my writing on here came to an end in November 2018 as I was given the chance to write for their new website, TriviaSD.com along with a number of other Schmoedown bloggers. Recently it was announced that as the crew’s focus is needed elsewhere, it was announced that the site will be coming to an end. This means that the Schmoedown will be making a return to this site!

First of all, I want to give a big thank yous:

  • To Schmoedown creator and Chairman of the league Kristian Harloff and TriviaSD.com Managing Editor William Bibbiani for giving me the chance to write for the site
  • To the cast and crew, who continue to create an amazing product that is just going from strength to strength
  • To the fans, who have helped to create such an amazing community

Over the coming weeks, I will be posting my articles from the site onto here. As some of these are almost a year old, some of them are somewhat outdated and may have proved to be completely off the mark.

Posted to TriviaSD.com 23/11/2018


Ever since John Rocha began planning the domination of the Schmoedown with the creation of the Four Horsemen, factions have been running rampant through the league.

The benefits of a faction are clear: you have the support of other experienced competitors around you, who can help you improve your knowledge and your tactics, give you moral support and help you stand up to your rivals… and most importantly join you in your theatrical entrances!

Some factions have had limited success and soon disbanded or faded away, while some have gone on to great heights and will likely go on forever in the memories of Schmoedown fans. But, as with the debate over who is the greatest competitor of all time, the same debate can be had for the factions.

So, let’s have a look at them!

The Four Horsemen

Members: John Rocha, Matt Knost, William Bibbiani, Robert Meyer Burnett

The first faction to form in the Schmoedown. Top 10 teammates John Rocha and Matt Knost brought in William Bibbiani following his debut victory over Marc Andreyko, where he set a new points record in the Singles Division, and then completed their stable at Schmoedown Spectacular with the addition of inaugural Innergeekdom Champion Robert Meyer Burnett.

In direct competition with the Lion’s Den, the Horsemen struggled to live up to expectations. Rocha beat Dan Murrell to win the Singles title, but lost it on his first defence against Mark Reilly. Top 10 lost the Teams Title at Spectacular to The Patriots. Burnett lost his title to Hector Navarro in his first defence and Bibbiani lost to JTE (his first solo victory in over 2 years), then TKO’d Eliot Dewberry, but then lost to Kristian Harloff.

And then, following Rocha’s title loss at Collider Collision, Bibbiani betrayed Rocha and announced that he was forming his new faction – The Growling Commandos – with Ricky Hayberg managing. Then, just days later, Burnett also announced that he was leaving the faction and joined the Lion’s Den, bringing an end to the Four Horsemen.

Opinion: Aside from Rocha’s title victory, there was very little for the Four Horsemen to write home about as they were too often on the losing side, especially in big matches.

The Lion’s Den

Members: Tom Dagnino/Finstock, JTE, Jeff Sneider (former), Marc Andreyko (former), Ken Napzok (former), Mark Donica (former), Robert Meyer Burnett (former), Grace Hancock (former), Dan Murrell (former)

Following “The Decision,” JTE split with Finstock but was turned down by Clarke Wolfe, so instead he teamed up with Jeff Sneider to create The Patriots. Finstock later returned to manage The Patriots following his split with Josh Macuga and brought in Marc Andreyko as a 4th member, as he wanted a second shot at new Horseman Bibbiani. The Patriots won the Teams Title by beating Top 10, while the faction also convinced Singles Champion Dan Murrell to join them following his victory over Mark Ellis.

Murrell lost his belt soon after to John Rocha and left the faction, citing a lack of support and Findreyko (Marc Andreyko as Finstock) and Dagnino both lost to Josh Macuga, but these were small blips in the faction’s fortunes in 2017.

The Patriots went unbeaten for the year, Jeff Sneider made it to a number 1 contender match, where he lost to Kristian Harloff, and JTE started winning again! The Lion’s Den then picked up Burnett after he chose to leave the Horsemen following Bibbiani’s betrayal, and he joined with Andreyko to create a second team, Blofeld’s Cat.

The big moment came in December 2017 as after Sam Witwer booked his place in the Star Wars title match, Dagnino emerged to announce that Ken Napzok had joined the Den, closely followed by Ken betraying his Nerd’s Watch teammate Rachel Cushing and making her take on Blofeld’s Cat in a 2v1 handicapped match (which she almost won). Napzok lost his Star Wars title at Schmoedown Spectacular 2, Tom Dagnino came up just short to Emma Fyffe in the inaugural Manager’s Bowl, Napzok lost his Star Wars title and Andreyko defected to the Fyffe Club, leading to Burnett being cast out as there was no longer any need for him with Blofeld’s Cat gone.

Following an impressive debut, The Den brought in Mark Donica to be their new Innergeekdom competitor and he made it to a title match, where he lost to Jason Inman. JTE lost in a triple threat number 1 contender match to Rachel Cushing to start the year and then to Rocha at the first live event, then The Patriots’ streak of victories came to an end when they lost to Above The Line in their 7th title defence, and they lost again to the Champions in an Iron Man match at Collision 2.

It was at this moment that the Den fell apart, as Ken left after finding out Dagnino was trying to trade some of the faction to other managers, Donica left with him and Sneider also walked away, leaving the Den with just Dagnino and JTE.

Opinion: The Patriots’ title successes are the foundation of this faction, along with some runs in singles from JTE and Sneider and a strong start from Donica. However, the faction’s overall record sits at almost .500 now including 7-5 in title matches. The real strength of this faction has been their ability to keep rebooting with new members, so it will be interesting to see who Tom Dagnino/Finstock brings in next.

Fyffe Club

Members: Emma Fyffe, Marc Andreyko, Clarke Wolfe, Rachel Cushing, Sam Witwer

Created at Schmoedown Spectacular 2, Marc Andreyko secretly defected from the Lion’s Den, allowing Emma Fyffe to win the inaugural Manager’s Bowl. Following Sam Witwer’s victory over Ken Napzok, he was also brought into the Fyffe Club. Off the back of Napzok’s betrayal, Rachel Cushing joined up with Clarke Wolfe to become the Shirewolves and they quickly joined the Fyffe Club to create the league’s babyface faction.

The Shirewolves got revenge on The Lion’s Den with a debut victory in the Teams Division and went on to win the vacant Teams Title with 4 unbeaten matches. The Singles Division has been rather successful for the faction too. Rachel Cushing came to the faction with a title shot confirmed but, playing in the 5-round format for the first time, she came up just short against Samm Levine. Fyffe used her reward for winning the Manager’s Bowl to arrange a number 1 contender match for Wolfe against Mike Kalinowski. She won this but lost to Levine in Sudden Death. Andreyko won against Ben Bateman, a Triple Threat at Collision against Stacy Howard and Jeannine and then a number 1 contender match against Ethan Erwin to set up a shot for the vacant Singles Title against William Bibbiani, but like the ladies before him he came up just short.

In Innergeekdom, Emma managed to reach the 2nd round of the tournament, where she lost to Mara Knopic, while Rachel lost to Knopic in the next round in one of the most amazing (no pun intended) Sudden Deaths we will ever see. Unfortunately for Sam Witwer, he has been unable to play this year, which saw him being stripped of the belt, which was won by Alex Damon. Marc Andreyko also had some early success with Jeff Sneider as part of the Anarchy team The Odd Couple, where they won 2 matches before losing to the Harris Brothers.

Opinion: If picking the faction of the 2018 season, they Fyffe Club win hands down as they have had three competitors fight for the Singles title while the Shirewolves are Team Champions and arguably one of the strongest teams in the division. If they can start getting more victories in title matches, then they will arguably become the greatest faction of all time.

The Five Horsemen

Members: John Rocha, Matt Knost, Dan Murrell, Mark Reilly, Jason Inman

After beating JTE at the first live event, Rocha suggested that he would be reforming the Four Horsemen to take down the Lion’s Den once and for all. After plenty of time speculating who would be the new Horsemen, we finally got the reveal in stunning fashion at the next live event, with Jason Inman and Mark Reilly – back from retirement – joining the Top 10 boys on stage.

But there was more: after weeks of Andrew Ghai going around claiming he had beat Dan Murrell, the GOAT came out of retirement and was revealed as a fifth Horseman, making arguably one of the strongest factions on paper to ever feature.

Things didn’t start as they’d have hoped though: both Murrell and Reilly were TKO’d by Andrew Ghai on their return and Jason Inman lost his Innergeekdom title to Mara Knopic. John Rocha has once again been giving the Horsemen their title success with a run in the Singles Division that saw him beat both members of Team Action before winning the belt back from Bibbiani. In Anarchy, Rocha and Murrell formed one of the favourites for the title in the Founding Fathers, but they lost their second-round match to KOrruption in controversial fashion to bring an early end to their campaign. Knost was paired with former stablemate Bibbiani, who also lost in the second round to Who’s the Boss?

Reilly has seen success in the tournament, though alongside Ben Bateman, as part of Who’s The Boss? as they won the Anarchy tournament and will now face the Shirewolves at Spectacular. Murrell is the only competitor featured in the Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Tournament, the winner of which will face Rocha for the title at Spectacular.

Opinion: It’s still early to judge the Five Horsemen but they have recovered from some early stumbles to win the Singles title, while Murrell could conceivably win the Ultimate Schmoedown to set up an all-Horsemen title match. They may have lost the Innergeekdom title but Jason Inman is still one of the top competitors in the division. There was a good level of success in the Teams division and there is a chance Reilly could end the season with a belt, however with the success he is having with Bateman and Dagnino… will he remain a Horseman for much longer?

Viper Squad

Members: Jay Washington, Stacy Howard, Markeia McCarty, Jeannine LC, Brianne Chandler (former)

Originally formed when Jay Washington joined up with the team Six Degrees, and they were initially called the Missfits. The Missfits had mixed success in 2017, with both Howard and Chandler making it into the second round of the Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Tournament, while Six Degrees went out in the first round of the Teams version.

Following her loss to Mike Kalinowski, Chandler chose to step back from competing, but then reappeared at Spectacular 2 to announce that she was leaving the Missfits, before jumping in a car with Kalinowski. Stacy and Jay stayed together and brought in rookies Jeannine and Markeia to create the Viper Squad.

Results have been mixed for the Vipers this season. Stacy and Jeannine both started on strong runs in singles but lost to Andreyko in a Triple Threat match at Collision, Jeannine fell just short against Ben Bateman in the Gauntlet to enter the Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Tournament, while Stacy will face Dan Murrell in Round 1. Markeia has competed in just the one match, losing to Rachel Cushing in the opening round of the Innergeekdom tournament, while Jay also went out at the same stage.

The faction has not had much representation in the Teams Division this year until the Ultimate Schmoedown, where both Stacy and Jeannine went out in Round 1, as did Ethan Erwin, who was being managed by Jay Washington, while Markeia made it to Round 2 as manager of Take The Cannoli.

Opinion: The Viper Club have had a mixed season and not been able to make it to any title matches. However, Jay Washington has done a great job as a manager of taking on rookies and helping them bed into the league and they could still have some success in the Singles Tournament. Jay is continuing to manage Ethan Erwin for the rest of the season and if he can add Erwin and Jeannine’s War Machine teammate Brian Walton to the Vipers full-time, then 2019 could be their breakout season.

Wildberries

Members: Josh Macuga, Eliot Dewberry, Ricky Hayberg

Eliot Dewberry and Ricky Hayberg had some success in the early days of the Teams Division as ETC, however this was largely off the back of Dewberry carrying Ricky and they lost in two number 1 contender matches before Ricky brought an end to their partnership. Josh Macuga was also left without a partner after Finstock walked out on him, so the Wildman and Dewberry teamed up for the 2017 Ultimate Schmoedown Team Tournament to create the Wildberries (WILDBERRIES!).

The Wildberries went out in the first round and then lost their next match to Only Stupid Answers, before winning 2 in a row against the Reel Rejects at the first live event and the Kingsmen by TKO. When all the teams were split up and the new Anarchy teams created, the Wildberries were miraculously drawn together with Ricky as their manager, and he immediately proved to be a perfect fit to round out the faction, but they lost in the first round to the Evil Geniuses.

Ricky and Eliot have not competed in other divisions this year, but Macuga has played 3 matches, beating Nick Scarpino, losing to Stacy Howard and recently losing to Lon Harris in the first round of the Gauntlet of the Ultimate Schmoedown.

Opinion: It doesn’t matter how much you believe in the “Macuga Magic”, the best chance the faction has of appearing in a title match will be one of their competitors being the last to the table at a Free 4 All. That said, they are a fun faction to watch and they sell t-shirts, so don’t expect them to change anytime soon.

Growling Commandos

Members: William Bibbiani, Witney Seibold, Ricky Hayberg (former)

As we approached the first Collider Collision, we saw Ricky Hayberg around the Collider studios scheming, but didn’t know what was going on. We got our answer following Rocha’s loss in the Triple Threat match to Dan Murrell, as Bibbiani betrayed Rocha and walked away from the Four Horsemen to join Ricky and create the Growling Commandos, bringing in Witney Seibold to become his teammate as part of Critically Acclaimed.

Since their formation, Critically Acclaimed have gone 3-1 with 3 TKOs to their name but suffered a shock loss to Late to the Party in the first round of last year’s Ultimate Schmoedown. Bibbiani’s Singles Career has been mixed since leaving the Horsemen: Round 3 struggles continued early on as he went 1-2 before becoming MVP of Free 4 All 2 to earn a number one contender match against Jeff Sneider. A KO in that match and a win over Andreyko in the title match saw Bibbiani win the belt, but he lost it to Rocha in his first defence to end his season.

Ricky played in the Managers Bowl at Spectacular, but his performance was anything but spectacular and he left the faction ahead of Critically Acclaimed’s match against Superhero News, unhappy with the team’s nice attitudes. In the Anarchy tournament, Bibbiani made it to Round 2 as part of Cinemaniacs before losing to Who’s The Boss? while Seibold went out in the first round as part of an impressive performance for the Self-Righteous Brothers with Marc Edward Heuck and manager Jonny Loquasto.

Opinion: They are a faction very much on the backburner at the moment and besides Bibbiani’s title victory there has been limited success. There was even uncertainty as to whether Critically Acclaimed would reform following Anarchy, but their return has since been confirmed. Regardless, if they bring in Heuck and Loquasto it could be the start of a much more successful (and fun) faction.

The League

Members: Mike Kalinowski, Adam Gertler, Jonny Loquasto, Roxy Striar

Kalinowski was already an established competitor in the Singles Division, but he finally got a faction around him as Striar, Gertler and Loquasto came to join him ahead of his Innergeekdom debut. Kalinowski lost this match in the infamous “Pudding” moment and later lost to Rachel Cushing to go 0-2 in Innergeekdom, but he finished 3-2 for the season in Singles, including a run to the Ultimate Schmoedown semi-final.

Gertler joined Kalinowski in the Teams Division and DC Movie News went 2-2 for the season, but cracks appeared to be forming, following a poor loss to Top That, and Kalinowski was seen leaving Spectacular with Brianne Chandler.

Kalinowski opened this season in the Triple Threat number 1 contender match against Rachel Cushing and JTE accompanied by Miss Movies rather than his faction but had a poor match and was out early. He was selected by the Fyffe Club to face Clarke Wolfe in her number 1 contender match where he lost in Sudden Death, again with nobody from The League present. Then following DC Movie News’ loss to Team Action, Kalinowski went on a tirade against his faction and walked out on them.

Opinion: With Jonny only competing in Free 4 All 2, this faction relied on the results of Mike and his partnership with Adam for DC Movie News. They had a good degree of success in the Singles Division, while Kalinowski’s ability as a triple threat across all divisions gave them a strong base to work from.

Young Bucks

Members: Cobbster, RB3, Greg Alba, John Humphrey, Hector Navarro

Following the Wangers’ retirement match loss to the Reel Rejects, Cobbster announced that he would be forming a faction that he would manage, taking on RB3 and the Reel Rejects. Hector Navarro then joined the faction after winning the Innergeekdom Title from Robert Meyer Burnett.

Now many newer fans of the league may be reading this and wondering why they’ve never heard of the faction and there’s a good reason for that: aside from Navarro’s title defence over Jeremy Jahns, this faction just didn’t win matches and they soon disbanded.

Opinion: In a time when the Lion’s Den and Four Horsemen were vying for dominance in the league, this faction never had the strength to stand out from the bunch. Bringing in Navarro was a coup but there was just not enough success overall for them to spot high on the rankings.

Heroes

Members: Jon Schnepp, Hector Navarro, John Campea (former), Robert Meyer Burnett (former)

Were they ever really a faction? Maybe not, but they deserve a mention. Formed by Schnepp and Burnett, they beat the much-vaunted Wolves of Steel in their debut before losing to The Patriots in a number 1 contender match. Schnepp was unavailable to face Superhero News due to injury so John Campea was brought in as a third member, helping the team get back to winning ways.

The original line-up was back for another victory, this time against Team Trek. Burnett also had some success on his own as he won the inaugural Innergeekdom match, however he lost his title to Hector Navarro in his next match. Through much of this run Burnett was a part of the Four Horsemen, but after his defection to the Lion’s Den, Schnepp threw him out of the team and replaced him with his ultimate rival – Hector Navarro.

Burnett got his revenge though, as his new team Blofeld’s Cat beat Heroes in the first round of the 2017 Ultimate Schmoedown.

Opinion: As Burnett was part of the Four Horsemen at the time, they were not technically a faction, but their early success during Seasons 3 & 4 still deserves a mention and were it not for Schnepp’s untimely passing this could have been the basis for a strong faction

The Verdict:

If we’re looking to crown the greatest faction of all time, then we need to look at results rather than potential. As such, the Five Horsemen fall just short for now, but continued success could see them enter the discussion. The Fyffe Club have a better winning percentage overall than the Lion’s Den, but thanks to The Patriots the Lion’s Den have the best record in title matches (7-5 compared to 1-3). Dagnino has done a great job of keeping his faction legitimate for such a long time and modifying the line-up to keep them competitive.

But for me, the Fyffe Club’s dominance through the season and their strength in every division (when everyone is available) gets my vote, which will only get stronger if the Shirewolves defend their title and Clarke Wolfe has a strong showing in the Singles Tournament.

And now I throw the question to you: Who would you pick as the greatest faction of all time?

RWC2019: Players to Watch – Pool C

RWC2019: Players to Watch – Pool C

We are mere days away from the start of the Rugby World Cup and we now know the players who will be on show. With the 31-man squads finalised, it’s time to start taking a look at the squads and looking at who will stand out during this tournament. In 2015, Nehe Milner-Skudder made his all Blacks debut in August, before going on to be a star of the tournament and make the tournament dream team, along with Japanese fullback Ayumu Goromaru, who definitely wasn’t known to the masses before the tournament.

With so many people who aren’t die-hard rugby fans set to watch the tournament, or many whose knowledge is maybe limited to their own nation’s players, I decided to do something similar to my Players to Watch in the Six Nations article, and expand that to each team of the World Cup. While I try to watch as much rugby as I can around the world, you’ll see that even I have blank spots as I select some players that may be bigger names in their teams, but they still may be lesser-known names to the wider public.


Journey to RWC2019 series:


Today, we’re moving onto Pool C

England

As someone who can’t go a day without talking English/Premiership rugby, it wasn’t easy for me to figure out who would be the lesser-known players in the England squad. I eventually settled on Joe Cokanasiga, who at 21 years old and with just 2 seasons of Premiership Rugby under his belt is still relatively unknown. While many of the England back 3 are fast, agile but not overly physical players, Cokanasiga relishes in the physical game while also having the speed to trouble defences. Assuming the defenders manage to successfully tackle him, they then have to hope he doesn’t get the offload away. With tries against Japan and Australia in the 2018 November Tests, expect to see him adding to that list during the tournament.

France

While Antoine Dupont deserves a mention, I’ve picked Damian Penaud here for Les Bleus. Capable of playing centre but often used on the wing for the national team, Penaud has 2 tries from 11 Test matches, including 2 in this year’s Six Nations. He really appeared to come into his own down the stretch for Clermont however, and I expect him to be even better now with more experience under his belt… assuming the rest of the team perform.

Argentina

Argentina are spoiled for choice in the outside backs, but one player who looked to have all-but secured his spot in the XV before injury was winger Bautista Delguy. At just 22 years old, the winger already has 5 tries from 11 caps, including 3 from 5 Rugby Championship appearances. Argentina will create chances but don’t always have the composure to finish them. Delguy on the wing gives them that.

USA

Having won the Pro12 with Connacht and spent 3 seasons with Sale, AJ MacGinty still goes relatively under the radar, but my pick here instead goes to Joe Taufete’e. The Worcester hooker has found himself stuck behind Jack Singleton in recent seasons, but has shown his quality for the Eagles with 20 tries from 22 appearances, making him the tight 5 player with the most international tries. With experience of his English opponents and a strong runner with ball in hand, Taufete’e is one of the players leading USA rugby into a new era.

Tonga

At 31 years old, Sione Kalamafoni is a well-established player, but despite plenty of years in the Premiership with Gloucester and Leicester, is someone who goes relatively under the radar. Kalamafoni has vital experience to help Tonga in a tough pool, while he will tackle all… day… long. On top of that, he also has a good turn of pace in the loose that will catch the opposition out if they leave him too much space.

Who are you looking out for during the tournament?


I’m running a fantasy rugby league for the World Cup on the Rugby Magazine website, and you are all invited to join! Simply follow this link and use the Unique Token: b6c1e40d48e6

Will you be picking any of these players in your squad?

RWC2019: Players to Watch – Pool B

RWC2019: Players to Watch – Pool B

We are just days away from the start of the Rugby World Cup and we now know the players who will be on show. With the 31-man squads finalised, it’s time to start taking a look at the squads and looking at who will stand out during this tournament. In 2015, Nehe Milner-Skudder made his all Blacks debut in August, before going on to be a star of the tournament and make the tournament dream team, along with Japanese fullback Ayumu Goromaru, who definitely wasn’t known to the masses before the tournament.

With so many people who aren’t die-hard rugby fans set to watch the tournament, or many whose knowledge is maybe limited to their own nation’s players, I decided to do something similar to my Players to Watch in the Six Nations article, and expand that to each team of the World Cup. While I try to watch as much rugby as I can around the world, you’ll see that even I have blank spots as I select some players that may be bigger names in their teams, but they still may be lesser-known names to the wider public.


Journey to RWC2019 series:


Who are you looking out for during the tournament? Today, we’ll look at Pool B:

New Zealand

Ngani Laumape was going to be my pick here until his shock omission, so I have instead chosen to look at Sevu Reece. I made mention of Nehe Milner-Skudder earlier in the article and he is basically the Milner-Skudder of the 2019 All Blacks squad, having only made his debut in recent months. With pace, power and footwork, Reece looks the real deal and comes into the tournament having been the top try scorer in the last Super Rugby season.

South Africa

The first 2 rounds of Super Rugby made it clear that I had to pick to Herschel Jantjies. The Stormers scrum half did me some help in my fantasy team this year but even I wouldn’t have imagined his international career would begin with 3 tries in 2 Rugby Championship games and a draw against New Zealand in Wellington. Capable of controlling the game well enough to lead the team, he is such a danger with ball in hand if given too much space. Between him, Faf de Klerk and Cobus Reinach, head coach Rassie Erasmus is spoiled for choice at 9.

Italy

While I have to mention Gloucester’s Jake Polledri who I rate highly, I am going to the backs again here with my selection of Matteo Minozzi. The fullback missed this year’s Six Nations through injury, but proved himself to be a potent attacking talent in the 2018 tournament with 4 tries in 5 games. Part of the rebuild going on at Wasps this summer after moving from Zebre, Minozzi will be looking to make up for lost time. Expect him to run riot against Namibia and Canada.

Namibia

This was the hardest of the 20 teams competing to pick by a country mile. Reynaldo Bothma was going to be my pick here until he recently announced his retirement – I really hope there was no pressure from Harlequins affecting that decision – so in his absence I have picked Aranos Coetzee. The prop gets a selection here by virtue of his experience of playing at a relatively high level, having played for Racing, Brive and the Cheetahs all in top tier leagues while also featuring for South Africa’s U18s team back in the day. An experienced prop will be invaluable during the tournament.

Canada

Canada are a team that have really struggled for success in recent years, but if they are to have any success in the tournament, D. T. H. van der Merwe will surely be involved. The winger bizarrely struggled to get any time at Newcastle Falcons but has excelled at the Scarlets and in 2 spells with Glasgow. Internationally, he has scored 38 tries in 57 caps and has started every game at the last 3 World Cups, scoring 6 tries – including 4 in the 2015 tournament.


I’m running a fantasy rugby league for the World Cup on the Rugby Magazine website, and you are all invited to join! Simply follow this link and use the Unique Token: b6c1e40d48e6

Will you be picking any of these players in your squad?