Hodge/Yato: What A Mess

Hodge/Yato: What A Mess

As we reach the 3rd round of World Cup matches, we have been blessed with plenty of fantastic rugby, even if the heat and humidity has led to a high number of handling errors. However, all that rugby was overshadowed in the news for the best part of a week, focusing on just a couple of seconds on the pitch.

The second match of the tournament saw Australia take on Fiji in a match that I thought had the potential to be the big upset of the tournament. It certainly looked like it could go that way, as Fiji started strong and had control for much of the first half. With 25 minutes on the clock and the score at 7-11 to Fiji, the islanders released Peceli Yato – who to this point had been the best player on the pitch – down the 5m channel following a lineout. The back row made good ground, before eventually being felled by a combination of Nic White and Reece Hodge. While White’s tackle was fine, Hodge’s didn’t look right on first viewing and it looked even worse as the broadcasters replayed it. There was little (to none) attempt to wrap an arm and there was clearly contact with Yato’s head – so much so that Yato was forced off the field for a HIA, which he failed!

Now let’s take a moment here to remind ourselves of the new high tackle framework that was brought in at the end of last season:

rugby high tackle framework

Apply that to the Hodge tackle. Is there foul play? Yes. Is it a shoulder charge or high tackle? The framework describes a shoulder charge as the tackling arm being behind the body or in a sling position, so while there is no real attempt to wrap – High Tackle. Shoulder/arm? Shoulder. Direct to the head/neck? Yes. Degree of danger? Hodge is attempting a dominant tackle – High. Before looking for mitigating factors, are there any aggravating factors? Hodge has a clear line of sight in open space – Yes. As there are aggravating factors, mitigating factors do not come into consideration. Result: RED CARD

So what happened in the match? Well apparently nothing. Play appeared to continue without referee Ben O’Keeffe referring the challenge to TMO Rowan Kitt – O’Keeffe would have been largely unsighted as he was behind Yato – or Kitt intervening in the game. So Fiji lost one of their stars and Australia, who should have played over half the game a man down, kept 15 men on the field. Even more galling, Hodge went on to contribute 8 points in a 39-21 victory. It was later revealed that the challenge was referred to the TMO, but Kitt felt that it was acceptable. Given that the referral wasn’t clear to TV viewers, it must have been the most cursory look from Kitt and I struggle to see how he could have not felt that this deserved even a penalty according to the framework if he was doing his job properly.

Unsurprisingly, Hodge was cited following the match and ended up with a 3-week ban (cut down from 6 weeks).

feat rugby hodge yato

While this could have been everything and the end of a poor moment from the TMO, the story only continues as reactions came in to the citing and ban. Michael Cheika blasted the Fijian coaches for being nice to his face and going behind his back to report the tackle to the citing commissioners. This is such a pathetic argument as the coaches have no responsibility to tell Cheika they are referring the incident, while it is hard to imagine the citing commissioner would not have chosen to review the incident anyway. Cheika also refused to accept that the challenge was a red card – even when saying they will not appeal the ban. The framework clearly proves that it was a red card, but as Cheika said following a penalty against Samu Kerevi in Australia’s match against Wales “I honestly don’t know the rules anymore.” – Pretty embarrassing for the head coach of a Tier 1 international team.

Things only got worse as the report form the tribunal made note that Hodge was unaware of the high tackle framework. As I said to some of my friends who were keeping up with the tournament, if a fan like me can have a copy of the framework saved to their phone (yes, I need a life) then there is no excuse for a professional playing for a Tier 1 nation to not know the framework. I would have also thought that given the number of players who were given red cards during the World Rugby U20 Championship, teams would have made sure their players were aware of the framework. Poor from the player, poor from the coaches. But even without knowing the framework, a tackle that involves contact with a ball carrier’s head has not been legal for years… there was no excuse to tackle that high.

Sadly, it wasn’t just Michael Cheika questioning the merits of a red card. Commentating on the match, Ben Kay chose to praise Hodge for putting in a hit rather than comment on the illegality of it. Clive Woodward went even further following the ban to tweet that it was a yellow card at most. If even the officials, pundits and commentators can’t stick to World Rugby’s frameworks when looking at an incident, what hope has the general public got of understanding what is legal? With player safety such a big issue, things need to improve.

Sadly in this case, Yato’s failed HIA meant that he was unavailable for Fiji’s loss to Uruguay that has effectively ended their chances of making the quarterfinals. Reece Hodge will miss Australia’s remaining pool games but return for the knockouts. Looking at everyone involved in this affair, it’s hard to argue that anyone comes out a winner.

LET’S GET DANGEROUS: The Schmoedown History of Dan Murrell!

LET’S GET DANGEROUS: The Schmoedown History of Dan Murrell!

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 space of a couple of weeks, I am 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 6/2/2019


Season 6 kicked off with an event that will go down in Schmoedown history: the first live event in New York, the first Schmoedown event to be live streamed… and Dan Murrell becoming the first competitor to win the Singles Title for a 3rd time!

During his time in the Schmoedown, “Dangerous” Dan Murrell has been a fan favourite. I started watching the Schmoedown myself just after Reilly v Rocha III; I saw so many fans online hyping up Dan Murrell and when I finally got to see him compete in a match at Collider Collision, it was clear that the hype was well deserved.

So in honour of the Champion’s victory, let’s take a chance to go back down memory lane and look at Murrell’s Schmoedown career to date!

Rising Star

Dan Murrell’s entry to the Schmoedown came in Season 2 as part of the first ever team tournament. Already the Screen Junkies Movie Fights Champion, Murrell paired up with Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Champion Mark “Yodi” Reilly to form the aptly named Team Champs. Their first round opponents were the B-Team (Cody Hall, Cobbster and Ace Cabrera) who were unable to pull out a victory despite having an extra man. Team Champs were beaten in the quarterfinals by Top 10, but the 18-19 final score was the closest losing margin in the tournament.

Murrell made his Schmoedown return and his Singles debut in the Season 3 opener against John Campea. He TKO’d Campea with a 6-13 score and followed this up with a 16-11 TKO victory over Scott Mantz to set up a title match against his former teammate.

Reilly came into this match with a 5-0 record, but Murrell handed him his first ever loss in Singles with a 15-18 victory to win in his first ever Championship Match. He soon had to defend his title against Clarke Wolfe – who went on to be crowned 2016 Rookie of the Year – where in a dominant performance he earned his 3rd TKO victory in 4 matches, with a score of 11-4.

Mark Ellis worked his way through the field in the 2016 Ultimate Schmoedown tournament to challenge Murrell for the belt at Schmoedown Spectacular, but once again Murrell emerged with the victory, 23-20. This match is notable for being Murrell’s first perfect Round 1, though it must be remembered that this was in the old format where competitors were only asked 6 questions and each competitor received different questions.

The Three Champions

Up until this point, Murrell had been a lone wolf or accompanied by some of his Screen Junkies colleagues, but following victory over Mark Ellis he accepted an invitation to join the Lion’s Den, furthering a rivalry with John Rocha, who was targeting all the belts and all the records. Rocha’s win over Reilly at Spectacular earned him a Championship match against Murrell and the Champ finally received his first loss in Singles, by a margin of 20-21. After this match, Murrell chose to leave the Lion’s Den as he felt he was not getting the support he wanted from them. He chose instead to fly solo.

Murrell’s next Schmoedown outing was at the 2017 Free 4 All. Coming in at number 12 (out of 35), Murrell’s 11 rounds was the longest anyone lasted that year, and his total points (47) was 19 more than his closest competitors, John Rocha and John Humphrey. However, Murrell was unable to get the victory here: he was eliminated along with Rocha, William Bibbiani and Drew McWeeny in one of the greatest moments of Schmoedown history: XX5XX.

After Mark Reilly won the belt back from Rocha, the three of them competed at Collider Collision in a Triple Threat match for the title. Reilly was the first to be eliminated in Round 5 and Murrell won the belt back on the final question, with a final score of 13-22-26. He wasn’t given long to savour his victory though, as his interview was interrupted by Samm Levine appearing at the table and cashing in his Free 4 All victory for a shot at Murrell. Samm’s logic was that Murrell would be tired, but he instead earned his first Perfect Round 1 in the 8-question format (though he missed the bonus) on the way to a 26-23 victory to retain the belt.

Stepping Away

By this point, the Commissioner Kristian Harloff was on his revenge tour and a victory over Jeff Sneider at Collision set him up for a September showdown with Murrell. In a match where points were hard to come by, Harloff emerged the victor to become the 3rd competitor to hold the Singles Title. Following the match, Murrell shocked the world by announcing his retirement from the Schmoedown, stating that with all the new blood coming into the league it was time someone else had a shot at the title, but vowing that he would return at some point.

Time went on, Samm Levine went on a run through both the Singles and Teams Ultimate Schmoedowns, winning the Singles belt but losing the Team Championship to the Patriots, with his partner Drew WcWeeny. Samm defended his title against Rachel Cushing and Above the Line beat Modok to earn another shot at the Teams Title. As this incredible run continued, debates began amongst the fans as to whether the title of Greatest Of All Time had to move from Murrell to Levine… yet still we heard nothing from Dan.

The Return

Before we knew it, the 2018 Free 4 All was here. 48 competitors all competing for a title shot of their choice. RB3 was eliminated and the 47th competitor was about to be announced. The entrance music began and it was unmistakably the Jaws theme that Murrell always came out to. Kristian began his announcement at the desk: “Representing Screen Junkies… Ladies and gentlemen… Dangerous Dan Murrell!” The world was buzzing with excitement at the GOAT’s return, only for Andrew Ghai to emerge, giving the middle finger salute to anyone and everyone, announcing that he’d killed Murrell and buried him.

Over the next few weeks, he would go around proclaiming himself the Ghai that beat the GOAT, prancing around the Collider studios as if he owned the place. At the end of the second live event at the El Portal Theatre, Andrew Ghai came back on stage and announced to the crowd that he could get Dan Murrell there tonight. This “Dan Murrell” turned out to be none other than his Team Action teammate Ben Bateman in costume, and the pair of them mocked him publicly. The bear had been prodded… or perhaps I should say the Horse…

The lights went out and when they came back up, four hooded figures were on the stage. The revealed themselves one by one: Knost, Rocha, Inman, Reilly, all holding up the four-fingered sign of the Four Horsemen. Then their salute changed, from four fingers to five, the lights went down again and a fifth hooded figure appeared, and was revealed, and it was none other than Dan Murrell. The Five Horsemen had formed, with the original 3 Singles Champions all in one stable. Murrell told Ghai right then and there that he’d had enough and pressured him into a match at Collision.

Mixed Results

Of course, things didn’t go as planned when that match came around. Kal the Schmoe Dog’s theft meant that Reilly was not there to support his stablemate and when he got to the table, Murrell realised just how much the game had moved forward while he was away. A combination of ring-rust, being put off by Ghai’s antics and poor luck when spinning the Wheel saw Ghai shock the world. Andrew Ghai hand Dan Murrell his first ever TKO defeat: 14-16!

Murrell’s next match came at Season 5’s final live event as he and new teammate John Rocha took on Wait, I Know This! in the opening match of the Ultimate Schmoedown Anarchy tournament. With two former champions teaming up, the Founding Fathers made short work of Stacy Howard and Winston Marshall with a 20-17 TKO victory.

The Founding Fathers were many people’s favourites to win the tournament, but they had a much tougher test in the second round, against KOrruption. The teams could not be separated over 3 rounds and a 30-30 score saw them go to Sudden Death. On the first question, Murrell was unable to get his answer down in time and following the “Jane Fonda Rule” did not get the point, while Rocha and Kalinowski both got the correct answer of “David O. Russell” and Chance Ellison was controversially given the point for the phonetically correct “David O’Russell,” knocking Murrell and Rocha out.

Watching an emotional post-match interview, I’m sure I wasn’t the only person worrying that Murrell would be unable to get back to the heights of his first spell in the league, but he was ready to prove me wrong.

Murrell was one of six players to be given an automatic entry into the 2018 Ultimate Schmoedown Singles tournament, while Chance Ellison won a spot with the magic number and Ben Bateman earned his spot by running the gauntlet. Murrell’s first round match was against Stacy Howard and he came away with the 18-7 KO victory. This was a notable match for Murrell as not only was this the first time he managed a perfect Round 1 and hit the bonus point, it was also the first time that he finished with 100% accuracy, a feat that only 3 other competitors (Mark Ellis in Season 1, William Bibbiani on his debut and Rachel Cushing in Innergeekdom) have achieved.

Next up though was rookie sensation Ethan Erwin in the semifinal and the league’s new “Big Time” competitor proved too much for Murrell, who had a bad day with just 60% accuracy and earning 46% of the points available to him, on the way to a 12-13 TKO defeat.

The Road to New York

Any other year and that would have meant his season was over, but it had been announced that this year’s losing semi-finalists would compete in a third-place playoff, the winner of which would face the losing finalist in a Number 1 Contender match at Spectacular III. Murrell faced Marc Andreyko in the playoff and blew the Android away for a 15-14 TKO victory, managing to hit a perfect Round 1 and the bonus question for the second time in his career.

This result left him facing Clarke Wolfe at Spectacular III for the chance to face either Ethan Erwin or stablemate John Rocha at the Season 6 opener in New York. This match was much closer than when they faced previously, but Clarke again succumbed to a 12-15 TKO defeat, likely fatigued from having already defended the Teams Title earlier in the event. In the conclusion to the season, Ethan Erwin completed his run through the Singles Division with a victory over John Rocha to become the first rookie to win the Singles Title, setting up a rematch with Murrell in New York.

What felt like years of no new Schmoedown matches passed, but eventually the big day came. Dan Murrell came to New York without any of his fellow Horsemen, but with a clear determination to win the title back. In front of a raucous crowd, Murrell managed to hit a perfect Round 1 with the bonus question for the third time, to open up a 2 point lead. He went 4/4 in Round 2, checking down once to multiple choice, while 8 points from Erwin narrowed his lead to 1 point, which disappeared as both answered correctly in Round 3, but Murrell only bet 2 points to Erwin’s 3. Erwin took an early lead in Round 4, beating Murrell to the buzzer on the first 2 questions for 2 points. Murrell pulled it back with the next 2, but Erwin got the final question to take a 1 point lead into Round 5. Both competitors hit their 2-pointer, then Murrell hit his 3-pointer to send things back to Erwin. The Champion missed on both his 3- and 5-pointers, giving Murrell a 23-25 victory while the crowd went wild and began a chant of “You deserve it!”

The Future of “Dangerous” Dan Murrell

With this historic third Singles title and second match with 100% accuracy (the only competitor to manage this more than once), the debate begins again as to who the GOAT really is: Dan Murrell or Samm Levine. I think that it is relatively safe to call Murrell the GOAT of the Singles Division considering the incredible accuracy in his victories: five perfect Round 1s and two 100% accuracy games is unheard of.

As for the Teams Division, his impact here has been limited so far, but expect having a belt in the faction to spur the Founding Fathers on to greater heights this season. By the end of Season Six we could see “Dangerous” Dan Murrell added to the list of competitors to hold belts in multiple divisions, something currently only Levine, Rocha and Harloff can boast.

Or could he even follow Levine into becoming the second double-champion…?

2019 Vuelta a España: Winners & Losers

2019 Vuelta a España: Winners & Losers

In 2012, Primož Roglič made the decision to switch from ski jumping to road cycling. In 2016 he signed for LottoNL–Jumbo, who are now Team Jumbo–Visma. With 3 Grand Tours to his name, including 4ᵗʰ place on GC at the 2018 Tour de France, he wore the Maglia Rosa for 6 stages of the 2019 Giro d’Italia, but finished 3ʳᵈ with a lack of support at key moments from his team. The 2019 Vuelta a España saw him win his first ever Grand Tour, taking the red jersey in the Stage 10 Time Trial and holding it to the finish in Madrid.

While Roglič is obviously one of the big winners from from the race (both literally and figuratively), he is far from the only one who can come away and consider themselves a winner at this year’s Vuelta. Today, I will be looking at some of the others who should be feeling very happy looking back at the race, along with a few who may have been left feeling otherwise.

The Winners

Team Jumbo–Visma: Maybe I am being critical, but I felt that Roglič was really let down by his team at the Giro. Losing Steven Kruijswijk and Tony Martin during the race could have proved costly but Roglič’s quality, a great team effort and no small amount of luck meant that they were able to keep their man top of the General Classification. Roglič has confirmed himself as one of the top GC riders in the peloton going forward, and with Tom Dumoulin joining from Sunweb and Kruijswijk (who had finished in the top 5 on GC in his previous 3 Grand Tours) still on the books, this is a team looking for more Grand Tour victories. Throw in a road captain of Tony Martin’s quality and a montain domestique as strong as Sepp Kuss (who was allowed to get in the break and win Stage 15) and this team is building into a legitimate contender against Team Ineos.

cycling roglic pogacarTadej Pogačar: At just 20 years old at the time of the race and riding in his first Grand Tour, the Slovenian was the great find of the 2019 Vuelta. Able to hold his own among his more experienced riders, he did such a great job about making his attacks stick and finished with 3 stage victories, a place on the GC podium and victory in the Young Rider classification. He proved himself one of the better GC riders in the Individual Time Trial on Stage 10, finishing 1’29” behind his compatriot Primož Roglič despite requiring a bike change during the stage. It’s early days, but it looks like this kid is a future champion.

Marc Soler: He may have been the third Movistar rider on GC, but I would argue that he had a better Grand Tour than Nairo Quintana. He looked good value for the stage win on Stage 9 before being called back to help the Colombian and finished with a better time on the Stage 10 Time Trial than all GC contenders other than Roglič. With Alejandro Valverde nearing 40 years old and Mikel Landa, Richard Carapaz & Nairo Quintana all leaving Movistar, there is every chance that he could be the team leader next season.

Brit Boys: Tao Geoghegan Hart was given a chance to be co-leader for Team Ineos but quickly found himself completely and utterly out of GC contention. The first half of the race left me feeling that he was going to end up on the list of losers, but he came alive and showed his quality with some great riding in the breaks during the mountain stages of the last week. Ineos have enough other options to lead the team, but don’t be surprised to see Geoghegan Hart to become a key mountain domestique. James Knox also looked comfortably at home in the well-oiled Deceuninck–Quick-Step machine. Riding well to keep his teammates in with a shout of competing on sprint stages, he looked good in the mountains when many others began to drop away. He reached the heights of 8ᵗʰ place on GC, before injuries picked up in the Stage 19 crash hampered him and saw him finish just outside the top 10.

cycling sam bennett winSprint Stars: The 2019 Vuelta was very much about the GC riders and the breakaways, but there were still some stages where the sprinters were able to show their quality. Sam Bennett of Bora–Hansgrohe and Deceuninck–Quick-Step’s Fabio Jakobsen were the pick of the bunch with 2 stage victories apiece, while it was only good teamwork from Jakobsen’s teammates that saw Bennett miss out on Stage 17 as he was forced to jump too early to pull back Zdeněk Štybar, allowing Philippe Gilbert to take the stage victory. With Elia Viviani leaving for Cofidis, it looks like Jakobsen is in prime position to be the team’s main sprinter, while Bennett is surely going to have teams interested when he is next available.

The Losers

Fernando Gaviria: I’ve been a fan of Gaviria since his Deceuninck–Quick-Step days but he was anonymous in this race. The Colombian finished 3ʳᵈ on Stage 4 and never again made it into the top 10 on a stage, to the point that I was shocked to realise he was still in the race on the final stage. It looks like he has some serious work to do on his climbing to keep competitive in a 3-week race.

Fabio Aru: The Italian won the Vuelta back in 2015 and at 29 years old should be coming into his prime, but has only finished in the top 5 on GC in 1 of his 7 Grand Tours since then. He didn’t finish this race, but even before he abandoned he was being thoroughly overshadowed by his teammate Tadej Pogačar.

cycling movistar astana crosswindMovistar: With Nairo Quintana, Richard Carapaz & Mikel Landa about to leave and Alejandro Valverde nearing 40, it looks like Movistar’s competitiveness could be coming to an end. With the chance of a GC victory given Valverde’s form, it really felt like the team shot themselves in the foot with their tactics. I was critical of Quintana following the Tour de France and the same applies here, yet the team still sacrifice resources towards him rather than focusing on Valverde. Marc Soler looked set to win Stage 9 at his (and the team’s) home Grand Tour, yet they sacrificed him to try getting the stage win for Quintana, who could barely keep with him. With Quintana the only one of the GC contenders to get in the right side of the split during Stage 17’s crosswinds, the chance was there for Quinatana to possibly take the GC, but instead of sitting on in the 2ⁿᵈ group, Valverde and the teammates with him upped the pace of the group containing all the other GC contenders. Perhaps it was an attempt to dispose of their domestiques (it worked for Jumbo–Visma, but not Astana) but enough stayed in the group to stop the gap from getting too large and Roglič kept the red jersey, while Quintana gave up all the time he made up over the next few stages.

ON THE RISE: Who Will Be the Comeback Player of 2019?

ON THE RISE: Who Will Be the Comeback Player of 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 space of a couple of weeks, I am 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 31/1/2019


With the results of the 2018 Schmoedown Awards now known to the public, a massive congratulations to all the winners but especially to our managing editor William Bibbiani, who picked up Comeback Player of the Year!

Bibbs came into the Schmoedown full of promise at the end of 2016 with a debut victory over Marc Andreyko, setting a new points record in the process, and was immediately snapped up by John Rocha to become the third member of the Four Horsemen.

However 2017 did not go as well as hoped. He was TKO’d by JTE (his opponent’s first win in Singles since 2014), then he TKO’d Eliot Dewberry, but then he lost to Kristian Harloff. As tensions rose between Bibbs and Rocha, he left the Horsemen to form the Growling Commandos with Ricky Hayberg and Witney Seibold and initially things appeared to improve. He beat Scott Mantz and paired with Witney to create Critically Acclaimed, beating Only Stupid Answers by TKO. But everything went wrong in the 2017 Ultimate Schmoedowns, as Critically Acclaimed went out in the first round against Late to the Party, while Bibbs lost to eventual champion Samm Levine in the first round of the Singles tournament, ending his season.

2018 saw a giant upturn in his fortunes though. Critically Acclaimed managed TKO victories over Superhero News and Modok before being split during the Anarchy Tournament – where Bibbs won another match while paired with Matt Knost, before losing to Who’s The Boss – and despite an early Singles loss to Drew McWeeny, he was the MVP of the Free 4 All, earning him a Number 1 Contender Match against Jeff Sneider. He KO’d the Insneider and won the vacant Singles Title with a second victory over Andreyko, becoming the 6th Singles Champion, a feat deservedly earning him his Comeback Player award (despite eventually losing the title to John Rocha).

As season 6 gets underway, we ask: which players are in a position to win Comeback Player of the Year at the 2019 Awards?

Drew McWeeny

This may sound an odd choice considering he went 3-0 this season with Above The Line, winning and defending the Teams Title. But beyond that, it has been a mixed year for McWeeny and not necessarily to the level you would expect. He went 1-1 with Take The Cannoli during the Anarchy tournament, but only 1-2 in Singles, beating Bibbiani but losing to Ethan Erwin and Marc Andreyko. Frank Janisch found that The Godfather’s accuracy in Round 1 was just 62.50% in Singles matches compared to 84.72% in Teams, a huge difference for someone of his calibre.

It’s recently been announced that McWeeny’s first match of the year will be against Mark Reilly. A win over the former champion could be a huge first step towards the Singles title and Comeback Player of the Year!

Ken Napzok

2017 saw the Pit Boss receiving some Schmoedown karma for the way he betrayed Rachel Cushing. Since abandoning his partner to join the Lion’s Den, he has lost the Star Wars title to Sam Witwer by the closest of margins, came 3rd behind Alex Damon and Joseph Scrimshaw in a Triple Threat Number 1 Contender match, and lost 1v1 to Damon at Spectacular 3. Away from the Star Wars Division he went 0-2 last season, losing in Singles to Matt Knost and then in Teams to the Shirewolves.

Napzok is still one of the premier contenders in the Star Wars Division so I would never rule out another run to the title, while the right person beside him could see him get a good record in the Teams Division. However it does appear for now that he will be focusing on management rather than competing.

Stacy Howard

With a 2-3 record last season, 2018 was far from a bad year for Stacy Howard. She started the season well with wins over RB3 and Josh Macuga, but came 3rd in the Triple Threat match at Collider Collision against teammate Jeannine the Machine and Marc Andreyko. Her Anarchy partnership with Winston Marshall went 0-1 with a loss to the Founding Fathers and she also fell to Dan Murrell in the opening round of the Ultimate Schmoedown.

Stacy has the ability to beat the bigger names in the league and if she can start picking up those results and find a strong competitor to join her in the Teams Division, she could easily put together a record worthy of the Comeback Player of the Year award.

Robert Meyer Burnett

If the ending of Spectacular is anything to go by, the Captain is back this year! 2018 saw Burnett only compete once, in the Free 4 All, with a scheduling issue meaning he had to pull out of the Innergeekdom Tournament. The original Innergeekdom Champion, Burnett has lost all 3 of his matches in the division since. His only appearance in the Singles Division was a 4th place finish in the Fatal Fiveway qualifier for the final spot in the 2017 Ultimate Schmoedown, while his 2-1 record as part of Blofeld’s Cat has an asterisk next to it courtesy of 1 win being in the infamous handicap match against Rachel Cushing.

A year off from competition may have done the Captain a world of good and if he can be competitive again in a strengthened Innergeekdom Division, then his knowledge of Star Trek could see him making a push for the title again, while he is also another competitor who has shown that he can do well in Teams with the right partner.

JTE

The winner of the 2017 Comeback Player of the Year award makes the list again. JTE opened the season with a loss to Rachel Cushing in a Triple Threat Number 1 Contender match, and his only other match in the Singles Division was his first ever loss to John Rocha at the first live event. His run with Jeff Sneider also came to an end, as they beat Top 10 with a little help from Jane Fonda but then lost twice to Above The Line to lose the title, before Sneider ended their partnership by leaving the Lion’s Den. It looked like JTE had a new chance of success being paired with Lon Harris during the Anarchy Tournament and their TKO victory over the Wildberries looked ominous for the league, but injury brought an early end to Little Evil’s season and he had to watch his replacement Jonathan Harris go to the tournament final, where they lost to Who’s The Boss?

JTE is one of the most experienced competitors in the league and while the Singles Division has certainly strengthened over the last year, I would still rate him as one of the stronger competitors in the league due to his breadth of knowledge and his experience playing the game. He is also a competitor strong enough to lead a team and if he can find a decent partner, then he could find the Team Titles – and Comeback Player of the Year – within his reach again.

Which of these competitors do you think has the best chance of winning the award? Or do you think I’ve missed someone? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!