Ben Bateman’s time in the Finstock Exchange looks to be coming to an end. “The Boss” was the 1ˢᵗ round pick for Tom Dagnino, but following a heartbreaking Championship loss to Dan Murrell, he let his frustrations out and directed them towards his manager. Since then, Bateman has continued to double down on his stance against Bobby Gucci and it looks clear that a partnership that was formed midway through season 5 would be coming to an end.
Following this season, every Schmoedown Pro is set to become a Free Agent, with each manager able to sign 3 Free Agents ahead of the draft. This means that for the elite players like Bateman, the ball is firmly in their court as they have the power to decide if they are willing to stay with their current manager (assuming they are still wanted there) or take up an offer from another manager. As a former Singles Champion and one of the greatest strategic players in the game – arguably, his strategic influence has even improved Dan Murrell’s game – it’s impossible to envision a situation where Bateman is not one of these 3 pre-draft signings, but who will he be representing?
The team closest to overthrowing the Exchange at time of writing, S.W.A.G. have some high quality talent in Singles and Teams, but not necessarily someone who would be considered in the elite bracket. Winston Marshall has done a great job of adapting his managerial style to fit each of his players this season and has become a student of the game who is not afraid to throw out a challenge – something that will put him in good stead with Bateman.
However, S.W.A.G have a strong group already and with Chandru Dhandapani and Andres Cabrera both having title matches at Spectacular, there is the possibility that Winston already has to pick 3 out of the pair, Paul Oyama and Lon Harris, who have formed an impressive team this year as part of Final Exam. As great an addition as Bateman would be, Winston will surely want to show loyalty to those who have helped him this year, and that may leave him without room for The Boss.
Shannon Barney is another rookie manager who has done a great job this season, while her rookies Adam Collins and Marisol McKee have impressed when given a chance. Being able to bring Bateman in as one of the top 3, and then picking up either McKee or Collins early in the draft to partner him would make a great pair of teams alongside KOrruption, similar to how the Exchange had Who’s The Boss and the Founding Fathers.
However, KOrruption has the same issue as S.W.A.G in that McKee, Collins and Laura Kelly will likely be on other factions’ radars and it may be that Shannon needs to use her 3ʳᵈ pick to secure one of them, while it’s hard to imagine Bateman going to a faction with an already established team like KOrruption as it will likely end similar to this season, with issues over Bateman’s standing in the faction.
The Quirky Mercs
Coy Jandreau is another rookie manager who has impressed this season and with the potential that he and Bateman may be working on a show together soon, it may be that they find a good chemistry together. Under Coy’s leadership, the Mercs have done well and it is easy enough to imagine that many of this season’s roster would be available via the draft rather than requiring Coy to sign them in the opening round of Free Agency.
But the issue with The Mercs will be that Bateman would again find himself competing for top spot in the faction with Shazam! As incredible as that trifecta would be, I just can’t imagine Bateman willing to defer big matches or spots in tournaments to Bibbiani and Meyer.
This is where things get interesting, as The Den have 4 high level competitors in TOM, Paul Preston, Ben Goddard and James White, but nobody that would necessarily be considered proven as an elite competitor. With White’s chances limited this year and Paul Preston having a down year, it is possible that Bateman could be picked up along with Ben Goddard and TOM, with at least one of the other 2 picked up in the draft, allowing Bateman to create a strong team with one of these competitors.
I do wonder however if Bateman would consider Kate Mulligan the right kind of manager for him. While Kate has been entertaining this season, there have been questions over her management style with some debatable strategic decisions. It may be that Bateman will take it as a chance to help mould her into the manager he wants, but he may also decide that there are more attractive managerial options out there that will allow him to focus on the trivia and his own game.
Now here is an interesting situation. Roxy Striar knows Ben well so will know how to work with him. She may not be quick to challenge at the moment – being more a cheerleader for her players – but it’s easy to imagine that she could change her style a little for the right person. Meanwhile, if you listen to Jeff Sneider, there is every chance that season 7 will see the end of The Odd Couple, which could then allow Bateman to join the Roxstars and partner with either Sneider or Marc Andreyko – either one would be a dangerous team!
However, it feels like Bateman’s chances of joining the Roxstars hinge on the fate of The Odd Couple. Roxy is loyal to her players – arguably too much so – and its hard to imagine her breaking up The Odd Couple unless Sneider or Andreyko decides to end it. Throw in Alex Damon, who has kept Roxy’s 2020 season alive, and there would be no space in the top 3 should The Odd Couple stay together, while Roxy may even still try to keep them both and find new teammates for them.
Kaiser took a risk this year by trying to monopolise the Innergeekdom Division, but losses for Smets and Robert Parker, combined with the COVID-19 pandemic limiting the number of matches, has meant that this strategy backfired massively. Kaiser will know that he needs to bring in an elite Singles competitor, and Bateman would be the perfect fit. It’s hard to imagine Kaiser using 2 of his 3 picks on IG specialists, so I can see him keeping his Dungeon regulars Smets and Eric Zipper, then bringing in Bateman as the marquee signing. Zipper would be a good partner for Bateman – especially as the Individual IG slices become available in Teams from 2021 – while it’s possible that Kaiser could pick up another possible partner like Vinnie Mancuso or Liz Shannon Miller in the first round of the draft.
Probably the biggest worry here for Bateman is again the manager. Kaiser can talk the talk, but he’s never really proved himself as a great trivia mind. Bateman was vocal about the downside of having Dagnino as a manager compared to a knowledgeable manager like John Rocha, so could it be that this counts against Kaiser, who actually lost to Dagnino in Orlando last year?
The Usual Suspects
The last couple of managers have had question marks beside their names but Samm Levine could arguably be the perfect manager for Ben Bateman. Levine was one of the original strategists in the game and is never shy to throw a challenge, while he also has the trivia knowledge that could make the difference at a crucial moment. Add to this that if the partnership between Andrew Ghai and Ethan Erwin doesn’t work out, Bateman has the chance of a Team Action reunion or forming a superteam with Erwin.
As for a downside, probably the biggest one right now is that if Ghai and Erwin work well together it will be hard to separate them next season, while the Usual Suspects won’t draft until the 2ⁿᵈ round following their blockbuster trade to get hold of Erwin. If that’s the case, it’s going to be much harder to get Bateman a partner that will be strong enough for them to push for the title while also picking up a proven IG competitor.
The Burning Droogs
The team that at time of writing are propping up the table, it’s not been a great year for the Droogs, who no longer have their top 2 draft picks and have also undergone a change of manager. There are some strong competitors here but Bateman could come in as the alpha dog that would be expected to make a run in Singles, while Jader Paramo, Witney Seibold or Alonso Duralde would all be strong partners for Bateman. With Brandon Hanna about to enter the Teams Division and the IG slices entering the division next season, it may even be time for the Boss to team up with his former intern. The big thing here is that they have the chance to create a super strong faction with their 3 picks in the first round of Free Agency, while they then have 2 picks in the 1ˢᵗ round of the draft following the Erwin trade – there are plenty of chances to create a strong team (or 2) and have a strong IG representation by round 2 of the draft!
The big question with the Droogs will be the management, as it is not yet clear whether Ken Napzok will continue in his role next season or hand over to someone else. I can imagine Bateman would prefer a manager with some experience, however a manager willing to learn from him may also prove attractive.
The Verdict: Right now I’d have to give the advantage to The Dungeon, but if the right person is in charge of The Burning Droogs, the chance to build a strong team quickly with the extra draft pick could be an enticing enough offer.
Where do you think The Boss will end up?
Thanks for reading. Until next time!