FREE AGENT FRENZY: Who Will Each Manager Pick?

FREE AGENT FRENZY: Who Will Each Manager Pick?

With the voting closed for the Schmoedown Awards, which will be announced shrtly, it’s time to start looking ahead to season 8 and all-out WAR. Stage 1 of the war will begin 1 week after the Awards show in a Free Agent Special, which will end with each of the 8 factions having secured the services of 3 Schmoedown Pros ahead of the 2021 Draft.

But who will end up where? It’s not just a matter of the manager wanting a certain Schmoedown Pro, that person has to also decide that said manager is the right one for them. My predictions for tournament brackets were woefully off in season 7, so hopefully I can kick off season 8 with a bit more accuracy.

KOrruption

Not really a prediction here as Shannon Barney’s prize for winning the Faction Championship last season was the chance to lock in her 3 before Free Agency even opened for any other manager. In no real shock, Shannon chose to keep hold of Mike Kalinowski, Chance Ellison and Adam Collins, securing herself 2 triple-threats, one of the 3 longest-tenured teams (and arguably one of the elite teams) remaining in the league and the undefeated Singles Champion, who will be a solid lead to a second team.

Stars

I’m making Roxy the first of my actual predictions as I can’t help feel that her trio is pretty obvious. I’m assuming that with big names like Chris Jericho there will be some unspoken agreement that other managers won’t come after them allowing Roxy to not have to use one of her 3 spots on him and being able to pick him up a couple of rounds into the draft. This will allow Roxy to pick up her 3 champions in Jeff Sneider, Marc Andreyko and Alex Damon. While Andreyko may only be featuring in Teams so may be on the bench early in the season, it gives Roxy an elite team once that division gets going, with a strong chance of defending for big points, while Sneider already has a #1 Contender Match scheduled. Similarly, Alex will likely still be the favourite in his upcoming title match, and can also look to push on after a great first season in IG and could also be a solid B player on a team, utilising the IG-specific wheel slices.

Quirky Mercs

Next up is Coy Jandreau, as he is in a relatively similar situation to Roxy. Like Jericho, I am assuming that Coy will be able to pick up Kevin Smith in the draft, allowing him to get quality cover for 3 divisions with his 3 picks. Keeping hold of the Shazam! pairing of William Bibbiani and Brendan Meyer appears a no-brainer for all parties involved – Coy gets an elite team and 2 elite Singles competitors (as well as the master of FreeForAlls, while Shazam stick with the manager who got them over the hump and helped them win their first Team Title. For his final pick, I see Coy sticking with his top 3 from last year’s draft by picking Mara Knopic, who has a Title Match early in the season, and I can see Mara showing some loyalty to Coy for keeping her on the faction through season 7 despite being inactive.

S.W.A.G.

This is where things get interesting. Winston Marshall and Chandru Dhandapani look like a solid match so I envision the Innergeekdom Champion sticking with S.W.A.G. Paul Oyama looked revitalised with Winston and is a former champion with solid strategy, so I can see the pair also agreeing to stick together. However, I can see Final Exam coming to an end after twice failing to get the win against the elite teams, with Winston Marshall bringing in Ben Bateman as his third pick. I feel that Bateman will respect the effort that Winston puts into the league and his players, while a pairing with Oyama would cover some of his weaker areas like Classics and family movies, while he knows that Oyama will put in the same effort he will. Don’t be shocked to see Winston looking to secure Ace in the opening round of the draft.

The Den

The Den was hard to call as it feels like there will be big changes here with Kate now having a year of experience under her belt. Ben Goddard impressed over 3 divisions before being left out in the second half of the season, but I think that a fired-up Kate could convince him to stay as one of the leads within the faction. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Paul Preston move on after a disappointing season, but I think that she could convince him to stay by proving she has learned from last season and pairing him with the GOAT Dan Murrell. A shock move for Murrell? Maybe, but the faction feels like it has good quality and was just missing an elite veteran to lead them.

Finstock Exchange

What a difference a year makes. Tom Dagnino kicked off 2020 by drafting all 4 Horsemen and future star “The Barbarian”. Now hehas to start almost from scratch after losing the support of Ben Bateman and then throwing out Dan Murrell. By doing so though, he appears to have secured the services of John Rocha to lead the faction. Early in the offseason, I had thoughts that Ben Bateman may convince The Barbarian to follow him to a new faction where they could pair up, but I now see Dagnino holding onto him by offering him a partnership with Rocha as the lead team. Barbarian’s ability to also cover IG means that Dagnino will look to cover all 4 divisions with his 3 picks by holding onto Andrew Dimalanta, who has a guaranteed title shot early in the season.

Usual Suspects

So much was expected from the Suspects last season, but the early retirement of Drew McWeeny and the impact of COVID seriously hampered their season. One good thing did come of it though: a trade with the Burning Droogs that involved Ethan Erwin joining the Suspects at the cost of their 1ˢᵗ round draft pick. Well the dissolution of the Droogs has allowed Samm to keep his draft pick and I’m sure he will also be keeping Ethan Erwin. However, it looks like he may be getting a new partner as Andrew Ghai has been MIA on the Schmoedown scene since Spectacular, while he has also previously talked about how he is focused on Teams but struggles in the online environment. For that reason, I see Samm looking for a new partner for Erwin, and who better than someone who he already knows well: Liz Shannon Miller, who had a great run in the Singles Tournament. For the final spot, I see Samm also showing faith in someone whose 1-2 record this season does not match up with her quality, Jeannine “The Machine”, who could become a legitimate triple threat if she looks to carry on from her foray into the IG tournament.

The Dungeon

And so that brings us to The Dungeon, who probably have a little more wiggle room here as they own the 1ˢᵗ overall pick in the draft to supplement their 3 picks here. Last season, Kaiser chose to try dominating the IG Division with his early draft picks, picking up Kevin Smets and Robert Parker with his first 2 picks. Well Smets will be inactive this year as he continues to smash cancer, so I see Robert Parker stepping into the role of the team’s IG leader. I expect the IG focus to continue though with the acquisition of Brandon Hanna, who is the 4ᵗʰ most accurate of all time in IG (min 5 matches) and hinted at his quality outside the division with his foray into Teams with Jader Paramo. Hanna is an underrated player and as a triple threat, he could cause some havoc under Kaiser’s tutelage. For his final spot, I can see Kaiser showing loyalty with one of his originals and holding onto Eric Zipper, who is another legitimate triple threat and has improved year on year. Don’t be shocked to see Kaiser looking to pick up the best available Singles/Teams competitor on the board with his opening pick to pair with Zipper/Hanna.

 

So those are my predictions. Who you think each manager will pick up?

5 Takeaways from Schmoedown Spectacular V

5 Takeaways from Schmoedown Spectacular V

Merry Christmas you filthy animals! This has been an interesting year to say the least with the COVID-19 pandemic changing everybody’s life to some degree. But through it all, one constant remained: the Movie Trivia Schmoedown. Season 7 was titled “The New Era” and that proved the case even more than we expected, as it adapted to the changing environment by moving to an online format to ensure that we continued to get or weekly entertainment and another fantastic season ended in truly spectacular showpiece event to end the year – the 5ᵗʰ annual Schmoedown Spectacular.

Schmoedown Spectacular V was available to watch live and on demand in the aftermath for those able to purchase it, but for those who are waiting for it to drop on YouTube for free, only 1 match has aired at time of writing. This article will be looking back at the whole event, so be warned there will be spoilers galore beyond this point!

Spectacular V ended up being a 9 hour epic, with betrayals, mystery and 6 fantastic matches:

Alex Damon TKO’d Andres Cabrera 32-24 to retain the Star Wars Title

Britney Young defeated Chris Jericho 16-15

The Odd Couple defeated Shazam! 41-40 to claim the Teams Title

Chandru Dhandapani defeated Chance Ellison to retain the Innergeekdom Title

Kevin Smith TKO’d ZaFlertinflouse 18-9

Adam Collins defeated Dan Murrell in Sudden Death 39-38 to claim the Singles Title

KOrruption win the Faction Title

Rushmore secured

The make-up of  the Schmoedown Mt Rushmore is a constant debate, with so many players in the conversation and Dan Murrell probably one of the only players who would make it onto everybody’s list. I would argue that Jeff Sneider should have also secured his place following this season.

“The Insneider” has become the first Schmoedown Pro to win 10 matches with one team and the Teams Title 3 times – 1 time with The Patriots, twice with The Odd Couple – and while he has had his ups and downs in Singles, he has still accrued a 13-8 record that includes a Championship Match and 2 other #1 Contender Matches.

Having debuted in Season 3, he is one of the longest-tenured Schmoedown Pros and has not taken a break from competing since he entered the league, while always putting on a show in his own unique way. Does he court controversy? Yes, but the league would be much more boring without him, and for his longevity, expertise in the Teams Division and his entertainment value, he has earned his spot on Mt Rushmore.

Stock crash

mts finstock exchange horsemen jenn sterger john rocha dan murrell ben bateman tom dagnino bobby gucci finstock mark reilly barbarian craig gaynier

When season 7 started, it looked like the Finstock Exchange would run away with the Faction Title. Having been manager for the Horsemen in Season 6, with Ben Bateman and the Founding Fathers ending the season as champions – and Who’s The Boss being among the top 5 teams, making them a protected team – Dagnino was able to draft 4 legit superstars of the league with his first 4 picks, while picking up the relatively unknown rookie the Barbarian in the 6ᵗʰ round. However, things didn’t go to plan and the season ended with the Exchange dropping to 4ᵗʰ, behind Roxy Striar’s Roxstars at Spectacular.

It’s going to be all change for them next year too, if the way the season ended is anything to go by. Ben Bateman made clear after his 2ⁿᵈ loss to Dan Murrell that he was done with Finstock’s mismanagement, and the 2-time Manager of the Year then made the critical error of backing John Rocha as he split from Dan Murrell, leaving the GOAT as a Free Agent. So that’s 2 of the big 4 who are gone for good. But the Barbarian has also seemed a little put out at the way 2 greats of the game have been treated and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him turn his back on the faction to partner with either Bateman or Murrell and create a new superteam. Meanwhile Free Agent pick-up Sabrina Ramirez was given little chance to show her quality and if her statement at the beginning of the event is anything to go by, she’s another who will be looking to ply her trade elsewhere in Season 8.

And then we come to Andrew Dimalanta. The Star Wars specialist finally got his first wins in the division under Tom Dagnino and with a guaranteed title shot, you’d think that Bobby Gucci would want to retain his services going into 2021. However, as John Rocha went on a spree of blaming everyone (except himself and Dagnino) for the faction’s failings, even Dimalanta came under fire for his loss to Ace Cabrera. Will Dimalanta stay loyal to a manager that helped him get his first win, or will the shots from the new face of the faction make him look elsewhere for a more supportive faction?

Keep an eye out for my predictions on who each manager signs during Free Agency over the next week.

The Schmoeminati are real!

How can we forget the moment on Schmoedown Backstage when Andrew Ghai turned up to discuss his upcoming match with Mike Kalinowski, but instead spent his time telling us that there was a Schmoeminati controlling the league behind the scenes.

We all thought he was crazy as we watched his descent into madness through the second half of the season and promised to prove to us at Spectacular that the Schmoeminati exists. Well he did that, but not in the way he had planned, as we watched him get kidnapped by a group being led by this masked figure.

mts scgmoeminati

And so we are left with plenty of questions. First of all, is Andrew Ghai OK? If you watched the next couple of shows on the Action Industries channel, then he was unexpectedly absent, with an odd new answer phone message and text responses to “keep smiling :)” Next up, who is the Schmoeminati and what do they want? Ghai made it clear that Kristian Harloff is not involved, but with so many people involved in the League as a competitor/manager/announcer/pundit/crew member, that doesn’t really narrow things down too much.

Keep an eye out over the coming weeks for my thoughts on the likely culprits.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned

mts grace hancock

It’s not just the Finstock Exchange that will likely look very different in 2021, as Kate Mulligan followed up ZaFlertinflouse’s loss to Kevin Smith by firing adviser Grace Hancock.

Will this be the end of Grace? I think it would be foolish to rule “the Lioness” out, but she’s running out of allies in the league. She abandoned the Lion’s Den so won’t be welcome in the Finstock Exchange, was fired by KOrruption to make room for Shannon and has now been fired by the Den. Meanwhile Kaiser an Roxy have both found themselves at odds with her. But with so many feuds, don’t be shocked to see her back at some point – maybe not this year – as a manager for a new faction hell-bent on causing trouble.

Increasing value

It’s hard to imagine that many Star Wars specialists will be picked up in Free Agency due to the limited number of matches they will play in a season, so much so that they may not even be a priority in the opening rounds of the draft as managers look to ensure they have strength in Singles and Innergeekdom with at least 1 top quality team. However, a couple of competitors likely saw a rise in their stock at Spectacular.

Andrew Dimalanta was already promised a title shot against Alex Damon, but Commissioner Clarke Wolfe also announced during Spectacular that Mollie Damon and Laura Kelly will face off in a #1 Contenders Match, with the winner either facing the winner of Damon v Dimalanta or joining them in a Triple Threat (at Alex Damon’s discretion). There are very few competitors with guaranteed matches in 2021 at this point, so to be able to pick up a Star Wars competitor with a guaranteed match very early in the season is a chance for some early points, and Kelly/Damon may even look more attractive options than Dimalanta due to the potential of 2 matches early in the season, while I also feel that both are capable of Dimalanta, who got a number of favourable calls during his tournament run.

mts mara knopic

Similarly, another competitor who may see a rise in their stock is Mara Knopic. The former Innergeekdom Champion may not have played in years, so there may be some questions about her ability to compete at the top straight away, however a guaranteed title shot early in the season will probably see her rise above many of the other IG specialists as there is the chance of an early victory to win the title, and even if she loses then it will not be too long until she is able to make another run for the title.

For more thoughts on Free Agency and the Draft, keep an eye on this site, as I will be posting my Free Agency predictions over the coming weeks, and I’m planning to put together my draft predictions once Free Agency has completed.

 

Credit for the header image goes to Alex from the Let’s Get Ready Network – check them out on Twitter @0M3GAxVID30

Assessing the Market: Who Will Ben Bateman Play for in Season 8?

Assessing the Market: Who Will Ben Bateman Play for in Season 8?

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?

S.W.A.G.

MTS SWAG LogoThe 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.

KOrruption

feat mts korruption logo jpShannon 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

mts s7 The Quirky Mercs logoCoy 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.

The Den

mts s7 The Den Logo 2This 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.

Roxstars

feat mts roxstars logo jpNow 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.

The Dungeon

MTS The Dungeon Logo JPKaiser 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

mts s7 The Usual Suspects logo 2The 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

MTS The Burning Droogs LogoThe 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!