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?

Prepare for Something… SPECTACULAR

Prepare for Something… SPECTACULAR

It’s safe to say that the COVID-19 pandemic stopped the Movie Trivia Schmoedown from going as expected this year, but everyone involved has done a wonderful job of transitioning to a digital format and giving us an fantastic and utterly unpredictable season. And the ultimate reward of that is that we still get the 5ᵗʰ annual Schmoedown Spectacular!

Schmoedown’s very own Wrestlemania, Spectacular V is this Saturday and will see some of the biggest names in the league compete over 6 matches – including 4 Championship Matches – and at the end of the event, we will know the winner of the first ever Faction Championship. But who will be facing off in this mammoth event, and who will win? I’ve not had a great year with my predictions, but let’s see if I can redeem myself on big stage.

Star Wars Championship: Alex Damon v Andres Cabrera

mts schmoedown spectacular v alex damon andres ace cabrera

Will “The Demon” have finally met his match? The man who makes his living explaining Star Wars has looked unbeatable but hasn’t competed in the Star Wars Division since beating Laura Kelly at Spectacular IV. Meanwhile, Ace has ran the gauntlet this year, going on a Cinderella run that saw him go from the Play In Match all the way to winning the tournament, with wins over Josh Quevedo, Ken Napzok, Laura Kelly and Andrew Dimalanta.

Alex has previously mentioned that he didn’t know some of the answers Ace was pulling in the tournament as the questions went deeper than ever, and I think that had this match come hot on the heels of that tournament, we would have a new champion. However, it has been months since then, so you can guarantee that Alex will have dived deeper than ever before, while the momentum that Ace had will have been nullified. I can still see this one going the distance, but I have Alex defending his title.

Chris Jericho v Britney Young

mts schmoedown spectacular v chris jericho britney young

One of the GOATs of pro-wrestling, Jericho’s arrival in the league as a Free Agent pick-up for the Roxstars was a high point of the season and his match against Kevin Smith was an absolute treat! Meanwhile, Britney Young of GLOW fame made her name in the Schmoedown as part of the GLOW celebrity match, putting in an impressive performance and enjoying the game so much, she accepted a place on the active roster this season, being picked up by The Dungeon.

Neither of these competitors have much in the way of game tape, but both have shown themselves to have a decent knowledge base. However, there is a hint that Britney’s knowledge may be slightly broader, whereas Jericho’s more focused. If Jericho can hit a favoured category in Round 2, then I think he can ace it, but I think that Britney will have the breadth of knowledge to take a narrow win. One thing I do feel confident in though is that we will get some killer promos.

Teams Championship: Shazam! v Odd Couple

mts schmoedown spectacular v shazam odd couple william bibbiani brendan meyer marcandreyko jeff sneider

The Teams Championship has bounced around a little this season, with KOrruption taking the belts from the Founding Fathers only to lose them to Shazam! just 2 months later! Meanwhile, former champions the Odd Couple have recovered from their early season loss against Who’s The Boss to run through the recent Teams Tournament, and have arguably looked better than when they won the title.

Sneider has been on something of a revenge tour of late, beating Paul Oyama in both Teams and Singles to avenge his Season 6 Championship loss, while also avenging his loss to Adam Collins in the final of this season’s Singles Tournament by defeating Deception in the Teams Tournament. Could this revenge tour continue against the team who defeated them in the quarterfinals of the 2019 Ultimate Schmoedown? We have 4 superstars on display so I expect this to go to the wire, but I think that the online format’s speed round benefits William Bibbiani more than the buzzer round, so I have Shazam! defending their title.

Innergeekdom Championship: Chandru Dhandapani v Chance Ellison

mts schmoedown spectacular v chandru dhandapani chance ellison

Who’d have thought that fans would be cheering for “The Cobra”? Such is the mood against Chandru Dhandapani, who had the gall to talk smack about Rachel Cushing. Dhandapani’s route to the title saw him defeat Brandon Hanna to set up a #1 Contender Match against Mike Kalinowski. However, Kalinowski put his faction before his personal glories and turned down the match in order to compete in the Innergeekdom Tournament – a move which looks to have helped KOrruption secure the Faction Championship, as both Kalinowski and his Padawan Chance each ran through their side of the tournament bracket to reach the final, where Chance came away with the win. Meanwhile Chandru’s match against Kevin Smets certainly didn’t go as expected as the champion struggled to get in the zone playing online and lost the title to Chandru.

This is an interesting one, as Chance has the experience of close Championship matches and has been a regular in he online format this season, but as a triple-threat competitor he won’t have been able to focus on IG subjects in the same depth as Chandru, an IG specialist. While my heart has Chance following in the footsteps of KO, I have to go with my head, which has Chandru becoming the first Schmoedown Pro to defend the Innergeekdom Title since Jason Inman defeated Mark Donica.

Kevin Smith v Brett Sheridan

mts schmoedown spectacular v kevin smith brett sheridan

One of the big announcements from the Free Agency deadline, Kevin Smith proved that he was more than “Good Enough” as he took down Chris Jericho in his Schmoedown debut. Meanwhile Brett Sheridan shocked the world (and arguably even himself) as he defeated Bonnie Somerville at the start of the season.

Now no offence to Brett, but I can’t imagine him pulling out the victory over Kevin Smith, though I can see it going to the final round. Instead, the questions to ask about this match are:

  • What will Kevin Smith do if he spins Kevin Smith on the wheel?
  • Will the big stage of Spectacular V see the grand return of  ZaFlertinFlouse?
  • Will Inappropriate Elmo or Jon Voight from Anaconda make an appearance in an attempt to put Kevin Smith off?

Singles Championship: Dan Murrell v Adam Collins

mts schmoedown spectacular v dan murrell adam collins

While you would never rule out Dan Murrell being in the main event of Spectacular, who would have guessed that his opponent would be Adam Collins, a man who went undrafted and was picked up on the final day of Free Agency. That acquisition arguably won Shannon Barney the Factions Championship, as “The Coyote” went all the way from Play In Match to the Ultimate Schmoedown winner.

Murrell has held on to the belt the hard way after winning it back from Ben Bateman in Atlanta, going into the final round 6 down to “The Boss” in their rematch, while beating Ethan Erwin in Sudden Death, so it’s hard to imagine him struggling for a 4ᵗʰ consecutive Championship Match. Collins however has looked so solid in Singles, but did begin to show some cracks before losing with Deception, and now needs to show that he can recover quickly to take on the GOAT. I see Murrell leading by a point or 2 into the final round, and holding the lead to secure victory.

How do you see these matches playing out? Regardless, I’m certain that this event will be – as its name suggests – spectacular!

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Bracket Breakdown: Ultimate Schmoedown Teams Tournament 2020

Bracket Breakdown: Ultimate Schmoedown Teams Tournament 2020

WARNING: This will contain spoilers for the recent Team Championship match and the Singles Tournament Final!

 

 

The new Teams Champions have been crowned (congratulations to Shazam!) and with the Singles Tournament reaching it’s climax, we will soon be turning our attention to the upcoming Teams Tournament. Each faction will be sending 1 team into the tournament and the winners will get the chance to challenge Shazam! for the Teams Title at Spectacular.

Now, it’s safe to say that my other tournament brackets this year have been completely wrong (usually within 1 or 2 matches) so now is my chance to try to salvage some credibility with my predictions for the Teams bracket.

So first of all, with a number of new teams forming, let’s see who will be in the tournament:

  • Final Exam ~ Paul Oyama & Lon Harris ~ 3-1 (2KO)
  • Category 9 ~ Brandon Hanna & Jader Paramo ~ 0-0
  • The Witching Power ~ Haleigh Foutch & Perri Nemiroff ~ 0-0
  • TOM & Paul ~ TOM & Paul Preston ~ 0-1
  • Founding Fathers ~ Dan Murrell & John Rocha ~ 5-3 (4KO)
  • The Misfits ~ Eric Zipper & Adam Witt ~ 0-0
  • Odd Couple ~ Jeff Sneider & Marc Andreyko ~ 6-4 (3KO)
  • Deception ~ Marisol McKee & Adam Collins ~ 0-0
  • The Lethal Weapons ~ Ethan Erwin & Andrew Ghai ~ 0-0

feat MTS Ultimate Schmoedown Teams Tournament 2020 bracket

Play In Match

The Witching Power v The Misfits: 4 veterans of the game join to form 2 rookie teams and give us a very enticing play in match. Haleigh Foutch has not competed yet this year so may be a little rusty, but I would expect that the online format may actually suit her, while Perri caught me out with how competitive she was in the Singles tournament. It hasn’t been a good season for Adam Witt, but perhaps the pairing with Eric Zipper – who has drastically improved under Kaiser’s tutelage – could be just what he needs. The only issue I see here is that Zipper’s IG knowledge (which could have been a weapon against some teams) may be somewhat cancelled out by Foutch and Nemiroff, so I have to give the narrowest of victories to The Witching Power.

Round 1

TOM & Paul v Final Exam: This really hasn’t been the season Paul Preston would have hoped for and I’m afraid I can’t see it getting any better with this match. TOM & Paul were meant to be the elite team for The Den, but an early loss and the success of The Pride saw their chances limited, while Preston also suffered a crushing defeat to Zipper in the Singles tournament. Final Exam meanwhile have played 4 matches together (many of them online) so have the experience of competing in this format. Combine with that a strong tactical link with manager Winston Marshall, while TOM’s match against Jader Paramo suggested there are still communication issues with Kate Mulligan. TOM and Paul are knowledgeable competitors so I expect them to keep it close, but I see Paul and Lon advancing.

Founding Fathers v The Witching Power: There’s no easy way to put this, but I can’t see any situation where the Founding Fathers lose this. Murrell and Rocha are so experienced both in the Schmeodown as a whole and even the online format. It’s fair to imagine that (barring a hideous spin) they could have only dropped a couple of points by the end of Round 2. Perri and Haleigh are great competitors, but I don’t think they have the breadth and depth of knowledge to go near-perfect in this match, and I can see the Founding Fathers winning without having to answer in Round 3.

Odd Couple v Category 9: The Odd Couple are former champions so arguably one of the favourites going into the tournament and find themselves against a rookie and someone who has only played in IG. It’s a strange pairing by manager Ken Napzok but it could be effective, as I imagine that Hanna knows enough to feel confident in the division while also having the potential of the IG slice to use as a weapon in Round 2, while Jader has impressed since winning the Golden Ticket in Orlando last year. I expect Category 9 to put up a fight and make people take notice, but I think that Sneider and Andreyko are to well-rounded as a pair to lose this match.

Deception v The Lethal Weapons: This match is anything but easy to predict. Ethan Erwin is a former Singles Champion and looks back to his best this season, while Andrew Ghai has had some ups and downs but has generally been a high quality B player in teams. Ghai will provide the strategic expertise while Ethan is potentially an upgrade on Drew McWeeny. Rookies Marisol McKee and Adam Collins have both had strong starts to their Schmoedown careers, with “The KOyote Coyote” going on an incredible run in the Singles Tournament and “Lady Justice” coming away with an enhanced reputation despite a loss to Paul Oyama leaving her at 1-1. It’s easy enough to imagine that Deception and KOrruption have been regular sparring partners this season, while Erwin and Ghai have probably not had as much time together due to their work -and it must also be noted that Ghai has been vocal about not liking the online format, which Collins and McKee are used to from their time in the fan leagues. I’ll give the slightest of advantages to Deception, and hope that Ghai and Erwin can stick together as a team into Season 8.

Semifinals

Final Exam v Founding Fathers: This will be an interesting match. Paul Oyama has shown he has the ability to beat Dan Murrell 1v1, so I expect the pair to be close, which means this could come down to a battle between Lon Harris and John Rocha. “The Delinquent” has had his ups and downs this season but Rocha has appeared to miss the extra boost that a crowd gives him. I think the Founding Fathers will have enough to get by, but it will be close.

Odd Couple v Deception: The Odd Couple will be coming up against a much more dangerous opponent in the semis than the opening round. Sneider and Andreyko have the experience of working together, but that also means that Deception have more game tape to work off, while McKee and Collins’ experience in the online format will help them communicate effectively. Collins just ended Sneider’s run in Singles, I think that he and McKee have the depth and breadth of knowledge to do the same to his Teams campaign and defeat the former champions.

Final

Founding Fathers v Deception: And so we come to the climax of the tournament as Deception face off against former Team Champions for the second match running. As a tournament final, this should be a 5-round match, and I think that this could be where the Founding Fathers have the slight advantage as they will have the experience of playing the online speed round – though I’m sure Shannon Barney will do everything she can to get them prepped as KOrruption have experience from their recent title matches. As much as I would love to go for the underdogs, I can see the former champions pulling out a narrow victory to set up a Title Match against Shazam! at Spectacular.

So that’s how I see the tournament panning out; what does your bracket look like?

NFL Division Predictions

NFL Division Predictions

It’s hard to believe, but the NFL is almost here. Thursday Night Football returns this week with the opening match of the season as the Houston Texans face the World Champions, the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.

With everything going on in America, this is going to be a very different season to what we are used to, as we have already seen a preseason heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with no games played. One tradition that has remained, however, is my annual post where I make a complete fool of myself by trying to predict the winners of each Division. This year, I have also gone a little further by also throwing in my predictions for the Wildcard spots, of which there are 3 per conference as of this season with the playoffs expanding from 12 to 14 teams.

Now, obviously there is a risk this year that the pandemic could completely ruin a team’s season by having a key player or a number of players get infected. But just like a season-ending injury, this is something that you can’t plan for, so these picks are all under the assumption that the league season plays out with no significant disruption.

And with that giant caveat out of the way, let’s see the predictions:

AFC

AFC East

It’s been a long time since the AFC East prediction wasn’t a simple tick in the box next to the Patriots, but things are different this season, with Tom Brady now plying his trade elsewhere and a number of key players opting out of the season due to health fears. Of course the Pats have shown their ability to make serviceable QBs look great – Matt Cassel, Jacoby Brissett – so it will be interesting to see if Cam Newton can revitalise his career in Massachusetts. Unfortunately for Cam Newton, the receiver corps is not what it once was, with Julian Edelman the only player of note, and I can’t help feel that this maybe the first time since 2008 that the playoffs do not involve Bill Belichick’s team.

The one big thing in New England’s favour when going for a Wildcard spot is that 4 of their 16 matches will be against the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets, neither of whom have shown anything to suggest that they will be a danger this year. However, my clear favourite for the AFC East title is the Buffalo Bills. Last year’s Wildcard team has added star receiver Stefon Diggs, who will be a great weapon for Josh Allen, who should only be getting better in his 3ʳᵈ season.

AFC North

The Joe Burrow era is kicking off in Cincinnati, but (A. J. Green aside) does he have the support around him to immediately turn this team around, especially given his first taste of NFL football will come in Week 1 rather than preseason?

Pittsburgh will be hoping that James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster step up and that Ben Roethlisberger can stay fit all season, which he’s only done 4 times in his 15 seasons where he was a starter on Day 1 of the regular season.

The Browns will hopefully be better now that Freddie Kitchens is gone, but Baker Mayfield needs to prove that last season was a sophomore slump and not the start of a downward trend. He certainly has the weapons around him, assuming they all decide to put in the effort.

While I’m still not sold on Lamar Jackson as a long-term elite QB, he is an incredible athlete and the Ravens’ roster seems relatively settled and together following the dismissal of Earl Thomas, so I have them coming out top.

AFC South

The Jacksonville Jaguars are all aboard the Minshew train. Next stop: the #1 Draft pick.

The Colts looked good last year and a better QB could have been huge for them, but is 38-year-old Philip Rivers really the answer? He will certainly benefit from his home games being inside a dome, but he will face tough opposition from within the division.

To me, this will be a fight between the Texans and Titans for the top spot. The Titans will be hoping that “King” Derrick Henry can have another stellar season, but can probably pick up some slack in the passing game with A. J. Brown, Adam Humphries, Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith giving some great receiving options. On defense, they may have lost Logan Ryan and Jurrell Casey, but have brought in quality replacements in Jonathan Joseph and Jadeveon Clowney. In conrast, the Texans may have lost DeAndre Hopkins, but their WR corps still looks stacked, with Randall Cobb, Brandin Cooks, Will Fuller and Kenny Stills, while David Johnson will be a great pick-up if he can get back to his best.

I may be picking with heart more than head here, but right now I give the Titans the slightest of advantages.

AFC West

Let’s be honest, there’s only one team to trust here and that’s the defending champions. Having signed Pat Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Andy Reid to long-term contracts, the Chiefs look set to become the next NFL dynasty and would be my early pick for back-to-back Super Bowl victories. But can anyone cause an upset here?

Denver look the best of a bad bunch in the league – good enough to beat the worst teams but not strong enough to challenge against playoff hopefuls. Will a fight for the starting QB spot bring out the best in Marcus Mariota or David Carr? With the lack of offensive weapons (Josh Jacobs aside), it probably won’t make much difference. The Chargers are probably in the best position to challenge, but that may be asking too much of Tyrod Taylor, while Justin Herbert will benefit from a season holding a clipboard rather than being thrown to the wolves.

Divisional Champions: Bills, Ravens, Titans, Chiefs

Wildcards: Texans, Steelers, Patriots

NFC

NFC East

While it is incredible to see Alex Smith making the Washington Football Team’s 53-man roster, if he plays a snap then something has gone seriously wrong with Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen. This is a team in the middle of a historic change of name, and it feels like the team is also in the middle of a rebuild under Ron Rivera. I can see this team pulling off some upsets, but not being consistent enough to earn a winning record.

The New York Giants will find out this year if Daniel Jones is the man under centre, but with Nate Solder missing, will he have the protection he needs? He certainly has some decent targets to aim for and a stud running back in Saquon Barkley, who can carry a load but may be forced to carry the hopes of a city.

Expect this to come down to a fight between the Eagles and the Cowboys. Both have franchise QBs in place, but if Wentz goes down injured, that’s Philly’s season over, whereas the Cowboys have a safety net of Andy Dalton as backup to Dak Prescott, and also the ability to turn to the running game of Ezekiel Elliott. Furthermore the additions of Everson Griffen and Aldon Smith make the Cowboys defense look dangerous even with Sean Lee on IR. Advantage: Dallas.

NFC North

The Bears have named Mitchell Trubisky ahead of Nick Foles, which says everything you need to know about their season… It won’t matter if the defense shuts down every team or how good Allen Robinson and Jimmy Graham are, they aren’t winning more than a handful of games with those QBs.

The Lions need to hope that Matt Stafford is back to his best after his injury issues last season. Theoretically, they have decent weapons on offense, but enough to challenge for the title? I don’t think so.

The Packers are far from the team they used to be with many of the big name receivers long gone, but Davante Adams is still there and with Aaron Rodgers under center, you never rule them out of games.

While you may not rule them out, the smarter bet is still a more consistent team and that would be the Vikings. Kirk Cousins may be a moron when it comes to COVID-19 and he may not be the man to win them the Super Bowl, but he is good enough to utilise receivers like Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph, while the defense can also contribute with players like Harrison Smith.

NFC South

It’s a fresh new start for the Panthers and it’s great to see Teddy Bridgewater starting somewhere again, but he has limited experience in recent years so can still be considered a risk. If teams can limit the touches by Christian McCaffrey, Carolina are in trouble. The Falcons have some quality receivers in Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley to help Matt Ryan, but they need Todd Gurley to shine in order to keep the offense balanced. A winning record for either team probably constitutes a good season.

The Saints have elite players in Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara, while Taysom Hill remains one of those great offensive weapons. They also have a future Hall of Fame QB in Drew Brees who will utilise these weapons to the fullest, but there is a worry after last season that he may be on the decline. Luckily if that happens, they can put in Jameis Winston and replace the receiving corps with the Saints secondary, as he’s an expert at throwing passes to them.

Tampa Bay is truly the most fascinating team to watch going into this season. The Bucs finished 7-9 last season despite Jameis Winston throwing 30 interceptions. Now they have the GOAT Tom Brady under center and have brought in some other pieces to help him, including his fellow former Patriot Rob Gronkowski. Brady struggled last season with limited weapons, but now has a legit superstar to throw to in Mike Evans, and while Gronk surely won’t be the player he used to be, he could make a great partnership in a “12” package with O. J. Howard. If the Bucs can overcome the issues gelling as a team that the pandemic-hit preseason will have caused, they have a legit chance to challenge the Saints, but I will pick the safer option in New Orleans.

NFC West

This season of Hard Knocks hasn’t left me finding the Rams very likeable , or given me any reason to think that they will have much success this year, despite having Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey on defense. The Cardinals need to ensure Kyler Murray doesn’t go through a sophomore slump, but witht he ever-reliable Larry Fitzgerald and superstar WR DeAndre Hopkins on the roster, he has some great weapons to throw to.

The Seahawks can never be ruled out with the talent they have on their roster, provided they can keep Russell Wilson healthy. What will be interesting though is the absence of fans at their early home games, as the “12ᵗʰ man” really goes a long way towards the team’s success at home.

Right now, I have to give the advantage to the San Francisco 49ers. The cliché is that defense wins championships and the Niners have a fantastic defense. This is where Jimmy Garoppolo needs to prove himself as a top tier QB, and having an elite TE like George Kittle will certainly help that, while they have an impressive stable of running backs to set the platform and keep the rushers fresh.

Divisional Champions: Cowboys, Vikings, Saints, 49ers

Wildcards: Seahawks, Buccaneers, Packers


So those are my picks. Let me know what you think of them and who you would pick!

Before I go, I want to invite you all to join my Superbru league for the NFL. For those who have never heard of Superbru, it’s an online prediction game where you attempt to predict the winners and winning margins for each round of matches and get awarded points for how close you were. There is no cost to enter, it’s just for fun and open to everyone. You can join by clicking on this link or by downloading the Superbru app and searching for the pool with the code: ludojump

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Bracket Breakdown: Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Tournament 2020 (Part 2)

Bracket Breakdown: Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Tournament 2020 (Part 2)

I’m a sucker for a Schmoedown tournament bracket, so welcome back to my attempt at predicting the 2020 Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Tournament. As it is a bumper 36-competitor tournament this year, I know you don’t want to read a mini novel so I’ve split my bracket into 2 articles. This will be covering from the quarterfinals onwards, so make sure you have checked out my predictions for the Play Ins, Round 1 and Round 2 here.

feat MTS Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Tournament 2020 bracket

Quarterfinals

mts brendan meyerJohn Rocha v Brendan Meyer: “The Outlaw” is never shy to take a jab at old rival William Bibbiani, but in order to face him, he will have to go through Bibbiani’s teammate Brendan Meyer. This will be Rocha’s biggest test so far in the tournament and I have it being one challenge too many, as “The Kid” will look to build on his narrow loss to Dan Murrell in February and 2 hugely challenging matches in the earlier rounds to make the semis.

Chance Ellison v William Bibbiani: William Bibbiani has the chance to set up an all-Shazam! semifinal, but finds a Cobra in his way. While Bibbiani is a great competitor, Chance took him close in his debit season and is now in the form of his life, so I have Chance continuing on in the tournament.

mts paul preston blenderPaul Preston v Tim Franco: Tim Franco is the lowest draft pick to make it into the quarterfinals but after taking out TOM in Round 1, he now faces the other half of TOM and Paul in Paul Preston. I can see this being a close match but Franco’s fairy tale run coming to an end here against a resurgent Paul Preston, bringing and end to the Quirky Mercs’ hopes of replicating the Innergeekdom tournament’s all-KOrruption final.

Mike Kalinowski v Paul Oyama: Were it not for KO’s “Flash” blunder against Jeff Sneider, he would have faced Oyama in New York and believes that he would have won on the day, giving the world “Mikey Three-Belts”, the first triple-belted Champion. Unfortnately for him though, he now faces a resurgent Paul Oyama and barring a favourable pair of wheel spins, I see Kalinowski’s run coming to an end, along with the chances of another KOrruption v KOrruption final.

Semifinals

mts chance ellison throwdownBrendan Meyer v Chance Ellison: And so we reach the semis. When I started planning my bracket, I had “The Kid” winning here, but having watched Chance’s run through the Innergeekdom tournament, it is clear that the IG slice can now be a dangerous weapon for him and I see him using that to make his second tournament final of the season.

mts paul oyama winston marshallPaul Preston v Paul Oyama: Paul will win. There you go. Oh, I have to be more specific? Fine. This is going to be a close match, but Oyama has shown his age to not be a weakness when it comes to older movies but potentially a weapons for genres like YA movies, so I have him making it to the final.

Final

 

Chance Ellison v Paul Oyama: Maybe I’m too much of a sucker for storylines, but what a final this would be. The first 2 Schmoedown Pros to come from the fan leagues, there has always been that rivalry in the Schmoedown between Chance and Paul. Paul got the win on the way to the Singles Title, but Chance got revenge in the opening round of the Innergeekdom tournament on the way to the final. This could easily go either way but Chance is in the form of his life right now and I can’t go against him winning his tournament of the season and all-but securing Player of the Year.

 

So there you have it, from an incredibly deep field of 36, Chance Ellison will emerge victorious to earn a shot at the Singles Title at Spectacular. what do think of my bracket? How does it compare to yours?

Thanks for reading. Until next time!

Bracket Breakdown: Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Tournament 2020 (Part 1)

Bracket Breakdown: Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Tournament 2020 (Part 1)

The Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Tournament is coming back! Following the success of the online tournaments in the Star Wars and Innergeekdom Divisions, the Singles Division will be getting a supersized tournament with a whopping 36 players!

My attempts to correctly predict the brackets for the Star Wars and Innergeekdom tournaments failed miserably, but that has not put me off trying again for this tournament. Of course, this tournament is so big, I don’t want to leave you with a novel to read, so I will be breaking this prediction down into 2 articles: this one covering the Play Ins, Round 1 and Round 2, while the second will cover from the Quarterfinals through to the end of the tournament.

feat MTS Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Tournament 2020 bracket

Now before I start, I need to address a couple of assumptions that I have made for this prediction. Some of the players taking part in this tournament are currently unconfirmed as we await the outcome of the #1 Contender Match between John Rocha and Ethan Erwin, and the winner’s subsequent Championship Match against Dan Murrell. The Champion following these 2 matches will understandably not feature in the tournament, while all 3 have been confirmed as entering if they are not the champion. Should Ethan Erwin become Singles Champion, Jen Kempe will instead represent the Usual Suspects, while Sabrina Ramirez will take the final spot for the Finstock Exchange if either Rocha or Murrell holds the title.

I see Erwin defeating Rocha but losing to Murrell, meaning that John Rocha will be the Round 1 opponent for the winner of Gallegos v Collins in the top-left corner of the bracket, while in the top-right corner of the bracket Sabrina Ramirez will face Vinnie Mancuso in the Play In, with the winner facing Ethan Erwin in Round 1.

Play In Games

Andres Gallegos v Adam Collins: 2 untested rookies here so there is very little for me to go on. Gallegos has received some hype from legendary editor Nerd Chronic, and while Collins impressed in the fan leagues, he is seen as a 4-division threat, so I will give the advantage to the specialist Gallegos.

Frank Moran v James White: The Free Agent signing for SWAG takes on the man the Burning Droogs traded to the Den to bring in Brandon Hanna. Moran has had good showings in the league with his appearance for B.O.B and in Free 4 All II, however James White will feel at home playing online having been promoted from the fan leagues. Expect the 2ⁿᵈ round draft pick to show why he was picked so high.

Sabrina Ramirez v Vinnie Mancuso: The Free Agent that everyone wanted, Sabrina Ramirez shows the strength in depth of the Finstock Exchange. While she has done well t impress the Horsemen and earn a place in the faction, she has no gametape, while the Dungeon’s Vinnie Mancuso looked strong on his debut for The Butcher Boys and has been talked up by Kaiser as a great talent withing the division. I have Mancuso making it into the tournament.

Marisol McKee v Bonnie Somerville: A look at Bonnie’s Twitter recently suggests that she is up for the chance to go against her former faction, but how will she do in the match? Bonnie has put in decent performances but finds herself up against someone who comes with a strong reputation from the fan leagues and will be keen to make her mark in the pros. I’ve got Marisol McKee advancing.

Round 1

Andres Gallegos v John Rocha: Gallegos may come into this match with momentum, but he will be facing an Outlaw who will be keen to put a loss to Ethan Erwin (or maybe Dan Murrel) behind him and consider losing to an untried rookie the ultimate insult. Rocha will be fired up and as long as he doesn’t burn too hot, he’ll advance to the next round.

mts the delinquent lon harris wiston marshallLon Harris v Sabina Graves: I am so excited to see more of “The Delinquent”! Harris has looked a great talent and the pressure seems off him compared to his tenure as “The Professor”. Sabina is a strong competitor, especially with Samm Levine in her corner, but I think that Harris’ run for Comeback Player of the Year will continue with a win here.

Brendan Meyer v Alonso Duralde: There is going to be a lot of movie trivia know-how on show in this match. “The Kid” looks destined to win a belt in the next couple of seasons but will face a dangerous adversary in Duralde. Duralde’s knowledge covers even some of the more generally avoided categories, but he is not used to playing on his own and I think that Meyer will have the advantage strategically, which will see him through to Round 2.

Marc Andreyko v Matt Atchity: Another incredible Round 1 match-up, when it comes to movie trivia I don’t think there is much between them. However Atchity is notorious for never remembering the rules, while Andreyko has watched a lot of past matches during the lockdown, so I have Andreyko’s better gameplay seeing him advance.

mts chance ellisonChance Ellison v David Del Rio: Chance Ellison will have been so happy to see a larger Singles tournament as it made it more likely that he wold have a chance of advancing, having been eliminated from the last couple of Singles tournaments in the opening round by William Bibbiani and Ethan Erwin. This time he faces David Del Rio, who looked good in his appearances last season, but I think that Chance is a future legend of the league and will come away with the victory here.

Liz Shannon Miller v Rachel Silvestrini: This will be a very interesting match and I’m struggling to call it. Miller has the knowledge but will she be hampered by not having her manager in the room with her? Meanwhile, can Silvestrini improve on a couple of questionable round 1 performances? If Silvestrini can hit Kevin Smith or Disney at the right times then she has a good chance, but I’m giving this one to Liz Shannon Miller.

The Barbarian v Witney Seibold: With Ben Goddard not in the tournament, The Barbarian has a great chance of cementing himself as the Rookie of the Year. Witney Seibold has a great knowledge, but the Barbarian has thrown himself into the sport and has the benefit of learning from 4 former Singles Champions, so not only does he have the knowledge, but he also has the strategy, and will also benefit from a familiarity with the online matches from his time in the recent Innergeekdom tournament. I’ll be shocked if The Barbarian loses this.

William Bibbani v James White: James White could be the next Schmoedown superstar, but William Bibbiani is called “The Beast” for a reason and will be looking to get back to winning ways after his loss in New York at the start of the season.

mts ethan erwinVinnie Mancuso v Ethan Erwin: Mancuso’s prize for winning the Play In is taking on Ethan Erwin, who will be coming in fresh off a title loss to Dan Murrell. Now Mancuso could be one of the next stars of the league, but Erwin knows a lot about a lot and has even been checking out Disney+, so don’t expect him to lose here.

Paul Preston v Eric Zipper: Paul Preston is a fun character, so much so that you forget just how good his movie trivia knowledge is. With just a loss in Teams to his name this season, he will be keep to get back to winning ways against Eric Zipper. Zipper’s improvements have been clear to see, but I think that Preston has the potential to fight for a Singles Title and I think Zipper still has a little may to go before that, so I have Preston the win.

Jader Paramo v Jim Vejvoda: This will be an interesting match. Vejvoda has great movie knowledge but really lacks the understanding of the game and strategy. Jader meanwhile has a good level of knowledge but probably not quite as high, but as a long-time fan he understands the game better and will be benefiting from the strategic advice of Samm Levine and Andrew Ghai (unless the Schmoeminati have got him). I’m picking Vejvoda, but a Paramo win wouldn’t surprise me.

Tim Franco v TOM: This was anything but easy to pick. TOM became an instant fan favourite and hasn’t missed many questions in his Schmoedown career, while Tim Franco’s impact on the league has been limited due to being based in Arizona. Right now, I’m looking at experience of the game and competing without a teammate, and as a long-time fan who TKO’d Matt Atchity on debut, I’m going for Tim Franco.

mts mike kalinowskiMike Kalinowski v Perri Nemiroff: “The Killer” turned down a winnable match with Andrew Ghai and the potential of a #1 Contender match to enter the tournament and earn as many pints as he can for KOrruption. First up is Perri Nemiroff who certainly has some areas of strength, but hasn’t played outside of exhibitions for years. Expect to see KO going on to the next round.

Mark Reilly v VIDEODREW: “Yodi” will be hoping to go further in this tournament that last year, where Stacy Howard knocked him out in the opening round. He goes up against VIDEODREW who certainly has the potential to be a banana skin for him. I was struggling to call this one but eventually let my heart take over and selected Mark Reilly to advance.

Jeff Sneider v Robert Montano: “The Insneider” believes himself to be the best in the game and running through such a large tournament wold be a great way to do it. First up is Robert Montano, formerly of Late to the Party. Montano has shown that he has good knowledge, but Sneider is a great player and as long as he feels driven to win, I have him advancing.

Paul Oyama v Marisol McKee: Another case of a currently untested rookie who has made a good name for themselves in the fan leagues versus a high level veteran. McKee is meant to be be a dangerous adversary, but Paul Oyama showed his quality last year and I have him bouncing back from Singles losses to Bateman and Rocha to advance to the next round.

Round 2

feat mts Movie-Trivia-Schmoedown-John-Rocha-The-Outlaw-LiveJohn Rocha v Lon Harris: Let’s be honest, we all want Lon Harris to g all the way in this tournament, just to see as much of “The Delinquent” as possible. Unfortunately, he’ll find himself up against a John Rocha who is driven after coming so close to fighting for the belt again. Expect an Outlaw near the top of his game to make it to the next round.

Brendan Meyer v Marc Andreyko: These maybe 2 of the best Schmoedown Pros in the game to have never won the Singles title, such is the strength of this season’s bracket. Andreyko can go up against anyone on his day and thanks to this season being so heavily disrupted, he will find that he is not burned out like usual by this stage of the season. However, “The Kid” has looked the real deal and I have him pulling out the victory.

Chance Ellison v Liz Shannon Miller: Speaking of players who look the real deal, Chance Ellison will look to follow up a fantastic Innergeekdom run with an equally strong run in Singles. In his way stands Liz Shannon Miller, who has shown a good level of knowledge but has never faced someone in the form Ellison is in, while Chance’s fan league and Innergeekdom experience also means that he is used to the online setup. The Cobra is continuing on.

mts free 4 all ii william bibbiani
Growl Growl!

The Barbarian v William Bibbiani: This match feels like it could have been a semi-final! Though the Barbarian has a limited number of matches, neither he nor Bibbiani have any glaring weaknesses, and I think that this will come down to who gets a more favourable spin of the wheel. Though I’m loath to write off the Barbarian, I’m going with the more experienced Bibbiani.

Ethan Erwin v Paul Preston: What happens when a hotshot Hollywood producer faces off against a middle-aged frat boy? We get a great match in the Movie Trivia Schmoedown! I can see this being a great match and while I’d never count against Ethan Erwin’s trivia know-how, I think that Paul Preston will have spent the break working on strategy, which will see him through to the next round.

Jim Vejvoda v Tim Franco: After a greater knowledge saw him sneak past the more strategic Jader Paramo, this will be a much harder fight for Jim Vejvoda. Franco has a wide and deep knowledge of movies and the strategy to go with it, so I have him advancing to the quarters.

Mike Kalinowski v Mark Reilly: Having made it past VIDEODREW, things don’t get any easier for Mark Reilly as he takes on Kalinowski. I think that this match could easily go either way so will probably come to the wheel, where I can see either Bond or the Innergeekdom slice giving KO the advantage he needs to progress to the next round.

MTS Paul Oyama Singles BeltJeff Sneider v Paul Oyama: Jeff Sneider will never get as close to winning the Singles Title as he did against Oyama in New York, where manager Roxy Striar convinced him to bet (and lose) a point in the betting round, leading to a loss in Sudden Death. He’ll have his chance for revenge here, but that was Oyama on a bad day, and I think the change in character and familiarity of playing online will see Oyama play better and get the win again.

 

We started with 36, now we’re down to 8. I’ll have my predictions for the quarterfinals, semifinals and the final up early next week. In the meantime, let me know what you think of my bracket so far. How does it compare to yours?

Thanks for reading. Until next time!

Lions Tour 2021: Predicting the Squad

Lions Tour 2021: Predicting the Squad

It’s hard to believe, today sees us reach the one year mark before the British & Irish Lions’ first match of their 2021 South Africa tour. This time next year (barring any delays given the current state of the world) the Lions will be taking on the Stormers in Cape Town as the first of 8 matches on their tour, culminating in a 3-Test series against the World Champions South Africa.

In honour of this day, I have decided to try predicting the players who will make up the Lions touring party. The last 2 touring parties have been just either side of the 40-man mark, but I have gone a little larger due to Warren Gatland’s decision in 2017 to add 6 extra players midway through the tour to help keep the Test team fresh. The “Geography 6” did not get a great reception when they were announced, which led to Gatland largely backtracking and keeping them as unused substitutes. With player welfare having become even more important over the last 4 years and the 5 games before the Tests being spread over just 15 days, I can see Gatland picking a larger squad this time around, so I have gone on the idea of a 46-man touring party, which would allow Gatland to put out 2 completely different matchday 23s without any overlap of players.

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has not made selection easy for Warren Gatland, as it has left the Six Nations unfinished and also ruled out the Summer and Autumn Test windows, so 2021’s Six Nations will be huge, but players may also find that their form in club matches is given more consideration this time due to the lack of international rugby. So, who do I think will be travelling to South Africa?

Hooker

With 46 players going, I would expect 40 of them to be specialist hookers. Ken Owens is probably in prime position to start the Tests and I also wouldn’t be surprised to see him captain some of the early matches. Owens is such a reliable player and was an ever-present for Wales under Gatland. With such limited time together, that familiarity will be key for the Lions. Next up is Jamie George, who has had control of the England number 2 shirt for a couple of years now. While he doesn’t seem as flashy as in his earlier years, he is super reliable at the set piece and will tackle all day long. For the other 2 spots, things get very interesting. Rory Best’s retirement has left Ireland lacking experience at the position and the lack of matches between now and the squad announcement is likely to count against them. Scotland have seen the number 2 jersey split between Stuart McInally and Fraser Brown, so it is highly possible that they could take both remaining spots, but I think that the strong carrying of Luke Cowan-Dickie will earn him a spot in the party,leaving space for just one of the Scots. While McInally brings a more open attacking game, I’m not sure that’s what Gatland will be looking for on this tour, so I can see him picking Fraser Brown, who can also cover as a back row in an emergency.

Prop

When I started looking at props, I must admit that I was surprised just how many players immediately clicked into place, leaving me only a few slots to fill.

At tighthead, Kyle Sinckler has become one of the best in the world, with good hands t go with his incredible strength and refusal to take a backwards step. It’s fair to say that his early removal in the World Cup final was a huge loss for England. I expect Sinckler’s biggest rival for the 3 shirt in the Tests will be Tadhg Furlong, who is another that can make a positive impact in both the set piece and the loose. 3 years ago, Tomas Francis was one of the infamous “Geography 6” but this time around I expect him to be a part of the initial squad as he has become a force in the scrums and is arguably another 3 whose removal benefited the Springboks in the Rugby World Cup. And for the final spot, I can see Zander Fagerson getting the nod, as he has become a regular for Scotland and impressed in a scrum that was improving during the Six Nations.

Moving over to the other side of the front row, I think that the current lack of a nailed down starter for Wales will leave them without representation at this position. Joe Marler had such a positive impact off the bench during the Rugby World Cup final, that I expect him to get a call-up alongside England teammate Mako Vunipola, who is arguably one of the best all-round looseheads when on top form. Cian Healy is another of the top looseheads and will provide plenty of experience. By the time the tournament comes around he will be 33, so I can see the tour being his international swansong. As for the final spot, strong performances over the net year could see Ellis Genge squeeze in as a physical carrier against the Super Rugby and Invitational teams, but right now I think the more likely player is Rory Sutherland, who was having a strong Six Nations before the pandemic brought it to an early end.

Lock

When initially starting my selections, I set aside 6 spots for the second row, but by the end I increased that to 7, as I noticed that a number of the locks I was picking were also experienced at playing in the back row, and with the strength of the Springbok pack I can imagine Warren Gatland going for a large pack. First off is the likely pick for the captaincy: Alun Wyn Jones, who brings so much experience and leadership to the team, as well as very rarely having a bad game. Next up were the youngsters that have quickly become key members of their teams, Maro Itoje and James Ryan. It wouldn’t surprise me to see these 3 making up the lock contingent for the first Test, but if anyone was to put themselves in contention, I can see it being Iain Henderson, especially as he could also provide a super physical option at 6. At this point I should probably make clear that I have excluded Geroge Kruis due to his upcoming move to Japan that will bring an end to his England career. Completing the group of specialist locks, I have Jake Ball getting in due to his larger size helping to bring some balance in the scrums. And then we come to Courtney Lawes, who in recent years has spent almost as much time at 6 as lock (though I personally think he is somewhat wasted at 6 internationally) and bolter Tadhg Beirne, who as well as being a large unit capable of covering lock/back row, has great ability in the loose and will be a big threat at the breakdown.

Back row

It’s probably no surprise that taking an extra lock came at the expense of a back row spot due to the players able to cover both, leaving me with 7 spots to fill here.

Personally, I feel that Taulupe Faletau could find that the pandemic leaves him with too little time to prove himself back to top form, so I can see him missing out here in favour of Billy Vunipola and CJ Stander, who can also cover openside flanker and will be keen to shine in the Test squad to show the Springboks just what they missed out on. They are the only specialist 8s I have going, with Ross Moriarty finding himself too far down the list with so many options at back row, however Josh Navidi has experience playing the position at international level and has the strength to hold his own against larger players. Navidi can be used at 8 due to the inclusion of fellow opensides Justin Tipuric and Hamish Watson, who both bring a lot to the attacking game in open play as well, while Sam Underhill can come in to fill the role of reliable tackler that Gatland used to see filled by Dan Lydiate, while he can also pick his moments to attack the breakdown. With so many other similar options, Jamie Ritchie and Tom Curry both see them missing out this time around in favour of Aaron Shingler, who provides a lineout option and more ballast at 6 to nullify the size of the South African packs.

Scrum half

Moving into the backs and scrum half was probably the hardest position for me to fill, just because I think that a lot of the current starters have serious questions about them. Wales are in the early days of trying to figure out their depth chart at 9 under Wayne Pivac, but Gareth Davies was so successful under Gatland that I’m confident he will go, while Rhys Webb was another Gatland favourite until his move to France made him ineligible.

For the other 2 spots at the position, I considered the Scottish pair of Ali Price and George Horne but don’t think Price has done enough to stand out from the crowd, while I see Horne being considered too small and not enough of a game manager to make the party this time around. Tomos Williams has been largely impressive for Wales, but I also see him missing out as I can’t see Gatland picking 75% of the scrum halves from the same nation. So that brings us on to England and Ireland, who wee both going through the Six Nations with players who were in the 9 shirts through the strength of their name and history rather than their recent performances. If we’re looking at the form performer before the pandemic, that was clearly John Cooney, and I think that he will get the recognition from Warren Gatland if he can continue the performances once rugby returns, especially as he also provides an option off the tee. This leaves a race between Conor Murray and Ben Youngs, and I think that based on current form, Ben Youngs has the slight edge, while he also has the running game to complement his tactical kicking that Murray lacks.

Fly half

So at fly half, I felt comfortable that Gatland would look to go for 3 specialists, with the potential for a couple of selections elsewhere in the back line also being able to cover the position in an emergency.

So immediately this throws up the question of where to class someone who will clearly make the squad: Owen Farrell. Farrell is perfectly capable of playing both fly half or centre, so could very easily be classed as a centre, allowing for another specialist fly half to be called up to the squad. However, for reasons that I will discuss shortly, I see him being looked at more as a fly half. Dan Biggar also makes the list as he continues to put in great performances that may not lead to super flashy attacking play, but effective, pragmatic play. Both Farrell and Biggar were picked alongside Jonathan Sexton in New Zealand, but I can see the trio being broken this time as Sexton’s poor form will see him left out in favour of Finn Russell, who probably won’t make the Test 23 but will prove a great attacking talent for the midweek games.

Now, on the off-chance that Farrell does make the squad but is considered more as a centre, I still don’t see Sexton getting picked barring a massive upturn in form, which leaves that final spot to be fought between Gareth Anscombe, Adam Hastings and George Ford. For me, Hastings loses out due to his lack of experience leading a team at this point, so it then comes down to the fitness of Gareth Anscombe. It’s worth remembering that he was set to be the starter for Wales at the Rugby World Cup before his injury against England, so if he can prove himself fully fit and back to top form, then I think his ability to also cover 15 will earn him the spot over George Ford, while any questions over Anscombe’s readiness will see Ford get the nod.

Centre

Owen Farrell being classed as a centre means that there are 5 spots to fill at the position in this squad. Now, when picking his centres, I think that Warren Gatland will take a moment to consider the opposition they are likely to face and choose to go for a highly physical set of midfielders to combat the Springboks.

As arguably one of the best 13s in the world, Jonathan Davies seems certain to make the squad provided he is fit, while I also think that Manu Tuilagi will be guaranteed a spot if fit. Hadleigh Parkes’ move to Japan has made it unlikely that he will be selected. The Scottish midfield seems somewhat unsettled at the moment, which I think will hinder them getting any representation at the position. For Ireland, I think that the physicality of Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw, combined with their experience playing together, will see the pair selected.

Now, these 4 players will do a good job bringing physical parity to the match, but there’s not much in the way of playmaking ability. This could be answered by utilising Farrell alongside one of them, but I can instead be the form of Henry Slade being rewarded with a spot in the touring party, as he has the extra playmaking ability from his time as a fly half earlier in his career, while he has also demonstrated surprisingly impressive physicality over recent years to make the England 13 shirt his own.

Back 3

And so we come to the back 3 and if you were counting, you’ll know that I’ve left 8 spots free to cover this area.

Stuart Hogg is the first person named here as an obvious selection at fullback and will be hoping to get his shot in the Tests after being forced to leave the tour of New Zealand early. Also joining him will be fullbacks Liam Williams and Anthony Watson, who will also be able to play on the wing if Gatland desires. Jonny May and Josh Adams have been 2 of the form wingers in the Six Nations in recent years so will be hoping to secure the wing spots for the Tests. And that leaves 3 spots for players who I think can have hugely positive impacts on the tour but will need some incredible fortune to make the Test squad as things stand. Darcy Graham has looked highly impressive for Scotland and will benefit from the experience of being on this tour with a view to competing for a Test spot on the next tour. Andrew Conway has taken over from Jacob Stockdale as the top Irish winger at the moment, while Stockdale will actually miss out on the final spot to bolter James Lowe, who becomes eligible through residency later this year and has averaged a try every 1.7 games though his time with the Chiefs and Leinster.


So, that’s my prediction. Who do you think Gatland will take with him?

Bracket Breakdown: Schmoedown Innergeekdom Tournament 2020

Bracket Breakdown: Schmoedown Innergeekdom Tournament 2020

The Star Wars tournament is underway on Twitch and in just a week’s time, the Innergeekdom tournament will also be underway. 18 players preparing to go on a (hopefully) long run to victory… all starting Monday 1ˢᵗ June (or Thursday 4ᵗʰ for the general public.

mts kevin smets innergeekdom beltAt the moment, it is not confirmed whether the winner of the tournament will earn a title shot (though with current Champion Kevin Smets and #1 Contenders Mara Knopic & Chandru Dhanadapani not involved, it would make sense), but with things tight at the top of the faction standings, this could be the moment for a faction to take control of the league, while someone struggling like KOrruption could suddenly find themselves back in contention.

I recently tried to predict how the Star Wars tournament would play out and was proved wrong straight away with Andres Cabrera’s play in match victory over Josh Quevedo, so now I’m hoping that I can go a little better.

MTS innergeekdom tournament bracket

Play in games

mts kate mulligan ben goddard grace hancockJim Vejvoda v Ben Goddard: Kate Mulligan’s call to give Saul the guaranteed place in the tournament may have backfired as Ben Goddard now finds himself in one of the play in matches, against Jim Vejvoda. This is an interesting call from Roxy Striar as Vejvoda’s IG knowledge has never really been seen in the Division, so he could be a dark horse, but this will be his first match competing on his own, going up against a student of the game who knows Middle Earth back to front and has frequently shown to have a good all-round knowledge. Right now, I see Goddard qualifying for the main tournament and furthering his campaign for Rookie of the Year.

Greg Alba v Warfather: With Mara Knopic currently deactivated, I was shocked that Coy Jandreau did not look to add at least one Innergeekdom specialist. This has led to him entering the Reel Rejects as his representatives for the tournament. Now Greg Elba Alba looks like he knows his stuff when it comes to IG categories, but there will be questions about his ability to get the deeper cuts that you expect in the division, while this will also be his first match outside the Teams Division. The Warfather, by comparison, comes with 2 matches to his name, both competing alone and one in the IG Division. As far as debuts go, the Warfather looked good, so I think that experience could give him a strategic advantage. As much as I hate to see Robert Meyer Burnett celebrating a victory, I have Warfather earning the final spot in the 16-man bracket.

Round 1

The Barbarian v Adam Hlavac: The Barbarian has been one of the most impressive rookies so far this season and is already looking an absolute steal as a 6ᵗʰ Round pick, with superb performances in his Singles debut and the Jurassic Park Exhibition leading to talk that he wants to be the first person to hold all 4 belts. He faces a tough opponent in the experienced Adam Hlavac, his confidence makes me feel that he is able to hang with even the best. Is Hlavac one of the best though? He may be one of the more seasoned Schmoedown Pros in the division and will make some categories look easy, but he has some gaps in his knowledge that he has so far failed to cover and I can see these leading to an early exit. I have The Barbarian advancing to the next round.

Jeannine “The Machine” v John Humphrey: This is an interesting match-up between 2 veterans of the league who are both going to be making their IG debut. I get the feeling that John Humphrey has good knowledge of the IG categories, but I do question his competitiveness, especially going up against Jeannine, who will be looking to get her career back on track after losing her last 3 Singles matches against tough opposition (Mike Kalinowski x2, Mark Reilly). I have The Machine pulling out an important win here.

mts paul oyama chance ellisonChance Ellison v Paul Oyama: The first 2 Schmoedown Pros promoted from the fan leagues will meet for the second time in the Schmoedown in what I predict could be one the closest matches in the round. Oyama got the win in Singles on the way to winning the title, and will now be making his Innergeekdom debut. Chance Ellison may be 0-1 in the division, but he put in a super-impressive performance in that loss and has the benefit of having 2-time Innergeekdom Champion Mike Kalinowski as his study partner. I’d have picked Oyama over a handful of other winners that I will be picking in this round, but in this match-up, I have to give Ellison the advantage.

Robert Parker v Ben Goddard: “The Bandit”‘s prize for winning his play-in match is to be thrown into “The Spider”‘s web. I like the look of Goddard and his performance in the Middle Earth Exhibition against Parker, Alex Damon and Kevin Smets left me confident that he has a good career ahead of him in the division. However, Parker showed in his debut that he is just on another level, not missing a single question, which will put Goddard under heavy pressure to keep up. I think Goddard can force his opponent to answer in Round 3, but I have Parker winning this one.

Brandon Hanna v Saul: The match that most of us are currently looking forward to, it was clear this would happen the moment Kate Mulligan included Saul in the tournament over Hanna. Fresh off a trade to The Burning Droogs, Hanna has been on a quest to become the most hated person in the league, taking shots at Mulligan, Call To Action and even the darling of the league Brett Sheridan. What do we know about Saul? Saul can cut a good promo, but he is untested at this level and is against an opponent keen to prove that he is “nothing more than a Collider Live phone call that got through the line one too many times.” I have Hanna making it clear to Kate that she made a big mistake leaving him out.

mts alex damon star wars beltAlex Damon v Jen Kempe: Jen Kempe finally gets the chance to make her official debut after a cameo at last year’s Free 4 All and it will be interesting to see how she gets on. I have heard those in the know hold her in high esteem from the fan leagues, but I always got the impression that she was more of a Singles threat than IG. Meanwhile, Alex Damon comes in 1-0 in the division and will have been training since Atlanta in preparation for his next match. We know he knows Star Wars, but he is also a big fan of Indiana Jones and showed in the recent exhibition that he can do well in Middle Earth. Expect the Force to be with Damon in this one.

Emily Rose Jacobson v Eric Zipper: I must admit that I was surprised to see Zipper picked up as The Dungeon’s 3ʳᵈ pick at the Draft (after 2 IG specialists) but his recent loss in Singles impressed me as I could see that he is putting in the effort to succeed and was clearly improving. Now moving back to IG but knowing the fans’ focus will be on other matches, this is a great chance for him to pull off an important victory for The Dungeon. Jacobson showed a big improvement between her first 2 IG matches but looked out of her depth in Atlanta. The virtual format may help her here, but she needs to be more accurate and play a more strategic game. I see Zipper making it to the next round.

Mike Kalinowski v Warfather: Warfather will be coming in with some momentum following a win over Greg Alba, but he will be facing a much harder test in Kalinowski. The former champion had a match to forget when he lost the title to Smets at Spectacular and was taking a break from the division, but the faction’s place in the standings has seen him return to his strongest division to pull KOrruption up the standings. Honestly, I can’t see anything but a Kalinowski win here.

Quarterfinals

mts tale of the tape craig gaynier the barbarian singlesThe Barbarian v Jeannine “The Machine”: This is not an easy pick right now with so little IG-related gametape on the pair, but I have to make a pick here. Jeannine will surely have been benefiting from The Usual Suspects’ close links to former Innergeekdom Champion Rachel Cushing, but The Barbarian‘s knowledge looks insane at this point and right now, I can’t look beyond him for a place in the semis.

Chance Ellison v Robert Parker: Chance Ellison continues to get screwed in brackets. He has lost the opening round of the last 2 Singles tournaments to Ethan Erwin and William Bibbiani, and now after one of the harder opening rounds in this tournament, comes up against Robert Parker. The pair come in with the backing of the best sparring partners in Mike Kalinowski and Kevin Smets to extend the Dungeon v KOrruption IG rivalry even further. Kalinowski has been impressed by Ellison’s knowledge and I think he can push Parker close, but I expect Parker to reach the final 4.

mts brandon hannaBrandon Hanna v Alex Damon: This is where we will see the level Alex Damon can reach in the Innergeekdom Division. Brandon Hanna enters the tournament the 6ᵗʰ most accurate all-time in the division (4ᵗʰ among active Schmoedown Pros), despite having a 2-2 record and I would say that he can beat anyone in the division on his day. Damon looks good but I’m not sure if he has quite the breadth of knowledge as Hanna right now, but if he can hit Star Wars in Round 2 and on his 5-pointer, it will give him a good shot. I think Damon will show that he can hang at this level and be competitive, but I have Hanna progressing.

Eric Zipper v Mike Kalinowski: The second match-up between The Dungeon and KOrruption in this round is one with a bit more history, following KOrruption humiliating him ahead of Kaiser picking him up last season. Zipper will be going into this match with no pressure on him as everyone will expect “The Killer” to win, which could play into his favour, but I think that Kalinowski will have enough to continue on in the tournament.

Semifinals

The Barbarian v Robert Parker: And so the left side of the bracket comes down to a battle between 2 likely contenders for Rookie of the Year. It’s always hard to call this so fa in advance with so little game-tape but I can see this going down to the 5-pointers and right now I need to give the benefit to the Schmoedown Pro I’ve seen more game-tape on: Robert Parker.

Brandon Hanna v Mike Kalinowski: Another match that could easily go either way, both Kalinowski and Hanna have the potential to go near-perfect but also have a bad day and struggle with their accuracy. Hanna will be keen to prove his quality with a win against a big name in the division, but I think he will have to wait for this as I see Kalinowski‘s experience earning him the win here.

Final

Robert Parker v Mike Kalinowski: And so my bracket comes down to the 2 faourites in the final. Mike Kalinowski played a key part in making the Innergeekdom Division what it is, while Parker is part of the new breed looking to take things to a new level. Now if this was a 3-round match, I think I would give Parker the advantage, but with this being a 5-rounder I think that Kalinowski could benefit from his experience of playing the format within the Schmoedown. Add to that, I recently heard Kalinowski talking about how he had changed his study techniques to bring them closer to when he was cutting a swathe through the division. When planning my bracket, I had Parker to win… but in the heat of the moment I’m switching to Kalinowski.

 

So that’s what my bracket looks like, what about yours?

Bracket Breakdown: Schmoedown 2020 Star Wars Tournament

Bracket Breakdown: Schmoedown 2020 Star Wars Tournament

With Free Agency now in the rear-view mirror and the final taped studio match (The Pride v the Reel Rejects) dropping tot he public on Friday, the thoughts of many Schmoedown fans are turning towards the upcoming tournaments, which will see the league continue online as we work through the current COVID-19 pandemic.

mts star wars 2020 tournament entrants napzok dimalanta sullivan cabrera damon witt quevedo kelly scrimshawNext week will see the beginning of the Star Wars tournament with the play in match on May 20ᵗʰ, with the tournament proper starting May 25ᵗʰ. The entire tournament will be broadcast exclusively on the Schmoedown’s Twitch channel, a first for the league. The prize for the winner of the tournament: a Championship Match against Alex “The Demon” Damon, with the current intention that this match will be played once the league can return to studio/live events.

And now, with the official bracket released, there is just one thing left to do… predicting the outcome of the matches!

mts star wars twitch tournament bracket 2020

Play in game

mts trade jte josh quevedoJosh Quevedo v Andres Cabrera: With Alex Damon ineligible due to his status as the Champion, it was a smart move from Roxy Striar to pick up a second Star Wars specialist to give her a chance to earn some much-needed points in the tournament. However, she first needs Josh Quevedo to make it into the tournament proper, and to do that, he will have to take out the former host of Collider Jedi Council, Andres Cabrera. With the pair being the only ones to have never played in the Star Wars Division previously, they were the obvious picks for the play in game. As an untested rookie, Quevedo is something of an unknown quantity, whereas Cabrera has some experience of playing the game and will be looking to prove himself after a disappointing loss to Robert Parker in Innergeekdom. However, Quevedo is a Star Wars specialist and given how previous matches have shown that one wrong answer could be enough to lose a match, I have to feel that Quevedo‘s focus on the division will see him advance to the tournament.

Quarterfinals

Mollie Damon v Adam Witt: Both Witt and Damon come in with 0-1 records and very little game tape, so this is a hard one to call. As one half of the YouTube channel Star Wars Explained and wife (and study-partner) of current champion Alex Damon, Mollie clearly knows her stuff and I personally think that she will benefit from this not being in front of a live crowd. Witt’s 5-point pull against Sean Sullivan showed he has the knowledge, but he made some tactical errors, which you would expect he will have moved beyond by the time of this match. What this could come down to is the state of preparedness for each of these Schmoedown Pros, and for that reason, I give a slight advantage to Witt due to his extra match experience.

mts andrew dimalantaJoseph Scrimshaw v Andrew Dimalanta: Don’t count out Dimalanta because of his 0-2 record, this guy is a legit competitor and a fan of the league, which means that he understands the strategy behind the game as well as knowing the difference between an Ewok and a Wookiee. That said, if you can answer every question correctly then not much strategy is needed, and I would consider Joseph Scrimshaw the most knowledgeable in the tournament. Dimalanta will have a big fight on his hands and I expect him to fall short against Scrimshaw.

Laura Kelly v Sean Sullivan: Sullivan enters the tournament off the back of a debut win against Adam Witt but will face a stern test against KOrruption’s Laura Kelly. Sullivan clearly showed that he knew his stuff, but Laura Kelly has been highly impressive over her first 3 matches and is another I think will benefit from the comfort of playing fro home rather than in front of a crowd. Sullivan’s time will come, but I’ve got this as a much-needed win for KOrruption and Kelly.

Ken Napzok v Josh Quevedo: Josh Quevedo’s prize for winning into the tournament is a match against the inaugural Star Wars Champion. Now Quevedo could be the next Alex Damon, but right now we just don’t know, whereas Ken Napzok has played more matches in the league than anyone else in the tournament, so his experience will be key here (as long as he can stay away from quotes). I have Napzok bringing an end to a losing streak that started at Spectacular II.

Semifinals

Adam Witt v Joseph Scrimshaw: Not gonna lie, it was pretty much a coin flip between Adam Witt and Mollie Damon, both of whom I think could have lost to Dimalanta had the draw gone differently. So considering I have already predicted Scrimshaw beating Dimalanta, there’s only one way I can go here. I get the feeling this could be one of the most entertaining matches in the tournament, ending in a win for Scrimshaw.

mts Movie-Trivia-Schmoedown-Grace-Hancock-Ken-Napzok-KOrruption-1024x576Laura Kelly v Ken Napzok: The old guard takes on the new generation in the second semifinal. Ken Napzok knows more about Star Wars than many people will forget in their lives, but I am 99% certain that he is just going into this tournament with his base knowledge rather than studying, which could prove especially costly if he is forced to deal with quotes – a weakness that has cost him in multiple matches. Laura Kelly, however, is a studier and after coming so close to the title last season, I think she will want to earn another shot at Alex Damon. I have Kelly winning and with more potential rookies entering the Division, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the last time we see “The Pitboss” competing in the league.

Final

Joseph Scrimshaw v Laura Kelly: And so we reach the final, to be fought between the 2 active Schmoedown Pros who have come closest to taking down Alex Damon. This is going to be an incredible match and I legitimately feel that whoever drops a point first could prove costly. While Laura Kelly looks a fantastic player judging by last year’s performances, Joseph Scrimshaw has the extra experience of the game and I would consider him one of the 5 best Schmoedown Pros to have never (to date) won a belt. This could be his chance though, as I see Scrimshaw winning the tournament to set up a rematch with Alex Damon.

mts alex damon star wars belt

So that’s what my bracket looks like, what about yours?

2019 Ultimate Schmoedown Teams Tournament: My Bracket Prediction

2019 Ultimate Schmoedown Teams Tournament: My Bracket Prediction

It’s hard to believe, but “The Magic Season” of the Movie Trivia Schmoedown will soon be drawing to a close. The Singles Tournament is reaching a climax and Spectacular is just around the corner. But before all that, there’s the little matter of the Teams Tournament. Starting on 4ᵗʰ November, 16 teams will be fighting it out for the chance to face off against the defending Champions – either KOrruption or the Founding Fathers, depending on the result in Orlando.

Who will be the challengers? Well the joy of the tournament is that we know the bracket in advance, allowing us to trace each team’s potential route to the final and try to predict who will be challenging for the title. And that’s what I’ll be trying to do today: working through the bracket to predict the tournament winners.

Let me know your brackets in the comments!

Teams USD2019 Bracket

First Round

The Odd Couple v Only Stupid Answers

As deep as the Teams Division has become this season, with 16 teams involved there will always be some matches in the first round that seem a foregone conclusion. Sam Bashor and DJ Wooldridge are 2 great personalities and do know their stuff, but are relatively inexperienced in the league and have a 2-1 record as a pair – that win coming against the Wildberries. Compared to The Odd Couple, who have defeated the Shirewolves and held the Team Title this season and it’s hard to see this ending any other way than a win for The Odd Couple.

Shazam! v The Movie Guys

2 rookie teams will face off in this match that could play a role in the race for Rookie of the Year. Brendan “The Kid” Meyer and Paul “The Powder Keg” Preston have both had fantastic seasons in the league and I think will be closely matched, so this will likely come down to their partners. Adam Witt’s Schmoedown experience so far contains 1 round at the Free 4 All and a loss to Inky and The Brain, whereas The Kid is paired with former Singles Champion William “The Beast” Bibbiani, arguably one of the best in the game in terms of pure knowledge. Advantage: The Kid and Shazam!

Time Machine v Scream Queens

A team that was announced at the season-opening live event in New York, Time Machine have been hotly anticipated but limited to just one match together so far: a Sudden Death Win against the Paddington Two. The Scream Queens come in with a 4-4 record, but beyond that have limited experience in the league. Taking on a team made up of the former Singles Champion and someone far better than their 3-5 Singles record suggests looks to be a step too far for Haleigh Foutch and Kalyn Corrigan. I’ll be shocked if Time Machine don’t progress to the next round.

The Loony Bin v Self-Righteous Brothers

One of the hardest matches to predict in this round as each team only has one previous appearance to their name, while Witney Seibold is the only one to have a substantial Schmoedown history outside of these teams. “VIDEODREW” and “Tom” are very much an unknown quantity and it will be interesting to see if they are able to build on a strong first outing against the Loose Cannons. As for the Self-Righteous Brothers, they looked very impressive in the first round exit during last year’s Anarchy tournament and I expect more of the same from the pair here. An upset wouldn’t shock me, but I’m going for the Self-Righteous Brothers.

Who’s The Boss v Inky and the Brain

So let me start by making it clear, my allegiances lie with the Horsemen, so I’m hoping that Ben and Reilly win the tournament and face off against the Founding Fathers for the title. I am however going to do my best to remain objective throughout this bracket. The pair looked like one of the favourites to take the title off the Shirewolves, but the pair haven’t played together since losing to The Odd Couple in Chicago. Inky and the Brain have showed they are not to be underestimated (especially Rachel Silvestrini) and they will be dangerous if they can hit Disney/Will Smith in Round 2, but Who’s The Boss will be a tough task. Bateman is tactically one of the best in the game and his recent back injury has given him time to catch up on a number of movies he hasn’t seen, while his partnership with Mark Reilly makes for a great combination. I fully expect to be celebrating a victory for Who’s The Boss.

Loose Cannons v Crimson Fury

Another difficult match to predict due to both teams having only played once together. “Primetime” Paul Oyama’s weak matches are still strong enough to beat many of his opponents and he currently looks nailed on for Rookie of the Year and a strong run with Eric Zipper could confirm it. Crimson Fury on their day have the potential to beat anyone and Stacy Howard has made a habit of busting brackets, but her results are inconsistent. Tim “The Tank” Franco has looked strong but is somewhat of an unknown quantity with just 2 matches to his name. It’s so hard picking against Crimson Fury here and I can see Stacy Howard busting my bracket, but right now I can’t look past Paul Oyama and the Loose Cannons.

The Family v Wildberries

Wildberries! I’m so glad to see them in the tournament as I always enjoy watching them and can’t wait to see how they interact with The Family. Eliot Dewberry gave a timely reminder of his potential in their victory over Late to the Party, while Josh Macuga is the original master of pulling answers out of his ass. By contrast, Drew McWeeny is one of the most knowledgeable in the game and Drew Ghai is no slouch, and I think their combined knowledge will give them a wide and deep enough base to earn a win for The Family.

Evil Geniuses v The Paddington Two

This is an interesting one. At first, I was picking the Evil Geniuses straight away due to JTE’s experience in the league. Then I remembered that he was no longer a member of the team, having been replaced by Simon Thompson. Thompson comes in as an unknown and “The Professor” has had an average season up to now. Matt Atchity and Alonso Duralde may not compete regularly but they have shown in the past that they have a base of knowledge. I usually go against Atchity due to his issues remembering the rules, but this time is a case of “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t” and I’ll give the win to The Paddington Two.

Quarterfinals

The Odd Couple v Shazam!

Such is the quality in the league, there will be no such thing as an easy match in the quarterfinals, certainly not in this match! Both Shazam! and The Odd Couple look to have formed great partnerships and it could be argued that either team is capable of winning the entire tournament. While both teams are strong, I feel that The Odd Couple are more likely to struggle if things don’t go their way, whereas Shazam! can fall back on “The Beast’s” impressive knowledge and strong runs of form for both Bibbiani and Meyer (both made the semifinals of the Singles Tournament). It’s hard going against a former Team Champion, but I give Shazam! the slightest of advantages.

Time Machine v Self-Righteous Brothers

What an incredible match this could be! Ethan Erwin and Jeannine “The Machine” both have incredible knowledge and complement each other very well, so I’m confident in saying they have the potential to be a Top 5 team at least. Witney and Marc Edward Heuck have shown themselves to have a high level of knowledge, but I think that Jeannine & Ethan have a greater tactical knowledge that will likely give the victory to Time Machine.

Who’s The Boss v Loose Cannons

This will be by far the biggest challenge for the Loose Cannons so far. Ben and Reilly cover most categories pretty well between them and while Oyama will be a threat, Zipper has limited experience in big matches. If Reilly and Bateman can both play to the best of their abilities (a distinct possibility as Bateman is in fine form), it’s going to be very hard to stick with them, especially if they can hit Movie Release Dates or Oscar Movies in Round 2. I won’t rule out Oyama and Zipper, but I still see Who’s The Boss as one of the best teams in the league and see them progressing to the semis.

The Family v The Paddington Two

This match comes down to tactics. Drew Ghai is one of the best in the league when it come to tactics, which is a massive benefit to Drew McWeeny, who can then focus on the trivia. Meanwhile neither Alonso Duralde nor Matt Atchity are regular competitors and Atchity never seems able to remember the rules. Add in Ghai causing disruption with his antics and I see The Family getting the upper hand in this match.

Semifinals

Shazam! v Time Machine

What a match this would be! Matches between Ethan Erwin and William Bibbiani are a thrill to watch, then add in the talents of Jeannine and “The Kid” and you have a potential Match of the Year contender right here! Bibbiani has had the upper hand in his Singles matches with Erwin, but they have been close affairs. I really think this match could come down to whatever the wheel lands on in Round 2. Right now, my heart says Shazam!

Who’s The Boss v The Family

The Action Civil War makes a return in the semifinals as Ben Bateman faces off against Drew Ghai for the first time since Houston. Again, I can see this coming down to the spin of the Wheel in Round 2 as we know McWeeny can smash through 80s just like Bateman can Movie Release Dates. While it’s harsh to say, I think this could come down to how Drew Ghai performs. If he’s struggling with his questions, the it could allow Who’s The Boss to pull away, while I think they’ll be able to ignore any heel-ish attempts to put them off. In the Action Civil War, I’ve gotta go #TeamBateman and pick Who’s The Boss for back-to-back tournament finals.

The Final

Who’s The Boss v Shazam!

And so we reach the final, which I feel will be the teams version of the final of the Singles Tournament. William Bibbiani and Brendan Meyer versus Ben Bateman and Mark Reilly. This will be an incredible match to watch and it’s so hard to predict a winner, so what I will look at here is the format. The finals are played in the 5-round format, with the betting round and speed round joining the usual 3 rounds. Now “The Kid” has not played in the 5-round format under the lights, whereas all the other competitors have, and I can’t help feel that this little bit of extra experience could prove vital and set up Who’s The Boss for the victory and a shot at the title.

MTS Teams USD2019 Bracket Prediction