The Schmoedown defeats disguised as victories

By Sarah Hussain

Tuesday marks the return of two rising stars in the Innergeekdom league as Rachel Cushing and Mike Kalinowski face off after enduring very similar debut matches. “The Crusher”, who had been destroying her opponents up until the final round, lost after being beaten to the buzzer time after time by Jeremy Jahns. Similarly, “The Killer” had been the leading scorer in every single round and was even ahead in the final round, before blowing it in the infamous “Puddin” question against Coy Jandreu.

Cushing v KalinowskiNow the pair are going head-to-head in a bid to qualify for a triple-threat No.1 contender match, the winner of which will take on defending champion, Hector Navarro at the Schmoedown Spectacular.

But while they might be two of the biggest examples of competitors who lost matches despite coming out on top, they’re certainly not the only ones. So before we see their match, let’s dive into 10 other competitors who “won” despite losing.

10. Trek – Patriots vs Trek

Has there ever been a title match with this much controversy? The fact that Jason Inman was one vowel away or that Scott Mantz was one buzzer call away from winning the belt probably still haunts Team Trek to this day. Had the Challenge Rule or the new buzzer system been in place, maybe we’d be looking at a different set of reigning team champions today.

9. IGN – Rotten Tomatoes vs IGN

VejvodaSomewhere in LA, Team IGN is burning every poster of Ferris Bueller and Jeff Goldblum that they can find. Fans are still debating whether or not sweaty palms was an acceptable answer (according to this writer, it totally was – the category was coming of age, not movie quotes, but I digress), and though Rotten Tomatoes certainly earned their win, that does not mean it was a clean victory.

8. John Campea – Geek vs Box Office Breakdown

Among the four competitors in this match, John Campea was the only newcomer to the Schmoedown at the time, and yet he was the dominant force in this match. By the end of the first round, he had scored more points than everyone else combined. After a solid second round, Team Geek went in with a slight lead, but ultimately lost. With a different third round structure, however, they could have easily gotten the win, considering they answered a whopping 19 per cent more correct than their opponent, primarily thanks to Campea.

7. Superhero News – Trek vs Superhero News

After an impressive two rounds from Superhero New, including a decent effort having spun ‘Opponent’s Choice’, Adam Hlavac and Hector Navarro were met with arguably one of the most obscure five point questions in Schmoedown history. Team Trek hadn’t heard of it. The crowd hadn’t heard of it. And unfortunately, neither had Team Superhero News, resulting in a loss to Trek despite answering 20% more questions correctly than them.

6. Tom Dagnino – Josh Macuga vs Tom Dagnino

This one is painful to admit.

When Macuga challenged Dagnino to a five-round match after the breakup of the Megapowers, it was simply a question of how badly would Dagnino be knocked out. Nobody expected them to be tied after round one,  never mind Dagnino leading at the end of each round after that.

Macuga celebrationMacuga managed to get his mojo back and breeze through his final three questions, but Dagnino still had two chances to win the game. Luckily for “The Wildman” – and everyone who had him in their fantasy team – Dagnino wasn’t able to pull Amy Adams in the end. That being said, it was a hollow victory for Macuga, whose first words after that match were “I want to apologise to everybody that it was that close.” Dagnino may not have gotten the win, but he did get the last laugh.

5. Profiles – Machinima/ETC vs Profiles

Two years later, this is still one of the most notorious losses in Schmoedown history, partly because it was Mantz’s own doing. He and his Profiles partner, Alicia Malone, were the clear favorites and had the victory in their hands all the way to the end, but decided to play it safe with their points in the final round. Even Eliot Dewberry and Ricky Hayberg will admit that they didn’t beat Profiles – math did.

4. John Humphrey & Dan Murrell – Free 4 All

Although the last fighters standing at the Free 4 All were Samm Levine and Tom Dagnino, the biggest takeaway of the event was John Humphrey. Humphrey, of Team Real Rejects and the Young Bucks faction, entered the first round with the expectation that he would be cannon fodder until the real contenders arrived. But to everyone’s surprise, he survived each round time and time again, surpassing titans like Jeff Sneider, Mark Ellis, Mark Reilly, and Matt Atchity, and hanging with heavyweights like Dan Murrell and John Rocha. He was eliminated in the 11th round, which was the second longest-streak of the whole event.

Who lasted longer? That would be the aforementioned Dan Murrell, who held up an accuracy rate of 78%, scored three perfect rounds, and was eliminated after 12 rounds in the infamous mass knockout by Marc Andreyko. Humphrey was deservedly crowned MVP, and after two back-to-back losses against Rocha, Murrell made it clear that he was out for blood.

3. Mark Ellis – JTE vs Mark Ellis (2014)

The only competitor to pitch a perfect game and still lose. A loss that was so shocking that JTE was put on trial for cheating, because that had to be the only possible explanation. Once again, math was the real victor in this game. But Ellis did redeem himself two years later against JTE and then went on to win the 2016 Ultimate Schmoedown. It does raise the question as to whether or not he could have won the first time around if he had just bet five points to begin with, which would have made him first double-belt holder in Schmoedown history. But alas, that is a mystery that will never be answered.

JTE celebration2. JTE – Schmoes vs Box Office Breakdown

Did the Schmoes earn the win? Yes. Did they answer more of their questions correctly than BOB? Yes. But let me put it this way: of the 21 combined questions that BOB answered individually and as a team, 14 of them were correct. Of those 14 questions, Finstock answered ONE of them. The rest were all on JTE. Anybody else would have quit after round two, but not “Little Evil”.

He got his team through the betting round, answered every question in the speed round, scored his three-pointer, and managed to get BOB to the last question all on his own. While the Schmoes won the belts, it was clear that they were just holding onto them until JTE could find a better partner. And to anyone who thinks Jeff Sneider is carrying the Patriots, watch this match. This is the definition of carrying a team.

1. Hector Navarro – InnerGeekdom Five Way (Schmoedown Spectacular)

After being the leading scorer in the first three rounds of the inaugral Innergeekdom match, Navarro was one question away from victory, only for Robert Meyer Burnett to benefit from an influx of Star Trek questions and close the gap.

Burnett celebrationThere are so many “what ifs” in this match. What if they were playing best of five instead of first to five, like they did in Cushing vs Jahns? What if they were playing with whiteboards instead of buzzers, like in Kalinowski vs Jandreu? What if they had implemented Harry Potter from the start instead of asking three Star Trek questions in this round alone? Maybe we would have seen a different result. But there’s a reason “The Nightmare” is now the defending champion. He’s the original Cushing. He’s the original Kalinowski. And one of those two might have the daunting task of facing him in December. Good luck to both of them.

And there you have it. There are plenty of other controversial wins and losses in the Schmoedown, and Cushing and Kalinowski are definitely among them. And while the structure of the game is constantly improving to minimize these occurrences (using whiteboards instead of buzzers, the Freddie Prinze Jr. Rule, the Challenge Rule, etc.), upsets are still inevitable, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. After all, if the match was decided based on how the first two-thirds went, what would be the point of even having a final round? The competitors would be checked out, and so would the viewers.

Yes, it’s frustrating when the better competitor loses, especially when it’s someone you’re rooting for. But some of the best moments in Schmoedown history have been upsets like JTE vs Ellis, Rotten Tomatoes vs IGN, and both of the knockouts at the Free4All. It makes for a more interesting game and sets up fun rivalries along the way. And history has shown that regardless of who wins the match, any competitor that gives it their all will be celebrated. So as a fan of the Schmoedown in general, I’m hoping this list expands even more as time goes on.

Can you think of any other glorious Schmoedown defeats? Have your say in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “The Schmoedown defeats disguised as victories

  1. This is a fantastic article, great job on pulling it all together! Agree with you on all of them

    Some of the upsets that stand out are:
    Dan Murrell in Rocha vs Murrell (Joe Dante for The Burbs was insane, if Dan doesn’t know it – nobody does)
    John Rocha in Rocha vs Reilly (come on, Judy Grier was in Ant-Man for like a minute, I didn’t know it, although I remember watching the movie two days prior to Schmoedown)
    Sam Witwer in Star Wars Five-Way Match (I don’t thnk he missed a single question, plus you can tell that he knew immediately that Campea was wrong in the qualifying question, I really hope to see him again, I love Ken and Star Wars match between the two of them would’ve been amazing)


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