By Sarah Hussain
Several months ago, the Commissioner announced that the 16th seed in the Ultimate Schmoedown Singles Tournament would be decided with a Fatal Five-Way Qualifying Match between Eliot Dewberry, Jason Inman, Hector Navarro, Robert Meyer Burnett, and recently added in, Scott Mantz.
However, “The Nightmare’s” schedule has since deemed him unavailable, and as such the fifth slot within the qualifier will now be selected at random from around 15 remaining top competitors.
This switch up could open the door for the fatal five-way to be much more competitive, given that until now it had seemed to be “The Mantz Man’s” match to lose given his recent string of impressive performances against William Bibbiani, Cinemablend, and Action.
After all, it’s been months since Dewberry and Inman have competed in singles and both of their last matches ended in TKO defeats, while Burnett has never competed in a regular singles match period, aside from his brief appearance at the Free 4 All.
Upon the announcement Tom posted a series of polls on Twitter to see who the fans wanted to fill the vacant spot, and since we at the Schmoedown Blog love to speculate on what might happen (and are usually proven wrong shortly after!), here are my top five picks for who should fill the empty seat.
5. BEN BATEMAN
After scoring seven out of eight points in back-to-back matches and earning his second TKO this season alongside his partner Andrew Ghai, Team Action have reached a level of popularity within the Schmoedown that has not been seen since the likes of Top 10 back in 2015.
Bateman himself has shown his knowledge in not only action films, but also dramas, sci-fi/fantasy, famous directors, and even movie release dates. Furthermore, his recent appearance on the Schmoedown Rundown, where he broke down Team Action’s strategies and approach going into each match only made Schmoedown fans respect him more. As a result, supporters have been clamouring for him to make his debut in singles.
Putting him in the fatal five-way would give him the opportunity to go up against Inman and Mantz, who would both be looking to exact revenge after their tournament loss. And if he were to win, that would put him in a one-on-one match against John Rocha, the man that apparently inspired Team Action in the first place.
However, a shift in concentration may not be the best strategy for Bateman, as Team Action is currently on a hot streak towards Schmoedown Spectacular. After seeing so many competitors lose their mojo after splitting their focus on multiple leagues at once, it might be best for Bateman to score the team belt first and save his singles debut for 2018.
4. MATT ATCHITY
Although his first match against Tim Franco ended in a TKO, you can never count Atchity out. He’s still one of the few people to join the Nine-Pointer’s Club (official name still pending) and he and Grae Drake of MODOK came insanely close to beating the Patriots, losing due to nerves (and arguably inexperience) in the speed round.
Ever since his debut in 2015, fans have been waiting to see “The Kahuna” make a splash within the singles league, and he certainly has the history within the competition that the Commissioner wanted from his original five-way competitors. Were he to step in, few would be too upset.
3. WITNEY SEIBOLD
Speaking of Franco, talk about a debut that rocked the Schmoedown community. Critically Acclaimed shook up the team league when William Bibbiani brought in his “Cancelled Too Soon” podcast co-host Witney Seibold, who proceeded to join the Nine-Pointer’s Club right off the bat.
And while he wasn’t able to put up the same performance during their second match against Late to the Party (what is the water in Arizona?), with a little more experience under his belt, Seibold can certainly be a contender in the singles league if he’s given the chance.
In terms of storyline potential, it would be a fun appetiser to see him go up against his own team-mate’s rival before the inevitable match up of Bibbiani vs Rocha.
2. GRAE DRAKE
The longest running competitor on the list, Drake made her debut back in the 2014 Ultimate Schmoedown and was the only woman to advance to the second round that year. If Clarke Wolfe paved the way for the ladies of the league, then Drake certainly was the one who handed her the asphalt (And if that awful metaphor is the reason you stopped reading this, I sincerely apologise!).
While Drake hasn’t been seen in the singles arena since her narrow loss against Inman last year, she has been killing it in the team division, despite being falsely named as the weak link of the team.
As one of the longest standing competitors and one of only two women in Schmoedown history to become a number one contender in teams or singles, it just feels wrong not having Drake in the tournament, especially since MODOK could be on the bench until next season.
1. JIM VEJVODA
By far the most popular choice among Schmoedown fans, Vejvoda (with partner Eric Goldman) put the entire league on notice in his debut match with IGN against Nerdist where he scored seven points in the first round and then won by knockout.
However, unlike other competitors who have made strong debuts, Vejvoda was able to overcome the dreaded ‘one-match wonder syndrome’ by having two more incredible performances against both MODOK and Deep Cuts, scoring seven points in the former and eight points (and a win by TKO) in the latter.
The lack of IGN in the team tournament due to Goldman’s recent change in employers caused a huge outcry among fans who suspected that if this rookie team had the chance, they could have taken it to the finals and gone on to beat the Patriots. Many – including this writer – are still outraged that they lost to MODOK on a such an unfair call in the first place and were denied the chance at a number one contenders’ match.
So, while seeing Vejvoda get a shot at competing for the singles title wouldn’t completely make up for that travesty (Yes, I know its movie trivia and there are real world problems happening but you have to understand that I can no longer watch Ferris Bueller because of that match), it would certainly assuage the feeling of not having IGN in the tournament at all.
In his last run against Deep Cuts, there was a fire in Vejvoda that hadn’t been present in his first two appearances. In the pre-match interview and entrances, it looked like he had embraced the essence of the Schmoedown beyond the trivia and just seemed to have more drive to not only win, but also kick his competitors’ asses (his words, not mine). It would be such a shame to keep him out of the game for the remainder of the season when he was just starting to find his groove.
Of course, this decision will not be made by any one person, but rather by the luck of the draw. There are certainly other wildcards that could make it on here (Marc Bernardin, Nick Scarpino, John Humphrey, RB3) that could give the other four contenders a run for their money. Until then, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Who do you want to see fill the empty chair in the fatal five-way? Have your say in the comments below!