By Jared Prestwidge
Now that we’ve had some space to breathe since the Ultimate Schmoedown tournaments ended, it’s given us time to reflect on the impact they’ll have going forward. For this writer, the emergence of rookies Rachel Cushing, Mike Kalinowski, Stacy Howard and Brianne Chandler stick out in my mind, as did the relative underperformance of the more seasoned players.This got me thinking about who could do the same next year. Are there any newcomers who could go on their own historic runs through to the latter stages of the Ultimate Schmoedown? Of course, there are certainly going to be players we’ve yet to meet that could make a splash next year, but here are five known tournament rookies with the best chance to make some waves in the 2018 Ultimate Schmoedown…
This is a no brainer. The Executive Editor for the Movies channel at IGN made an immediate impact in the team division alongside partner Eric Goldman earlier this year. From the three matches Vejvoda has played to date, he has shown a wide range of knowledge with no specific weakness. As such, the fan outcry for a singles berth has been loud, with Vejvoda set to make his debut in the new year.Meanwhile in the team division, the freshly renamed Top That (formerly IGN) were forced to bow out of this year’s tournament, much to many fans’ chagrin. Who knows how the tournament would have shaken out if they were there to trouble the bracket? Long story short, Jim Vejvoda is a beast that every competitor should watch their backs for.
When considering candidates for this article, my first instinct was to not include Marc Bernardin due to his tight schedule raising doubt over a sophomore appearance. Luckily for me, the Interim Commissioner heard my dilemma and gave me an early Christmas present, setting ‘The Magic Man’ against Lon Harris on 5 December.Much like Vejvoda, Bernardin sports impressive and diverse knowledge with no weaknesses currently identified. We have seen other competitors come up short after an excellent debut, but considering his experience in the movie space and previous Schmoedown appearances, it looks like we have another contender on our hands.
Despite not having his singles debut scheduled at this time, surely Witney Seibold’s solo welcome party is a question of sooner rather than later. Brought in to partner William Bibbiani after ‘The Beast’ betrayed the Four Horsemen, anticipation to see what the new pairing could do was high.Critically Acclaimed certainly impressed in their first match against Only Stupid Answers, with Seibold joining the ‘Nine-Pointers Club’ straight off the bat. Their second match, however, reminded us yet again how a strong debut does not necessarily lead to immediate success.
That being said, Seibold’s mistakes in the match against Late to the Party were mostly attributed to his lack of Schmoedown experience. More matches in 2018 will only benefit him.
While no stranger to team play, Matt Atchity has yet to show us what he can really do in the singles division. ‘The Kahuna’ was dealt a crushing TKO in his sole singles match by newcomer Tim Franco, but this setback is not reflective of his ability.Atchity is a member of the elusive ‘Nine-Pointers Club’, and is the powerhouse member of Team MODOK who took the undefeated Patriots to sudden death back in August. If scheduled correctly and with a little luck, Atchity has the potential to trouble the rankings later next year.
Having arguably the most impressive debut of the year, you know Samm Levine and JTE are thanking their lucky stars Tim Franco wasn’t there to deny their run to the final. In ‘The Tank’s’ only match to date, Franco joined the ‘Nine Pointers Club’, scored 16 points in just two rounds and dealt out a swift TKO to the aforementioned Atchity.Franco is a strong competitor, no doubt about it, but the commute to LA from Arizona does raise some doubts as to whether he can string together enough performances to qualify for next year’s tournament. As the seasons roll on, the competition will only be more and more stacked, and a place in the top rankings won’t rely on trivia prowess alone, but also a player’s readiness to be called upon when needed.
And there we have it! If anything is to be taken away from this list, it’s that next year’s tournament has the potential to be the most competitive and brutal yet, resulting in even more broken brackets. It’s also comforting to know that despite veterans like Mark Reilly and Dan Murrell stepping aside, we have a bunch of talented newcomers to pick up the slack. The future of the Schmoedown is bright, ladies and gentlemen!