Back in June, when the blog was still very much in its infancy, this writer took it upon himself to hand out a set of mid-season awards. Hailing those who had taken the first six months of the 2017 season by storm, surely those same faces would be in the running for the same prizes come the end of the year.
How wrong I was!
With the Schmoedown moving to new heights post-Collision, capped off by the game-changing Spectacular, many of those who were at the top of the tree halfway through the campaign have since slipped up.
So, with the season now over, who will be going home with a ‘Schmoedown Bloggie’ for services to movie trivia in 2017?
ENTRANCE OF THE YEAR – KEN NAPZOK POST-STAR WARS QUALIFIER
Mid-season winner: Reel Rejects vs Double Toasted
Though not an entrance to a match in its traditional form, no one came close to making the same impact stepping through that red curtain as one Ken Napzok.
Interrupted by the arrival of Tom Dagnino in the aftermath of Sam Witwer’s victory in the Star Wars qualifier, “The Pitboss” was so offended by the mere presence of the Lion’s Den patriarch that he left the studio, off to continue his preparations for the first defence of his Star Wars belt.
Or so we thought!
Moments later, as Dagnino announced that he had his own competitor ready to storm the Star Wars division, Schmoedown fans frantically attempted to work out exactly who it could be. Was Freddie Prinze Jr about to return to the Schmoedown arena? Surely Jon Campea wasn’t up Dagnino’s sleeve?
As the smoke machine kicked into gear, a hooded figure emerged from behind the curtain. Underneath it lurked Napzok himself, plotting revenge on Kristian Harloff having been overlooked for the role of Interim Commissioner. The biggest collective scream ever known among Schmoedown fans was what met “Kylo Ken” as he embraced Dagnino and Grace Hancock.
No competitor, no matter how much preparation they have put into creating a memorable entrance, has made the impact Napzok did on that fateful day. If anyone is able to top it in 2018, then we will be in for a treat.
MOMENT OF THE YEAR – ANDREYKO’S FREE 4 ALL KNOCKOUT
Mid-season winner: Andreyko’s Free 4 All knockout
I’ll level with you, Schmoedown fans – I almost didn’t select this as the moment of the year. Napzok’s aforementioned turn almost pipped it, as did the ‘The Tackle’ and Brianne Chandler’s decision to leave the MissFits to join with Mike Kalinowski. God, the last two weeks have been good, haven’t they?!
Even John Rocha’s victory over Dan Murrell came under consideration despite it missing out on the mid-season prize.
But, when it comes down to it, has there really been a more jaw-dropping moment in the Schmoedown this year – or ever – than Marc Andreyko clearing out four of the biggest names in movie trivia in one go during the inaugural Free 4 All?
While the story writers within the Schmoedown do a great job of continually surprising us fans with their various twists, the most stunning moments will always be those within matches that shake all those watching on to the core.
“The Android” rocked up at the table and proceeded to remove the reigning champion Rocha, former champ Murrell and the two players in William Bibbiani and Drew McWeeny who many believed would at the very least have shots at the belt before the year was out. His almost nonplussed reaction only made the whole thing more wonderful.
MANAGER OF THE YEAR – TOM DAGNINO
Mid-season winner: Jay Washington
Jay Washington has tried and failed to build a faction before seeing one its founding members desert him. Ricky Hayberg has barely overseen a victory since taking over the Growling Commandos. Roxy Striar has struggled to fully impact on the league as a whole while the less said about the Young Bucks the better for all concerned. And before you throw Emma Fyffe’s name at me, we’ve yet to even see her take charge of a competitor during a match.
It’s fair to say that 2017 within the world of Schmoedown managers has belonged to Tom Dagnino.
His first clients the Patriots remain unbeaten and without dispute the greatest champions the Schmoedown has ever seen. JTE and Sneider have both enjoyed stellar singles years while on two occasions he has stunned fans by tearing competitors away from other factions and teams to join his movement.
No more was his power better illustrated than at Spectacular. Losing the Manager Bowl and seeing one of his own in Andreyko ridicule him by leaving behind his back could have been the beginning of the end for “Tricky Tom”. Instead he took the opportunity to banish Robert Meyer Burnett in a power move that suggested that he still had everything under control.
Later in the day, he could only watch on as his latest arrival, Napzok, lost his belt. How did Dagnino respond? He lifted the Patriots as they squeaked past Above the Line before taking great joy as Harloff lost his own belt to Samm Levine. Even when Dagnino is losing, he is winning. The other managers seriously need to raise their game to get close to him in 2018.
ROOKIE TEAM OF THE YEAR – ABOVE THE LINE
Mid-season winner: Nerd’s Watch
They have missed out on claiming the belts at Spectacular, but in winning the Ultimate Schmoedown tournament despite having only just met ahead of their first round match, it’s fair to say Above the Line’s start to life together could not have gone much better.
Not only did they rack up wins, but they did so over some of the league’s strongest teams. Nerd’s Watch, DC Movie News and Wolves of Steel were all swept aside, and it surely can be no coincidence that all three may now be finished heading into the new campaign.
McWeeny and Levine’s closest challengers for this award came in the shape of Team Action, but after they were also taken care of in the tournament final, the league’s very first ‘super team’ have been unmatched among those who took to the stage for the very first time in 2017. And don’t rule them out of taking the belts in the next 12 months.
SINGLES ROOKIE OF THE YEAR – RACHEL CUSHING
Mid-season winner – Tim Franco
If at the start of the season Schmoedown fans were told that a little-known editor/writer called Rachel Cushing would break some of Dan Murrell’s movie trivia records, most would have reacted with one word – ‘Who?!’.
We’ll get to what “The Crusher” has been able to do within the Schmoedown as a character a little later (SPOILERS!), but solely within the singles league she has been a revelation.
It will perhaps be forgotten when the dust settles on the 2017 season that she only reached the semi-finals of the Ultimate Schmoedown, but in the process she broke almost every record there was to break. Many believed that “Dangerous Dan’s” opening Schmoedown salvo would be untouchable. Cushing proved otherwise, and she’s only just getting started…
OVERALL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR – RACHEL CUSHING
Mid-season winner: Rachel Cushing
Never has there been nor will there be an easier prize to award than the 2017 Schmoedown Rookie of the Year. She may not have won a belt, but as a new competitor Rachel Cushing stands head and shoulders above all of those who have debuted over the past 12 months.
As well as her record-breaking start to life in the singles league she has emerged as one of the leading lights within the Innergeekdom division, and it is surely only a matter of when, not if she will eventually hold that belt.
Despite all that it seemed for a time that her first taste of success would actually come alongside Napzok as part of the Nerd’s Watch. They were one question away from challenging the Patriots, and who knows how different the Schmoedown might look now had they got their shot at JTE and Sneider.
As it is she must start again when it comes to building towards team success, but if her recent handicap defeat to Blofeld’s Cat showed anything it is that she might not need the strongest of partners to make a title push. The Schmoedown’s ultimate babyface is this year’s Rookie of the Year, and it won’t take much for her to be the 2018 Player of the Year if her recent performances are anything to go by.
FACTION OF THE YEAR – LION’S DEN
Mid-season winner: Lion’s Den
They might be ending the year with exactly the same number of belts as they started it with, but the Lion’s Den have become almost untouchable within 2017.
Others have tried and failed to challenge them, but with Dagnino steering the ship it’s hard to see how anyone will be able to close the gap in the space of the next 12 months. A true force of nature within the world of movie trivia.
TEAM OF THE YEAR – PATRIOTS
Mid-season winner: Rotten Tomatoes/MODOK
Five matches. Five successful title defences. Others might be getting closer to them, but the Patriots just keep hanging onto those belts they cherish so much.
On more than one occasion it has seemed like their reign over the team division was about to end, only for Sneider and JTE to dig deep and score the points required to get over the line.
Their success has also had a positive effect on their singles play, with “The InSneider” getting to his first No.1 contender match while JTE responded to a winless 2016 to go all the way to the final of the Ultimate Schmoedown, taking out his team-mate in the process.
Boo them all you want – we may never see anything like the reign of the Patriots within the Schmoedown again!
SINGLES PLAYER OF THE YEAR – KRISTIAN HARLOFF
Mid-season winner: Mark Reilly
He may not have ended the year as the champion, but given his increased workload at Collider, the amount of organisation that goes into the Schmoedown and impending parenthood, the fact Kristian Harloff was able to compete at all, never mind win the belt, was a miracle in itself.Four straight wins in singles competition during 2017, the last of those over Murrell, saw him take the title that he insisted throughout his run he had no interest in winning. However, in doing so he has helped kickstart a series of huge storylines regarding his decision to step down as Commissioner while it has also helped reignite a fire that was wavering inside him.
Still the knockout record holder, his final TKO may be yet to come.
SCHMOEDOWN PLAYER OF THE YEAR – SAMM LEVINE
Mid-season winner: Jeff Sneider
Free 4 All – winner. Ultimate Schmoedown singles tournament – winner. Ultimate Schmoedown team tournament – winner. Movie Trivia Schmoedown singles belt – winner.
Samm Levine was within one point of the Schmoedown clean sweep in 2017, and there is no one more deserving of the Player of the Year accolade than the current champ.
Since losing to Murrell at Collision, Levine has competed in 10 matches across singles and teams. He has won NINE of them. That, quite frankly, is just obscene.
Time will tell whether “The Inglorious One” was just enjoying a run of form never seen before within the Schmoedown or if he can be considered for a place among those currently depicted on the Mt. Rushmore of movie trivia. For now though we should all just bask in his glory. The Schmoedown is currently Samm Levine’s world – we’re all just living in it!
What do you make of this season’s award winners? Have your say in the comments below!