Was Saturday's Spring Invitational a great bar trivia tournament, or the greatest bar trivia tournament?
As the 32 teams that made up this year's extremely competitive field filed into the Amsterdam Bar and Hall, a tense but excited energy filled the room. Who would take home the big $600 grand prize? Who would stumble out of the gate? Who would wear Gremlin Christmas sweaters and pass out at their table in hour three? With this many top-notch trivia teams in the house, it was anybody's guess.
We started with a rapid-fire seeding round: 20 general knowledge questions covering everything from palindromic prime numbers to Meryl Streep's spotty post-2000 Oscar record ("The Devil Wears Prada"? Really?) These seeds determined the matchups that would follow. This round was, essentially, the first domino in fate's Rube Goldberg machine. The results:
Which, using the tried-and-true tiebreaker system known as the alphabet, resulted in these seeds:
And we're off. Stage 1 consisted of three rounds, an image round, and the most annoying sound round we've ever produced. Considering the room was host to the single greatest concentration of trivia talent this town has ever seen, this stage was rife with potential for upsets, and it didn't disappoint.
Here's Group 1:
The biggest upset in Group 1 was Jimmy/Stuart falling to Hula Hoop Castro despite putting up a score of 33 out of a possible 35. Hula Hoop squeaked by on a tiebreaker and ultimately went all the way to the Semi Finals, so they were no pushover 8 seed. Any other matchup and Jimmy/Stuart would have waltzed into Stage 2 without breaking a sweat. Such is the Spring Invitational. Living Single, meanwhile, sneaked in on the "strength" of a 27--not the showing we were expecting from our number-1 overall seed, but enough to get the job done. We Got the Drugs brought up the rear, which may be due to their being sat in the front row, within ear-shredding distance of that airhorn sound round.
Here we have some serious contenders falling into the Consolation Pools right out of the gate. Murph and the Magictones had to be early favorites to take home the championship, especially after they pulled a 16 seed for their first match. #teamgrubba wasn't having it: They came through with a miracle score of 34, and the Cinderella story was, as they say, afoot.
Murph's fall wasn't the only shocker: Pteam Pterodactyl also dropped their first match--against a 15-seed in Isolabella no less. Considering Isolabella's subsequent run to the Final Four, one wonders if that 15 seed wasn't a fluke. Or perhaps gamesmanship on their part? Did they see the Pterodactyls as easy prey?
Finally, check out that 27 posted by eventual champs Reverse Pangea. They can thank I'm Just Here So I Don't Get Fined for not crushing their run to the finals before it even started.
The 16 teams who lost in Stage 1 dropped into Consolation Pool A, which, given its more traditional scoring system, shook out about as expected:
Murph and Pteam rebounded from disappointing starts to run the field in this pool, followed closely by Box of Hair, Homeless Abe Lincoln, and Jimmy/Stuart, strong contenders all.
The winners of Stage 1, meanwhile, moved on to Stage 2:
The biggest highlight of this stage was an absolutely dominant performance by Napoléon Bonerfarte, who posted the day's only perfect 35. Woe to the Mockingbird who flew into that football stadium of a team.
Living Single, the last number-1 seed, fell to Hula Hoop Castro following a controversial scoring error, ending their dreams of trivial glory. It was a statement stage for Castro, the winners of our Tournament of Champions last fall, who showed that they once again came to play. Another surprise came with the defeat of Justin Bieber My Baby Daddy, who regularly prevail in their Tuesday-night quiz at Republic, but who came up short with a 25 in Stage 2.
Stage II's victors moved on, while its casualties fell into Consolation Pool B:
Some nice clustering in this pool, with the Winner Robots coming out on top following the tiebreaker. Those Meddling Kids gave a good fight, as did Buxedos and Living Single, who tied for third. Having exhausted all of their energy in round 1, #teamgrubba settled for the role of spoiler and finished out of the money, as did Justin Bieber, Mockingbird, and former champs Two Random Nouns.
On to the semi-finals, the Elite 8!
Parity, thy name is Stage III. Three of the four matches were decided by 1 point or less, with the fourth winner, Isolabella, winning by just two points. Reverse Pangea's charmed run continued in this round, as they posted the lowest score of the Final Four. Where was I Like Watching You Sleep? Sleeping? Perhaps they aren't Arnold fans.
In one of the night's most dramatic moments, Hula Hoop Castro was finally overthrown in a tight tiebreaker with the Honey Ballz. They dropped into Consolation Pool C, where they proceeded to squash any potential uprising with a big 33.5 points:
Much to Hula Hoop Castro's distress, I'm sure, that score turned out to be the winning score in the final round. And who posted it? Why, none other than Reverse Pangea, this year's champions:
Any doubt about whether Pangea belonged in the finals was tectonically torn apart when they put up that 33.5 in a particularly tough Stage IV. Congratulations to the champions! BTW, that team name: Sexual position, right?
Finally, for those curious about how the final standings would have differed if we'd simply added up all of your points in every round, here's the final score breakdown: