Our brief off-season, much like the long holiday weekend, has come to an end. Season Nine starts Wednesday.
Handicapping the Brawl
As you know, we launched the Bar Room Brawl Series, a subset of our league, last year. In addition to counting toward the regular season standings, all our bar games counted toward the Brawl Series. We tracked each player’s best three scores and published a separate standings for the Brawl after each game.
A total of 38 players competed in the inaugural brawl, playing in 12 games: Nine at the Red Lion (the Brawl sponsor) and three at Guthries’ Tavern. Check out the final standings here.
On Wednesday night, the top seven will gather at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square for the championship game. Here’s a look at the Brawlers.
The top seed is Matt Sundstrom, our club’s most decorated player. Sundstrom has captured three of the four titles in the Weasels’ Grand Slam: Weasel of the year and CODCon twice each and Weasel Moot once. Only the Weasel Royale’s Bull Weasel title has eluded him, and he’ll have another shot at that one next month. In the meantime, he sets his sights on our new minor title, the Brawl championship.
Sundstrom is our all-time leader in board-tops with 17, and he’s in the top three in bar games played, too. He’s played in 32 of our 82 bar games, including 10 at the Lion, so he’s no stranger to the format or this venue. Will he be our first Brawl champion?
Our second seed will be trying to prevent that outcome, just as he denied Sundstrom a third Weasel of the Year title on the final day of Season Eight. Nate Cockerill is our reigning Weasel of the Year and Bull Weasel, and on Wednesday night, he’ll be looking to add the Brawl championship to his trophy case.
Cockerill is second all time in board-tops, with 15.83, and he’s our leader in bar games played at 34. He’ll definitely have the home-bar advantage on Wednesday. He’s basically the Lion’s Norm. Cockerill has played 14 bar games at the Lion, four more than any other player, so he knows the venue, and the menu, well. Of the seven players, he’s the least likely to order something that will send him sprinting to the restroom during the midgame. Will he deny Sundstrom yet again?
Behind these two giants of Windy City Weasels Diplomacy lurks a newcomer who took Season Eight by storm. Josh Heffernan learned to play Diplomacy with a group of Canadian ex-pats while living in China. And he learned well. He proved that in his first game with the Weasels at the Lion back in January. He topped that board with a 13-center England. Sundstrom was second with 10. Heffernan also shared a board top at the Lion in May.
Heffernan has now played nine games with the Weasels, five of them in bar games, all at the Lion. He no longer has the element of surprise, but he doesn’t need it, either. Can Josh slay the giants one more time?
Season Eight started slowly for our fourth seed, Don Glass. In his first five games, he finished with a total of five centers. But in his sixth game, he topped a board at the Red Lion and finished the year strong enough to place sixth in the league and fourth in the Brawl Series. He’s only topped three of the 37 games he’s played with the Weasels, but two of them came in Season Eight, so he’s playing the best Diplomacy of his Weasels career.
Glass has played a total of 11 bar games, the fifth highest total of the Brawlers. He knows the format, he’s playing well, and he’s tasted success. And success tastes even better than one of the Lion’s burgers. On Wednesday night, will Glass eat or be eaten?
The fifth seed needs no introduction. He’s the club’s founder and spiritual leader and also the fan favorite in this year’s field. The fifth seed, of course, is me.
I’ve played in 33 bar games, second only to Cockerill’s 34, and I trail only Sundstrom and Cockerill with 13 total board-tops. But Season Eight was a disappointing year for me. I only topped one board, a house game in March featuring two pre-teens, and squeaked into next month’s Royale in seventh place. Hardly a way to defend my Weasel of the Year title from Season Seven! I qualified for the Brawl championship on the "strength" of two second-place finishes and a shared third. Not much to get excited about. On the bright side, I scored all three of my bar games this year.
Is disappointment the new normal, or can the one-time Grand Prix champion rediscover his mojo?
Another newcomer captured the sixth seed. Ted Phillips audited our club at Game No. 200, played at the Lion in December, and promised to play in the next game there. True to his word, he showed up in January, debuting in the same game as Heffernan. But his performance was diametrically opposed to Heffernan’s. Phillips was eliminated in that game.
Undaunted, he returned to the Lion in March and shared a board top. In May, he shared another top. He only has four games with the Weasels under his belt, only three of them bar games, but that’s all he needed to crack the Brawl field. Does he have another top in him?
Rounding out the field of the inaugural Brawl Championship is one of the club’s senior members. Christian Kline is in the top 20 in games played with the Weasels at 27, but he’s been playing with us since Game No. 3 way back in January 2006. He doesn’t play quite so often these days, so his face isn’t that familiar to many of the newer Weasels. But the club’s Old Guard knows what he’s capable of. Kline was the Weasel of the Year from Season One.
And less frequent play hasn’t dulled his blade. Consider that he qualified for the Brawl Championship with just one game played. He also won Best Russia with that game. Is a championship in the cards for gambler Kline?
And there you have it. The Brawl Championship will start with the selection ceremony at about 6 p.m. on Wednesday at the Red Lion, 4749 N Rockwell in Lincoln Square. We’ll have our champion by no later than 11 p.m., as well as some handsome awards funded by the Red Lion, our Brawl Series sponsor. We also expect to field our first board of Season Nine and the 2014 Bar Room Brawl Series, so there should be a nice crowd for the championship. Hope to see you there!
Note: We expect to draw powers using the Royale format. First, the players, in reverse seed order, will establish the selection order. Once they’ve established the selection order, we’ll select powers. The tie-breaker for the championship will be reverse selection order. That could be important given the hard ending at 11 p.m.
- Sept. 4 at the Red Lion in Lincoln Square at 6ish until no later than 11 p.m. Have five (plus a bunch of maybes. If you commit, you’re in.)
- Sept. 13 at Jim O’Kelley’s home in Little Italy, starting at 6:30 p.m. until no later than midnight. Have five.
- Oct. 26, the Undercard game at the Weasel Royale, starting at 11 a.m. Have one (or two, if we force Dan to play).
- Sept. 4: Opening Night and the Bar Room Brawl Championship.
- Oct. 26: The 2013 Weasel Royale club championship and the Fifth Annual Undercard Game.
Just Dues It
Thank you to the 27 Weasels who paid dues in 2013. We appreciate your support.
If you’d like to support the Weasels but missed out on the opportunity to receive a discount at our tournaments or qualify for an annual Weasels club award or a spot in the Weasel Royale club championship, then we’ll gladly take your $25 ($10 if you’re a student) now and apply it toward the 2014 calendar-year dues.
Your dues help pay for our annual club awards, the Meetup site, our website, and other club activities. Help us out by paying your dues today. Use the PayPal link online or give your dues to a Sneak member.
That’s all for this week. Next week, we’ll recap the Bar Room Brawl championship game.