As a new season starts, it’s never long before rookies start appearing to make their debuts. The rookie class of 2019 have been turning up in recent weeks and if anybody was worried about a drop in the quality of competition then I think they will be happy with the early performances.
Debuting in the Schmoedown is no easy feat. I’m sure we’ve all tried to play along at some point and found ourselves getting a respectable score, but to then be under the lights and in front of a crowd, without the questions on a screen in front of us, is a much harder situation. Even the two-time Singles Champion John Rocha – one of the greatest Schmoedown competitors of all time – suffered his “Bespin moment” in his Singles debut and I don’t think any number of titles will let him ever fully live that down!
But how have the rookies been getting on? I’ve decided to look back through the recent rookie debuts and then also look back at some notable debut performances from previous seasons. For this, I will be looking specifically at Schmoedown debuts rather than a specific division as a competitor could have a strong debut in a division having picked up plenty of experience in the league already.
Paul Oyama & Brendan Meyer
Paul Oyama has followed Chance Ellison into the Schmoedown from the fan leagues and on first viewing, these two rivals have a lot in common, including their confident/arrogant personalities, their love of wearing shades indoors and their ability at movie trivia. His opponent, Brendan Meyer was an actor looking to prove that his movie trivia knowledge was anything but an act.
Oyama took an early lead, finishing Round 1 ahead by 6-4, but stretched his lead to 14-7 by the end of Round 2, with Oyama spinning Directors and Meyer Festival Darlings. Meyer made a comeback in Round 3, hitting all three of his questions to force it back to Oyama and setting the new record for the biggest margin overcome to avoid a TKO. But “Primetime” hit his first two questions to earn an impressive 19-17 victory.
David Del Rio
Actor “Diamond” David Del Rio made his debut against Singles Division debutant but Schmoedown veteran Witney “The Beauty” Seibold last week.
Both started strongly, Del Rio going 6/8 in Round 1, while Witney only missed on the final question of the round, denying him a bonus question.
Heading into Round 2, Del Rio hit Spinner’s Choice and chose Famous Actors and Actresses and even though none of the questions were about him, he managed to hit 3/4 for 4/8 points while Witney missed his steal opportunity. Witney stuck with Robin Williams but went 2/4 for 4/8 points, with Del Rio hitting both steal opportunities to pick up an extra two points. In Round 3, Witney missed his two and three-point questions but avoided the TKO by answering his 5-pointer. Del Rio hit his two and three-pointers to take the victory with a question to spare, the final score reading 17-16.
Smets originally auditioned through the Patreon but missed the cut and worked his way up through the fan leagues. Making his debut in the Innergeekdom against fellow rookie David Moore, Smets showed that taking the long way around was worth it.
In Round 1, he went perfect including the bonus question to take an 11-7 lead and he continued his dominance in Round 2. Moore spun MCU and went 3/5 for three points in a category that is getting dangerously deep, but Smets took both steal opportunities for two points. If Smets wasn’t already turning heads with his performance, his confidence upon spinning Movie Release Dates gave note to his strength and he began running through the questions for two points.
He looked set for a KO victory and 100% PPE (percentage of points available) match on debut but was caught with the final question in Round 2, checking down to multiple choice and getting it wrong. The steal allowed Moore to avoid the KO and take it into Round 3 where a miss on his two-pointer saw Smets complete the TKO victory with a 21-11 score.
This may have not been the best of debuts for David Moore, but this will have taught him the danger of the MCU category, and his Round 1 performance showed that he has a solid base of knowledge to compete in this division. As for Kevin Smets, he has called out former champion Hector Navarro and has already made it clear that he is coming for the Innergeekdom Title and looking to emulate Ethan Erwin by winning a title and Rookie of the Year all in his first year. Based on this performance, that looks highly possible.
Speaking of “Big Time,” the former champ had an impressive debut himself! Facing Yolanda Machado early in Season 5, Erwin went 7/8 in Round 1 for a two-point lead before taking a heavy lead in Round 2, going 4/4 for 8 points in Fantasy/Sci-Fi and stealing a point in Machado’s category, Tom Cruise, for a 16-8 lead. Machado missed her 3-point question to hand Erwin a 16-10 TKO victory.
This victory put the league on notice and Kristian’s prediction at the start of the season that Erwin was one to watch was proven correct, as he pulled off impressive victories over Lon Harris and Drew McWeeny and looked set to be competing for the vacant Singles Title, only to fall at his 5-point question in a Number 1 Contender Match against Marc Andreyko.
His next run at the Singles Division, however, resulted in him winning the 2018 Ultimate Schmoedown and winning the title from John Rocha at Spectacular 3.
Alex Damon & Joseph Scrimshaw
From one champion to another, Alex Damon made his Schmoedown debut during Season 4 in a Fatal Fiveway that doubled as a Number 1 Contender Match, to decide who would face Ken Napzok for the Star Wars Title at Spectacular 2. Joining Damon in that match were Sam Witwer and fellow debutants Joseph Scrimshaw, Steele Saunders and Shana O’Neil. While O’Neil and Saunders put in gutsy performances, they were KO’d and TKO’d respectively, so we’ll focus on the battle between Damon, Scrimshaw and Witwer.
Both Damon and Scrimshaw went 9/10 in Round 1, but found themselves two points behind Witwer, who went perfect and hit the bonus question. In Round 2, Damon was the only competitor to go 3/3, for the maximum six points in The Force Awakens. Scrimshaw and Witwer both went 2/3 for four points in Who Said It? and Revenge Of The Sith, respectively. However, on steal opportunities, Damon went 2/4 for three points, while his rivals went 3/3 for five points, leaving Witwer ahead 20-18-18.
All three hit their two and three-pointers and both Scrimshaw and Damon hit their five-pointers to reach 28 points, leaving Witwer needing to hit his five-pointer to win, or else the rookies would go to Sudden Death. It would appear that the Will of the Force was on Witwer’s side that day, though as his downfall at Celebration returned to give him the 5-pointer and set up his last-second Iron Man Title Match victory over Napzok.
While neither got the victory, these performances marked both Damon and Scrimshaw as top-tier competitors in the division and they both returned in the next Number 1 Contender Match in a Triple Threat at the second Live Event against Ken Napzok, where Damon pulled out a 28-27-20 victory over Scrimshaw and Napzok, respectively. While Scrimshaw did not compete again in Season 5, Damon went on to KO Bruce Greene to win the title at Collision II and successfully defended it against Napzok at Spectacular III, his performances earning him Innergeekdom/Star Wars Player of the Year at the 2018 Schmoedown Awards.
Sticking in Season 4, Tim “The Tank” Franco was one of the original fans to enter the league. His debut was against Matt Atchity, who was himself making his Singles debut but had by his point competed 6 times as one half of the team Rotten Tomatoes.
Both had strong performances in Round 1, with “The Kahuna” only missing on one question, but Franco went perfect and hit his bonus question to take an early 9-7 lead. Round 2 saw Franco go 3/4 on his own spin (picking Crime after hitting Spinner’s Choice) for 6 points, giving up a 1-point steal, while on Atchity’s spin of Romantic Comedies he was able to hit his sole steal opportunity for 1 point, opening up a 12-16 lead. This lead proved unassailable for Atchity and Franco came away from his debut with a 15-16 TKO victory.
Unfortunately, scheduling issues have stopped Franco from competing again since, but his opponents better take note when he does.
What’s better than getting a KO victory on your record on debut? Getting four KOs on your debut! That’s exactly what Jared Haibon did in his Innergeekdom debut when he took part in a Fatal Fiveway against Alana Jordan, Dorian Parks, Taylor Robinson and Jamie Costa early in Season 5.
Haibon went 7/10 in Round 1 while the closest any of his competitors could get was a score of 4. In Round 2, he went 3/3 on his own spin (Marvel Movies) for five of a possible six points, then hit all four of his steal opportunities to amass a score of 17. This was enough to KO Jordan and Costa, while Parks and Robinson were unable to catch up with him, leaving him on the way to a 1-0 record with 2 KOs and 2 TKOs.
Unfortunately, his road in the Innergekdom has been anything but too smooth since, as a bad spin in Round 2 put Mark Donica on track for victory in their Number 1 Contender Match, while his run in the Innergeekdom tournament was over before it had really began as the dreaded Round 2 combo of Spinner’s Choice and Opponent’s Choice saw him KO’d by Mike Kalinowski.
William Bibbiani & Marc Andreyko
Of course this was going to make the list! Season 3 saw both “The Beast” and “The Android” make their Schmoedown debuts in November, against each other no less!
This was back in the days of the old format, where Round 1 saw each competitor given six different questions, but both competitors went 100% in that round. Bibbiani was up first in Round 2, going 4/4 in Comic Book Movies for 7 points. Andreyko spun 80s Movies and had the first miss of the match, going 3/4 for 5 points, while Bibbiani picked up a point on the steal to take a 14-11 lead. Both competitors went perfect in Round 3 to earn the maximum nine points – Question 1 was only worth one point in this era – which saw Bibbiani come away with a perfect game and a 23-20 win that saw him set the new Singles Points Record, while Andreyko’s 20 points was also significantly higher than the average score.
Since then, both have gone on to become regulars in the Schmoedown. Bibbiani was immediately invited to join the Four Horsemen but eventually betrayed them and created his own faction, the Growling Commandos, while Andreyko joined the Lion’s Den to get another shot at Bibbiani, which eventually led to him leaving to become Emma Fyffe’s first competitor.
While neither had the success many expected in Season 4, Season 5 saw Bibbiani and Andreyko both go on a run in the Singles Division – including Andreyko handing Ethan Erwin his first ever loss – and they faced each other again in a Championship Match for the vacant Singles Title, where another close match ended with a Bibbiani victory, making him the 6th person to become the Singles Champion.
Are there any other impressive debuts you think deserve a mention? What have you thought about this year’s rookie class so far? Let me know down below in the comments!