The role of the manager has evolved.
Ever since Rocha’s time as the leader of the Four Horsemen (a role that we would now perhaps more accurately define as “faction leader” rather than “manager”), the responsibility of a manager has changed. While plenty of the Schmoedown’s best have never felt the need to shift some of their Schmoedown responsibilities onto a managing presence, champions like the Patriots and, more recently, Ethan Erwin, can attest to the value of having a manger.
These days, being a Schmoedown manager means more than just showing up and supporting your competitor. A lot more. It’s about performing a specific role that gives your player a competitive advantage, and this is something that varies depending on the type of player they’re managing.
Let’s look at some of the key things a Schmoedown manager can do for their player, along with some examples of the managers that best embody these skills.
Letting the Players Focus on the Trivia
The Schmoedown is about more than just movie trivia. These days, players that want to win a title need to not only answer questions correctly, but also need to be familiar with the intricacies of the rules and any precedent that has been set. In the heat of a match, it can be hard to simultaneously answer trivia questions whilst also looking out for potential challenges and recalling whether or not previous matches support making a challenge.
In the most recent teams title match, it was clear that this was a problem for Critically Acclaimed, who were aggrieved at a speed round error, but hadn’t remembered to challenge. A manager can remove this pressure: if players know that they have a manger that is looking out for challenges, that has taken the time to watch previous Schmoedown matches, then the player is free to focus on the trivia.
And while he is often a figure to be laughed at, Tom Dagnino excels at this side of management. During the Patriots championship run, while Sneider and JTE were focused on answering questions, Dagnino would be in the audience, letting his players know when a potential challenge may have presented itself. For all of his trivia shortcomings, Dagnino is an excellent technical manager, who can take care of the minutiae of the game while his players focus on the trivia.
Supporting the Players Outside the Game
The creation of the manager role was initially something that allowed the Schmoedown to move towards becoming more of a storyline driven show, but these days a manager can have a real involvement in the emotional stakes of a Schmoedown. The best example is Roxy Striar, who has expanded her role as the mediator between the heel and face characters in the Odd Couple to a manager that will provide genuine emotional support to Sneider and Andreyko.
For the Schmoedown to work, players need to care about winning, and with this comes genuine emotional highs and lows. As manager of the Odd Couple, Roxy is always on hand to calm her players down, or pump them up, and this can provide the extra 5% in the ring that might see the Odd Couple pull out the answer to a question that wins them a match.
It’s a manager’s job to talk up their player. In the pre- and post-game interviews, we expect managers to be making a lot of noise. I’m going to single out Ken Napzok and Jay Washington as the best “mouthpiece managers” in the league, but it is Jay in particular that understands the way in which his mic skills can be deployed not only to get the audience pumped up, but also to make life easier for his players.
For some Schmoedown competitors, the trash talking side of the sport can be daunting, and can cause unnecessary additional anxiety on top of the pressures of playing the game. A mouthpiece manager can deal with this pressure, and take care of the storyline-focused trash talk, so the competitor can focus on playing the game.
You can see Washington’s value as a manager just by looking at his current stable. Jeannine excels at most aspects of the Schmoedown, and while she is now a well-established competitor, she debuted as a Schmoedown fan. Having a manager who could take charge of the microphone allowed Jeannine to focus on her gameplay strengths. She is now established as one of the best in the Schmoedown at theatrical entrances, and she’s emerging as one of the underrated trivia talents in the game. While the credit is of course belongs to Jeannine, Jay’s managerial skills helped create space for players like Jeannine to debut.
On the other side of things, the way that Washington has been able to transform Ethan Erwin is evidence of his skills: before Erwin joined up with Jay he was an undoubtable trivia talent, but he was less interested in cutting promos or playing a character. In the time that Washington has taken care of this for him, Erwin has won the singles belt, and noticeably, when Washington took on Smets, Erwin impressed by acting as the Urban Gladiator’s mouthpiece, showing that he is developing in to more of an all round Schmoedown character. A lot of credit has to go to his manager.
Practice Makes Perfect
One of the most impressive managerial contributions came from Emma Fyffe, who, when managing the Fyffe club, took her faction on a sort of Schmoedown retreat. Primarily, this was to give the Shirewolves the chance to practice using the buzzers ahead of their team title match, something which had a clear positive impact on the team, who have become some of the best speed round players around.
More than that, however, Marc Andreyko explained that this additional practise was a chance for the faction to bond. As a manager, Emma Fyffe had a huge role in building cohesion within her faction, which meant that her players were always there to support one another across the highs and the lows of the Schmoedown, something that was clearly particularly helpful for the specific players that formed the Fyffe Club.
Taking the Pressure Off the Players
As much as a manager can remove the pressure of needing to worry about challenges, good managers can also help players in the wheel round. It is a manager’s job to have seen at least all recent Schmoedown matches, and with this comes the knowledge of which categories have been picked a lot compared to those that have not. While players shouldn’t necessarily be expected to have this sort of knowledge, a manager can take care of it.
A good example would be the match where the Patriots picked up 12 points in the War category and retained their titles, successfully defending against Above the Line. Dagnino was right when he pointed out that this was a category that hadn’t been picked often, and so he can take credit for the fact Sneider and JTE did not respin the wheel. With all of the pressure that comes with the need to study the trivia itself, a good manager will take the time to study the Schmoedown.
The Future of the Schmoedown Manager
In my opinion, the Schmoedown is yet to see a manager who embodies all of these winning traits. While Dagnino is probably the best technical manager around, the likes of Fyffe and Strair excel as supportive managers, with a reach beyond just the day of recording. At the same time, Napzok and Washington stand out as the league’s best mouthpiece managers.
Each have different strengths, and more often than not they have been able to pair these strengths with the players that need them most. With new managers emerging all the time, the expectations placed on these individuals continue to change: more recently, we have seen Grace Handcock as a sort of recruiting manager, separate to Napzok’s role as KOrruption’s mouthpiece.
With that in mind, what is next for the Schmoedown’s newest crop of managers, and how will they continue to change and improve the game? Let us know below!