As the dust settles around the 2019 Free For All, there are 40 players who must be reflecting on what might have been a success or disappointment at the event. This year, survival was a hard-won thing, with over half of the players failing to survive beyond their first round of play. At the same time, records were broken, players pulled off surprises, and the shape of the season was changed.
I’m going to run the rule over all 40 Free For All contenders, and judge whether they performed above, below, or on par with expectations. This won’t just be based on trivia ability, but the overall performances that players put on for the event.
#1. William Bibbiani (MVP, Finished 2nd; Rounds Lasted: 28)
Bibbiani set himself a high ceiling at last year’s Free For All, where he won the MVP award after lasting a record 21 rounds. This year, The Beast smashed his own record by lasting… well, all of them. He started at the first table and lasted all 28 rounds. The Beast did everything but win here: he cleared the table, fended off all comers and finished with the event’s 3rd highest accuracy rate, at 72.6%. Bibbiani continues to prove himself one of the Schmoedown’s most knowledgeable players, and will fancy his chances of turning this MVP performance into a second title win.
#2. Rachel Silvestrini (Rounds Lasted: 1)
Having only played one match with Inky and the Brain, Schmoedown fans still don’t have a lot of game tape on Silvestrini. In the Free For All, someone has to be eliminated first, and while added game time may see Silvestrini improve her game, she has yet to light up the Schmoedown stage.
#3. Jonathan Harris (Rounds Lasted: 2)
Coming off the back of two poor performances with the Harris Brothers, the Professor’s brother looked likely to be eliminated first, yet surprised by answering some questions correctly, and getting some good laughs from the crowd. Still, he remains a below par partner for the Professor, and will need to improve his game if he is going to help the Harris Brothers get back into the title picture. Answered 50% of his questions, which is about what we expected.
#4. Brendan Meyer (Rounds Lasted: 12)
The surprise package of the event, Meyer came into the event off the back of a mediocre loss in which he showed some promise. But, after Bibbiani, Meyer lasted more rounds than anyone else, and managed to outlast established players like Cushing, Chandler and Seibold. More than that, Meyer didn’t just scrape by scoring 2 or 3 each round: he often put up some good scores, and hit questions that some of the Schmoedown’s best missed. Hopefully this event will give Meyer a platform to start a successful Schmoedown career.
#5. Rachel Cushing (Rounds Lasted: 8)
The current Team and Innergeekdom Champion has nothing left to prove in the Schmoedown. She’s already proved herself one of the very best players in the league. Despite this, Cushing has struggled in the Free For All in the past, lasting two rounds in each of the 2017 and 2018 Free For Alls. Since then, Cushing has put any questions about her ability to perform in the big events to bed, but if there were any doubters left, Cushing put in a dominant performance across her 8 rounds, scoring perfect rounds and outscoring her opponents. That she finished with the event’s 2nd highest accuracy rate (75%) should demonstrate just how strong Cushing’s performance was. She has talked before about the nerves that go along with competing in front of a loud crowd. A strong platform ahead of her defence of the Innergeekdom title in front of a live crowd.
#6. Devon Stewart (Rounds Lasted: 2)
A surprisingly strong first round, followed by a disappointing second, which saw Stewart eliminated. He hit 50% of his questions, and fed off the live crowd.
#7. Winston Marshall (Rounds Lasted: 1)
Currently involved in a storyline in which Zipper has abandoned him because he wasn’t a good enough partner, Marshall isn’t doing a lot to prove Zipper wrong. He might be the face in their conflict, but Marshall will need to step up his performances if he wants to defeat his former team partner. That said, Marshall continues to win fans over with his energy and entrance game.
#8. Brianne Chandler (Rounds Lasted: 1)
Last year’s Free For All winner couldn’t replicate her incredible performance. No longer an active player, I have to say “Reputation: DIMINISHED,” but only because Chandler managed to win the event last season. Great entrance as ever!
#9. Adam Witt (Rounds Lasted: 1)
One of the players who debuted at this event, we hadn’t had a chance to form an opinion of Witt before. Failing to make it out of your debut round isn’t uncommon for Free For All debutants, so there’s no shame there.
#10. Witney Seibold (Rounds Lasted: 4)
Seibold is having an interesting season. With Critically Acclaimed, he and Bibbiani took apart the Harris Brothers, as well as putting up a spirited fight in a title clash with the Shirewolves. At the same time, Seibold has taken a loss in singles, but there’s a feeling that he is on the cusp of turning his team performances into some kind of singles success. The four rounds that Seibold lasted were far from stellar: he only managed to hit 50% of his questions. If anything, this feels like something of a missed opportunity for Seibold to make a mark and kickstart a successful singles career. That said, ‘phase cannons’ was one of the answers of the night.
#11. Sabina Graves (Rounds Lasted: 1)
In a round in which the whole table struggled, Graves didn’t hit a question.
#12. Vanessa Fitzsimmons (Rounds Lasted: 1)
Late to the Party have shown such potential in the Teams division, but for whatever reason, things haven’t gone their way in Free For Alls. Vanessa’s ‘win a goldfish here’ entrance was a highlight!
#13. Jen Kemp (Rounds Lasted: 1)
Another rookie that was unable to get out of her first round.
#14. Greg Alba (Rounds Lasted: 1)
Responsible for the livestream’s copyright strike, Alba had the best entrance of the night, and was hilarious as Jackson Maine. Unlucky to be eliminated after putting up 3 points, but took Seibold and Cushing with him.
#15. Alonso Duralde (Rounds Lasted: 1)
Came up against some questions that weren’t in his wheelhouse, Duralde performed below the level that he has shown in the past, and exposed some holes in his knowledge.
#16. Eric Zipper (Rounds Lasted: 1)
If Zipper wants to prove that Winston wasn’t good enough to be his partner, he’s going to need to play better than this. The former World’s Finest team member answered two questions correctly, the same number as his former partner. Not the jumpstart to his heel turn that he was looking for. Reputation Diminished.
#17. Paul Oyama (Rounds Lasted: 2)
The event’s unluckiest player, Oyama lasted just 2 rounds despite posting the best accuracy rate of the event: 80%. Looks set to pull off a star-making upset some time soon.
#18. Mike Kalinowksi (Rounds Lasted: 3)
Eliminated the likely future rivals for his faction, Smets and Oyama, only to be eliminated when Bibbiani cleared the table. Looked great in front of a live crowd.
#19. Lon Harris (Rounds Lasted: 1)
While any player that is eliminated with 3 correct answers is unlucky, the Professor ended last season knocking on the door of the Schmoedown’s upper tier. So far this season, Lon is 0-2, so this was a missed opportunity to turn his season around.
#20. Paul Preston (Rounds Lasted: 2)
The only debuting player to make it out of his first round, Preston put up two lots of three points, only to fall foul of Bibbiani’s table clearing round.
#21. Kevin Smets (Rounds Lasted: 1)
Didn’t impress, but as an Innergeekdom player, the Free For All is outside of Smets’ division, so this was essentially a free hit.
#22. Haleigh Foutch (Rounds Lasted: 1)
Not the breakout performance that I believe Foutch will have at some point, but put up three solid points. Unlucky to enter as Bibbiani cleared the table.
#23. Robert Montano (Rounds Lasted: 1)
Much like his team partner, Robert is yet to reach his potential in the Free For All. Didn’t get a question right.
#24. John Rocha (Rounds Lasted: 4)
In many ways, this was a classic Rocha performance. He wore a blindfold, played well for three rounds, then crashed out in a moment of controversy. He’ll be happy with his performance, and more importantly, he saw his stablemate win the whole event. It’s also worth noting that Rocha hit a tough Star Wars question, possibly because he’s been studying up ahead of entering a new division.
#25. Marc Andreyko (Rounds Lasted: 8)
A strong showing to bounce back from his loss against Rocha, Andreyko continued the consistency that has shown him emerge as a real Schmoedown threat since last year’s Free For All. Held his own against some Schmoedown legends, outlasting three former champions. How long before he joins them and wins a title?
#26. Jeff Sneider (Rounds Lasted: 11)
Set to return to the singles against Reilly soon, Sneider continued the fine run of form that seems to have been sparked by his partnership with Andreyko. Playing with a sense of fun, Sneider tied Murrell for the 3rd most rounds lasted.
#27. Andrew Ghai (Rounds Lasted: 1)
Didn’t take the event seriously, which only made him look out of his depth at a strong table. I like Ghai as a heel, but for me cheating was pushing it too far. When he beat Murrell and Reilly, he was able to thrive on his underdog status. Here, he simply wasn’t able to compete.
#28. Matt Atchity (Rounds Lasted: 1)
Found himself at a tough table, but missed what might have been the best opportunity of the event to eliminate Bibbiani. A night to forget for both members of the Paddington 2.
#29. Ben Bateman (Rounds Lasted: 2)
Will be disappointed with his performance, in which he failed to beat two points in either of his two rounds. Can at least point to the fact he was on the table when Rocha was eliminated.
#30. Drew McWeeny (Rounds Lasted: 2)
Played well, hitting 70% of his questions. At a table of legends, that wasn’t enough, but McWeeny seems to be warming up for the season.
#31. Dan Murrell (Winner; Rounds Lasted: 11)
If the current GOAT debate is between Cushing and Murrell, then Dangerous Dan returned Cushing’s recent double-belting by winning the Free For All. The first winner of the event that was forced to fight through a significant number of rounds, the win leaves Murrell in a position to win his first belt outside of the Singles division. Despite all his many achievements in the Schmoedown, Murrell still manages to top himself.
#32. Robert Meyer Burnett (Rounds Lasted: 1)
Failed to make an impact. Beaten by member of a rival faction in Dan Murrell, as well as his former teammate Marc Andreyko. That said, he’s a manager these days, not a competitor.
#33. Mark Reilly (Rounds Lasted: 1)
As he himself noted, Reilly’s Free For All curse continues. For whatever reason, this is an event that Reilly just cannot seem to succeed in, having now averaged two rounds across three Free For Alls. Took Andreyko with him, ahead of their #1 contender clash in Teams.
#34. Tom Dagnino (Rounds Lasted: 1)
He made a big entrance, complained about the questions, and was eliminated without scoring a point. A classic Dagnino performance.
#35. JTE (Finished 2nd; Rounds Lasted: 8)
While many suspected he might be rusty on his return, JTE was anything but. Even with his traditional smattering of gaffs and mistakes, he made it to the final three, only to miss out to Murrell. Created more excitement for his return to the Singles division, and showed that players in search for a partner should be putting their energies into courting Little Evil.
#36. Sean Gerber (Rounds Lasted: 1)
He entered when the table was full of dangerous competitors, and wasn’t able to pull off an upset. Will be disappointed to have only scored a single point.
#37. Stacy Howard (Rounds Lasted: 2)
Her first appearance since joining KOrruption, Howard played in what were tougher rounds of questions. Still, a 30% accuracy rate somewhat takes the shine off her defection, especially as she was eliminated by former stablemate Jeannine the Machine. Needs to find a better level of consistency.
#38. Jeannine the Machine (Rounds Lasted: 4)
Aside from Meyer, Jeannine was the player that surprised me the most at the Free For All. She posted an accuracy rate that cracked the Top 5, and impressed in her run to the Final 4. A springboard for a successful season?
#39. Brett Sheridan (Rounds Lasted: 1)
Sheridan’s much anticipated debut yielded 5 incorrect answers. Was anyone surprised?
#40. John Humphrey (Rounds Lasted: 1)
As with last year, Humphrey found himself facing the expectations generated by his MVP performance in the first Free For All. Drawing a high number doesn’t help, as that MVP performance was generated by outlasting the worst players at the table. At number 40, Humphrey was faced with a strong table, and couldn’t compete. Still, as the last man out, this is surely a missed opportunity.
With the Free For All reshaping the Schmoedown season, there’s plenty to talk about! Let me know which players impressed you, surprised you, and who you think is going to go on and have a successful season in the comments below!