With this season’s Collison over, we are halfway through the Schmoedown season. Across two articles, I’ll be looking at the standout candidates for manager and player of the season so far, in both a statistical and emotional sense.
Kicking things off, I’ll be looking at the candidates for manager of the year, and the obvious place to start is with their records. With the acknowledgement that there are a few matches that arguably should or should not be counted, here are the combined records of Schmoedown players under management the season:
1st Kaiser 5-2 (+3)
2nd Burnett 3-1 (+2)
= Striar 4-2 (+2)
4th Jon Harris 1-1 (±0)
= Napzok/Hancock 5-5 (±)
6th Dagnino 2-4 (-2)
7th Washington 1-4 (-3)
(Records correct 30/06/19, includes the Manager Bowl)
A quick look at the numbers here makes the task of identifying the current manager of the year much easier. Right now, only Kaiser, Burnett and Striar have positive records, and so only they can stake a realistic claim to the title. With this in mind, we can look at the emotional case that these three have, specifically in terms of their accomplishments in the Schmoedown this season.
Boasting the best record of the three managers, Kaiser remains something of an unknown quantity in the Schmoedown, and this counts against him somewhat. After Kaiser debuted with Smets, he recruited Oyama and Zipper to be a part of his stable, and the pair have performed no differently since Kaiser’s arrival. Zipper still hasn’t won a match this season, while Oyama still hasn’t lost. We’ve yet to see whether or not Kaiser’s management actually has an effect on the way his competitors play.
Of course, Smets is the jewel in Kaiser’s crown, and it is fair to give Kaiser credit for Smet’s achievements, since his role as the mouthpiece manager facilitates Smets’ strong and silent character. While Smets is undoubtably having a great season, it’s worth saying that the Smasher seemed nervous in his #1 contender match against Kalinowksi, to the point where it could be considered a contributing factor in Smets’ first ever Schmoedown loss. It is a manager’s responsibility to calm their players in big game scenarios, and if this was Kaiser’s first major test, then he failed.
All of this being said, Kaiser clearly has an eye for talent: Smets has just played his first #1 contenders match in the Innergeekdom, while Oyama has a singles title shot. If it is the job of a manager to get their players in the position to win titles, then Kaiser has been remarkably successful. The next question that Kaiser must answer is: can he develop players? If Oyama and Zipper form a successful team, and Oyama performs well in the title match, all the signs will point to Kaiser remaining a frontrunner for manager of the season.
Robert Meyer Burnett
Ultimately, a manager’s job is to facilitate the goals of their players. In most cases, that goal is to win titles, but for the Family, things are a little different. Burnett’s job is to create a platform for Ghai to wreak as much havoc as possible, and, with McWeeny’s victory in the manager bowl, Burnett has delivered in the biggest way possible. While a lot will depend on exactly how Burnett uses the powers that he will be granted later this month, everything is set up for him to deliver exactly what Ghai desires: revenge against Bateman and the Horsemen.
That being said, Burnett hasn’t been granted those powers just yet. And while Burnett’s decision to swap himself out for McWeeny in the Family’s team match against Bateman and Dagnino saw Ghai take his first victory against his former teammate, the humiliation that Ghai suffered at the hands of Bateman in their live singles match can be partly blamed on Burnett. While Bateman received support from his manager Dagnino, Burnett was barely a presence.
That being said, Burnett has stepped up in the Family’s rivalry with the Horsemen, earning a victory over Dagnino that, while not impressive, is still a victory. Indeed, recruiting McWeeny in the first place was a major coup, and one that obviously benefits Ghai.
Speaking of McWeeny, his ambitions have been clear: he wants to win the team title belt that he lost when Levine retired from the Schmoedown. Whether or not the Family are on a path to win the team title is up for debate, but Ghai and McWeeny have a 2-0 record in teams this year. And if Ghai has a vendetta against the Horsemen, McWeeny may certainly be looking to exact some revenge against his former partner. That Manager Bowl victory will give Burnett the tools to give McWeeny exactly what he wants, as Levine’s new boss. Burnett is an odd case in that the things he needs to do to be a success are somewhat different, and while the Manager Bowl victory suggests that he will be able to get them done, he hasn’t yet. I suspect the success or failure of Burnett’s season will rest on exactly how he performs as Levine and Fyffe’s boss.
Striar’s claim to the manager of the season title is fairly obvious: she is the only manager whose competitors have won a title this season. While the Odd Couple couldn’t defend the team title at Collision, to win the belts in the first place was an incredible achievement. Sneider and Anderyko were the underdogs against both Who’s the Boss and the Shirewolves, and twice they came out on top. And, more than any other competitors in the league, it is clear the Odd Couple are incredibly satisfied with their manager. Both Sneider and Andreyko have attributed their obvious upturns in form to Striar, who is the manager that can most clearly say that she is helping her players achieve what they want in the league.
That being said, there are some negatives to discuss too. The moment in which Roxy slapped Bateman might have found support from her players, but also meant that Striar risked being banned from key matches. While that was avoided, the risk seemed needless, since neither Sneider or Andreyko have a particularly huge rivalry with Bateman. Right now, this isn’t a major concern, but were Striar to develop a tendency to insert herself into matches to the detriment of her players, it would equate to bad management.
While Striar’s record in teams so far this season has been the clear standout among the managerial crop, her performance in the singles league has left something to be desired. Since his loss to Rocha, Andreyko has been a non-entity in singles, while Sneider’s case is even more confusing: his victory over Reilly should have positioned Sneider on a clear path to the title, yet he was nowhere to be seen in the run that concluded with Oyama earning a title shot, while Sneider will likely now have to wait until the Ultimate Schmoedown for a shot at the singles belt. While a manager doesn’t control scheduling, they do agitate on behalf of their player, either in postgame interviews or cut-scenes, and this is something we are yet to see from Striar.
Overall, Roxy has had a great start to the Schmoedown season, and while there are questions to be asked about her pulling power in the singles league, neither of her players seem too concerned at the moment, so to call this a legitimate concern would be unfair. While this may be something to work on in the second half of the season, Striar is the clear standout in terms of helping her competitors play their best games, something that has had a real effect on the Odd Couple’s ability to win the team belt this year.
The Manager of the Year (So Far): Roxy Striar
Ultimately, I feel that the best manager so far this season has been Roxy Striar. She is the only manager who has unquestionably helped her players achieve their stated goals for the season, both of whom are playing arguably the best they have in their Schmoedown careers. While Burnett and Kaiser have arguably higher ceilings, in terms of what their players want to achieve, right now these goals haven’t been met. Of course, Burnett’s upcoming control of the league and Oyama’s singles title match could change things, but right now, Roxy Striar is the manager of the season.
Do you agree with my assessment? Who do you think should be considered the frontrunner for manager of the season so far? Let me know in the comments. Want to make the case for Jonathan Harris? I’ll listen!