BEYOND SEASONABLE DOUBT: Who is the Player of the Year (So Far)?

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As the Schmoedown season reaches the halfway point, it feels like a good time to take a look at the current frontrunners for player of the year (POTY). This article will discuss the four players with the best records across Season 6, and look at their case to be considered the best player of the first half of the season.

Jeff Sneider (4-1)

After an up and down Season 5, Sneider is well and truly back. Having won and lost the team belt this season, Sneider has reminded the league of his title pedigree, and in the singles division, Sneider delivered a win over Reilly that has put him back in the title picture. He might not have a belt right now, but there is a realistic chance that Sneider could hold as many as two belts before the end of the season.

However, Sneider’s attention so far this season has undeniably been on teams, where, alongside Marc Andreyko, the Odd Couple defeated first Who’s the Boss, and then the Shirewolves, in successive matches that they weren’t fancied to win. Indeed, when the Shirewolves retook the team belts, the Odd Couple gave Cushing and Wolfe one heck of a match, and took the competition all the way to the final question.

For Sneider, this year has been about establishing himself as the greatest teams player of all time. However, last season Sneider began the year by going 3-0 across all divisions, only to finish the season on a disappointing 5-4. If Sneider is to challenge for the POTY crown, he’ll have to show consistency, and not allow his recent loss to the Shirewolves derail his season.

Paul Oyama (4-0)

One of two undefeated players on this list, Oyama has begun his Schmoedown career in fine form, and his 4-0 record in singles represents the best record in any division this season. And while it is easy to argue that he hasn’t played top tier competitors yet, it is also worth noting that in three of his wins (Meyer, Macuga, Miller – all the Ms!), Oyama didn’t need to answer his 5 point question, demonstrating the relative comfort with which he has defeated his opponents. His other victory was against Ellison, a higher calibre player against whom Oyama scored an important win as part of their ongoing rivalry.

While the second half of the season should see Oyama take on a higher calibre of competitor, everything we have seen so far from Primetime suggests that he has the ability to continue winning. So far this season, Oyama has posted an elite 81.67% accuracy rate, and he’s going into a title match against Dan Murrell in his rookie season with a legitimate chance of taking the singles belt. If the only criticism of Oyama’s season is the quality of his opposition, I’d say he’s doing pretty well.

Rachel Cushing (4-1)

The only reason that I need to say that Cushing is having an outstanding season is because Cushing’s standard is so high, that what for most players would be a standout season is, for Cushing, almost normal. While Levine took the POTY award last season, Cushing had the best record in the league, with 8-2 (+6). This season, Cushing became the second double belted champion when she added the Innergeekdom belt to the Team belt that the Shirewolves won last season. Then, after losing the team belt, Cushing went and won it back, to once more become a double belted champion. Of Cushing’s five matches so far this season, four have been a title match, while the fifth was a #1 contender match. To have a 4-1 record while playing matches at that level is incredible.

Cushing leads the way in so many respects this season: she’s won more title matches than anyone else (3), is the only Innergeekdom player with 2+ matches to remain undefeated, and, along with Damon and Murrell, the Shirewolves have the joint most belt defences this season (1). Simply put, Cushing is having an unbelievable season, to the point where discussions about the possibility of a triple belted champion don’t seem ridiculous. I would say that, instead of demanding more and more, Schmoedown fans should realise just how well Cushing is playing at the moment, and enjoy one of the best individual seasons the Schmoedown has seen.

Dan Murrell (4-0)

The final player on this list, Dan Murrell, matches his upcoming opponent’s 4-0 unbeaten record. However, unlike Oyama, Murrell has won two title matches this season. After taking the belt away from Erwin, Murrell registered a win over former singles champion William Bibbiani. Murrell’s singles matches have been against top players, and he has won and defended his belt.

In the teams division, Murrell’s opposition hasn’t been as strong. The Founding Fathers have taken on the Wildberries and Double Toasted, and come away with expected victories both times. Along with his partner John Rocha, Murrell has found himself on a path to a team title shot, and surely hopes to follow Levine and Cushing and become the Schmoedown’s third double belted champion. On top of that, Murrell won this year’s Free For All, earning himself an automatic title shot that he is yet to cash in. Whether or not he achieves it, this means that it is almost certain that Murrell will play for the chance to become a double belted champion at some point this season.

That Free For All win shouldn’t be glossed over – Murrell went 11 rounds, and found himself at a final table with some of the Schmoedown’s best competitors, including Bibbiani, who went 28 rounds to last the entire event, and Murrell still came away with the victory. He has yet to face defeat, and Murrell is undeniably in the hunt for POTY once again, having won the award in 2015.

Who’s the Frontrunner?

When it comes to picking the current frontrunner for this season’s POTY, there are two clear contenders. While Oyama’s 4-0 record is impressive, it is dependent purely on his singles play, and while Oyama’s record is better than Murrell’s, Dan’s title wins mean that he is the standout singles player of the season so far. Of course, should Oyama defeat Murrell, that would change. Meanwhile, Sneider’s achievements are in the teams division, which Cushing has either equalled or bettered, while also winning the Innergeekdom belt.

For me, this has to come down to Cushing and Murrell, and while it is Murrell that is undefeated, I have to give the edge to Cushing. Four title matches and two belts tops one belt and a Free For All, in my opinion.

Who is your Schmoedown Player of the Year so far? And more importantly, which competitors do you think will force their way into the conversation before the end of the season? Let me know in the comments below, and look out for the important matches that these players have coming up. Can Sneider make a run at the singles belt? Will Cushing retain the Innergeekdom belt? And who will triumph in Murrell vs Oyama?

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