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Old 06-01-2017, 11:45 PM
DKW is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Hawaii
Posts: 2,969
[Board acting weird lately...actually finished this last night, but didn't go through.]

All right, got a bunch of stuff to unpack before the semis, but there are only so many hours in a day and I don’t want to let my posts run too long. So for now, just know that I’m going to be counting the number of runs ending on Ring of Fire. You’ll find out why later. Incidentally, I never considered this the be-all end-all ninja killing machine Ice and Baj keep insisting it is (and insisting, and insisting, and insisting...). Sure it’s tricky, but Swing Jump and Floating Tiles have tripped up their fair share. But as the saying goes, even a blind squirrel sometimes finds a nut, and given what a nut of a day this competition was...um...ah, you’ll see.

Oh, and crossing Floating Tiles by jumping across the solos is “midhopping”. No point overcomplicating this.

TEAM NINJA WARRIOR 2 - PRELIM #7

Invincabels: Geoff Lancaster, Jeri D’aurelio, Abel Gonzales
Seriously think they need a better name considering how they fared last time.

Team Ronin: J.J. Woods, Tiana Webberley, David “Flip” Rodriguez
Last year they were 5-0 in the semifinal before Ryan Stratis put some kind of crazy voodoo hex on them* and sent them tumbling into failure. Few things worse than walking away empty-handed after having the second best overall record. Definitely a big sentimental favorite going in for that reason, and having probably the only really good woman left doesn’t hurt either.

Ninja Brittens: Mike Chick, Jessica Britten, Geoff Britten
On a fateful September day in 2015, Geoff Britten held a rope in his hands and stared upwards at destiny...and nearly everything since has been an absolute disaster. And since he “has” to stick with his wife (), this slow-motion train wreck looks like it’s not going to end anytime soon. Does he have any chance? (And are these fans ever going to realize that holding up Union Jacks to cheer on a competitor who’s not actually British is super-dumb even for them?)

Towers of Power: Dan Polizzi, Selena Laniel, Brandon Mears
Last year they looked hapless through five heats and were on the verge of being demolished (heh heh, see what I...ah, screw it, anyone not brain-dead can see it) before being bailed out by the leadoff man. Somehow I doubt that he’ll catch that kind of lightning in a bottle again, especially with Team Ronin in the mix. A major longshot.

Fifth obstacle: Fly Wheels - Same as in prelim #5.

* Disclaimer: Ryan Stratis did not actually put a voodoo curse on Team Ronin**.
** As far as I know.

= 1st match: Invincabels vs. Team Ronin =
__L: Lancaster vs. Woods - Lancaster is completely new to TNW, and it shows as he goes right for a second gap dismount from Ring of Fire and doesn’t come close to pulling it off <one>. Woods/distance
__W: D’aurelio vs. Webberley - Much like Kacy Catanzaro, Webberley is perfect primarily because she’s never faced a truly tough opponent, and I have no reason to believe D’aurelio is going to fit the bill. She gets the early lead but gets badly hung up in the first Ring of Fire gap. Webberley gets caught in the second but quickly extricates herself, then maintains the lead through the next to obstacles. D’aurelio almost comes up short of the landing area on Floating Tiles and has to expend precious seconds getting back on her feet. Webberley looks good through the first two wheels of Fly Wheels, but takes a long, long long time on the third, and D’aurelio catches up. Webberley finally dismounts, but D’aurelio has better control on the third wheel and closes the gap. Play at the plate! Webberley’s conquered the wall before, but it’s far from a sure thing for her; can she do it under pressure? She makes her first run...short! D’aurelio catches her breath, and both women go up at the same time...and...sorry, no drama, Webberley makes it and D’aurelio doesn’t. Webberley/finish

<<Important notice>> I absolutely, positively refuse under any circumstances to ever, ever refer to Tiana Webberley as “Sweet Ti”. It’s a stupid nickname and she should be insulted to be saddled with it.

__A: Gonzales vs. Rodriguez - Rodriguez has blown hot and cold for most of his NW career. He’s positively subarctic here, going for a second gap dismount and finding nothing but water <two>. See, that’s why you don’t guarantee victory, you fool! Gonzales/distance

So now Rodriguez is in the exact same situation he was in the first match last year’s prelim, where he lost the anchor run but made up for it in the tiebreaker. Given how inept Lancaster looked, this one almost has to be a lissitah as well.

__T: Gonzales vs. Woods - Hey, I said “almost”! It’s a fast one in the early going. Woods is clean through Ring of Fire while Gonzales finds the second gap. Woods easily handles Swing Jump...and Gonzales is still working on the dismount! Woods has no trouble with the tiles and on the wheels. It looks all but hopeless for Gonzales, who gets on the first wheel while Woods...where did he get that speed from?? Gonzales is like a monkey through the first two wheels; Woods has trouble with the dismount, and they’re even! But Woods finally has had enough, dismounts first, and hustles up the wall to victory. The better man won, but it was certainly more interesting than I anticipated! Woods/finish

(Yeah, Baj...the problem is how to keep it shut. )

TEAM RONIN WINS

An easy sweep, and it looks like the honorless vagabond dirtbag thugs are picking up right where they left off.

= 2nd match: Towers of Power vs. Ninja Brittens =
Woman/leadoff swap. Happened enough times that I don’t have anything witty to say about it anymore.
__W: Laniel vs. J.Britten - Actual quote from Geoff regarding his wife: “I know how hard she trains, and I know she is going to do amazing this year.” Well, we’re just heading into June, so there’s still many more chances for her to utterly fail to live up to that prediction. Laniel, at 41, is the oldest woman in the competition, but she may as well have been taking on an 82-year-old as Britten hits the first Ring of Gap and just plain loses the handle <three>. Laniel/distance
__L: Polizzi vs. Chick - Polizzi finds both gaps but escapes them without much trouble; Chick only hits the second but can’t make the dismount. By the time he’s clear, Polizzi is already past Swing Jump, and from that point it’s a one man show. Baj: “This is a blowout right here!” As obsessed as he is with the horse race narrative, even he has to draw the line somewhere. Polizzi/finish
__A: Mears vs. G.Britten - They’re even going into Ring of Fire, where Britten makes a spectacular second gap dismount...and lands safely! Mears got hung up in the first gap, and now Britten has the lead. Which he gives right back after needing two swings on Swing Jump. Mears maintains a small lead through Floating Tiles and looks very solid on the Fly Wheels. Britten is giving his all, but he just can’t...MEARS FALLS OFF THE COURSE! He gets sideways on the third wheel, his momentum pulls him leftward, and he slips completely off the landing area! Given that all three wheels have no horizontal movement whatsoever, this is a colossal blunder. Mears defiantly hits the buzzer first, but that isn’t even worth cool points. What a time for something to go right for Britten! G.Britten/distance

Now then, for the tiebreaker, and...oh dear lord, it’s happening again. They’re going to Give The Women A Chance. Given that neither J.Britten nor Laniel is in the same galaxy as Tiana Webberley or Natalie Duran, much less they really good ones, this is a baffling decision. Okay, if you’re on Towers of Power, you realize you’re a big underdog no matter who you face in the second half, so no sense going all out now. If Laniel wins, cool; if not, at least you don’t wear out anyone important for your match against Team Ronin. Hey, you gotta face them at some point, and one-on-one heats give you more opportunities for lucky flukes and incredible upsets than a make-or-break everyone’s-gotta-pull-their-weight Relay Showdown. A questionable gambit, to be sure, but an interesting one (in chess terms, this has both “?!” and “!?” attached to it). Now, what the everloving sam HELL is in it for Ninja Brittens? If you’re Geoff Britten, and especially after the wholesale spanking you got the first time, there is one thing on your mind...victory! You’ve shown you can win, so step right back up to that line and try your very hardest to get that white star on your scorecard! Screw staying fresh for Team Ronin; you don’t have a prayer against them! Win the match and leave TNW2 with your head held not nearly as close to the ground as it once was!

Hmph.

__T: No, seriously, it’s Laniel vs. J.Britten; the madness just never ends - Britten is cement-footed through Sonic Swing and Laniel takes a comfortable lead. She has a little trouble in the second gap, but doesn’t mind too much as Britten takes forever to get out of the first. She’s still in the second gap by the time Laniel completes Swing Jump, and it’s a complete laugher now. (Baj: “She’s being very methodical! This race is not over!” Ice: “Keep in mind, we’ve seen commanding leads evaporate.” Didn’t take them long to get back in the saddle, did it? ) The nail in the coffin is Britten trying to do Swing Jump Tarzan-style despite having about a twentieth of the skill required to succeed at it, and she wastes a bunch more time before taking the plunge. Laniel, victorious but wanting to prove she can get up the wall and hit the buzzer, gets up the wall and hits the buzzer. Good job. Laniel/distance
TOWERS OF POWER WINS

Oh, you gotta be kidding me...J.Britten is injured after an effort like that??? Yep, and now the medics are coming out to see if she’ll have to drop out and be replaced by an alternate. Y’know, given that just about anyone has to be better than here, the conspiracy theorist in me says that hubby Geoff deliberately let her get injured so he could get rid of some deadwood (y’know, without all the domestic fallout of the vastly more logical step of not putting her on the damn team in the first place). However, the time manager in me reminds him that we still have the second half to go and are wasting way too much time on this bum as it is, so let’s just move on already, shall we?

= 3rd match: Ninja Brittens vs. Team Ronin =
Lady Britten is officially out. Complete nob...rookie Sarah Schoback steps in.
__L: Chick vs. Woods - Chick looks pretty good for a few seconds before wiping out from the second Ring of Fire gap <four>. Woods/distance
__W: Schoback vs. Webberley - Schoback is lighter on her feet, but Webberley climbs the steps out of Sonic Swing better, and they’re even going into Ring of Fire. Both hit the second gap; Webberley handles it much better and opens up a big lead. Webberley is well past Swing Jump by the time Schoback starts. Predictably, she tries to Tarzan it despite having maybe a fortieth of the skill to succeed at it (Use the bar! Use the bar! You don’t have any testicles to drop off!). Her hand briefly paws the net, and she’s having that sinking feeling. Webberley/distance
__A: G.Britten vs. Rodriguez - Britten gets off to a fast start but rushes the Sonic Swing dismount; his left foot finds the water, allowing Rodriguez to pass him. They...oh, this cannot be happening! Both hit the second gap, fly completely out of control, and splash down! I’ve never seen an anchor run end in this kind of clusterfrag before! So...wait... <five & six> Almost forgot about that. So Rodriguez, by virtue of getting there first, has the extremely murky and good-god-please-don’t-put-this-on-YouTube-not-even-as-a-joke win. Rodriguez/speed
TEAM RONIN WINS

[Kate Green voice]“This has got to be the worst...sweep...everrr.”[/Kate...from The House of the Dead 4! It’s this very popular shooting...OH, YOU HAVE A SEARCH ENGINE, FLIPPIN’ USE IT! ]

= 4th match: Towers of Power vs. The Invincabels =
__L: Polizzi vs. Lancaster - It’s lonely at the top for Polizzi...literally, as Lancaster can get absolutely nothing going and is over three obstacles behind by the time the smoke goes up. Polizzi/finish
__W: Laniel vs. D’aurelio - Laniel has a better touch on Ring of Fire but misses the grab on Swing Jump...and misses again! D’aurelio catches up, but Laniel is quicker out and surges ahead. On to Floating Tiles...and Laniel misses the last solo, tumbles over headfirst...but doesn’t go down! Remarkable recovery! She’s taking a while to get rightside-up again, and D’aurelio makes a move for the lead. One step, two, three, four...and she falls! Laniel finally makes the last hop and lead pipe cinch-es it. The replay showed what tripped up D’aurelio; her right foot caught on a cable. She actually might’ve been better off midhopping. Laniel/distance
__A: Mears vs. Gonzales - Both men hit the second gap, and...that’ll do it, as Gonzales loses the handle and makes a big splash <Seven! Count ‘em!>. Geez, don’t rub it in, Mears... Mears/distance
TOWERS OF POWER WINS

And now you see the critical importance of winning your first match! Because this will put you up against a team that will absolutely self-destruct in the second!

= Final: Towers of Power (Laniel, Polizzi, Mears) vs. Team Ronin (Webberley, Rodriguez, Woods) ==
Both women handle Sonic Swing cleanly. Webberley, again, shows her superiority in Ring of Fire with a quick second gap exit, and she’s on to the net. She’s not an explosive athlete, but she her execution is very solid and she stays smooth under pressure, making her a very difficult matchup for nearly all the other women. She makes the tag first by a wide margin, and Rodriguez takes off. He’s definitely a man with something to prove after two embarrassing wipeouts, and Floating Steps is no problem for him. Polizzi...completely passes him on Fly Wheels! Rodriguez has never been an upper-body virtuoso, and his relative weakness costs him dearly. The big lead is gone, Polizzi making the tag about two seconds ahead. Mears briefly has a razor-thin lead through Duelling Salmon Ladders, but Woods touches the first globe first. It’s a tight one! They’re still nearly even, Mears being slightly stronger and being the first to Invisible Ladder by under a second. It’s super close! It’s really, really close! It’s pretty close! It’s...

...no longer close. And it keeps getting not-closer and not-closer. Mears simply doesn’t have the arm strength for three upper body killers in a row, being all but dead at 25’. Woods is left to complete his steady ascent and be all alone at the top. Literally. Fittingly. Literally fittingly. Flittingerally.
TEAM RONIN WINS

MVP picks: Woods & Polizzi, Webberley. That’s right, I’m giving it to two leadoffs, who were by far the head of the class today. This was the first time ever all four anchors left me ice cold. Just grateful it won’t <NO MORE PREDICTIONS, YOU FOOL!! >

Ooh, good thing I watched to the end! I was wondering who was going to get the wildcard, and it turns out they’re going to play for it! Next week Labreckfast Club, Superhero Squad, Lab Rats, and Towers of Power battle for the backdoor pass. As for why those four teams...beats me. Most puzzled at Labreckfast Club, as they didn’t even make the Relay Showdown. Nothing like a little controversy to draw attention away from all those collapses, eh?