MB3: Not As Dominant, But Dean Allen Wins Again

Before the tournament began, three topics dominated Monkeyball water cooler discussions. And by the end of the day, all were answered. 1) Can the Old Orchard handle a tournament as big and prestigious as the World Championships? You better believe it – we had 81 strong, and there’s plenty of room to grow. 2) Can the “pinch” toss live up to all the hype? Once again, the answer is a resounding YES. Six of the final eight were pinchers (all four semifinalists pinched), and only a few of the final 16 were “traddys” (traditional tossers). 3) Will Dean Allen dominate as he did in 2006? The answer is no, but he did do just enough to win his second straight World Championship.

Champion: Dean Allen
Runner-Up: Andrew Alexander
Third Place: Andi Osters
# of Players: 81

Results/Brackets (PDF)
Preview/Predictions Article

MB3 photos

The day started rough for reigning World Champ, Dean Allen. He fell in his opening qualifying round game to rookie Andrew Alexander. Determined, Allen fought back through the losers bracket to take the third seed, knocking off Alexander in a rematch later in the morning session. Those two would meet again in the world championship match, where Alexander dominated game one, but couldn’t put him away and ultimately fell victim to Allen in the best-of-three match 7-15, 15-11, 15-6.

Allen was also tested in the quarterfinals and semis, going three games in each match. In the semifinal he topped Brent Morrow, who was making his second straight appearance in the semis. Morrow, too, had Allen on the ropes, but Dean fought back from match point in game three to earn the spot in the Finals 15-5, 11-15, 16-14. In the other semifinal, practice partners Alexander and Andi Osters dueled like they had done so many times over the past three months – this time without as much salty language as usually heard in their poolside matches. Like Morrow, Osters took game one, but could not fend off her opponent in games two and three losing 9-15, 15-10, 15-11. In the consolation match, Osters earned the bronze monkeyballs with a 15-12 win over Morrow.

In the morning qualifying sessions, four ballers topped their group to grab #1 seeds in the afternoon.  Andy Frushour won group A, but ran into the Osters buzzsaw in the quarterfinals.  Andy Dressler won 2007’s version of the “Group of Death” (six of the seven qualifiers from Group B made the quarterfinals), knocking off Alexander and Osters along the way. Dressler fell to Brent Morrow in the quarterfinals. If it wasn’t for Alexander’s breakout performance, people likely would have been talking about the top seed out of Group C, Katy Hinz. Hinz came out of nowhere to win group C, but lost in the Sweet Sixteen to Group B’s Jeremy Foco. And for the third straight year, Eric Trinoskey won his group (D), but failed to win an afternoon match falling to another from the deathly B group, John Kidle (he’s a pincher, although he technically calls it the “modified pinch”.)

Foco, Kidle and Hinz headlined the group of players that outplayed the pundits’ predictions, but a few others also make list.  Renee Dutcher proved that her quarterfinal appearance in ’06 was no fluke, falling to Dean Allen in the Sweet 16 (and raising her world ranking to #5).  Kadi Pojeta finished second to Hinz in Group C, while Tony Olds just made to the afternoon as the 7th seed from Group D. Olds topped Pojeta in the first round of the championship session before falling to Alexander in the Sweet 16. Olds’ neighbor, Todd Byers, enjoyed his inaugural appearance at Worlds, knocking off last year’s runner-up Curtis McFall in Group D action and 2005 World Champ Jim Blair in the opening round of the afternoon. Byers’ day ended in a tough three-game back-and-forth match to Andy Frushour. Buddies Dan Renner and Tony Fuller snatched the 3 and 4 seeds from Group D, and both won one match in the afternoon before bailing in the Sweet 16. A semifinalist in 2005, Andy Kidle improved on his ’06 performance by finishing second in Group A and making the Sweet 16.

Dean Allen wasn’t the only M-baller to lose in the first rounds of the winners bracket, yet still make the afternoon session. Also making the long and very impressive journey all the way from the far side of the losers bracket were Kevin Gunns, Grant Wesson and Jo Kidle in Group A, Jeremy Foco in B, Rex Danely in Group C and Dan Renner in Group D.

Four M-ballers were oh-so-close to making the afternoon session, but lost the 7th seed playoff in their respective groups. Surely Carl Swan, Tony Bihn, Scott Clark and Paul Mountain lost some sleep Saturday night, and now have some added incentive for their off-season training regimen.

A few others went home disappointed. #1 world ranked Casey Frushour finished sixth in Group A, and was the first to fall to Dean Allen in the afternoon. But at least he made it to the afternoon session – others weren’t so lucky. #5 Curtis McFall and #6 Chuck Trinoskey failed to advance from Group D. #7 Joe Frushour couldn’t hold onto a 13-4 lead in the Group C winners bracket, and then lost a second game to Morrow keeping him out of the afternoon. And for the second year in a row, #11 Dan Kidle was in the middle of the Group of Death carnage. Last year Brent Morrow got him twice before the championship session, this year it was Papa John Kidle and Dean Allen taking him out.

Other newsworthy notes include…

  • John Kidle and Andi Osters scored the only reported “12 Monkeys” (putting all 4 Monkeyballs on the 3-Bar). Kidle used his to jump out to a 10-0 lead on Dean Allen before falling in the losers bracket finals. Osters used hers to beat Dan Renner in the Sweet 16.
  • Joining Osters, Dutcher, Hinz, Jo Kidle, and Pojeta as the female representatives in the afternoon was 2006 afternoon qualifier Chrissy Blair. Osters, Dutcher and Kidle also made the afternoon session in ’06.
  • Out of the 81 contestants, 21 failed to win a game. In contrast, Dean Allen’s game record on the day was 16-4, Osters 11-3, Alexander 12-7 and Morrow 12-6.
  • How many games were played on Saturday? By my math, 222.

When the dust settled, I think most would agree it was a great (but very hot!) day for Monkeyball. It was the deepest field ever, and it was quite an accomplishment to make it into the afternoon session. There were no softies in the final four – all of them certainly earned his/her way into the semis. And Dean Allen, the New York Yankees of Monkeyball (a good guy, but just wins way too damn much), is once again a deserved champion.

Finally, a special thanks go out to our hosts, Jim & Debbie Blair, and the unofficial planning committee of Joe & Becky Frushour, for all their behind-the-scenes work. And mad props also go out to Casey Frushour for another fine t-shirt and Tony Olds for hooking us up with the PA system. Finally, thanks to Emily for putting up with my non-stop M-ball talk for the last 6 months (is it too early to start talking about MB4?).

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