The finals of the NZ RPS Championship
took place last weekend - Sunday, 22 July, at The Bog Irish Bar in Manukau (South Auckland). I was there, and this is what happened...Venue
The Bog is an Irish-themed sports bar, pretty spacious. The stage was in a corner of the bar, well-placed for spectators to view the action. The organiser, Kool Hanz Luke, along with Simon Doull from The Rock FM radio station
(appropriate sponsors, no?) had the stage set up and ready for action in no time. Format
There were five heats - two players in each heat progressing through to the final stages, to meet the six regional winners. (Two of the regional winners didn't make it to the final, inexplicably passing up the chance for a trip to Canada.) Heat One
Before the first heat began, Simon Doull took on last year's winner, Fist of Steel, in an exhibition match. And Doull won - a good omen for Fist of Steel's fellow competitors, hoping to prevent him from reclaiming his trophy. In the heat itself, it was The Swollen Palm who proved unbeatable, dropping just one set on his course to victory.
This heat was also notable for how quickly the referee established the ground rules, and made it clear that he would stand for no nonsense. He refereed the entire event superbly, using his yellow and red cards judiciously but not over-zealously, and he gained the respect of all the players and spectators for his consistent, controlled performance.Heat Two
In this heat, your correspondent took to the stage as The Hand With No Name. Looking every bit a professional, I set out my stall early in my first-round match against Redbeard, with some smooth Papers early on, and then using my trademark Scissors Flip (Scissors thrown with a 180-degree wrist twist, so they're vertical but upside-down) to cut through Redbeard's Paper.
My next match was against Rachel Scissorhands, who proved true to her name and had won her first round match dangerously quickly. I'd noticed she had a slight tell on some of her Paper throws, so I based my game around a Rock-heavy, defensive approach, trusting myself to spot her Papers coming. Though it went to three sets after I was too trigger-happy with the Scissors in the second set, I won comfortably.
My final match was against Schneider. A New Zealand under-20 football (soccer) player, he could handle the big-match pressure and went a set up. I fought back, though, slipping in a well-timed palm-up Paper to tie things up at one set each, and went on to win the final set, and the heat, the winning throw coming at 1-1 in the final set, when my Rock blunted his Scissors.Heat Three
The third heat saw some inventive play from Hellmutt, last year's runner-up. He used distraction to his advantage, chanting "Ishkam Iskham Akvar!" to throw his opponents off their games. He also snuck in some suggestion techniques, for example drawing Scissors from his opponent by chanting, "Rock, Paper, Scissors!" Though later opponents were wise to that trick, Hellmutt was ready for that, and he did enough to get through to the finals, though Rachel Scissorhands, back for more after brushing up on her Paper throws, won the heat final. Heat Four
Fist of Steel had been struggling all afternoon, but finally found some form. He almost lost the semi-final to Redbeard, who had been engaging the crowd with his ref-baiting tactics, claiming to be on a quest to be given the most yellow cards possible without actually being disqualified. This heat saw an unknown player walk through to victory - Osama Bin Paper looked unflappable, and several players agreed that he was one to watch. Heat Five
The final heat, and the final chance to qualify for the finals. The added pressure stirred up some great action. In the first round, Redbeard and Don't Mess With Me Rach continued their banter from a previous heat, while Junior won against Lethal Leisha with some highly-suspicious late Paper throws.
The crowd's favourite, however, was clear: a middle-aged woman, the matriarch of an RPS-loving family, several of whom had also competed in other heats, and who had possibly the best stage name ever: she called herself Death Granny. With the whole crowd behind her, she stormed through to the final, knocking out Redbeard and Don't Mess With Me Rach in the process. Everyone expected her to win the final of the heat, against a guy who was only there to cheer on his son (Cam, who was the Christchurch regional winner), before getting talked into taking part. But beginner's luck was with Brucie, and he won a well-fought match against Death Granny. Finals - Round of 16
The heats were over, and after a break that gave players time to refresh themselves and their beer glasses, we were into the final stages. No more second chances. 16 players remained, and only one could win the title of New Zealand National RPS Champion, along with a trip to Canada for the World Championships.Fist of Fury vs Paper Cut
Fist of Fury had qualified through Heat One, while Paper Cut was the Auckland South regional winner. Although Paper Cut was yellow-carded for a stylish but illegal Paper (throwing with his right hand though he'd been priming with his left), he held his nerve to win the match.
SP RSSPxRSR - Fist of FuryRS RRSRxRSP
- Paper CutThe Swollen Palm vs Archer
Astonishingly, despite winning Heat One and looking to be in fine form, The Swollen Palm was nowhere to be seen when he was called up for his match against Archer. Was he suffering from stage fright? Had his palm swollen too much to play? Whatever the reason, he had lost his chance; Archer got a walk-through into the quarter-finals.
D/Q - The Swollen Palm
Bye - ArcherBobby Dazzler vs The Hand With No Name
I'd been chatting with Bobby Dazzler, the Tauranga Champ, earlier, and now I was playing against him. He was well into the spirit of the occasion, not only dressing the part, but having gone to the extent of having lighters and t-shirts printed with his image, and his slogan: "Bobby Dazzler - he's half man, half amazing!"
His slick palm-up Papers took the first set, but I fought back well to level things up at one set each, and then one point each in the deciding set. And that was where Bobby Dazzler's slick style won him the match - I picked him to try another of his cocky Paper throws, to win in style, but he met my Scissors with a solid Rock. Bobby Dazzler's double-switch switchback in the final set had earned him his victory, and my tournament was over.PP
- Bobby Dazzler
SSRPS - The Hand With No NameDrunken Master vs Schneider
For Drunken Master, the Gisbourne Champ, the tournament was all over after just one match. Scheider's decent form in the heats carried through to the finals, and he won in straight sets (though I don't have the throw-by-throw results).
? - Drunken Master
? - Schneider Rachel Scissorhands vs Cam
While Rachel Scissorhands had played well in the heats, no-one had seen Cam, the Christchurch champion play. His dad Brucie had won Heat Five, though, and Cam proved the proverb 'like father, like son'. He lost the first set while still finding his footing, but fought back with a determined performance to win the match.SPSR
PP PPSPS - Rachel Scissorhands
SPPS SS PPRRR
- CamHellmutt vs Radda-Fly
Radda-Fly continued the South Island's strong performance. The Dunedin Champion put out Hellmutt, last year's runner-up, in straight sets.
PRP SSRP - HellmuttPPS PSPS
- Radda-FlyFist of Steel vs Brucie
Last year's champion Fist of Steel showed he wasn't going to relinquish his title without a fight, and knocked out Brucie, who had nevertheless given a great performance for a first-time player. The long first set was the crucial point in the match, and had Brucie won that, things could have been different. PPPSPPSPS
- Fist of Steel
PSR - Brucie Osama Bin Paper vs Death Granny
The crowd's heroine, Death Granny, came up against the self-styled villain, Osama Bin Paper. Osama revelled in the role of the villain, and dispatched Death Granny with glee, after a hard-fought, see-saw match.
RSPS RPRSRR SRPS
- Osama Bin PaperRRPR
RSRPRS SSPP - Death GrannyQuarter-FinalsPaper Cut vs Archer
The Hamilton regional champ, after his bye in the previous round, beat the Auckland regional champ in straight sets to get through to the semi-finals.
RRSPRS SR - Paper CutPRSPRR RP
- ArcherBobby Dazzler vs Schneider
Bobby Dazzler's stylish play wasn't enough to carry him through to the semi-finals, with Schneider ready for Bobby's Rock on the final throw. Nevertheless, Bobby had engaged the crowd and entertained his fans. He will be back for more next year.
SP RSRR SRR - Bobby DazzlerRS
- SchneiderCam vs Radda-Fly
Radda-Fly was the only female left in the tournament, and went for a Scissors-heavy approach against Cam. It proved ineffective, and Cam from Christchurch claimed an easy victory. SSRS PR
SSSP RS - Radda-Fly Fist of Steel vs Osama Bin Paper
This was definitely the match of the round. A tension-filled, aggressively-fought affair, with the reigning champion fighting back from one set down, and from match point down, but then, finally, being killed off by Osama's brave and clinical Scissors. Now we knew that there would be a new champion in 2007.
PRSPP - Fist of SteelSS
- Osama Bin PaperSemi-FinalsArcher vs Schneider
Archer had only played one previous match that night, revealing little about his playing style, so Schneider didn't have much to work with. Archer looked in full control as he marched on to the final.RPSR RPSRR
SPRS SPSRS - SchneiderCam vs Osama Bin Paper
Osama had gained some crowd support with his performances so far, and was a local player, but Cam had the South Islanders in the crowd behind him, so support was fairly even. The match, too, was pretty even, but by the third set Cam had a good read on Osama, and knew where he was going (better than the CIA do, anyhow). In particular, Cam's Scissors were beautifully timed. He used them defensively at first, to stalemate and open up an opportunity for his winning Rocks and Papers, and then in the final set he switched stunningly to using his Scissors attackingly, and won when he sliced through Osama's desperate Paper.SRSPSR
SRSP - Osama Bin PaperGrand FinalCam vs Archer
So, the final was between the Christchurch champion and the Hamilton champion. Both had looked in great form in the finals, and the spectators expected it to be a close match. And so it was - close-fought, high-class action, and the crowd's excitement growing with every tension-filled stalemate or dramatic win. In the end, though, Cam upheld Christchurch's reputation as the RPS powerhouse of New Zealand. His double-bluff, throwing Scissors on the deciding point just like he did in the previous match, wrong-footed Archer, and New Zealand gained its National RPS Champion for 2007 - Cam from Christchurch
SSSRSR RPRR PSPR
RPSS PSRS PSR
PPP - Archer
More to come, but for now, congratulations again to Cam, the 2007 New Zealand RPS Champion!