The Twelfth Crush bonspiel is less than 24 hours away. Is everybody ready to take over Skatetown for the holiday weekend? Here are some things to look out for:
Forty Teams. For the second year in a row, we’ve maxed out at a full forty teams. That means we will be using all five sheets in every single draw. We’ll be starting super early, 7:00 in the morning, and playing into the wee hours of the night, an 11:45 PM draw that goes on until 2:00 AM. And at least one (un)lucky team will have to play at BOTH 7:00 AM and 11:45 PM on Saturday. If you don’t want that to be you, make sure you avoid the dreaded C Bracket.
Wide Open. Darren Moulding couldn’t make it back to Northern California this weekend, meaning that the two-time defending team Don Pilar won’t be back for the Three-peat. In fact, three of Don Pilar’s members are missing this year, with only Evan Tudor Elliott having a chance to repeat a name on the trophy. Regardless, there will be at least three new names getting engraved this year.
Some of the early favorites include Eagle Rock, which took a hit when Jessica Schultz had to drop out a few days ago but are still formidable with Charles Taggart and the Gamboas leading the way. Speaking of Charleses, Charles Funk is teaming up with Bob Kuhl, and more importantly, making Bob sweep, on the Landsharks team. Of course, former World Champion Edie Hazard will be representing Lake Tahoe Epic Curling. And there are four teams featuring Canadians, two featuring Four Seasons curlers, and another two from Potomac.
Pool Play. Every team has been placed in a pool with three other teams. The first three games will determine the placing in the pool. The pools are varied by location and it looks like there is no “Pool of Death.” In fact, many of the pools can be won by any of the four teams, and there will be some exciting matchups long before we get to the knockout stage.
-Former Crush champion Billy Wicks and his fellow Canadians will be taking on Eric and Edie Hazard at 5:00 Friday on Sheet 1.
-Funk’s first matchup will be against a team of Candians. One of those two will have the inside track to win the Grenache Pool.
-If you want to see what the drama of a Board meeting is like, watch Sheet 3 at 9:15 PM as President Katie Feldman takes on Treasurer Camren Spangler. The rest of that pool features bonspiel regulars Brandon Wolf and Steve Schaffer, plus Tony Del Porto and Monica Hernandez playing with Scott Walker.
-The Merlot Pool is the only All-NorCal pool, with one Silicon Valley team, one Wine Country team, and two team mish-mashing all three “local” clubs.
-Charles Taggart and the Gamboas will get tested early with games against both Jeremy Malerich and Mikkel Jensen.
-And don’t forget about 3 Sticks & a Chic, the MoPac Junior team coming off of a successful run at the Junior Nationals
Playoffs: After pool play is over, all of the teams will be seeded 1-40 and divided up into three playoff brackets, with the first playoff games starting at 5:00 PM Saturday.
The top 16 seeds (all ten pool winners plus the six best second-place teams based on a series of tiebreakers) will face off in the A Bracket, the winner of which is designated the overall Crush winner.
The next 16 seeds will go into the B Bracket. This will include the remaining four 2nd-place teams, all of the 3rd-place teams, and the two best 4th-place teams. In many cases, those 4th-place teams are 1-2 and only lost their pool on a tiebreaker. Or an 0-3 team with really, rally good draws to the button.
A and B bracket playoffs will be spread across three timeslots Saturday evening. Every attempt will be made to ensure that teams who played early Saturday get to play early again, and that teams just getting off the ice won’t have to go right back out. That being said, if a 7:00 AM team gets pitted against a 1:45 PM team, we will generally give precedence to the higher seed.
The remaining eight teams aren’t out of it, either. The good news is that they will be placed into the C Bracket, where they will be playing against many of the other teams in the tournament who have yet to hit their stride. The bad news with C Bracket is that the first round of their playoffs are in the dreaded 11:45 PM draw.
Goal One: Make it to Sunday. All you have to do to accomplish Bonspiel Goal #1 is to win your first playoff game, whether its the C Bracket quarterfinals at midnight or the round of 16 matchup in the other two brackets.
There will be four draws on Sunday. A Bracket will start off with their Quarterfinals at 7:00 before getting a couple hours off to rest before back-to-back semifinals and finals. B Bracket gets to sleep in a little bit, but then will have to play three straight games, at 9:15, 11:30, and 1:45. C Bracket semifinals will be split, with one occurring at 9:15 and another at 11:30.
And don’t forget the Travolta Cup. One other way to play on Sunday is to be eliminated on Saturday. Individual players who feel like they have a little bit more gas in the tank can enter their name into the Travolta Cup. Eight random curlers will be picked and they will get to play during the finals at 1:45 to get their name on the most glorious trophy in all of organized sport!
Off Ice. Most of the usual shenanigans will be waiting for you. Snacks, beer, baskets, and raffles. Bid early, buy often!
On Saturday night, we will be providing Chinese food for the banquet. The banquet will run during the first two playoff draws.
We’ll have other games set up. Cornhole outside, as it’s set to be a beautiful weather, assuming you’re from the Valley. For everybody else, it’ll be hotter than the face of the sun. Crokinole will be set up inside. And who knows, there might even be a Cards Against Humanity box sneaking around undercover.
It’s set to be a great weekend, y’all! See you soon!