After 63 game recaps and more than 300 puns (and perhaps five good puns), the Tourist Trap Tournament comes to a close with the Final Fjord Plus Three More.
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Fjords v Las Vegas
Mascots: Haddock v Sinners
After a long run of flash and
swagger, the Sinners made all kinds of questionable decisions, basically rolling
right over and submitting to their Norwegian foes; there’s no doubt they were
out partying a bit too hard these last few days, because they sure looked
washed-out, as the Haddock darted around with ease. Some commentators have
voiced suspicions that the Sinners were betting against themselves, but the
reality is that the Haddock were simply the better team, with a positively
oceanic gap between the teams in terms of endurance and general clean living.
Running of the Bulls v Easter Island
Mascots: Stampeding Hemingways v
The Stampeding Hemingways often
have their ups and downs--they may get knocked down, but make no mistake, the
Run also rises. The Furious Foreheads never found the upper hand, and seemed weighed
down by a mental block. The Stampeding Hemingways move on, as war-proven
veterans, making for an intriguing final match-up against the Fjords: The Old
Men and the North Sea.
* * *
Thanks so much to all the fans
on the blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook. These two teams wouldn’t have gotten
this far without you--the Fjords had a particularly strong base of supporters
who most certainly nudged them forward.
Let’s look at the match-up:
Running of the Bulls:
Strengths: Brute force,
killer instincts, famous fans, and man
can they run.
Weaknesses: Easily distracted by the color red, frequently called
for charging, not a ton of finesse.
Strengths: Long reach, incredible history, rock-solid foundation,
stoic endurance beyond compare, utter charm, ability to get out of tight spots.
Weaknesses: Slow-moving, stuck in their ways.
Final result: Running of the
(After--by my count--more than 300 puns, I’m fresh out right now, so no
extended recap. Maybe later!)
Once again, some fierce competition in the Tourist Trap Tournament, as the Most Excellent Eight battled it out:
Art & Architecture final: Pyramids at Giza v Easter Island
Mascots: Pharaohs v Furious
With their dueling long-standing traditions
and chiseled physiques, these two teams were closely matched. The Furious
Foreheads finally found their legs at the end, while the Pharaohs lived up to
their reputation of slowing down, looking petrified out there and, at best,
merely walking like Egyptians, and leaving the crowd tut-tutting .
Culture (or Something) final: Running of the Bulls v Forbidden
Mascots: Stampeding Hemingways v
The Forbidden City was strong,
no question, ruling the court and showing off the philosophies of their famous
playbook, Classic of Rites. But in an
amazing race-to-the-end finish, the Stampeding Hemingways narrowly beat the
horn, ending the Dynasties’ long run.
The Natural World final: Norway’s Fjords v Maasai Mara
Mascots: Haddock v Big Cats
This was a wild one, with raw
natural talent on full display, with breathtaking shots all over the place, shutters
clicking everywhere. The Scandinavians’ chilly, stoic might won the day,
getting out of many a tight spot.
Cities & Squares & Markets final: Las Vegas v Dubai
Mascots: Sinners v Shiny New
These two teams entered the
competition with outsized reputations for swagger and excess and more than a
bit of trouble in their backgrounds—and a hope for redemption. The Sinners’
strong suits: sprawling reach, a willingness to take chances, and a reputation
for conjuring big-time magic. The Shiny New Stuff’s key strengths: boldness and
ambition like no other, style somewhat less profane than the Sinners’ ways, and
an array of innovative ways of doing things. Ultimately, the numbers simply
favored the Sinners and their decades of experience in the game.
Round 3 begins with sixteen competitors--that's the Supreme Sixteen to you (because, trademarks)--and ends with a Most Excellent Eight. All the recaps below! And if you're just joining us, you can relive all the excitement, game by game, round by round, over at Tourist Trap Tourney Central.
The current bracket! Click for full size.
Pyramids at Giza v Sydney Opera House
Mascots: Pharaohs v Avenging
The crowd-pleasing Avenging
Arias soared early once again, but came out flat after the intermission, their
long run ending on a bad note. The Pharaohs, meanwhile, had their day in the
sun, with an epic Ra-Ra-Ra spirit—they’re gods now.
Manneken-Pis v Easter Island
Mascots: Wee Whizzers v Furious
Purists may cry foul over the
Wee Whizzers’ style, but there’s no question that the little lads of Brussels
have their eyes on the prize, Number 1 in their sights. Problem is, they’re
atrocious at long range. And though some teams get distracted by the Wee
Whizzers’ antics, no one keeps a stiff upper lip like the Furious Foreheads,
the enigmas of the islands, the face of Pacific exceptionalism, long a regional
secret but quickly becoming world-famous, and rightly so.
Running of the Bulls v Oktoberfest
Mascots: Stampeding Hemingways v
You have never seen such a
chaotic bloodbath. The Drunks finally stumbled—and how. They could barely keep
upright, their communication was off, and everything they threw up was awful, a
case study in what not to do. The Stampeding Hemingways ran right through their
opponents, showing no hint of mercy. They’ve taken a circuitous path to get
this far, but they’re in the home stretch now—the question is, Can anyone stop
Hagia Sophia v Forbidden City
Mascots: Mosaics v Dynasties
It was a classic showing by the
Mosaics: unquestionably stylish, but mighty complicated. If there’s one knock
against them, it’s that they’re the very definition of Byzantine. They sure
looked it against the Forbidden City and their renowned guards and penchant for
order—in the Dynasties’ hands, the venue became a Hall of Supreme Harmony,
Lake Atitlan v Fjords
Mascots: Holistics v Haddock
The magic finally wore off for
the Holistics of Lake Atitlan, its famous towering threesome all but dormant
while the Haddock made waves with their outlet passes and world-class spread.
Maasai Mara v Petra
Mascots: Big Cats v Obodas
The pride of Kenya pounced
again, with the Big Cats working their Mara Triangle offense to great effect,
thanks to their Big Five. The Obodas showed off with some Siq moves, but it
Great Wall of China v Las Vegas
Mascots: Earth Dragons v Sinners
Nobody puts on a show like the
Sinners, proof that with cash comes flash—and a reputation for offensive
powers. So it was an incredibly close contest with the Earth Dragons and their
famed defense, until the Great Wall showed some gaps and lapses, and the luck
ran out, as always seems to happen against the Sinners.
Times Square v Dubai
Mascots: Bright Lights v Shiny
With famous cheerleaders like
Frank Sinatra and Jay-Z, the Bright Lights are big-city ballers with pedigree,
and were their usual impressively frenetic selves, with ceaseless action in the
lane. But in this showdown of two decidedly unsubtle competitors, the Bright Lights
hit a roadblock in the form of the Shiny New Stuff and its dizzying excess—all
height and go-for-broke style—led by its famed “seven-star” all-star.
* * *
That leaves us with eight teams, with the regional finals coming up next. Make your picks in the comments!
Sure, the Tourist Trap Tournament proceeds at a slower pace than its basketball-centric imitator, but travel just plain takes longer than tossing a plaything around little ol' room. In any case, Round 2 has just finished up, and here's where things stand, with recaps from the Cities & Squares & Markets Regional below.
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Great Wall of China v Piazza San Marco
Mascots: Earth Dragons v
The Earth Dragons have had their
ups and downs, but their talent stretches clear to the horizon—and it doesn’t hurt
that they’ve recently acquired a famous fan in First Lady Michelle Obama. If only
they could get over their tendency to put up bricks over and over again, as
they did on this occasion. No matter, though--the Earth Dragons slowly found their footing and eked out a victory over the Gondoliers, whose smooth strokes (and
snazzy outfits) weren't quite enough.
Las Vegas v Red Square
Mascots: Sinners v Embalmed
As the Embalmed Lenins learned
all too well, the Sinners are a tough team to read. Cool and calculating, they know when to hold 'em, know when to
fold 'em; they know when to walk away and know when to run. The Embalmed
Lenins were left lying lifeless, seeing tsars.
Angkor Wat v Times Square
Mascots: Dancin’ Asparas v
The real American Hustle? That would
be Bright Lights, known for their skill and flash. The Dancin’ Asaparas were
their usual splendorous selves, all timeless elegance, but they we no match for
Times Square, who last night shot the lights out for an hour. [Topical! -Ed.]
Dubai v Machu Picchu
Mascots: Shiny New Stuff v
Known for their sheer height and
innovative formations, the Shiny New Stuff are establishing a wide gulf between
themselves and their challengers (although there are also quite a few whispers
of scandal behind their sudden rise). The
Altitudinous Alpacas remained a mystery, Inca-trailing the whole way.
After a pep talk by superfan
Aldous Huxley, the Holistics erupted stunningly, continuing their improbable
run and leaving the Naipís utterly drained. The oft-overlooked Holistics are quickly
turning into cult favorites to usher in a new age in this competition.
Great Barrier Reef v Fjords
Mascots: Bombastic Coral v
The Bombastic Coral had the crowd support from all their swimmer friends--the whole school, in fact, but the tide was simply stronger for the Fjords. The Haddock were efficient [say it out loud … -Ed.] in their efforts, and impressed with their skerry guards.
Copacabana v Maasai Mara
Mascots: Tan Lines v Big Cats
The Big Cats came in with something
to prove to the world—namely, that despite their internal rifts and reputation
for spottiness, they’re still the pride of the Africa, and prey to no one, certainly
not the oh-so-vain Tan Lines. The result: a thorough Brazilian waxing. [Yup. -Ed.]
Petra v Grand Canyon
Mascots: Obodas v John Wesley
The rugged Americans entered
this match-up as heavy favorites, and they quickly showed why, as they ran wild
with their dapper, speedy starting line-up—nicknamed the Class Five Rapids. The
Obodas had impressive staying power, but were slowly worn down and left, as one
commentator put it, “rose-red as if the blush of dawn.”
Perhaps the sequined outfits were a bad idea for the Gyrating Hips, who faded fast, their early vigor giving way to something more melancholy and bloated, a desperation that said “Don’t be cruel.” To which the Stampeding Hemingways taunted, “A little less conversation, a little more action,” and showed the way with a terse, urgent, no-frills style that nonetheless captivated the crowds—a noble effort, indeed.
Oktoberfest v Terracotta Warriors
Mascots: Drunks v Mount Li Legends
The party’s only just begun for the pride of Munich. Against all expectations, the Drunks stumbled to victory, unfazed by the Mount Li Legends’ seeming ability to be everywhere, all the time—perhaps the Drunks are simply used to overwhelming numbers due to their tendency toward seeing double, or triple (and, anyway, their Party Zone defense negates any concern about man-to-terracotta-man coverage).
Blarney Stone v Hagia Sophia
Mascots: Kissers v Mosaics
The Kissers are a one-trick team, but what a crowd-pleasing trick it is. They found their sweet spot again and again against the Mosaics—who seemed like they were having a bit of an identity crisis about how their very foundational identity, and could be seen raising their hands to the heavens for guidance.
Wall Drug v Forbidden City
Mascots: Jackalopes v Dynasties
In a classic showdown between East and Old West, the Dynasties were the emperors of the court, using some 8,886 box-out moves to keep the Jackalopes at bay. The South Dakotans looked flat-footed and lethargic, causing many fans to yell, “Why not rush more?!”