Competition in the Tourist Trap Tournament kicked off today with the first round of the Art & Architecture regional. And what a day it was! There were lots of close ones, with a few upsets and a certain favorite still standing very tall indeed. Recaps below! And if you're just joining us, we suggest that you start from the beginning and also fill out your own bracket so as not to miss any of the thrilling action.
Mascots: Pharaohs v Fightin’ Pacifists
The young, upstart Fightin’ Pacifists seemed to have the upper hand in this match-up, but even their impressive size couldn’t match that of the Pharaohs. The pride of Giza simply outlasted their competitors, with their square-meets-triangle offense building a strong, enigmatic base that simply proved too hard to figure out.
The Parthenon (Athens) v Washington Monument (Washington, DC)
Mascots: Athenas v Georges
In a game with more post players than would seem possible, the Athenas seemed to have the power of the gods behind them, and also played with such teamwork and constant communication that it was almost like they invented the very idea of democracy. The Georges stood tall and proud, to be sure, and strived to emulate their Mediterranean competitors, but height and swagger were about all they had to offer—certainly no match for the Athenas’ box-and-actually-a-whole-lot-more-than-one defense.
Sydney Opera House (Australia) v Little Mermaid (Copenhagen)
Mascots: Avenging Arias v Almost-Humans
Oh, the heartbreak of the Almost-Humans! The almost-humanity! The plucky innocents moved beautifully but just couldn’t bring out the knives against the Avenging Arias of the Sydney Opera House, who had a few bold moves of their own. This one was over long before the fat lady sang. And the skinny tenor, too.
Sistine Chapel (Rome) v Edinburgh Castle (Scotland)
Mascots: Cherubic Cherubs v Mighty Tartan
Despite the pointers from their bearded, all-powerful boss, the Cherubic Cherubs fell down to earth hard against the Mighty Tartan, which withstood all sieges with a quiet grace. The Scots showed a fiercely renegade, independent spirit in their rebounding (and some impressive military tattoos, too).
Leaning Tower of Pisa (Italy) v Bilbao Guggenheim (Spain)
Mascots: Tipsy Engineers v Starchitects
It came down to a matter of form: the elegant rigidity of the Engineers and the free-flowing charisma of the Starchitects, who pulled off all kinds of show-stopping moves that left the crowd stunned, artistry in motion. The Engineers, meanwhile, were notably askew—a charming sort of haplessness, to be sure, but they might as well have been tilting at windmills.
Eiffel Tower (Paris) v Manneken-Pis (Brussels)
Mascots: 1889ers v Wee Whizzers
It goes without saying that the Wee Whizzers can dribble like no one else and also sport the finest uniforms around. But the 1889ers, like Napoleon before them, put up a hell of a fight, and the young Belgians surely felt like their climb to victory was one of 1,665 or more steps. Someone must have slipped some Château Barreyres into the French cooler, because by the end, they were as wild as the traffic at the Arc de Triomphe, while the Wee Whizzers’ arcs were on-target every single time.
Stonehenge (England) v Easter Island
Mascots: Ambling Druids v Furious Foreheads
The Ambling Druids seemed to have their timing off, as though they were not even half-ready for their big day in the sun. The Furious Foreheads’ blunt, lumbering style triumphed easily, their destiny written in stone.
Taj Mahal (India) v Merlions (Singapore)
Mascots: Marvelous Minarets v Spittin’ Harbormasters
The Spittin’ Harbormasters showed signs of life now and then, with the periodic burst of long-range excellence. But it was all gun and no run, and the Marvelous Minarets—resplendent in white and showcasing a dashing, even romantic style—offered a pointed rebuttal every time.
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Thanks for joining us, and we'll see you next time as the competition begins in the Culture (or Something) regional. Here's a preview. Who will win these match-ups? What will their mascots be? Make your predictions in the comments!