In this week’s highly anticipated Finals between a rookie squad (with a host of veteran duelers) Real Rhydin (1st seed) and Team Fist (2nd seed), we’re looking at a rematch of Week 5 where Real Rhydin celebrated a 27-16 victory over Team Fist. In that match, RRD won the Iron Fist (Tahlia vs. Darik, 5-3), Crutch (Eden vs. Matt, 5-3) and Anchor bouts (Jewel vs. Koy, 5-1) while TMF took the Push to narrowly avert the sweep (Hope vs. Blondie, 2-5).
In the Finals, we have several repeat matchups which ought to make for interesting and exciting fights! Without further ado, let’s look at the bout-by-bout breakdowns!
Jewell Ravenlock (PO) vs. Koyliak Van-Duran Simon (HV)
2017 Season Record: Jewell: 3-0; 6.00 PDPB / Koy: 3-2; 1.00 PDPB
Rank: Edge to Jewell who enters the match as a PowerHouse. Koy spent most of the season as a MiddleWeight before promoting to HeavyWeight late in the year.
Experience Factor: Koy. Lady Simon has 43 career bouts under her fashionable belt (32 regular, 4 playoff, 7 tournament) but Jewell’s still a veteran with 23 of her own (19 regular, 2 playoff, 2 tournament). Koy’s playoff record is 2-2, with a perfect shutout loss in the 2007 season and Jewell’s (1-1) with both bouts in the 2014 season. While Koy has a slight edge here, it’s not by much.
Intimidation Factor: Draw. Both duelers have middling IFL careers with negative PDPBs to their names (Jewell: 10-9, -0.05 PDPB / Koy: 14-18, -0.72 PDPB). Ten of Jewell’s career bouts have come in the Anchor where she’s 7-3 lifetime. Koy’s fought in the low bout nine times prior, with a 4-5 overall record. While Jewell certainly has season momentum om her side, neither fighter strongly outclasses the other.
Historical Factor: Edge to Jewell. These two have squared off once before in their careers, specifically Week 5 this season where, also in the Anchor bout, Jewell trounced Koy 5-1 in 8 rounds by mixing in timely defense with a flurry of kicks and narrowly missed out on a shutout victory.
Overall: A gut-check might say that Koy has the edge, but the data says Jewell’s favoured in this bout. Koy has won her last two bouts in a row but Jewell’s undefeated on the season and part of a team who hasn’t tasted anything but victory in the past seven weeks.
Final Score Prediction: 5-2 Jewell
Gren Blockman (MI) vs. Darik Warchild (PO)
2017 Season Record: Gren: 2-1; -1.00 PDPB / Darik: 3-2; 1.60 PDPB
Rank: The edge goes to Darik (PowerHouse) over Gren (MiddleWeight).
Experience Factor: Darik Warchild. Darik has 41 career bouts to his name (27 regular, 6 playoff, 8 tournament) while Gren has fewer than half that at 18 (15 regular, 2 playoff, 1 tournament). Darik’s fought in the playoffs six times (3-3) while Gren’s only post-season action came back in 2013 (1-1). Gren’s fought in the Crutch slot three times (1-2), including in Week 1 of this season where he lost 0-5 to Salvaldor Delahada. Darik has 11 Crutch bouts to his name (8-3). Although he’s only fought in this slot twice after the 2014 season, he’s won his last 6 Crutch bouts in a row.
Intimidation Factor: Darik Warchild. A former Kiowa Belt winner and with multiple championship trophies, Darik is 19-8 in his regular season career with a 2.19 PDPB. Ha has multiple 4-bout win streaks and two career-long 8-bout win streaks sandwiched between a PowerHouse Party loss in the 2015 season to his current team captain. Gren’s lone playoff bout ended with a Crutch loss to Tarl Cabot of Team Fist in 2013. Too, every one of Gren’s career wins have been 1-point victories (five 5-4, one 6-5) except for his 5-3 Anchor win over Juliane Smith in Week 4 of the 2013 season. As a final note, Gren has never won two bouts in a row in his entire career and at one point, had a 5-bout losing streak (Week Three 2014-Week Six 2015). Gren’s last bout? A 5-4 Push win over Dizzy Flores in Week 7.
Historical Factor: N/A. These two have never fought before. Both were on Team Fist during the 2014 and 2015 seasons and both had stints with the Badside Brawlers, though with no overlap.
Overall: Darik Warchild. Darik has more experience and a far superior overall career. To win this one, Gren needs to overcome history by netting his first ever win-streak while hoping that Darik, who’s not in the same fighting form he was when winning the Kiowa Belt, doesn’t have enough left in the tank after dueling in 7 of 8 possible weeks this season.
Final Score Prediction: 5-3 Darik
Hope (PO) vs. Blondie Eastwood (HV)
2017 Season Record: Hope: 3-1; 2.50 PDPB / Blondie: 4-1 3.00 PDPB
Rank: Hope, with a one-rank edge over Blondie.
Experience Factor: Draw. Blondie’s fought in the playoffs seven times (4-3) with a total of 26 career bouts (18 regular, 7 playoff, 1 tournament). Hope, who entered the league the same year as Blondie (2013), has fought in the post-season five times (1-4) with 29 career bouts (13 regular, 5 playoff, 6 tournament). Historical note: Blondie fought in the Push bout in the 2015 Finals as part of Dirty: Black against his former and now current squad, Team Fist, where he lost 3-5 to Darik Warchild.
Intimidation Factor: Very slight edge to Hope. Blondie was one of the favorites for MVP this season before he and his 4-0 record ran into Kenny Chae in Week 7 and suffered a shutout loss in the Iron Fist bout. Still, he has a 12-6 regular season record and a 2.06 PDPB while Hope is 14-4 in the regular season with a 3.33 PDPB. Hope’s had a 7-bout win streak (5-bouts outside of the PowerHouse Party tournament) while Blondie’s never won more than 4 in a row.
Historical Factor: Blondie. These two have only met once before, in Week 5 of this season, where Blonde defeated Hope 5-2 in the Push bout.
Overall: Draw. These two fighters entered the league in the same year and have had very similar successful careers, despite changing teams multiple times. Though Blondie defeated Hope earlier in the season, this pairing has the potential to be the match-decider. Make sure not to miss it!
Final Score Prediction: As with last year’s Push bout, I’m forced to hedge my bets. My gut tells me Hope takes this with a 5-3 score but I won’t be shocked if Blondie flips the script. If he does, it’ll be by a narrower margin, 5-4.
Eden Parker (MI) vs. Matthew Algiers Simon (PO)
2017 Season Record: Eden: 3-2; 1.00 PDPB / Matt: 3-1; 3.00 PDPB
Rank: Matt Simon (PowerHouse) over Eden (MiddleWeight).
Experience Factor: Matt Simon. Matt’s tied with his wife, Koyliak VanDuran-Simon, for most duels in league history at 43 (28 regular, 7 playoff, 8 tournament). This is Eden’s rookie season but she’s already fought 6 times (5 regular, 1 playoff).
Intimidation Factor: Matt Simon. Eden lost twice this season, mostly fighting in the Crutch but she did win her only Iron Fist bout 5-4 over Terry King in Week 7. (As a historical note, Terry King fought Matt Simon last year’s finals, in this very bout). She’s also sporting a career-high 2-bout win streak. Matt Simon’s regular season record is an unimpressive 12-16, -0.29 PDPB. In his career, especially in the heyday of his “Captain Futility” moniker, he’s lost 6 bouts in a row to go along with another 4-bout loss streak. His career-long win-streak is 5 bouts (8 if you include the 2015 PowerHouse Party where he lost in the finals to Jin Chae). However, Matt’s 5-2 in the playoffs, last losing to Kalamere, 4-5 in the 2013 season. Although he’s only fought in the Iron Fist bout six prior times in his career, he’s undefeated in the bout (6-0 overall, 3 wins in regular season, 3 wins in playoffs, including a 5-0 perfect shutout vs. Maria Graziano in the 2007 Quarterfinals). In addition, he broke the hearts of two lady-duelers this season and likely ruined the MVP chances for one of them – Claire Gallows and Jin Chae – both of whom were riding 4-bout win streaks before losing to the TMF captain (Claire, 4-5 loss Week 6 in the Push and JC, 4-5 loss in last week’s playoff match).
Historical Factor: Eden. These two fought in Week 5 where Eden beat Matt 5-3 in the Crutch, and did so in 5 rounds.
Overall: Matt Simon. Matt surprised me last year when he came away with the Iron Fist victory over Terry King in the Finals and led his team to an IFL championship. That being said, I don’t think he has it in him two years running. Though he ought to win this bout on paper, as they say, today’s paper lines tomorrow’s rubbish baskets.
Final Score Prediction: I’m calling the upset here. Eden beat Matt once before and she’ll do it again by the same score (5-3) or better.
Captain’s Lineup Decisions
Hope, and the entire Real Rhydin team, had to be salivating when the lineup was released. Three of the four pairings are repeats of Week 5’s matchup, where Real Rhydin defeated Team Fist 3-1. Hope had more flexibility in her lineup (7 fighters on her roster compared to just 5 on TMF). Though the chances of her fielding Kate Turner (2017: 0-3, -5.33 PDPB; Lifetime: 1-6, -3.86 PDPB) were slim to none, the two others on the bench this week could easily have fought. It would have been highly interesting to see Kheldar Drasinia (2-1, 3.00 PDPB), who won a championship with Team Fist last season, square off against his former team. Tahlia Faris (2-1, 3.33 PDPB) – who’s fought in the Iron Fist bout 3 times in this, her rookie season and come away with 3 wins including in last week’s playoff match – would also have been a solid choice. If Real Rhydin somehow loses the Finals, it might come down to these two being on the bench while Gren Blockman took an active roster spot.
On the other side, Matt Simon likely wasn’t too pleased with how the lineup sorted out. He may have been hoping (no pun intended) that Hope didn’t expect him in the Iron Fist two weeks in a row. Matt’s use of Darik and Blondie was a no-brainer, though one of them should have been in the Iron Fist. The last spot was a tossup between Koy and Dean. Both had 3-2 records and only a .80 PDPB difference. Koy got the nod this week, perhaps because Dean fought last week. If Koy can’t improve her earlier-season performance against Jewell and if Matt does best Eden, the Anchor bout could be where Team Fist loses the overall match.
These teams are pretty evenly matched coming into the Finals, but Real Rhydin has a ton of momentum and in fact, their only loss on the season was a single-point 22-23 match loss to Deathcake back in Week 1. A solid mix of rookies and veterans has Real Rhydin fans believing in a first-season championship while Team Fist Nation hopes and prays that the dueling gods favour them, however unlikely, one more time. No matter what happens, we have 4 prime-time bouts remaining in the season (starting tonight!) and I’m excited to see how they play out! See you in the Garden!
Predicted Match Score: 29-16 RRD