Photos courtesy of Bryan Jones.
ALANSON, Mich. — Phil Dickinson’s Great Lakes Kubb Stadium hosted its third annual Great Lakes 1v1 Kubb Tournament on Saturday, April 28. Every year since its inception, the 1v1 has continued to draw players into Northern Michigan from outside of the Mitten State. Because of this, Phil changed the name of his tournament from the Michigan 1v1 to the Great Lakes 1v1 Kubb Tournament. Eighteen players from three states—Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin—were competing.
It was a sunny, yet cold morning in Alanson with temperatures starting at 32 degrees that warmed into the mid-40s by the championship game. Players competed in eight rounds of the Klassic system and then the top eight players would be seeded into the championship bracket. Players that finished ninth through sixteenth would be placed into a consolation bracket. All matches in the playoffs and consolation were a best-of-three format.
The morning qualifying rounds were highly competitive and evenly matched. With each passing year the skill level and competitiveness of the Michigan kubb players continues to make progress. In past years, players coming from outside the area were not challenged for the top spots in the standings. During qualifying this year, many of the elite players were fighting off or losing tough, competitive, and intense competition. At the end of the qualifying rounds, there were no undefeated players. J.R. Hrejsa used the morning qualifying rounds to prove he no longer is an up-and-coming player, but is an elite player. He was undefeated until he ran into a buzzsaw named Matt Erdman. After eight rounds the championship bracket was set and seeded as follows;
The quarter finals went to the higher seeds, but had several highlights. J.R. Hrejsa lost only his second game of the day in his matchup with eighth seeded Will Dickinson, but J.R. won the match by taking game three decisively. Joe Hrejsa and Phil Dickinson eliminated Tyler Wood and Cody Glorioso 2-0 in their respective matches.
In the four versus five seed quarterfinal matchup, it was an all Chaska battle of John Oman vs Matt Erdman. Game one started innocent enough as both men would trade one base kubb apiece in the early turns. After a few rounds of taking too many batons to clear the pile and not consistent enough 8 meter shots, Oman would take game one. He would efficiently clear the pile, the two baselines, and still have a baton for the king. Oman started game two 0-2 on eight-meter shots and Erdman would use that opening to get a big advantage, going 3-4 on his four-baton opening turn. From there, it was an uphill battle for Oman, as he played well but not efficient enough to get sufficient baselines into the game for more turns. Erdman would take game two and the match would head to the decisive game three. In game three, both men would trade baseline kubbs in the early turns. Neither took a big lead as they efficiently went through their groups but battled the cold breeze that gave many competitors trouble with their 8 meter shots. Oman had the first breakthrough as he had a great group of six kubbs lined up down the sidelines, making short work with his blasting with three batons. He then could clear the last two base kubbs with his last three batons. Matt would respond with his own great group of eight kubbs, clearing it with three batons, and then cleared his final two baseline kubbs with his last three batons. With 10 in play, both men came together and acknowledged just how entertaining this third game had become. John would then group his 10 kubbs along the left sideline and blast them all down with two batons. He then would slay the king and win the game and the match.
In the first semi-final, number three seed Dickinson would defeat number two seed Joe Hrejsa 0-2. In the second semi-final the number one seed J.R. Hrejsa would battle number four seed Oman. In game one, Oman would take advantage of a slow start by J.R. by jumping up to a two baseline kubb advantage. However, J.R. would come storming back with a great group of four that he easily blasted down with one baton, and then cleared three of the four remaining baseline kubbs. Not to be outdone, Oman would blast his group of seven kubbs down with his first three batons and clear the remaining two baseline kubbs with his last three batons. Knowing this was likely his last turn to win the game, J.R. would clear his group, but could not take out the last baseline kubb in his turn. Oman then went on to clear the group of nine kubbs with four batons and slay the king to take game one.
Needing a hot start, J.R. began game two with a two-for-two on 8 meter shots. Oman would respond by clearing the group of two with one baton and clearing three baseline kubbs in his four baton response. As things escalated quickly, J.R.’s groups became just a little too inconsistent and he would have to use too many batons to clear the looser pile instead of going after more baseline kubbs. Oman would take full advantage in his next turn, taking out his two remaining baseline kubbs. J.R. was able to clear the group of seven, but was unable to take out any remaining baseline kubbs on his turn. Seizing the moment, Oman would take out his group of seven and slay the king for a two game victory over J.R. and head to the finals.
The finals between Dickinson and Oman were streamed live on Facebook, and saw Oman defeating Dickinson in three games. Oman would win game one but jumping out to a three baseline kubb lead on his first turn after Dickinson went 0-2 on his opening tosses. Dickinson would spend his next two turns trying to get back into the game, but by the time he had eliminated three baseline kubbs, Oman had won game number one.
In game two, the finalists would trade one kubb leads over the first few turns. The table was turned when Oman went cold for one round on 8 meter shots. Dickinson was able to clear his group of three kubbs with his first three throws, however, with his third baton he knocked down the last field kubb and pushed it 3.5 meters backward and into a baseline kubb for a field to baseline kubb double! He would ride that momentum by clearing the last two baseline kubbs and slaying the king to win game two!
Oman got out to a two baseline kubb lead in game three, taking advantage of a rare time when Dickinson went 0-2 on his opening tosses. Finding himself trailing early, Dickinson took only one baton to clear the group, and was able to tie it up by eliminating two baseline kubbs. On his next turn, Oman would run into a roadblock and while he had several close misses and bad luck bounces, he could not remove any more baseline kubbs. Dickinson took advantage of this, clearing the group with two batons and then eliminating two of the last three baseline kubbs. He was clearly agitated by his two 8 meter misses, believing those misses might come back to haunt him. Not to be outdone, Oman returned the favor by clearing his group and two of the last three baseline kubbs. On his last baton, he would strike the remaining baseline kubb firmly, but it only turned the kubb as it did not go down. Dickinson would now inkast eight kubbs into play, however he had two tough luck rethrows that skipped away from the pile. Dickinson blasted the front of the pile, knocking down all but the back two kubbs and one kubb standing in front of them. With three batons left, everyone in attendance thought they stood no chance against him. His fourth baton crashed into the deadwood in front, knocking down one field kubb but the kubb and baton did not crash backward as he intending. This would leave only two batons left with two field kubbs left to clear. With his fifth baton, Dickinson was trying to clear both remaining kubbs that were lined up, but the baton caught the kubb on the ground in front of his intended target and it bounced away, resulting in no new field kubbs being toppled. Down to his last baton, Dickinson needed to go for the double. His last baton would strike the first field kubb exactly where he need, but he only got a knockerhead—it wobbled, but did not go down. The baton carried backwards, missing the second field kubb, and then crashing into the baseline kubb but only resulted in a second knockerhead. Such an incredibly accurate shot should have better results, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Oman would take the short porch, clear his group with precision, and slay the king to claim the Great Lakes 1v1 title.
During the lunch break, the players competed in the king-slaying competition. All competitors have two throws each round to knock down the king. The first round is a standard king shot, but then is moved three baton lengths back per round. If you miss with both batons, you are eliminated. Bryan Jones would outlast Matt Erdman several rounds past the 8 meter mark to win the Kingslayer Trophy.
Congratulations to all of the competitors on a well played weekend of kubb.
Watch matches on YouTube
A playlist of various matches at the Great Lakes 1v1