ALANSON, Mich. — Northern Michigan hosted its fourth annual Great Lakes 1v1 Kubb Championship on Saturday, April 27. The event was once again held at Phil Dickinson’s family farm, and players withstood a cold and windy morning. Temperatures started below freezing but warmed into the lower 40s with the help of the passing sunshine. Winds gusted and changed directions throughout the day, making for some challenging conditions for 8 meter play. Ten players from two states (Michigan and Minnesota) played in a morning round robin to determine the seeding for an eight player championship bracket. The bottom two players would play for the consolation championship. Matches in the round robin were best of one game, 25 minute matches. Matches in the playoffs were a best-of-three format with no time limits.
The morning qualifying rounds were highly competitive and featured several matches that went to time. Accelerated finishes were utilized in this tournament to keep from ties becoming a factor in seeding. Matches that used an accelerated finish to determine the outcomes were John Oman versus Jesse Fraim, Paul Knutson versus Joe Hrejsa, and Will Dickinson versus Mark Weaver. After all competitors played each other, the seedings for the championship bracket were set.
- John Oman (9-0)
- Phil Dickinson (7-2)
- J.R. Hrejsa (7-2)
- Paul Knutson (6-3)
- Jesse Fraim (5-4)
- Will Dickinson (4-5)
- Joe Hrejsa (4-5)
- Mark Weaver (1-8)
Tiebreakers went to the head-to-head winner. Weaver won the eighth seed after a three-way throw off between the 1-8 records.
The quarter-finals went to the higher seeds, but had several highlights. Knutson and Fraim went to three games in their four versus five seed matchup. Game one was controlled easily by Fraim, while Knutson controlled game two. The third game was evenly played with both competitors trading a one baseline advantage back and forth for the first few turns. Jesse had one turn where he eliminated the field kubbs with only two batons, but was unable to connect with any of his 8 meter shots. This was the misstep Paul needed to take control of the decisive third game and win the match. The remaining quarter-final matchups were all won with the higher seeded player winning two games to zero.
In the first semi-final, there appeared to be a changing of the guard inside the Great Lakes Kubb Club. Phil Dickinson, no matter what he is seeded during qualifying, usually finds his way into the finals of all the Alanson tournaments. J.R. Hrejsa was playing outstanding kubb all day long, as he only lost to Oman and Phil Dickinson in the qualifying rounds. Last year, J.R. Hrejsa ended the qualifying rounds as the number one seed overall, but would lose to Oman in the quarter-finals. This year, he was on a mission to knock Phil Dickinson off the top of the rankings of the Great Lakes Kubb Club. He would find himself taking on his old nemesis within the club, the number two seed Phil Dickinson. J.R. Hrejsa would be go on to defeat his clubmate two games to one.
In the second semi-final, the number one seed Oman would battle number four seed Knutson in an all Chaska Kubb battle. In game one, Knutson would start one of two on the opening turn. Oman would utilize all four of his return by clearing the single field kubb and going three-for-three on his 8 meter shots. Suddenly, with four kubbs in play, Knutson could feel the pressure. While he skillfully cleared the field kubbs with ease, he could not connect with any 8 meter shots on his second turn. Oman would seize the opportunity to clear the pile and the remaining two baseline kubbs. However, Knutson was saved on his turn as Oman did not have any batons left to slay the king. Knutson would clear one additional baseline kubb on his next turn, but it was not enough to overcome the buzzsaw named John Oman on his next turn. Oman used four batons to clear a group of seven field kubbs and then slayed the king to take game one.
In game two, Oman would start his first turn 50 percent on 8 meter throws. Knutson would clear the single field kubb and connect with one 8 meter throw on his return. After Oman was only able to eliminate one additional baseline kubb on his turn, Knutson had a great turn of eliminating the group of three field kubbs with one baton, followed by connecting with three of his five baseline shots. His last baton connected with the last remaining baseline kubb, it twisted, tipped, but did not go down. It returned back to its footprint leaving both men stunned that it did not fall. Oman would return to form and eliminate the field kubb group in three batons and connect with two more baseline kubbs to bring game two to eight kubbs in play. Knutson’s next group had two stragglers, which caused him to use five batons to clear, leaving him just short of the red zone. He would eliminate the last baseline kubb but not have a baton left for the king. Oman would throw a very tight pile on his inkast, while also earning a neighbor by getting one kubb to stay elevated on top of the other kubbs. Oman would place the award in the pile to tighten it even further, clear all but a couple field kubbs with his first blast. When cleaning up the remaining stragglers, he was able to get his baton to ricochet back to the baseline and take out both the last remaining field kubb and the last baseline kubb. He would use his fifth baton to slay the king and win the match two games to none.
The finals between John Oman and J.R. Hrejsa were streamed live on Facebook. For the king toss, Hrejsa hit the king but Oman chose side instead of choosing to throw first. The gamble to take the wind paid off as Hrejsa started the first turn going 0 for 2 on 8 meter shots. Oman returned by going three for four on 8 meter shots. Hrejsa grouped three kubbs and took it out with one shot. He then added three baselines of his own. Now with a tie game, Oman started to feel a bit of pressure from the young buck. He grouped a tight pile of five kubbs, but did have one punishment kubb. Oman cleared the pile using four batons and used his other two batons to clear the punishment kubb. With momentum now on his side, Hrejsa skillfully grouped six kubbs, but they were spread out a little more than he would’ve like between the basket and the king. Because of this, it takes Hrejsa four batons to clear the pile. He did a tremendous job of clearing the last two remaining baseline kubbs with his last two batons. However, he did not have a baton remaining to take a king shot. Facing a certain loss on the next turn, Oman put a tremendous group of eight kubbs together and demolished it using his first two batons. He cleaned up the last remaining field kubb with his third baton, almost pushing the kubb back into the baseline. Now with three batons left, Oman is in the red zone. He took care of both remaining baseline kubbs with his familiar forward rotate shots and then slayed the king to steal game one from Hrejsa.
Oman would continue his hot hand at 8 meter shots by starting game two with two successful baseline shots. Hrejsa would eliminate both field kubbs quickly with his first baton and then tie the game up by connecting with two baseline kubb shots of his own. Both players ran into blasting trouble as Oman stalled out on his next turn, taking all six batons to clear the pile of four. Hrejsa returned the favor by taking five batons to clear the same four kubb pile and miss on his only 8 meter shot on his turn. With no harm done, Oman would settle back in and clear his next group with three batons but only clear one more baseline kubb. Also of note, Oman called himself on an illegal 8 meter throw during this turn. Hrejsa used four batons to clear his next pile and connect with his last baton to tie the gam with six in play (two baseline kubbs remaining for both players). Oman put together his best group of the game, plastering the corner basket with a tight pile. It did take three batons to clear because of a tough luck blast, but Oman went on to clear both remaining baseline kubbs. This would be the same situation Hrejsa put Oman in during game one. Hrejsa would now be the one with his back against the wall, knowing that if he didn’t win on this turn that Oman would more than likely win on his next turn, and win the championship. Hrejsa had a terrific pile of field kubbs in response to this pressure and successfully clear seven of the eight kubbs with his first blast. His second baton would clean up the last remaining field kubb and batons three and four took out the last two remaining baseline kubbs. Hrejsa slayed the king with baton number five and won the game with a baton still in his back pocket.
The championship would come down to game three and Hrejsa had the open. Unfortunately, he went go zero-for-two, while Oman would go four-for-four on his return and take a commanding lead he never relinquished. Hrejsa placed a great group of four, blasted it down with three batons, and cleared two baselines on his first turn to put the pressure back on to Oman to finish the game. Oman cleared his group of six with three batons and was firmly in the red zone. He missed with his fourth and fifth batons at the last baseline kubb, but the sixth baton nudged, wiggled, and then dropped the last baseline kubb. Hrejsa had one more round to try to repeat his game two magic and steal the championship. He would threw a good group of six, but with one straggler that would cost him an additional baton to clear. Hrejsa cleared the pile with four batons and grabbed one additional baseline, but it proved to not be enough. Oman took his time, expertly throwing in his eight field kubbs, and surgically dissecting a less than perfect group using five batons. He had his last baton to slay the last king of the day and become the second back-to-back Great Lakes 1v1 Champion (Chad Beavers being the other back-to-back champion).
Third place went to Dickinson as he defeated Knutson 2-0.
Kast and Blast
New to the event this year was the Kast and Blast competition that the players participated in during the lunch break. Parts of this were streamed live on Facebook for Kubb On. A player would inkast 10 kubbs without having the ability to get a rethrow. The player would then get to raise their own kubbs, trying to bring them closer together for their blast. They still must follow standard kubb raising rules so they cannot raise to an obstructed footprint if they could raise to the other side if it where unobstructed. The player would then be allowed one baton to blast as many kubbs down on that first shot. Each player would get three turns and their high score from any of the rounds would be their score. Oman would win the first Kast and Blast competition with eight, while Phil Dickinson, Fraim and Lanigna would tie for second with a score of seven.
Photo courtesy of Jesse Fraim.
Watch Finals Match
Watch the archived live stream of the finals match on Facebook