BATAVIA, Ill. — Energy City Kubb hosted the second annual Illinois Kubb Championship on Sept. 5 in Batavia. Prior to the events, there were questions as to whether the event could be held due to COVID-19 restrictions. Eventually, the Batavia Parks District approved the event as long as it had 50 or less people in attendance. In addition to this precaution, Energy City Kubb planned for additional COVID-19 prevention steps. One of the biggest changes was the elimination of the large screen TV at the scorer’s table where players traditionally gather in large groups to report results, see where they will be playing their next game, and view the overall standings. Instead of using a TV screen, Energy City Kubb had everyone text in their game results. After all the results were collected, screenshots of the next round, field assignments and results were posted to their Facebook group. This turned out to be a very successful decision.
The night before the tournament, all of the players were invited to get together at Brother Chimp Brewery in North Aurora, Illinois. Most of the local Batavia players learned their lessons from the previous year to limit their drinks, but others did not. A lot of the out-of-town players stayed at the hotel right next to the brewery, so they had a short walk back to their rooms.
The Illinois Kubb Championship began at 9 am. The conditions were somewhat challenging for all the players. Due to the recent lack of rain, the ground was very hard. There was also frequent wind gusts of 15 plus mile per hour that forced teams to adjust their baton and kubb throwing strategies. Only five games instead of the planned six were held before lunch due to an error in posting the wrong team and field assignments for game number one. This game had to be restarted after a slight delay. In the morning games, Atom & Flash (Adam Holtz, Gordon Kauffmann) of Eau Claire, Wisconsin looked pretty unstoppable and became the team that everyone else was trying to catch. Play was paused for an hour for everyone to enjoy an unbelievable lunch prepared by Kyle “Salty” Saltijeral and his brother. This is the second straight year that team Salty has put on an amazing meal, and they are quickly building a positive reputation among kubb tournament enthusiasts.
After lunch, the play slowed a little bit as everyone tried to recover from a large lunch and lengthy break. Each of the final three preliminary rounds had several matches that ran up against the 25-minute time limit, and they had to hustle to get in their final throws. Some of the other top out-of-town teams began gaining some ground on Atom & Flash. After the preliminary rounds ended, the top eight teams moved on to the championship bracket, while the remaining teams went to the consolation bracket.
The four teams that made to the semi-finals of the championship bracket were Atom & Flash, 2020 Sucks (Matt Green, Dan Ivanuck), Cody & Jesse (Jesse Fraim, Cody Glorioso) and Kubb Snipers (Joe Hrejsa, J.R. Hrejsa). 2020 Sucks took out Atom & Flash in two straight games, while Cody & Jesse had to use all three games to defeat Kubb Snipers. In the third place match, Kubb Snipers beat Atom & Flash in two straight games. The first place match was very exciting and the boisterous crowd was really into it. Cody & Jesse were able to take advantage of an early short porch left by 2020 Sucks to put their opponents in a bad situation from which they were never able to recover. The second game showed the real skill level of both teams. On their first throw with six batons, Cody & Jesse took out one field kubb, and then four kubbs on the back line. 2020 Sucks answered back quickly by taking out the five field kubbs and then clearing their back line. The game then moved to a chess match of throwing nine field kubbs back and forth. Cody & Jesse prevailed in the end, winning their second straight game and becoming the champions of the tournament.
In the consolation bracket, the 13 remaining teams used the bracket-style format to eventually get down to the final three teams. Energy City Kubb once again used their signature three-person playoff format they introduced at last year’s tournament. Each of the three final teams had to play each other one game to see who had the best record. After the three teams played each other, they all had the same record of 1 win and 1 loss. They then had to play each other again, but this time one kubb was removed from each team’s back line. I Know Those Kubbs (Jonathan Nicholson, William Rausch Jr.) prevailed to become the consolation winner.
After all the games concluded, the winning tickets from all the raffle baskets were drawn followed by a trophy celebration for the first, second, third and consolation winners. Each of the winners also received cash gifts. After the tournament, Energy City Kubb introduced what might become a new tradition of having an after-party at the houses of next door Batavia neighbors Scott Kent & George Sloan. Kubb and Mollky were played deep into the night with free pizza for everyone.
Photos courtesy of Energy City Kubb.