Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Eugoogly: El Chupacabra (2006-2007)

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 12, 2007

Goatsuckers, we hardly knew ye

When we first found out that the World Series of Pop Culture worked on a seeding basis, me and my teammates were terrified that we were going to be seeded 16th, as we had been seeded pretty low at our regional tournament, and we knew we had just squeaked by on the audition’s written test. Being the lowest seed meant we would have had to first face Alexandra Clark, Mason Spencer and Jodi Roth, better known as 2006’s returning WSOPC champions, El Chupabra. This wasn’t a prospect the three of us were much looking foward to.

Instead, we were seeded 9th (or 8th, I can’t remember), meaning we’d have to face them in the second round if we won our first match, assuming they beat 16th seed Fragilay. I figured they’d have no problem doing it–not a knock on Fragilay by any means, but these guys took down a handful of seriously fearful teams last year, and I figured they’d at least ace the first round without much trouble. While waiting for our match against Jammin’ on the 1’s, we saw the two teams walk backstage for their post-game interviews, Fragilay looking extremely emotional and El Chupacabra looking chipper as always, so I figured, case closed. After we beat Jammin’, the producers asked us about the next match, and we talked a little about how nervous we were about facing The Chup. “Actually,” the interviewer explained, “it was Fragilay that won the first match.”

I remember watching El Chupacabra breeze their way through to the quarters, the semis and the finals last year, and just being stunned. You don’t tend to meet too many people in the upper echelons of the trivia circuit that are much like Jodi, Mason and Alexandra–people that not only clearly knew their shit, but don’t seem to care too much if they win or not. Even the nicest trivia fiends generally tend to be cutthroat when it comes to the competition, but the Chups just chuckled through their incorrect answers, cheered just as loudly for their opponents as their teammates, and looked like they were having just as much fun sitting defeated in the stands as they did triumphant up on stage. It’s, uh, not exactly the methodology and persona we chose, but it’s definitely admirable.

Of course, it probably helped that they didn’t get eliminated too often. They had this amazing ability to just keep pulling out the right answers, often looking just as shocked at their streams of “correct”s as their opponents looked frustrated at the lack of breathing room they were being afforded. And they were a real team, too, always covering each others’ backs when necessary–as when team MVP Alexandra went down in the semis on a ridiculously hard Starsky & Hutch question, and Mason, who had lost in the last round or two, picked up the slack, clinching the round with a Music Video category win. There was no doubt in my mind that they deserved the win, and in a way, I was actually kind of hoping we would face them in the first round–since if we lost, hey, at least we lost to the champs, but if we won, it would be accomplishment enough that even if we lost the next match, I’d feel we at least made our mark.

Tonight, though, something was definitely off–the magic just wasn’t there like it was last year. I feel like a lot of it can be chalked up to category mismanagement–I bet Mason would’ve owned at the Weird Al category, and that Alexandra probably could’ve taken down the Kevin Bacon one–but they missed a lot of questions that I feel a team of their calliber probably should’ve cleared with no problem. But that’s just the way the show works sometimes–nothing is guaranteed, and one question can cost you the whole thing (not to mention that Tomi from Fragilay was clearly a force to be reckoned with, especially in the movie categories, which I feel the Chup probably could’ve won against a lesser opponent).

As a viewer, it’s sort of sad to see them go, but you get the feeling like they moved on as soon as they lfet the stage–like I said, I could swear that they were smiling and laughing even as they went backstage for the post-game interview. The great majority of trivia competitors can’t feel too good with anything but a win, but El Chupacabra genuinely just seemed happy to be there. And since they have lives, jobs, most likely a couple bucks left over from the 250k they took home last year, and in the case of Alexandra, even an upcoming pregnancy to get back to, it’s hard to feel too bad for them. They’ll probably fly back up for the inevitable tournament of champions, anyway.

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