Monday, April 23, 2018

Christol Baller

On December 31, 1999, Time Magazine named Albert Einstein the Person of the Century. The magazine called him "the embodiment of pure intellect." 

And maybe the shaggy-haired professor was indeed "the genius among geniuses" -- at least by 20th century standards. But 18 years later it's a description that seems quaint, now that we all use our clicker fingers across the world wide web from Brandon Christol, the 2018 Chippens Tournament Challenge Champion. 

Christol's Championship, and the colossal amounts of brains, guts, and index finger strength it took to attain, makes Einstein's achievements look like the piddling work of a Meth Lab Scholar, high on alley cat fumes and rodent droppings. 

If Christol's 2018 bracket is a Jackson Pollock masterpiece (and it is), Einstein's best work is floor splatter from a dirty diaper.   

Christol claimed victory with 154 points, a relatively low number historically speaking, but it was a number that could not be matched by 122 worthy competitors, the most crowded field in Chippens history.   

Although the win is a great source of personal pride for Christol (he ranks it as "25 times as great" as anything else he's ever experienced), Brandon was humble in victory. He modestly claimed his place in history is now "no better" . . . but also "no worse" than Washington, Lincoln, and Jesus Christ. "None of them ever won a Chippens Challenge," he said. 

How did he do it? As a self-professed fan of the Michigan Wolverines, Christol admitted his "homer" pick of Michigan to advance to the finals certainly helped. He also said he deployed a bit of strategy in choosing several 9/8 seed and 10/7 seed upsets. 

It worked: Brandon was 6-of-8 in those first round games and picked up five underdog points. He earned nine underdog points over the whole tournament, equal to or more than all but two other players. 

The "Christol Baller," who played this year under the handle Creighton Barrel, also had another bit of advice for would-be Champions. "Focus on coming up with a great pun-based team name," he said. "Success will follow." 

One caveat, however: You must come up with the name on your own. Witness how karma punished Lord and Xavier (Brian Brennan), who plagiarized that name from Christol. Christol had used the clever (but second-tier) name in a different, second-tier pool, and Brennan, who did not know it was Christol's at the time, thought he'd use it himself in the Chippens Challenge. 

Brennan finished 105th this year. "It's not the first time Brian has stolen from me," Christol said. "Nor is it the first time I've pummeled him in a sports-based competition." 

He pummeled Brian, and he pummeled the rest of us, too. 

Congratulations to Brandon Christol, a Champion For The Ages. 

Other Notable Results:
  • Kate Dickens finished in second place, beating her husband (a 14-year Chippens veteran) by 120 places. Dickens earned her Five Year Ring this year, and she already has three top-20 finishes. 
  • Angela Penney won a tie-breaker over rookie Mike Cowin to finish in third place. Penney is now the only player in Chippens history with three top-3 finishes. She placed 1st in 2006 and 3rd in 2010. She also finished 4th in 2014. Only two other players, Brandon Gamble and Adam Emery, have four top 10 finishes.  
  • Cowin might have fell just short of the prizes, but he finished as top rookie and also proved the sweetest of the self-described "Sweet Action" crew, comprised of Lipscomb, CB, and the indomitable Barry Gibb
  • Benjamin J. DeHaan made a glorious return after missing the last two years to finish...73rd. Still, he managed to score enough points to climb back within four points of his father in the All-Time Total Points list. 
  • DeHaan is also the only player to record three consecutive top-10 finishes, until now. Chris Schiemann now joins DeHaan with that distinction. Schiemann finished 9th this year, 10th last year, and 7th in 2016. DeHaan made his historic run 2011-2013. 
  • Congrats also to Mike Stump, who reclaimed his #1 ranking in the All-Time Average Place list from Brandon Gamble. Gamble retained his top spot, barely, in Average Points. 
  • It will be a long year of what-ifs and coulda-beens for 2014 Champion Meh, who finished a very-respectable 6th place, but who claims he would have won it all again if not for Michigan's Jordan Poole hitting a game-winner over Houston in the second round. "Those 3.6 seconds and Jordan Poole's tight shorts will haunt me for years to come," he said. "Houston broke me with the worst 3.6 seconds of defense in NCAA history."
  • Finally, thank you to everyone who contributed to the Chippens fundraising efforts. You raised over $2,000 for kids with cancer and their families. Thank you for your generosity and kindness.  
All of us here at Chippens wish you our best over the coming year, and we hope to see you again for next year's Challenge!

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