Saturday, June 21, 2014

Best of BATB

After finally getting through all of the battles from the past 7 years of BATB, here are my top 5 favorite battles:
(Coming so late in the week, it felt more appropriate to consolidate the High Five into one post.)

5. BATB 6 Round 2 - Morgan Smith vs. Eric Koston

Koston's T-to-nothing comeback is amazing. Everyone knows that Eric is always pretty light-hearted when it comes to his skating, never taking things too seriously, while still being one of the best skaters alive. So messing up 4 tricks that you know he has is not the most uplifting for the viewers. But for the same reason he missed those, you can never count him out just because he's always got surprises. After Morgan also misses a couple of unlucky ones, Koston pulls out the half cab late shove and switch laser to change the game to sudden death. Soon after that there's a string of tricks by Morgan (starting with a nollie big heel) that could get anyone out. But Koston matches every single one of them, all while the game is at T-T. Along with The Chief's reactions, this is the portion of the game that builds the excitement to make the game so great. When Koston messes up the first fakie big heel and says, "Hold on, I can finish that," you know he's found his groove at this point. A missed frontside cab heel by Morgan and a fakie laser by Koston later, and the crazy game comes to a finish.

4. BATB 1 Semifinals - Mike Mo Capaldi vs. Billy Marks

I first started checking out the Berrics sometime either in Round 2 or 3 of BATB1. By the time Finals night rolled around, I was already checking the site daily and keeping up with everything to do with BATB. At the time, this battle was absolutely unreal to watch, and it's still pretty nutty today. Seeing Billy match the fakie bigger flip, the cab big flip, and the nollie laser (flawlessly) was not expected 7 years ago. And also watching Billy find out Mo's multiple flip weakness (though Mo was so close on that triple flip!) and pulling out the old school half heel late back foot flip was pretty bonkers. At the end when it was T-T, seeing the nollie back heel 360 as a finisher was certainly crazy, but seeing Billy come so close and just slip out on the trick was even harder to believe. Needless to say, this game holds a beloved place in the top battles of BATB history. 

The concept of Pros vs. Joes alone was pretty intriguing, especially to see how these Joes could handle the pressure of a broadcasted and heavily watched game of skate. It's pretty clear that there are tons of "Joes" out there with the tricks to take down any pro, but to bring them to a stage like The Berrics is a whole different story. Enter Cody Cepeda. From the moment he opened up the whole contest for the interweb playing Trent McClung, it was pretty easy to tell that he had nerves of steel and a determination like no other. Of course he has all the "basic" tricks too, which he brought out later in defeating Shane and Tom, but he has double/triple flip variations for days along with some other flatground bangers as well. So when he led the underdog story to the Championship at BATB7, it was truly a sight to behold. Whether it was the live webcast and stoked crowd, the touching dedication to the Romano family, having his Recruit premiere just before the final match, or the fact that he shutout Luan Oliveira, everything contributed to the breathtaking vibes of that special Championship battle. And it's not just Cody's whole story that made this such a memorable battle, the skating was sick too! I doubt anyone expected Luan to match all those double flip variations that Cody threw at him. It's hard not to explode in joy just like the crowd when Luan somehow pulled out the pressure heelflip and the nollie back double heel to keep the game going. Even Cody was super stoked to see that! But in the end, there can only be one winner...

2. BATB 6 Championship -  PJ Ladd vs. Paul Rodriguez 

What can I say about this game? It's super long, always good. It covers almost all the "basic" tricks you can think of, always good. It has some pretty epic matched tricks, always good. It's just straight up one of the most solid games in every which way. Being handled by two teammates to decide the winner between Regular vs. Goofy also helps make the occasion precious. Then throw in the fact that these two met in the BATB3 Championship as well, where P-Rod got PJ on tricks like the big spin heelflip, the laser flip, and the nollie late front foot flip to win the game. What makes this game so epic is that PJ matches those with no problem here, along with some of P-Rod's new ones like a frontside nollie double kickflip. But P-Rod's varial double heelflip? Now that's a sure letter and a pretty insane trick when you think about it. (Props to Chris Chann for knocking out Chris Cole with the switch version of the trick!) On the other side, P-Rod matches some of PJ's crazy tricks like the 540 flip, the frontside cab heelflip (with pop!), and especially the the fakie 540 flip on the second try to keep the game alive. That moment is a pretty definitive feeling of elation for watching a spectacular match. After P-Rod tries to make history and finish the game with a backside nollie late front foot flip, PJ seals the deal with fakie big spin inward heelflip. All in all, just an incredible battle.

1. BATB 6 Round 3 - Moose vs. PJ Ladd

Just like the BATB 6 Championship, this is a long game filled with all the basic tricks and even some miraculous ones as well. Now there are a few reasons why this game is my favorite one ever. First of all, it's pretty comical how Moose got letters on the 4 inward heelflips and a fakie big spin inward heel. Moose landed just about every other trick possible in the game, so it's very interesting to see his very concise weakness. But it's nearly impossible to be mad at that because of how the rest of the game plays out. Secondly, the frontside heelflip 360. The trick alone is worth so much to the BATB. Not only am I pretty sure that it was the only one ever done in BATB, but it was done against PJ Ladd himself. That's like trying to get The Boss a letter on a frontside flip or Jason Lee on a 360 flip. And lastly, what I'd like to call the caballerial section starting around 3:42 in the above video. While the front heel 360 is included in here, here are the tricks Moose sets: cab double flip, cab big spin, fakie bigger flip, cab big flip, nollie big flip, nollie bigger flip, nollie double heelflip, frontside cab kickflip, nollie back heel 360, and a little bit later a triple kickflip. PJ LANDS THEM ALL. And even after that, Moose matches PJ on a cab heelflip while on the brink of elimination. These are the gnarliest tricks in a game of skate, done back to back to back by both dudes. If that doesn't warrant this game getting praise for decades to come, I don't know what would. 

Best of BATB: Honorable Mention

It's so hard to create a High Five for all of the BATB games, so I had no choice but to create a list of battles worthy of Honorable Mention.

For starters, here are just some of my favorite moments from all the battles:
-Chris Roberts vs. Steve Berra in BATB1: Mikey and Eric as the siamese refs with some priceless opening theatrics
-Peter Ramondetta vs. Cory Kennedy in BATB2: Peter nailing two of Cory's absurd tricks to stay alive
-Cory Kennedy vs. Torey Pudwill in BATB2 for 3rd place: Cory easily had the most cutting edge group of 5 circus tricks to sweep Torey (fs nollie late flip, nollie heel spinout, switch backside double flip, triple flip, nollie big flip 360), but Torey came ridiculously close to them all and even landed the other super hard ones in between
-Felipe Gustavo vs. Jimmy Carlin in BATB4: Felipe's insane steeze will always be remembered
-Dennis Busenitz vs. Eric Koston in BATB4: Dennis's reaction to fakie inward heel is great, then proceeds to do it like it's nothing
-Torey Pudwill vs. Luan Oliveira in BATB4: without a doubt the most POPular game ever. Geoff says it at the start, "...must pop his trick. I don't think these guys are gonna have that problem."
-Davis Torgerson's surprise come up in BATB 4 against SewaShane, and Ronnie won't be forgotten anytime soon.
-Jimmy Carlin's T-to-nothing comeback against Sebo Walker in BATB5, fakie big heels in both directions included, was pretty epic.

Now for just some lengthy, solid overall games of skate, with some haymaker tricks as well:
-Ishod Wair vs. Shane O'Neill in BATB4: seeing Shane nail the switch frontside bigger spin, the switch big heel, and the laser flip (and half cab heel) to stay alive were terrific.
-Tom Asta vs. Alex Mizurov in BATB4: the switch laser match was awesome.
-Morgan Smith vs. Alex Mizurov in BATB: Morgan staying alive (before winning the whole thing) on that backside double flip and nollie back heel 360 after two tries each was pretty awesome
-PJ Ladd vs. Trent McClung  in BATB 5: super long game with Trent somehow staying alive on the nollie bigger flip
-Chris Cole vs. Billy Marks in BATB 5: the triple flip, half heelflip late back foot kickflip, and the 360 underflip were all matched between these two
-Chris Cole vs. Dennis Busenitz in BATB2: Dennis landing the cab big flip, the blizzard flip (with Reda's priceless reaction), and nollie bs flip 360 were sweet, not to mention Cole's nice comeback as well.

And while the Rematch between Koston and Donovan Strain along with the very original pre-BATB game between Koston and Mike Mo are both unsanctioned, they're both legendary games at this point.

Just about every single game from a BATB Finals night has the crowd's bustling energy and some crazy tricks to make it fun to watch, but there are just too many to list. However, I need to give a special recognition to the BATB 2 Finals, Chris Cole vs. Paul Rodriguez. The moment when Chris Cole has his second try on the fakie inward heel and then proceeds to comeback with 3 straight tricks to win just helps to depict his relentlessness and legendary status. And P-Rod's smile after barely missing the back 360 kickflip is a perfect representation of his pure excitement of almost landing a hard trick and his gracious acceptance of defeat in a well-skated championship.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Next Week: Best of BATB

With BATB 7 Finals night just going down on Friday, and the Berrics including a nostalgic and well-placed Top 10 moments in BATB history during the live event, I felt that a High Five of the best battles is due. As of right now, there are certain battles in mind that will definitely make the cut, but I am going through every battle I can (from all 7 BATB) before posting the High Five. So even though I probably won't be posting tomorrow, all I can say is that before the end of the week, there will be 5 posts for the greatest battles from BATB history - and probably some honorable mentions as well.

In the meantime, with a pretty epic Pros vs. Joes concept behind BATB 7, it doesn't hurt to go back through some of this year's battles, especially the recent activity from finals night: Koston vs. Luan, Sewa vs. Cody Cepeda, and the Third Place Battle. Hopefully the final will be permanently posted tomorrow...
UPDATE: ...and it was! Along with some other fun moments from Finals night.