Worcester MCR, the bookies’ favourites, were the only MCR team to make it to the late stage of the tournament. Throughout the tournament, Jamie Frost and Marc Hass had crushed the oppositions’ dreams remorselessly beneath their wheels. They remained on top form here, playing with a flawless virtuosity that had caused many questions to be asked about the true extent of the graduate workload. However, the fresh-faced Pembroke pair Adam Lindley and JD Arnall, playing as Yoshi and Bowser Junior, met this formidable challenge with a decided nonchalance. With the slippery inscrutability of Moray eels, they mercilessly exploited Worcester’s blind side, taking home victory after a tense six-race match.
‘With the slippery inscrutability of Moray eels, they mercilessly exploited Worcester’s blind side’
Haas’s sociopathic dedication to violence forestalled any attempt by Lindley or Arnall to pull out of his range, while Frost pulled gracefully away, taking every racing line with eerie accuracy. Worcester’s Daedalian insistence on perfection was brought to the fore in their selection of the first track, DK Mountain, was made only after a nail-biting ten minute discussion during which all 32 courses were carefully evaluated at least once. It was a course which played to the uncompromising horsepower of heavyweight players Funky Kong and Rosalina, whose wily shortcuts were exploited mercilessly to their advantage. An attempt of Lindley’s to imitate these manoeuvres ended in disaster, opening the course up for Frost to dash to victory.
Juice Squidsteen’s remarkably similar choice of venue, DK’s Snowboard Cross, suggested that they had found their forte. This was all the opportunity Juice Squidsteen needed to seize a considerable lead for the remainder of the race. Undeterred, Frost snapped at their heels for its duration but was unable to effect a change in fortunes.
Worcester MCR decided to veto Juice Squidsteen’s next choice, N64 Bowser’s Castle, only to be lumbered with the horticultural monstrosity of Peach Gardens. By now, things had become incredibly personal; racers abandoned the cautious weapon hoarding of earlier matches in favour of no-holds-barred Armageddon. Any player with more than a two second lead was quickly put in their place. The race remained open to anyone up to the final stretch, where Haas responded to Arnall’s cheeky airstream with a deftly timed green shell to the rear, enabling him to secure the win.
‘The game was forced to go into injury time when one of the judges stubbed his toe on the coffee table’
The game was forced to go into injury time when one of the judges stubbed his toe on the coffee table. Gallantly, he insisted that the match continue, so Worcester MCR elected to fight flower, with flower with their next choice of Maple Treeway. Regrettably, this proved a poisoned chalice: within moments Frost was wailing “This was a terrible choice!” as he failed to avoid the wrath of the giant caterpillars. Juice Squidsteen pulled steadily away while Worcester MCR lost their grip in the winding maple branches. In a delicious twist of fate, Haas squidded Juice Squidsteen on the finishing line, but too late to prevent a decisive victory.
Worcester now decided to gamble everything on the high-risk Luigi Circuit; a strategy which paid off in spades. Haas accelerated into an early lead, joined moments later by Frost, batting Lindley and Arnall away like used tissues. The pair made love to the tarmac until a blue shell wiped out Haas on the final lap, but failed to prevent Frost from carrying home a solid win.
The moment of the match came, however, in the final race, whose outcome would now decide the victors. It was with no small amount of trepidation that Juice Squidsteen selected DK’s Jungle Parkway as their final theatre of war. Worcester MCR attempted to get away with a second veto, but to no avail. Their motivation for this became all too clear; the winding forest track allowed ample opportunity for Juice Squidsteen’s manual handling skills to come to the fore. Drifting gracefully around every bend, Juice Squidsteen looked impossible to catch. On the final stretch, it looked as if Worcester MCR were on course to secure the win for the whole match; Frost was a one man army with a comfortable lead, three red shells, and a POW block waiting for anyone who dared take it away. But in a breathtaking final gambit, Arnall shroomed his way up a mudbank, flew clean over Frost’s incredulous head and reclaimed first place by milliseconds.
The final score: Juice Squidsteen – 95, Worcester MCR – 79