The Worcester-Oriel syndicate of 2 Guys, 1 Kart, consisting of Ethan Worth and Joe Evans, looked like they’d needed to set their alarm clocks to be up in time for 3pm. They appeared to struggle to find their way to the sofa, let alone give their opponents any trouble. However, they quickly confounded expectations with savant-like play that defied rational explanation. Alas Smith and Jones arrived with typical understated gravitas and an impressively sized audience in tow, confounding all rumours that Harris Manchester was an urban myth. They informed the crowd that their best player had been unable to come, forcing the substitution of Jonathan Parish.

Parish, with only four months of experience in the driving seat, had barely taken his L-plates off, but quickly established himself to be the dark horse of the tournament. From the go, the inaccurately named Alas Smith and Jones played with an eye to detail, strategically switching seats before the match was underway. It was the brash 2 Guys, 1 Kart who found themselves sinking into the notoriously undersprung yellow sofa. Their choice of Princess Peach and Princess Daisy was no less diligent, causing every minor race event to be met with a gruelling torrent of royal giggles and screams.

In the first race, GBA Bowser’s Castle, bleary-eyed Jones (playing as the perpetual underdog Luigi) proved that what he lacked in expertise, he made up for in raw, untamed skill. Something of a savant on the track, he shrugged off any number of glancing shots from Smith and Parish, continually regaining the lead only to throw it away in an unforced lava dunking. Worth, in patriotic pink as Birdo, was not so impervious, finding himself being bullied into submission by the princess pair. In the end, the tortoises of Alas Smith and Jones triumphed over the hares of 2 Guys, 1 Kart.

It was this consistency, as well as effective teamwork, that would go on to win them the match, proven when 2 Guys, 1 Kart upped the ante with Rainbow Road. The audience waited with baited breath to see who would be the first to plummet off the track, but thankfully didn’t have to wait unduly long until Smith took that honour, twice. Parish demonstrated that he could cope just fine without his teammate, neatly dispatching 2 Guys with 1 bomb and giving time for Smith to recover his dignity. Evans, apparently oblivious to the lessons in teamwork from the other team, shunted Worth clean off the track in his scramble to regain pole position, deftly jumping out the way of a POW block and batting away all red shells from an increasingly desperate Parish.

2 Guys, 1 Kart were all too aware that they needed a comfortable victory to stay in the match, hanging onto the leads in DK’s Jungle Parkway with grim determination. An eleventh-hour retaliation from Smith gave teammate Parish the opportunity he needed to snatch second place away; but it was not enough to shut down the match.

2 Guys, 1 Kart inexplicably selected the motorcyclist’s nightmare Wario’s Gold Mine as the start of their comeback tour. It seems the stress of being in the back seat was wearing away at 2 Guys: Evans lobbed a green shell at Worth before taking a plunge. However, Worth’s cruise in pole position was abruptly ended by a beautiful one-two; a blue shell from Smith followed by a flattening from Parish. The moral of the match – that there’s no ‘I’ in ‘Mario Kart’ – hung heavily in the air for all to appreciate. However, a blue shell on the finish line saw Evans snatching the match from the lion’s mouth, leading to cries of “Rape!” from the peanut gallery.

The outcome of the match once again hinged on the final match, and Alas Smith and Jones’ final decision: Koopa Cape. It was certainly no holiday for these senior citizens, who were flattened by a resurgent Evans and electrocuted by the tunnel fans. No matter: the leading team were still apparently suffering from communication problems, with Worth cleaning up Evan’s banana skins as fast as he could lay them. Even the impartial onlookers were quietly satisfied by the sight of a last-minute blue shell from Smith appearing, like a white-winged angel of justice, in Worth’s rearview mirror, giving him what was probably the first bath he’d had for weeks, while Parish simpered his way to victory.

 

The final score: 2 Guys, 1 Kart – 76, Alas Smith and Jones – 98