Last weekend i attended the annual tournament hosted in Jeju, South Korea. I went in 2008 as well, when it was Gnarly Nines (meaning only nine players to a team). This year they changed it to Dirty Dozens. Tao, Alicia, Joel and I joined up with Lincoln's Hong Kong team. Check out my beautiful mustache... but i'll explain that later.
Despite having never played together as a team, we played exceptionally well. We finished in 5th place out of 16 teams, but we also only lost our games to the 3rd and 4th place teams by 1 point. In fact, the top 8 teams were all close in skill level and had great games. The eventual winner, Iku from Japan, narrowly won their games against the #8 (Shiok from Singapore) and the #4 (Kim Jong Illin' from Korea). The finals between Iku and Taiwan was close as well, with a final score of 15-13. All in all, it was an incredible weekend of ultimate. One which almost didn't happen.
On friday, our flight from Beijing to Shanghai was uneventful. We met up with all the Shanghai kids at the airport and boarded the flight. Ten minutes from landing in Jeju, as we begin our decent, the pilot abruptly pulls out of the landing maneuver and returns us to Shanghai. They said the cause was thick fog. However, there was no turbulence and no wind to make the landing particularly difficult. It was never explained to us why the pilot couldn't just use instruments to navigate the final decent. We suspect the pilot was either:
b) about to hit a mountain when he narrowly pulled us back up, avoiding certain catastrophe.
Either way, there were many on that flight who, in retrospect, believe the pilot somehow saved our lives that day, but we'll never know. Upon returning to Shanghai, we learned that many flights from Seoul were cancelled completely, but the direct flights from Hong Kong and Beijing both landed no problem. We ended up boarding the same plane about 90 minutes later and successfully landed on attempt #2. Everyone else eventually landed as well, and the tournament happened as scheduled.
As usual, the party was a highlight of the tournament. This years theme was "Mustache". Our team decided to go as Hulk Hogan. I used to watch a fair amount of WWF when i was a kid, but outgrew it around age 10. Paying tribute to an old hero of mine felt good. And i was only person on our team with an actual beard at the time, so i felt compelled to go all out for my costume. Here's what i was going for:
Which required bleaching of my mustache.
... and posing in my I Heart Beijing shirt with the whole team, who also went as vaguely Hulk Hogan themed wrestlers and wrestlerettes (?), plus lincoln, who was Nacho from Nacho Libre.
...and posing for the fans, of which there were many.
...and doing a beer bong, because let's face it, The Hulk would totally do that. (Kids, stay in school.)
...and, of course, wrestling. I totally defended my title against that guy.
Also, i managed to get an honorable mention for the award of "Best Natural Mustache", but was bested by this guy, my new arch-nemesis. You know what his costume was? "Guy sitting at a table with a hideous and creepy mustache."
Kevin <----- Not impressed!
Besides the obvious rigging of the "Best Natural Mustache" award and the lack of "Best Individual Costume" award, i'd say the whole tournament was an awesome success, and Jeju still has the best fields in Asia.