Seattle is definitely a sports town. Or, a geeky sports town. At least it was Thursday night at the seventh GeekWire Bash, the annual extravaganza that turns the CenturyLink Field Events Center into a roaming geek carnival.
With hundreds of participants competing at assorted skill levels in multiple brackets, the competition was fierce in dodgeball, ping pong, foosball and “Settlers of Catan.”
And aside from those main events, people knocked each other over in Sumo costumes, took on Seattle Sounders FC players in “FIFA 18,” battled it out in a variety of virtual reality and traditional video games and much more.
Here’s our recap of Seattle’s sportiest night for the tech community. Congratulations to all the winners!
A second chance proved to be good for first place.
Zillow’s team of dodgeballers were knocked out in a first-round match against Colliers International, but the addition of a new Second Chance Bracket meant that the real estate techies were’t done for the night. Zillow won multiple matches before beating Globant to earn a rebirth in the main bracket and a shot at the overall title against Marel.
Marel dispatched Skykick in a hard-fought, three-game match, but the team was out of gas by the time Zillow arrived.
“It’s just dodgeball, but it feels so good,” said Chester Millisock, a front-end software engineer who has been with Zillow for four years. Millisock said he takes his dodgeball pretty seriously, playing in leagues when he’s not at the Bash, and studying the hot players on other teams before stepping onto the court with them. He said Zillow “ironed out the kinks” this year after being eliminated in last year’s quarterfinals.
The tournament, sponsored by T-Mobile, attracted 32 teams and some of the largest crowds and loudest cheers at the Bash.
The competition was extra fun this year as the eight-person teams were divided evenly, with four men and four women. Throughout the night, women from many teams were the last ones standing against hard-throwing guys, and the crowd loved it.
Mackenzie Mowry, an admin with Colliers International, was winded after outlasting all of her teammates during an early match against Zillow.
“I was out there by myself for like five minutes,” Mowry said. “I was trying to just dodge and keep my team alive for as long as I possibly could.”
Tune software engineer Ankitha Shetty, who plays cricket in a women’s league in Redmond, Wash., was playing dodgeball for the very first time on Thursday night. “It was fun,” she said. “Very competitive.” Her co-worker Wendy Kung said the secret is to be patient.
“I was up against two guys … their egos really get riled up,” Kung said. “Let it roll. That’s the best strategy in a lot of these cases. I’m like, ‘keep coming at me!'”
REPLAY: Super-hyperspeed look at last night’s final dodgeball match between @ZillowGroup and @Marel_news on @geekwire’s #GWBash @TMobile #WeWontStop court! Congrats to ALL our teams, and champs @Zillow!
Full event recap: https://t.co/saUGAh93RA (CC: @JohnLegere @spencerrascoff) pic.twitter.com/6COclbPKxU
— GeekWire (@geekwire) March 16, 2018
This was the year of Qualtrics.
The “experience management” company swept both the intermediate and expert brackets of the hotly contested ping pong tournament.
James Duan of Qualtrics, in his first time under the bright lights of the GeekWire Bash, needed a thrilling five-game match to deny Brian Chia of Slalom, who was on a quest to defend last year’s title. The two lived up to the expert label, lobbing countless long volleys back and forth, with slams and drop shots wowing the crowd.
Software engineer Bruce Gou took the hardware in the intermediate bracket, besting Jasdeep Singh of Best Buy. Gou and Duan are frequent competitors at the Qualtrics office ping pong tables. Gou was just happy to watch someone other than himself get beat by Duan.
The expert bracket has for years orbited around two stars: Chia and Akvelon’s Valeri Kim. The two friends and playing partners have met in the finals several times, including last year. But Kim, who was a little under the weather, was surprisingly taken out in the second round by 2016 intermediate champ Shavkat Karimov, better known as just Shav. But Shav was unable to survive the GeekWire gauntlet and was eliminated by Chia in the semifinals.
Aran Dahl of digital advertising company Choozle beat back Byron Conforti of Fuel Talent in a quick but intense matchup to win the beginner bracket. Dahl told GeekWire after his victory that he has entered the tournament numerous times and flamed out early. Like several competitors, he rocked a sandpaper paddle that is designed to negate spin from competitors. Dahl wondered whether it will be banned next year. GeekWire’s ping pong powers that be have yet to weigh in.
Heads (and plastic legs) were spinning in the foosball arena as more than 100 participants took part in the tabletop soccer tournament in expert and intermediate brackets this year.
Nick Gorski and Russ Brennan are former colleagues who have remained friends — and now they’re foosball champions after taking the expert title. The pair beat Ryan Anderson and Jeremy Kirby of DoubleDown Interactive.
“We played all the time at Google,” said Gorski, who now works at Bonsai. “I don’t work there anymore so I can continue to say that I played so, so much.”
Brennan played it a little cooler regarding how much time is spent away from his desk.
“I mostly work while I’m there, but when I do play, it’s with a fantastic, fervent bunch of foosballers,” Brennan said. “I like to think of it as a foosball laboratory. Always innovating, creating new shots, coming up with new strategies.”
Hey Google, tell those guys, “Congratulations!”
Over in the intermediate bracket, Matt Quint and Annie Love of Geocaching took the title, beating Chase Snyder and David Botha of ExtraHop.
“We have a foosball table at our office and I basically have a standing meeting every day to play foosball, so I figured I’d try it out in a tournament,” Love said.
Quint credited his co-worker with being the key to victory.
“Annie was so good on defense and made a lot of great goals, so that was the key,” he said.
The Geocaching offices were already looking great early Friday morning after the Bash, as Love showed off some new decor on Twitter.
— nnlove (@nnlove) March 16, 2018
‘Settlers of Catan’
The competition around the strategy board game “Settlers of Catan” was especially fiery this year, as the tournament doubled in size to 16 players and featured several return competitors, including last year’s second and third place winners.
All of the participants competed in two initial rounds of the game, where players go at it for resources and space as they settle the fictional island of Catan.
After those two rounds, four finalists with the highest scores moved on to compete in one last game for the championship — and prizes from Seattle’s Mox Boardinghouse, hosts of the tourney.
After a long and hard-fought game, Zillow Group’s Jonathan Li On Wing, a newcomer to the Bash competition, took home the top prize. He won all three of his games, even in highly competitive groups.
The other finalists were Michael Adams — Wing’s colleague at Zillow; NTT America’s Blake Robertson; and last year’s second place winner, DoubleDown Interactive’s AJ Hans.
GeekWire reporters Nat Levy, Clare McGrane, Taylor Soper and Starla Sampaco contributed to this report.