Rohit Jogaikar had some big shoes to fill.
RELATED: GeekWire Bash recap: Dodgeball, ping pong, junior geek zone, and more at our 8th annual festival
His co-workers at experience management company Qualtrics, James Duan and Bruce Gou, took home the titles in the expert and intermediate Ping Pong tournament at last year’s GeekWire Bash. With those former champions not competing this year, and his co-worker eliminated in the early rounds, it was up to Jogaikar to return Qualtrics to ping pong glory.
“We had some pressure on,” Jogaikar said. He joked that the feedback from above was “if you don’t get the trophy back, it’s going to affect some of your (key performance indicators).”
Jogaikar came through in the clutch, besting Ryan Tan of F5 Networks to win the 64-player intermediate ping pong tournament. Both men were spent at the end of the matchup, having played five matches a piece over roughly three hours.
Jogaikar has been with Qualtrics for two years as a software engineer and previously worked at Cisco Systems. Jogaikar played a lot of ping pong in his younger days and started playing again recently. His game has improved over the last few months, as he’s served as “target practice” for Duan, who he called a much better player.
This year’s Bash featured seven thrilling tournaments — as well as a first-ever robotics competition — spanning from the always aggressive dodgeball to strategic showdowns in Settlers of Catan. Tournament prizes this year included flight vouchers from Alaska Airlines, tickets to the Jimmy Eat World/Third Eye Blind concert at the WaMu Theater, a celebration at Virtual Sports in Tukwila and gift cards to Meeples Games, a Seattle game café.
Sneak Peek: #BehindTheScenes look at the @geekwire #GWBash prize closet! Tournament winners walk away with prizes from @AlaskaAir, @OriginalFunko, @MeeplesGames, @VirtualSportsNW, @1077TheEnd, @toysmithtoys, @museumofflight, and more. Good luck to all the competitors! pic.twitter.com/vIjJHprRW4
— GeekWire (@geekwire) March 8, 2019
Here is a look at the winners of each tournament and the odds they had to overcome to beat the competition.
Expert ping pong: Brian Chia, SPIN Seattle
The Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees; Coke and Pepsi; iOS vs. Android. These are all great rivalries, but none of them can compare to the thrilling clashes between Valeri Kim and Brian Chia at the GeekWire Bash.
The two met once again on the championship table of the expert ping pong bracket on Thursday. Chia, a software engineer at Expedia who was representing the ping pong club SPIN Seattle, took down his perennial opponent and practice partner in a grueling 3-1 matchup that almost had to be called due to time constraints. But the powers that be said “play on” and Chia was able to vanquish Kim with a scintillating series of serves, slams and carefully placed drop shots.
Chia and Kim took some time off from practicing together, but reunited a couple months ago and are playing twice a week these days. There’s no surprises in matches between these two highly skilled players anymore.
“Basically we just have to play our hardest, and sometimes luck comes along the way,” Chia said. “Sometimes he plays a little worse, sometimes I play a little worse, you know, the intangibles.”
Kim brought his A-Game as usual but he faced a tough road to the finals, including a battle with GeekWire co-founder John Cook that may have worn him down a bit.
— GeekWire (@geekwire) March 8, 2019
Doubles ping pong: Seema Cavale and Ryan Chan, SPIN Seattle
This year we introduced a new ping pong tournament, allowing doubles duos to compete for a title. Representing ping pong social club SPIN, Seema Cavale and Ryan Chan ousted Ritesh Daryani and Gary Singh of Edifecs, 2-1, in the final.
Those familiar with GeekWire Bash ping pong glory might recognize the Cavale name. Seema’s brother, Avi Cavale, is a former expert ping pong bracket champion who raised investment for his startup, Shippable, after networking at the GeekWire Bash in 2013. Shippable was acquired earlier this month.
“We are very passionate about ping pong, and we’re very competitive,” Seema Cavale said of the sibling ping pong all-stars. “I think he’s better, but I’m getting better.”
Joseph Fernandi and Armando Berdiel of Seattle City Light won the second-chance bracket.
Dodgeball: Colliers International
Speaking of rivalries, Seattle and Bellevue have a pretty big one going on at the moment. They’re battling for attention from the world’s top tech giants, and right now, Bellevue seems to have the upper hand.
But on this day, a truce was called as members of the Bellevue and Seattle offices of real estate brokerage Colliers International teamed up to dominate their foes in the always competitive dodgeball tournament. Colliers took down defending champion Zillow in a battle of residential versus commercial real estate and dispatched a game Leafly squad before sweeping AHT Insurance, the winner of the second chance bracket, in an all FIRE final.
“Leafly had some cannons; they were hurling hard,” said Tony Ford an executive vice president at the Colliers Seattle office who subbed in for another player midway through the tournament. “There were a couple teams that had some big cannons, so we had to go after the big guns early and take them out. The strategy seemed to work for us.”
— GeekWire (@geekwire) March 8, 2019
Dodgeball is by far the most physical game at the GeekWire Bash, as players hit the deck left and right trying to find that little extra something to get their teams over the top. One of the Colliers team members was playing on a severly sprained ankle suffered just 24 hours before.
Cloud software management company Skykick wins the spirit award this year, an unofficial honor that I am making up right now, for their coordinated chants and the fact that they made signs.
The Colliers team will enjoy a good time at Virtual Sports as a prize for their victory. The only lingering question is which office gets the golden dodgeball trophy, Seattle or Bellevue?
Thanks again to Dodgeball Seattle for their support of the tournament.
Catan: Vishal Patel, Zillow
For four grueling hours, 20 competitors tested their luck — and their skills — in the “Catan” board game tournament.
Vishal Patel, a senior software engineer at Zillow, came from behind in the final four to be crowned ruler of Catan. The Bash was the first ever Catan tournament for Patel, who’s been playing the game for five years.
“It was close. Anyone could’ve won that one,” Patel said. “I got unlucky and then really lucky.”
For a while, Tony Makari from game studio DoubleDown Interactive looked set to win the top spot. But he was beset by the dreaded “robber,” which steals a player’s resources, and was unable to get his hands on wood, a critical material. Amazon’s Joel Mooers and Avalara’s Sonny Spencer also made the final four.
West Seattle’s Meeples Games hosted the tourney and doled out prizes to the four finalists, who proved their mettle in the strategic territory and city building game.
Patel wasn’t sure he’d be back for more next year. “I’m exhausted,” he said. “Plus, I won. So I’m gonna end on a win.”
Expert Foosball: George Barta and Matt Mueller, Collinear Group
George Barta and Matt Mueller from engineering consulting firm Collinear Group showed their expert skills in spinning little plastic men. The foosball champs defeated rivals David Countryman and Evan Lindell from Zillow Group.
Team Zillow actually defeated team Collinear in the first round of the foosball tournament. That made the comeback victory all the more satisfying for Barta, who said he felt “freaking great” after the winning goal.
Barta won the Bash’s foosball tournament in 2016 and owns several foosball tables. He keeps a few at the office and one in a bar.
The finalists in the expert category didn’t mess around, coming prepared with their own grip tape and lubricant for the table rods.
“When it gets to the end of the tournament, your hands start sweating. So the guys who bring the grips have a much better chance,” said Barta.
Intermediate foosball: Eric Buffalow and Justin Grindstaff, NTT Communications
It was an absolute slugfest between 28 two-person teams in the intermediate bracket. In the end, Eric Buffalow and Justin Grindstaff from Japanese telecom giant NTT Communications steamrolled their way through the competition to win first place.
Zillow’s Matt Gautreau and Ian Mitchell put up a hard fight to come in second place.
The NTT office served as the training center for Buffalow and Grindstaff, although FIFA is the game of choice among colleagues.
“It feels fantastic. It’s been a long journey. It’s been a long, long journey,” said Buffalow.
— nnlove (@nnlove) March 8, 2019
In the second-chance bracket, Leafly’s Matt Kittrell and Scott Schopman claimed victory.