Perhaps partly overshadowed by the upcoming world tournament next week, an Ohio Valley Championship match took place Saturday that featured two legends of the division exchanging blows. Jared Bloom successfully defended the title against former champion and fellow OVBP co-founder Storm Conaway, in a best-of-seven series that ended 4 games to 1.
This marked Bloom’s first title defense since winning the title from Michael Clyde on October 19. Clyde had skipped out on a potential automatic rematch, ceding way to Nick Dompa (a longtime face on the scene who has yet to capture the gold) to take the #1 contender spot in the interim. Inclement weather caused Dompa and Commissioner John Wyatt Edgar to both no-show, and Conaway was inserted into the spot on the fly with the Commissioner’s blessing.
The matchup between two future Hall of Famers, while witnessed by only a handful of people, will certainly cause some underground rumblings within the division. In addition to Clyde and Dompa, who both have valid claims to the top contender spot, a side match on Saturday between multi-time champion Jeff Fetty and the last OVBP tournament winner Coltin Bloom turned the event into a “who’s who” of top division talent.
The timing of events seems to be heading towards something bigger for a division that is easily the 2nd most prestigious division in DubPoints, and probably the most prestigious to the competitors who regularly factor into it. Edgar has certainly hinted at wanting to see a return to regular tournaments, possibly as soon as this year, and you can kind of read the tea leaves that with all of these competitors still playing at a high-level, there’s probably enough interest to at the very least do a one-off reunion event, possibly something more frequently but with less participants overall than what we saw in 2008-2012.
There’s probably logistical considerations to this, as there’s probably no venue that is going to be able to host a large-scale one-day tournament. That leaves a couple solutions, the first being to hard-cap a future tournament at 16 people, maybe adapting a first come, first serve or RSVP mentality. A more radical, but perhaps more effective one, would be to prolong a multi-round tournament out over the course of a 2-3 month window, giving competitors the chance to schedule their matches on their time — but that has historically proven to be a bad idea, as contenders will usually wait until the last minute, pushing everyone back.
Bloom can reflect on this evening’s win however, as the Commissioner will probably give him a few months to defend it again. However, with the queue of talent already lining up for the top contender spot, a 4- or 8-player “playoff” seems a strong possibility to test the waters.