A backyard, 16 teams, joined the City of Lakes Loppet then 32 teams, 52 teams. That is the path for the four years of the Minnesota Kubb Winter Tournament in Minneapolis.
We were there yesterday promoting kubb by passing out flyers for all the other tournaments, gave out some 2012 U.S. Championship shirts and Kubbnation Magazines, and cheering on some fellow Eau Claire area teams. It was a great day. It was Dallas, WI Oktoberfest on steroids. It seemed Eric Goplin was getting interviewed non-stop. After thinking and dreaming about kubb all night and then thinking this morning, here are some things that we know.
- The tournament will need to make a decision to stop it at 64 teams next year or go bigger. The growth has been just insane. Will they keep it at 2-person teams or change to 3-person teams? This is the second largest tournament in the U.S. now. Even if Rockford equal or surpasses it (which would be tough), it is still a huge tournament in a huge metro area. You have to think Minneapolis could have a equally as large (if not a lot larger tournament this summer). Having a tournament in Minneapolis is great, not just for them, but as we were talking to players from Des Moines, we are hoping to get more players from the Twin Cities to play in a host of other tournaments.
- Team Knockerheads from Des Moines are on fire and perhaps played as good as we have seen a team play. Six baton stats don't do much for us, especially 12, unless you are going six for six. But watching them with two and three batons in their hands, their 8 meter game is top-notch. The team work, knowing who is going to throw when, the trust. To be honest, if they get a break or two throughout the year, one could see them winning each tournament they enter this year. For sure, you have to think that they will make it to every semifinal and contest for every Final. There is going to be a lot more hardware in Des Moines after this year, and it is up to them as how long they will be bringing home the hardware. If a team wants to beat them, you have to have everything. BUT, and this is what makes kubb so great, yesterday we saw Eau Claire's Team Kubboom with a ten year old have two batons in their hand with a baseline and a king to win game 2 against Team Knockerheads. We will put Eau Claire's Kubbsicles/Kubby Doo in the same category as Team Knockerheads, and they had to press to beat another Eau Claire team that is making names for themselves (Von Trapp Family Slingers and also Kubbilicous Maximus). Still, at the end of the day, these are the two teams. When you have a great inkastare, the next step is the eight meters, and both teams are built from top to bottom. Again, BUT teams should realize that if they put things together, they do have a chance.
- We all show our will to win in different ways, but teams need to match their will to win against top teams. Otherwise, it is not going to happen.
- Speaking of 10 year olds (and eight year olds), we are seeing more teams bring in their kids to the team, and for some of them, there is no, "but they have a kid playing". Team Kubboom's 10 year old Sam hit the last field kubb and then the king to beat Des Moines' Pitch Slap in the round of 32 and he is the part-time inkastare. Toss in Eau Claire's The Ringers' eight year old Sy (didn't play on Saturday) who did the same thing in the round of 16 at the U.S. Championship. We are seeing the future right now. Invest in the kids, and they will get good, real good, quick.
- Kubb Snipers from Appleton are the real deal. 2012 was not a fluke. And The Ringers are still a force. Dave Ellringer might be old enough to be a lot of our dads, but he is still one of the best players out there. Seeing Kubb Snipers go toe-to-toe with The Ringers in the semifinals, that was big-boy kubb and it was fantastic to watch. We are looking forward to Planet Kubb's stats on the final games. Both of these teams also were so solid on eight meters.
- There have been a few teams that have played in the Minneapolis and Rockford tournaments that are starting to see that they can go decently far in tournaments, and we think they are starting to get hooked and have a look in their eyes that they might travel more and/or practice more. New blood in the quarterfinals and beyond is good for the game and sport.
- We could not help but look out yesterday and see a lot of what seemed to be new players. It seemed like two types of teams. First, guys in their 20s and 30s having a great time and many having a look on their face, at least to me, that this could replace or supplement softball, bags, golf, or some other sports/ativities that they take part in. The second type of team were co-ed teams or all ladies with their big city style (we mean that as a big compliment) that were having a great time and at the same time, some were competing as well as all the other teams. We have always promoted diversity on the pitches, and it is great to have more females playing.
- Not sure how many total players were there, but there were a lot of teams that had three or more players. This seems to be the trend everywhere.
- The teams that finished in the middle of the road would have gone far in any tournament a couple years ago. Talent is getting better, which is great. There were some really good teams that did not make it out of the round of 16.
- Even more than ever, kubb tournaments are turning into a Kubb Fest. Looking out yesterday with all the people, the music, the tents, the yelling, the laughing, the meeting and greeting, it was amazing.
- But back to the 3.5 million people Twin Cities. This is so great for kubb. The size of the tournament, having it be part of the Loppet, and being located in such are large metropolitan area, and one that has a high percentage of people with Nordic heritage is amazing.
As we wrote in Kubbnation Magazine this year, we had no idea what to expect the Sunday after the 2012 Loppet. Today, the Sunday after the 2013 Loppet, we now know what to expect. We are to expect that we have no real idea what is going to happen, but there will be a ton of growth, and most importantly that 2013 is going to be another AMAZING year for kubb in the USA.