The day was September 21, 2013.

I learned a lot about what is going on in the world of kubb this past Saturday, and at least for myself, it is another experience that changes how I see kubb in the U.S.

Tournaments:
Myself, I traveled to Des Moines, IA to play in their 4th Annual Fall Kubb Klassic. It was my third year in a row going to the tournament. Actually, 10 people from Eau Claire traveled to Des Moines to play (two of which are currently at their respective universities) and two others came as spectators. The past two year, four people from Eau Claire traveled there. Not a bad increase. I played with David Ellringer from The Ringers.

On the same day, the Chippewa Valley Kubb League hosted their 3rd Annual Kubbfest. A  lot of you that read this blog will know that this is not the first year that both these tournaments were played on the same day. No, this was the third year. So, one might think what can one learn from it. I learned that the kubb community is now at a level where two very sustainable tournaments can be played on the same day. Did I question it before? No, absolutely not, but I didn't really think about it before. Not only that, but both groups and participation in the events are growing. The Des Moines Fall Kubb Klassic increased from 32 teams to 40 teams this year while at the same time the Kubbfest 3 in Eau Claire had 40 people playing and others volunteering and/or being spectators.

Top Four at the CVKL Kubbfest 3. (Chippewa Valley Kubb League)

Now, I will admit that some people will think this is perhaps unique to Eau Claire, in that there are so many people from Eau Claire that kubb and Eau Claire does not need players/teams to travel to have a tournament, but I don't think that is necessarily the case anymore. Looking at the 2014 tournament schedule, June 21st will also host two tournaments. There will be the Lindsborg Midsommar Tournament in Lindsborg, KS and also a co-ed tournament at Snus Winery just north of Des Moines, IA. One has to expect that both will have a great turnout. In addition, the Fall Kubb Klassic and the Kubbfest will also be on the same weekend. Yes, Des Moines and Lindsborg and Des Moines and Eau Claire are both roughly five to six hours apart, but this is a great sign for kubb. Not only are there tournaments on the same weekend, but these tournaments are growing and are staples of their local kubb scenes. They really are. The kubb community has organically created this all.

For the past years, it is easy to see that we all need to build up our local bases to help support our kubb activity, and I really think we are experiencing the fruits of our labor. Think about it. Every tournament this year increased in size....every one. And some did not increase by a little, but by a significant amount. For all the tournaments, they are all another year older and another year as part of the fabric of their communities. How many fourth-year and fifth-year tournaments are we going to have next year? A heck of a lot. Not only that, but other new tournaments are already planned like the Kettle Moraine Kubb "Kubb In The Kettle" Labor Day Weekend Tournament in the Milwaukee area. This is an amazing time for kubb tournaments. In just 2008, there were two tournaments. In 2009, yes only four years ago, there were four. Again, there are so many tournaments right now and so many people playing that there are over a dozen tournaments this year, and we can 100 percent support multiple tournaments on the same day.

Teams:  
I also learned something about the top teams and the teams that are coming for them. For me, and I am not afraid to say this, I honestly think there are three top teams now. They are (in alphabetical order): King Pin, Kubbsicles, and Team Knockerheads. Now, some people may not agree with me, and that is quite OK. If two of these teams played against each other 10 times, would each pairing go 5-5? No, I don't think that, and based on performances over the past 18 months, I do have to say that Kubbsicles and Team Knockerheads would be ranked 1 and 2 (I will keep my order of ranking to myself). However, for me, King Pin has raised their game to the level where they need to be in the same sentence as the other two and that King Pin's run to the 2013 U.S. Championship Final was not a fluke. Yes, both Team Knockerheads and King Pin played with only two of their three players in Des Moines. But King Pin's play showed that they are a solid number 3, and in my opinion closer to the top two than the teams below them. I know they would have liked to press Team Knockerheads more in the DM Final, but they played Team Knockerheads extremely tough in Round 5 of the Swiss System, and the match was a DNF due to time. 


JP and John from King Pin with Dave. (Chris McDiarmid)

OK, so (in my opinion) we have those top three teams. I also do think that there are some other teams that are coming up through the ranks that are starting to battle harder against these top three teams, and it is a matter of time that they knock off one of the top three and/or join them. An example is Team Kubboom tied King Pin in a middle round of the Swiss System. I know they would have liked to play better against Team Knockerheads in an early Swiss System match, but you know what, a lot of people say that after they play the Des Moines Freight Train. Whatever team Evan Fitzgerald ends up on is going to be one of these teams as well. There are a host of others in addition, some of which that obviously were not playing in Des Moines.

Josh Feathers from Team Knockerheads blowing up a tight group. (Rodger Bokma)

I think, if people practice enough and mentally get strong enough, 2014 is going to be an amazing year for top-level kubb where more teams get closer to the top three. I also expect the top three to realize that more teams are coming for them and they will up their game even more. I am just as excited to be a spectator and "reporter" in 2014 as I am a player.

Myself:
The last thing I learned was this. After another satisfying showing in Des Moines, I do have to say, that I would love the opportunity to play with Aaron and Dave of The Ringers at the U.S. Championship. It will never happen, but after Dave Ellringer and I took Team Knockerheads to 10 kubbs in Game 3 of Round 6 of the Swiss System and King Pin to 9 kubbs in Game 3 in the semifinals (the only two matches we did not win), I would love the opportunity to be on their baseline at the U.S. Championship and see how far we could go.

Thanks for a great and wonderful day to the Des Moines Kubb Club, my teammate Dave, and also our fellow club mates from Berserker Kubb. I had a wonderful time.


Dave and I eating some Reallygoods after a satisfying and enjoyable third place finish in Des Moines, IA. (Reallygoods)