Sweet glory, that was a week.
36 clubs in two divisions played 35 games over the course of nine days. SmallWorld played all of them out individually and streamed each one live on Twitter.
It was a lot of effort. It was a lot of time. It was a lot of confusing looks from my family as I explained that yes, people were actually watching me sit in my basement and record myself playing soccer games meant for 5-year olds.
But it was all so much fun and so worth it. At the end of the day, Motorik FC Alexandria of the Maryland Major Soccer League emerged as the champions, but how did we get to that result? Let’s recap and find out.
We divided the tournament into two brackets, one for all Georgia clubs (with the exception of Nashville Rhythm), and the other for other lower-league clubs we particularly love from all over the country.
The Georgia division had 16 teams even with the inclusion of the Rhythm, but I couldn’t trim the US side down to 16. I made it a bracket with 20 teams, which gave that side four play-in games to get the tournament off and running.
Motorik was, in fact, one of those play-in teams, as they were randomly drawn the 13 seed and faced 20-seed Tallahassee SC, one of SmallWorld’s favorite expansion clubs in 2020. They won on penalties in a random flipping of FIFA World Cup trading cards and moved on to face Lionsbridge FC of USL League Two.
Our Round of 16 was played out by a Playmobil soccer set, and there were a LOT of Playmobil matches. Motorik won on penalties once again, and moved on to face another USL League Two club, Oakland County FC. Fellow play-in teams Minneapolis City SC and Palm Beach Breakers also survived the Round of 16 on the US side.
In the Georgia half, Majestic SC and Tormenta FC both got off to strong starts, each winning 1-0 and facing each other in the quarterfinals. Nashville Rhythm also advanced, as did a host of other clubs.
Nashville moved on to play SSA Kings in the GA Quarterfinal, and defeated them 1-0 in a FIFA 19 battle. The real highlight of the FIFA round on the GA side, though, was the absolute drubbing Majestic SC (of the ADASL) gave Tormenta, a 7-1 victory that had them bursting with momentum heading into the semifinal.
Meanwhile, in the US division, the quarterfinal matches were all relatively close and high-scoring. Palm Beach Breakers beat Himmarshee FC in a South Florida derby of fan-owned clubs on penalties, while Minneapolis City beat Forward Madison 2-0 in a duel between two fan favorites. Motorik continued their incredible run with a 3-2 thriller over Oakland County, and Chattanooga FC took down Dynamo St. Cloud on penalties.
That round set up Chattanooga vs. Motorik and Mpls City vs. Palm Beach in the US semifinals, and Majestic vs. East Atlanta as well as Rhythm vs. Atlanta Generals on the GA side.
Majestic continued their winning ways against East Atlanta in our SoccerTactics World board game round, but it wasn’t as comfortable as last time out, as they needed a penalty shootout to dispose of their opponents from Conyers. Nashville, too, earned a berth in the GA finals by beating FC Atlanta Generals 1-0, and came within a single match of thwarting the state of Georgia’s chance at a representative in the final.
On the US side, grassroots giants Chattanooga faltered against the other boys in blue of Motorik, as the Virginia side won yet another match on penalties. Minneapolis City and Palm Beach also played to a draw in regular time, and the Breakers’ fantastic performance in the tournament finally came to an end at the hands of the Crows.
From there, we moved to Straw Soccer for the Division Finals. There, Motorik defeated Minneapolis on a last-gasp goal to make it 3-2. That put the team from Virginia into the Grand Final, but who would they face?
Nashville came out strong in their Straw Soccer match, but Majestic took control in the second half and won with a convincing 3-1 scoreline, their second win by two or more goals in the tournament. That set up a battle with Motorik in the Grand Final, and it certainly was a battle.
By this point, I had FIFA 20, so I was able to play the Grand Final on the most recent edition of the game. I also took the time to create a starting XI for both Majestic and Motorik, so that when Jake and I played, we’d be playing with real players’ names and likenesses.
Jake played for Majestic and I for Motorik, and the game started pretty evenly. It was 0-0 at the half, though Motorik probably had the better attacking chances. Mitchell Kupstas of Majestic stood on his head throughout the half to keep things level, but the floodgates opened in the second half.
Motorik, through Haji Skillz’s, well, skills, took control and never looked back. The entire team looked dominant in the second 45, and they earned their just reward with the final result.
With that, Motorik became champions of the first-ever SmallWorld March Madness, traversing both the FIFA rounds, Straw Soccer, Playmobil soccer, SoccerTactics, and even card-flipping. What an advanture it was for Kenneth Tebo’s club, and I couldn’t be happier for them.
The other reward Motorik gets for winning is more tangible; I’m purchasing (and have just purchased, in fact) a brand-new jersey for them to help support in this time without matchday revenue! I’m also getting stickers from each club who made the Division Finals to help rep them and appreciate their run in the tournament.
Congrats to Motorik, and if you want to see their entire run live, each match is still available to watch on Twitter! Just search the hashtag #SWMM and you’ll find every match of SmallWorld March Madness.
Thanks for reading, and a special thanks to those who followed the tournament as it happened. SmallWorld sincerely hopes it was all an enjoyable experience that helped deflect the bad and promote the good in this crazy quarantine life we live in.
Stay healthy and safe, and don’t forget to watch SmallWorld’s attempt at eSports in the Lower League eCup starting this week!
Support local soccer, unify those around you, and seek out diversity!