Posted by jukkahoo
Once more the gladiators known as tabletop hockeyplayers gathered to the sacred arena of Helsinki University SF Klubi's venerable Clubhouse (this being the fifth in a line of such hallowed places). The 2005 Championships was a certain future classic, a test of skill and stamina of unimagined proportion to any outsider and a casual wanderer, fortuned enough to be able to gaze upon such luminaries as Anssi Makkonen, Toni Jerrman, Vesa Virri and Antti Kallio, not to mention new-comers like Pasi Vihinen or Manu Paavola. And how could one forget the likes of Teemu Whatshisname or Jussi Thenotably-Not-Last-One!
But I digress.
Actually, I didn't, but anyway!
This year the games were called up at a very late date. Truth to be told, I was given the date only three weeks before-hand, and asked whether I could cast out my tentacles and seek forth and fifth the Usual Suspects. This I did. Most I managed to get in touch with. Many came, some were forced to stay out, due to various lame-ass excuses as flu, broken wrist or honeymoon(!). Nay, not all were up to the challenge, but several were. Most notably J-P Hartikainen, the Hero of the Nation and the Official Herrasmiespelaaja of 2005; who not only played well, treated the opponent as a gentleman ought to, but rise to the occasion with such fervour as never before-seen. You see, after some last-minute drop-outs, the number of actual players was a nigh-difficult-to-divide 11, but with little coaxing (none really) J-P agreed to join the legion of athletic champions, becoming in essence, number Twelve.
After some time-honored ceremonies, which I'm not allowed nor willing to divulge to the general public, two equally interesting and hardened divisions were formed:
Pasi Vihinen, Anssi Makkonen, J-P Hartikainen, Teemu Naarajärvi, Antti Kallio and Manu Paavola
Esa Heilimo, Vesa Virri, Topi Mäkelä, Toni Jerrman, Petri Salin and Jussi Tuhkanen
In the first round everyone played against each opponent from the same division, thus playing five games in all. Five minutes a game, no pauses - unless the game brakes down etc - and with an additional 30 second Sudden Death in case of a draw (after which it is a draw). No kirppu's, no scoring from the opening and always re-starting from the middle. And remember the handshake.
After the initial phase, four best ones from both divisions started the SF-playoffs (Rules copyright by Hannu Pajunen), where the winner of div. A played against the fourth from div. B and vice versa, 2nd from A played agains 3rd from B etc. After this, it gets a little bit more complicated, since one loss at the playoffs-stage doesn't mean that you're out, but that you're now at the repechage stage, where the next loss is the final one. This highly complex arraingment was created solely for the purpose of relegating the small piece of euphoria that some people experience from winning the so-called bronze-game. This way all positions, beside winning, are achieved by losing! The last four players from phase one played a simple relegation playoffs.
Many a game were exiting, some more than others. Only one sad 0-0 game was played during the first round (we're not naming neither Toni nor Topi here) and only two more were played at the playoffs (Topi was the repeat-offender). A lot of goals were scored and the Goalscorer-title (goals scored during the first round) went to Vesa Virri, with nearly mind-boggling 38 goals (Pasi Vihinen was 2nd with 31).
The playoffs were fierce, a lot more vivid and vibrant recollection of said games can be read from Petri Salin's otroligt bra reportage in Näthörningen (på svenska), but let me tell you, you haven't seen anything before you've witnessed the David vs Goliath battle between Manu and Pasi, where the winning goal (2-3 to Pasi) was scored only seconds before the full time. Last time such one-sided dominance was almost fought to the stand-still by an inferior force, the battlefield was few hundred kliks to the east some 65 years ago.
But in the end we had a winner. The reigning FinnconKampen Champion beat the reigning SF-Tabletop Champion in one match, 2-1 (having beated him before 4-0). Pasi "Fist" Vihinen was victotious and celebratiosn were in order. Hurrah! and Huzzah! Glory to the Vizier of Finance! Praised be the Master of Mäkelänkatu! Sela!
I'll put the full results of all of the games played to the Official website when I have the time, but here's the Final Order of Things:
1. Pasi Fist Vihinen
2. Vesa Terminaattori Virri
3. Antti Rehtori Kallio
4. Manu Illallinen Paavola
5. Anssi Sotamaali-kauppias Makkonen
6. Esa Leijona Heilimo
7. Toni Tähtivaeltaja Jerrma
8. Petri Kuolemantuoja Salin
9. Topi Lonkeroporno Mäkelä
10. Jussi Tuhkis Tuhkanen
11. Teemu Poroisäntä Naarajärvi
12. J-P Predator Hartikainen