The 2015 World Memory Championships is less than a week away from happening (Dec. 16-18, in Chengdu, China, to be exact) and I wanted to share my thoughts on what I expect to go down. First, a few notable things.
1. No Jonas von Essen, the reigning 2x world champ. I haven't spoken with him lately, so I'm not sure what his reasons are for not competing, but he has some sense in him (unlike me). Stopping while he's on top. Why not, right?
2. No legendary 3x WMC champ Ben Pridmore. WHAT. THE. HELL! There ain't no WMC like a WMC party when Ben's not there. Who's gonna take his place and wear funny t-shirts that say things like "I am from Space" and "I'm big in Japan"??? Boo to you Ben.
3. There are more Americans competing than ever. A whopping FIVE! Me and Brad Zupp (the old guys), Luis Angel (the I-competed-a-few-years-ago-but-I'm-better-now-and-am-gonna-kick-ass guy), and 2 new-comers Alex Mullen and Lance Tschirhart (the I've-got-something-to-prove guys...more on them later).
Finally, this might end up being the largest competition that's ever gone down, in terms of attendance. Mostly thanks to the Chinese. The numbers aren't entirely clear, but it seems like there will be around 300 competitors total - or at least that's the cap. I think around 200 of them are Chinese. Again, the websites announcing those numbers are poorly translated and who knows how accurate they are (more on that later). UPDATE: according to the competitor list, the final number is 285.
Oh, and I guess an extra interesting fact is that there is big prize money? Again, it's all coming from Chinese sources so the numbers are a bit hand-wavey. There's also more prize money going to the "best fan," whatever the hell that means. I mean, I'm a pretty big fan. So...I win?
WAIT! How could I forget? We will be SO lucky to be in the presence of some Polish royalty! They were invited by Tony and Ray (the we-created-the-WMC guys) and are coming to watch us 300 competitors stare at sheets for 8 hours a day, for 3 days straight. Although, I think if you dig far back enough into my ancestry you'll also find that I am royalty as well. So I guess it's not really that big of a deal. Plus they were probably just invited so Tony and Ray have fancy dinner guests. I'll be eating hot pot Sichuan food on the street, thank you very much (who am I kidding, I'm not royal enough to be invited to their dinners).
OK, 'NUFF O' THAT....NOW FOR PREDICTIONS!
Of the hundred-some competitors coming, here are the ones who are currently most notable in the rankings:
1. (1) Johannes Mallow 2. (2) Simon Reinhard 3. (4) Marwin Wallonius 4. (6) Sengesamdan Ulziikhutag 5. (7) Zheng Aiqiang 6. (8) Christian Schafer (UPDATED: he won't be competing) 7. (9) Yanjaa Altansuh 8. (10) Ola Kare Risa 9. (11) Boris Konrad 10. (13) Lance Tschirhart
Others: Marlo Knight, Johannes Zhou (UPDATE: he won't be competing) , Alex Mullen, Tsogobadrakh Saikhanbayar, Shi Bin Bin
So there’s the list. For sure those 10 are going to be playing up in the top-ten during the 3-day competition, but then there are some others that will be contending in the mix, as well as some surprises we won’t expect. I’d throw Alex Mullen and Tsogo in the hat with almost near certainty. Both beasts with numbers, and Alex creating rumblings of awesomeness throughout all the other disciplines as well. Tsogo has been through this rodeo a few times before, so he's got experience, but for Alex this will be his first, a virgin. Having seen Alex under serious pressure at the last XMT, he is beyond-a-doubt, a steady hand. I think if there is anyone who can hit his practice scores consistently in a competition, it’s him. Then there is Lance. He's had some seriously impressive scores on Memocamp, but can he translate that down onto paper in a competition. We can only wait and see.
What about the classics, Simon and Johannes? I have no idea how Johannes has been training. All I know is that he took some time off and has probably been itching to compete and training to make an epic come back. Don’t count him out at all. He will be contending for the championship, that's for sure. And then Simon, we all know the kind of scores he can get when he is ON. And if he can hit that 20 second mark on speed cards, while maintaining great all round scores in the other events, he’ll be up there too.
Then there is Marwin, who recently won the Swedish Championship and broke a few insane records (1800 digits in 30 minutes, 567 abstract images in 15 minutes, and 1071 digits in 15 minutes - WHAT???). He is on a serious ROLE this year.
If I had to call out a top-5 right now, it would have to be (not in order): Johannes Mallow, Simon Reinhard, Alex Mullen, Marwin Wallonius, and hmmm, I don’t know that 5th slot. It could be Yanjaa, it could be Boris, it could be Lance, it could be one of the top Mongolians, it could be Zheng (who I don’t know a whole great deal about), it could be me if everyone else dies.
Okay, so if I had to cut that down to top-3, I would go with, in order this time...here it is...
1. Marwin Wallonius 2. Alex Mullen 3. Johannes Mallow
Then, just for shits and giggles:
4. Simon Reinhard 5. Shi Bin Bin 6. Lance Tschirhart 7. Zheng Aiqiang 8. Yanjaa Altansuh 9. Tsogobadrakh Saikhanbayar 10. Boris Konrad
And continuing a bit:
11. Enkhmunkh Erdenebatkhaan 12. Ola Kare Risa 13. Sengesamdan Ulziikhutag 14. Marlo Knight 15. Nelson Dellis (gotta throw myself in there :D)
Anyways, let's see what happens. China is far, and jet-lag is real. Competition is a whole other ball game and there is a lot on the line (lots of moneyyyyyy), so who knows how people will perform with that kind of pressure. Updates will come as they happen next week. Stay tuned!
And congrats Marwin :D