I’m not afraid to admit that I’m overly competitive. Everyone loves to compete. If you say you’re not competitive, I can’t trust you because I know you’re a liar. And if you’re telling the truth, you should move to Canada. I don’t care if you used to get your jollies off to sports, debate team, or whatever. I just want to know you were and still are trying to be the best at what you do. If you don’t want to be the best you’re probably a dry noodle who doesn’t want to make America great again.
Me, I used to smoke squids on the wrestling mats in high school (nobody could pull off tights under the singlet quite like me, and the way I matched my head gear to my wrestling shoes is still talked about in combat sports fashion magazines). In college, it was intramural sports, obviously. Literally one of the only things that got me out of bed. But now, the team sports are limited. It’s hard to get a team together, so I pretty much limit myself to softball (sidebar — if I have to go one more season without lineup protection I might have a mental breakdown; your boy can only hit so many yokers).
Enter trivia. It’s filled a competitive void for me like you can’t even imagine. Sure, it’s not quite like being out on the field, but I like to break a mental sweat too. I have an exceptionally good trivia team and even though we’re on our third location and the roster has seen some turnover, we’ve been winning at a pretty ferocious pace. Our team isn’t perfect by any means – we still have off nights – but we’re damn good and the more we play the more insight I get into figuring out how to build a 1992 Barcelona-esque trivia dream team.
First, you need the right number of players. We play “Stump” trivia which limits you to six per team. I think six is too much. Too many cooks in the kitchen. Four or five is better. Make sure you have a relatively diverse group with well-rounded knowledge. It’s useless to have a bunch of sports guys who could “Stump the Schwab” if none of you could tackle a history question. Make sure that within your assembled crew, there’s at least a working knowledge of basic science, literature, history, geography, music, movies, pop culture, and sports. But all that is obvious. Here is where you go from a solid lineup to a dream team. It’s all about personalities.
Personality 1: The JR Smith
You need a chucker. You’re not going to get a lot out of this person in terms of quality, but the quantity is definitely there. When the trivia question isn’t obvious to anyone in the group, and everyone is sort of silently searching their minds for the answer to come, the JR Smith will just start saying shit, pretty much hoping something sticks with a more quality player who will recognize the right answer once it’s said. The only drawback is the JR Smith might never shut up and could talk the team out of the correct answer. The ideal situation is that your JR Smith keeps his mouth quiet until there’s a deafening silence where everyone sips their beer frantically hoping to find the answer to the question at the bottom of the glass. Then the JR Smith just rapid fires off every possible answer under the moon.
Personality 2: The Kyle Korver
You need a sniper, a silent assassin, who picks their sports and knows when to shoot. This player isn’t involved in every question, but once they get on a roll, you can start riding their hot hand because they go NBA Jam on fire. Usually they’re on the quiet side, but after they splash a couple threes in a row they start to build up confidence, and the team will start to feed off their energy. The only drawback is if they mishandle a few questions early, they may not open their mouth much as the game goes on, afraid of another misfire. The way to prevent this is with personality number 3. See below.
Personality 3: The Rajon Rondo
You need a cancer in the clubhouse. Just kidding. You need a facilitator who doesn’t give two shits about scoring. In fact, this player on your trivia team probably won’t get too many answers correct. That said, the Rajon Rondo is always looking to facilitate the conversation, helping to steer it in the right direction, and encouraging players on the answers they’ve given. They’ll support answers already said, or help redirect from terrible answers said by that chucker JR Smith. They also can spot who’s getting hot and will encourage the team ride the hot hand. The Rondo is also great at conversation between questions and can put back their share of the beer.
Personality 4: Chris Paul
You need elite talent. You can’t win a trivia night without it. That said, you don’t want a Kobe Bryant; dominant players that are over confident rarely pan out in trivia. A Chris Paul type will manage the game with a strong IQ. They’ll have great point wagering strategy, help the Rondo in facilitate, encourage players to speak up, read the rhythm of his teammates, but at the end of the day, if points need to be scored, your Chris Paul — a jack of all trades in terms of trivia knowledge — will be your best bet. When the team is completely stumped, your CP will make a very educated guess. If you’re lucky, he’ll have another all-star caliber trivia teammate to feed off of, which brings me to personality five.
Personality 5: Blake Griffin
You can win with only one trivia all-star, but if you want to contend for the top prizes (usually a gift card to the bar) having a Blake Griffin who can form a dynamic duo with your Chris Paul is coveted. Your Blake Griffin probably isn’t as smart as your Chris Paul, but this person has a few categories where the confidence level is the “one hunit” emoji. Complete domination in a few categories, and can handle their own in the remaining categories. After a while, your Chris Paul and Blake Griffin will develop a chemistry – almost like a trivia pick-and-roll – where they will feed off of each other. When they’re on the same page, look out.
I said 4-5 players is the sweet spot. If you must have a sixth, go for this one:
Personality 6: Brian Scalabrine
You need a fan favorite, but one who mostly sits at the end of the bench and encourages. You expect nothing from this player and when they have an answer you usually need it triple confirmed by your Chris Paul, your Blake Griffin, and maybe even your Kyle Korver. Your Scal crushes beer, nachos and wings, he cracks the best jokes, flirts with the waitress, and might be the guy who brings the answers up to the trivia MC more than anyone else to feel more involved. But at the end of the day, your White Mamba will be the most lovable.
Also, if anyone wants to challenge me and my squad at trivia, hit me up on Twitter..
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