Friday, April 6, 2012

Predicting the Winner: Part 2 - The Personality Factor

Two weeks ago I wrote a post about predicting the winner of this season of Top Shot. It is this topic I would like to revisit now that the competition has entered the individual portion, and my favorite contestant of this season has exited. Perhaps than this post would really be better titled as "Predicting My New Favorite Contestant" although I suppose that would put most of the pressure on you, so we re-title again, "Me Telling You My New Favorite Contestant." And while this may seem very simple, I assure you that I will walk through each contestant, and my thought process, diligently.

The problem I have right now is who to root for. I had one blue team member and one red team member I got behind pretty early in the season. Terry Vaughan pretty much had my support from the moment I read his bio and found out he was British. This was only reinforced when I watched him on the show and interacted with him and his wife through Twitter. Tim Trefren I also liked almost immediately based on his unique shooting background as a big game hunter. That, in addition to his likable personality, and ability to be a strong team player, drew me to him. Then, there was even a third person in the mix, in the form of Dylan Fletcher. While I started the season disliking Fletcher on almost the same level as Greg Littlejohn (though not quite), his personality won me over in "Trick Shot Shoot Off."I was willing to throw my support behind him if he could beat Bethards in elimination because it would have proved he could go toe-to-toe with some of the strongest shooters of this competition.

Alas, one by one, my favorites were taken down. It is also slightly ironic that each was there own worst enemy with Trefren calling out Chris Cheng, Fletcher calling out Bethards, and Vaughan nominating himself for elimination. So who am I left with?

My overriding problem with the remaining contestants is their personalities. Look at the past three champions: Iain Harrison, strong shooter, charming British Guy; Chris Reed, strong shooter, charming southern guy; Dustin Ellerman, strong shooter, excitable, charming camp counselor. These three share several things in common, they were either the contestants viewers wanted to see win, or they were the contestants that viewers did not have a problem with winning. They got along with most of the other people in the house, and balanced a feeling of joy of simply being there with the seriousness of wanting to win the competition.

I am not saying there are not personalities in left in the house, there certainly are, but there might not be any left that match attribute listed above. I'm going to get little Chris Cheng-y on you know and list off the remaining contestants flaws.

William Bethards has certainly shown he has the skills to take this competition. However his personality has rubbed contestants (and some viewers) the wrong way. This is the tough compromise with Top Shot. At what point do viewers sacrifice the integrity of the competition by rooting for personalities rather than skills? Let me again use Season 3 contestant Jake Zweig as an example. There is no denying that  Zweig was a lethal contestant. His ability to perform in competitions was outstanding, but his personality and nerves forced him out of the competition. If he had won the competition, would he have been a champion viewers could get behind? Previous winners have strong fan followings, it's the reason viewers and contestants get excited when the champions come back as experts. If one of the more, for lack of a better term, villainous characters wins, what kind of reaction will that get from the ? This isn't Survivor where there might be some sort of sick satisfaction for a villain taking the top prize. This show is about sportsmanship and respect, and having a winner who doesn't hold these values during their time on the show, hurts the show.

Chris ChengChee Kwan and Gary Shank are all fine shooters, but are also all a little bland. Not to say they aren't nice guys, or good teammates. They are very calculated shooters and their one on one interviews reflect that. They are missing that thing that makes them pop, and maybe that is more of a fault of the editing of the show than anything else.

Gabby Franco has been a fun presence of the show. In terms of personality she has one of the stronger one's of the remaining contestants. However, and I hate to say this, but I do not think she will win. This is not to say I would not be happy to see her win, I think it would be awesome for her to be the first female winner of Top Shot, but I just don't think she will. I wish I had better reasoning than that, but I usually trust my gut, and this is what my gut is telling me.

I can't say much about Littlejohn that hasn't already been said. Fans seems pretty displeased by his presence on the show (just look at some of the comments on the Top Shot Facebook page). At this point it is verging more on the mean side, especially because he really isn't that bad of a guy, it's simply that his actions come off the wrong way. That, coupled with his troublesome nerves, make him not long for this competition.

Augie Malekovich is probably the biggest question marks this season. While he has had a few standout moments this season, he hasn't gotten the same kind of screen time as the rest of the contestants. He has been overshadowed by his fellow teammates, and this has made him a bit of a mystery. If he hangs around for a few more episodes that may change, and we may get a better idea of what kind of person Malekovich is.

Not to beat a dead horse, but Kyle Sumpter rubs me the wrong way. I can't quite put my finger on it but something about his personality comes off as disingenuous. In addition, I think there are shooters with more skill than him remaining in this competition and it is only a matter of time before his luck runs out. And without a team to hold him in high regard, I wouldn't be surprised if that time was sooner rather than later.

So, who am I rooting for? For now, I'm going with Chris Cheng. Cheng is a beast in competitions, and while he may have made a misstep here or there, I think he has embodied the qualities of the past three winners the most of any of the remaining contestants. The personality problem will work itself out as the field of contestants continues to whittle down.

Who do you think will take the competition? More importantly, who do you want to win? Hit the comments and let me know.

That will be it for the weekend. I'm up in Door County, Wis. for the Easter holiday and will be spending the next few days playing golf in balmy 50 degree weather. Have a Happy Easter everyone.

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