Opinion: Could Mara Knopic be the IG Goat by Spectacular?

The idea of a Schmoedown Mount Rushmore is a very hot-button issue in the MTS community. Everyone has their own qualifiers for why one player’s head is carved into the mountain and why another’s isn’t. Personally, I have always viewed Mount Rushmore as the four greatest players from each division in the Schmoedown. There are four heads on the mountain and four divisions which helps make the math work out nicely.

With this in mind, some divisions have made their representatives obvious. The undisputed GOAT, “Dangerous” Dan Murrell, largely holds that spot because of his play in the Singles Division, where he has become the 5x Champion and never failed to defend the belt in a reign. In the Teams Division, one obviously looks to Jeff “The Insneider” Sneider, as a 3x Teams Champion with The Patriots and The Odd Couple, who was the first player to win the Teams strap with two different partners. Then, of course, in Star Wars, you have the once-unbeatable Alex “The Demon” Damon, who defended the belt 4 times between 2018 and just recently before handing the belt to Andrew “The Hunter” Dimalanta a few weeks ago.

Yet, the one division that has never had an obvious frontman is the Innergeekdom Division. Rachel “The Crusher” Cushing and Mike “The Killer” Kalinowski have always been near the top of the list, but neither has done enough to really differentiate themselves. Kalinowski is largely responsible for popularizing the division, but his career has always been a bit of a rollercoaster. This is most exemplified by winning the title from Cushing in 2019, and then being KO’d by Kevin “The Smasher” Smets in the following match. Meanwhile, Cushing only has one championship on her resume and is unfortunately retired, which means that others are going to be able to rack up career achievements that The Crusher will never receive.

You could throw in a Jason “Justice” Inman or a Chandru “The Chosen” Dhanadapani as the two most recent champions to defend the belt, but they do not quite feel right either. Inman’s career in the division really only boils down to one great run, and he, like Cushing, is retired, so we will never get to see another. As for Dhandapani, he too suffers from the one-great-run syndrome, but that boils down largely to the fact that his career is so young at this point in time.

“The Amazing” Mara Knopic, however, stands apart from the rest of the pack. She is the only player with wins over 4 of the last 5 champions. Kevin “The Smasher” Smets is the only player to hold the belt since 2018 that she has not beaten and he left the league just before Knopic made her return. In addition, Knopic is one of two people to win an Innergeekdom Tournament and boasts the best win/loss record in the division at 6-1. Enough has been said about her Accuracy Rate and Potential Points Earned% which are not nearly as high as the others in the conversation. Yet, her career achievements, such as being one of only two people to hold the belt on two different occasions, help her to stand out above the rest.

The biggest hindrance to Knopic is obviously longevity. She left the league after losing the title at Schmoedown Spectacular III and had been out of regular competition until the start of this year. That makes it difficult to compare her relatively short career to someone like Kalinowski who has had to evolve with every advancement of the game. The career achievements are all there to put her in the conversation, but she has not played enough to be the undisputed head of the division as of today.

But will this work itself out by the end of the year?

The first obstacle she would have to face is Mike “The Killer” Kalinowski in the Schmoedown Versus tonight. If she wins that match, she will become the fourth IG Champion to defend the belt and the first person to three title wins in the division. A win over Kalinowski will also bring her to 2-1 All-Time against The Killer and give her, not just a win against four of the last five champions, but a winning record against them. Those are massive career achievements that can be gained after just one match.

Following this, it can be assumed that some combination of Chance “The Cobra” Ellison, Robert “The Spider” Parker, and Chandru “The Chosen” Dhandapani are going to duke it out for the next title shot. If Knopic, is able to win the consequent title match, she will become the first champion to defend the belt twice, with a very likely chance to defend it a third time against the winner of the Innergeekdom Tournament at Schmoedown Spectacular VI. That kind of a run would make her arguably the most dominant champion the division has ever seen.

If things were to not go her way against either Kalinowski or one of Ellison/Parker/Dhandapani, Knopic would still not be in a bad place. A loss would likely make her The Dungeon’s representative in the Innergeekdom tournament, where she could have the opportunity to become a two-time tournament winner and the chance to become the only three-time champion in the division with a win at Spectacular. Obviously, those are much worse odds because it involves much more matches, but anything is possible.

At any rate, this is a career-defining season for “The Amazing” Mara Knopic. I fully believe that if she is holding the belt at the end of Schmoedown Spectacular VI, then it would be hard to make an argument that she is not the greatest to ever do it in the Innergeekdom Division. I think she is capable of it, but a lot of matches have to be played before then, and as the Schmoedown has been known to operate, anything can happen before year-end. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see what comes next.

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