Saturday, August 24, 2013

8 Things to Expect at the Street League Championship

I understand that a lot of skateboarders hate Street League. Honestly, I have my own qualms with it as well, but at the end of the day, I have a hard time coming up with a reason not to watch guys like Luan Oliveira, Chris Cole, Ishod Wair,  and Paul Rodriguez skate. Not to mention in the prelims you get to see Bastien Salabanzi go HAM during the run section, and find out what new obstacle Austyn Gillette has decided to kick-push at and stretch a trick over, so all in all, it's pretty fun to watch. It's pretty hard to ruin good skating, in my eyes.

Tomorrow evening, those of us who care about Street League will get to see some really good skaters go for broke for the Championship in New Jersey. The course appears to offer more options than ever before, and a lot of these guys will be laying it all on the line. Chris Cole mentioned that this was his favorite course so far, and I agree that it has potential. Just look at it.


So with that said, here are my predictions of what to expect:

1. Terrible camera work.
The most consistent thing about Street League is that the broadcast will be terrible. Some of the tricks will be filmed from the opposite side of the obstacle so that you can't see the skaters feet. Stats will pop up on the screen that cover up the person skating. There will be cuts in the middle of the trick so that you view the same trick from two completely different angles just for the sake of confusing you. The camera men will be unable to properly follow the action, and be so oblivious to the action that they will most likely get in the skater's way a few times. It's going to suck, and we're better off excepting that now.

2. Everyone is going to pull some especially difficult tricks.
 As you'll notice in the picture above, the big section isn't especially big, and the middle section has a ton of options. These are also the 8 best skaters in Street League. This is their last chance to win. I'm definitely expecting a very technical contest, quite possibly with some tricks that we've never seen before.Speaking of technical tricks...

3. Nyjah is going to pull a hardflip backside 5-0 on the rail or hubba.
I know this one is oddly specific, but I am fairly certain I have seen him try this trick in competition before, and in the Diamond Life Afterparty or whatever the hell that thing from last time was, he did a hardflip back 50-50 on the hubba. It's possible that he'll settle for the 50-50, but I have a feeling he's going to try and balance it in the contest given a slightly shorter down ledge.

4. Better than average commentating.
Felix and... that other guy do an ok job, but there's often two very different lines of thought going on, so often you will have one guy talking about the skater's personal life only to be interrupted by the other guy announcing what trick just happened. It doesn't add a whole lot and the guys aren't that great of expressing excitement through their voice, so it's hard to get into. This time will be different, however, as Geoff Rowley will be the guest. Geoff always talks about skating in an interesting way, makes some good observations, and is generally pretty positive while also not being afraid to point out where people have messed up. I'm not saying the commentating will be great, but hopefully we will get some relief from the normal, drab stuff we usually get.

5. Sean Malto will most likely wind up in the bottom 2.
There's no easy way for me to say this. Sean Malto has been slipping in his performance at Street League throughout this past season. To add to it, Sean thrives when the course is sort of big and scary, because he can still nollie into any number of tricks on a much higher hubba compared to other people. When it comes to more technical aspects, however, Malto is much less consistent and doesn't have as big of a bag of tricks to fall back on. When interviewed about the course, he seemed nervous and unsure of how to handle it. This course just isn't built for him and this just isn't is year, so expect him to rank low.

6. ESPN will make a plug for a baseball or pre-season football in the middle of the game, and the realization that skateboarding is now being broadcast on a legitimate sports network will startle you.
It's just something that happens for every Street League broadcast.

7. Luan Oliveira looks extremely good to win.
Luan has been killing it all season, and with each passing contest he seems to get more confident and consistent. Generally, he's been struggling with the big section in these past contests, but looking at the course, I could definitely see him putting down a nollie hardflip noseslide bigspin out on the hubba, which would most likely shut things down. But whatever happens...

8. Know that it will be extremely close.
When I look at this course and think about what's been going on lately, I feel as though there is not simply one favorite to win, but instead there seems to be at least four: P-Rod, Cole, Nyjah, and Luan. All of those guys are at the top of their game and have extreme technical prowess. P-Rod and Cole have their dream course set in front of them, Luan has been getting increasingly better, and Nyjah is competitive and has been skating better than ever, while also working well in pressure situations. What it essentially comes down to is how each of them deals with the championship pressure. P-Rod could very easily get hung up on a single trick in the control and impact sections and blow it. Luan could be off his game just a little bit and miss the flick on some crucial flip tricks. Chris Cole may very well try some harder tricks than he has to for the sake of showmanship and having fun (which I don't blame him for- that's awesome to watch) and wind up getting one too many misses. In other words, if everyone is at the top of their game, I think we're looking at either Luan or P-Rod for the win, but if the pressure really starts coming down on everyone, then Nyjah clearly has it. For now, nobody knows, and we'll just have to watch it unfold. And that's why Street League is so good.

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