January 31, 2010
Las Vegas, Nevada
In what was his most memorable and emotional victory, Alexandria, Kentucky native Matt Guy defeated Steve Vanderver and secured his fourth ACO King of Cornhole.
“Tired, exhausted, wore out,” said Guy immediately after the match. “I’m tired. My back hurts. My feet hurt.”
His nickname may be The Champ, but his performance was more like a well-tuned machine. His pre-release technique was modified, but the end result was always the same. Win after win after win. But it wasn’t as easy getting there as in year’s past.
It’s important to capitalize when a player becomes slightly inconsistent. Matt Guy doesn’t provide many of those opportunities. But one has to take advantage when that small window is given to you. The problem playing Guy is the window is as big as the eye of a needle. So when it’s available you better make the most of it.
Guy has reigned, no… dominated the cornhole world the last three years. When there is a sign of weakness the cornhole world speaks loudly. His loss to Jack Stagge last August at the ACO Easter Seals Monster Championships generated talk of Guy’s reign ending in Vegas. The talk emerged again when he faced Indianapolis’ Kevin Warner.
Kevin Warner battled through Chris Hobbs to face Matt Guy in the Elite Eight. After losing the first game to Guy, Warner jumped out to an early lead in game two. He didn’t allow Guy to gain momentum and won the second game of the three game series. Word spread quickly Guy had lost.
“I got some Facebook notifications on Cornhole Nation,” Warner said. “Just been reported that Matt Guy defeated by Kevin Warner.”
But the feeling of accomplishment was short lived. Matt Guy regained his form and Warner was done.
“We were done with all three games before people got to their second game,” said Warner. “I was glad to beat him one game at least. Nobody had beat him before that. That’s first time I’ve actually ever beat Matt head to head.”
Guy’s chase for the crown didn’t get easier. In the 2009 final four, Matt Guy faced his son, Bret Guy, who had surprised the field upsetting much higher ranked players throughout the day. 2010 was a different story. Guy’s opponent was crowd favorite and #4 ACO world ranked Randy Atha.
Atha gave Guy a battle in the first game, but the reigning King kept Atha at bay to secure the game one victory. Guy created an insurmountable lead in game two to seal it. Although Guy may have won the match, it was Atha’s showmanship that will always be remembered. In the next-to-last frame, Atha nailed four monster airmails before the crowd.
“I’ve seen him to that before,” said Guy. “That was awesome.”
“I love the crowd.” said Atha, shortly after walking off the court. “They’re fun. That’s what makes this sport so much better.”
Approximately ten hours had passed. Guy just faced Atha and the Atha-favored crowd. Next, he had to battle the boards with #2 ACO world ranked Steve Vanderver.
Guy’s greatness can be attributed to Vanderver’s ability to get the best out of Guy. Vanderver tests Guy’s skills unlike other players on the pro tour. He can match Guy point-for-point for extended periods of time. Some have dubbed Vanderver the “Ironman” because of his long matches. He and Guy once had an epic battle that lasted three and a half hours. So it was no surprise to see Vanderver defeat Dave “The Raptor” Sutton in the longest match at the 2010 King of Cornhole at approximately ninety minutes.
“All I can say is Dave is one heck of a competitor,” said Vanderver. “I wouldn’t expect anything less from him either. He was just an awesome thrower today. I was just fortunate to come out on top.”
So the roles were slightly reversed in 2010. This year Guy battled Atha; Vanderver defeated Cleveland’s Matt Strzala, a 22-seed and this year’s upset specialist, having defeated fellow Cleveland native and 14-seed David Weiser to get to the final four.
After eleven months of competition, Guy and Vanderver remained to claim the crown. Both men were physically tired and emotionally emotionally exhausted. Guy knew he had to give Vanderver his best game ever. Anything less wouldn’t suffice or the talk about losing his kingdom would become truth.
Guy won game one. But Vanderver got a big lead in game two and evened up the match.
Guy had lost two games at the King of Cornhole. He was in familiar territory. However, he wasn’t facing #29 ACO world ranked Kevin Warner. He was battling against the world’s number two who was in reach of becoming number one.
In game three, Guy jumped out to a 8-0 lead. Vanderver cut the deficit to five points trailing 10-5. Guy was up 11-5 when Vanderver made a comeback to trail 14-12.
Like his match against Dave Sutton, Vanderver’s bravado took center stage and he passed Guy 15-14. Vanderver stretched his lead with two more points in the next frame and led 17-14.
Guy was on the ropes. His hold on his reign was by merely fingertips. And then the machine kicked in gear.
Vanderver threw a blocker to force Guy to airmail. Guy airmailed his first bag. The crowd moaned after Vanderver’s second bag overshot the hole. Guy’s next bag hit the hole, but didn’t go in.
Vanderver’s third bag hit on top of his blocker. Had the bag hit the front side of the blocker, both bags probably would have gone into the hole. He would be have been up by two points with one bag left and Guy with two bags yet to throw. Instead, the bag hit the top of the blocker and bounced off the board.
Guy took advantage and nailed another airmail over Vanderver’s blocker. Vanderver answered back with an airmail. The crowded erupted with applause when Guy nailed his third airmail in the frame to reclaim the lead at 20-17.
“It’s (airmails) a big part of the game. Something you gotta have,” said Guy. “I kinda struggled with them. He (Vanderver) was hitting them all the match, but he finally missed some.”
Guy threw a blocker on the left side of the hole to start the final frame. Vanderver was wide left with his airmail. Guy followed with blocker placed placed directly before the hole. Vanderver’s airmail took the blocker with it. So Guy threw another blocker in front of the hole. Vanderver followed with another airmail.
Guy was up 20-17 entering the frame. He was down one point in the frame with two bags on the board. He and Vanderver had one bag left to pitch. If he pushed one bag in he forces Vanderver to airmail to stay alive. Hit a two bagger and he would win the crown.
“I just needed to throw one bag on the slick side down the middle.”
Guy flipped the bag over to the slick side. His arms swung in rhythm. One… two… bag released on three.
“Take two!” Guy yelled.
His bag took the blocker with it into the hole to seal the victory and his fourth reign as King of Cornhole.
It was an emotional victory for Matt Guy. He screamed his excitement and hugged fans in the crowd. He walked past the cornhole board, double slammed his hands on the American Cornhole logo, then proceeded to walk over to his son sitting in the front row. They shared a long embrace. Guy’s watered eyes showed the emotional victory from his accomplishment.
“Four in a row, baby! Four time!”