2019 ACL World Championships Recap

On January 24th of this year, I left my house and headed to Atlanta, GA to board a plane headed to Fort Lauderdale, FL. I boarded the plane and sat in my aisle seat, as always, next to a quiet older woman who spent the entire flight sleeping. Giddy with excitement, I couldn't find a way to get any rest on the plane, so I instead played the game of "what ifs?" for this brand new ACL season. Predictions, worries, and hopes filled my head as I landed and headed into my Uber in the suffocating Florida humidity.

I eventually found my way to the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center and after a 20 minute adventure of finding the correct entrance, I found myself at the feet of 70 cornhole boards. It was night, so the room as dark and ominous, but that still couldn't prevent slew of thoughts and dreams that filled my head for the season. Just staring into the empty room, I attempted to frame the season in my head and predict where we would be and what we would accomplish by August. 

The 18 person crew from Australia certainly made the week memorable. Photo: Flat Tail PhotographyNow, here I sit in my office, again alone with my thoughts. It's mid August and I'm still sleep deprived from the largest and most monumental cornhole event in the history of the sport. Cornhole began for me at 15 years old in the parking lot of a minor league baseball game. Fast forward 10 years later, one month before my 26th birthday, and I'm coming off of an event with five ESPN network broadcasts that saw over $249,000 in prize money awarded to over 100 unique players from up to 9,500 miles away from home. 

The Trey from January did everything he could to dream up this season. He tried to dream of the success and the exposure and the growth, but he couldn't even come close. Although he was naive then, he would soon learn a valuable lesson. Dream big. Celebrate the journey. Raise the bar. The combination of all these forms the mentality that I'll have for years to come. Even when we reach the $1 million season, even when we get our first full time professional cornhole player, and event when we make the Olympics. Always have the same mindset and you will never stop growing.

The best is yet to come.

Enough of my wannabe motivational speaking, I know why you're reading. You want my takes on the 2019 ACL World Championships and all the amazing stories. Because there were so many events spread over the 6 days, I've decided to simply give you my random thoughts for the week. I wrote some down and others I just stored in my head, but the combination of all of them should recreate the event for those that couldn't make it. Each day had its storylines that made this event magical. I now present instead of Trey's takes, some Trey thoughts.

Tuesday 8/6

  • Alright, let's do this!
  • This WCO Championship event is like Pro Doubles, but everyone switched partners.
  • There's how many Australians here? 18?!
  • I hope these Australians can at least be competitive...
  • Aussie 4 Bagger!!!!!
  • The only thing more consistent than James Sciessiere's airmail is my butchering of his last name every time I said it on the ACLDN
  • I think Australia miiiiiiight actually beat Canada tomorrow
  • Jay Corley and John Kitchin? Weird. But I don't hate it.
  • Is Scott Lane going to have a repeat of Arizona? This guy isn't missing
  • Ever since Matt Morton and Brad Powers switched to GameChangers they've finished in 5th place about 84 times (that's a compliment, they've been nasty but just come so close)
  • I guess Henderson and Hissner ain't playin' games this weekend.
  • Heard a lot of "Nice Sacs" from Dotson and Short, tough loss though at the end. 

Wednesday 8/7

  • Up early in the morning for news! Jay Corley, Tyler Poythress, James Washington, Ryan Smith, and Eddie Grinderslev all early risers.

James Baldwin's week was headlined by 3rd place in Advanced Singles and 2nd place in Advanced Doubles. Scott Lane took home a 2nd place finish in the WCO Championship. Photo: Flat Tail Photography.

  • Welp. I guess early this morning Tanner Halbert and Cheyenne Renner aren't planning on missing much this week.
  • With how good everyone is nowadays, for Hissner and Papcke to have won this even two years in a row, it's truly impressive.
  • Jamie Graham and Kaylee Hunter won't win it this year, but in following years these two will do some damage. I see a lot of potential in both players.
  • Rosie Streker is just so consistent. I don't see how she and Scott Lane are going to lose.
  • Ah, apparently the only way they lose is to other Florida teams. 
  • I wish I got to watch more of Courtney Coy and Derrick King, I think King is one of the most underrated players in the country, especially in doubles
  • Cheyenne Renner and Tanner Halbert vs. Sam Finley and Kyle Malone Final. Southeast Conference 1, Everyone Else 0.
  • World Cup time! I love it! My favorite event!
  • I bet Rob Chismark $1 that Seth Eudy and Terry Stidem would score double digits against Cheyenne Renner and Sam Finley
  • I lost $1.
  • Atlantic vs Southwest, this is a big opportunity for the Southwest to see how they shape up against a powerhouse.
  • Jordan Camba beats Josh Groce. Ryan Smith beats AJ Sims. James Baldwin beats Eddie Grinderslev. 5-0 sweep. Yikes. An early test for the Atlantic and they pass with flying colors. We knew doubles play would be strong but if singles can play like out. Southwest will get there in the next few years, still got some growing pains.
  • Southeast vs Mideast, first big test for the Mideast. 
  • Henderson beats Wooten in a close one, great matchup. Henderson looks goooooood early this week. Kyle Malone goes up early on Adam Hissner, Hissner battles back, and then Malone hits a big spot to win. Dotson beats Chad Fisher, but much closer than I thought. Why do I always underestimate Chad Fisher? Mideast takes the W.
  • What's all that cheering? The West beat the Northeast? Nice!
  • Jeff Bachand beat Adam Hissner earlier you say? Welp, Hissner is never living that down, I know Jeff too well.
  • Carolina beats the West. Next year I think they can take them, just need some additional growth.
  • Mid South vs the Mid East, let's go!
  • EZ beats Hissner badly to kick it off, Hissner not his best performance today. Another win for the Mid South. And another. And another. And another. 4-0? Geez might be a sweep.
  • Well there's a win. 4-1.
  • Another....4-2
  • You can't be serious...4-3.
  • Only Matt Guy vs. Cody Henderson and the Crew Cup matches remain. Henderson goes up big, he might seal the deal up 19-12. 
  • 7 straight points for Guy????? Oh C'mon.
  • Wow Henderson pulled it out. 4-4 tied with just Crew Cup left. 
  • Tie game at 14-14 when I get over there. Megan Maupin hasn't missed in liked 5 rounds. David Lucas with the clutch push!! David Lucas for the win!!! Wow! 5-4 Mid South
  • Shoutout Atlantic Women and Mideast Seniors for the win!
  • Did Matt Guy go 1-4 in singles? That's bad news for anyone playing him later this week...
  • Well I have to head to the broadcast court, catch the winner later I guess....
  • WOW. This broadcast court is outrageous. There's a balcony?? Whaaaaaat
  • Henderson and Hissner hand the beat down back to Modlin and Lane. These guys play 100 games and they might split exactly 50/50. Henderson and Hissner finally get a signature win.
  • Ohh Canada! Jamie Cowan with the shot for the win! You could not have asked for a better game between Australia and Canada
  • I've used way too many puns and Dodgeball references on The Ocho

Thursday 8/8

  • Senior Singles on the ACLDN this morning! Can Daymon Dennis really win back to back to back senior singles titles defeating Philip Haydon every single time in the finals while also winning Senior Doubles every single one of those times?

The richest players on the weekend. John Kitchin wins DEVOUR Man of the Year and Cody Henderson wins the WCO Championship. Photo: Flat Tail Photography 

  • Yes.
  • Kamryn Belvin vs Cheyenne Renner women's singles final? Darn it. I wish it was on the ACLDN. People aren't going to like that.
  • Yeah people don't like that.
  • Rewatched the stream though, in all seriousness I think the days of domination by Papcke and Pugh are coming to an end. I want to phrase that right. The days of domination are over, not necessarily of winning. Papcke and Pugh has just as good a chance as any, but there are way too many female upcoming superstars for them to win every time. Cheyenne Renner I think is a cornhole superstar. Kamryn Belvin winning the title over Renner shows just how good she was throwing that day
  • Wait, that kid Hunter Thorne that didn't know anyone here and found a random partner in Junior Doubles from California is in the driver seat? Sweet!
  • Crew Cup!
  • I love crew cup, it's the closest cornhole gets to a team sport, which most cornhole players use to play.
  • Looks like all the usual teams are winning.
  • Wait a sec, I see you Blake Demale/Scott Phillips/Tim Grew/Charlie Prew! Underdogs!
  • Ugh, just one game short
  • Yeah we are just waiting on EZ, Guy, Guy, and Blair to win their ga....what?! Alan Skotko, Brian Fitzsimmons, Ron Kugel, and Dave Kolenc beat them! Upset of the week so far on the play-in game
  • Broadcast time
  • Stormy and Tom do not like crew cup, too many people to keep up with lol
  • Caleb Avery stepping in as spokesperson for the interviews...nice.
  • Wait hold up, Matt Morton isn't too bad in front of camera...
  • Awesome win for Morton and Powers, they've been so close for so long

Friday 8/9

  • Women's Doubles time let's gooooo
  • I want style like Brittany Emge
  • Maya Cupp and Yetti Irwan played incredibly well for never having even met beforehand. Wouldn't be surprised if they matched up again sometime
  • Culpepper and Coy switch bags mid tournament...interesting.
  • Well not really a surprise that Finley and Streker win their bracket! Both were lights out.
  • Alright Renner and Heine, Papcke and Pugh beat you up pretty good back at the Kickoff Battle in Florida, let's see if you can bounce back.
  • They can bounce back alright...double dip action! Book the first ticket to ESPN on Sunday!
  • Devour Man of the Year! My second favorite!

Adam Hissner and Jay Corley both appeared in the Pro Doubles playoff on ESPN August 11th. Photo: Flat Tail Photography.

  • Ryan Smith and Matthew Sorrells have battled for like 30 minutes. I wish they could both win. Good win for Sorrells.
  • Morse beat Derrick King? He's going to win this whole thing.
  • John Kitchin beat Jay Dotson? Nice!
  • John Kitchin beat Cody Henderson? Wait a minute...
  • In the matchup between James Baldwin and Frank Modlin, it seemed like James Baldwin played better, but Modlin kept scoring points. I don't know if that's possible or?
  • Alright John Kitchin, let's see if you're the real deal. You have Trey Burchfield. If you beat Matt Morton, Jay Dotson, Cody Henderson, and Trey Burchfield in four straight games, you deserve as much pizza as you can take
  • John Kitchin deserves a lot of pizza.
  • Can't wait for Modlin vs Kitchin
  • Advanced Doubles action
  • Shoutout Matt West and Brian Lynn for beating Henderson and Hissner...twice
  • The game between Frank Modlin/Scott Lane and Matt Guy/Bret Guy was crazy
  • Remember when everyone doubted Brandon Corwin? Now all that guy does is win. What a turnaround in 4 months
  • Alright final 4 time: groce/sims vs harbaugh/windsor and rockwell/baldwin vs sutton/herrera. Really cool storyline because you have 3 teams that have "been there before" and 1 team that hasn't (sims/groce)
  • Sims and Groce will meet Rockwell and Baldwin. What happens when experience meets pure determination?
  • All Forces Broadcast!
  • Who is James Hill and why isn't he at every tournament. He's like a kid in a candy store and I love it. 
  • I would buy tickets to see Russell Post and Jason Bell play, good for them for making the semis
  • Alright, it's no question that the winner of Guthary/Price and Corwin/Mathis will be the favorites in the finals, but Bryan Cheney is unconscious right now. I think he threw 3 four baggers last game.
  • Guthary and Price and Army for the win!

Saturday 8/10

  • Pro Doubles! Main Event qualifying!!
  • Happy Birthday Bert Blackwell! Only two games away from the big stage, good cap to the season.
  • I didn't see it, but Sean Short almost booked a plane ticket home because he missed a game winning shot against Corley and Poythress. Corley and Poythress on to ESPN.
  • The bracket finals between Smith/Washington and Henderson/Hissner was incredible. Washington was just a little off in comparison to where he normally is. Looks like Smith and Washington finally found a bag that suits them.
  • I just don't understand how Emory Parker in singles and in doubles can be two completely different people. He's never a top finisher in singles but in doubles he's an airmail machine.
  • Finally! Matt Morton and Brad Powers make it to a 4 team playoff. I think it's ironic that Parker and Sorrells made the playoff as well. The two teams played each other SIX times this year in Pro Doubles. Parker and Sorrells led the head to head 4-2.
  • I didn't get an opportunity to watch Jay Corley and Tyler Poythress at all, which pretty much sums up the type of team that they are. Lay low and win games. Even their Advanced Doubles win at the Cornhole Mania was quiet.
  • Alright let's begin this marathon of a singles tournament!

It was a relatively quiet week for Eddie Grinderslev, but Josh Groce got that first signature win in Advanced Doubles with AJ Sims. Photo: Flat Tail Photography 

  • This Tom Walker guy beat a bunch of big names in Senior Singles, and ended up finishing 33rd in Singles, kudos to you sir!
  • Jason Frady also gets a dark horse mention for being universally unknown and finishing 25th, very impressive.
  • Dang, look at Ashton Speas, making it all the way to the winner's bracket final. This performance has got to put him in the conversation of one of the best true sticky side players in the game. Not many of them left.
  • Cheyenne Renner eliminates Isidro Herrera, I told you this girl is going to be special, finishes 13th in the world.
  • Man, how about Bret Guy. Continuously gets underestimated because of his dad but he came to play this weekend. Ends up meeting Matt in the loser's bracket final. Matt gets the win but Bret has nothing to be ashamed of finishing 9th
  • Wow Derrick King lost like his second game and he is still in. King made a point to tell me that he was specifically practicing singles before coming. He believes he can be best in the world. Finishes 5th. Hard to beat James Baldwin once, nevermind twice.
  • I always knew Josh Holland was good, but when did he get THIS good? Just beat up Ryan Windsor like it was nothing.
  • Tanner bleeping Halbert, man. Goes all the way through his bracket undefeated and beats Matt Guy in the final. First time throwing all slides? NBD.
  • Cody Henderson another one of those sticky side throwers. Best blocker in the game in my opinion.
  • Broadcast time! Only this time it's like a 3 hour broadcast...
  • I see you Chris Burrell! Represent Georgia! All Forces blind draw champ with Buckets.
  • This game between Kyle Malone/Sam Finley and Tanner Halbert/Cheyenne Renner for Mixed Doubles is about to be gooooood.
  • Nevermind. That was quick. Wow.
  • Devour Man of the Year! Mr. Nice Guy vs the Cinderella!
  • Omg, John Kitchin is literally going to win this tournament. 
  • Haha! Hungry dogs run faster! I love it! Enjoy that pizza John, you absolutely killed it. That run he made will never be forgotten. A story for the ages.
  • The glove that Justin Stranger wears actually does make a difference. You wouldn't think it would, but he's a completely different player.
  • Watching the Almanza family in tears in the crowd after Noah and Al won Competitive Doubles was lowkey one of my favorite moments of the entire week.
  • I can't tell the Strnad brothers apart from their looks or their abilities.
  • Alright. Here we go. Holland vs. Henderson and Halbert vs Baldwin.
  • Second straight major event Holland gets to this point in the tournament and runs into a brick wall. Baldwin was unbeatable at the end at the Final Chase and now Henderson is just outrageous. Holland certainly has the talent to win a National. If he goes Pro, he can get it one day.
  • What happened to James Baldwin? Throws two 6's in a row? Can't take anything away from Halbert, but man this is weird.
  • Henderson vs. Halbert final, both show up with black bags. Of course.
  • Word of advice to everyone: go to every tournament with two sets of identical bags, just different colors. The higher seed gets bag choice if both are same color.
  • Welp. doesn't look like Halbert needed the black bags anyway.
  • This is getting ugly...
  • Okay, Henderson chipping away now. 
  • Oh snap, it's a game now...who is going to make the big mistake?
  • For the win! Wow! A beautiful sneak around bag by Halbert to take the victory. Caps off an undefeated day for Halbert that has to be top three, if not THE best, individual cornhole performance of all time. Celebrate sir, you earned it.

Sunday 8/17

  • I am exhuasted
  • Let's see if I'm any good at this skills challenge
  • I am not good at skills challenges.
  • Scott Lane and Justin Stranger are good at skills challenges.
  • Oooooo we are doing walkup introductions today. Sick!
  • Is Brad Powers the most underrated player in the game? I promise you when he walks up to the boards no one is scared of him, but they absolutely should be. The guy is just so consistent
  • The happiest person in the room after Morton and Powers just won this first game is Matt's dad, Mike. Incredible. Pure joy.
  • TYLER POYTHRESS STOP IT. What an airmail drag. I can hear the sportscenter intro...kinda reminds me of the Bret Guy shot from back at the Cornhole Mania in 2018.
  • Again, Matthew Sorrells and Emory Parker just win. Sorrells is so much fun to watch. Having him mic'ed up adds so much to the broadcast.
  • Alright, for the SEVENTH time this season, we have Brad Powers/Matt Morton vs Matt Sorrells/Emory Parker.
  • Lot of back and forth this game, who is going to handle the pressure?
  • Big airmail by Morton....Got it!! The kid is nasty with those GameChangers. Throws one of the highest arcs in the game as far as a launch angle goes, perfect suited for those bags.
  • Brad Powers with a shot for the world title....oof. Just to the left. I wonder if that makes the difference.
  • Boom. That's it! Emory Parker and Matt Sorrells are world champions! Not to mention, after this performance they also finish as the ACL Pro Team of the Year. I remember back before Florida so many people thought Emory Parker wasn't ready for this stage and now he's a freakin' world champion. Just absolutely amazing story. I couldn't be happier for them.
  • Morton and Powers shouldn't be disappointed for a second, they played well all year and their best is yet to come.

Like I said, what a week it was. After six long days I'm exchausted but couldn't be happier with how it all turned out. I personally want to thank everyone for an amazing season. The next few months will be a hard grind to create an even better season for next year but I'm confident we will do just that. See you all at our college events this fall and remember:

The best is yet to come.

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