Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Genius: Black Garnet Player Rankings

I'm back again to do the next in my new series where I rank all things related to The Genius! If you've somehow stumbled across this post without knowing what The Genius is or without seeing every episode of the show through the end of Season 3, don't read the rest of this post, as I will be spoiling a bunch of stuff from the season, as well as from the two previous seasons. If you've never seen the show, or haven't even heard of it, do yourself a huge favor and watch the first episode, which I've embedded below. You won't regret it.

I've already done rankings of the players and Main Matches for Season 1: Rules of the Game & Season 2: Rule Breaker, so if you want to check that out, you can go to the top of the page and click on "The Genius" tab, where you'll find all of my Genius-related content.

Now, time for the same disclaimer I gave last time. My rankings will be explained for each, but the list is a mixture of how good of a player I think they are (in this season) and how much I personally like them. Given that I'm not spoiling anything past Season 3, I'll ask that no one comment any spoilers past season 3 as well, for anyone who has not seen the entire run of the show. So just to reiterate: This list is based on Season 3 only. If any of these players return for subsequent seasons, that's not factored in to this list. OK, no more rambling. Let's just jump into the list!

13) Yongsuk (Lawyer Kang)

I think this might be the only instance of me disliking a Genius player immediately when they're introduced. And it just got worse throughout the season. He immediately came off as abrasive to me. I definitely agreed with Jongbum's initial assessment that he would be similar to Gura, but I also thought he would lean more toward S2 Hweejong. And we basically got both of those. He wasn't quite as aggressive in his gameplay, but he was certainly very abrasive. The worst offense for me was when he went to the death match in episode 2 and threatened everyone to work with him. I admire that he wanted to play the game and play it hard, but overly aggressive players always rub me the wrong way on The Genius. They tend to make the game less fun, and I was rooting for Yongsuk's elimination every single episode because of that. I was really glad to see him out early, and I think his departure was really great for the season overall. 

12) Juri

Basically, I have little to no opinion on Juri. She was there... and then she wasn't. She did have some presence in the first episode, and she did show some solid gameplay in episode 1. I don't think that she should've openly announced "hey I just want to be safe in the middle," but that's certainly exactly where you should want to be. Especially in the first few episodes. She just ran into a lot of bad luck. The decision to switch over to the large alliance to gain safety was definitely a smart one, but she ended up accidentally offending the person who got stuck going to the death match. Overall, although she was the first eliminated, she had a fairly decent showing in the first episode. That being said, when surveying the first eliminees, Juri is probably the weakest. 

11) Sujin

There's a small contingent of Genius fans who seem to really like Sujin... but I just don't see the appeal. For me, she was extremely forgettable. Despite having seemingly negative opinions on Dongmin pre-season, she seemed to gravitate toward him and work with him almost immediately, and was therefore completely overshadowed by him. I've mentioned how unfortunate it is that The Genius seems to cast women who aren't interesting personalities for TV or aren't good strategists (or both). Sujin seemed to be alright at strategy, but she was constantly overshadowed by Dongmin and therefore wasn't ever a focal point for strategy or entertainment. And on top of that, her mistake in the death match that eliminated her is possibly one of the worst moves in the show. Sure, she accidentally bet on the wrong side of the card, but she clearly wasn't paying enough attention to what she was doing and that's just dumb when you're in a death match. Overall, she was really uninteresting for me and I was rooting for her to go from rather early on. 

10) Hweejong

Oh, Hweejong. If you've seen my post ranking the season 2 cast, you'll know that I wasn't a fan of Hweejong, basically for the same reasons I don't like Lawyer Kang (Yongsuk). He was absolutely fantastically hilarious to watch episode 1, but I was very glad to see that he flamed out because of his overly domineering, aggressive gameplay. This season, I thought that Hweejong was much improved from season 2, but he still wasn't anywhere near my favorite. He certainly toned down his gameplay, which I really enjoyed, but I still didn't find him very likable. He tried to suppress his antagonistic gameplay, but ended up coming off as a weak player in the process. Overall, he wasn't a personality that I gravitated toward, and I've never found him to be a strong player.

9) Kyunghoon

My opinion on Kyunghoon was extremely up and down during the two episodes he was there for. I loved his betrayal in episode 1-- I loved that the editing didn't really allude to it beforehand and just surprised us with it when it happened. However, I got curious at one point and ended up looking him up and learning about some of his personal life outside of the game and I was extremely put out. If you're not aware, he allegedly sexually harassed a woman while drunk. So I did a bit of a 180 on him when I learned that about him. That being said, we're mostly talking about him as a player and not as a person. And this season, we really didn't get to see too much of him as a player. He had that really great play in the first episode but he gained a lot of enemies and therefore it was really easy for everyone else to distrust him in the next episode.

8) Junghoon

It's almost impressive how much Junghoon flew under the radar as a player. In the very first episode, he was introduced as someone who had beef with Dongmin, which I thought would be a really compelling storyline to follow... and then it never came up again. He also seems to be one of the more famous people on the cast, as the players all recognize him upon arrival & since he's friends with Dongmin. However, he just doesn't seem to have a very big presence on the screen. This is somewhat contrasted by some fairly decent gameplay from him. He certainly isn't an amazing player by any means... nor is he really necessarily a good player, but he's certainly not bad. He has a few slip-ups (being too obvious with his criminal draw in Episode 2-- way to go, Jungmoon), but he does have a good showing in double sided poker. Overall, he falls somewhere in the middle of this cast because he just doesn't stand out very much. I think that his placement a bit of a testament to my general ambivalence toward several members of this cast-- there are a few I really don't like, several that I really love, and a lot of people somewhere in between.

7) Yeonjoo

One thing that I really enjoyed about this season was that finally we got some women who were interesting players to watch. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that they were very good at the games. And that's certainly the case for Yeonjoo. Overall, I liked her. I thought that she had a fun personality, and was therefore entertaining to watch. But there were so many times that she did well or moved on to the next round solely because of the people she was working with rather than of her own volition. The moment that specifically stands out to me is the Swords & Shields game, where she completely doesn't understand the bluffing aspect, which was essential to succeeding in the game. Her performance in monorail was also a definite weak point, because Dongmin essentially bluffed his way into a win and Yeonjoo completely fell for it. If she'd made the right move there, she could've eliminated Dongmin and changed the entire course of the season. But for some reason, she just wasn't capable of figuring out the right move to make in that moment. 

Moving away from her downfalls in gameplay, however, she did do a good job of aligning with the right people at the right time, which really helped to propel her further in the game. The Constellation Game really stands out to me, because she and Ayoung were between alliances at the beginning. Dongmin wanted them on his side, and Youhyun and Jongbum tried to get them on their side. Yeonjoo ended up picking the right side, and despite completely turning her back on Dongmin she managed to turn it back around in the next episode and work with him again... despite messing up his plans a bit. Overall, she'd definitely never be a real contender to win a season of The Genius, but she's fun to watch and she's a good player in terms of alliances. 

6) Jongbum

Jongbum is another player who edit-wise and personality-wise flies under the radar, but I think that overall, he's a fairly strong player. I think it's unfortunate for Jongbum that he was on a season with a few huge standout personalities who stole a large chunk of the screentime each episode. He has one of the quieter personalities. He comes off as fairly likable, but it's along the lines of people like Kyungran-- he doesn't steal the spotlight, but always seems like an important presence when he's around. While I see Youhyun as the head of the non-Dongmin alliance, I definitely see Jongbum as his right-hand man. He's definitely one of the strongest players strategically, and he and Youhyun put up a really great fight against the dominance of the Hyunmin/Dongmin alliance. Unfortunately, the two of them were just up against (arguably) the two best players in the history of the show, so they didn't stand too much of a chance. That being said, I do think that he's a fairly solid player and that if you dropped him into seasons 1 or 2, he might shine a little bit more. 

5) Ayoung

While I will forever stand by my assertion that Kyungran is the best (and my personal favorite) female Genius player of all-time, I think that Ayoung is probably the most entertaining female player in the history of the show. However, in the first episode, I was actually kinda rooting against her in favor of Juri. In the show's intro, they displayed each player's different strengths ("intelligences") and I remembered noticing that Ayoung was, with everything averaged out, seemingly the weakest based on just that alone. So, I predicted that she would be the first eliminated, and was rooting for that to happen just to prove myself right. However, after watching the subsequent episodes, I'm so glad that she wasn't the first boot because she brought a ton of entertainment to the season... if only in the form of being constantly yelled at by Dongmin. 

That being said, I definitely wouldn't label her as one of the more strategic players. When we got down to the final six, I think that she and Yeonjoo definitely stood out as the weakest players. Like I mentioned when discussing Yeonjoo, the strongest aspects to their gameplay were definitely their alliances. They did a good job of choosing their allies and moving between groups of people while still maintaining relationships on the other side. But what I really enjoy about Ayoung is her personality. Not only is she extremely entertaining, but I also think that she has the most out-there personality of any female Genius player. She's funny, she's bold, and she's loud. And her constant clumsiness is so unintentionally hilarious but I love every single moment of it. 

4) Yeonseung

In my opinion, Yeonseung is one of the most likable people who's ever played The Genius. This is the first season where they had open auditions for non-celebrities and I feel like Yeonseung is the epitome of the average smart person trying to make their way on this show. He doesn't have a huge personality, but he immediately comes off as smart, strategic, and just an overall good guy. He's not a huge presence at the beginning of the season, but as the season goes on, he starts to play a major role in both the storyline and the gameplay. By the end of the season, I think it would be really hard to dislike him, because he's just such a loyal, trustworthy, likable guy who's also a strong player. 

Also, I just want to mention this-- I'm so glad he got a haircut mid-season. I didn't realize how silly I thought his hair looked until he finally got a haircut. But disregarding that, I feel like Yeonseung just had a really great grasp on the game. He wasn't this amazing powerhouse player, but he had a solid understanding of how things worked and was one of the people who was able to move amongst groups fairly fluidly and therefore he didn't really make any enemies and was mostly able to stay out of the line of fire. He found this really great middle point where he certainly wasn't the weakest, and he also wasn't out in front leading the charge, so he was able to make a deep run into the game while some of the players who were out in front fell before him. 

3) Youhyun

Right off the bat, I want to mention that his name is, in fact, spelled Youhyun and not Yoohyun as BumGod's subtitles claim. He uses Youhyun on all of his social media (or Dennis in the English-speaking world, but it feels weird to call him Dennis on here when using everyone else's Korean names). Anyway, I have to admit, I have a bit of a bias toward Youhyun, because I've loved his non-Genius content. He's friends with an American YouTuber who lives in Korea, and he's appeared on a few of her videos... and he's an absolute delight. He also did an interview with Geniuscast that I really enjoyed as well. Don't get me wrong, I also loved him on the show (I'll get to that in a minute) but I really came to appreciate him even more in the other stuff I've seen him in. He has this really sarcastic, snarky sense of humor, and that's my absolute favorite. He's also has that "I hate people" type of personality, which is another thing that I absolutely love, which makes Youhyun a person that I really connect with personality-wise.

And then we get to his gameplay. I think he really suffers because of the fact that he's on a season with Hyunmin and Dongmin who are absolutely dominant players. He's definitely the best strategic player apart from the two of them, and I really wish we could see him play a season without the two of them on it. He's already a really strong player, so I think that he would shine even more if he could get out of the shadow of the two people who I consider to be the best players in the history of the show. I really like his rather cut-throat approach to most of these games. As much as I hated seeing Hyunmin and Dongmin get iced out in the Constellation game, I did think that it was a really great move on Youhyun's part to unite everyone together for an assured win. And in Fruit Stand, he was the one who was willing to change fruits to get in the way of the other alliance, which was a really great move. Youhyun was constantly willing to play well and play strategically and I really enjoyed that from him. He offered the strongest resistance to the Hyunmin/Dongmin show and that was something that was really compelling to watch. 

2) Dongmin

First, I just want to briefly remind everyone that the picture above depicts Dongmin in the first episode calling Hyunmin an idiot who only knows how to study textbooks. Which is absolutely hilarious after you've seen them form the best alliance in the history of the show and completely dominate the rest of the season. That being said, I absolutely love Dongmin. I think that he's an absolutely elite player, a fantastic personality, and I'd venture to say that he's the best Genius player of all time. The only reason he's not number one on this list is because his alliance partner is also an absolutely elite player... but happens to be my personal favorite Genius player of all time. 

Dongmin absolutely dominates this season, stealing so much of the screentime, as well as dominating the games. He's so much fun to watch, just like Sangmin was in the first two seasons. I know that Dongmin rubs some people the wrong way, and I'm definitely put off by some of the things he's said about women outside of the show, but on The Genius, he shines. The first time I watched the season, I didn't think too much of him as a strategic player for the first few episodes. He seemed to have a rather overbearing style of gameplay, constantly trying to be the leader in whatever situation he was in. I didn't necessarily dislike him, but I'd immediately gravitated toward people like Youhyun and Hyunmin who seemed to be driving the strategic gameplay and who were usually working against Dongmin. 

However, as he began to align himself with Hyunmin, my mind quickly began to change and I began to see him in a completely different light. I mean, his heightened sense of touch is phenomenal, and it's hilarious to watch him try to explain it to everyone else. He's also phenomenal at convincing people to be on his side, which is probably one of his strongest points. He may not always be the one to come up with the best strategic plan, but he's always really great at making a plan come together. And on top of all of his really strong gameplay, he's just such a fun character. I'm convinced that Dongmin is the most gif-able human on the planet because he's constantly reacting in really over-the-top ways and making the most hilarious faces. And it's hard to not enjoy his good luck charm, AKA excitedly yelling at his chingu every time she enters the room. I honestly can't say enough great things about Dongmin.

1) Hyunmin

Oh, Hyunmin (I love that play on his name way too much). As alluded to in my discussion about Dongmin, Hyunmin is my favorite Genius player of all-time. I've mentioned this a few times throughout these posts, but it bears repeating: I absolutely love the big personalities like Sangmin and Dongmin. I think they're so much fun to watch, on top of their great gameplay. However, when it comes to my absolute favorites and to the people that I actually root for, I tend to gravitate toward people that lean toward strategy but have slightly more understated personalities, like Hyunmin and Jinho. Both of them are still great characters and are really fun to watch, but they don't explode onto the screen quite like Dongmin and Sangmin. 

Hyunmin is just an absolute stand-out for me. I'd have to go back through to be sure, but I'd probably say that his gameplay in the Jury Game is the best Main Match gameplay that any person has shown across all four seasons. He played that absolutely masterfully. His gameplay in Chain Auction was also absolutely phenomenal-- right up there with his gameplay in the Jury Game. He consistently proves himself as a force to be reckoned with in every single game he plays. The only real blunder he had here was the Constellation Game, which wasn't even really his fault. He came up with the optimal strategy, but Dongmin refused to listen to him and the two of them were iced out in the process.

In fact, I would say that Hyunmin has exactly one single flaw in his game: Dongmin. That's it. Dongmin, in my opinion, is his sole weakness. For whatever reason, despite his absolutely fantastic gameplay, Hyunmin just couldn't overcome Dongmin. Not only that, but any time that he blundered something, it was because of his attachment to Dongmin. He refused to betray Dongmin, eventually leading to his defeat in the finale. This could also be seen as a weakness in Dongmin's game, except for the fact that Dongmin was able to beat Hyunmin in the end. That being said, I feel like pretty much every single other person who's been on The Genius has much larger holes in their gameplay and I think that Hyunmin stands well above the pack. 

So, those are my rankings of the players on The Genius, Season 3! Next up will be my ranking of the Main Matches of Season 3, so stay tuned for that one. I'm absolutely loving doing these rankings, so expect to see them for quite a while until I eventually run out of Genius-related rankings to do. But that's going to take a little while. Once again, if you haven't checked out my rankings for the players and Main Matches of Seasons 1 & 2, you can do so by going up to the tab that says "The Genius" where you'll find all current Genius-specific content. All Genius posts will be linked on there as soon as they go live, so check back frequently for more content!

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Friday, February 10, 2017

The Genius: Rule Breaker Main Match Rankings

So, here we are once again to do a ranking of things related to The Genius. I've done a few rankings related to The Genius over the past couple weeks, so if you want to check those out, you can click on "The Genius" tab at the top of the blog. (I swear I'm going to actually make one this time!)

Like always, I'm assuming you've found your way here because you're also a fan of this beautiful show. If that's not the case, turn back now, because I'll be discussing spoilers through the end of season 2 and I really don't want to spoil you. 

Or, if you're curious about the show, I've embedded episode 1 below, so you should definitely check it out. However, don't continue reading the rest of this post until you've finished all of seasons 1 & 2 because I'm going to be massively spoiling both of them. Don't say I didn't warn you. 

Before I jump into my ranking of the Main Matches of S2, I wanted to briefly touch on my criteria for this ranking. Although I moved stuff around afterward, I did begin ranking these using a set scoring system. My 3 criteria for that were concept, gameplay, and entertainment. Breaking that down a bit:
Concept- Does the concept of the game interest me? Is it something I want to try? How does it compare to other Genius games in intrigue and complexity?
Gameplay- The actual strategy used by the players. Did they figure out a hack? Did they come up with clever strategies? Did The Genius theme or Extreme Ways start playing at a key moment?
Entertainment- Was it overall fun to watch this main match unfold? Usually, clever gameplay is entertaining, but sometimes it's not. 

Like I said, I scored each match in these categories, but I did shift stuff around just a touch because I like to keep things fluid. But I'll get into more detail when discussing each game. Let's go ahead and jump into the list!

11) King Game

I'll have to re-think this while I go through all of the games throughout the run of the show, but this might possibly be my least favorite game in the history of the show. The gameplay redeemed it slightly because of Doohee's secret betrayal of his alliance, but overall I don't find anything particularly compelling about the concept. While there is some sort of strategy to it, the different components really aren't that interesting. People literally just make symbols with their hands and are then are told to stand by letters. I honestly forgot it existed until listening to the Dom & Colin recap of the season because of how completely forgettable it is. With some changes, perhaps this could become a compelling game (maybe a hackable prop instead of a hand signal?), but this format just has way too many non-compelling components. 

10) 7 Commandments

This game gave me vague shades of Zombie Fluxx, a card game where the win-condition can change based on the cards that people play. That's a game that I think is interesting in concept, but extremely frustrating to play. In this game, the rules change instead of the win-condition, but I think that's almost a less interesting difference. Overall, I just didn't find this game compelling. I thought that different people having different personal bills was a fairly intriguing concept, especially as Hongchul used Junghyun's to his own advantage, but the rest of the game was fairly uninteresting. In addition to this, some of the personal bills were extremely powerful in comparison to others. Sangmin and Jiwon were essentially able to hack the game and ended up leading their allies to an assured victory. It was way too easy to hack, and overall it's a fairly forgettable game.

9) Monopoly Game

The Monopoly Game is this far down on the list mostly because of the ID incident... but not quite for the reason that you'd think. So much stuff happened in this episode. Yohwan helped lead Sangmin to the token of immortality, Jinho eventually discovered the safe... to find it empty, Doohee's ID was stolen for the main match, he got the token of immortality from Sangmin, betrayed Sangmin, and then discovered that the token of immortality was fake and promptly went to the death match and was eliminated. I just said a lot of words there. Barely any of them were related to the main match. 

Because of all of the other insanity going on in this episode, there wasn't really a huge emphasis on the Monopoly Game itself. Sure, there was some emphasis on the ID theft, but that's not really related to any sort of winning strategy-- just to the surefire way to make someone lose. Like I said in my last post on Season 2, I'm not out on a witch hunt against the people who stole the ID. If they'd taken it and used it to peek at Doohee's resources or to get something they needed & then returned it with ample time, I'd consider it good gameplay. I feel like the producers expected some sort of ID trading or else the IDs wouldn't have even been a game mechanic. However, I think it was a low blow and really poor sportsmanship to take the ID and not return it until Doohee's fate was sealed. All things considered, everything in this episode that was interesting happened at the periphery of the game, while the game and any real strategy related to it were put on the back burner. 

8) Big Deal Game

When I ranked the games of Season 1, I mentioned that games with extra players brought in aren't necessarily my favorite. And that's the case with this one. The group Super Junior was brought in to play, and I thought it just ended up being alright. One or two of them played well, while another was completely convinced that their partner was lying to them about being their partner. In terms of this game as a betting game, I think it's fairly interesting. We get several iterations of betting/bidding games throughout The Genius and this one is very different because the players actually decide whether or not they want to accept another player's bid for that certain color. 

Overall, I think it's a fairly interesting game. However, I think my main problem with it is the extra players being brought in. For every other season, it's at least a "loved-ones" type visit, whereas this time it's just random members of a boy band. I think this game would've been more interesting with all players, therefore playing by alliances. It also probably would've been more interesting with loved-ones because the hidden partner twist ended up being a little silly to me. 

7) Blackout Game

As I've mentioned in other posts, I listen to a few Genius-related podcasts, and I'm pretty sure that none of them like this game. I think I'm a bit higher on it than they are. I think that it was an entertaining game to watch, and it was probably really fun to play as well. It's especially good when one of the participants is Hongchul, who is just going completely out of his way to be silly. And I also really loved the eventual reveal of Eunkyul betraying his team to help out the opposite side. Despite what anyone else says about him being a bad player, I think this was a cool move despite the other people completely ruining it for him. That being said, I think the strategy is a bit weak here. Realistically, there are only two real options-- have a mole planted on the other team feeding you information... or guess. Everyone will be trying to trick you about whether or not they crossed the line, so you're completely in the dark (ayyy, bad puns) unless the other team is giving you information. So, tl;dr: fun to watch, not the most strategic thing in the world. 

6) Seat Exchange

I really like the simplicity of this game. It's about as close to musical chairs as The Genius is going to get. A lot of the fun of this game derives from Sangmin's extremely impressive ability to just look at someone and know if they're lying. My favorite moments in this game are all the times that Sangmin demanded that someone was not the number they claimed to be, just for them to cower and admit to lying. It was hilarious and wonderful. I feel like this is also one of the easier games to understand, which is a bonus for it. I really don't have much negative stuff to say about this one-- I just enjoyed other games a bit more. I love the games with secret identities or secret hacks, and this one boils down to sitting in chairs. Still a cool game, just not quite as fun as some of the games with hacks. 

5) Layoff Game

This is the classic "let's revamp a game from earlier in the season and bring in guests" game, and as is common with these games in The Genius, I think the entertainment level was upped, but the strategy was brought down a bit. First off, the segment at the beginning where Sunggyu enters and Sangmin freaks out is still one of my favorite moments in the entire run of the show. The sunbae/hoobae alliance will always be the best. And I also loved getting the return of previous contestants and the pseudo-return of a game that I really enjoyed earlier in the season. 

However, the obvious elephant in the room is that Sangmin is still there. And obviously the season 1 players will want to help him and anyone he's aligned with. If you weren't already suspicious of the producers for leading Sangmin to a win, you certainly were after this episode (Not accusing them of doing so, just pointing out how clearly this casting choice helps Sangmin). And plus, as aforementioned, I'm already not a huge fan of bringing "outsiders" into the game, so when they probably all favor one player, it rubs me the wrong way even more.

That being said, this is a game that I really enjoy. I loved Food Chain (we'll get there in a minute), and I thought that this was a cool office twist on the game. In fact, I actually kept thinking about The Office tv show and the potential character correlations. Overall, I really like the concept of the game, and I enjoyed getting to see some of my favorite (and... not so favorite...) players from season 1 back again, despite some of the wrinkles that it put into the actual gameplay. 

4) Elevator Game

I like to refer to this game as glorified Chutes and Ladders, because... c'mon. Is there any chance that they weren't inspired by Chutes and Ladders for this game? That being said, I think that most of my enjoyment of this game derives from the actual gameplay and the entertainment attached to that gameplay. Sangmin was an absolute delight in this game (even more than usual). He had such obvious tells-- hitting his head, dancing, etc. and he's just so... Sangmin... that you don't even realize that they're tells until the flashback. Like, he's just so out-there already that you're not even phased by him breaking out into a silly dance or smacking himself on the head. And then you have the added enjoyment of watching Junghyun try to rally the troops and get so angry at their betrayal that he takes a lap around the set. 

This, of course, is an episode where extra people were brought in, but this is one of the less heinous instances to me due to the fact that they're previous players. I also like that it's previous players from this season as opposed to players from season 1 (or just other seasons in general-- which is more relevant for later seasons than for this one). There are already pre-established relationships and I feel like bringing back eliminated players just works better in the context of the season as a whole. 

As for the concept of the game, I really enjoy it. I really enjoy this twist on Chutes and Ladders. I love that it gives Sangmin the perfect opportunity to completely betray his team despite the fact that he won't gain as many garnets. I think that the strategy to this is kind of an improvement on the blackout game. Instead of having to guess what your opponents are doing, it's a bit of a leveling war. You have to figure out what they're going to do, and how to respond to that, while they're trying to figure out how to block whatever you're trying to do. Or, of course, you just have a spy hitting his head as a signal. Either way, it's a cool game.

3) Minus Auction

This game has popped up a couple times, and I've loved it every time. It's not a game that immediately jumps out to me as "whoa that's a cool concept!" but it's consistently very entertaining and requires a lot of strategy and good gameplay. When it eventually returned, I was really excited because of how much I enjoyed this first iteration of it. There are several different strategies that I think are good ways to go about playing this game, especially when playing with people who are absolutely terrified of getting any of the large numbers. And possibly even better is the little wrinkle where one of the numbers has been completely taken out of the game, and you have no idea what it is until the end. That adds a whole other level of intrigue and suspense to the game that makes it really fun to watch. I don't have too much to say about this game, but it's just a really cool one to watch every single time it comes up.

2) God's Judgment

This is basically the Open, Pass of Season 2... except this time it leads to poor Jinho's elimination rather than his glorious rise to icon-status. Like I've mentioned many times, the games with prop hacks are often my favorite, and this is no exception. I'm honestly surprised it took some of them so long to figure out what was going on with the dice. Immediately upon seeing them, I thought something was really weird about them, because they just didn't look like normal dice. When I looked at them, I immediately noticed that there were the same number of holes on each side, but only some of them actually had white dots. So, I thought that perhaps the outside holes and inside white dots could be fiddled with so that they could create different combinations of numbers altogether. I was a little disappointed that I was wrong, but at least I was right that they came apart in some form or fashion.

I loved seeing everyone figure out the hack at different points throughout the game. Obviously, Sangmin was the first, but we didn't get to see that until a flashback much later. It was really awesome to see how he manipulated people into letting him mess with their dice... all while Yohwan was still trying to figure out how to keep the dice magnetized while throwing them. That fake hack (which I believe was actually just one of the things keeping the dice together) made the game even more entertaining, because everyone was completely convinced that it was the real hack, adding even more to the confusion since it was extremely unhelpful. Overall, it was just a really entertaining game (Hongchul's rolls tho) and I loved the hack aspect to it as well. 

1) Food Chain

I really enjoyed Food Chain, but I didn't realize exactly how much I loved this game until I ranked this season's Main Matches and it just kept beating every single one that I put up against it. It's such an interesting, complex game with a ton of different layers and so much opportunity for a ton of entertainment as well as great strategy. Hweejong was a great character for this episode. I was absolutely rooting for him to get eliminated because I didn't want that dominant gameplay all throughout the season, but this was just such a great episode for this perfect character arc. Of course he got the lion, and of course he overplayed it and it was absolutely wonderful to watch.

So many of the animals have really cool strategy and win-conditions. The chameleon's ability to disguise itself is a cool wrinkle, as is the prey animals' ability to group together and stay alive. It becomes an even more interesting situation when people start forming alliances regardless of their animals, creating dynamics between players that probably wouldn't have existed otherwise. I just think that absolutely everything came together for this game-- the concept was really intriguing, there were so many opportunities for really great gameplay, and Hweejong alone made it one of the most entertaining games of the entire run of the show. And don't even get me started on Jinho holding the stickers hostage and running all over the room, because of course he would. Kong holds a special lil' place in my heart, as does this game.

So, those are my rankings of the Main Matches of The Genius Season 2! I'm sure that everyone reading this will have a pretty different ranking, or will disagree with me on at least one of these, so let's get a discussion going in the comments because I always love talking about this beautiful show. Coming up next will be my rankings for the Season 3 players and Main Matches!

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Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Genius: Rule Breaker Player Rankings

I'm back again to do the next in my new series where I rank all things related to The Genius! If you've somehow stumbled across this post without knowing what The Genius is or without seeing every episode of the show through the end of Season 2, don't read the rest of this post, as I will be spoiling a bunch of stuff from the season, as well as from Season 1. If you've never seen the show, or haven't even heard of it, do yourself a huge favor and watch the first episode, which I've embedded below. You won't regret it.

I've already done rankings of the players and Main Matches for Season 1: Rules of the Game, so if you want to check that out, you can go to the top of the page and click on "The Genius" tab, where you'll find all of my Genius-related content.

Now, time for the same disclaimer I gave last time. My rankings will be explained for each, but the list is a mixture of how good of a player I think they are (in this season) and how much I personally like them. Given that I'm not spoiling anything past Season 2, I'll ask that no one comment any spoilers past season 2 as well, for anyone who has not seen the entire run of the show. So just to reiterate: This list is based on Season 2 only. If any of these players return for subsequent seasons, that's not factored in to this list. OK, no more rambling. Let's just jump into the list!

13) Jaekyung

Uh... who? I mean, seriously, she brought pretty much nothing to the season. She was a non-entity for the first couple episodes, and she just happened to get chosen for the death match by Hongchul, who was essentially playing high-stakes eenie meenie miney mo. And then, she didn't even return for the finale because of her schedule, so she became even more forgettable. Honestly, I can't think of a single thing that she did in season 2. Not just "a single interesting thing," but anything. I remember her intro package, the fact that she lost sun, moon, star because everyone wanted garnets, and that she wasn't at the finale. It's difficult to be more invisible than that on a season of The Genius.

12) Dahye

I know that going into the season, people were interested to see how Dahye would do and thought that she would be a strong player, but I wasn't quite so intrigued. I certainly hoped that she would show some impressive skill or be a fun character, but I quickly realized that this was fairly unlikely. Maybe she was doing some behind-the-scenes stuff that wasn't shown, but the show is pretty good at giving screen time to good strategy. She just simply wasn't an important character. In the King Game, everyone pretty much teamed up by the end to make her one of the losers, and I think that's a clear indication of her standing among the players and her ability to convince people to get on her side. When she returned for the eliminees vs players episode, she did show some promise and some interest, but that's about the extent of things that I can say about Dahye. 

11) Hweejong

I was cheering when Hweejong was the first one eliminated from the season. He immediately rubbed me the wrong way, which I think is pretty universal across the board for fans of The Genius. I would say that I'm not a fan of overly domineering people, but that's not exactly the case, since I'm a huge fan of someone who's a pretty overbearing player in later seasons. He just brought a negative tone to everything. He just seemed very cut-throat, very in-your-face, and extremely arrogant. And those are my least favorite type of Genius players.

10) Yooyoung

I know that there are some people (specifically, on the podcasts that I listen to) who really like Yooyoung, but I just really don't have any strong opinions on her. Sure, she lasted quite a while, but she didn't seem to be an impressive strategist or an entertaining character. Maybe I missed something that other people have picked up from re-watches, but I just don't think that she's that compelling. She was an alright player within a pretty weak field overall. A lot of people dislike her because of the events of episode 6 (Doohee's ID theft), but that doesn't come into play too much for me. I definitely think that the move was really poor sportsmanship, but I'm not on a witch hunt for Yooyoung and Jiwon. However, it certainly doesn't help her out in my rankings since I do think that it was a pretty low blow. So tl;dr: I don't hate her but I don't think she's a strong strategist or a compelling character.

9) Eunkyul

I think that Eunkyul gets a lot of flack for something that absolutely was not his fault. A lot of people think that he's "too cool for school" because of his sunglasses, and think that he made an idiotic move in the blackout game because he betrayed his team and got caught, but I vehemently disagree. The only reason he got caught was because the idiots he was helping accidentally spilled the beans and sold him out. Until that point, he was doing a very good job stealthily helping out the other team. And, I would like to point out, that's something that everyone's favorite god of the game, Sangmin, does every single time there's a team game. If you're on a team with Sangmin, it's time to be worried because he's absolutely going to betray your team. So I think it's a bit hypocritical to hate on Eunkyul because he got caught due to other people's incompetence. And sure, the sunglasses thing seems a bit standoffish, but I don't think that anything else that he did came off as standoffish-- I think people read a bit too much into the sunglasses.

Anyway, I was really bummed that things turned out the way they did for Eunkyul because I thought he had some potential, especially given the ability he displayed in his tactful betrayal of his team in the blackout game. I really would've liked to see him go further in the game, because he had a bit more game sense than some other people who went further than he did.

8) Yoonsun

I have incredibly mixed feelings on Yoonsun. On one hand, I really like seeing a strong female presence on the show. It's really unfortunate that very few of the women cast on The Genius make entertaining TV, and I think Yoonsun is one of those women that is compelling to watch. However, she just does consistently poorly at these games. She's very intelligent and seems like she would be a capable player, but for some reason she's just incapable of winning anything except the occasional death match. I really wish that she was better at these games, but alas, she's just not a very good player.

7) Jiwon

I'll readily admit that Jiwon is not a good Genius player. How did he get to the final four? Uh... sheer dumb luck? But he does absolutely make the show entertaining. I've already said a bit on my opinions on the ID theft, but I haven't talked about Jiwon specifically or about his betrayal of Doohee, and all I really have to say is... "eh?" Basically, I wasn't really offended at his betrayal of Doohee (A bit cold-hearted, but I was more upset at Doohee for believing him), but the ID theft wasn't really cool. I think I would've been ok with them picking it up and using it to see what Doohee had before returning it. Basically, they took it too far.

Anyway, back to the main point. Jiwon. I think that Jiwon ended up being the character that the show expected Sunggyu to be in Season 1. He had trouble grasping the games, but he didn't really ever get any better. He just continued to be a bit dopey and continued to get through all while laughing and acting like an idiot (Side note, this man is in his late thirties. He and Sangmin were making music around the same time. I'll pause and allow your mind to re-form after exploding). And I'm never going to get tired of his ridiculous sweatshirts and hats. Despite not being very good at the games, it was just really fun to watch him play and get confused. 

6) Doohee

Poor Doohee. I really like Doohee as a character because of how completely conflicting his personality is. He's this absolutely brilliant hacker and yet, in this game... he's so soft-spoken. He's not exactly a non-entity, because he's fairly active in the games up until his elimination, but he certainly doesn't have a big personality. That being said, he's kinda a pushover, but in a way that's fun to watch. Plus, he's involved with some of the most entertaining moments of the entire series-- the ID theft, and the token of immortality debacle. I'm having trouble explaining why Doohee is such an interesting character, and I think it's because there isn't really anyone else to compare him to because he's such a unique personality in compared to other reality show characters. It's just really interesting to me to watch him play the game.

5) Yohwan

Oh, Yohwan. I was immediately interested in Yohwan as a character when he was introduced as Jinho's biggest rival-- the one who kept him permanently in 2nd place. In fact, for the full first season, I was really curious about this mysterious rival. I thought of him as this powerful enigma... and then we were introduced to Yohwan. When I think of Yohwan, the word that immediately comes to mind is "endearing." He's not intimidating in the slightest, and he just seems like a genuinely nice person... who's actually a bit of a pushover. Seriously though, his wife did more fighting for him than he did for himself. 

However, despite the fact that he has never won a single main match, I can't help but still feel that he's not a weak player. He's shown several instances where he has a solid sense of the game. He did an extremely admirable job of figuring out the location of the token of immortality, despite the fact that he didn't get a single clue. Overall, although he's not a huge personality, I think that he comes off as inherently likable and more game-savvy than many of his fellow competitors, and I personally really like him.  

4) Junghyun

Oh, Junghyun. What a precious human. Junghyun isn't that great of a player, but he's such a great character to watch. I have mixed feelings about him as a player. I don't think that he succeeded solely by luck, as the players and many fans think. I do think that he made some really great decisions that helped him to succeed in the game, and he's great at death matches. However, he did kinda bumble his way to the final 3. As much as I enjoy him, I think that a quick once-over of the final four this season makes it incredibly clear that this is the weakest cast strategy-wise. 

That being said, Junghyun had so many really great moments. I absolutely love the moment where he gets so annoyed that he takes a lap around the set. I love the "dodo" music that gets played so much for him. I love that at one point in his life, this man was a congressman. I find it hilarious that in season 1, the oldest cast members were revered and respected... while Junghyun is just a bit of a joke the entire time. In a season that had very few inherently likable people, Junghyun stood out as one of the most endearing players. 

3) Hongchul

Hongchul was so much fun on this season. I know that there were some people who didn't really like Hongchul at first (and then grew to like him, because it's impossible to dislike him), but I was definitely not one of those people. I immediately found him funny and likable. I don't really see him as a good player, but he's just so much fun. My biggest complaint about this season is that the cast isn't super strong, but Hongchul almost saves the cast on his own. Obviously, the two people ahead of him were more compelling to me, but as you already know if you've gotten this far, those are returning players that I was already attached to. Hongchul is the most compelling of the newbies (thanks, HaHa!). 

Sure, Hongchul had some not-so-great moments. He was involved in the ID theft, but he definitely wasn't one of the more important players in that. Overall, he wasn't a strong player (uh... pretty common in this cast) but he was soooooo entertaining. 

2) Jinho

If you've seen my ranking of the players of Season 1 (Rules of the Game. Click here to check it out), you'll know that Jinho was my favorite player of Season 1. I considered putting him at number one on this one as well, but I couldn't bring myself to do it... for reasons that should be obvious if you've gotten all the way to this point in the blog post. Anyway, as always with Jinho, I was rooting for him this season. There are very few people I'd root for over Jinho (exactly 2 people. And sometimes I still root for him over the two of them. TBH, I still root for him over the person who's #1 on this list) because he's just a person that I really connect with. Like I said in my last post, nerdy, awkward gamers are my people. Add that to the fact that he "created the sad legend of second place" and you have my personal ultimate underdog.

I started Season 2 a couple days after completing Season 1, so I was still on my "Jinho just won" high and although I was convinced there was no way for him to win again (because that's just unthinkable for someone to win two seasons in a row), I found myself rooting for him regardless. And then, he won the first four main matches. All four of them. Honestly, despite the fact that he got eliminated mid-season, I'd argue that he had a stronger overall performance in Season 2 than he did in Season 1. Season 1, he was so all over the place. But he really hit his stride in season 2. If not for Jiwon somehow bluffing him into going all-in on Indian poker, I'm convinced he had a chance to run it all the way back for another win.

1) Sangmin

LEE.SANG.MIN. In my season 1 rankings, I put him at #3 behind Jinho and Sunggyu. Overall, I just ended up rooting for the other two more than him. And I still nearly always root for Jinho over Sangmin. But I couldn't put anyone but Sangmin in this first place spot for this season because season 2 should be re-titled as "The Sangmin Show." In a cast full of mediocre personalities and gameplay, Sangmin explodes onto the screen even more strongly than he did in season 1, and he absolutely annihilates every single person in every single aspect of the game.

In terms of gameplay, he was nearly perfect. There were 11 Main Matches this season. How many did he win? NINE. NINE OF THEM. That's something that's completely and utterly unrivaled across every other season of the show.

But possibly even better than his gameplay is his presence on the screen. Sangmin is a masterful entertainer. When I say he explodes onto the screen, he explodes onto the screen. Episode 6 is the absolute peak of Sangmin perfection as he discovers the Token of Immortality and dupes Doohee with it. That's absolutely one of the best moments of the entire show. And on top of those high highs, he really doesn't have any low points. Sangmin is constantly compelling TV. He's the epitome of the Big Brother motto, "Expect the Unexpected." He's consistently inconsistent and it's absolutely beautiful. You can't help but love watching Sangmin, because he does all of this out of a genuine love of The Genius. The show means a great deal to him, and not only does he want to win, but he wants to have fun with it and he wants the audience to have fun with it. Despite the fact that he's the clear frontrunner, you can't help but love him and continue rooting for him to do well because he loves the show as much as you do.

So, those are my rankings of the players on The Genius, Season 2! Next up will be my ranking of the Main Matches of Season 2, so stay tuned for that one. I'm absolutely loving doing these rankings, so expect to see them for quite a while until I eventually run out of Genius-related rankings to do. But that's going to take a little while. Once again, if you haven't checked out my rankings for the players and Main Matches of Season 1, you can do so by going up to the tab that says "The Genius" where you'll find all current Genius-specific content. All Genius posts will be linked on there as soon as they go live, so check back frequently for more content!

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