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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