By Tren Long
I attended the “World Series of Grappling” put on by Grappler’s Quest last weekend in Las Vegas Nevada. This was my 4th GQ event and I think it maintained its high level of organization with just a few glaring problems. This event is held annually in the first week of December and always promises a lot of good competition and a well put together tournament. To add to the excitement there was a Pro Division this year with a bunch of high caliber big name BJJ and grappling guys and gals competing for a cash prize.
The Pro division was awesome fun to watch from lightweight to heavyweight. I enjoyed watching as many of the matches that I could manage between my own matches and was in awe of the skill and competition on those Pro mats. They did a good job of announcing the finals of those pro brackets so you knew when to watch and who you were watching.
As always they put on a fast paced, well put-together event. For the most part everything kept moving. We had guys in our group that were among the last divisions to go and we left for the long drive home at about 8:30pm which is pretty typical for GQ events.
The refs I have always thought were awesome at GQ events and this year was no exception. They are all helpful with the new guys and are amazing at resetting matches in as close to the original position as possible if they went out of bounds.
The level of competition I thought was very very good. It could have been just me but it seemed like there was a whole bunch of guys from Paragon (and women for that matter) that were bringing the hammer down on the mats. I include myself as one of those whom had the hammer drop down on them.
The Venue – They normally have it at a very large sports complex where there are bleachers, open air, great lighting, and visibility of the mats. This time around they opted for one of the conference rooms in the Texas Station hotel in North Las Vegas. Although it was really nice staying in the same hotel as the tournament so you didn’t have to load up and drive to the event, the actual conference center was much too small for an event of this size. There were no bleachers to speak of other than a few rows of folding chars on the floor and a few rows of folding chairs on an elevated platform with seating for about 60, which lead to everyone’s favorite pass time at tournaments: crowding the mats. So from any seat you could not really see any of the mats or matches going on which made it very difficult to not only find your own mat, but to try to find your team-mates mat became nearly impossible. In order to watch the Pro Division I had to watch from about 50 feet away in the crack between a doorway and one of the tables. Otherwise it was shoulder to shoulder to get to any of the mats.
The P.A. system you could hear fine in the conference room, but the second you stepped outside the conference room to find a seat or to warm up it was impossible to hear any of the announcements.
Originally on the website the Pro brackets were going to be contested on Friday night, but a few weeks before the event it got switched to 1pm on Saturday. I think that was a mistake. It would have been a lot better as a spectator to watch on Friday night. The mats would not have been crowded, you would not have to worry about missing your own match while watching the pros, and it would have opened up a lot of room for the normal competition on Saturday.
The mats had HUGE cracks where the pieces of the mats came together by the end of the day. It made these lovely little crevasses that I am sure where just begging to break some toes. I am not sure what had happened because GQ always uses Zebra Mats and they have always been awesome but something about the way they set it up had the mats coming apart all over the place. Before every one of my matches we had to stop and try to adjust the mats back together with little success.
To sum it up as always Grappler’s Quest put on a classy show with a pretty fast paced, mostly on time tournament with one flaw- the venue. I hate to say it but if they hold it at the hotel again I will not be attending and I think most of the people I train with feel the same.
Tren Long trains under Keith Owen in Boise, Idaho.
This is an installment in our Tournament Review Tuesdays column, where FightWorks Podcast listeners submit reports about Brazilian jiu-jitsu and grappling competitions that happened the weekend prior. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of The FightWorks Podcast. Through the rest of 2009, if you submit a Tournament Review Tuesday piece, you might win an Isami gi!