After a solid Round One that saw no real upsets and the defending champion handling business rather easily, the first round of the 2nd season of Guy Fieri’s Tournament of Champions resumed. What I have learned is that a 5+ point win is a blowout, but 3 points or less is like hitting a buzzer-beater. It’s a fine line between the two.
The first match of the night pitted newcomer, West Coast #4 seed, and Iron Chef champ Cat Cora against #5 seed Michael Voltaggio, who was #2 last season and lost to #7 and eventual champion Brooke Williamson.
The Randomizer wasted no time in reminding everyone that it was not here to make friends:
Cora seemed to score an advantage with “blackened,” so Voltaggio decided to go with blackened everything. The judges, featuring one new face, continued with a trend this season of providing commentary that seemed to favor one dish over the other, but eventually giving the nod to the “other.” This contest also set the table for what would be an evening of very different dishes where up to this point we had seen a number of similar preparations in the head-to-head matchups.
While his eggplant was overdone, the puree from it was a winner, and Voltaggio moved on for a rematch with Williamson, posting the highest score of the tourney so far:
The second match of the night featured returning competitor and West #3 seed Jeff Tila (who, like everyone else, lost to Williamson last season) against first-timer and #6 seed Aaron May. The Randomizer decided this was the portion of the show where drinking was appropriate:
Tila went with a “drunken beef” (made me think of the Texas State Fair) and May utilized some pineapple beer. The chuck was a tough ingredient (see what I did there) so whoever dealt with that better was probably going to win. The judges gave it away, criticizing May’s dish as “tough” and not “boozy” enough.
The final match of the evening gave us last season’s runner-up and East Coast #1 seed Amanda Freitag vs Wild Card winner and dark horse Tiffany Faison.
Faison then gave us the “Randomizer Reaction of the Night.” I think you can pick it out…
We could get an inkling of a possible upset from the outset as Faison exhibited a bit more confidence at the beginning, but Fieri provided a lot of momentum with his response to Faison’s use of the air fryer, producing a “bacon bits” type of sausage garnish, which was absolutely brilliant given she had no idea how to use it. Another great move here was having Darnell Ferguson commentate from backstage, as he lost to Freitag in the 2nd round last season due to dropping the ball with one of the Randomizer requirements.
In the end it was close, but Faison pulled off the upset:
That was it for tonight’s matchups. There are two remaining first-round contests in each bracket, so it will be interesting to see if they delve into the second round in the next episode.
More updates to follow!!