King of the Canopy is probably my favorite tree-related event ever. I had a blast planning it and a blast watching it all play out. If you haven’t seen it already, here is the phenomenal video of the event created by Day’s Edge Productions. The film covers more than just the competition, but also arborist’s passions and the things that keep them coming back to events like KotC. We ran a King of the Canopy event as one of three days during Jambo 3 in 2016. Back then, we had no idea how to do it or how it was really going to work out, but it was an idea I had been playing with for a while, and I wanted to make it happen. We learned a lot at that event about what was possible and how to improve the game. Making KotC a stand-alone event was a huge challenge. We had to convince competitors that our untested format would be worth it, and we had to decide on tournament formats, timing, scheduling, etc. We wanted to do one day of qualifying and one day of the tournament. At first, we toyed with doing a full day of 10 or 12 rounds of Swiss Seeding (a format popular in chess tournaments where players face other players with similar standings) but soon realized that would have us pitting the same teams against each other several times, and we wanted more variety for the competitors. We settled on a round robin, so each team played every other team once, then used those scores for 5 rounds of Swiss Seeding. Carson and I spent a good bit of time playing what felt like Sudoku, fitting teams into time slots, making sure they weren’t playing on two courts at the same time, playing the same team twice in a row, etc. After we thought we had it worked out, we realized that some teams played on the same court a disproportionate number of times, and we had to shuffle it all around again to prevent anyone becoming too familiar with a court. The preliminary rounds were 12 minutes long, which was really just an educated guess at a time limit that would give enough time to place a couple tokens but keep the pressure on and keep it fast paced. Because each round was only 2 competitors out of teams of 4, that meant each competitor would play 6 rounds of 12 minutes each, for a total play/climbing time of an hour and 12 minutes in one day. Compared to the 1 hour of competition each Jambo competitor saw on one of the three days this July, we considered that do-able. After all, we were looking for the highest caliber competitors who were here to play hard and climb harder. At the end of that first day of competition, after each competitor had made at least 12 high-speed ascents and climbed for nearly their full 1:12 (unlike Jambo, with time spent rigging, setting lines, etc), it was clear that we were reaching a fine line of wearing out the competitors. On day two, with longer rounds, more of the team competing, and fewer breaks between games, we ended up with some very tired competitors. The competition was incredibly intense. After a few rounds, there were a few clear competitors for first place – French Touch (3 of whom traveled from France just for the competition), The A Team (a team from A Plus Tree in California, including Jambo 2015 champ Chad Brey), and Dark Gypsy Magic (including Jambo 2017 champ Treecutter Doug). French Touch was undefeated in round robin, losing one round each to Dark Gyspy Magic and The A Team in Swiss, and tying once with Dark Gypsy Magic. Dark Gypsy Magic won 5/7 of their round robin matches, won 4 Swiss and tied their last with French Touch. The A Team only lost one round robin match (to then-undefeated French Touch), but had a weaker showing in the Swiss rounds, with 3 losses. French Touch and Dark Gyspy Magic ended day one with the same W/L/D record, with 9 wins, 2 losses, and 1 draw, so we had to calculate strength of score to decide seeding for day two. 1st seed French Touch lost their second round in the tournament, which meant they had to fight their way out of the loser’s bracket. Due to the organization of the three-game-guarantee bracket, their trip through the loser’s bracket meant an extra two games compared to their opponent in the final match, Dark Gypsy Magic. Dark Gypsy Magic had three straight wins in the tournament going into the final. French Touch were clearly tired by the end of the day, and the added games due to their loss in the second round was definitely a factor in the final match. In the end, Dark Gyspy Magic took home the win (and 4 Husqvarna T540xps and 4 custom etched Silky Zubats) with a final record of 13 wins, 2 losses, and 1 draw. Second place French Touch finished with a record of 13 wins, 4 losses, and 1 draw. I can’t say enough how happy I was with the awesome spirit and drive of our competitors, as well as the help we received from our volunteers. I also want to give a huge thank you to Carson, Mitch, Tom, Nate and Neil from Day’s Edge, and our live stream team – Cale, Gigi, and Quincy. And who could forget our head judges Greg Manning, Nora Bryan, and Chip Hildreth, and last but definitely not least – safety coordinator Scotty Olson. Thank you to everyone involved with King of the Canopy! We’ll see you next year Let us know your thoughts on the format, video, live coverage and more!