Center City: League Takes Rock Paper Scissors to a Whole New Level

Rock, Paper, Scissors may seem like a childish game to most people but for the members of the Pabst Blue Ribbon Philadelphia Rock Paper Scissors City League Championship Series, it is a very serious endeavor.

Although it would seem like it is a game of chance, there is a large amount of strategy that goes into each match. Going up to the table and just randomly deciding what to throw is not a winning strategy according to those that play in the PBRPRPSCLCS.

With $1,000 on the line in the season ending tournament, it makes a game plan a very important part of the game.

“Figuring out what your opponents throw and how to counter that is a big, big deal,” said competitor Brian ‘B Pac’ Chappell. “Thinking you’re going to come out and throw randomly you’re not going to win any matches.“

Even newcomer Jake ‘Bobby Bullion’ Long made sure to at the very least think about what was happening as he was playing rather than just throwing random signs down.

Bullion sharing a drink with a fellow competitor
Bullion sharing a drink with a fellow competitor

“You’re sitting there thinking will they throw another paper or will they throw a scissors,” Long said. “It’s a bunch of reverse psychology.”

Long isn’t convinced that a strategy is needed in rock, paper, scissors however.

“I don’t how much of a strategy you could have in random chance,” he said. “But I think you could develop funny ways of throwing out signals.”

Not every strategy is complex however. Many players have very simple strategies that they employ that end up working out well for them.

“My goal, as silly as it may sound, is to not lose,” Chappell said. “My goal is to get to the next throw.”

Appearance plays a major part of what goes into the matches. It can in itself become a strategy for players and a tool to get the other players to lose.

“I like to be very stoic,” said Andrew ‘Kingpin’ Moore. “I believe that the way you present yourself says a lot about you and it implies that you’re going to make a certain first throw. I like to be strong and very strong faced. And they usually think that I will throw a rock but I will have won since I would have thrown scissors.”

Moore took his strategy to the next level when he got a rock, paper, scissors tattoo on his right wrist. The tattoo shows rocks as being the dominant image when looking at him from across the table, which he thinks adds to his strategy of making his opponents think he’ll throw rock.

Body language and tattoos are not the only way to use physical appearance to get into the head of an opponent. Just like in a better-known sport, professional wrestling, the players take on a new persona when they are at the table competing.

Generally players take an assumed name when they sign up each night, except for the team last season that all used their real names.

Just like with wrestling personas, the players’ persona becomes a entirely new person and changes their approach to the match.

Current league manager and referee Anthony ‘Richard Classy’ Iacobucci has become a new person since taking over the league and leaving his playing persona, Dick Nasty, behind.

“My style of referring kind of plays into the idea of the persona,” Iacobucci said. “I made a switch in the whole persona and became Richard Classy who is a made upstanding and respectful gentleman who tries to treat everything with integrity, which wasn’t always the case with my old persona.”

While under the moniker of Dick Nasty, Iacobucci would try and throw off his opponents by being a poor sportsman.

Classy deciding the matchups
Classy deciding the matchups

“When I played, every time that I went up to the table I would offer to shake my opponents hand, and when they reached for it I would pull that third grade move and pull my hand away,” Iacobucci said. “It seems really silly but it kind of throws a player off from the beginning.”

From the different personalities come rivalries as the players become more familiar with each other over the course of the season. The teams that are in the league also take on the persona’s of their players, which makes the rivalries grow even greater.

“You’ll have rivalries between players, which definitely do get intense,” Iacobucci said.  “You’ll see they’ll tend to come out more when they have that rivalry going on, which is beneficial for the league to keep our attendance up.”

For the competitors of the PBRPRPSCLCS, putting on a show and getting into the heat of the moment plays a huge role in why they come out and play four nights a week.

Text, images and video produced by John Iatesta and Samantha Kordelski.

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