Recap of 2019 & The State of 2020

February 05, 2020

photo credit: Brendee Green Photography
 T he community grew exponentially this past year, going from two or three defined rooms in which a lot of the same familiar faces were able to come together and answer questions in the almost intuitive and sometimes surprising structure of Trivia Club… to a national game show which by the end of 2019 was hosted more by people who weren’t Russel Harder, then people who were. Trivia Club has been helped along by the owners, managers, and bartenders or servers of different locations but until 2019 it was almost solely steered by one man.

The same man who is writing this recap of the year that was and address of the year ahead (hello!) had only seen four others host Trivia Club in the six years prior, but in 2019 Trivia Club went national. Because of that, not only did more people host Trivia Club then ever before but it was a year in which more people played Trivia Club then ever before. In 2019 we held 247 live events across ten different locations, as well as special and private events at additional locations. Of those 247 live events only 142 events were hosted by Russel Harder in Toronto, or 57% of events. This included 45 events at the flagship The Rec Room Roundhouse, including our second annual Red Carpet Oscar Trivia event that brought a refined night of trivia and viewing party, and the second annual edition of The Roundhouse Royale Grand Championship! The Black Label location of Hitch, which became our longest-running location in 2019, held 22 events including the sixth annual Hitchens Cup, the fourth annual Trivial Awards and the Grand Finale of the Golden VCR Grand Prix. Our Friendly Neighborhood Farside held 20 events including the second annual clash to become Uncle Rubberknee’s Head of Class! 2019 also saw a number of limited runs take place, including 4 events at Black Lab Brewing to book-end the year, 2 events at The Thompson Diner at what was once the Thompson Hotel, and the final 2 events at The Ace, to go along with 8 special and/or private events that also included celebrating the birthaversary of Jen & Travis of the Fighting Mongooses!

As was said in the introduction, this was the year that licensed events have truly become equally a part of Trivia Club’s story as the legacy of competition built in Toronto! London led the way, holding more events then any other single location for Trivia Club in 2019 with 47 events. The last half of the year at The Rec Room Masonville in London, Ontario was hosted by Justin Gayle, including the first annual London Royale Grand Championship, and a 50th event celebration! We also began events at The Rec Room Square One in Mississauga, Ontario with 30 events by the end of the year, alongside host Jeewan Gill! Alongside events in Ontario, we also brought Trivia Club to Alberta in April of 2019, with 28 events hosted by Ed Childs in The Rec Room South Commons, and 25 events hosted by CTV’s Graham Neil in The Rec Room West Edmonton Mall, to bring multiple locations to Edmonton, Alberta! In September of 2019 we went all the way east, bringing Trivia Club to Newfoundland and Labrador, with the wonderfully named Russell Cochrane hosted 12 events by the end of the year at The Rec Room Avalon in St. John’s! What follows is a recap of just some of 2019’s events in Trivia Club, so apologies if anything is left out.

 January  hit the ground running on a big year for the community of Trivia Club, with Kevin Avram being introduced as the new host at The Rec Room Masonville in London, Ontario for the inaugural event of January 8th and to kept things unpredictable it was the first tie-breaker outside of Toronto that Rodeo Clowns won! The Questionables, as Suck It Trebek, won the first Golden VHS of the year in Toronto on January 8th. Fighting Mongooses won the first Hitch event of 2019 on January 14th. The next day on January 15th at The Rec Room Roundhouse it was the first Golden VHS victory for Cookiefaced. To finish a big week for Trivia Club, Farside on January 16th saw not only the 100th appearance for 2 Fast 2 Curious, and not only the 20th Golden VHS for the team either, but a Triple Crown victory as well (and all on a Wednesday)! To end an eventful inaugural month for the year, January 28th at Hitch was cancelled due to Toronto’s Snowmageddon (which of course looks small compared to the blizzard in St. John’s to begin 2020), but the next day when the storm settled and we came to The Rec Room Roundhouse on January 29th it just so happened to be the FIVE TIMERS CLUB night for The Questionables!

 February  continued the momentum forward, as We Showed Up For 8! won a Golden VHS at The Rec Room Roundhouse for the second consecutive month to start 2019 with a win on February 5th. The Good Boys from Laramie Cigarettes won at Black Lab Brewing on February 7th, the first public event at Black Lab Brewing, which gave Laramie an all-est Triple Crown victory! Not One, Not Two, Not Three, Not Five… Four Gregs won the third annual Trivial Awards edition of Trivia Club at Hitch on February 11th and with the year’s highest score of 232 points! Fighting Mongooses grabbed the fourth highest score of the year as runners-up on the night, with 200 points. Matt of Four Gregs would go on to repeat as winner of our Oscars Trivia night at The Rec Room Roundhouse with Rob and SK, on February 24th! The Undefeatable Cheat-ahs would end the month, and our run at The Ace with a win on February 27th.

 March  began with the only event at Farside for the month with a big in for Fuck Billy Zane on March 6th. Team Name would win at The Rec Room Roundhouse on March 12th, while a week later it would be the break through win for Dead on the Inside, as All killa, No filla, winning their first Golden VHS after twelve appearances! Winning both events at Hitch for March were the Fighting Mongooses, taking the Golden VHS on both March 11th and March 25th.

 April  brought our seventh Grand Championship and a return to the Grand Prix with a points system based off of end of the night standings with points on the night used as the ultimate tie-breaker! Smartly Pretty and 2 Fast 2 Curious went head-to-head for the Grand Championship, outlasting eventual third place finisher and 2018 Grand Champs the Fighting Mongooses. The GCGP started in huge fashion with what would be the seventh highest score of the year as Smartly Pretty scored 192 points on April 3rd. Smartly Pretty won more Golden VHS tapes during the Grand Prix, five of the six nights in fact, but thanks to that one night which they did not win out right at Farside on April 17th, Smartly Pretty tied 2 Fast 2 Curious when it came to Grand Prix Points, and 2 Fast 2 Curious would win the Golden VCR on the final night even with a runner-up finish for the sixth Golden VHS of the month to Smartly Pretty… a down to the wire finish! Trivia Club debuted at three new licensed locations through The Rec Room, in Mississauga at Square One, and in Edmonton at both the South Commons and West Edmonton Mall! Matthew Cohen was the debut host at Square One, while Ed Childs and CTV’s Graham Neil hosted at South Edmonton and West Edmonton respectively. Finally out Saturday Night Live Fantasy League came to an end for another season with me, Russel H. with the Billion Dollar Murrays winning my first Phil Hartman Trophy by two points over the nearest competition, Rob M. with Hunter the Hungries Gotta Eat!

 May  saw the official name change for Suck It Trebek, as they became The Questionables and won their first Golden VHS since February 12th at The Rec Room Roundhouse on May 7th! Our 700th ever event of Trivia Club in Toronto saw Brewer’s Yeast Infection take the win and block 2 Fast 2 Curious from a threepeat at Farside on May 15th! At Hitch on May 27th, Patrick won on his birthday for a big win by The Sinking Ship!

 June  began with two consecutive wins for Dead on the Inside at The Rec Room Roundhouse, joining the Five Timers Club on June 11th! At The Rec Room Square One in Mississauga, Christopher Colbourne took over as host of Trivia Club, beginning some quality work in establishing a community in Mississauga. The Good Folks from Laramie Cigarettes won on June 10th at Hitch, for what would be his only Golden VHS of the year! On June 19th at Farside, 2 Fast 2 Curious scored 206 points, the third highest score of the year overall! Dead on the Inside would go for the threepeat on June 18th, but they were blocked by The Questionables who would win the last two weeks of the month including winning their TENTH Championship on June 25th.

 July  would see The Questionables continue their winning ways, with the first threepeat at The Rec Room Roundhouse on July 2nd, and then a FOURPEAT on July 9th. For the 150th event at Hitch, Team Name would return to our longest-running location for the win on July 8th. Dairy-Based Projectiles would win a tie-breaker on July 16th at The Rec Room Masonville, co-hosted by Justin Gayle the incoming host in London, Ontario! It would be the first of two tie-breakers at Masonville in three weeks, and Dairy-Based Projectiles would not only go on to win the first threepeat outside of Toronto but four of the five events in London in July! The Bastards ft. PETE! won at The Rec Room Roundhouse, stopping The Questionables, on July 16th for what would be the last Trivia Club appearance for the time being for Peter/Annika before they returned to Saskatchewan. Fighting Mongooses won at Hitch on July 22nd with a new personal best high score of 208 points, the second highest score of the year. Cookiefaced would be the fourth team to join the Five Timers Club at The Rec Room Roundhouse with their win on July 30th.

 August  saw 2 Fast 2 Curious win a Golden VHS at Farside on the 7th for the seventh of eight months in 2019, with the outlier being what was overall a quieter month in March. The Cunning Stunts swung big and won their first and only Golden VHS of 2019 on the first and so far only consecutive week of Trivia Club at Farside on August 14th, on a night in which they scored the fifth highest score of the year with 196 points. Dairy-Based Projectiles became the first members of Trivia Club’s Five Timers Club outside of Toronto with a win at The Rec Room Masonville on August 20th. Fighting Mongooses made their forty-eighth consecutive appearance at Hitch, breaking Last Place Team’s one-location record of appearances of forty-seven at Cardinal Rule. The Fighting Mongooses set this Iron Team record while also winning the Golden VHS at Hitch on August 26th. A potential threepeat for Cookiefaced was blocked by The Questionables on August 27th at The Rec Room Roundhouse. Our inaugural event at the Thompson Diner was won by David Bowie’s Corporate Whores on August 29th.

 September  began with myself, Russel H. winning another Extra Curricular activity, this time getting lucky with the seventh annual Summer Movie Wager, and winning with 63 points, over the field including runner-up Mark P. of the Cunning Stunts, who finished with 59 points. Walt Quizney set the location record of 145 points at The Rec Room Square One in Mississauga on September 3rd. The Questionables repeated as Champs on September 3rd at The Rec Room Roundhouse, and set a new high score of 181 points, the first new mark in almost two yeas, but they were blocked from a second threepeat by Hold Me Close Tiny Answer on the first leg of The Roundhouse Royale Grand Championship on September 10th. Cookiefaced won the second annual Roundhouse Royale on September 17th with a new high score at The Rec Room of 185 points, just two weeks after the prior high was set! By September 17th at The Rec Room Masonville, hosted by Justin Gayle, Dairy-Based Projectiles had won a FOURPEAT, and eight of the last eleven events in London! Fighting Mongooses won the first leg of the Hitchens Cup at Hitch on September 9th and then were able to outscore the M. Night Shaym-Aliens and Good Folks from Laramie in leg two to win the sixth annual Hitchens Cup on their 50th consecutive appearance, on September 23rd. September 24th saw Trivia Club come to Newfoundland and Labrador on September 24th with our event at The Rec Room Avalon in St. John’s hosted by Russell Cochrane. September 24th ended at The Rec Room Masonville with Trifecta winning the night, their second Trivia Club Championship overall, and on the second leg of the London Royale Grand Championship at The Rec Room. Trifecta would finish as runners-up overall for the first annual Grand Championship in London, unable to catch-up to the first leg score of Dairy-Based Projectiles who would finish an epic summer for the team at Masonville! One day later on September 25th, Squad Ghouls won our return event at Black Lab Brewing.

 October  did not slow down after a massive September, with Drunk Quizstory becoming the first team outside of Toronto to pass the Sesquicentennial Mark. On October 8th Drunk Quizstory scored 158 points at The Rec Room Avalon in St. John’s. Cookiefaced won the first two Golden VHSes of October at The Rec Room Roundhouse, but Dead on the Inside won on October 15th at the 100th edition of Trivia Club at The Roundhouse! Owl Be Back won their third Trivia Club Championship at The Rec Room South Edmonton Commons, making them the winningest team in Edmonton for Trivia Club up to this point. The second-annual Farside event began with the M. Night Shaym-Aliens winning, with the Cunning Stunts as runners-up on the night of the first leg of Uncle Rubberknee’s Head of Class on October 16th! At Black Lab Brewing The Feral Mongooses won at their fourth location with a Golden VHS at Black Lab Brewing on October 23rd, giving them an east-end Triple Crown as well! Five days later at Hitch on October 28th the Fighting Mongooses won a Golden VHS, their sixth consecutive month of wins at Hitch, and became twenty-five time Golden VHS winners on the night as well. Jeewan Gill took over as host of Trivia Club at The Rec Room Square One in Mississauga, and on his debut event hosting on October 29th, Walt Quizney become just the second team to join the FIVE TIMERS CLUB outside of Toronto!

 November  started with the end of the Head of Class, as leg two was won by 2 Fast 2 Curious on November 6th! Though they would have enough points on the night to finish as runners-up the reigning Golden VCR Grand Champs of Trivia Club would be number two on the night not to the Cunning Stunts or Shaym-Aliens who were stumped on the Finale, but by the unheralded and not yet Golden VHS winners in seven attempts at Farside… but now second annual Uncle Rubberknee’s Head of Class at Farside, Team Lithgow! The Rec Room Roundhouse it was Cookiefaced who won another two Golden VHS to begin the month, while at The Rec Room West Ed it was Ginny’s Pie who became the first multi-time winner at the location on November 19th. Black Lab Brewing saw the first tie on the east-end on November 21st between FAHTBOPH, who won, and Les Quizerables.

 December  saw the year end just as eventfully as it began with The Questionables keeping Cookiefaced from threepeating before winning repeating as VHS champs to end the year at The Rec Room Roundhouse on December 10th. Matthew Smith won a solo VHS on December 9th at Hitch, joining that solo win club. The success of Dairy-Based Projectiles during the summer didn’t seem to scare away the competition and instead emboldened the Trivia Club community in London! On December 10th Technically Correct won their second Championship, and scored 150 points in the process to set a new location high score record at Masonville. Vampire Weekend at Bernie’s won the end of the year at Farside on December 18th. It was a very big last two months of the year for Wookiee with huge wins and big points at Hitch on November 25th and December 23rd, the last event of 2019, for their first win since LAST NOVEMBER and first win for Neil since February, as Oscar Wilde After Party. Ginger Bread Wookiee ended the year with 194 points the sixth highest score of the year.

 The State of Trivia Club in 2020 
Thank you to everyone who supported Trivia Club in 2019, it was a year of growth across Canada with Trivia Club building on our London debut outside of Toronto to four more locations across Ontario, Alberta, and Newfoundland and Labrador, before adding a Calgary location as well to open 2020, giving Trivia Club seven concurrent events at The Rec Room! Every year of Trivia Club brings change, and the upcoming year won't be any different in that respect. One of the biggest changes will be what we lose, as our last "original" location will be closing its doors. Hitch will join Cardinal Rule and Lou Dawgs before it as the initial trio of locations that held up Trivia Club on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night and helped establish it as an institutional event in Toronto.

The legacy of the events at Hitch, and the teams that created those moments throughout, has created a home for Trivia Club on the east-end. This will be a home that we will look to continue through the cozy nature of Farside, the potential of Black Lab just down the road, and of course the possibility ahead for 1216 Queen Street East as well. Hitch may be gone, but our hope if that Trivia Club will be back inside those walls in another way.

The Rec Room won't be without external change as well, as it's parent company Cineplex is set to become a part of Cineworld. This won’t change anything about Trivia Club, and our Canada-wide family of events, in the short term. The moment it does, you will know, and that may be further positive news as well!

Every year a keyword is chosen for Trivia Club, a single word as a mission statement. It works as a broad concept to keep as a mantra in the back of my mind to push the year forward and remind me of what I’d like to accomplish in the year ahead. Not as much a resolution as it is a good habit. For Trivia Club’s first year that keyword was “CREATION”, the reason for which goes without saying, while in our second year it was “EXPANSION”, as Trivia Club found its way to four different locations including our Monday night Black Label location. Still, in our third year we needed to think about “STABILITY”. As Trivia Club did indeed stabilise after expansion, in our fourth year we wanted to concentrate on the “LOYALTY” that made it happen, celebrating participants on, while also beginning the Trivial Awards. In my fifth year working on Trivia Club, I made the keyword public for the first time with my intention for “MOBILITY”, which also meant ushering in new regular locations , and the Pause + Play podcast! For year six in 2018, as I’ve already talked about, my mind was on “COLLABORATION”, and though I originally intended that collaboration to be more person to person, I was pleasantly surprised with the steps Trivia Club took as a business. Whether it’s working alongside international corporations, or licensing Trivia Club across Ontario with The Rec Room. Year seven had “CONNECTION” as a keyword, with activation as the larger goal and though something like a newsletter or more social media-based trivia was not accomplished, our weekly cross-Canada Top Five has become a staple on our website. Connection ultimately didn’t need to mean content, as much as it meant establishing and strengthening community.

The State of Trivia Club for 2020 thus stuck a certain keyword in my mind:


As much as Trivia Club grows and evolves, bringing in new teams after each and every event, what I want to continue to enjoy is the history of Trivia Club. Whether it be at any one individual location or overall, questions, results and ultimately statistics help tell the story of who was there and how they did. Also, the experience of each participant will create those personal memories. It’s with that in mind that continuity is important, from location to location, both new and old.

The fourth annual Trivial Awards for 2019 will take place on February 19th, 2020 at Farside! If you aren’t able to make that night, we may also have additional awards handed out at our other locations too.

With awards we will also be bringing back our Red Carpet Oscar Trivia event to The Rec Room for the third year on February 9th! Join us on the night, or fill out the Oscar Confidence Ballot as well to win Trivia Club’s eighth annual Oscar Pool!

The Grand Championship Grand Prix for the Golden VCR will return in April, with the Grand Prix once again taking place across our Toronto locations!

The seventh season of the Saturday Night Live Fantasy League will conclude in May, and thank you to Matthew Smith for putting together the points for this season as well! We have taken a less involved step so far this season, but points will be available on the website in some way shape or form.

The eighth annual Summer Movie Wager will take place beginning at the end of April and concluding in September, and I look forward to involving as many people as possible!

In September it will be the return of the only playable Grand Championship trophy, as The Roundhouse Royale returns to crown Trivia Royalty at The Rec Room in Toronto for the third year!

We will have a few milestone live events in Toronto for Trivia Club as well, with the 150th edition of Trivia Club at The Rec Room, and the 50th edition of Trivia Club at Farside. We will also have the 800th edition of Trivia Club all-time in Toronto as well!

That’s what we know about 2019… and that’s what we’ll learn along the way in 2020!

- Russel Harder

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