WFA Roadhouse Flair Heats: The Battle Comp

The Roadhouse Battle Competition is always an exciting event and this year’s edition was no different. There are so many things to love about the Battle Comp, in particular its format. Unlike all other flair bartending competitions, the Roadhouse Battle Comp pits bartenders head to head across a qualifying round and finally the knock out round. Planning and meticulously organising a kick ass routine wont help you in this event, although skill and technique play a big part – your ability to ride the pressure, think quickly on your feet and be creative and original – are all more important.

Presented, for the first time, on the Roadhouse dance floor as opposed to the main stage – this allowed us create a pit, with the other audience members and judges surrounding the battle zone on all sides. As you can imagine, this created quite the atmosphere and something completely new for the bartenders to deal with. When up on stage, you are still detached from the audience. In this new setting, screaming fans were but a few centimetres away – concentration is key.

As with all other Roadhouse Heats, the winner and the runner up of the Battle Comp will secure themselves a spot to compete in the Roadhouse World Finals in November. £1000 was up for grabs, as per usual for a Roadhouse Heat. However, this wouldn’t be shared out amongst the top 3 as usual – instead as it was the Battle Comp, the winner takes it all.

16 bartenders entered and to ensure fairness, there was a qualification round which allowed a seeding system to be worked out. During the qualification round the bartenders had to perform a 3 minute freestyle routine, with no drinks needed to be made and marks out of 10 for flair and entertainment. Once this was complete and everyone had a place the knockout stages began…

During the knockout stages two bartenders were required to battle against each other with 30 seconds each. This would alternate three times, giving each competitor a grand total of 1 minute and 30 seconds in which to impress the crowd, the judges and their opponent. The music was entirely random and decided by the DJ, it was also change during the battle so it was important for the bartenders to remain fluid and flexible with their moves and sequences.

The Battle Comp truly leaves bartenders with nowhere to hide, everything is laid bare and if you don’t have the metal to handle the pressure, or the wit to respond to an attack from your opponent then it will quickly become clear and obvious to the crowd and the judges. It is not just about showing your best stuff in a Battle Comp but also showing up your opponent, copying what they did and doing it better and introducing more difficulty, top the trick altogether or coming up with something like Danilo Lombardi did against Jumbles St Pierre…

In this particular case, Jumbles did manage to save it by using what Danilo had used to ridicule his trick to do an even better trick. This is what the Roadhouse Battle Comp is all about… It can even get a little more heated, such as Jean-Marc Pothier vs Ricardo Bin. Riccardo started with a little working flair routine, ending it by pouring a shot which he then handed to Jean-Marc. At the last moment he dropped the shot as Jean-Marc went to accept it. As you can imagine this got the crowd going and Jean-Marc responded in the next 30 seconds with his own working flair routine, performing a cool liquid catch with the tin and then throwing it in the face of Riccardo.

This was the first time in 18 years of doing the Roadhouse Flair Competitions that we have held one on the dance floor and for the battle competition, this was perfect. It created a boxing ring style atmosphere with people really getting behind their bartenders. The £1000 and top spot went to this year’s well deserved winner Flavius Lupu, with 2nd place going to Jumbles St Pierre. As both Jumbles and Flavius have already secured a place in the Roadhouse World Finals in November, 3rd placed Ionut Ivanov and 4th placed Jean-Marc Pothier take the spots.

We are already looking forward to next year – maybe we will have to start doing more Battle Comps?!