Possibly due to having the two heats start at 10 PM and 9 AM, and because it’s an older out-of-print game without an online implementation, turnout was significantly down this year with less than half the lowest turnout in any of the prior 10 times its been at WBC. However, the people who did show up to play were all serious fans of the game.
New this year, a bidding system was implemented for choosing the first characters, as some characters are statistically significantly better to start out with than others, and having random chance determine who got to pick the best characters is not optimal. People were not willing to spend too much on their bids however, with the highest (and most common high bid for each game) being only $40, less than 1% of the final scores. Howard was the most common high bid, with Chrysler being the second highest bid. Of the games played, the player who started with Chrysler won the most often.
Because only 5 tables were played between the two heats, and advancing half the field allowed 8 players to advance to the semi-finals, the 5 winners plus the 3 closest seconds advanced. All 8 of those players showed up, for two 4-player semi-final games, with the winners and seconds from each of those games to advance to a 4-player final and the 3rd places getting the 5th and 6th laurels.
At the harder semi-final table, there were two prior winners (4-time winner Nick Henning who has the most laurels, and the 2nd highest laurel winner Matt Calkins), Francois de Bellefeuille who has been at multiple final tables in the past, and DJ Borton, who was GMing for the first time this year and had never received laurels in Automobile before. DJ bid $40 to get Howard, Matt bid $30 to get Chrysler, Nick bid $20 for Durant, and Francois settled for Kettering at $0. It ended up to be a very close final score, with Nick managing his money the best and being the only one not requiring a loan during the game. He finished with $4,210. DJ came in 2nd and also qualified for the final with $4,000, having the most loss cubes at the end but also the most open factories still. Francois got 3rd with $3,920, and slightly closer than the other table for 5th place laurels. Matt had an off game for him with an uncharacteristic early error discounting cars when he hadn’t needed to, and finished with $3,750.
At the “easier” semi-final table, there were two players who had previously made final tables (Lyman Moquin and Anthony Lainesse), Ted Zellers who just missed a final table and had 5th place laurels in 2019, and Don Tatum, who had not received laurels before. Don bid $40 for Howard, Anthony bid $40 for Chrysler, Lyman bid $20 for Durant, and Ted settled for Kettering for $0. This game was also a very close game. 3 players didn’t take any loans at all, while Anthony took 2 loans. Lyman managed his cash the best, ending the last turn by spending every dollar on production and ending up with a final total of $4,330. Ted had the fewest loss cubes to end the game, and finished 2nd with $4,170. Don was 3rd with $4,010, slightly farther behind 1st than the other semi-final table for 6th place laurels. Anthony sold the most cars in the final turn, but his two loans drained his cash too much, and he ended with $3,980.
The final table started with similar bidding as the prior tables. DJ bid $40 on Howard, Ted bid $30 on Chrysler, Lyman bid $20 on Durant, and Nick settled for Kettering for $0. Playing the same way as he did in the semi-final, after Lyman built the $200 midsize and Nick built the $250 midsize, DJ skipped building on the $300 Midsize and started with the $350 Midsize, which totally changed the dynamic of the game and all of the usual strategies players were used to had to change. Both Lyman and Nick build Economy factories in round 1, although Nick didn’t have any salesmen to sell them so he didn’t produce them in round 1.
Because of the more-than-usual advanced factories built in round 1, in rounds 2-4 they continued advancing more than usual, with DJ getting to the $450 economy car in round 2, up to the $500 economy in round 3, and Ted building on the $650 luxury in round 4. Multiple players said they had never seen the factories built that far advanced by the end in a 4-player game.
The players all managed their cash flows well, with Ted being the only one needing to take 1 loan, and the other 3 not taking any loans. Round 3 was the only round where not all of the cars sold, with a few other times there being just enough demand for the cars built, including in round 4 where DJ lucked out in selling all of his cheap cars for full price and not losing any. Because he had the most advanced factories that sold first, DJ also was the beneficiary in round 3 when the other players lost 2-4 of their cars and he lost none. Because he started with a double factory on the $350 midsized, it was not worth it for DJ to close any of his factories, and he ended the game without having closed any, which is very unusual. The advanced factories and good sales results without losing any cars gave DJ a comfortable win, for his first Automobile laurels, with $5,080. Nick played his usual good game and ended with $4,560, which would have been enough to win either of the semi-final games. Ted got 3rd with $4,030 while Lyman couldn’t overcome losing 4 unsold cars in round 3 and finished with $3,860.