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Air Baron (ABN) WBC 2023 Event Report
Updated September 11, 2023
41 Players Luke Koleszar History/Laurels
  2023 Champion Click box for details.

New Champion Above The Skies of America

In a 2022 year that saw a return to Seven Springs, Air Baron felt a little low with 38 airline moguls vying for Market Share. Returning to the grand ballroom and a year of overall WBC increased attendance brought Air Baron to 42 this year. One of the overlying statistics that feels like a trend is the dipping of tables as the rounds go on throughout the week. In 2023, heat 1 fielded 5 tables where the subsequent heats dipped by one each. With many tournament options, Air Baron did experience 22 players who played in multiple heats including 2022 champion Ben Gardner who won the final game last year and won the very first finished game of 2023!

Calamities increased this year as fuel hikes and recessions combined to penalize players - perhaps none more so than in heat 1 where Stephane Dorais’ winning table endured 5 total strikes! (There were 15 strikes pulled all year) The recession token won the year as the most often pulled at 21 with the fuel hike in second place with 19. Given the tournament rules of the event seeing a fuel hike more than twice feels like a lot. You can ask Andy Gardner’s winning table of heat 1 how three fuel hikes felt - but gauging the final scores of that table the group fending the hikes off well.

One of the interesting stories of 2023 was former champion Stephane Dorias winning all four of his heats. His scores of 355, 347, 328, and 320 totaling 1,350 is a new ABN tournament record. Including the Semifinal and Final, Stephane managed to score 1,568 total market share plus cash to set the mark for future airline moguls to try to conquer.

Jeff Finkeldey sat with Stephane during heat four and was up and down as he set the 2023 mark for consecutive fare wars wins at 11 in a row, but a local competitor’s cancellation of a SFO payout precipitated a string of turns that dropped his market share back down to 80. Sitting at a Dorais’ heat table was a difficult task.

18 players arrived for the Semifinal, creating a trio of six-player games. The three winners along with the two strongest second-place finishers would sit at the 5-player Final table.

Stephane’s luck throughout the event was remarkable up to turn 5 of his Semifinal table. A turn five fumble of the token cup may not have disturbed the board but disturbed the balance of the air enough to allow for Louis Gehring to earn profits hand over fist while slowly accumulating market share in the southeast. Defending champ Ben Gardner attempted his west coast start but lack of profit pulls slowed the champ down. Bob Woodson won the battle with Max Jamelli for control of the northeast while Stephane and Brad Sherwood fought over control of the Midwest. Gehring earned just enough profit to take the win with a 290 score to stop Dorais’ win streak at 4. Your humble GM was just happy to play at that table, finishing with a final score of 20. Dorais’ 243 points were 83.7% of the winning score and earned him the top alternate spot for the final table. So, while his winning streak was halted, he found himself in a familiar place, the final table.

Speaking of familiar names in familiar places, former champion John Coussis found some rocky skies early in the event before breaking through in the win column in heat 4 where (hold on, let me have the cup) all six players finished with a positive score. Incredibly over the course of the entire 18-table event, there were only six reported negative scores. Of those six, four of them occurred in either the Semifinal or Final!

Coussis followed his heat 4 victory with a Semifinal victory at a table that suffered through four fuel hikes and four strikes. Each of those calamities can bring with them a massive swing and it was felt hard by two competitors who recorded negative scores at games end. Coussis’ 313 win was followed by Luke Koleszar’s 243 (a 74.7% score) which was strong enough to land Koleszar at the final table as well.

The third Semifinal table was won by tournament veteran Erica Kirchner. While Bruce Bernard and Andy Gardner fought for control of the western skies, Kirchner outlasted Air Baron powerhouses Don Greenwood and Bob Wicks in the Midwest to control 290 market share. With a $36 bankroll, Kirchner punched her ticket to the final. Gardner’s 200 points put him third on the alternate list but earned sixth-place laurels for the event.

The final table started with a banker’s roll of six. It was no shock to see the first round of token purchases: $5 for San Diego, $6 for Tampa, $6 for Philadelphia, $6 for Charlotte, and a $9 purchase of St. Louis! Because of this, the players continued to have significant amounts of money as each of these tokens got pulled early and often. Coussis purchased San Diego and Las Vegas in rounds 1 and 2 to set the market share lead at 50 and Stephane felt that he needed to thwart the west-coast strategy by shifting his initial positions in Atlanta and Washington D.C., to purchase Honolulu for $8 and then putting a jumbo jet on it for defense. What was initially meant as a defensive measure to guard against a full-on west coast assault eventually turned to a problem for both players. Luke Koleszar was second to a market share with a purchase of two spokes in Denver (20 MS). Erica Kirchner’s first market share was 30 with control in Miami. Gehring’s purchase of two spokes in Houston earned him 20 market share to start and Dorais would use the dice to earn his first market share in Atlanta.

The table spent the first five turns purchasing until Gehring decided it was time to go into fare wars in turn 6. His initial run in Dallas earned him wins in Little Rock and Oklahoma City, but a loss in Tulsa stopped him at 2 wins and a loss. Koleszar and Dorais followed that Fare Wars run with attempts of their own. While Dorais found success in 6 of his 7 rolls, winning market share in ATL and parts of Chicago, Koleszar’s first attempt in Kansas City failed. By the end of Turn 6, Dorais’ led the table with 160 market share followed by 90 for Coussis, 80 for Gehring, 30 for Kirchner, and 20 for Koleszar. Things were looking good for our friend from Canada except that he forgot to come out of fare wars in the next turn, so he decided to win three more fare wars rolls in the Detroit hub to bump his market share up further. A wardrobe malfunction could perhaps be blamed for Dorais’ neglecting to take a preventative loan in turn 10, as a fuel hike in turn 11 turned the board around. Dorais was forced to sell much of what his run of fare wars was able to net him and he was never fully able to recover. Luke Koleszar pounced on an opportunity to suck up all the open areas in the Midwest. Koleszar put on a show of die-rolling that saw him win 10 in a row to push his market share to 280. A loan prevented him from declaring outright victory there but put him in a great position.

Throughout the first half of the game, everyone had invested in jumbo jets and John Coussis went full on the jumbo game by purchasing all six of his available jets. What didn’t help the cause for anyone was that the jumbo jet token was only pulled two times throughout the game. In an amazing visual, at one point there were 24 jets on the board and only three of them were undeployed. It was a tough market though as the recession token and crash token were each pulled three times, one more than a jumbo profit token that would have paid a great deal to everyone.

Erica Kirchner started slowly but eventually started to piece things together in the east. Controlling Miami helped her slowly force her way into New York and a turn 12 fare wars run gave her domination of the NY hub. Being stopped on her next roll in Columbus hurt her attempts to overtake Koleszar for the lead though.

In turn 17, Koleszar’s return to fare wars success netted him domination in Atlanta and he was successful in defending his property numerous times.

Turn 21 was interrupted by the adjudication alarm, so the participants knew they had one final chance to overtake Koleszar. Koleszar had remained in fare wars in turn 21 and after pulling two of his own tokens announced he still would have been $1 short of a clean win had he come out of fare wars. His added defensive DRM in fare wars was a handy bonus. In the game's final turn, Kirchner’s fare wars run to re-take portions of her lost market share got her very close to a victory until John stopped her just short in Detroit. Koleszar’s turn 22 fare wars attempt was unsuccessful, but it didn’t matter as the clock ran out Koleszar’s market share of 200 along with a whopping $108 in hand was enough for a 308-point victory and a first ABN championship! Kirchner’s 281 earned second place and Coussis earned the final plaque with a score of 188.

Thank you to all who participated and I can’t wait to see you all next summer!

2023 Laurelists Repeating Laurelists: 1

Erica Kirchner John Coussis Louis Gehring Stephane Dorais Andy Gardner
2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
Bruce Monnin and GM Max Jamelli in heat action. Air Baron Laurel leader John Coussis on way to Final.
All smiles mean the Fare Wars haven't started yet Finalists with GM Max Jamelli.
GM     Max Jamelli [7th Year]