"Always the bridesmaid, never the bride!" Words typed by a fan (pre-tournament) familiar with the history of our sport and directed at talented and newly crowned World Illustration Championships 2023 (CLASSIC) winner: Uncle Ewan (@ewanagain).
Originally asked by IWS founder Marc Farrington to join the newly established pundits team alongside IWS players Si Mitchell (@si_mitchell) and Tony Riff (@tonyriff), Ewan insisted he competed first and commentated second! IWS agreeable, he set up shop @ their London based HQ and as things got underway as Ewan yo-yo'd between his battle desk and the pundits sofa.
The always precarious Day 1 / Round 1 ‘Fight Night Friday’ battlefield saw Ewan step up Vs Rikkimarr (@rok500).
In what would be the most closely fought battle of this year's World Championships, Rikki (no stranger to a Round 1 defeat) came out swinging. Working to HUFFPOST headline: "More Couples Are Sleeping in Separate Bedrooms – Here’s Why" both players utilized ‘Wood Saw’ analogies, showcasing the age-old battle between snorer and light sleeper. Rikki went big, creating an enormous slumbering Grizzly Bear front & centre as Ewan's use of ‘Comic Frame’ perspective failed to impress the judges. Rikki’s brilliantly illustrated bear flanked by an exasperated partner frantically reducing the marital bed to firewood won him the judges vote. However, Ewan’s campaign wasn’t over - by unexpectedly clinching the social vote he secured a marginal win with final scores tabulated @ 41 Vs 40.75. Now fully aware this year's tournament would be his toughest yet - The champ, bloodied, edged forward.
Into the Quarter Finals Ewan faced off against 'in-form' veteran Mattias Adolofson (@mattiasink) who’d just produced a superb Round 1 winning entry (“How To Save Money By Regrowing Food From Kitchen Scraps”).
As they got to grips with HUFFPOST headline: “New Hunt For Loch Ness Monster Leads To 'Bizarre' Sounds, 'Unexplained' Footage” it looked set to be a tight contest, however mid-way through it became clear Mattias had sacrificed narrative in favour of carefully block-filling his (otherwise brilliant) depiction of Nessie - a time consuming exercise which would prove fatal. Ewan; the ‘pre-detail back-fill master’ surged ahead, showcasing his impressive workrate as he quickly compiled a comical depiction of a man dressed in patchwork Nessie costume evading detection from two startled surface based by-standers. Ewan secured both the social vote and judges scorecard as he tallied a notable 45 V 38.25 victory over Mattias.
The Semi-Finals would bring Cat Dirty (@catdirty) and Ewan together for the first time as they battled on HUFFPOST headline: "Red Wine Flooded Down This One Very Unexpected Place In Portugal", with both players opting for pink as their colour of choice, they got to it.
Illustrating a torrent of Portugal's finest, Cat went ‘high energy hallucinogenic’ delivering fantastic depictions of three sisters embracing the opportunity as they lounged on inflatables, while happily sampling vintage with over-sized straws. Ewan went full ‘wine drinker degen’, showing both the source of the spillage and four distinct personality types each exhibiting the telltale signs of alcoholism including a drunk duck in the foreground. Ewan won the judges scorecard by 0.75 and notched another social vote victory (adding a further 2 x points), bringing the totals to 45 V 42.25 forcing tournament favourite Cat Dirty out of the competition.
The final was set, Ewan would meet Lawrence H Burns (@lawrence.hugh.burns) in a battle destined for the history books as they went head-2-head tackling HUFFPOST headline: "Tweets that Summarize Being The Only Single One In Your Friend Group". The pair had previously met in the final @ both the UK Illustration Championships 2019 and Illustrated Masters 2022 with Lawrence winning both high stakes encounters, this time however things would be different.
With the customary 60min preparation time between Semi-Final and Final, both players entered the final with three consecutive social vote wins behind them and a strong fanbase.
With Ewan in Pink and Lawrence in Twitter bird blue, both began constructing their compositions with a singleton front and centre. Lawrence cleverly depicted a (presumably single) narcissistic Twitter bird holding a mirror, enjoying its reflection and surrounded by affectionate couples. Ewan decided to portray an edgy somewhat comedic narrative with a targeted 'nod' to their previous encounters by picturing himself and Lawrence locked in a passionate, somewhat comedic embrace in an ingeniously self-deprecating display while simultaneously needling his opponent and rallying his base!
Knowing the battle would be incredibly tight, this cleverly formulated composition from Ewan helped him secure the crucially important social vote bringing the World Illustration Championships 2023 (CLASSIC) Final to a dramatic close @ 46.25 V 44 as Ewan took the win and closed the tournament.