Newly partnered with Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty (@adultswimeurope), for the first time IWS players would be asked not only to depict the News Headlines (supplied by HUFFPOST) but also acknowledge and integrate a subtle reference to Rick and Morty in celebration of their 10 year anniversary.
During the buildup to what proved to be the most hotly contested tournament since 2019, newly crowned UK Illustration Championships 2023 (CLASSIC) Winner; HATCH (@hatch_art) kept his opponents guessing throughout as he adopted a ‘round-by-round’ gameplan and changing color palette in his most impressive display since winning the World Championships in 2021.
Securing the UK’s top-spot, HATCH (the only player in history to compete across every IWS season since 2017 and now with 6 x years pro Art-Sports experience) joins an elite club of highly respected players including: Alex Solis (@alexmdc), IMRIE (@createdbyimrie), Lawrence H Burns (@lawrence.hugh.burns) and King TROU (@kingtrou) all of whom now have 2 x Major-League titles under their belts.
Find out how the tournament unfolded below:
DAY 1/RND 1 aka ‘Fight Night Friday’ HATCH faced off against Russian newcomer ACIDMA (@acidma) in his first IWS battle since sharing the podium with Lawrence H Burns and Uncle Ewan (@ewanagain) @ the Illustrated Masters 2022.
Despite ACIDMA's inexperience with the IWS format he displayed confidence from the outset as both players embraced HUFFPOST headline, "Greasy Yet Adorable Mole Resurfaces After Hiding For 8 Decades". This opener was particularly enjoyable as ACIDMA chose to depict a Melanocytic Nevus (human skin mole) instead of the furry short-sighted garden mammal we’re all familiar with!
This brilliant RND 1 curveball had the potential to upend the score cards, however, whether strategic brilliance or pure misunderstanding he failed to unsettle HATCH who seemingly on the ‘front foot’ went on the offensive determined to deny the young Russian a foothold as he skillfully fashioned a bustling apocalyptic scene. At the 60 minute ‘Pens Down’, HATCH comfortably triumphed with his highest IWS scorecard to-date securing 46.75 V 38, impressing the judges unanimously and stating his intent.
DAY 2 and into the Quarter Finals, HATCH paired-off against the ambitious self-taught American veteran JP Gutierrez (@artworkbyjpg) now competing in his fourth IWS tournament and seeking a podium finish. HUFFPOST Headline “Kelly Clarkson Just Shared Her Gross But 'Productive' Shower Habits” would prove awkward as the players sought to communicate a complex narrative while simultaneously ‘splicing-in’ their Rick and Morty references.
After narrowly avoiding RND 1 defeat by eeking out a marginal win, JP, seeking to make amends got back to his best depicting a multitasking Kelly Clarkson in a bathtub, brushing, scrubbing and soaking herself adorned with a red/pink shower hat, matching toothbrush and loofah! HATCH however opted for a more detailed portrayal, also showcasing Kelly Clarkson front and center, but failed to secure the judges scorecard, possibly due to some of his finer detailing going unrealised. This however didn’t deter the ever-reliable HATCH fanbase as he tallied another social vote victory with final scores tabulated @ 41.5 V 40 respectively.
DAY 3 welcomed the Semi-Finals which brought IWS newcomer Kaltoons (@kaltoons1) and HATCH together for the first time as they battled on HUFFPOST Headline “If You Dry Clothes On Your Radiator, We've Got News…”.
Kal, with over 45 years professional experience had already secured noteworthy victories, dispatching both Rob Israel (@robisraelartwork) and the ever-improving Used Pencil (@usedpencilartist) with scores of 44.75 and 41.25, respectively. The stage was set for a decisive challenge as Kal, armed with a pen, inkwell and brushes, faced off against a paint marker equipped HATCH and with both players opting to ‘Go Green’, they understood the importance of logging big scorecards.
HATCH, no stranger to the illustrative prowess of his opponent and Kal undoubtedly aware of the unique threat posed by the ex-World Champ quickly got to it. From the outset it became clear both players would stay in their comfort zones as Kal went for ‘detailed editorial balance’ and HATCH ‘big, bold and graphic’. Kal was successful in visually reducing the canvas size to accommodate a beautifully detailed scene of laundromat customers patiently waiting to be incinerated by a fiercely focused green dragon jockied by Rick and Morty. HATCH however went full ‘fungus perspective’ illustrating Morty peeking behind a radiator to reveal ‘Triffid Rick’ and a multitude of nasties which once again failed to win the judges scorecards as Kal secured marginally higher scores across Interpretation, Narrative and Technical judging criteria.
As the social votes wrapped, HATCH once-again delivered as his fanbase rallied helping him bag the win 44.5 V 43.5, securing a coveted place in the grand final.
The stage was set, HATCH would meet insurgent newcomer and crowd favorite Lobster Robin (@lobster_robin) in one of the tournament’s most hotly contested battles to-date as they squared off against HUFFPOST Headline “Six Grim Health Reasons Why You Should Take Hot Showers In Winter”.
Both contenders, each carrying the momentum of three consecutive social vote victories into the final and consistently achieving scores in the mid to high 40s over the last three rounds, promised to deliver a spectacular exhibition. Both players, opting for bubble bath blue, began constructing their compositions with melting protagonists front and center.
Lobster Robin went for an outdoor portrayal showing a blissful bather (with brilliantly drawn hands) gripping a Plumbus shaped scrubing brush while dowsing themselves in steaming corrosive water, flanked with Rick and Morty ducks, in a dynamic, eye-catching illustration. HATCH created an intelligent wintery themed narrative illustrating a melting snowman with fleeing soap-laden Butter Robot and panic stricken ‘Rick & Shoulders’ onlooker, a clever addition and ‘nod’ to his QTR Final ‘Kelly Clarkson’ entry.
With the judges scorecard tallying 44.75 points for each player it remained a draw until the social vote closed in favor of HATCH, giving him a clear 2 x point advantage and bringing to a close a nail biting showdown as HATCH dispatched tournament front-runner Lobster Robin to secure the win with final scores tabulated @ 46.75 V 44.75 respectively.
Special congratulations to HATCH, the World Illustration Championships 2023 (CLASSIC) winner and now one of only 5 x IWS players to have won 2 x Major-League titles.