Flat ground skateboarding technician Mike Mo Capaldi came out on top of the Game of Skate presented by Monster Energy on Friday at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut. Capaldi beat out Tom Asta in quarterfinals and Shane O'Neill in semifinals before an intense head-to-head final showdown with PJ Ladd.
Capaldi said his plan was to slow-play the contest, which is based on the basic rules of the basketball game Horse. But that quickly gave way to more innovative moves, like the impossible late flip ender that gave the final blow to all three of Capaldi's competitors and ultimately gave him the inaugural Game of Skate trophy.
Capaldi's banger trick for the day combined an ollie impossible -- the board rotating 360 degrees vertically -- with a late kickflip, executed after the peak of the trick's arc through the air.
"When there's nothing left you just go for the weird ones," Capaldi said of his strategy of saving more obscure tricks for later in the game. "Otherwise it's just disrespectful, you know what I mean? You can't do that. You can't get weird right off the bat."
Ladd advanced to finals after beating Billy Marks in quarterfinals and Nyjah Huston in semifinals. Huston, better known for his recent streak of dominance in Street League and X Games competition, brought one of the biggest surprises of the day, beating out Chris Cole in quarterfinals with a string of tricks including a nollie half Cab 360 kickflip, nollie half Cab bigflip, fakie 360 kickflip, late pressure flip and fakie laser flip.
"I would have to say I pretty much just got lucky because Cole can basically do any trick out there," Huston said. "He's definitely not an easy one to beat."
Huston didn't fare so well against Ladd, who took him out of the game and helped him spell S-K-A-T-E with a nollie double kickflip, varial heelflip, nollie front foot flip, full Cab heelflip and a switch double kickflip.
"It's funny because these things, they're so much longer than what you would just normally play on a normal day that it gets to that point where you're like, 'Are we just gonna do basics all day or are we just going to throw out all of the weird tricks?'" Ladd said. "Sometimes you've just got to do that, otherwise you'll be here all day."
In the end it was Capaldi's day, his first major victory since winning the first Battle at the Berrics Game of Skate tournament in 2008.
"PJ's so good, I don't know how to explain it," Capaldi said, hoisting his satellite dish-shaped trophy from the ESPN campus. "I'm a huge SportsCenter fan so it's cool to go check everything out. I watch it every night, so I'm psyched to be here."