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Welch Ave. Station completes Cinderella story, crowned Iowa State Daily Bar Bonanza champion


The Champion

Everyone loves a good Cinderella story. Coming in as the No. 8 seed of the collective 16 establishments included in the tournament, Welch Ave. Station has emerged as the victor and has been crowned as the Iowa State Daily’s first Bar Bonanza Champion.

In a convincing championship win over local Mexican bar and grill, Es Tas Bar & Grill, Welch Ave. Station received 65.1% of votes to claim the title. As a perceived No. 8 seed, Welch Ave. Station supporters proved to the city of Ames that after 35 years, the local billiards spot is still a fan favorite amongst Ames bargoers.

Welch Avenue vs. Downtown vs. Campustown

The people have spoken, and it appears that Ames’ downtown bars are simply no match for the powerhouses of Welch Avenue and Campustown. Within the first round, all four of the downtown bars had been eliminated. It is noteworthy, however, that at least one of these matchups remained relatively close and almost resulted in the infamous No. 1 vs. No. 16 upset. AJ’s Ultra Lounge was able to escape the fabled defeat by pushing out a recently established arcade bar, Time Out, by just over 30 votes. While Time Out was not ultimately able to pull off the improbable upset, it is certainly nothing the retro arcade bar should hang its head over, as it proved that it is a force to be reckoned with.

The Campustown bars fared slightly better, sending one of its four representatives, Es Tas, to the championship. While often regarded as a Welch Avenue bar, Outlaws was classified as Campustown as its address ultimately resides on Chamberlain Street. The popular country rock bar made a convincing run before falling to its Campustown rival, Es Tas, in the top four. No. 1 seed AJ’s Ultra Lounge fell to the champion, Welch Ave., in convincing fashion.

Welch Avenue overall record: 9-6

Campustown overall record: 6-5

Downtown overall record: 0-4

Notable Upsets

Final Eight: (8) Welch Ave. Station vs. (1) AJ’s Ultra Lounge

Down goes the giant. Once widely considered one of the most popular bars in Ames, AJ’s Ultra Lounge seemed to have declined as it was upset in just the second round by the newly-crowned champion, Welch Ave. Station. Not only was the result of this matchup surprising but so was the margin of victory. Welch Ave. Station pulled away from the tournament favorite with 62.8% of the total vote. Taking down the No. 1 overall seed in the second round was no easy feat, but Welch Ave. certainly justified its title run with this convincing win.

Final Eight: (7) Es Tas vs. (2) Cy’s Roost

Pulling off the upset by just 15 votes, Es Tas was able to keep its deep tournament run alive with a narrow victory over No. 2 seed Cy’s Roost in the final eight. With its newly-renovated patio, complete with several TVs and an outdoor bar, it looked like Cy’s was destined to be a championship contender. However, Es Tas was able to crush these tournament dreams by escaping with this tight victory, eventually landing them a spot in the championship round.

Final Eight: (6) Outlaws vs. (3) Sips

The final eight brought yet another upset to the table with No. 6 Outlaws taking down the No. 3 seed, Sips, in the narrowest victory margin of the tournament’s entirety. The country rock bar pulled out the win by just seven votes. With two of the tournament’s fan favorites going head-to-head, this top-six matchup was destined to be a close one.

Top Matchups

Top Four: (8) Welch Ave. Station vs. (5) Paddy’s

Coming off a convincing win over its Welch Avenue rival, BNC Fieldhouse, No. 5 Paddy’s looked to be a solid contender for the championship. The Irish pub was yet again involved in our second top matchup of the tournament, this time in defeat to the later champion, Welch Ave. Station. This contest was even closer than the previous matchup for Paddy’s, this time on the other side of things as it fell by just 30 votes. With both of these bars receiving some of the highest vote totals of the tournament, it seemed likely that this matchup would produce the ultimate winner of the Bar Bonanza.

Final Eight: (5) Paddy’s vs. (4) BNC Fieldhouse

Following its victory over downtown bar Sam’s Place, No. 4 BNC Fieldhouse looked poised to be a solid contender for the championship. However, following its blowout victory over Thumbs in the first round, Paddy’s carried the momentum into this thrilling matchup and pulled the victory out from beneath the No. 4 seed’s feet. Although Paddy’s was ultimately knocked off in the following round by champion Welch Ave. Station, this matchup proved to be one of the most entertaining battles and was decided by less than 40 votes.

Biggest Win

(5) Paddy’s vs. (12) Thumbs

In an astounding 160-43 vote win, Paddy’s Irish Pub secured the largest margin of victory throughout the entire tournament against Thumbs. The top floor of popular Sips and Paddy’s establishment received nearly 80% of the voters’ choice, setting them up for a top-four run, before being knocked off by the now-champion Welch Ave. Station.

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