Daria Tournament of Champions
The Daria Tournament of Champions was a "tournament" held to determine the theoretical best Daria episode of all time. It began on August 14, 2002 and concluded on March 15, 2003 with "Through a Lens Darkly" winning the honor.
Beginnings of the Tournament
The tournament was first posted by CINCGREEN on the Scorched Remnants Message Board, and was only open to posters on that board. With the airing of "Is It College Yet?" in January 2002, and the official end of new episodes, CINCGREEN had toyed with ranking all 67 "episodes" -- 65 half-hour regular season episodes plus the two extended-length "movie" episodes" -- from greatest to worst.
CINCGREEN then conceived of an idea where fans could vote on the best episodes. The idea would be that episodes would be compared against each other, one on one, in an imaginary tournament. The format would be much like the NCAA Basketball Tournaments, where varying amounts of American college basketball teams compete to name a champion. Each episode would be given a tentative ranking by CINCGREEN to determine a seeding, to make sure that "good" episodes faced "bad" episodes in the first round of play.
The seeding system was determined from a combination of factors: from online polls of the first three seasons and from the reviews of Daniel Suni, Mike Quinn, and Wraith. (Other attempts to determine a best episode, such as Daria by Numbers, would come later.) As there were 67 episodes to be considered and only 64 spaces in a tournament bracket, the "bottom four" episodes would compete in a "play-in bracket" to face what CINCGREEN had ranked the tentative #1 Daria episode -- "Speedtrapped".
The format was that a match would be posted on the SRMB every three days and Daria fans would vote on each "game", with the winner moving forward. Ties would be resolved with a call for extra votes. With the "Final Four", votes had to be e-mailed to CINCGREEN rather than be posted publicly.
The Tournament in Action
With the 64th-ranked episode, "This Year's Model" versus the 67th-ranked episode, "The New Kid", the tournament began on August 14th, 2002 with "The New Kid" moving forward on a 7-2 score.
Many fans disagreed with the overall placement of episodes. In particular, there was disagreement with "Speedtrapped" being seeded as #1 and "Depth Takes a Holiday" seeded at #66. "Depth Takes a Holiday" easily won the play-in bracket and beat not only the #1 seed "Speedtrapped" but also "Jane's Addition" to make it to the final sixteen, before it was defeated by "The Invitation" 10-3. However, this gave awareness that a large group of fans liked "Depth Takes a Holiday" very much and that DTAH should not be instantly relegated to an imaginary "worst episodes" list.
The final four surviving episodes were "Boxing Daria", "Arts 'N Crass", "Through a Lens Darkly" and "Write Where It Hurts". "Boxing Daria" beat "Arts 'N Crass" 7-5, "Through a Lens Darkly" beat "Write Where It Hurts" 7-4.
"Through a Lens Darkly" narrowly prevailed over "Boxing Daria" to win the tournament on a 6-5 score. The best arguments for "Through a Lens Darkly" was that it was a real turning point for the series where Glenn Eichler finally found his range as a writer and that it was an episode that required little introduction to the series concept or the characters. "Boxing Daria", although given credit for its psychological depth and insight into Daria, was criticised as being less accessible to a new viewer.