Science & Technology

Things fall into place on ‘Domino Masters,’ as these Seattle geeks test engineering skills on reality TV

Seattle’s “Domino Masters” opponents, from left: Claudius Mbemba, Luke Greenway and Tanek Ballachanda at a watch social gathering for the TV present on Capitol Hill Wednesday evening. (GeekWire Photograph / Kurt Schlosser)

Endurance. Persistence. Teamwork. Claudius Mbemba would possibly as properly have been constructing one other startup. As an alternative, the co-founder of Seattle-based Neu was describing what it took to stack dominos as a competitor on “Domino Masters,” a brand new Fox actuality sequence that premiered Wednesday evening.

Mbemba and two different Seattle geeks who’re competing on the present — Luke Greenway and Tanek Ballachanda — performed host to a watch social gathering amongst dozens of associates at Rhein Haus on Capitol Hill.

Amid tables topped with beers and colourful piles of dominos, partygoers cheered and laughed because the present aired on a number of televisions.

“Domino Masters” options 16 three-person groups tasked with setting up elaborate domino constructions with a healthy dose of Rube Goldberg engineering. On Wednesday, 4 groups competed in a sports-themed episode wherein they got 16 hours to arrange after which knock down their creations. Two groups superior and the present will progress bracket-style towards playoffs and a finale — and a $100,000 prize.

Beginner domino builders exhibit their abilities whereas ready for “Domino Masters” to air. (GeekWire Photograph / Kurt Schlosser)

Mbemba wasn’t seeking to be on actuality TV. He was by no means a secret domino geek. He replied to a DM in Instagram and thinks the present got here in search of him due to his tech and STEM background.

“I consider myself a lifelong learner,” Mbemba mentioned. “The biggest challenge is always to see how quickly can you learn something and this is one of those challenges for me — how quickly can I learn to be a domino builder and compete on a big stage.”

He mentioned his tech background helped with planning and logistics.

“It also helps to have a steady hand,” Mbemba added.

Greenway echoed that time.

“It’s pretty easy to keep a steady hand for a minute. It’s really hard to do that for 16 hours,” Greenway mentioned. “I normally drink a cup of coffee a day. But in the weeks leading up to the show, I weaned myself off coffee and shaky hands.”

Partygoers watching “Domino Masters.” (GeekWire Photograph / Kurt Schlosser)

A Seattle native, Greenway is a inventive occasions producer, educator and storyteller. He caught the present creators’ consideration due to a viral second he helped orchestrate a number of years in the past involving books as dominos on the Seattle Public Library.

Greenway MC’d Wednesday’s social gathering with a transparent aptitude for highlighting the drama and the intrigue behind competing on actuality TV.

Whereas constructing units and being filmed in a hangar in Southern California, Greenway mentioned he all the time knew he was in hassle if he regarded up and there have been 5 or 6 cameras skilled on what he was doing.

“There’s a moment in one episode where my palms start sweating,” Greenway mentioned. “And I say that, and they hear me on the microphone. And all the cameras come over!”

The pink carpet was rolled out for the “Domino Masters” social gathering in Seattle. (GeekWire Photograph / Kurt Schlosser)

Avoiding knocking over a series of dominos beneath building is clearly a key goal for the gamers — and a tragedy producers of the present wouldn’t thoughts capturing. Ensuring every little thing falls prefer it’s presupposed to on the finish can be key, and in Wednesday’s episode the group groaned every time a staff had a characteristic stall.

Ballachanda, the third Seattle competitor, is a mechanical engineer at USNC Tech in Seattle. He considers himself a Rube Goldberg professional, and was captain of a Rube Goldberg staff on the College of Texas, the place constructing the chain-reaction machines was a aggressive pursuit.

“It’s really something I love doing,” Ballachanda mentioned. “It definitely takes a lot of imagination. You have to dream big and you have to have the dedication to make what you’ve envisioned come to life.”

Together with the creativeness and pleasure that the three males clearly possess, Mbemba mentioned that setting up the units required a great deal of bodily endurance. The primary episode exhibits opponents sprinting round to gather items and assuming odd positions as they labored on their builds, making an attempt to arrange with out falling down.

Claudius Mbemba watches the primary episode of “Domino Masters” at a bar in Seattle. (GeekWire Photograph / Kurt Schlosser)

“I played college athletics,” Mbemba mentioned. “This was some of the toughest, physically enduring competition to partake in. At the end of the day, those muscles that you never really use were really worked.”

Mbemba began Neu, a Seattle-based market that connects Airbnb hosts with hotel-grade cleaners, in 2018 with Kwame Boler. The 2 had been nominated in 2020 for Younger Entrepreneur of the Yr on the GeekWire Awards.

Requested what he realized about himself on the present, Mbemba mentioned he realized that he’s able to emotional breakdowns — and dominos can get you there. However he mentioned he picked up abilities on “Domino Masters” that he can carry again to his startup, together with coping with issues that go flawed, fixing it as quick as you may and getting again on the horse.

As as to whether the “fail fast” mantra may very well be utilized to dominos, Mbemba laughed.

“You don’t want to fail slow. If you could not fail, that would be ideal,” he mentioned. “Fail and pick up fast, that’s the mantra.”



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