Making paper out of rocks

One lucky student used his “Rock, Paper, Scissors” skills to score a spring break trip and the chance to win $20,000.

In the final bracket Edgar Lopez (left) and future champion Matt 'Moose' Muscella face off in an intense heat that ended in multiple ties, although Muscella went on to win. (Nic Lukehart/TTN)

Two students eagerly faced each other with their hands engrossed in a battle. Some spectators may think their lives depended on the outcome.

The final decision between rock, paper and scissors would decide the winner’s future spring break fate. Edgar Lopez, a freshman economics major, and Matt Muscella, a sophomore chemistry major, were engaged in the final round of the USA Rock Paper Scissors College Championship held in the Student Center.

After pumping their fists three times for the final game, Lopez displayed his hand in a horizontal “paper” position while Muscella opted for the V-shaped “scissors” and ultimately became the winner of the tournament.

Students engaged in Rock, Paper, Scissors, the game often used to resolve frivolous disagreements and make trivial decisions, at the Student Center Tuesday to decide the winner of a spring break trip to Panama City, Fla.

In Florida, the champion gets the chance to compete against winners from 20 other schools nationwide in the final championship of the USA Rock Paper Scissors Tournament.

The tournament will be aired on mtvU, and the ultimate winner will receive $20,000, which is intended for use toward college tuition.

“I was just eating some bagels [at the Student Center] and heard of the contest, and it sounded fun,” said winner Muscella, who skipped studying to come to the event. “I was really surprised. I didn’t expect to win anything.”

Lopez, the second place winner, received $100.

“It was fun and it still feels great,” Lopez said. “I’m strapped for money.”

AMP Energy gave away free energy drinks at the competition and sponsored the event.

“Last winter, USA Rock Paper Scissors league contacted AMP, and we came up with the idea of benefiting college students and giving them money which could be used toward college tuition,” said Jon Robertson, the representative manager for AMP Energy and Freedom Zone, a marketing company.

AMP saw it as a good opportunity for sponsorship. The company also found the simplicity and the prevalence of the conventional game to be appealing.

“It’s a game that pretty much everyone can compete in,” Roberston said. “It’s a fair playing field, and we’re really excited to give everyone the opportunity to compete.”

Fifty-two students came out to compete in Temple’s qualifier tournament.

“Rock, Paper, Scissors is really enjoyable, and I can maybe get $20,000 from playing. There’s no downside to that,” said Craig Scheihing, a freshman film and media arts major.

Scheihing and his friends use the game to make a lot of choices.

“It’s like following fate rather than just making a decision,” he said.

In one of the preliminary matchups, Arielle Gold defeats Jacob Kindlon in a narrow victory. (Nic Lukehart/TTN)

Virtually no one at the event was new to the game. Many were actually frequent players of RPS.

“I’ve been playing Rock, Paper, Scissors all my life, and when decisions have to be made between me and my friends, I usually win,” said Domenick Cucinotta, a junior film and media arts major. “I play whenever a hard decision presents itself. If something can’t be decided, you have to play Rock, Paper, Scissors. Everyone knows that.”

Nick Beers, a sophomore business administration major, attended the event said he plays RPS at least once a week. He and his friends even made up their own modified version that Beers called “Extreme Rock, Paper, Scissors.”

Beers’ version calls for punching the opponent in the arm when winning with a rock, slapping the opponent on the arm with two fingers when winning with scissors and slapping the challenger’s hands when winning with paper.

“It gets pretty intense,” Beers said.

His strategy in the tournament was to “be unpredictable” and frequently mix up his hand gestures. However, Beers didn’t make it to the final round.

“I hate Rock, Paper, Scissors,” Beers jokingly yelled after losing.

Muscella said he plays RPS around twice a month, a little less than his competitors. He usually utilizes RPS to settle an argument, but in the upcoming month, he will have the opportunity to do much more with the game than using it as a peace treaty.

His strategy for the finals in Florida: “Work hard, train hard.”

Grace Dickinson can be reached at

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