Alien Labs’ Zkittelz strain secured top honors in the new Best Thing Smoking category last weekend’s Zalympix competition hosted by Greenwolf.

The new category’s winner was selected by Proper Doinks in a tournament format.

With a record-breaking number of participants, this edition of Zalympix attracted more entries than all previous events combined. Alien Labs consistently demonstrated its excellence by placing among the top three or winning various categories in the past. However, this triumph marked their most significant achievement yet, as they added another three trophies to their ever-expanding collection. 

Speculations arose last week regarding the challenging nature of the competition for Z due to the abundance of Zkittelz hybrids in the mix. Nevertheless, the judges ultimately disagreed, and Zkittelz claimed the highest podium. Since its meteoric rise in 2014, when it dominated the Mendocino Secret Cup and secured a top-five spot at the High Times NorCal Cup, Zkittelz has continued to captivate enthusiasts. It became the first breakthrough strain since Cookies emerged in the late 2000s and would go on to be in the lineage of basically every hype strain that came after. 

Before he departed with the trophies for Sacramento, we caught up with Alien Labs’ founder, Ted Lidie. Our conversation began by highlighting the fact that this particular Zkittlez batch contributed the material that produced the original winning rosin entry at this year’s Emerald Cup. 

We then delved into Lidie’s decade-long pursuit of winning strains through diligent seed hunts. Like clockwork, he meticulously assesses hundreds of jars every few months, aiming to discover Alien Labs’ next champion. We inquired whether he was disappointed that the victor did not arise from all that effort. 

“Definitely, I would have loved to win with one of our own creations,” Lidie told L.A. Weekly. “We’ve spent a decade searching for exceptional genetics, but the past five years have been dedicated to cultivating our distinctive strains.”

Lidie further noted that Alien Labs aims to reach a broader audience compared to Zalympix. As Lidie put it, their selection includes flavors that may not be as trendy, but cater to those seeking the unconventional. He pointed to weird Super Silver Haze crosses as a great example.

During the qualification round, Alien Labs relied on their Area 41 strain, but when it came to the finals, they had approximately two weeks’ notice to make their choice. 

“We had to locate a superb flower batch, and that particular strain generated significant hype,” Lidie said. “My QC team, Justin and Jesse, and I had to sample numerous batches to identify the ultimate standout. The Zkittlez batch from the Merced site, cultivated by an outstanding team, truly excelled.”

Lidie promptly acknowledged the high caliber of competition in the event. He expressed his belief that previous editions paled in comparison and commended all participants for delivering their finest work. 

“It’s astonishing. If you observe the evolution from the first event to this one, it’s clear that people now have a much better understanding of quality,” Lidie said. “The entries were all exceptional, with consistent white ash and enticing aromas.”

Lidie sees the event as an indicator of overall improvement in quality within the recreational market. 

“At least for those of us who participate and care about this industry, we are refining our craft. We won’t let anyone undermine the recreational market because, in the end, it’s the top-tier cultivators who produce the finest cannabis,” Lidie asserted. 

We inquired about Lidie’s thoughts on winning what many consider to be the state’s second most esteemed competition, trailing only The Emerald Cup. Lidie highlighted that these events cater to distinct audiences and asserted that the Zalympix victory would have a greater impact in New York City than an Emerald Cup win.

“I’m not criticizing the cup; I’m a judge myself. It’s just that they attract different audiences, and The Emerald Cup holds diverse meanings for different individuals,” Lidie clarified.

Lidie further elaborated on the nuances of indoor judging at Zalympix, emphasizing that participants invest $700 per box, and the judges are accustomed to regularly sampling this caliber of cannabis. This differs from The Emerald Cup, where some judges only smoke indoor strains because they have to for the cup.

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