Here's the outcome...
Despite putting the butt in a pan and foiling it then raising the temp of my smoker (MES 30 Sportsman) to 275, the IT of the butt never got above 174 (after moving the temp probe to a different part of the meat). So it was finished (panned and foiled) in the oven at 350 (bringing the IT to 197) for about 20-25 minutes. Mind you, it went in the oven after about 15 hours in the smoke and never budging from around 170.
For all intents and purposes, it was a tie. From what I gathered, the party-goers liked the texture of my nephew's pulled pork and the flavor of mine.
On to the pics:
Probed after about 10 hours in the smoke. You can see the second probe of my Maverick in the background.
Ready for pulling and a kiss of sauce. I have to say, I was pretty pleased that I did get a decent looking bark.
In the final analysis, I suspect my MES was just not providing enough heat to get the IT up to the 195-200 target. I had 2 other temp probes dangling in the box both reading between 250 & 254 while the electronic controller said I was at 275. So, is it the heating element? The thermostat? Or, in my attempt to get a good draw for the AMNPS, did I have the chip loader pulled out too far? It's a mystery.
Thanks for all the input, I appreciate it!