Team Haunted Woods: More Than Just an Ugly Face
ALTADOR CUP - A mummy. A witch. A vampire. A werewolf. A, um, flaming bat thing.
These are characters you’d expect to see in a haunted house, a scary movie, or,
at the very least, a lame sitcom. You certainly would not find them all on a sports
team. But if you told that to Wan Dirx, Chelo Binay, Fanetti, Krell Vitor, or
Zo Junior, they’d only give you a confused look before saying something along
the lines of “Well what about us, the Haunted Woods team? And come to think of
it, how did you get into my house?”
If the Altador Cup awarded points based on glamour, the Haunted Woods team
would place dead last. However, this is obviously not the case, as they have
recently defeated Brightvale in the quarterfinals, and have moved on along with
three other teams for a solid shot at winning this year’s tournament. While
entering this year as underdogs, their winning streak (yes, I consider two wins
in a row to be a streak) has caused many Neopians to look past their outer hideousness
to their inner, um, well I wouldn’t go as far to say beauty. Their not-hideousness?
Their fan base growing with each goal they score, they are enjoying more support
this year than they have in the past several tournaments combined. With such
an increase in fan following, they have become one of the four hottest teams
in the tournament, and I was surprised that I managed to book an interview with
the team immediately following their well-earned victory against Brightvale.
I found the team in the halls of the Colosseum, cheering excitedly:
“We’re Haunted Woods!
We have the goods!
Are we gonna win?
Well, there’s a chance we could…s.”
I cringed at their terrible cheer, making a mental note of all the better things
that rhyme with “woods.” But I was a journalist, and I wasn’t going to let a
bad cheer ruin my interview. I greeted them all, introduced myself, and started
following them around. Exhausted after their Brightvale match, they informed
me that they were heading to Hubert’s Hot Dogs for a victory meal, and that
I could come along if I wanted. I accepted the offer.
As we walked to Hubert’s the team resumed their chant, much to my dismay:
“We’re Haunted Woods!
We have the goods!
Now we’re really hungry,
So we’re gonna eat some… food…s.”
For the second time that night, I cringed. “Food” doesn’t even rhyme with “Wood,”
so they pronounced it “fuhd.” I felt embarrassed to be around them, but I’ve
never let poor rhyming ruin an article, and I wasn’t going to start now. Gritting
my teeth, I stayed with them as they repeated the chant over and over (and over
and over…) until finally we arrived at Hubert’s. We ordered our meals and sat
down at a nice booth…
Me: So, I guess first thing’s first. How did you all find yourselves as the
representatives of your world in the Altador Cup?
Chelo: Well, as the senior player here I think I’ll go first. When I was a
young Chia, years ago-
Krell (interrupting): More like decades ago!
(laughter from everybody)
Chelo: Okay yes, decades ago. When I was a young Ch-
Wan: More like centuries ago!
Chelo (now scowling): Okay, fine, yes. Centuries ago. Anyways, when I was young
Chia, I used to-
Zo: More like millennia ago!
(no one laughs)
Chelo: Oh great, now I forgot where I was going with it.
Me: Uh, moving on… how about you, Zo?
Zo: Well, I was the youngest of all my brothers and sisters, and as a kid I
was also the weakest. At school and at home, I would always get picked on, and
decided the best way to gain respect was to become a really good athlete. So
I practiced Yooyuball every day for most of my life. And look at me now!
Me: Wow, that’s great! And do you still get picked on?
Zo (pause): Yes.
Krell: For me, I was more born into the game. My father was a Yooyuball player,
my mother was a Yooyuball player, my uncle was a Yooyuball player, my grandmother
was a Yooyuball player, my… well, you get the idea.
Me: That’s quite a legacy. Do you feel you have a lot to live up to?
Krell: Nah, they were all lousy.
Me: I see. How about you, Fanetti?
Me (pause): I’m sorry?
Chelo: He said “grrr.” You’ll have to bear with him. That’s all he says, really.
As for how he became a member, he just showed up to practice one day. We had
no idea where he came from, but as luck would have it our old goalkeeper had
mysteriously disappeared that very day, so we gave him a shot. He impressed
Fanetti; Grrr! (starts chewing the table)
Me: Right. And you, Wan? Being a rookie, I imagine this is like your dream
Wan: It’s funny you should mention it. I was actually never really a huge fan
of Yooyuball. My real passion was throwing petpets at things (sighs wistfully).
I remember when I was a kid, throwing Warfs out my bedroom window at people
passing by. One day I saw a Chia walking by, and I hurled a Warf as hard as
I could at her. To my amazement, she caught it! Turns out, that Chia was Chelo,
and I had impressed her with my throwing arm.
Chelo (laughing): Right, and I asked you if you wanted to try out for the team.
And you said “only if I get to throw petpets at people.”
Wan: Yeah, that’s right. Yooyuballs are a bit less fun to throw, because they
actually WANT to be thrown, but I still enjoy myself.
Me: I have to say, that’s pretty twisted. Do you think people will mind when
they read about your cruelty towards petpets?
Wan: Nah, not really. I mean, we’ve had to deal with some bad publicity in
the past. What with the Blumario incident…
(Wan is referring to footage caught on tape of Krell forcefully shoving Roo
Island forward Lilo Blumario into the ground while Wan watched and snickered.
The footage, used in this year’s Altador Cup promo video, earned the Haunted
Woods the label of being a ‘crooked’ team.)
Krell: It was an accident! I tripped and fell into him!
Zo: We know, we know. I think what Wan’s trying to say is that while we’ve
had some bad raps in the past, our fans have always looked past it.
At this point, a Techo with bulging veiny eyes approached our booth and asked
for an autograph. The team was happy to oblige.
Techo: Thanks! Oh, and by the way, I thought it was awesome how you slammed
Blumario in the promo. You guys rock! (he leaves)
Wan: You see? Total fan devotion.
Chelo: Yeah, that’s right. And our support has happily been going up. I remember
after we won the first round against Kreludor, the amount of Neopians who joined
our fan club nearly doubled.
Zo: Yeah, and most of those were Kreludor supporters who were impressed by
how well we played against them.
Krell: Haha that’s right. We had to open up a whole side club for them, called
the Haunted Moon.
Me: Nice. Well, it’s getting late so we should wrap this up soon. You guys
are known for having a primarily defence-oriented team. Beyond that, how do
you plan to take home the Altador Cup?
Krell: By winning!
(they all cheer. They start to sing another verse of the Haunted Woods chant,
but I quickly interrupt them)
Me: No, I mean, what’s your strategy?
Zo: Um… strategy?
Wan: What’s a strategy?
Me: I see… okay, last question. If you could change anything about the way
the tournament’s gone, what would it be?
Wan: Oh, that’s easy.
Chelo: New uniforms.
Krell: Yeah, these ones kind of make us look like orange referees.
Wan: Yeah, and Fanetti’s colour-blind, so he often throws flaming Yooyus at
the ref by accident.
Me: Yeah, I can see how that can be a problem. Anyways, thanks for the great
interview, and best of luck in the semifinals.
Krell: Luck? Who needs luck! We’re number one!
Chelo: Number one!
Wan: Number one!
Zo: Number one!
The entire team: We’re Haunted Woods! We have the goods! We’re-
I quickly left before I could hear any more of their chant.