An Inside Scoop Behind Faerieland's Altador Cup Woes
Sunlight streams down upon the Yooyuball field at the prestigious annual Altador Cup. The grass glistening with fresh mildew and the breezy air crisp with sharp anticipation, Team Captain Kakoni Worrill leads Faerieland’s pride, floating onto the pitch with the admirable grace and agility that opponents reluctantly acknowledge. Star scorer Babolino follows at his heels, his fiery scarlet & golden wings swishing with grim determination. Behind him, crafty defender, Delma Harrence, spins her stunning lavender wings, as suave goalkeeper, Valtonous Rea, follows suit. The three-forward offensive team that drew significant backlash in last year’s short-lived playoff dazzled the crowd with their stunning beauty, but left much to be desired in their crushing defeat to Mystery Island’s polished ensemble. Nevertheless, the all-new addition of promising defender, Elbin Towse, renewed Faerieland’s hope for a potential comeback.
Larger in size than most of his teammates, Towse is indeed a welcome addition to the team, most notably to his defensive partner, Delma Harrence, whose valiant attempts to aid Valtonous Rea in last year’s tournament proved futile against Mystery Island’s brilliant forwards. With a massive revamp in this year’s preliminary playoffs, the Faerieland team was blessed with multiple opportunities to showcase their talents to all of Neopia. First pitted against the odds-on favourite, Darigan Citadel, the Faerieland team suffered a defeat early in the competition which led to a string of losses on the court which led their fans to wonder, what had happened to their beloved team that had been expected to make a formidable comeback?
In an exclusive interview with your Neopian Times reporter, the Faerieland Yooyuball team shares their hopes for this year’s tournament, and beyond. Sitting down to tea and crumpets in one of their in-between-match breaks, Faerieland’s Five are undoubtedly dazzling in appearance, charms and wit. Always gracious to their admiring fans, signed autographs and attention are aplenty for any Faerieland supporter lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the stunning team. Upon hearing vapid rumours of their attention towards aesthetic appeal above Yooyuball tactics, Delma Harrence swiftly comes to the team’s defense.
“There is absolutely no truth to that rumor. The idea that we spend our time primping in a beauty parlour instead of practicing on the court is just ridiculous!” the gorgeous Zafara shakes her head emphatically.
Dashing goalkeeper Valtonous Rea adds, “There has never been a moment when we lose focus on the court because we’re worried about our appearance. When we’re in a match, we play to win, and that’s that.”
The team, however, refuses to comment on the numerous endorsement deals offered to each member—the most, in fact, amongst any Yooyuball player apart from star Lilo Blumario. Neocola Enterprises and Achyfi Co. have competed to bid millions of neopoints to land any or all of the Faerieland team members in multiple-year contracts to appear in advertisement campaigns for the popular drinks. Indeed, should they wish to end their early careers for lucrative appearances as public figures, Neopian financial analyst Humphrey Techo claims, the five Faerielanders may well find their retirements to be filled with endless luxury and lavish opulence.
On the court, the Faerieland Five struggles to keep up appearances as each opposing team wins match after match. While their fans remain hopeful and supportive, the once-promising team endures tactless remarks and jibes from critics and Yooyuball fanatics alike. Whether any of the negative feedback arises from one particular team is difficult to determine, but one thing is certain: the team is unwilling to allow petty rumours dampen their strong morale.
“We’ve heard a lot of insults coming from various directions,” the adorable Babolino admits. “We realize that our performance in this year’s tournament has been disappointing, but we’re doing our best to win, and we appreciate the fans who believe in us and continue to support us through all this.”
With a smaller fanbase than favourites Krawk Island, Darigan Citadel and last year’s champion, Haunted Woods, Faerieland’s Finest may have lost supporters during the course of this year’s playoffs, but one avid fan remarks, “We still support Faerieland, no matter what. When you watch them play on the court, they may not be the best, but they always strive to do their best.”
Indeed, the nominee for Best Passer in last year’s tournament and team captain, Kakoni Worrill, has had to face Queen Fyora in recent days to explain the team’s astounding losses. For a team blessed with the luxury of practicing in the Uber-Faeries’ haven, Faerieland can certainly rebuke any early accusations of unwarranted advantages. “We practice hard all year to prepare for the Cup, just like any other team. Sometimes Illusen or Psellia come watch us practice, but we’ve never had any help from the Faeries,” the pink-winged Bruce adamantly asserts.
“That’s pretty clear,” snorts an anonymous opponent. “Faerieland can’t play Yooyuball--they’re too busy floating around looking pretty.”
“Squeaky” Tressif, winner of the Best Sportsmanship Award and Brightvale’s left-defender and team captain, fondly mentions, “They’re strong players. We wish them the best of luck.”
Even salacious rumours of discontent amongst the Faerieland team’s members and arguments hindering their performance on the court are waved away dismissively. New defender Elbin Towse enthusiastically attests to their deep-rooted camaraderie. “We’re team-mates on and off the court. I feel most privileged to join such a group of players that is not only a team, but a true family.”
This same supportive spirit is mirrored in Faerieland’s fanbase, whose hearty cheers and spirited chants echo through the stands melodiously in the new competitions involving crowd participation. In ‘Make Some Noise’, Faerieland’s Fans grouped together and screamed their approval for their team, waving their glorious pink and purple flags proudly, while taking shifts to help man the harassed Tuskaninny at the Slushie Booth. Such teamwork has allowed Faerieland’s Fans to win five matches in Slushie Slinger and draw in four.
Syrup-soaked and dripping with icy slushies, one fan yells, “Faerieland for the Cup!” before slipping in a puddle of pink slushie and being carried out of the stadium on a stretcher.
While other teams’ fans often complain of the Slushie stands’ endless queues, whether waiting as a customer for a thirst-quenching drink, or behind the counter, serving up numerous orders, Faerieland’s Fans weave their way in and out with bright smiles and cheery demeanors. If so, what has transformed Faerieland's Finest into Faerieland's Folly?
Yooyuball commentators agree: the problem lies not within team discord or a lack of fan support, but within the integral aspect of the team’s setup. Shifting from a three-forward to a well-balanced two-forward and two-defense lineup, the Faerieland Five benefits from Kakoni Worrill’s outstanding passing and Babolino’s sharp scoring. With the pressure of being the sole star scorer in the team, however, the sprightly Kacheek lacks the tenacity and focus required to dodge the burly defensive guards of opposing teams, often getting distracted by their gruesome appearances or cunning tactics to score during crucial moments. In retrospect, Worrill’s dexterity and agility allows his fellow forward to score, but it is evident that both Bruce and Kacheek must strive harder to improve their scoring and focus, respectively.
Meanwhile, the defensive duo comprised of Delma Harrence and Elbin Towse excel in their impressive passing and guarding maneuvers, but Towse’s inexperience on the court is evident when he fumbles with Harrence’s improvisational passes, leaving seasoned goalie, Valtonous Rea, to struggle with his speed in dodging the wicked Yooyus heading towards his goal.
While excelling with a number of Yooyus, particularly with the curving Faerie Yooyu in their brilliant passes and steals, both Worrill and Babolino are witnessed struggling with the Darigan Yooyu and the unpredictable Clockwork Yooyu. Meanwhile, dapper Valtonous Rea rarely saves Fire Yooyuballs shot towards corners of his goal due to his weakness in speed.
Though a coveted spot in the finals seems unlikely in this year’s tournament, the Faerieland Five remain optimistic for their future in the Altador Cup, thanking their fans graciously for their relentless support.
“The best morale booster is to see our fans cheering in the stands and knowing they’re there for us, every step of the way. That’s what counts,” the team remarks in agreement.
As their fans hope for a major comeback and potential victories in the coming matches, Faerieland’s Finest are honoured to play against their challenging opponents, regarding the experience as “extremely valuable” and “essential” as they continue to play their hardest and wish the other teams the best of luck.
Even a few Darigan Citadel fans are happy to comment, “It was fun playing against Faerieland. We hoped to play against them in the finals, but now... well, who knows?”
For this talented group of Yooyuball players destined for fame, fortune and even victory, the future looks bright. Indeed, with every stormy cloud comes a silver lining—hopefully, Faerieland’s Five will one day find their persistent efforts flourish into a much-deserved win.
Author’s Note: Thanks for reading my article, hope you enjoyed it! No teams were meant to be insulted throughout the course of this article. Good luck to all teams in the Altador Cup!