Foreseeing the "Fyooture"
ALTADOR - The Second Altador Cup has wound its way to an end and the results could not have been more exciting! Teams have thrust Yooyus, slung slushies, and cheered their way to nail-biting victories, tough losses, and the occasional upset, and nobody knows that better than the analysts studying this year's competition. Instead of merely recapping this year's event, this amateur analyst has decided to look at both last year's and this year's Cup to predict the standings for next year.
Here's the lowdown, team-by-team, for all seventeen expected participants, and a brief conjecture regarding a possible eighteenth team that might receive an invitation to join the tournament.
Altador: Last year: 14th place; this year: 13th place; next year: 14th place.
After a lackluster performance last year, Altador fans thought their team might rise to the occasion with a fresh, new attitude on the AC. We all hoped that Altador would fail to underestimate the other teams and take advantage of their massive potential in Yooyuball, considering their vast experience with the game. That failed to happen. Altador gave great efforts throughout the tournament, but failed to really put any tough match-ups up against the wall. The inclusion of the two mini-games also failed to help Altador, who couldn't quite stand up to other teams' swift prowess and learning curve with Slushie Slinger; depressed fans couldn't bring up the caboose, either, and thus it's easy to continue to assume that Altador will remain a sub-par, mediocre team next year as well.
Brightvale: Last year: 7th place; this year: 11th/12th place; next year: 11th place.
This analyst believes in karma, and thus the dirty tricks of Brightvale caught up with them this year. Managing to advance to the quarter finals of last year's AC, Brightvale stunned all of the analysts this year with their pitiful performance. Never really in the running for the the top four, Brightvale continued to disregard the new side game, Slushie Slinger, despite their fans' consistent support. There's no doubt that Brightvale attempted to play dirty, but fate and skill whitewashed them off the map. Unless they get their act together in the off-season, Brightvale will continue to remain a mid-level team, despite putting forth solid efforts in Yooyuball peppered with risky tactics.
Darigan Citadel: Last year: 2nd place; this year: 1st place; next year: 3rd place.
Consistency pays off, and yet again the Citadel has rampaged their way into the finals. Last year, Darigan impressed many, advancing to the finals and narrowly losing the Cup to Haunted Woods. Most unlike Haunted Woods, however, Darigan achieved the stigma of a team that needed to be taken seriously and met it with renewed effort. Never flying under the radar, every team that went up against Darigan gave it their best effort, and Darigan returned the favor. What Darigan needs to do to make third next year is be able to cope with unpredictability; the addition of Slushie Slinger proved to be Darigan's potentially fatal undoing, and their definitive weak point, despite their impressive stand against Roo Island at the end. Nonetheless, nobody should underestimate this brute of a team, and despite their somewhat undeserved reputation as a cold and rude group, they should continue to remain popular amongst their fans and fellow players alike.
Faerieland: Last year: 16th place; this year: 14th/15th place; next year: 16th place.
Despite many analysts' and other teams' negative views on them, Faerieland's late game virtuosity at Slushie Slinger redeemed them in many Neopians' eyes. By bringing several top teams to a draw in the game, Faerieland proved two things: one, that a team should never underestimate another based on the math and statistics; and two, when they expend the energy, Faerieland can be a dangerous team... but only as the underdog and upsetter. Like Brightvale, Faerieland has to get their act together in their worst game (Yooyuball) and bring a definite game plan to the table if they want to finish well.
Haunted Woods: Last year: 1st place; this year: 7th place; next year: 8th place.
Three words describe Haunted Woods' ability in the AC this year: fall from grace. While some may attribute Haunted Woods' win last year to a renewed energy after barely slicing past the difficult Kreludor in the first round, this year's disappointing result can most certainly be attested to other teams' renewed energy. When one faces a champion, one's game improves, and Haunted Woods was the unfortunate victim. They were unable to stand up to their reputation, and as such will remain a difficult competitor come next year, but clearly not in the running for the topmost spots. Haunted Woods must, like Darigan, focus on Slushie Slinger and keep their Yooyuball talent fresh in the off-season, if they want to be serious contenders. They might even be next year's sleeper.
Kiko Lake: Last year: 13th place; this year: 14th/15th place; next year: 15th place.
Everyone loves Kiko Lake, but that's mostly because nobody ever talks about them. Kiko Lake and Virtupets were this year's victims of press-less-ness. Nobody pays attention to them, and as such the team itself may have lost some of its spirit. Like Faerieland, they took advantage of their stigma late and began to rev up their ability at Slushie Slinger, but in the end, it's just not enough. Kiko Lake must have spirit if they want to shellshock Neopia, and to gain spirit they must practice and train hideously hard.
Krawk Island: Last year: 3rd place; this year: 4th place; next year: 2nd place.
Arr. They may be a little rough when they play, but Krawk Island proved that they are here to stay. Riding high this year, Krawk Island fell to fourth when all was said and done, but the word 'fell' is perhaps too harsh. Their schedule ended with tough teams, and as such, Krawk Island was lauded as a better team than they perhaps ever were. The many sweeps Krawk Island endured should inspire them to do better next year across the board. Nevertheless, they're still a force to be reckoned with, and they should dominate next year's competition to the end, where they will be just barely edged out. As long as they maintain their abilities in the off-season, their rock-solid performance in both Yooyuball and Slushie Slinger should remain superb, and their fans will back their excellent efforts.
Kreludor: Last year: 9th place: this year: none (could not participate); next year: 5th place.
Nearly taking down the champions of the first AC, Kreludor will return from their unintentional year off refreshed and ready to take the Altador Cup by storm. The true sleepers, Kreludor has the respect of the other teams as well as most of the public due to their easy-going and good-natured personalities. Since they are so inexperienced with Slushie Slinger and the new Yooyus, Kreludor will have to work extra hard to live up to this analyst's predictions for them. The special conditions of the moon, however, should allow Kreludor an off-season experience no other team, except Virtupets, can claim.
Lost Desert: Last year: 5th place; this year: 5th place; next year: 6th place.
Last year, the Lost Desert put forth a solid performance. This year, they did not disappoint, and their fans came through to make them terrors in the Make Some Noise side game. The only team to be undefeated in Slushie Slinger, Lost Desert embodies the definition of a stolid, effortful team, and it is unlikely that they will change in the off-season. There's not much more to say about them, except that if they've got a weakness, it's definitely their inability to capitalize on Yooyuball leads. If they improve their skills on the field, they'll be scorching hot next year.
Maraqua: Last year: 10th place; this year: 8th/9th place; next year: 10th place.
All signs point towards a talented Yooyuball team, but a stifling defense isn't always the best way to go. When they dump the chaff from this year's offense, Maraqua will find themselves able to compete, but forced to a middling year once again as they regroup. As long as their fans continue to give them support, and they practice slinging slushies outside of their underwater environment, Maraqua will be one that cannot be ignored, but never a gigantic threat.
Meridell: Last year: 8th place; this year: 8th/9th place; next year: 12th place.
Don't let the prediction fool anyone: Meridell is not an easy team to beat. The fact is, however, that they're not a tough team to beat, either. Meridell's confidence wanes in the face of tough match-ups, and as such the stats will flounder next year. Still, twelfth out of eighteen isn't too terrible, and if Meridell cracks down and focuses (perhaps thinking of the Yooyus as the sometimes oppressive King Skarl might help out), then they'll come out of it for the better. Maybe the year after next will be yours to take, Meridell.
Mystery Island: Last year: 6th place; this year: 6th place: next year: 1st place.
Many analysts made the mistake of favoring Mystery Island last year to take the Altador Cup. Some made the mistake again this year, and the Islanders once again did not live up to some Neopians' expectations, fumbling at major impasses. Sometime, however, they've got to get it right, and that time will be next year. Mystery Island, despite the negative light on their few losses, carried themselves well, and their onslaught in Yooyuball, especially, cannot and will not be ignored next year. They have the potential to win... if they work hard enough, they'll live up to this prediction for them.
Roo Island: Last year: 4th place; this year: 2nd place; next year: 4th place.
It is so tempting to discount Roo Island after two years of amazing underestimation on part of many teams and, especially, the analysts. Their fanbase is the smallest of the "big kahuna" teams of the tournament, and as such their ability to conquer in Make Some Noise was limited. Roo Island's ability to cotton on to the new mini-game, Slushie Slinger, shows their ability to think on their belled toes. Disparaging press on some fans' attitudes will lower the esteem of Roo Island's attractiveness, however, and although they'll continue to be tough and unrelenting on the field, teams will find a way to break through them once they start paying attention to their ability.
Shenkuu: Last year: no answer (was not discovered); This year: 3rd place; Next year: 9th place.
They stormed back from behind this year to surprise many of the hot teams in the Altador Cup. No team will make the mistake of underestimating them ever again after the sweeps they pulled. Shenkuu was a bit of a novelty, garnering fan support simply because they were new (something Kreludor will have to deal with to an extent next year). It remains to be seen how Shenkuu will prosper next year, but this year's aid in the scheduling area may not be present; no matter how much Shenkuu representatives protest that their ability overrode the fact they played every team after the draining Darigan Citadel, it certainly didn't hurt their prowess, either. Watch for their weak area, Make Some Noise, to sag next year.
Terror Mountain: Last year: 15th place; this year: 10th place; next year: 13th place.
When they added fresh talent, Terror Mountain thought that they would rise in the standings. Well, they did, but there was almost nowhere to go but up as it was! Unpredictable and unsupported by their fans (they must have stayed in, what with the blizzards and all on Terror Mountain), the Terror Mountain team found themselves in the thick of things, but never an interesting ingredient in the broth that was this year's Altador Cup. They must keep up their staggering ability to score with the Snow Yooyu, being relatively immune to its effects, and find a way to get their supporters into the Yooyuball stands.
Tyrannia: Last year: 11th place; this year: 11th/12th place; next year: 18th place.
Many teams did not want to undervalue the Forsaken Five this year when they faced them on the field, nor in the Slushie Slinger arena, either. They needn't have worried. Although Tyrannia showed some promise in the Yooyuball fields and their fans whipped up some support, they failed to deliver when in a match-up that counted. Everyone loves the story of Tyrannia, but they won't deliver much to worry about next year. If they disagree, then they need to show Neopia that they deserve to be taken seriously.
Virtupets: Last year: 12th place; this year: 16th place; next year: 17th place.
They weren't terrible last year, but something happened in space to seriously damage Virtupets' confidence. They've got some latent ability there, but one star player isn't going to change the world, no matter how hard she tries. Virtupets showed that their best game is Yooyuball, and this analyst suggests that they do not stretch themselves thin; if they focus on the main game, they will not be disappointed with the result.
The Unknown World: Last year: no answer (undiscovered); this year: no answer (undiscovered); next year: 7th place.
First of all, this is just sheer conjecture. Nobody knows if a new world will be unearthed in time for next year's Altador Cup, but it seems likely based on a study of Neopia's past. So, if those hard-working Neopian explorers manage to stumble onto a previously unknown land, here's what might happen. Now, of course, everyone loves a new team, so their ability to outcheer opponents will be unmatched. Slushie Slinger will probably be their low point, and they'll be underestimated after early defeats due to inexperience in Yooyuball. Look for this world to pull a Shenkuu, although earlier in the tournament than Shenkuu did.
Good luck to all the participants in next year's Altador Cup! Enjoy the prizes when they are released. Remember: sportsmanship counts, and a team's reputation is directly linked to its fans' behavior.
Please note: Although this analyst has attempted to be as neutral as possible, he remains a Kreludor supporter at heart, and has played for Roo Island, Lost Desert, and Haunted Woods in the past. These predictions are merely predictions, and as such should not be assumed as fact. This analyst wishes to encourage all teams to overcome or live up to the predictions given here and give their fans the great games they deserve. Chicken pot pies are amazing, minus the asparagus.