Gormball: Taking Down the Championships
The month of Gathering brings many things to the worlds of Neopia. For example, funny-coloured leaves and the necessity to wear coats. Unless you live on Terror Mountain, of course, then you have a coat all year round, but that's beside the point. Gathering also brings us such festivities as Draik and Techo Day, the annual (my personal favorite) Chocolate Ball, and the Faerie Festival. Skeith and Poogle Day are both thrown in the mix as well, but let's be honest, they're not as exciting as chocolate.
If you take a quick look at your handy Pocket Calendar, flip over to Gathering and take a look at all those delicious holidays, you might notice that the Annual Gormball Championship has been left off the list. You also might not, because it's one of the most overlooked holidays on the Neopian calendar. I checked the Times archives and the last time someone even mentioned the Annual Gormball Championship was in issue 161. That's... a long time ago.
It may be the most neglected festival in all of Neopia, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be prepared if you want to compete. You see, the Championship might not get a whole lot of competition, but the competition it does get is very, very fierce. The Gormball devotees come out in force, and every single one of them plays a mean game. To get you prepared, we'll have to start with the basics.
You won't actually get to play any Gormball yourself. Don't get too discouraged, though. Instead, you get to pick a pro and tell him or her (or it) what to do. In my humble and correct opinion, this is way better than partaking of the sport yourself. Gormball requires extreme acts of athleticism, such as juggling, tossing, catching, and getting wet without making a scene. Having someone else who's mastered these fine arts to perform for you will get you much farther in the championship than playing would. After all, Gormballs do explode when they hit the ground. If you really, really, really wanted to play yourself, you can enter one of the many amateur side events. The Gormballs there aren't as wet.
This year there are about a hundred major players in the Gormball championships. I've done most of the work for you and narrowed the field down to the five Neopians most likely to win. You should heed my humble and correct advice and choose one of these five fine folks to be your champion.
The first name on my list is Thyassa. A Chia; he's currently the reigning world champion and has taken down more major events than Dr. Sloth's mutants have fingers, toes, and ears. As much as I'd like to say more about the extensive prowess of Mr. Thyassa, his accomplishments speak for himself.
Ember, a fire faerie who railed against the traditional faerie occupation of choice--being captured by Balthazar and released by Neopians to have an excuse to bless them--has proven herself to be another fine choice for this year's championship. A word of warning to those who would back her, though: Ember tends to burn holes in the Gormballs when she gets tense. As soon as there's water, the judges yell "OUT", so she never seems to pocket that winning finish. Her resume is stocked with top eight finishes, though, so backing this independent faerie will take you far.
Farvin III. What Gormball field would be compete without an Aisha? Their extra-powerful ears give them an advantage over other Neopians, and several times the Gormball Rules Association has considered banning Aishas from the sport entirely. Major event finishes, however, don't seem to show that their extra-powerful hearing is "too much" of an advantage, so, for the moment at least, they're free to compete. This Aisha comes in Alien variety and cryptic actions keep opponents wondering what this Aisha will do next.
Ursula. The Usul. Backing Ursula this year is a bit of a risk, but one that may very well pay off. Ursula hasn't been seen on the stage of the game's largest event since... about the time the last article about the Annual Gormball Championship appeared in the Times. According to a recent statement released by her agent, she's spent the last few years training and studying on Mount Ursalin. Like most Neopians, I have no idea where Mount Ursalin is, or if it even exists. I do know, however, that before her abrupt departure from the game, Ursula was a mid-list beginner who seemed to show a rather good deal of potential. Personally, I'd choose this relative unknown over the other four on my short list.
Last up is Gargarox Isafuhlarg. I don't know about you, but since I have no idea what a Fuhlarg is, I'm just going to call this Grundo chef by his first name. Gargarox is talented at more than just whipping up culinary delights of questionable taste, however, and he snuck his way into my Top 5 after an unlucky incident knocked him out in the final round of last year's championship. With five Neopians left in, Gargarox's neighbor fell out on a Gormball that'd been in play for nearly thirty seconds. A new Gormball was thrown in and blew up, in Gargarox's face, in two seconds! It is my firm belief that, without that bit of bad luck, Gargarox could very well be our reigning world champion. But, Gormball is, in fact, part luck.
So, those are my five recommendations for this year's Annual Gormball Championship. Before you head out to the pitch and make your choices, though, here are a few words of warning.
I expect that not everyone will heed my advice and you may very well choose the lowest ranked player in the tournament for fun. Whatever you do, however, DO NOT back these players:
Kevin Korbat: Dr. Sloth called in sick and named this bright-eyed contender as his replacement. Kevin has some history in the side events from last year's championship, but his finishes were mediocre at best. This isn't to say that he's a poor Gormball player, but the other Neopians in this year's competition are in another league entirely.
Zargrold. He's competing this year only for the prizes. So are you, of course, but you don't have the stakes of others riding on your performance. In the past, Zargrold has gone out on purpose to secure a specific prize. He'll probably place well, so you may read other articles suggesting you back him, but take my advice on this one: Zargrold isn't in it for the game.
Brian. This Scorchio is Gormball's biggest cheater. He has the stats to get backing from the Gormball enthusiasts, but the risk of him getting thrown straight out of the tournament is too great. Remember, if he gets thrown out it doesn't matter how well he did, all of his prizes (and yours!) are forfeit. A few years ago he was tossed out for playing with a rigged ball, causing the implementation of the official ball rule. Last year there was some talk about clock and score manipulation, but nothing ever came of it. Until Brian cleans up his game, I advise you stay far, far away from him. Certainly don't back him.
Hopefully these predictions are helpful for all you Gormball enthusiasts and novices attending this year's Annual Gormball Championships. Choose well, and good luck!