Secrets of Yooyuball: Trials of a Trade
A player trade can bring salvation to an Altador Cup team or doom it to the dregs of last place. As anyone knows after eleven years of fevered competition, team loyalty is a big deal out in the audience, and conflicting emotions run high when a treasured star is traded to another team. It's one thing to bid farewell to a retiring player, but it's quite another to accept a departure to rival turf.
One of the most shocking events of Altador Cup IX was the trade of Kreludor’s Coco Metrone and Krawk Island’s Ealyn Hawkshanks. The pair had long established themselves as familiar faces on their respective teams, so fans were in for quite a surprise with this sudden switch. Some analysts decried the move as a huge mistake, predicting a return to status quo in Altador Cup X, but that return did not come. With Altador Cup XI approaching fast, it is now confirmed that the trade has held for another year, giving us a unique opportunity to have a conversation with these two talented athletes about their experiences. Do they consider their extended stays a grueling test of emotional endurance, or have Metrone and Hawkshanks found their new homes?
The two seem bewildered by the very idea of this article, stating that player trades are just another part of the game.
“We’re not any different than anyone else who gets traded,” says Coco Metrone. “Yeah, we were with our teams for a long time, but in this world, you really don’t get a ‘home base’. Anything can change with no warning.”
Ealyn Hawkshanks vehemently agrees with this assessment. “I get that we’re missed on our old teams. I mean, I started out at Krawk Island in the very first cup; I was there for eight full years. I won’t say it wasn’t difficult to hoist my sails and head to Kreludor, but it happens.”
Hawkshanks’ turn of phrase doesn’t slip by our interviewer: “Hoist my sails” is about as pirate-related as it gets. Was leaving Krawk Island harder than he’s letting on?
He laughs, a hearty guffaw reminiscent of the folks on the Warf Wharf. “Oh, I promise, I’m not hiding anything. I was on the island forever, so I think it’s only natural that the lingo came along with me. There are things I miss for sure: the wind in your face, the smell of the salty sea. Can’t exactly get any wind in your face out on a moon, plus it’s pretty dry up there.”
But, Hawkshanks admits, leaving for someplace new can bring incredible opportunities.
“You’re not going to experience anything like Kreludor outside of Kreludor, you know what I mean? The gravity tricks alone would blow your mind. You’ve got to travel to get a real sense of the world around you, and when you’re on one team for a long time, you don’t get to do a whole lot of sight-seeing.”
“Unless,” Metrone chimes in, “it’s taking in the sights and sounds of the Altador punch bowls.”
They both laugh. Does this mean the glitz and the glamour of the Cup aren’t all they’re cracked up to be?
“There’s certainly enough glitz and glamour to go around,” Metrone says, while Hawkshanks nods his head beside her. “Our time does not get spent on traveling around to anywhere but Altador, though. We’re training all the time and so is everybody else. It doesn’t leave a lot of room for going anywhere other than your team’s training grounds and the Colosseum.”
“It’s a little isolating, yeah,” Hawkshanks says. However, he then grins wide. “But when you love this game, it’s all you want to do, so nothing else matters!”
Coco Metrone’s orange coat certainly isolates her from the grays of Krawk Island. Some feared this change in dynamic would prove distracting to the existing players, as well as making Metrone stand out in the face of opposing teams.
“Well, I’ve never been one for stealth,” she says. “Center forward, that’s where I’ve got to be, and luckily Krawk Island saw that, too. We wouldn’t be very good players if something like that would trip us up.”
“I fit in pretty well with Kreludor, too,” Hawkshanks says. “Me and the Grundos can zip around before anyone knows what’s up, since we’re all so small.”
It appears that acclimating to their new environments didn’t pose a challenge for either player.
“Not really,” Hawkshanks tells us. “We’ve always been prepared for a trade, but it goes a little deeper than that. All the swimming around I did on the Krawk Island shores has helped me out in Kreludor’s low gravity. We don’t train in that, but it’s the everyday living kind of stuff that’s easier when you’ve spent a lot time bobbing around in the water.”
“Right, I’ve felt the same way,” Metrone says. “Being in regular Neopian gravity all the time wore on me a little at first, until I got used to it. It’s always great to go for a swim for that reason. Floating in the water kind of reminded me of jumping across the room back home.”
As for the subject of homes, many feared questionable loyalty from two players who each spent more than four years with just one team. The idea of sabotage wasn’t far from the minds of fans. What do Metrone and Hawkshanks have to say about such serious implications?
“That’s ridiculous!” Metrone exclaims, and Hawkshanks follows suit.
“I love my pirates, but my loyalty lies with Yooyuball,” he says. “If other players don’t feel that way, then they’d better get out of this game.”
“I also love and miss my Kreludor team, and I wish them the best in every game they play. But,” Metrone adds, “that doesn’t stop me from giving it everything I’ve got when we’re up against them. They understand that, too, and they don’t go easy on me just because we used to be on the same side.”
If anything, Hawkshanks says, being traded can help give a struggling team a fresh advantage.
“Say you’ve always had trouble against one team, and then all of a sudden you’re traded a guy from that very team. Now you’ve got someone who knows them inside and out: he knows how they play, all their strengths and weaknesses, all their usual game plans. And now that he’s with you, he’s free to give you all their secrets. Now that’s something!”
“I’m sure a lot of ‘Pets would be squeamish at the idea of us laying out the strategies of our previous teams,” Metrone says. “But like Ealyn said, our loyalty lies with the game. It’s the fans’ job to stay loyal to their teams, just like it’s ours to win no matter where we are.”
The swapped pair, while initially puzzled, hope their words will put some of their fans’ fears to rest.
“Remember, guys: it’s all for the game,” Hawkshanks says.
“I like to think we’re both pretty good at steering clear of unnecessary drama,” Metrone adds. “And we’ve been having a great time on our new teams these past couple of years. The Krawk Island crew has made me feel right at home, so if I stay for another year after this, that’s just more time to spend with my new friends.”
Hawkshanks leans over to Metrone and asks, “But do me a favor, will you? Can you pop over to Mystery Island and send me up some Fruitmallow Grog? I’ve got a hankering I just can’t shake.”
Metrone grins. “Only if you send down some boxes of Wiggle Cookies.”
“It’s a deal,” says Hawkshanks, and he and Metrone close things out with a hardy pawshake.