A Look Into Altador Cup Rivalries
With the highly-anticipated Altador Cup XII quickly approaching, Neopians from all over are preparing for the massive tournament in droves. Whether it be the fashionista Neopets, deciding on whether a foam finger or team jersey looks best on them, or the collector Neopets theorizing on whether ACXII will be commemorated with a stamp or a coin, the imminence of the sporting season is felt far and wide. A new year brings a resurgence of team unity and enthusiasm back to the stadium. Fans representing eighteen different teams will vie to have their cheers heard the loudest. This perennial show of camaraderie and sportsmanship is truly a sight to behold – however, a side effect of this enthusiasm is the formation of some deeply-held rivalries between teams. A look into some of these rivalries will shed an interesting light onto the Altador Cup season; one that will hopefully provide some idea of what is to come this year.
Rivalries exist in many different forms in the world of the Altador Cup. Some exist due to pre-existing circumstances between communities. With the history of friction between King Skarl and Lord Darigan, it only makes sense that Meridell and the Darigan Citadel experience that same friction on the Yooyuball court. Interestingly, these historical rivalries are often superseded by rivalries that came about during past cups. Returning to Darigan Citadel as a team of note, they have made plenty of allies and rivals during their long career. One of their biggest rivals is surprisingly the happy-go-lucky Roo Islanders.
During ACIII, having just come out of a championship victory the year before, Darigan Citadel was struggling with the classic winner’s curse. Darigan Citadel put forward an incredible amount of effort that season – an amount of effort that would presumably warrant powerhouse status. But such is the way of the curse, and the team floundered around the mid-tier rankings all throughout that season. Meanwhile, Roo Island, the team that DC had just barely stolen the cup from in the year prior, was beating them left and right. It is rumored that Roo Island’s team captain at the time, Lilo Blumario, threw some jeers around at Layton Vickles, Darigan Citadel’s team captain, while on the court during a deciding game. These rumors were never substantiated, but nonetheless fueled a rivalry that was felt for many years after.
Kiko Lake is another team that has drawn a lot of ire, for no reason other than a small vocal minority of their fans’ off-season attitudes and general pomposity. This was not always the case, however. In fact, it has been far from it. Kiko Lake was considered an underdog team with excellent sportsmanship and a lot of humility for many, many years. They have faced a lot of struggles, as well. During ACI, players Helmo Timm and Holbie Pinnock suffered some serious injuries that threatened their chances of winning. During ACIII, they could not even show up to compete due to an unfortunate event with some falling rocks that trapped their team. This misfortune extended to the standings, placing them two rankings away from last for most every season – up until ACX.
Around this point, a certain random event began to plague Neopians in which Kiko Lake “representatives” would accept “donations” on behalf of the team so that they could return to the cup each year. The representatives being presumptive fans and the donations being so guilt-ridden, they are borderline highway robbery. It followed that Kiko Lake saw a lot of unprecedented success with ACX, in which they won the championship. This heralded in a lot of congratulations from all over, but also some competition from those that they snuffed out of the cup. The relationship between Tyrannia and Kiko Lake has not quite been the same since that cup, and continues to worsen as long as members and fans Tyrannia continue to be asked for donations on behalf of Kiko Lake. With Kiko Lake having achieved third place last year, breaking the trend of the so-called winners’ curse, it will be interesting to see what happens to attitudes towards this unpredictable powder keg of a team.
Mystery Island is a head-turner of a team, especially with their stunning performance last season. They have had their fair share of rivalries with teams like the Lost Desert and Krawk Island. But during the past cup, they managed to butt heads with Maraqua in a way where it will be interesting to see how things play out with this upcoming season. During ACXI, Maraqua started off as a force to reckon with. With consistent incredibly high scores and terrifyingly high GPG ratings, many wondered how any team could possible compete with them. In an unexpected turn of events during the first week of the cup, however, Mystery Island cut through their defenses and Maraqua plummeted to the bottom of the rankings as the humble islanders shot to the top. MI was seeing success that they had not felt for many, many years. Mystery Island is another one of those mid-tier teams with the occasional surprises and disappointments. They certainly took Maraqua aback last year, however.
The final rankings for ACXI had Mystery Island in first and Maraqua in 14th place. This is an extreme reversal of the usual. Maraqua has finished above Mystery Island nearly every season (except for a similarly unusual turn of events during ACVII). This was equally stunning back in ACIV, where Maraqua and Mystery Island competed for fifth place. The four teams ahead of them - Krawk Island, Shenkuu, Lost Desert, and Kreludor – all competed in a league of their own, leaving the two other teams to duke it out amongst themselves for the sake of a final small victory. Maraqua ended up being victorious in this match by the skin of their teeth, leaving many Mystery Islanders feeling anxious for a chance to prove themselves. This sentiment has clearly carried through the years, and it will be interesting to see how it will play out for this upcoming season.
Rivalries add a certain spiciness to the normal events of the Altador Cup. Despite all the drama, rivalries often encourage teams to band together and unite for a single purpose – whooping the competition. Sportsmanship and mutual respect are always strictly upheld by the Altador Cup Ethics Committee, luckily. The friendly competitive nature of Yooyuball is certainly one to admire. Many fans look forward to watching this go down this upcoming season. Hopefully there are many interesting stories to come.