AC XII: The Haunted Woods Interview
As this year’s Altador Cup beings with a bang, I decided to follow my journalistic urges to pursue an interview with the best team yet, Haunted Woods (of course, that’s completely subjective, but still—HAUNTED WOODS FOR LIFE!). Despite their busy schedule, the team was more than willing to set aside time between rounds to sit down with a one-on-one interview.
The locker room looks exactly as you’d expect; dirty, smelly, and gorgeous, in that it’s been permeated with the blood, sweat, and tears of hard work and overwhelming dedication. The team takes their seats, soggy towels mopping up their perspired foreheads, fruity beverages pressed against their lips. It’s strange being in front of my heroes, and I wear my emotions on my sleeve; THE Captain Krell Vitor smiles kindly and makes small talk before everyone’s hydrated enough to answer those prodding questions I’ve had since youth.
I’d like to first thank you all for sitting down with me to have this interview—I know for a fact you’ve all been training so hard, and this year’s Altador Cup is a biggie.
Krell Of course. Thank you for taking such interest in our team!
Fanetti If I’m right, we met a few years ago, didn’t we? (I nod.) Thanks for officially sitting down with us! Hit us with your best shot.
Krell, you and both Fanetti and Zo have been on the Haunted Woods’ team since 2006. Do you find it easier or harder to train with people you’ve known for such a long time? How do your relationships affect practice?
Krell I firmly believe our professional relationships is not only strengthened, but exponentially benefitted by our personal relationships. I’m not afraid to critique their performance as team players, and they certainly don’t hold back complaints about my leadership. A mutual respect is gained through getting to know your teammates as people—it’s not about me being Captain, and Left Defender, or Fanetti as Goalkeeper, ZJ as Center Forward. It’s about our friendship aiding our plays.
Fanetti I think it’s important to add that being on the same team for—what? 11 years now?—has forced us to change up our style. If we become too predictable with each other, we become too predictable to the other teams. You get comfortable with the way we play, and it doesn’t challenge us in the slightest.
Brains uhhh … grraahhhhgh … Translation: Being teammates means being each other’s most reliable trainers and worst offenders! If you can’t beat each other, why do you play together?
ZJ I completely agree!
Talvos, you’re Haunted Woods’ newest arrival. Was it difficult taking over Wan Dirx’s place on the team? What were some of the emotions running through your head?
Talvos Dirx was an incredible player. But there’s a reason I took his spot. He didn’t fear making enemies on the field, but his mind was elsewhere. We met on good terms, he left on good terms.
You always seem so coolheaded, yet you’re a fierce player.
Talvos You know it.
What do you say to the little kids that look up to you?
Talvos He leans forward, thinking hard and long. He takes a swig of his fruity beverage. Don’t settle for being good at something. Be great.
These last few games, most of the scores have been from Brains. What’s your key piece of advice for beginner Yooyuball players?
Brains Um … breaghghh … kreahhhh guurrrgghhh … phththbbllpht craagghhh … ggguuummh … Translation: My teammates encourage me to go after the ball (that is, it’s brains and the stereotype about zombies eating brains is unfortunately true as can be). Surround yourself with encouragers, not discouragers. Chase your dreams and dedicate 100% to those dreams, always. My good friend Derlyn always says, “We will get back on the field and prove the critics wrong. After all, action does speak louder than words.”
ZJ Beautifully said, Brains.
Zo, you haven’t gotten a real question yet. Critics often attribute your size as your biggest weakness, and say it’s the reason you have “loose fingers”. What do you say in response?
ZJ There’s no correlation. They’re comparing my body size to my tactics; my “loose fingers” aren’t because my hands are too small to hold the Yooyuball—it’s because I have a play in mind and I don’t carry that ball any farther than necessary. However, to the critics who say I’m too small to play—what’s a small body to a small mind? Be kind and accepting; you’ll gain a bigger reward than any Yooyuball win can give.
You’ve been allowed to train in Faerieland, thanks to Queen Fyora’s graciousness. What’s your opinion on you being ahead of them in the game?
Krell The Queen’s kindness is not a reflection on her country’s ability to play, nor our ability to be humbled by said kindness.
Talvos However, we won’t shy from our success. Credit’s given where credit’s due.
I think it’s time for some fan questions—I asked a few friends to give us their most burning questions, and it might get a little personal … is that okay?
I am answered by a chorus of head nods.
First question is to Talvos—what do you look for in a girlfriend?
Talvos There’s an assumption.
Fanetti Are all the questions going to be like this?! He laughs, nudging Talvos.
Talvos Next question, maybe for Krell? He’s been awfully quiet.
(I shuffle through my cards.) Krell, which former Haunted Woods player do you miss the most?
Krell I don’t miss anyone—their time in my life was for a reason, and their lack of presence is for a reason, too … Autrey did have great hustle, though.
Fanetti—best Goalkeeper on a rivalling team?
Fanetti Heggle (Captain of Lost Desert) has amazing instincts; he knows what he’s about, and Yooyuball is his element. However, his speed is his greatest downfall, which is unfortunate … he’s been on as long as I have, and Fyora knows 11 years of goalkeeping starts to wear on you. I can confidently argue his heyday isn’t behind him. Xana (from Shenkuu) has a lot of potential, she just needs to stop shaking when the Yooyuball comes her way.
Have any of you ever gotten into a physical fight with another member, either on your team or a rivals’?
Fanetti I’ve had a strong word or two with Mitora (Goalkeeper for Terror Mountain). If you’re going to represent your team, don’t be lazy, don’t act bored; at least pretend you want to be there.
Talvos Luvea (Left Defender for Lost Desert) and I have had our fair share of shoving each other around.
Krell I didn’t know you were acquainted with each other. When would you have ever had a reason to fight with him? He’s got a sweet disposition.
Talvos History runs deep.
Brains, what’s your favorite book?
Brains Greaaughh … Translation: 1,0001 Yooyuball Tips, of course. I also like to do some light reading with Basic Mathematics, and Petpetpet Growth Patterns.
Have you ever read Professor Hugo Fairweathers Guide to Petpetpets?
Brains Naaghhh!! Translation: Who HASN’T?!?
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
Fanetti Our fans.
ZJ 100%, for sure. As well as the other teams—they inspire me to be better, stronger.
Talvos Myself—not in a “I’m better than you” way, but in a “I can only be better than who I am today” way.
Krell I agree with both responses.
Brains He nods.
I begin to ask a few more questions, shuffling through my index cards, but the referee pops his head in and announces the next round will be starting in a few short minutes. He nods, though the look in his eye says, “You’re still here?! Why are you bothering these men with your intrusion and questions?!?” I plead with my eyes, but he ignores me and mutters, “If you could hurry the interview, sir.”
Krell turns back and gives me a nonchalant smile. His easygoing behavior and attitude about life is inspiring, and it was immediately, in that moment, made apparent to me why he was chosen as Captain.
It’s been such an honor to not only interview you all, but to be in the same room as you … you’ve been my favorite team since I was a child! You’re … you’re my heroes.
Krell Then it’s our honor.
ZJ You’ve been by our side, thick and thin? You’re the real hero here!
I wish I could stay here for a few more hours, but I understand you’ve got jobs to do and a game to win. In ten words or less, what would you say to your thousands—nay, MILLIONS—of other fans?
Krell Don’t let the darkness discourage your belief in light.
Fanetti Go after your dreams!
ZJ We’re only here because of YOU.
Brains Guheahhh caaargghhuhhh … Translation: See you on the field!
Talvos Don’t try. DO.
I shook hands with everyone, and despite his cool guy, punk kid attitude, Talvos gave me a pat on the shoulder and told me it’s support from fans like me that remind him why he does what he does … “it’s not the success, the pride, the money …” he sighs, wringing his hands. “It’s the love. Support. Encouragement. That’s off the record. Don’t publish that.” (Sorry, Talvos.)
As they headed off to the field, Krell gave me a little salute that made all the blood rush to my cheeks—you’d blush too if your hero waved, so I better not hear any laughing. I watched them do a few stretches and then, boom … they were off. The game had started. Their livelihood was playing out before me.
This Altador Cup, I hope you find the team you’re passionate about supporting, through thick and thin, wins and losses. Find people that are just as passionate about that team as you are! Whether you’re like me, Haunted Woods for life, or find your solace in Kreludor, Lost Desert, even Meridell … find your people.
AND GOOD LUCK COMPETING IN THIS YEAR’S ALTADOR CUP XII!!