There are ants in my Lucky Green Boots Circulation: 132,988,897 Issue: 246 | 30th day of Relaxing, Y8
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Medieval Mayhem: Darigan Citadel vs. Meridell Team

by hoellenthon


The Altador Cup saw a nerve-rending match of feudal feuds taken to the gaming field.

Let's have a short recap: The last War demolishing the Meridellian countryside left the Darigan Citadel with its original ruler, Lord Darigan, in power. Emotions still run the gamut from icy hatred to fiery fury on both sides of the equation, and so it may come as a small surprise that this year's Yooyuball match-up between the Darigan Citadel and Meridell's team turned out to be an experience of epic proportions!

The teams were set up as follows:

The Darigan Citadel Team changed its classic strategy of 2:2 to a more aggressive 3:1 pincer array, with the silent but remorseless Kep Bonnefie bringing up the rear. The unrelenting Tormo Frein was promoted to Center Forward, with his main objective being the obliteration of Meridell's quick-pass game. To this end, Frein set his scope on the formidable "Wizard" Windelle, with the goal of totally disrupting Meridell's otherwise fast-paced and energetic forward drive.

The Meridell Team, in anticipation of a hard-faced, jaw-clenched opponent, put in a few extra training hours, and literally perfected its recurringly successful 3:1 lightning strike offensive. In addition to its already formidable forwards, an exhausting regimen was devised to optimize defender Ilsa Ellits and goalie Sir Pollonaire's teamplay. When playing against the Practice Team, the extra training paid off, allowing for a number of perfect wins by the smooth formation.

As was to be expected, tickets were at a premium prior to this match. Two lucky readers of the Neopian Times scored our Prize of 2 Free Front Line Tickets each! Here's what they had to say before the game began:

Helena Frintz (Altador local): It's amazing! My family didn't really have the neopoints to buy tickets this year, so we pretty much had resigned ourselves to reading about the matches on the Neopian Times. But thanks to you, I can watch this match from the front line! That's amazing!

NT: Who are you gonna take with you?

HF: Well, my owner, of course! She's already bought me the entire Altador merchandise, but our team dropped out against Krawk Island in the first round. So now we're rooting for Meridell! Sir Pollonaire is so cute!

Voriatox (Kreludor local): Thank you NT! I'm simply thrilled! My owner and I are gonna see the most suspenseful match of this tournament from the front row! I can't believe I won!

NT: So, who are you and your owner rooting for?

V: Well, my owner is a great fan of the Darigan Citadel Team, especially Layton Vickles, but I'd rather see Meridell win. After all, they won the last two wars...

So that's what the winners from our Ticket Lottery had to say about the match.

The Altador Colosseum was surrounded by fans before the match began, and several of the more outspoken ones had something to say as well:

Darigan Fan: You watch it, Meridell! There'll be no fancy faeries helping you out on the Yooyuball court!

Meridell Fan: Prepare to be humiliated when you can't see the ball until it's in your goal!

When the game began, roars of triumph accompanied every move the teams made. Tormo Frein lived up to his nickname "The Terror," giving Meridell's Windelle not a moment of respite. The eerie Pteri stayed on the Techo's heels with unnatural persistence. This proved to be a fatal hindrance for Meridell's offence in the early parts of the game. Massive Mungo Lifler, Darigan Citadel's intimidating goalie, continually goaded Meridell's forwards and tricked them into making critical mistakes.

However, Meridell's defence held fast, and Shaye and Vickles had to search after openings with a looking glass.

The first quarter of the game saw both teams without points, but with nerves taut to the point of bursting.

With Windelle effectively neutralized, Meridell's remaining forwards, Fiorina and Vitri Sitol, fell back on a trusted offence strategy. In close formation, they sped forward, continually passing the Yooyu between themselves until they found an opening in their opponent's defence. Even though Kep Bonnefie managed to break the two up repeatedly, Lifler found his enormous hands full many times.

Still, the game progressed without goals, and neared halftime.

In a stunning display of recklessness and ingenuity, however, the Darigan Citadel Team suddenly burst into action with an all-out, 4 player assault on Meridell's goal. Momentarily stunned, Ilsa Ellits fell prey to a perfectly executed feint by Kep Bonnefie, while goalie Freidl's view was obstructed by Tandrak Shaye. With Meridell's defence caught up, a minutely aimed pass by Frein allowed Layton Vickles to score a vital goal only seconds before the bell tolled on the first half. That Colosseum was in an uproar.

Halftime saw fans and players speechless from exhaustion and pent-up tension, unable to answer any questions.

Several overexcited fans had to treated, and free drinks of water were passed out as the sun began to heat up the playing field. But the game was far from over.

The third quarter started out quite similar to the first, with both teams pushing the other's defence. A change in Darigan Citadel tactics now paired Tormo Frein with Meridell's chief scorer, Fiorina, leaving her very few chances of reaching a shooting distance with a Yooyu at hand. Still, Meridell's brave players were not about to give up, and assaulted the Darigan Citadel's half of the field again and again, trying desperately to wear down their steadfast opponents.

This tactic finally paid off, as Vitri Sitol managed to sneak past a preoccupied Kep Bonnefie, and turn an inspired pass by Windelle into an artistic goal with a somersault shot. Fans on both sides were standing, the roar deafening.

The Darigan Citadel defence was in disarray, and the game seemed to turn as Meridell's offence followed up with another goal, this time by none other than the Wizard himself! The tribune ranks were about to break as fans pushed forward in an emotional frenzy!

By the end of this quarter, Meridell had managed an incredible comeback! The game stood at 2 - 1 for Meridell, with the relentless sun beating down mercilessly. The commentators were hoarse from trying to make themselves heard over the roaring fans, and both teams seemed to be still standing only by force of will.

The final quarter started with a shocking upset, as Tandrak Shaye brutally shouldered his way past Meridell's players. All eyes on him, nobody noticed both Vickles and Frein flanking the Meridell end zone. As the full might of Meridell's team bore down on the sole forward, Shaye passed to Frein who scored his first goal of the season!

Another turn in the game came about when an unpredictable Mutant Yooyu was released on the players. Shredding through gauntlets with abandon, the petpet threatened to plunge the game into utter chaos, until a dedicated Fiorina caught hold of the little devil and chanced a risky shot from the left corner of the Darigan end zone. Mungo Lifler, not about to be humiliated again, caught the Yooyu and immediately passed it on to none other than Kep Bonnefie, who in a seemingly suicidal attempt launched a distance shot from within her own field half!

The Colosseum fell ominously silent as the Yooyu descended towards the Meridell goal. As Sir Pollonaire prepared to catch the shot, it suddenly zig-zagged violently, and buried itself in the goal's net, utterly fraying it in the process!

After this mind-churning goal, it seemed that Meridell's spirits were broken. Only a few moments later, Tandrak Shaye secured another goal against a sluggish Sir Pollonaire, followed by a blatant cheap shot by Layton Vickles to secure the lead. By the time the last Yooyu was released, none of the players on the field had the energy left to follow the wide, airy arcs of the faerie petpet, and as soon as the signal sounded, players and fans alike slumped into their seats, completely and utterly exhausted.

The final result saw Darigan Citadel as the clear winner with a stunning 5 - 2 against a devastated Meridell Team.

This means that the Darigan Citadel Team, in spite of all the comments to the contrary, has managed to go on into the Quarter Finals. Whether they can hold their ground against their next opponent depends on the team they face off against. The Haunted Woods Team is sure to be a tough score, with a choking defence and aggressive forwards. Krawk Island could get Darigan's minions into trouble with a high scoring potential. Could Mungo Lifler hold his own against the likes of Dasher Soley? Or can Bonnefie and Frein keep track of the darting Dayla of Roo Island?

Winners of the hearts of thousands of fans, the Meridell Team will now return home, licking their wounds (literally) and training even harder for next year's Altador Cup. It remains to be seen whether the team can hold on to their star forward Fiorina, or the prominent spot will be taken by a new face.

All this, and more, only in the Neopian Times, giving you the latest of Altador Cup coverage!

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