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The Mountain Climbers - An Interview with Prytariel


by skatabo

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My name’s Skaata; I’m a reporter for the Neopian Times’ sports section that’s looking into the art of Yooyuball, especially when it comes to strategies and tactics. I’ve been thinking about the merits of different formations for a while now, and by an insane stroke of luck, I somehow managed to get an interview with Prytariel, the captain of the Terror Mountain Yooyuball team, just after she finished her daily practice sessions.

     "You've consistently used an offensive formation of three offensive players and only one defender throughout your Yooyuball career- can you explain the philosophy behind that decision?"

     "There's been a lot of theory over the years about which formation is superior, and we've experimented with different setups during practice matches as the meta has shifted. That’s been important for two reasons: the first one is that most of us learn by doing – we’re Yooyuball players after all, not astrophysicists – so the best way for us to discover the strengths and weaknesses of a certain formation is by playing it ourselves to see what ends up causing us trouble in certain situations, which is a good insight that we can use against other teams on the pitch. The second reason, though it was more important when we were starting out as a team, is that we still want to make sure that we’re doing what’s right for us as a squad. We’ve been together for years – ten cups with the exact same group – but that doesn’t mean our capabilities haven’t evolved as time has gone by. It’s good to re-evaluate from time to time to see if we’re still on the right track in that regard. Fortunately, most of our team members are exceptionally quick, and that lends itself well to an explosive, high-octane playstyle like 3+1.”

     “Really admirable! That does put a lot of pressure on your only defender, Rinok Fitel, to pick up the defensive slack on the team. How does he cope?”

     Well, Fitel talks a lot of smack off the pitch, so I intentionally put him in that role because I find it funny to watch him panic.

     ...

     I’m just kidding; he’s really in his element under pressure. A true Bori of Terror Mountain, through and through. He doesn’t seem burned out yet with over 10 years with us under his belt, so it looks like it’s working for him, too!

     “Speaking of what’s working and what’s not, what’s your opinion on your recent performance in the standings of the Altador Cup?”

     “Well, as you know, we managed to cinch the win in the fourteenth annual cup, which was an insane thing for us. We’d managed to reach third place the year prior, which surprised a lot of commentators, but I think it was just us really hitting our stride and showing the strength of our team. Of course, this year we fell a bit flat in comparison to our other recent showings. People talk about a ‘Winner’s curse’, but I wager that it’s more self-inflicted than anything else. I’m speaking from experience here: after our win, we spent more time in parties than on the pitch, and that was a huge factor in our placing tenth this year. Yooyuball is a game where synergy is king, and if you neglect honing that edge in favour of autograph signings and ski resorts, that’s going to cost you when you face off against teams that haven’t lost their focus.”

     “Do you think you still have what it takes to go for the gold?”

     “I think that if we really put our heads together and work for it, we can accomplish anything. As I mentioned earlier, it was a bit awkward trying to squeeze in practices in between all of the functions we were obligated to attend, but now it’s just us and the pitch. I think we should look at Kiko Lake for inspiration – yeah, they’ve had their ups and downs throughout the years, but they’ve managed to be pretty consistent in their performance, and have taken home more titles than any other team. I think their dedication plays a huge role in their ability to take home cup after cup. Between you and me, though, I’d say they do have it easier than us in one way – there’s not nearly as much going on in Kiko Lake. Everything’s pretty quiet there – except for that blasted Kiko Pop jingle carrying for miles – and nobody really has any adventures or does anything unexpected, so there isn’t as much of a media presence. Poke and his squad can use that fact to focus more on preparing for the next season. We’re a bit different in Terror Mountain: we take pride in ‘seizing the day’, I guess, by celebrating anything and everything.”

     “That’s a pretty interesting take. You brought up factors specific to Kiko Lake that contribute to their success – what do you think makes your squad special compared to everyone else?”

     “Honestly? I think it’s our philosophy. Most of us are Terror Mountain natives, and anyone who’s managed to eek out a living here knows that you can’t take anything for granted. One day, everything’s fine and dandy, and the next, your workshop has been crushed under an avalanche after the Snowager’s thrown a hissifit. So, knowing that, we need to make every day count, and to take opportunities when they present themselves. I think Yooyuball has a lot of parallels with this mentality. You asked earlier why we prefer an offensive setup; I think that makes for the most exciting plays and the most fantastic displays of how the game was meant to be experienced. It can all be over in an instant, that’s true, but to that we say ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained,’ and either way, we went out with a bang. Every game has to end eventually, but that doesn’t mean it has to be some plodding, slow-paced slog where nothing interesting happens – after all, Yooyuball is a performance, not just a sport. In our eyes, if we made it memorable, then it was a great game, win or lose, and the fans seem to love it that way, too. If they got as much of a thrill watching it as we did playing it, we’ve done them justice.”

     “What an amazing way to look at it! I’ve always been a huge fan of how Terror Mountain plays, too; the spectacle is never something you can miss. Anyway, I’ve gotta ask… what’s your opinion on Yooyus?”

     “Yooyus? You mean as petpets?”

     “Yeah, that’s right!”

     “Hah! I must say, though I’ve never been asked a question like that before. Looks like you know how to keep things interesting, too! Anyway, funny story; there was some Petpet Protection League guy here, had a twitchy eye, started screaming at us about how Yooyuball is exploitative and oppressive and all of that stuff, yadda yadda, it’s all good, we get someone to escort him off the pitch, but turns out that he got into the area under the field where the Yooyus wait to be put into play, and we had to spend the rest of the day rounding them up. I like those little guys, they’re extremely smart and great to be around, but man, they can be feisty, especially the Darigan one that got stuck in Lidel’s - ”

     Thwap. A snowball hits her in the back of the head. She spins around, but sees nothing except a blur racing through the trees.

     “What… was… that? Lidel? LIDEL! I SWEAR, IF YOU’RE CAUSING A RUCKUS AGAIN-”

     She runs off into the distance, and I pack up my notes and set off for home. Mission accomplished, and she didn’t even realise that I’m not a real reporter!

     Err, at least I think she didn’t…

 
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