May The Best Team Win
Sports Arena – Krawk Island
Garven Hale put on all his goalie gear. The Altador Cup was creeping around the corner. It was hard to believe that it had already been an entire year since the team’s victory. Garven smiled just thinking about it. It was the most memorable thing ever.
He would do anything to live it again.
No team had ever won back-to-back Cups. Actually, no team had ever managed to place the year after they won. Krawk Island would be the first. Garven Hale was going to make sure of it. Plus, Dasher probably had some sick moves up his sleeve.
“Hey,” a raspy voice said.
Garven turned around. “Yo, Dash. What’s up?” He took a closer look. Dasher didn’t have his gear on. “Where’s your stuff?”
Dasher sat down on the bench next to Garven. He looked really down. “You know, I’ve been back and forth on this retiring thing.”
Garven sighed. He knew this day was coming. He didn’t want it come, but he knew it was coming. Today was the day. Dasher Soley was probably the most dedicated Yooyuball player that had ever walked Neopia. He had brought the team to the Final Four every single year, only to get beat out again and again. And then finally, he had brought them to the gold.
“I just can’t decide,” Dasher continued. “I’m getting kind of old for the ‘dashing’, you know? I mean, maybe during the first Cup I was a speed demon, but now? I’m not nearly as fast as say, Zo Junior. That little dude’s fast as lightning.”
Garven had never seen the tiredness in Dasher’s eyes that he was seeing now. Dasher was always full of life and energy. Now, he seemed more run down than ever. It was hard to even think of what would happen to the team if Dasher retired.
Garven put a comforting paw on Dasher’s shoulder. “Well, just remember that whatever happens, the team’s got your back.”
Dasher looked up and gave him a hint of a grin. “You’ll claim it again, Hale. I know you will.”
Sports Arena – Brightvale
Montecito scooped up the ball and whipped it towards the goal. His heart beat faster.
Montecito had almost forgotten what it was like to play Yooyuball for real. King Hagan hadn’t signed up the team to play last year because of scholarly reasons, but they had finally broken him down. He let them go.
That rush of anxiety, the screaming crowds...
He couldn’t wait.
Of course, they were only at practice now, but every second that went by was bringing them closer. Sure, their team was absolutely horrible, but things change. There were rumors going around about Dasher dropping out, and, although it was a sad thought that Yooyuball’s best player ever was leaving, it was giving every other team a better chance of getting the Cup for themselves.
Montecito looked around. The Brightvale team was in good shape. He smiled and nodded.
One more month...
Sports Arena – Lost Desert
Leera Heggle looked at the trophy cabinet.
ALTADOR CUP III: LOST DESERT: 3RD PLACE
ALTADOR CUP IV: LOST DESERT: 3RD PLACE
He’d been so close these past two years. His team was good. They had it in them, and he knew it. He was going to lead his team to victory this year.
That was his vow.
Sports Arena – Terror Mountain
Practice was rough. Elbin Kroe could see the frustration in everyone’s eyes. Osielle, who was normally quiet and calm, had lost it all together. Osielle hadn’t been on his game lately, and it made him angry that he couldn’t get it together. Rinok had recently hurt his paw, and although everyone could tell it was hurting him, he insisted that he still play. Even Minae, who was usually the life of the team, was down. She wasn’t as energetic and peppy.
The worst person to see down was Prytariel. She was the captain, and when Elbin was just the rookie on the team, she took him under her wing and taught him everything she knew about Yooyuball. Because of her, Elbin was a ten times better player than he was a few years ago.
Things were going badly for them because they knew they could possibly be taken out of the Altador Cup this year. The Altador Cup Committee had neomailed Prytariel and told her that if the team didn’t do good during pre-season, they wouldn’t be able to participate in the Cup.
Elbin Kroe couldn’t even begin to imagine what it would be like not to play in the Cup. Sure, they weren’t very good, but he loved the team and he loved playing Yooyuball.
But there was nothing to do but hope for the best.
Sports Arena – Darigan Citadel
Layton Vickles watched as the Haunted Woods team walked down the path to the Arena. He smiled as Zo tripped over a rock.
Tandrak, who was standing next to Layton, laughed. “Zo’s a spaz.”
The Haunted Woods team came through the door.
“Hey guys!” Krell called out. “What’s happenin’?”
The two teams greeted each other with high fives.
“Zo, dude, how’s it going?!” Layton said.
“Nothin’ much, big guy,” Zo answered.
“Let’s get cracking, guys!” Reshar said. He pulled out the Yooyu.
“Wait,” Zo said. “Could we start with a snack first? I’m starving.”
Tandrak pulled out a plate of sandwiches. “Already a step ahead of you.”
Who said rivals couldn’t be friends?
Sports Arena – Maraqua
Elon whipped the Yooyuball at the wall. “Gosh DARN IT!” he shouted. “Move faster, Tonie! This is why we’re horrible! You let up so many goals it’s not even funny!”
“Dude, chill out, man,” Oten said to Elon. “This is what practice is for. To practice. Don’t get all up in his bubbles.”
Elon glared at his teammate. “Did I ask you? Huh? No, didn’t think so.” He turned back to Tonie. “Now, do you want to win or not?!”
Tonie threw his Yooyuball sling and it flew across the field. “You know what, Elon?! I’m so SICK of you being such JERK! You think we’re so bad, but you don’t do anything to help us! All you do is yell at us! I’d like to see you even TRY to be a goalie! You wouldn’t last two seconds!”
With that, Tonie stormed out of the arena, leaving a trail of bubbles behind him.
It was silent.
Elon looked at the rest of his teammates.
Barit frowned at his captain. “Tonie’s right. You might be the captain, but the title doesn’t mean anything unless you can act like one.” He followed Tonie’s trail out of the stadium.
Oten nodded in agreement and followed Barit.
It was just Elon and Dorina. Elon scowled at her. “I suppose you want to leave too,” he muttered.
“As a matter of fact,” Dorina said, “I do.” She came closer to him. “But I’ll come right back as soon as you get this whole ‘captain’ thing under control.” She started to leave, and then she stopped and turned back around and said, “You know, Elon, you’re good at Yooyuball. I know you are. And you can be the best player in the world, but you can’t play Yooyuball by yourself.”
Elon didn’t say anything.
“You need a team.”
Sports Arena – Shenkuu
Mirsha Grelinek looked at her team. They had all been friends for a long time. Even before they formed the Shenkuu Altador Cup team, they had been good friends. They’d known each other for a long time. Their chemistry was beyond anything imaginable.
That was one thing that a lot of teams didn’t have. Like Elon Hughlis. Maraqua’s team would never be better if he didn’t step it up. Mirsha knew that teamwork was the first most important thing. The second most important was good playing.
And they had that.
So why couldn’t they win?
They had placed third, fourth, and then second. They had never been outside of the Final Four. The only place left was first.
They were going to get it. Mirsha was positive of it.
This is our year.
So there it is. Every team has its ups and downs, but it doesn’t matter what happens before or after the game. What matters is what happens during the game.
May the best team win.