Altador Cup: The True Underogs
Countless articles and headlines are dedicated to the flashy, glamourous lifestyles of Cup players, whether underdog or referee favorite. Even the most humble team gets its day in the press. No, this isn’t like that; not at all. Rather, in this article, we use underdog in the sense that these Neopets will likely never come up on top. At the end of the tournament, their faces won’t be plastered in the Times. In fact, they’d be lucky to even get a mention in the Mystery Island Monthly. They are underdogs in that they are the predicted losers of the Altador Cup system. They toil day in and day out, yet they get such a minimal fraction of the recognition the actual Altador Cup players receive. Still, the Cup wouldn’t be the same without them. Today we recognize their struggles, and in no particular order.
#1: The Slushie Slinger Waitress
You’ve probably seen her as you wait in line at the concession stand amongst hordes of Neopets. You remember the time she spilled that chokato slushie all over that angry green Tonu who you were sure would make use of that pointy horn of his. You remember when she got that purple Nimmo’s order wrong and gave her a zeenana instead of a jumbleberry and that customer was anything but zen. But do you even know her name? Was she even wearing a nametag? In all likelihood, you probably never saw a nametag on that elegant toga-inspired dress reminiscent of the ancient Altadorian age of yore. It most likely fell off in the midst of her hectic workday. All season long, she toils at Colosseum Concessions all by her lonesome under immense pressure from an unregulated line of crazed Cup fans who are already enraged over the ref’s ruling on Layton Vickles’ so-called foul. She slips on residual slush, and she tolerates the barking demands of Unis everywhere who desire their slushies to be low-fat. For all this, her Neopoints pay is minimal with no signs of increasing, despite the fact that the ACX crowd is poised to be bigger than ever. Today, we acknowledge and applaud the lovely Tuskaninny in white, who could not be reached for comment as she is rumored to be training her tail flipper to flick slushies to increase efficiency of slushie distribution. She is neither compensated for this training nor recognized by colosseum management. Thank you, wonderful waitress, for quenching our thirst during halftime!
#2: The Yurble Janitor
And whose job is it to clean up those spilled slushies in the stands after all the players have left the field, after even the Techo super fan has up and left? The colosseum is covered in fresh confetti, and the ground is sticky from leftover Altadorian ambrosia that the fans threw when Mirsha Grelinek accidentally scored on her own team. But who really pays the price? Mirsha or the poor old foreman? Once again, we don’t even know his name. For the most part, anyone who does pay attention to him might refer to him as “Ole Grumpy” and “Orange Ball of Fury” or potentially even “Fuzzy Cleaning Dude who told me to ‘Watch It!!!’” Whatever you know him as, you still only know him as an angry guy who moves from job to job. While some are quick to point out his tendency to boil over, I wouldn’t blame him. Rather, we most seriously consider infrastructure changes in the world of Neopia. How is it that among so many different lands, with so many Neopets, so many shops, so many different events, how is it that there is only one single janitor in all of Neopia? Yeah, I’d be a bit upset too. But the truth is, no one wants to take that job—I mean, would you? There is no glory to it, but there is honor to being behind the scenes and cleaning up our messes so the rest of us can enjoy a day off from line work at the Plushie Factory and watch some good ole-fashioned Yooyu-tossing. Because he works multiple jobs (you can often find him in the Hall of Heroes sweeping up!), the janitor could not be reached for commentary at this time. Still, he’s the only one who is willing to sacrifice his good times and bathe in the sweet sticky slush of Yooyuball aftermath. And for that, we applaud you, Yurble Janitor.
#3: Yooyuball Trainer/Handler, Ned the Bori
Ever wonder how those Yooyus they use in Yooyuball are so well behaved? Well, they surely don’t start out that way! Ned the Bori trains them as young petpets to behave and move properly during gameplay. I sat down with Ned to ask him a few questions about what he does behind the scenes. Additionally, Ned urged me to remind Neopian Times readers that absolutely no Yooyus are harmed during Yooyuball or training and all are fairly compensated for their time!
Me: Ned, it’s wonderful to finally sit down with you! It was quite difficult tracking you down. You must be incredibly busy, what with ACX approaching! Can you tell us a bit about what you do?
Ned: Haha, well, I guess it was difficult because none of the ACX management team seems to know my name! They all think my name is “Bread,” not Ned, I guess. But yeah, anyway, I’m super busy right now with my Yooyus! This year’s batch is fairly young, but I really believe that won’t be a hindrance to players. If anything, they’ll be more agile! Anyway, I’m a trainer and handler for all the Yooyus used in the Altador Cup. I really love what I do.
Me: We’re all extremely excited to see this year’s batch of Yooyus! How do you feel as a trainer, seeing your little guys out there, working so hard?
Ned: It’s really, truly incredible. They start off pretty young when I first find them, and like all young folk, they’re pretty restless and undisciplined! But with hard work, we get them to where they are today—born superstars! I’m a proud Neopet to have so many superstar petpets under my wing each year.
Me: All very true. The crowds go crazy for those little darlings. Still, I aim to show readers how important the work is that you do. Sure, the Yooyus are superstars, but I think we might all agree that you too are a hardworking guy who deserves some recognition! How might the Altador Cup be different without you, Ned? And I really don’t want you to feel as if you’re gloating!
Ned: Hahaha…Thank you! I love my job, but it really does feel good to have attention brought to my work! A lot of people think Yooyus are so naturally well-behaved after watching a couple games, but anyone who’s ever tried to play a game of pickup Yooyuball with a few friends sure does learn fast that Yooyus are not naturally so disciplined! They love much more to play pranks and goof around, all in good fun, of course. Without a trainer, half of the Altador Cup would involve pausing the game for technical difficulties because of an unruly Yooyu. Having a trainer really is a ‘game changer,’ if you will. Ha!
Me: Ah yes, a game changer indeed! Finally, I’d like to ask you a bit about the Yooyus you work with. What’s it like working with each kind? What are their temperaments like?
Ned: Oh man, the clockwork Yooyu is gonna freak if he sees this interview! Well, starting with the basics, the normal Yooyu is a great guy. He’s old reliable and you can never go wrong with him. Snow Yooyu is also my little buddy, but the poor guy really doesn’t work well under intense pressure, so I always tell him, ‘Just take your time!’ That seems to work out for him. The fire Yooyu, contrary to popular belief, is not actually a hothead! He’s an energetic, fun-loving guy who just likes to go through life in the fast lane. The faerie Yooyu is pretty well-behaved, but she often bends my instructions to her whims a little. She likes to take things in a slightly different direction, but if that’s what she’s comfortable with, then that’s what I want her to do. I don’t want to push anyone out of their comfort zone. The Darigan Yooyu is crazy little guy, but what do you expect? He’s a Lord Kass original! I let him do as he pleases, because it adds a little intensity to the game. If you think he’s unruly, you certainly didn’t know him before I trained him! The little dude would bounce off the walls, terrorizing the others! All in good fun, of course.
Me: Oh, but what about the clockwork Yooyu? You mentioned him, but didn’t actually tell us a little about him!
Ned: All right. I’m just going to say this, hoping he never ends up seeing this. The guy is a total diva! If he doesn’t get what he wants, he just explodes with anger! You don’t know how many times I’ve had him go off right in front of me! It gets pretty taxing. I’m not saying the others are all walks in the park, but this guy takes the cake. All in all, it’s quite a bit of work to get the Yooyus into a state of good behavior for the big games, but I love what I do!
Me: Well, thank you so much for sharing with us, Ned! We truly appreciate learning about all the hard work you do behind the scenes and will keep that in mind when we watch ACX this year!
Whether it’s from the tired slushie slinging waitress, a poor disgruntled janitor, or optimistic Ned the Bori, we can all learn a thing or two from these behind-the-scenes stars. The Altador Cup simply wouldn’t be the same without them, but they don’t seem to get the recognition they deserve for all the hard work they put in. The spotlight always seems to be on the players and announcers, never on the little guys. And yes, while their work was never necessarily designed to be put into the open as a public spectacle, it’s high time we appreciate them still!
To show your support at this year’s ACX tournament, why not purchase an Altador Cup Aftermath Background? This powerful statement illustrates the devastation after the event to the stadium and will remind your own Neopets to be thankful for the Yurble Janitor! Additionally, if you do attend a game, please do your best to not spill your slushie or rage-throw an Altador Dog at Weldar Xupenfarb. Someone has to clean that up afterwards. To support the slushie slinger waitress, why not peruse the Experts Guide to Slushie Slinging Book and learn what it really takes? Or you can simulate her work with the Slushie Slinger Home Edition Game and really get a feel for it! Finally, Ned the janitor asks you to consider adopting a Yooyu for your Neopet to love and play with! Yooyus get the spotlight during the Altador Cup but are sadly forgotten once it ends. Ultimately, if you do end up attending a few matches this year, don’t forget to cheer for the real underdogs!
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