Last Year's Altador Cup Bottom Five: Analysis
With Altador Cup XIV kicking off in the coming weeks, many neopians are eagerly drawing up brackets, using some combination of statistics, historical trends, plucky optimism, and educated guesswork to determine which teams will take home the gold this year. While certain teams with a tendency for high performance can be easily expected to make at least the top 7 places or so (such as last year's champs, Tyrannia, and the ever-present powerhouse that is the Darigan Citadel), there are many other proud contenders in the tournament with less-than-glamourous past records. Aggregating the past performance of every team in the tournament would be difficult to say the least, but more entertaining than guessing the winner of the tournament, in this writer’s humble opinion, is trying to predict the fates of the teams that have done less than favorably in the past. The teams listed below may not necessarily be the worst in terms of all-time overall performance, but for the sake of efficiency, I decided to take a look at last year’s bottom five finishers, in an attempt to gauge their potential for success in AC XIV. Teams will be evaluated on their performance in previous Altador cups, success of individual players, and the current buzz surrounding the team in the preseason press coverage.
Team Altador (Placed 18th of 18 in AC XIII)
To one less well versed in the history of the Altador cup, and the performances of its various teams, it might seem strange that Team Altador, the perpetual home team of the greatest sporting event in Neopia, would have placed dead last in the previous year’s tournament. I say this, because one more steeped in the history of the games would know that Team Altador has placed in the top five spots overall just once, in AC VIII, where they commendably placed second. Tragically though, Team Altador would seem a perfect example of the old adage that the candle that burns the brightest dies the fastest, plummeting to dead last again the very next year. In fact, the team has three 17th and two 18th place finishes to their name, and only placed in the top ten one other time beyond their aforementioned second place finish.
It is also worth noting that Team Altador has a smaller-than-average fanbase, but a proud and enthusiastic one as well. While relatively few Neopians will pledge their loyalty to Team Altador this year, their underdog status and unique position as namesakes of the tournament earn them a special spot in the hearts of many yooyuballers, myself among them.
Overall Prediction: Most likely still a lower-tier team, somewhere around 10th to 13th place.
Team Moltara (Placed 17th of 18 in AC XIII)
Team Moltara’s historically less than stellar performance is both forgivable and understandable, considering they were the most recent to join the fray, not appearing until AC V, after the discovery of Moltara. Unfortunately for them, however, their newcomer position is hardly reason for the more seasoned teams to give them an easy win, and their standings in the past nine Altador Cups are tragically reflective of this. Team Moltara has finished in either last or second-to-last place seven of the last nine years, with a 15th place finish and a flash-in-the-pan bronze medal performance in AC IX rounding out their other showings in the tourney. In addition, they are one of only two teams in the history of the cup with back-to-back last place showings, alongside Team Haunted Woods.
Like Team Altador, Team Moltara has a small but fiercely loyal fanbase, all of whom care deeply for the team and its players, even going solar as to assign nicknames to most of them in popular discussion of the team. Aldric Beign, Left Forward and Team Captain, may be among the most proficient shooters and team leaders in the tourney, but for quite some time, the inexperience of both him and his team as a whole have left them as low in the rankings as their land is underground.
Overall Prediction: Low, sadly. 17th or 18th place.
Team Haunted Woods (Placed 16th of 18 in AC XIII)
In terms of historical trends and performance, Team Haunted Woods may be the hardest of all to analyze and predict. They have participated in all thirteen tournaments to date, and have had no consistent rhyme or reason to their final placement since the Cup’s inception. Many Neopians will still remember their rise to stardom as the champions of AC I, and more recently in AC IX. Unfortunately though, these moments of brilliance on the part of Team Haunted Woods and its captain, Krell Vitor, are checkered by equally potent failures. As mentioned above, they are one of the only two teams to place last two years in a row, beginning on the heels of their victory in AC IX.
As a perpetual dark horse team of the Altador Cup, Team Haunted Woods does maintain a fairly large fan following, encouraged by fan favorite players such as all-star forward Zo Junior and the newest member, “Brains” Mortigan. It is said that the team is cursed (fittingly, given their aesthetic and homeland), as a result of their win in the first tournament. They have overcome the odds in the past, but whether they will again this year is, truly, anyone’s guess.
Overall Prediction: Average, somewhere between 7th and 10th, most likely.
Team Kiko Lake (Placed 15th of 18th in AC XIII)
The first team on this list to have never placed last, Team Kiko Lake is one of the least diverse as well (Not that this is particularly shocking, given their homeland). The four Kikos and Peophin who make up the team are most successful at the likes of slushy slinger, shootout showdown, and make some noise than they are the main event of yooyuball, but this has been more than enough to propel them to victory in the past. Team Kiko Lake has brought home the gold twice in the past five years, and placed 3rd in-between those victories. In general, Team Kiko Lake has been a high performer for the last several years, until their unfortunate fall from grace last season.
In general, Team Kiko Lake is has a smaller fanbase, more in line with that of Moltara or Altador than the Haunted Woods. They are also known for a wonderful spirit of sportsmanship, and all-around positive energy. Was their performance in AC XIII a fluke, or the start of a downward trend that will grow from here? This season will likely be a bellwether for the team, who can either turn it around, and return to their position as a top contender, or sink into the background behind rising powerhouses such as Faerieland.
Overall Prediction: Either top three or bottom three, probably not in-between.
Team Roo Island (Placed 14th of 18 in AC XIII)
Of the five teams examined in this article, Team Roo Island is likely the one with the highest average ranking. Last year’s 14th place performance is actually the worst the team has ever done, and is typically in the top ten at least, only coming in in 11th or lower three times in total. However, it does seem to some extent that the team’s glory days could be behind them. Like previously stated, their performance last year was the worst they’ve ever had, and while they may have placed in the top two in some of the earliest Altador Cups, and 3rd in AC VIII, they have been in gradual decline for over a decade.
For the most part, Team Roo Island are still known as something of a powerhouse, but whether this is based in logic or nostalgia is up for a certain amount of debate. Regardless, their fanbase is something of a mix of the best aspects of the ones talked about above, both large and kind. They are also known for making alliances with other teams in multiple tournaments in the past, and even have a player, Jair Tollet, who was traded almost fifteen years ago from Maraqua. Perhaps it is this team-spirit that will allow them to return to their past glory in AC XIV.
Overall Prediction: 4th to 8th, a top contender, but maybe not a medalist.
Like mentioned above, these five teams are not necessarily the worst in the cup when one considers overall averages of the past thirteen years of Altador Cups, and no disrespect is meant to any of them. Quite the opposite, in fact. Everyone loves an underdog, and it is my personal hope that by putting the spotlight on these teams, they might get the boost they need to turn around the bad luck they had in last year’s tournament.
Oh, and while It was decidedly not the point of this article, I feel obligated to disclose that I’m a Team Faerieland fan through and through.