Small Teams and SOTACJun 12th, 2011 | By ChaosRocket | Category: Featured Article, Guest Writer
Hi! For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Chaos. I was a regular poster here last year, as well as the year before that. This is my 6th year with Team Darigan Citadel. I reached All-Star for the last two years in a row, and levels 18 and 16 the two years before that, so I’m trying to do well this year, but…
Well, I’d planned on posting here more often, but honestly, I’m not quite as into the Altador Cup this year as I usually am. Because of the new YYB. Now, I know many of you are probably tired of complaints about the new YYB, so I’ll just say this: aside from the game being frustrating and simply NOT fun, it really hurts my hand and wrist to play it. Seriously, I played 10 games in a row during the practice phase, and my hand hurt for 5 hours afterwards! And I don’t even usually have a problem with keyboard-based games. But with most keyboard-based games, you get some kind of break from holding down the keys. Either you’re just tapping the keys, or else you hold down the keys to move but you stop frequently to do other actions in the game. With the new YYB, you’re just constantly holding down the keys- for hours at a time, if you play like I used to- and frequently holding down more than one key at a time, and quickly having to switch between keys.
So even if I could deal with the broken auto-switch…and the broken goalie…and the fact that sometimes you can score super-easily by just walking up to the goalie and shooting the ball directly into the net, while other times you can’t avoid the other team stealing the ball and bouncing it all around the field, causing you to wander around the pitch for an entire minute as the insane auto-switch tries to prevent you from reclaiming the ball…even if I could deal with all that annoyance, the game still hurts my hand too much for me to be able to play it. So even if I wanted to play, I couldn’t do it without injuring myself. And it doesn’t help that, even with the timer fix, the game still takes significantly longer to play than the old YYB, because you have to watch the cut scenes for longer before you can hit a key to skip them.
OK, I promise this has a point beyond just me ranting about the new YYB! It actually relates to the performance of teams this year.
As I mentioned, I’m a loyal member of DC. I’m also a member of a DC chat group where you can only be an official member if you’ve reached All-Star at least once for DC. Here’s my point: it seems like a very large portion of our All-Stars physically cannot play YYB this year due to pain from the keyboard controls. Many of us have various disabilities or old injuries, or just can’t handle the strain. Some people simply refuse to play because they hate the game, but most of us literally cannot play. It’s so bad that our entire chat group is now officially qualified as “semi-retired,” because most of us aren’t playing YYB this year. And we’re arguably the most YYB-heavy chat group in the (formerly) most YYB-heavy team in the AC.
So I’m not surprised that we’re not doing too well this year. Sure, we currently still have a high ranking, but that’s because we started out with an easy schedule. And now it will be worse as we wear ourselves out going up against one tough team after another.
I didn’t want to say anything before because I didn’t want to jinx it or talk down my team, but I didn’t think we could be beat KI, I didn’t think we could beat VP, I didn’t think we could beat TM, and I don’t think we can beat TY today. Because I knew the situation- that most of our All-Stars aren’t playing YYB this year. For those keeping track, DC lost to KI and VP, and drew with TM. And if we draw with TY today, I’ll be happy.
Now, I’m no freeloader, and it’s not in the nature of people in my chat group to be freeloaders either. Which means most of us are focusing on sides. Specifically on SOSD and MSN, as those games now take the shortest amount of time to rank up in- they’re faster than YYB for ranking up. So it also doesn’t surprise me that we’ve got a pretty good record with both MSN and SOSD, with only one loss in MSN and only one loss and two draws in SOSD.
Of course, SS is largely being ignored- those capable of playing YYB are focusing all of their energy into YYB to try to pick up the slack for those unable to play, and those who have turned to side games are playing the fast and easy side games, which would be MSN and SOSD. So nobody wants to bother with SS, which takes even longer to play than YYB yet is worth only half as much in terms of rank points.
I imagine the situation is similar with other large teams. None of them are doing very well this year, with the major exception of KI. Sure, we all expected LD to fall, due to the winner’s curse and the loss of SOTAC, but did anyone expect them to fall this far? They’re now sitting at the bottom of the 4th tier. LD is below FL and KL in the standings. Can we take a minute to process this? Lost Desert is beneath Faerieland and Kiko Lake in the standings.
And RI being in 10th place? Last year, they recovered and made the top tier! Meanwhile, SK and MI have failed to recover from their relatively poor performances last year, and seem as if they may do even worse this year.
The large teams are falling, while some small teams are ruling, with TY and VP being in the top tier, and TM currently holding 6th place above the 7th place KI.
I do believe that one factor is the new YYB. Here’s the thing about small teams: they’re better able to organize and create strategies, because they are small and are therefore more easily able to get in touch with the majority of their members. In past years, small teams could create strategies to focus on a particular side game, thereby taking points away from a large team. The large teams weren’t as focused on the side games in the first place, and were less organized anyways due to sheer size, so a small team which could convince most of its members to go all out on a particular side game could pack a big punch. In the past, TY did it with SS, and VP and TM did it with SOSD.
And now? Now, large teams aren’t as focused on YYB. Large teams are more split, with many members focusing mostly on sides while others stick to YYB. And they’re still not as able to be organized or create cohesive strategies, because there are so many members.
Small teams can now focus their efforts into YYB and take a YYB win from a big team, in the same way they used to be able to focus their efforts into SS and take an SS win from a big team: because many members of the big teams just aren’t playing those games much, so a concentrated effort from a small team can hit hard.
Of course, groups like SOTAC also have an impact. For those unfamiliar, SOTAC stands for “Secret Order of the Altador Cup,” and they’re a group of All-Stars who switch teams every year. They came into being as a group of RI All-Stars in AC3 (though they weren’t yet called SOTAC at that time)…and RI won that year. The next year, in AC4, SOTAC migrated to SK. And that year, SK came in second, while RI- with the loss of the SOTAC members- fell further in the standings than any other previous winner had ever fallen. In AC5, SOTAC went to LD, and LD won, while SK fell further in the standings than ANY other team, winner or not, had ever fallen before. This year, SOTAC has gone to medium-sized team Kreludor…and KD is currently in first place, while LD seems poised to take the record from SK for farthest fall.
But SOTAC is no longer the only team-hopping group of All-Stars. This year, a group called the Stealth AC Group- itself an offshoot of SOTAC- has joined VP. Most people expected that after VP’s performance last year, more All-Stars would be joining the team. In fact, some All-Stars had already joined VP last year because of VP’s excellent performance in SOSD in the previous year. But this year, in addition to that, VP has also gained a group of former SOTAC All-Stars who have split off from SOTAC and formed their own group.
At the same time, a group called Dream Team 2011 has formed. Former SK All-Stars who were disappointed both with SK’s performance and all the drama that embroiled SK last year, they formed their own group and elected to join TM this year. Again, some people expected that TM would gain All-Stars this year, seeing as how TM’s performance in SOSD in AC5 was similar to VP’s SOSD performance in AC4. But TM has also gotten a SOTAC-like dedicated group of All-Stars.
When joining small teams, these groups of All-Stars can make a major impact…especially when the large teams are split down the middle with a major portion of each large team unwilling or unable to play the new YYB.