Title: Reflecting on my past Team Tournament experience
Posted: June 22, 2009 (02:35 AM)
In 2004 I participated in what was called ďthe minor leagueĒ Team Tournament by Fact and other AIM chatroom people involved in the regular TT. The format was strange: four teams of five people, bloomer as sole judge because there was simply no one else to spare with two TTís going on. I donít know the reason for this nor do I know how this played out in the week scheduling.
I suppose part of it may have been related to the fact that the draft pool for this TT covered a much wider range of skill levels than in the regular TT. Part of the reason it was called ďthe minor leagueĒ was that the draft pool consisted of the leftovers from the standard TT draft who didnít make the cut, as well as many people who didnít bother to enter the standard TT because they felt they werenít good enough to be drafted. I was among the latter. By then my name had become known, and I think I was on the ROTD schedule, but I was not personally confident in my abilities and felt overshadowed by what I saw as a community full of more experienced and talented writers.
The minor league TT was meant to be all-inclusive however. What made me comfortable was that a lot of people were entering who I felt I was at least as good as, and in some cases better than. I donít entirely remember why, but whereas I hesitated to enter my name into the standard TT draft due to lack of confidence, I signed onto the minor league TT as a captain. To my surprise this was accepted and welcomed, and the first thing I did was develop a draft plan.
The draft worked in the same way as the normal TT, except with four rounds. The draft pool wasnít devoid of talent either. In addition to major league TT draft leftovers, it included people who didnít think to enter the regular TT or simply didnít come around in time to enter. Such individuals included Masters, the most coveted draftee in the pool, and the legendary wordsmith and then-Zigfried-in-the-making Lilica.
In truth, I wanted Lilica more than anyone else, but I knew Masters was the most desired person in the field, and I had the first pick. I took a calculated risk: I used my first pick on Masters, hedging my bets on the likelihood that none of the other captains knew how good Lilica was, or that she was any good at all, since she had then joined only recently. My plan worked, as I watched the other captains draft reviewers like Lord Alan, Asherdeus, and DJSkittles over her. I had the two heaviest hitters in the field on my team. Shinnokz and Karpah rounded out the ranks of my gender-diverse, five-person team.
Despite my apparently stacked team, victory did not come as cleanly as would have been expected. I donít remember exactly how many weeks there were, but I think Masters finished with a total record of something like 5-3 or 4-3, not quite his expected performance. The reality of the situation was that while he was a great addition as a writer, he was somewhat difficult to work with. An odd character, he was initially difficult to communicate with, and eventually he was incommunicado altogether for unknown reasons. This meant that I had to pick reviews for him to be used for the contest, and I recall him having a very large catalogue, one that made poring through it almost prohibitively difficult.
Lilica turned out to be the real performer on my team. I think she had only one loss and she even took over captain duties one week while I was away, though she faced the same difficulty in selecting a Masters review. My other teammates performed well, and the ultimate result was the victory of the minor league TT. The final was against a team captained by Kobold Warrior, which included Asherdeus, DJSKittles, Disco1960, and one other I canít remember. We won 4-1, the only loss being my review of Chaos Legion versus Asherís review of Metal Gear Solid Twin Snakes.
I like to believe that my shrewd and focused captaining had a lot to do with my victory, but at the same time I think having an immensely stacked team helped as well. There was some controversy over bloomerís judging, particularly when he gave a win to Sashanan over Masters with his justification being the particular synaptic firings of his brain. I didnít personally care all that much. I just looked forward to the rest of the tournament and how I could win it. The most amazing thing that year was how there was so much interest that two Team Tournaments were held, even if the minor league was often forgotten.
This wasnít so in the next year, and I participated this time in the only team tournament, again assuming the role as captain. I must have had the third or fourth or fifth draft pick because my first pick was Autorock. He was my heavy hitter and a great writer. What ever happened to him? In any case, there wasnít the depth and overall quantity of quality reviewers in 2005 that there was in 2004. With my second draft pick I chose Scott ďJust a DabĒ Clemmons because I deemed him the best of the remaining draft hopefuls. The historical record makes Scott look like a savior, and while itís true that my team could not have gone as far as it did without the wins brought by his reviews, the reality of the situation was that he was just as much of a liability as an asset.
That Scott lost his first match against Gruel and then won his next six makes his performance sound like something of an inspirational story, like the ones in sports movies such as Hoosiers and Remember the Titans.
What happened was that when Scott saw that he was up against Gruel in the first round, being Scott, he scoffed and figured that there was no way he could possibly lose. So thatís precisely what happened: he posted a horrible review for the match and lost. In retrospect, perhaps I should have used my captain power to intervene, but I must have put enough trust in him at the time and did not want to be too commanding.
The loss devastated Scott, and he immediately announced that he quit the TT, completely without regard for the fact that he signed on to a team participating in a seven- to nine-weeklong competition. I suppose itís possible that I could have signed someone new, but I didnít think of it at the time, and Iím not sure if there actually was anyone else to sign on. My course of action was similar to what I did with Masters a year earlier: sift through his catalogue and post the reviews myself.
In a way, it was easier doing this for Scott, because he had a much smaller catalogue, so it was much more manageable. At the same time, it was harder, because it had nowhere near the depth or quality of Mastersí catalogue. I did what I could, analyzing all six of his upcoming matches in the week following his defeat to Gruel. I had to sift through his reviews, finding the ones of acceptable-enough quality for tournament use, saving his best reviews for his hardest matches. It worked, and the 6-1 record is primarily what the historical record sees. Autorock had either a 3-4 or a 4-3 record, his major moment being his upset against Fact. I must have had either a 2-5 or 3-4 record; unimpressive, but the combined team record was enough to bring us into the playoffs.
But by the time playoffs rolled around, we had kind of already blown our load. Scottís catalogue was simply spent: there was nothing left in it worth using, and because of his tantrum there was no hope of him writing new ones. For the semifinals I simply could not count on his match being a win and it wasnít one. I think Autorock won his match, but my review of Splinter Cell lost 2-1 to Emp, and that was the end of our ride.
I brought that team as far as it could have possibly gone. In all honesty, I donít think Scott would have had the record he ended up with had he stuck with it and chosen the reviews himself. Though it brought me some fortune, I think drafting him was the worst overall action Iíve taken as a TT captain, while my subsequent manipulation of his catalogue was my best. Autorock had only an average record, but the fact of the matter is that he had all the hardest matches. He was the heavy hitter so he had to go up against all the other heavy hitters, and given his victory against the previously undefeated Fact, I think he performed spectacularly. The one factor that I felt I did not control well enough was my own performance. I did not produce as much as I had hoped, though the few reviews I did produce in that time are probably among the best Iíve written.
It is now 2009 and it has been four years since Iíve participated in a TT or even written a review for that matter. I was actually entirely prepared for the possibility that I wouldnít even be drafted since I havenít done anything in a while, and the few times I entered a contest, I flaked. I figured that if I was picked however, it would probably be one of the captains who has been around longer, and I turned out to be exactly right! Not that I would have minded playing on anyone elseís team, but I am particularly glad that Iím on Janusí team. Although I donít usually think of him as one of my primary inspirations, reading his recent reviews of A Fading Melody and Sonic the Hedgehog has reminded me of what a great writer he is, and the truth is that he has always been one for as long as I can remember. He has the formal excellence, the personality and the insight.
Besides the fact that I just plain didnít sign up in time, I entered as a draftee rather than as a captain because I didnít want to assume the burden the role entails. However, I am aware that this burden is partially imagined and self-imposed by me, and that not all captains view the position the same way. Thatís why I still assume it a bit anyway. Iíve been looking at the field, trying to figure out ahead of time which reviews I plan to write I should use against particular reviewers. The only problem with this is that itís been a while, and not only am I not acquainted with the newer names, but Iím not familiar with how the writing of older names may have changed. How much have people like Golden Vortex, True and Disco1960 improved?
Perhaps more than anything else, the reason I have entered the TT is to get myself writing reviews again. Those few times I entered contests but flaked, I entered them knowing that I could flake if I had to, and that there wouldnít be too much consequence for it. But this is a Team Tournament, and Iíve committed myself to at least seven weeks. As of now, I have about one review about 70% of the way done, which I plan to finish in time for the first round. Itís actually looking alright. Iím trying to get used to the idea of writing as a gradual process of development as opposed to an hour or two of hyper-focused concentration and inspiration. I have about ten other reviews in the making, mostly just ideas I jotted down while they were fresh in my head, though some of them are already pretty significant. Iím not sure which ones to write next, part of the reason being that Iím wondering which will make the best ďtournamentĒ reviews. But the most important thing for me right now is that I just get with the writing again.
Posted: June 22, 2009 (04:44 AM)
I like this story. It's very inspirational. I'd wrote my own history of TT performances if I could remember it. I do remember my shrewd captaining got me quite far, until a fateful playoff match against Venter's team where I could have won had I played strategically, but people goaded me into playing it straight, and we lost. =/
I really hope to be a captain for the 2010 TT.
Posted: June 22, 2009 (09:26 AM)
Interesting side note: Scott won his semi final match up -- although I suspect Jerec, OD and Denouncment had been swayed by the REAL MONEY POWER on that ludecrious decision. Auto and you lost to Ruder and me respectivly. I beat you twice that year after naming you my No.1 Rival coming off the back of some tourney (the first obscure one? I wrote Monsterseed for it, you wrote Trible Shooter) I paired with you in previously.
I remember Scott wrote an awful Riddick review about monsters that pray on you.
Posted: June 22, 2009 (09:52 AM)
I like this, as well. Very entertaining read that gives me a look at what a person not on my team for a couple of these years was thinking and going through.
Posted: June 22, 2009 (02:06 PM)
After writing this, I realized that Autorock must have gone up against Fact in the semifinal and lost. Did Scott really win? Because he really had nothing left.
I also forgot about the fact that there were only two judges, so Autorock's and my records probably included a few ties.
Posted: June 22, 2009 (05:00 PM)
I have my JUDGEMENT VERDICTS saved from back then.
Bbobb vs Emp (I voted Emp)
Auto Rock vs Dark Fact (I voted Fact)
FFM vs Golden Vortex (I voted Vortex)
I then went back to find the other time you guys crossed.
Dark Fact vs. Auto Rock (I voted Auto)
Golden Vortex vs FFM (I voted FFM)
Emp vs Bob (I voted Emp)
So yeah, Auto Rock and Dark Fact fought twice, Auto winning in the early rounds, but he couldn't do it again in the playoffs.
I don't have Denouement's verdicts, though.
Posted: June 22, 2009 (06:53 PM)
Very cool look back in time. Good luck to your current team, bbobb, except when it plays mine of course.
Posted: June 22, 2009 (08:08 PM)
This is a great read, though I have some questions about my own involvement. I'm wondering if you're confusing some memories partly with another tourney called 'Summer Fever' (2004) the same year? ... Or I'm wondering if I have become confused and failed to realise these were one and the same :) But the thing is, I still have the files from Summer Fever, and a lot of it tallies with what you say, and other parts don't. So I'll go through and let's try and work it out.
My first point of confusion was just that I didn't know you used to be realbob. In Summer Fever, you definitely captained a team, and in my list it says:
And this was definitely the same tourney where Masters lost by a synapse.
Second thing is, in Summer Fever I handed down all judgments as if from the mountain. (This scares me in retrospect.) In Jerec's post here, I don't know if he's he's just listing his preferences for winners from the time, or if he's saying he actually voted for the reviews he mentioned. Cos if it was summer fever, I don't think anyone got to vote but me.
The next thing is, I don't see Dark Fact anywhere in summer fever. I do see FFM, but he's on midwinter's team.
So there's kind of a weird mix of very similar stuff, but with the odd discrepancy. Did you captain in two tourneys by any chance?
Coming up, the team captain interview with Radical Dreamer from Summer Fever 2004.
Posted: June 22, 2009 (08:09 PM)
Summer Fever 2004 - The First Interviews: theREALbbobb, captain of 'The Anonymities'
bloomer: theREALbbobb... Do you mind if I call you Bob?
theREALbbobb: err... well, it's not my actual name, but sure!
bloomer: Bob, I've got to say that your team lineup is definitely the most interesting one. You've got the highly-rated Masters, you've got wild man and keen trash-talker Ohio State, and you've got all the women who are playing in the tourney!
theREALbbobb: It's a pretty powerful lineup too. I have to step it up a bit if I want to keep up with some of my powerhouse teammates.
bloomer: You're also the youngest team captain... y'know, this whole scenario is starting to remind me of an episode of Yu-Gi-Oh.
theREALbbobb: How you gathered that information is beyond me, but all anime references aside (can't relate to them), I actually celebrated my 17th birthday a few days. I've never really considered my age to be an impressive fact, but apparently some have trouble believing it considering my writing skills. Personally, I can't believe how stylistically incompetent my peers are.
bloomer: I wanted to ask you about Lilica, whom I perceive to be the stealthiest tourney entrant. Do you know anything about her beyond her six reviews? Is she a Dark Jedi or something? She seemed to somersault in from nowhere and has an eerily high skill level.
theREALbbobb: Lilica was my second choice to begin with, and I was actually expecting midwinter or Sashanan to choose her before I'd get the chance. With that said, Lilica possesses an exceedingly rare command of the language, and sometimes I forget just how short some of her reviews are because of how complete they feel. And if you're getting a little tired of the "manliness" schtick, the "women's rights" schtick found in some of her reviews might be a refreshing change.
bloomer: Now, let's talk Ohio State. What's your take on his high sugar diet?
theREALbbobb: Explosive, brilliant. It may not be healthy, but it makes for some pretty rockin' reviews. Rest assured, it's pretty obscene that he was picked relatively late in the draft, but all the better for me I suppose.
bloomer: He has great teeth for a guy who eats so much candy.
theREALbbobb: Great? They're completely spotless.
bloomer: No acne either!
bloomer: Karpah was your last pick, but having watched her over time I feel she's got more reviewing chops than people give her credit for.
theREALbbobb: I agree, and I was actually surprised -- pleasantly even -- that she was still left over when my last pick came around. Perhaps these people are quick to associate her with the infamous McFadden.
bloomer: Well, it's been fine chatting with you Bob. Break a leg out there.
theREALbbobb: Well, surely someone else's legs.
Posted: June 22, 2009 (08:48 PM)
Bloomer, we're talking about different tournies here. Mine was from my judging of the 2005 team tournament, I believe, while yours was the year before when we had two tournies going on at once.
So we're both right. :P
Posted: June 22, 2009 (08:54 PM)
Oh man, that's right, Ohio State was my third pick, not Shinnokz. Man, it's hard remembering stuff from back then. I honestly totally forgot about Ohio State until now. It's a shame, because he was actually a great reviewer and really funny too. My team was even more stacked than I remembered.
So just to clear things up, I'm talking about Summer Fever in 2004, and then the 2005 Team Tournament, two separate tournaments. I guess the transition wasn't so clear, but this is a blog! I was just kind of writing in a stream-of-consciousness fashion.
But while you're digging through your files, could you find out the other team lineups just for curiosity's sake?
I'm kind of also trying to remember the teams for the regular TT in 2004. I know there was Zig-GUTS-OD, Leroux-Spork-Jihad, Venter-NickEvil-Woodhouse, and then I remember that SnowDragon captained a team and had SkinnyPuppy as one of his picks. I think Mariner picked Tom Clark. Beyond that I can only remember isolated names.
Posted: June 22, 2009 (09:26 PM)
Bloomer, the "Summer Fever" as you call it and the "minor league team tournament" as most of us pretentiously called it are one and the same. I remember in the famous Reviewer Chats, we actually laughed about Radicaldreamer's team... the majority of the Summer Fever pool was made up of people who didn't get drafted, but then he joins and puts together a ridiculous team of death that would have run wild in the "main" team tourney!
That was the year I was teamed with GUTS and Overdrive in the TT. We, uh, didn't do so well.
Good times. Thanks for the write-up. Like Jerec said, it's actually inspiring.
Posted: June 22, 2009 (09:39 PM)
Whew! I'm happy I'm in the TT this year. It seems like quite the wild ride for being just a writing tournament with no prize but the stories and experience (in my opinion the best of prizes)! I'm actually a bit nervous about it. I really want to live up to the honor of being first picked, and I'm pretty confident in my line up and team mates. However... isn't the next 7 weeks just play offs?!
Posted: June 23, 2009 (08:51 PM)
Man, I don't even get how Scott went 6-1. That means he must have defeated reviewers like Jihad, and either Johnny Cairo or Venter.
Posted: November 22, 2009 (02:20 AM)
I don't remember being an odd character.