After Krawk Island won Altador Cup IV, the classic championship hangover was expected to linger over into Altador Cup V and hold back the powerhouse from greatness. Going simply by how Krawk Island placed, it did. Dasher’s team placed seventh just as Darigan and Haunted Woods did after their championship years.
Don’t let Krawk Island fool you though. Seeded sixth going into the finals, Krawk Island beat Darigan, Shenkuu, Roo Island, Lost Desert, and Virtupets during Altador Cup V. KI also had a better yooyuball record than second place Kreludor and was one of the only team to win over 20 games in three of the four AC games. They still had power I believe, it’s just Altador Cup V had a lot of good teams.
Chances: Krawk Island is one of those teams I don’t think you’ll ever be able to write off. While it certainly is possible for Krawk Island to win it all if they make the finals, making the finals will not be an easy task. Personally, I have Maraqua, Darigan, and Kreludor already written in on my ‘Top 4′, but as for the fourth team, it’s a toss-up that could easily land favorably for Krawk Island.
Meridell came back from the depths of the third tier and made it known they would not go quietly into the night. Barely missing the finals thanks to Roo Island, Meridell slipped up in the playoffs and was handed eighth place. (I can’t completely fault them though, it’s hard to play for fifth place and you already have it, but you wanted first)
Chances: Meridell was a yooyuball powerhouse last year; the knights beat every team last year at least once with the exception of Roo Island. Where Meridell falters, of course, is the side games. All three of their side game records are below average for a team that was looking to make the finals. Meridell certainly has potential, but are they spectacular enough to make themselves one of the top four teams in the cup? Every point counts this year for Meridell unless they revamp their side game powers. Any would help really, you can’t have a third tier team (Haunted Woods) do better than you and expect to play for the gold.
Lost Desert claimed their gold last year. LD has been eerily consistent through the years in all of their games with the help of their well-structured fan base. That is all in the past now though. They now have to deal with the pressures and doubts that come with being the defending champions.
Chances: Defending champions have been doing better and better each year lately, but Lost Desert certainly wasn’t separated from the pack last season (Roo Island had just as many yooyuball points and Darigan had more). Teams are ready to pounce if (and probably when) they slip up. Expect Lost Desert to put up a fight though. Krawk Island was less than one point away from the finals last year. It is possible for a defending champ to make the finals now after all these years.
If Hollywood was to make a movie about an Altador Cup team, it would without a doubt be the story of the little team that could: Virtupets. After finishing dead last in Altador Cup II and 14th in Altador Cup III, Virtupets came out of nowhere and dominated SOSD, leaving only two blemishes on what would have been a perfect record. Surely they couldn’t repeat that, right? Yes, they instead went up to sixth place while beating the likes of Darigan, Maraqua, and Meridell in yooyuball.
Chances: When suggesting that Virtupets could be trying to make a claim to them playing for the gold, it is kind of hard to take seriously at first. Cellar-dweller Virtupets? In the finals? The thing is though, they’ve earned the right to be discussed. The robots earned more yooyuball points than Kreludor, more SOSD points than Darigan, and more SS and MSN points than Roo Island. You can’t really predict Virtupets this year on anything other than gut feeling. Nothing like this has ever happened in the cup. They’re so small, have risen so much, and have such potential in big games. I have to ask you this though: Has Virtupets done better every year since AC II?
Leaving the feel good story, we head to the one that probably made fans cry. Altador Cup V was supposed to be Shenkuu’s year. Krawk Island had finally won and had made way for Shenkuu to finally win gold in their fourth trip to the finals. It’s really pretty scary what happened to Shenkuu. Their train really did fly off the tracks and into a wall labeled 11th place.
Chances: The good thing about flying off the radar is that nobody really expects anything from you the year after. Shenkuu was carrying the eyes of Neopia in Altador Cup V and can now finally breathe. For the first time ever Shenkuu isn’t returning from a trip to the finals. While Shenkuu doesn’t have any pressure after finishing 11th though, they also still have their potential. We all know the team is capable of being a team playing in the first place match. (I certainly do, being beat up by Shenkuu was a hobby for Kreludor in AC IV.) Of course an 11th place team making the finals is an outside chance, but they do have a chance.