A “Bit” of Maraqua Analysis…

Maraqua is undoubtedly the team to watch going into ACV. Everyone seems to have an opinion on their chances in ACV, and the opinions range from 1st to 11th place, from what I’ve seen. They had an incredible run at the end of last year, going 13-0-2 (W-L-T) in Yooyuball, which is a streak that Maraqua hopes to continue into Altador Cup 5.

More recently, Chris posted an article supporting DC over MQ. I thought now would be a good time to post a bit of my own analysis of the MQ situation, and I also decided to an interview with Franc, the leader of We Are Maraqua (WAM), MQ’s global chat group. I’ll start off by posting the interview here:

Me: How do you think Maraqua will do in this year’s Cup?

Franc: I expect that Maraqua will do quite well. We’re truly expanding our global presence and quite frankly, doing things other teams aren’t able to. We’ve had the opportunity to have the support of a lot of great folks who want to see MQ succeed, and their enthusiasm is what keeps us going. A key for MQ is always going to be maintaining that humble and hardworking attitude we are known for, however. We have never been a team of superstars – everyone is expected to do their bit – which I think makes us a better team in itself.

Me: How will Maraqua improve side-game performance and keep up their Yooyuball strength this year?

Franc: Let’s just say there’s a plan we’ll be working with that will focus on a better use of resources at all times. As we always say, the Cup’s a marathon not a sprint.

Me: Interesting… Can Maraqua possibly keep up their impressive 13-0-2 (Win-Loss-Tie) record from the second half of the round robin?

Franc: Definitely. To be fair to Krawk Island by the way, I think it was a 13-1-1 record overall, as they barely beat us. However, we didn’t lose at Yooyuball for 17 matches over 19 days, which is quite the feat for a formerly 10th place team. On that note, yes, I think we can do anything we set our mind and our efforts to, as last season showed. We are blessed with the commitment of skilled staff/players, and with their continued support we might well be able to do better.

Me: Actually, the 13-0-2 was referring to YYB only, where you guys had a draw with KI. So, what made Maraqua so good at the end of last season?

Franc: A better question I think is why did Maraqua not fade when other teams that occupied higher spots in the standings did. For that one I go right back to the staff and players. They took the marathon message to heart and kept running, and for that I’m eternally thankful.

Me: Speaking of your messages to the team, what is it like to be the leader of WAM, and to be generally considered the leader of Maraqua’s team?

Franc: Its wonderful, stressful, exhilarating…and the reality is totally different from the perception I’m very glad to say. What I mean by that: WAM would not run and exist without the support and long hours that Xepha has put in, and the brilliance and (patience for that matter) she has shown over the last four years. Generally the lead up to the Cup is very busy, and this year is no different…however, with the long pre-planning period this year plus the leadership roles that others have taken on – Pixi, Pisces, CD – plus our volunteer core of translators have actually made this year stress free for me thus far, and that’s all thanks to them.

Me: For my article, could you explain, why Maraqua will beat a team like DC, MI, or anyone else looking to make it into the top tier of competitors?

Franc: Commitment, spirit, dedication and networking. Maraqua thrives on the thrill of competition, and is proud to have a network capable of bringing MQers over the globe together in the spirit of teamwork.

Me: I know personally that you guys are a very organized team. How much of an advantage will that give you in the Cup?

Franc: The Cup is an odd event in someways as technically one is on a team with common colors and mission. However, its one thing to go from that still solo experience playing behind a computer screen, physically removed from your ‘teammates,’ into a situation were you do activities and sponsor an atmosphere where barriers to effective cross cultural communication are removed. This year, we’ll be able to communicate with friends in eight languages – French, Spanish, Chinese: Simplified and Traditional, Dutch, German, Portuguese and English – which will continue to bring all of us together.

Me: Who would you consider Maraqua’s biggest competition for the top spot (or even the top tier)?

Franc: Darigan Citadel, Shenkuu, Lost Desert, Mystery Island and Kreludor. For me, that’s what the focus needs to be on, as the way we play against them, and the way they play against others will define what sort of road we need to take to get in that Top Tier.

Me: Describe Maraqua in 1-2 words.

Franc: (Going to use three…) We Are Maraqua.

Me: Last “question”: Any final words about Maraqua, the AC, or anything else?

Franc: We’re pumped for ACV, and our goal is simple – win a shiny cup and have a bundle of fun doing it.

Thanks for the interview, Franc!

Now that you have some insight from WAM’s leadership, let’s get back to Chris’ article. He focuses almost entirely on MQ’s side game struggles, and their performance over the entire Cup. I personally believe for several reasons, most of which Franc mentioned in the interview, MQ will sustain production much closer to their 2nd half scores than their 1st half scores. After the DRR, MQ was what, 7th? I think it’s clear that they will improve on that, and I think Chris would agree. But if we’re assuming that MQ will improve based on their 2nd half YYB streak, why not look at side game records from other contending teams in the second half of AC IV, instead of the slow start that MQ seemed to have, to get an idea of how well they might do.

Using my standings formula… (I was going to make a fancy table,but I just couldn’t get it to work without a ton of HTML that I don’t want to deal with)

I’ll do my best to make this look decent.

YYB             SS              MSN       SOSD
W    D    L    W  D    L    W  D  L    W     D  L
KD   10     1    4    13    2   0    13    1    1    14    0   1    233
LD    11    3     1     8    2    5    11    2    2    11    2    2    218.83
MQ   13    2    0    9    3    3     5    1     9     6    1    8    208.5
KI     9       4    2    12  0     3    12  0    3     6    4    5    205.66
SK    10     3    2    8    3    4    10    2   3    10   2    3    204.66
TY     6    1    8      14   1    0    12    1    2     8    2    5    179.33
DC    9     2     4     7    2    6     7    1    7      8     3    4    171.83
MI    11    1    3      2    1    12    5    2    8     5     1    9    153

That’s probably difficult to read, but basically it shows us a few important things:
1. Maraqua was 3rd in the second half, despite their side-game woes.
2. Kreludor was insane (throughout the DRR, really), but that’s not what this post is about.
3. MQ’s side games weren’t significantly worse than DC’s side games, and DC is apparently MQ’s biggest competition for the 4th spot next year
4. The top 4 of the tournament all had “good” side game records, but MQ showed us that it at least might not be a necessity.

Now, I think this alone proves that MQ can beat out DC for the 4th spot, maybe even the 3rd or 2nd spot after the DRR. The only question that remains is… Can this team perform that way for an entire Cup? Well, I don’t see why not. MQ is more organized than you probably think. They will improve; they will retain almost all of their members and I guarantee that the added confidence in their chances and their hardworking nature will lead to success for this team. They don’t really have to worry about freeloaders because they didn’t win last year and their theme isn’t truly targeting a specific audience (Faerieland, Darigan Citadel, etc.) or pop-culture reference (Krawk Island) other than the dedicated users they normally have. Oh, and people who like fish/water. Anyway, their leadership is strong, and their presence is literally global. As Franc said in the interview, WAM is a multilingual group, and although it might sound crazy or cliche, their presence can (and will) make a difference next year. How much of a difference? Well, that’s up to Maraqua to decide based on their performance, but more players with specific goals should lead to success.

I understand that people may doubt the effects of WAM’s organization, or the intangible advantages that MQ may have, but I think last year’s second half is an indicator of things to come. The organization and the ability to reach their goals throughout the Cup led to success as other teams began to slip, and their record reflected that. I expect more of the same this year, and I’m sure Franc’s crew will have plenty of tricks up their sleeves to… “swim” to victory in AC V. One thing is certain, in my eyes at least: Maraqua is the best “team” in the traditional sense. Not too large so that people get lost, but big enough to have a presence on the site, humble, but confident, hardworking, but fun-loving, etc. Only time will tell if their teamwork is strong enough to carry them to 1st place or if they simply don’t have the ability to consistently beat the big guys and sweep the little guys for the points they’ll need. This year will either establish MQ as one of the “powers” or show that sheer team mass (team size, game played… the tangible aspects of each team) is the only real factor, and that it is unaffected by attempts to organize players together as a team.

If Maraqua wins, I’ll be the first to predict that they’ll be the ones to break the Curse and win again, or at least stay in the top tier after they win.

I think I’ve covered all the points I wanted to mention, at least briefly, and I’m starting to ramble. Simply put, I’m confident in Maraqua and its great organization, leadership, mindset, etc. I fully expect them to place at least 3rd in this year’s Cup, despite the side game issues, and I can’t wait to see how they perform in AC V. Good luck WAM (and the rest of Maraqua, but everyone on that team should visit WAM)!

Until next time,
~Neon

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Can’t Beat Our Darigan Rage

For those who don’t know me, I’m Chaos, and I blogged about the Altador Cup last year here on ac.net. Now I’m back for my second year of blogging here. I support Darigan Citadel, and this will be my 5th year playing for DC in the AC on Neopets. Last year, I made All Star for the first time, and I’d like to achieve that again, but we’ll see how it goes!

Once the AC starts, expect posts from me including rankings, analysis of the day’s matches, predictions, and Team Spotlights.

For the moment I’ll be holding off on making any predictions; I’d like to wait and see how many teams will be participating in the AC, which team(s) will be left out, which side games are in, and how the tournament structure will work.

Good luck to everybody with achieving your own personal goals in this AC. I’d also like to say good luck to all teams, but especially to DC!

Why I believe in Darigan over Maraqua

Altador Cup V’s pre-season thus far can be described in one word: Maraquamania. It’s all about how they’re making the final four finally! Maraqua is going to grab at least the silver! They’re yooyuball skills will be unmatched!

Well, I’m not jumping on the Maraquan bandwagon so quickly. Yes, Maraqua had an amazing second half of the double round robin last year, but the surge in skill was confined to yooyuball. Maraqua’s side game records were horrid; just to give you a point of reference:

11th place Meridell’s Make Some Noise: 12-5-13

5th place Maraqua’s Make Some Noise: 7-1-22

5th place Maraqua’s Shootout Showdown: 9-3-18

10th place Haunted Woods’s Shootout Showdown: 11-3-18

You need side games to make the finals. The worst side game record by a team in the finals was Lost Desert’s slushie slinging. They still went 16-5-9 in that game though.

Yes, Maraqua did close the season on a huge yooyuball winning streak, but yooyuball can only take you so far. If the Maraquans had the top yooyuball record, which was Lost Desert’s whopping 22-6-2, according to jellyneo’s ranking system, Maraqua would have still been 6th going into the finals.  I’m not saying to not believe in Maraqua and that I wouldn’t be surprised if they make the finals, but am I betting on them upping their side game skills that drastically while being a consistent powerhouse? Haha, I think not.

 The purple and black have always been notorious for being powerful in yooyuball. Sadly though, that comes at the price of people like me being able to poke fun at the fact that they might not know the difference between a game of slushie slinger and a game of make some noise for them. Well, it did for a little while at least. Let’s revisit that story real quick:

Darigan Citadel’s Slushie Slinger record: 15-6-9

Shenkuu’s Slushie Slinger record: 17-6-7

Darigan Citadel’s Shootout Showdown record: 19-5-6

Krawk Island’s Shootout Showdown record: 19-4-7

Darigan Citadel’s Make Some Noise record: 17-5-8

Lost Desert’s Make Some Noise record: 18-5-7

That’s not half bad. Darigan seems like it might be a step behind in two of the side games, but Darigan’s side game records were only beat out by Tyrannia and Virtupets out of the teams that placed fifth through sixteenth.

With most predictions for the finals featuring Kreludor, Lost Desert, and Shenkuu, a good bit of people are putting Maraqua in the final spot in the top 4. For this to happen, Maraqua needs to have the power to sweep teams on a daily basis and not go Mystery Island on us. Darigan just needs to keep doing what they did last year – play as a team that is consistent and strong in all of the games. How can you argue that Darigan doesn’t have the easier road?

(One month until the cup!  I also knew I’d need to have an explaination of this prediction come the time my predictions are out, so here you are.)

Quick Update – YYB, SS, and MSN are back!

First posted on Jellyneo (I believe), TNT has updated their images for some of the games.

MSNSSYYB

It looks like we’ll at least be getting these three games again this year, with no news on Shootout Showdown available at this time. Also, in the MSN image, notice the different Cup logo, potentially a sign of 18 (or 17… but that would be weird) teams participating in the tournament. Cool.

Bold Predictions from the VPC

 

To get ready for the Altador Cup season, I thought I’d share some very interesting statements I’ve come across at the home away from home for the die-hard Altador Cup fans.

“Darigan Citadel and Roo Island are too high, and Maraqua is probably too low. And in my biased opinion, after coming in 2nd last year, I (Shenkuu) don’t think we’re going to fail and come up in 4th. Although I don’t think we’ll win, either. ”   

  – idryia

“Maraqua should be higher. As well as Shenkuu. I see SK in either 1st or 2nd.
Roo Island and Darigan Citadel are way too high, that’s expecting too much from them.”   

 – lilnate714

 “MI should be at least in the top five. RI and DC are a bit high. and MQ is a tad low.” 

 – bear172

“MI seems to have a habit of waking up versus ‘worthy’ challengers…and taking catnaps against the lower folks. o.o ”

 – francineh

 “I hate KI but I kinda think they’ll be in the top 4 again, their fan base is too large to fall imo..”

  – polyxion

  “I’d say that KI is too low and DC too high. (: ”

  kauralastu 

  “MQ and MI have a shot of winning IF they can manage to get into the first tier to begin with. Both teams have weaknesses in side games, so they could end up falling short despite their strengths in yyb. I’m looking for DC to reestablish itself as a top tier team, and for KI to take hold of 5th.

KD is a team no one is really talking about, but I think has a great shot of winning. ”

– solar_side

  “In my opinion, the only teams with a reasonable chance to win the cup:
– Lost Desert
– Shenkuu
– Kreludor
– Mystery Island
– Krawk Island
– Maraqua
– Darigan Citadel
– MAYYYBEEE Moltara.” 

 – __questions__

 “I think LD should be higher. They have never gotten worse in a cup. Their record is 5th, 5th, 3rd, 3rd.”

 – bunjayo 

 “The only team other than KI that got higher than them last year was Shenkuu, and I dont know how but LD beat Shenkuu both times in both halves of the cup last time, so I think they can do it again and take the cup.”

 – __questions__ (Check out his nice altador cup petpage at http://www.neopets.com/~Cusit)

” Shenkuu beat Lost Desert in the finals though, despite losing in the round robin. Round robin results don’t mean anything for final matches, especially with such a changable team as Shenkuu who we know from past experience vary greatly during the round robin.
I think it’ll be closer than in previous years, but I still see Shenkuu winning.”

 – herdygerdy

“How does Meridell get called a high ranking team exactly?”

– francineh

” As highly as I think of Maraqua, though, I think that second place is a bit high to place them… Or that could be my sore loser side talking
Also, I think that DC has been getting stronger, and maybe deserves a higher place than seventh, but other than that, they look really good, and you have really good reasons for predicting the placements. ”

– dreamand_hope   

“Has everyone forgotten RI has a 4th, 2nd, and 1st place finish? Seems like it…

Raise RI and TY. Lower HW, MD, and MQ”

– kyky177

“If anything, all these suggestions to lower HW will just make me work harder. Good luck to all teams, though! It’s gonna be a fun cup. ;3”

– slurpy_headache

Little love for Lilo and the former champs...

Very Un-TNT-esque:

No need to guess and try to figure out when you’d like the cup to start this year, TNT has given us a date more than 40 days in advance!  It looks like it’s safe to expect sign-ups (which have always lasted five days) to open for the fifth annual Altador Cup on May 26th.

Also, as part of a promotion on neopets, users can rebuild a fallen yooyuball stadium. To collect the pieces you go to Moltara, Geraptiku, Neopian Plaza, Altador, Tunnel Tumble, and Volcano Run II.

With Moltara seemingly going to play in the cup this summer, we will have a total of 18 yooyuball teams total. 18 teams raises so many questions about how the cup will be run. Will two teams sit out? Will the playoffs be reworked? Will we still have double round robin? Can we get two more teams in the cup so we can keep the system we have right now? I don’t want to start anything, but isn’t it interesting that Geraptiku and Neopian Plaza are some of the places you have to go to rebuild the yooyuball field and are two of the places many wonder why don’t have a team in the cup?

Not an April Fool’s Joke:

It looks like there may be a team from Moltara come Altador Cup V. If you check out your neoboard title options, you now have the option to select a title that shows Neopia what team you support. Have fun predicting Altador Cup V now; this should one fun cup!

It’s also worth noting that Neopia Central and Lutari Island don’t have titles for Altador Cup teams.