Why Any Team Could Win

I decided it would be interesting to go through each team and briefly explain why each has at least the slightest chance of winning. Especially among the top 12 or so teams, this Altador Cup seems unpredictable. Most people cite the following reasons for this shift toward an even competition:

  1. Good players going to worse teams, for whatever reasons (wanting to have a more direct effect on results, wanting to see what it’s like on a small team, etc)
  2. Freeloaders getting smarter, not always joining the top team, or even the top two.
  3. The introduction of a 4th game (SOSD) making it much more difficult to cover everything
  4. Possible a change in TNT’s formula

While I certainly enjoyed being on one of the dominant teams of AC2 and 3 (and 4, though not to the same degree), this evening of the teams makes for a much more interesting Cup. You cannot safely take a day off – ever – because the “bad” teams are capable of upsets on any given day. And this year, there seem to be very few, if any, truly terrible teams.

Just look at this:

Darigan was 25-4-1 in YYB in AC2. One loss in 30 matches! What’s even better is that they only lost 2 SS matches and 5 MSN matches. Probably a little more impressive was RI, which had a 25-3-2 YYB record, 23-5-2 SS record, 21-5-4 MSN record. Wow.

And of course I have to include KI’s AC3 record here, even though we didn’t win that year… 25-3-2 YYB, 27-1-2 SS (Krawk Island, winning SS!?), 25-5-0 MSN.

That kind of domination just doesn’t seem to happen anymore. Including the 8 extra matches (2 more teams, then 4-day finals records being added) last year, only 2 teams hit 25 YYB wins, and no team lost fewer than 6 YYB matches. No team won even 20 out of 38 matches in all four games (KD was close).

Now, rambling aside, here’s why every team could win.

Altador – Freeloaders are getting “smarter” – just ask Shenkuu. This means that Altador’s number of freeloaders, who join them simply because they’re the hosts, could go down. Other than that, they’re a small team that could organize at that point and could certainly at least dominate 1 or 2 games, with dedication.
Brightvale – We know they have strength (yes, there are stories about the initial start not being legit, but still), and they have a few really dedicated players who can change results for a small-ish team like BV. They also seem to be attracting some big players for that reason.

Darigan Citadel – This one’s pretty clear. They were essentially tied for the best YYB team last year with MQ (MQ faced easier opponents in finals; MQ won the head-to-head YYB matchup), and they’re always a really good team. If they ever drop some freeloaders who join for their “cool” or “dark” image, there’s not much keeping them from victory. They essentially have their own, team-dedicated, better version of SOTAC (Have you seen the AC5 Hall of Fame? DC had 10 of the top 25 YYB players, to LD’s 5 in the top 25…) that gives them a chance to compete every year.

Faerieland – Who knows, maybe the plot will give them some good players, and the new look of Faerieland will get them fewer pre-teen freeloading girls? ;P

Haunted Woods – Their performance in finals wasn’t impressive, of course, but just look at their records when you don’t include the first 8 matches. 21-3-2 in YYB, 20-3-3 in SS, 10-8-8 in MSN, 11-4-11 in SOSD. Not great MSN/SOSD records, but a pace like that would have put them around the 4th-5th seed going into finals. They simply gave up in finals after such a hard push for at least tier two that came up short.

Kiko Lake – Small team, not attracting many freeloaders after bad years = chance to wreck teams, VP-style. Not likely, of course, but it’s a chance.

Krawk Island – Krawk Island wasn’t bad last year… not terribly far from making first tier, even. If they had kept up their focus in finals they could have at least gotten 6th, “breaking the curse” somewhat. They’ll lose freeloaders this year, and some of the All-Stars who jumped ship after winning could return.

Kreludor – Kreludor has been remarkably consistent, doing quite well in all 4 games for the past couple of years. They seem to falter a bit in finals, but they’re getting better at that too. They’re a small/medium-sized team, and I’d fully expect them to win if I weren’t worried about freeloaders joining them.

Lost Desert – They’ve improved every year, and as I’ve said, freeloaders *seem* to be getting smarter. They won’t have SOTAC or any other big All-Star groups, I assume, and they certainly will gain some freeloaders. I don’t think they’ll win, but it isn’t impossible.

Maraqua – Dominated finals the last two years. Well-organized. They need significant side game improvement, but their YYB would have had a shot at winning tier 1 last year. If they make tier 1 it’s fairly likely that they’d win it, if the last two years are any indication.

Meridell – Very strong YYB team, not bad at MSN and SOSD. They were very close to tier 1 last year. They’ve been rather volatile over the years, so who knows what might happen? They were better than their 8th-place finish showed, much like KI and HW.

Moltara – Moltara could conceivably lose a ton of freeloaders after such a terrible year. Who knows what might happen at that point?

Mystery Island – If they had freeloaders, they should certainly be gone now. MI was really demoralized last year, losing their “swagger” in YYB that made them such an interesting team. If they can forget about last year and play hard this year, they have a shot, but it will take a lot of work.

Roo Island – They made tier 1 last year, and they could avoid a lot of freeloaders because they finished 4th. They always seem to have a strong core of all-stars, and I don’t expect that to change. Their my pick to win it this year.

Shenkuu – I think there’s still a strong team beneath the wave of freeloaders and drama. I expect them to lose nearly all of their dead weight, and who can predict what will happen after that?

Terror Mountain – See: Virtupets, AC5. Really, TM is actually in better position than VP was, to make a move like that. Technically they did better in each game than VP in ACIV did, actually. Prioritizing YYB over SOSD could bring a serious improvement for this team, and they’re small enough to organize such an effort.

Tyrannia – Much like TM, they clearly have a small, dedicated fan-base. I’ve said it for years now, and I’ll continue saying it: if they focus much more on YYB and drop a bit in a couple of the side games, they could win.

Virtupets – VP is considered a contender this year after their strong performance last year. Especially if the attract some more All-Stars, they’ve got a shot. They have dedicated members and few freeloaders.

As you can see, every team has a shot, and at least 10 or 12 of these teams have what it takes to at least make tier 1. I can’t wait to see the results!

Want to see my predictions for what will actually happen? Check out my page. (/shameless advertising)