'Nobody fancied the Sporeggar team going into this contest, and who could blame them? Aside from the home advantage and height advantage of about three feet enjoyed by their opponents, the Sporeggar team had faced a comparatively easy route to the finals – destroying a Kobold team intent taking possession based tactics to a whole new extreme and, most notably, the Ironforge Hammers forfeiting both home and away matches in what has gone down as one of the most chaotic qualifying rounds as the Dwarven team descended into internecine warfare and imploded both literally and metaphorically after an incident with the malfunctioning Gnomish world shrinker and their own goal.
It doesn’t seem so long ago that the Sporelings were a race under constant treat from Naga incursions into Coilfang Reservoir but to see them on the world stage at this, the opening match of the World Cup of Warcraft, was testament to the power of repeatedly gathering funguses for the little guys. It was great to have them here, true minnows of the competition... or button mushrooms. The Stormwind team had the aforementioned natural height advantage and comparative youth on their side, further enhanced by Captain Anduin Wrynn’s bombastic team talks. Fresh from his wranglings with Wrathion the young prince has grown from pest, following adventurers around Stormwind on his flying pony like some kind of needy one-priest conga line asking for help with the filing cabinets in SI:7 or to work out who was killing cows, into an albeit potentially precocious leader of men.
|Talking to the Stormwind Coach before kickoff|
Stormwind kicked off, immediately trying to play route one football and the now hopelessly excited Sh’iship claimed the ball and set off up the pitch with all the poise and élan of an avalanche of shitake. Coach Mycah favoured what can only be described as a 1-5-2-1-1 formation – with a sweeper and a flat back five. The Sporeling’s tackling was poor, hindered by their stumpy legs and lack of acceleration, and their defence of set pieces was hampered by their lack of stature – but Mycah soon realised that five Sporelings, all equally eager for the ball, could quickly smother even the most potent attack in a sea of sweetly smiling fungoid faces and a cloud of fermenting gas.
A wasted throw in again saw the Sporelings launch their surely by now wholly obvious tactic before some sublime and mazy footwork from Lord Grayson Shadowbreaker saw him snaffle the ball with an immaculately timed sliding tackle right through the middle of the herd of Sporelings before popping a Speed of Light and high tailing it for eight seconds from the sporelings (still moving imperceptibly toward the Stormwind goal, seemingly unaware of having been repossessed) before, with only half the pitch and Sporeling keeper, Sprout Om’mommosh’om, stroking it half the length of the pitch and into the top right hand corner. A contender for goal of the tournament already.
Having made the same mistake three times and only really been punished for it once, Wrynn marshalled his team and began a war of long range bombardment of the Sporeggar goal for the remained of the half. Unable to prevent any shots whizzed higher than 5 feet without deploying a raft of fungal growths the Sporelings went deep, and smothered their goal with sticky nodules and organic growths. This resulted not in goals but in four new balls as one after the other the Stormwind team would see their shot eaten away by acidic dips falling from their opponent’s goal. Undoubtedly a cautious end to what had been a promising first half.
|Overseeing Security Arrangements for the Tournament.|
No idea what both managers said but Stormwind began the second half giving it a whole extra ten percent, bringing them up to 120% and in need of a nerf before the second round. The crudities and limitations of the Sporregar tactics were shown three times in fifteen second half minutes. Firstly a close range finish from Wrynn himself, shielding himself from the unwanted attention of a Sporeggar centre half whose name was frankly too long and apostrophe ridden to note in the frenetic conditions, then with a bullet header by Magister Dumas both delivering peachy corner and blinking to the far post to make it 3 – 1. The fourth arrived soon afterwards, a neat free kick after some overly aggressive pre-aggro noises finished with a screamer over the attempts at a hastily cultivated wall by Shadowbreaker.
Wrynn Senior then made a crucial decision. The Sporeggar goal was so festooned with mushrooms and algae to the point it was unbreakable: he retired three players and replaced them with Cullen, Paddock and Ardus to keep the ball and wind down the clock. It was at this point that Mycah played his secretly developed tactic. Swamping the midfield and moving the defense to the half way line the Sporelings outnumbered the Stormwind midfield and again took control of the ball and surrounded the player in possession. And then they charged. What had been movement akin to continental drift took on the speed of one of the Stormwind Griffons which had ferried fans across the Eastern Kingdoms to see the match. The Sporelings immediately bundled a second across the goal line, knocking Tovald flat. A shell-shocked Stormwind team tried to rally only to see the same tactic employed twice more in two minutes to bring it to 4-4.
The resultant stalemate, as Stormwind tried to find a crack in the goalmouth growth and Sporeggar waited for their charges to cooldown produced some of the most stultifying antifootball of the modern era until the last throw of the dice for the Sporeggar team. Making his substitutions, Mycah brought on a trio of young Sprouts and switched to a much more attacking 4-3-1-2. The Sprout trio up front crouched, readied creeping funguses and spore shrooms and raced through a hindered and dotted Stormwind defence, flicking the ball up high, leaping onto each others’ shoulders and planting a header into the bottom right hand corner of the net, inches from Tovald’s achingly stretching fingertips. At 5-4 there was little a dejected Wrynn could do to muster a fight back and, with a spent Sporeggar team and a Stormwind attack nullified by a cultured defence the game petered out with neither side able to do much else but wait for the ref’s curious bronze timepiece to hit 90 minutes and for the Whistle of Chromatic Bone to signal the end of a truly great sporting upset.'
|Catching the Last Disc Home|
[HUGE thanks to @The_Dr0wningman on Twitter for this report, and expect to see more from him as the Tournament progresses!]