The Great Gormball Gala
Prince_Hailstorm and M0n0xid3 were enjoying the cool breeze by the water and relaxing to the sounds of chirping Pteris nearby. The heat of the summer had been unbearable, always feeling like you were in the Lost Desert, so the breeze was most welcomed. The friends had decided to take advantage of the break in the weather to go fishing, which mainly involved sipping cool lemonade, talking, and being generally lazy on the riverbank. Hail and M0n0 had a great friendship- they understood the balance between having fun as well as being able to spend time in each other’s company in silence while they pondered their own thoughts.
M0n0 broke their current silence, "Do you know the Annual Gormball Championships are coming up? I’d sort of like to go watch them; I haven’t played since I got the avatar so it’d be fun for old time’s sake."
"Oh yes, that would be fun! When I was playing for the avatar I’d started collecting statistics concerning the probability of the Gormball exploding and its correlation to the elapsed time in that round. I could increase my data sets much easier by watching- it was very difficult to play and take notes at the same time!" Hail responded enthusiastically, excited by the possibility of getting more reliable results for his data.
"I can only imagine how hard that would be! I was trying to find a formula for game play myself, but I’d lose track every time I got the Steel Gormball, you know how easily I lose focus! Anyway, it was so frustrating to see so many points lost at once! Then when I finally got the avatar and a trophy I forgot all about finding a formula. It was so exciting! I knew the Gormball would normally explode anywhere between 4 and 15 seconds, so in order to maximize the chances of getting the bonus Gormballs I would only hold it for 1 second on my turn. I ended up with a few pink Gormballs worth between 1 and 6 points, an electric Gormball worth 22 points, a space Gormball worth 26 points….and I almost lost all of my chill when I got a fire Gormball worth 30 points! I was sure I’d end up losing and not getting the times 4 bonus for winning, but I won! I must’ve been having a lucky day, probably should’ve bought some scratch cards!" M0n0 was already reminiscing, wondering why he ever stopped playing.
"That’s so cool! The highest bonus I got was the space Gormball, but I was just happy for the avatar. Maybe I’ll try my luck for a trophy as well. All this reminiscing…we should definitely go to the championship! Then I can try for the trophy after I’ve gathered more data!" Hail decided for them, he was not one to pass up an educational experience, especially one that would be entertaining as well!
They made their way to the championships, discussing their favorite players on the way there. Hail liked Thyassa the best; he is the most deviously clever Gormball player ever on the face of Neopia after all. Plus, he’s ranked #1 in the world and undefeated in all major championships. Hail liked Thyassa’s probability of another win. M0n0, on the other hand, liked Brian the best. Most know Brian as a cheater, but M0n0 was convinced that he just had a lot of talent... while everyone else thinks his eyebrows twitching means he is thinking of new ways to win unfairly, M0n0 thinks the eye twitch just means he’s concentrating with extreme intensity. However, Brian was ranked #41 in the world, and he was kicked out of last worlds Gormball championships for using a rigged ball, so M0n0 didn’t have too much an argument for his favorite player.
The other players were all admirable in their own ways: Ember the fire faerie was chasing her dreams and not giving up just because the other faeries mocked her; Farvin III would use his out of this world sensory hearing to judge exactly when the Gormball would explode which gave him quite an edge; Gargarox Isafuhlarg combined his passions by catering for the championship he enjoyed so much; Kevin was optimistic and learned quickly; Zargrold thought the game was a piece of cake, and he had confidence that he would win. There was also Ursula, which Hail and M0n0 agreed might shake things up. She’d spent six years alone training at the top of Mount Usulin, and thought Gormball was the point of existence. All that training might make her a force to be reckoned with, but taking the game so seriously might be her downfall as well. It was meant to be fun after all!
Once they arrived at the field where the Gormball Championships would be held, they realized they should’ve planned better because there was already a HUGE crowd waiting for the games to begin. They decided to buy some concessions from Grundo’s Catering, so they both got a Cheese Star Sandwich for their lunch and M0n0 got an Orbiting Éclair for dessert while Hail opted for the Cratered Pastry. They snuck off to the quiet hillside that the other spectators must have looked over, and they found a spot shaded by the trees to get comfortable in. The Annual Gormball Championship was about to begin!
The game starts with Ember, who waits 2 seconds before tossing the Gormball to Zargrold. Zargrold and Ursula also wait 2 seconds each, while Kevin plays it safe and only waits 1 second. Thyassa waits 2 seconds before tossing the Gormball to Brian, who mimics Kevin and waits 1 second before throwing the Gormball to Gargarox. Gargarox makes a bold move at this point in the game and waits another 2 seconds, and tosses the Gormball to Farvin III. The audience holds their breath…but the Gormball doesn’t explode! Farvin III waits 1 second before hastily throwing the ball back to Ember, who realizes this is still the first round and the Gormball hasn’t exploded yet. She hurriedly throws it to Zargrold, and true to form Zargrold decides to play it cool and wait 3 seconds before moving the Gormball along. While the daring move looked cool, it turned out to be the wrong decision and the Gormball explodes on Zargrold! The Zargrold supporters collectively groan at the outcome.
The championship game continues, a total of 7 seconds passing before the Gormball's next explosion on Ember. The crowd gasps at the sudden burst- this round was only half as long as the first! The third round lasts 9 seconds before the Gormball explodes on Ursula, shocking everyone. She was a favorite for the win this year! The next three rounds last 6, 7, and 11 seconds, with the Gormball picking off Farvin III, Gargarox, and Kevin with each respective round. The final round is down to Brian and Thyassa, and M0n0 and Hail share a knowing look with each other: the look that says they know their favorite is about to win, but only one of them can be right. They watch in anticipation as Thyassa starts the round by waiting 2 seconds.
They toss the ball between each other with the look of fierce concentration on their faces: Brian hoping to clear his name (this has been an extremely clean game after all!) and Thyassa striving to defend his #1 rank. The Gormball is passed 5 times at 1 second each before Thyassa decides to turn the tables: he waits 2 seconds with the hopes of the extra second being enough to take Brian out of the game. Brian catches the ball, but before he can even decide how long to wait it becomes obvious that Thyassa’s maneuver had done the trick- the Gormball explodes on Brian! Thyassa wins the game! With his bonus Gormball points being in the negative because of the steel Gormballs, he ends the championship with only 72 points, but a win is a win!
"Brian played very well today; I can see why he’s your favorite" Hail tried to be a good sport and cheer his friend up. "It’s crazy that it comes down to a split second!"
"Yeah, it’s too bad he didn’t win, but Thyassa played spectacularly as well. I can see how he’s been ranked #1 for so long! How did your calculations go?" M0n0 was taking Brian’s loss with ease- it’s not like he’d bet Neopoints on the game or anything after all.
"Well, the Gormball averaged 9 seconds per round, but didn’t follow any particular pattern to decipher how long between each specific round. I would need to watch thousands of games and create the perfect algorithm to try and figure it out, and even then it might not be able to be predicted!" Hail was disheartened at the thought of not being able to predict the exact moment of explosion.
"Just think of how many years we’ll be coming to these tournaments together to gather all that data!" M0n0 pointed out the positive side to Hail’s data collecting- a tradition that would ensure they had a long and happy friendship, which cheered Hail up considerably. There was nothing better than spending time with his friend and enjoying whatever adventure they embarked on!