Way to Get Soaked! The Annual Gormball Championship
On the 23rd Day of Gathering, eight athletes took the field to play a fierce game of Gormball for the Fifteenth Annual Gormball Championships. The betting books were in favor of Brian the Scorchio winning this year’s Golden Planet trophy. The Scorchio grinned cheekily when interviewed by reporters, “I’ve been studying my competitors since last year, and I have a secret weapon up my sleeve. No rigged balls this year, I’ve learned my lesson from last world’s championship. ” The knowing, cunning look on his face sparked interest in the Gormball community.
After entering the Gormball Stadium on the Neopet’s Space Station, the athletes took their places in a circle. The ball started in the hands of Gargarox Isafuhlarg who was quick to send the ball to Farvin III, Alien Aisha. It has been a well documented fact that Farvin III has a sixth sense about when the gormball with go splat; but this year his extra set of ears failed him. Two seconds into holding the gormball, Farvin III was soaked to the skin.
When asked about the incident Farvin III was eerily quiet, but it may have been due to the gross food buffet in the interviewers lounge. The Alien Aisha did stay through the entire game, signing autographs and taking pictures with the young spectators while munching away on a slice of tomato cheesecake. His ears appeared to twitch a few seconds before the gormball exploded for the rest of the match.
Ember the Fire Faerie started the next round. The ball made a full pass around the circle from Ember to Zargrold the “Cool” Grundo to Ursula the Usul to Kevin the Korbat to Thyassa the Chia to Brian to Gargarox back to Ember. She had a tricky decision to make, hold the ball for a short time and stay safe or take a risk throwing the ball later.
Her decision paid off. After holding the ball for a whopping FIVE seconds, the ball exploded instantly on Zargrold. Seeming a bit confused, the Grundo plucked his glasses off to clean them with a chuckle and wished his competitors luck. Exiting the field, Zargrold was all smiles.
“Hey man, it’s just an ‘onor to be a part of the game, ya know?” He was quoted saying to reporters. “This game is equal parts chance and… uh… oh yeah, skill. We like totally play with all our hearts and I’m a hopin’ for an excitin’ match, ya dig?” Flashing the crowd a toothy grin, he cast a wink to the admiring crowd of Disco Acaras, who promptly shrieked and fainted.
Ursula started off the next round. Her zen mastery of the gormball is well known, but today it failed her. As she closed her eyes, the crowd waited on hushed breaths to see whether or not the ball would explode. The seconds counted down, one… two… three… up to five seconds… and her eyes did not so much as peak open, when finally the ball exploded in the Usul’s poor paws.
Reporters questioned the Usul why the long hold on the ball. Ursula blushed. “I was psyched to be returning to the Gormball Championships,” she told reporters,”I went back to Mount Usalin and trained night and day, night and day, for the past two weeks! (sigh) I guess the lack of sleep finally caught up with me and I passed out when I was achieving my ‘unity’ with the ball. Just take this as a lesson kids, training does not work out well without the proper rest and recovery afterwards!”
Being a good sport, she joined Farvin III in the stands for the remainder of the game- although she declined his offer of a chocolate coated fish pop.
Kevin cheerfully started the next round, the staple player who started as a fill in for Dr. Sloth stuck with his strategy of using “threes”. Three seconds later, the ball was in Thyassa’s hands. With great concentration, the Chia’s eyes marked intense concentration, his touch moving around the ball until just two seconds later the ball was shot over to Brian.
The Scorchio seemed to chuckle to himself, his eyebrows twitching and his eyes darting from side to side. His hands made a quick move to toss the ball to Gargarox, when something happened and the ball caught on his hand, soaking Brian to the bones. Immediately turning cheops red, the Scorchio bolted from the field.
Spectators heard Brian muttering to himself, “…Great Sloth… silly ring… spike failed…” Not sure what to make of the mumblings, next year’s referees plan to keep a close eye on the Scorchio. He left the stadium immediately.
Down to four competitors, the game became fierce. Gargarox grunted as he took weight of the ball. He looked between Ember, Kevin and Thyassa. When his gaze settled on the Chia, he smirked and tossed the ball to Ember. Ember played it safe with two seconds, and Kevin again stuck with his three. The ball was tossed to Thyassa. Before the Chia could register the ball was caught, it exploded and he was wet from head to toe. A great hush fell over the crowd. The hulking mutant Grundo was smiling indulgently to himself as Thyassa turned to the crowd and waved before leaving the field.
When asked if he thought Gargarox had singled him out, Thyassa chuckled and smiled, “It is part of the game. Sometimes we players get a sense from the ball. He’s been playing for as long as any of us, and he knew Ember and Kevin’s moves. He took a risk and it paid off for him this time, next time it could be another story.”
Thyassa would see his assessment come true in the next round. Since Gargarox was starting again, he gave the gormball a couple squeezes before turning to Ember and Kevin. Kinking his head from side to side, he tossed the ball to Ember whilst staring at Kevin intently. Something which must have unnerved the Korbat, for when it was his turn to toss the ball he only held it for TWO seconds! As if realizing his error, Gargarox braced for the impact of the gormball. It promptly exploded on the colossal Grundo.
As he exited the field, Gargarox spoke with reporters, “Me back to Café now. Sell more foods. Play Cheat with Fernypoo, work game face.” With a grunt he added, “Half off at Café for rest of Gathering month.”
Down to the final two athletes, the arena was in fervor. Bets were going around, many siding with the Korbat as fire and gormballs do not mix. With looks of sheer determination, Ember and Kevin faced off.
The Fire Faerie started the final round, beginning conservatively with only a two second hold, she tossed the ball to Kevin. Back to his predictable ways, the Korbat used his three second hold. Back and forth the ball went. Four seconds, three seconds, two seconds, three seconds, the audience went from fevered enthusiasm to engrossed silence. A record breaking twenty passes occurred between the finalists! A true test of their endurance, eternally optimistic Kevin’s smile and Ember’s fiery bravado both faltered.
With a great sigh, Ember again had control of the ball. She held onto the ball for four seconds, holding her breath the duration. The ball again in Kevin’s hands the spectators counted in hushed voices. One. Two. Thr… before they could get out the last count the ball exploded. The crowd dumbfounded, took in the dripping wet Korbat before applause shook the stadium. The remaining athletes took to the field to congratulate the Fifteenth Annual Gormball Champion: Ember the Fire Faerie!
Post game interviews with Kevin, the Korbat was nothing but smiles.
“I mean, me, a rookie! I made it to the final round! Gosh!” his excitement and enthusiasm proving why he is loved by the crowd, “Everyone played a fantastic game this year, and we will continue to spar and practice our favorite game until next year’s championships!”
Ember was in shock, but clearly thrilled to be the champion as her competitors tossed her on their shoulders and carried her around the field. Giggling she waved to the spectators, her wings aflutter, finally lifting her off the shoulder’s of Farvin III, Ursula, Gargarox, Kevin, Thyassa and Zargrold. She did a few victory laps, shaking hands and hugging babies.
Ember’s heated passion for the game came out when she spoke about winning the Fifteenth Golden Planet Trophy.
“Sweet Fyora! It all started as a pipe dream for a young fire Faerie in Faerieland. The elder faeries always warned us, ‘don’t play with water, or you’ll get soaked’. But who could resist such a fun game like Gormball! That last round, Kevin and I, we were both tired out. Twenty rounds between us, can you believe it?” Her eyes looked distantly into the cluster of reports as if experiencing the final moments, “I knew that it was high risk to take those four seconds. My hands were shaking as I finally tossed the ball, and the rest of me joined in as I counted down with the crowd. I’m just so glad to say that I played with water,” she chuckled, “and THEY got soaked.”