The Season of the Red Wyvyrn of the Uvyd Mageball League casts off in just 7 days. After last year’s title was decided in the final minute of play, let’s look ahead to what we can expect from the teams this year.
Potsmannerdamm United: Last years’ champions are looking to build on that success. A young hungry team led by a young hungry manager freshly financed by the Potsmannerdamm Beef Guild are moving into a new stadium. Tanyl Sarra has stated often in the preseason that the new home won’t adversely affect the performance of their young players and they won’t be overawed by the towering galleries and well polished walnut furnishings. Instead, they talk about how the closer connection with the fans will inspire the team further. The Beef Guild money has arrived too late to allow United to make any impact on the transfer market but it has allowed the club to clear the debts accrued when the previous owner refinanced the club to the Lich of Paygun to fund the stadium. No one was looking forward to that revenue collection. Ailart Ainchar is the tenacious heart of a team that presses far up the pitch to give striker Glitterwings Smith the best chance of converting. Tanyl Sarra and the Beef Guild will be hoping that weird half Nikoto will be able to make those critical impact substitutions if they can shake off a haunting picked up in the final match of last season. Expectations – This is the team to beat.
Green Star: Losing so dramatically and with such indignity in the last few minutes of last season was not kind to the team from Willowell. Such was the acrimony, controversy and blame going around that it shattered the casting room. The board showed the manager the door with 10 of the senior squad also departing before the supporters club ousted the board after their own emergency election. New manager Benoite Lis is an old hand at Mageball, with 30 years experience in Nita, Phifla, and Hite but this is the first time she’s led a team in Uvyd. Lis has taken advantage of the much reduced wage bill to sign 16 new players, a record of incoming talent for Green Star and the league. Critics question the value in such a bloated squad and how they’ll all fit in Green Star’s homely but tiny facilities. Signs point to a rotation system; a highly unusual sight this side of the Reddish Sea. Green Star teams have always had a knack for physics spells and despite the root and branch rebuild this will continue with the wide pointsmen parternhsip Zacnuil and Singet forming the exoskeleton of the new team’s shape. Expectations – There’s too much talent here for anything other than a title challenge but a win seems unlikely.
Scripts: Scripts sidestepped the issue that has dominated their preseason for the last 7 years by announcing just minutes after the trophy ceremony that star player Jabrarium Smelthand had signed a new 5 year contract and would thus be staying at the club. That Smelthand is essential to the Scripts’ title challenge is undeniable but the strain the necromancer places on the wage bill must surely limit what team can be built around them. And after 7 seasons of Scripts effectively being Smelthand with others, the rest of the league know all about their dark magic tricks. If this team is actually going to make it to the playoffs then they’ll have try some innovation. Scripts were busy in the transfer market, but only as a selling club with 6 first team regulars departing for new clubs. Rumours that this was done mostly to balance the books were borne out by the promotion of so many from the Script’s academy. Amongst the youngsters are a set of 4 elementalists who have been very splash and shock happy during the friendlies. On a side note, Scripts have a new colour scheme this year on the advice of Smelthand’s girlfriend’s mother’s oracle, so they’ll be playing in silver and red rather than the familiar red and silver. Expectations – Scripts are capable of the playoffs but if Smelthand gets injured they could be at risk of relegation.
Blipfort Beacons: Will this finally be the year when someone at the Blipfort Fort does something new? An impressive series of intercontinental wins leads many to keep faith in a team that hasn’t changed its personnel in a decade. Manager Snodbi talks a lot about family and camaraderie but many think he should also be talking about the fitness and repetition issues that stopped his team from lifting the Lilac Cup. After 10 years of no transfer activity, the beacons must be sitting on a pile of cash they could splash, surely? Investment isn’t anathema to the board as the Beacons’ community centre and new training ground is of the highest quality but it can’t have used up all of the money. They’ve even managed to retain the same set of sponsors. We all know the excellent teamwork and their mastery of teleportation, so expect them to continue to deploy counter attacking manoeuvres that are quite impossible for their opponents to mimic. That magical mobility can only carry them so far, as their defence is lacking in both pace and stamina, with captain Sir Imme del Fuego in particular slowing notably as last season finished. Expectations – Top half of the table with a good cup run, like last year and the year before and the year before that…
Weathertop Rangers: The mages from the mountains made it another season without losing at home, making it 37 matches in a row that they are undefeated between the peaks. Talk to any player from the rest of the league and they’ll tell you how much they hate going up to the Weathertops to play. Not only do you have to contend with the high altitudes and the earth and weather mages being right next their aspects of power but the Rangers continue to play without a home stadium. In the face of fierce criticism from the owners of both Koilanna teams, the Rangers board issued a stern reminder that there are no cities in the Weathertops and that the team’s constitution explicitly states that it serves its community by bringing the game to all parts. This means all the Weathertops matches played on pitches that are little more than village greens and are sometimes actual fields. Pitch quality aside, Rangers will be hoping that perhaps this season will see them actually not lose an away match. To break the curse of the lowlands, the fans are looking to Tér Cisdo, the first spiritwalker to ever play for the team. Cisdo is going to have to work hard, as they face a hostile reception from the hardliners amongst the Rangers fans who believe she doesn’t qualify to pay for the Weathertops as she’s the daughter of migrants who moved away and wasn’t born on the mountains. Expectations – If they can get some results away from home the Rangers could mount a playoff challenge.
Kolianna Library: Alberic Coltaire has a vision of flair and culture. A vision for a team that plays with patience, refinement and tactical complexity. This was a dramatic change of pace when introduced to the Uvyd League 13 years ago but now the vision is turning stale. 30 successive victories and 4 league trophies bought Coltaire a deep deep pool of admiration from the Library board and the fans but recent success has eluded them. The librarians are still a joy to watch even if they are now so often goalless. Coltaire continues to iterate and tinker as they try to find the flow again. They’ve brought in 4 new players, one for each section of the field. Skewew, Zulyafi, Taparetas, and Num all fit the librarian mould as studious and technical players who will easily adopt the Vision. What could perhaps make a difference this year is the new assistant manager. Kanashiitatsujin is an alchemist and is using phrases like paradigm shift and collateral damage, all implying that something new and daring might come from the training ground that’s a bit more cunning than a few thrown splash potions. Expectations – There’s an outside chance of a title challenge but intercontinental qualification is the realistic outcome.
Kolianna City: This season KC wil start with a 20 point penalty after the team were sanctioned by the league for the numerous on and off field fights and violence. The Blipfort and Potsmannerdamm local authorities have banned KC’s travelling fans after post match riots. On the pitch KC has the worst disciplinary record per game of any mageball team ever and on two occasions got a player sent off before the match even started. This hasn’t deterred the team with captain Laurel Anna Blue-Petal being typically aggressive when announcing that City would not be changing their physical and confrontational playing style. Manager Helio Hardhammer has the full backing of the supporter control board and has brought in Turge Turgesen from the White Islands. At three metres tall and possibly as wide, Turgesen shouldn’t be mistaken as yet another green skinned thug. Turgesen has a particular talent for shield and wall spells which will surely give KC’s opponents tactical and actual headaches. The first match of this season is the derby match against Kolianna Library which is being held behind closed doors in the hope that there’ll be less trouble. Expectations – With qualification for the intercontinentals unlikely given the penalty, expect them to focus on the cups.
Standard Quotidian: Standard Quotidian were dull to watch last year, boring the year before and can be fully expected to be tedious this year. It amounts to something of a special skill of theirs that no matter the talent or playing style of their opposition, StanniQ find a way to suck all the life and fun from the sport. Sometimes they lose, sometimes they win; in either event no one’s quite sure how it happened because so little of note occurs. Middle Street Stadium is a lifeless place devoid of colour that somehow manages to absorb and silence the most determining away chants. Samsam Rdd seems entirely happy with this and has spent a sensible amount of money on a new shielding centre and a promoted a dispel specialist from the youth team. If StanniQ would do something, anything, themselves other than block and play long, their disruptive play style would be a point of interest in the schedule. As it is, their presence in the fixture list will inevitably elicit groans and a flurry of excuses from even the most diehard travelling fans. Expectations – Somehow they’ll end up at statistical average midpoint, again.
Hearts of the Eastern Marches: The marcher fans call it the miracle of the wet summer, so improbable was it for the Hearts to get the results they needed to avoid relegation. That trick isn’t going to work again this season as chaosmancer Asmara Winlen has gone into a well-earned retirement. Without her a team that was poor now becomes simply awful. Percy Sledge has spent what little transfer budget they had to sign Ugyo Sinthassa at the last minute, one of the walk-aways from Green Star. But whilst having quality healer on the field will improve the Heart’s staying power, it won’t compensate for a lack of the necessary quality. This is a sad state to see a club with a three hundred year history but perhaps sometime in the lower league will be good for them; a chance to rebuild and start again away from the fixture pressure of the Uvyd League. The only thing Hearts have going for them is the loyalty of their support who always make sure the Glenn Atrium is filled with song and noise. Expectations – A desperate relegation battle.
Black Tower Park: It’s BTP’s first ever season at the top of the league pyramid after winning promotion in the playoffs. Owner and manager Ohovius the Black Hearted has committed to the team that didn’t concede any goals last year. They’ve brought in some talent to act as cover but otherwise the starting lineup will see no changes. Vigil, Fang, and Woods continue to form a triangle of offensive evocation and as a three sided defensive unit they can’t be faulted. This is all helped by the looming presence of the Black Tower over the home pitch, from where Ohovius the Black Hearted mysteriously runs the team. BTP utilise their defensive strength to build attacks from deep in their territory. This simple and effective tactic served them well and they were happy to absorb their opponents’ attacks. This won’t be as successful in the Uvyd League where the quality of the attack is soo much higher. Ohovius the Black Hearted says the target of this year is survival and has rejected any notion that club funds would be better spent on things other than increasing the height and ornamentation of the Black tower, claiming that the altitude helps them better study the game’s mystical auras. Expectations – BT Park are going back down but not without a fight.
Decapodes: Despite winning promotion and the Lilac Cup last year, never has there been a more antagonistic relationship between the fans and a club owner. Kaige Hook has renamed the stadium after themselves, moved their business HQ into the stadium, rebuilt the south stand with nothing but corporate boxes and private offices, closed all the community outreach programs, and taken sponsorship deals from cults and vampires. They say this has funded the team’s improvement that has seen back to back promotions but the protestors point to the lavish airship parties and luxury VVIP facilities that don’t benefit the team at all. On the pitch the Decapodes are a solid team that’s been boosted by four new attacking signings. This has of course angered the fans as all four have come from foreign team owned by Hook’s business partners. It’ll be up to new manager Tögin Taattaan to integrate players they had no say in signing into a team where the owner regularly interferes with selection. Last season under “Gray Beard” Yeardley the Decapodes played a high tempo high line that focused on lots of low level spells used rapidly. Slide winger Yewtooth Adamais epitomises this tactic with their magic missile giga-volleys. Expectations – Decapodes will be only just above the relegation zone all season.
Buzzard and Flowers: Last season ended in ignominy and disaster when B+F had to sell their stadium and training facilities to cover the gambling debts of the ex-owner, the adventurer Lachlan Pembroke. It turned out that the treasure hoard Pembroke used to buy and fund the club had been exhausted two years ago. The club was saved from folding by the druids of Lamatone Forest who stepped in to buy the remaining assets. B+F now play at an out of town ground the druids sang from the trees. It’s quite a site to see the stadium itself cheering on the team. The fallout from the near bankruptcy has seen three quarters of the players and staff depart for places paying actual wages. B+F fans aren’t fully resigned to relegation though as the legendary druid centre third Sally “Green Beard” Daga has come out of retirement to be the player/manager. She’s put together a team of local youth talent and free transfer veterans. B+F qualified last year for the intercontinentals and have already played two matches of the pre-qualifying, in which they went full natural magics and earned two quality victories. Watch out for Ridani, the tiefling from The Isolated Dimension, who’s off ball speed has to be seen to be believed. Expectations – Either a romantic back from the brink fairy tale or a record breaking failure.
All images are CC-BY-SA-3.0 from SunnyClockwork