I find myself in the main office of the Ulthuan Elven Football Association in Altdorf, about to meet a certain Lord Farian Silverbow. I have heard little of this elf, despite his lofty position as Chairman of the Ulthuan Invitational Board of Organisers. However, given the reclusive ways of the UEFA and the shroud of mystery they purposely keep their tournament enveloped in, that is not as surprising as it might be. Weeks of lobbying have gone into acquiring this exclusive interview, and even then it was only yesterday that we were informed of Lord Farian's presence here. I was unceremoniously rushed here - non-VIP treatment which I am not used to - and thus here I am, set and ready to go, with my halfling scribe still frantically trying to finish his far too large breakfast. (Perhaps agreeing to pay the little rotter in food was not such a good idea after all, who would have thought that such a little mouth could masticate at such astonishing rates.)
It isn't that long before a mousy little man steps into the foyer and tells us that Lord Farian is expecting us. I pluck a bun out of the chubby hand of my scribe (I should ask him what his name is, really) and shove him in the direction of the doorway. As we step through it, I notice that the large windows which should offer a grand view of downtown Altdorf have been shut, the blinds pulled. I would make a comment here about the sensitive noses of elves, but given what downtown Altdorf is like I don't blame the man. Lord Farian is seated in a large, comfy-looking easy chair. He smiles faintly, the merest raising of the lips (come to think of it, it might as well have been a sneer, but let's stay optimistic) and gestures curtly at the chair opposite him. I seat myself, wait for my scribe to take out the necessary writing materials, and launch into the interview.
GLN: The Warpstone Open has only just finished, the cheering of the fans hasn't died out yet - and you're already announcing the start of the Ulthuan Invitational Qualifiers. Word on the street has it you were hoping to eliminate Black Axe this way, since they might be too drunk to notice that the Ulthuan has started in the victory celebrations.
Farian: Yes, Orcs might be that stupid. Hopefully what you say will indeed occur. However, we would have left more time between the Warpstone and the Ulthuan, but with the lengthy qualifying tournaments involved in the Warpstone Open, we are pressed for time as it is. Inserting a few weeks of rest would see the Invitational drag out into the window of time forseen for the Grotty Little Tournament, and unlike some, we are polite enough to consider other organisations.
GLN: We've also noticed that you've included a new rule - each team may only attempt to qualify once. Why this change?
Farian: There are several reasons for that. Firstly, we are expecting a massive amount of registrations. Allowing some teams to attempt to qualify twice or more just because their coach is willing to drive them harder (sometimes dangerously so) would deny other teams their rightful spot. Not only that, but it has in the past raised complaints that the quality of the coaches and teams in the tournament was not top notch - teams would simply keep trying to make it in until they got an easy draw and made it in. We're hoping to add new heights of tension to the tournament right from the start.
GLN: A left-over from last year's tournament is the qualifying format. Obviously you are still convinced that elven and other "soft" teams need a helping hand claiming their necessary spots in the tournament, despite the large number of elves in the last Fumbbl Cup.
Farian: Nonsense - the opposite is true. We are making sure that enough of the so called "hard-hitting" teams make it through. We need their fumbling antiques as amusement factor.
GLN: Which brings us to one of the qualms fans and coaches have had with the tournament in the past. Druchii (Ed: Dark Elves) made their way into the tournament last year via the "Light" qualifiers. How is this?
Farian: I don't know what you're talking about. We do not allow teams from Naggaroth and its surroundings to take part - not even in the Dark Qualifiers.
GLN: It must have come as a great surprise to you then when the elven team Midwinter celebrated last year's victory in the streets of Naggaroth.
Farian: I assure you that the cup and the prizes were stolen and look-alikes took over Midwinter. What else can one expect from our Dark Elven kin than to attempt to steal unearned glory? You may have noticed that the team later ignominiously disbanded - further proof that our thesis is correct.
GLN: Be that as it may, have you done anything to improve the control mechanisms on those attempting to qualify for the tournament?
Farian: I fail to see the need. Things will work the same way they did last year.
GLN: On a different note, which teams would you wish to see in the Invitiational?
Farian: Naturally, the Nandorins would be a welcome sight. After great performances in the Grotty Little Tournment and the Fumbbl Cup, it is time for them to show themselves on their home territory. A team such as the Deepwood Junkies would also be much appreciated. Classic elven play of the highest quality - a joy to behold.
GLN: Yes, indeed. Stop sniggering, you. I'm paying you to write, not laugh! Don't write that down.
GLN: Do excuse me, good staff is so hard to find nowadays. When will the first qualifiers begin?
Farian: We are expecting the first qualifying tournaments to kick off on the 25th of April. As you know, qualifying tournaments for the Ulthuan Invitational are played in one sitting. This means we test teams both on skill and endurance, and give the fans a whole day of entertainment - and that for a mere 2000 gold pieces per ticket!
GLN: It also means that organising the tournaments is a hassle for both the coaches and the organisation.
Farian: That is something we will have to deal with. The Ulthuan Invitational caters to specific coaches, teams and fans.
GLN: Just so. Thank you for the interview, Lord Silverbow. Best of luck with the tournament, hopefully it will be a spectacle for fans everywhere. Come on, short stuff, time to scram - I need a Blood. What's that? Oh... Thanks... You know what, you're not so bad after all.
Interview by Alfred König and the unknown halfling scribe.