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 Issue 7 - May 8 2506
FUMBBL's Focus Match
by pac

Sunday, 16th April - Final of the inaugural Warpstone Open: Black Axe vs Deepwood Junkies.

Team Profile: Black Axe (Orcs) coached by Petter

Founded at the end of last year, the Black Axe have built themselves up rapidly into a formidable outfit, with 46 games under their belts before the final of the Warpstone Open. Their main assets are their brutal and highly experienced Black Orcs and Blitzers, able to form an almost unbreachable line, and devastate any opposition with their blocking. Having defeated the renowned Blood Falcons during qualification, there can be little doubt that the Black Axe now fear no opposition.

Blitzer Zazh Fleshhoarder is the team's leading Star, his willingness to put his whole body into a block having helped to earn him a total of 23 career casualties, including 7 during the Warpstone Open finals and qualifiers. He is also one of only three Black Axe players to have played in each of the team's 46 matches. With 2 casualties, a touchdown, a completion, and the MVP in the semi-final, Zazh comes into the big game in top form.

Coach Petter was modest about his chances ahead of the kick-off, saying: "FischerKing is a brilliant coach and he has a very strong team. I give myself about 35% to win the game. If I don't get lucky with casualties I don't see myself as the winner after that game. I hope the spectators will enjoy the game, I'll do my best to put on a good show!"

Team Profile: Deepwood Junkies (Wood Elves) coached by FischerKing

With 337 games behind them, the Deepwood Junkies are currently the 13th most experienced side in the Ranked division. Although they do have an appearance in the final rounds of the Fumbbl Cup to their name, their present run is already the team's greatest tournament performance in its long history. The Junkies squad possesses huge reserves of talent, despite the fact that its longest-serving players have only been around for a fraction of the team's total life-span.

Catcher Ashstar Cometwhine is the team's leading Star, and also leading scorer, with 26 touchdowns in 45 matches. The player has been quiet during the Open so far, with only an MVP and a single touchdown in different matches in the qualifiers, and no outstanding performances in the finals. Since Ashstar is known to be fragile and somewhat injury-prone, he may have been being protected by his coach, or perhaps he has simply been saving his best for the final itself.

Coach FischerKing gave us his own exclusive analysis of the match-up: "When two so different yet so complete teams face each other, much comes down to things like kick-off results, armour and injury rolls, and single important dice rolls... If the Orcs take out many Wood Elves quickly, things might get hard for us as the team's Stars get exposed. On the other hand, the Deepwood Junkies are extremely dangerous (among the best teams on Fumbbl at sacking) if you make a mistake, and if Petter isn't careful or fails a crucial dice roll, the game might be over by turn 6 first half."

The verdict from the gallery ahead of this one was that the Junkies were at a major advantage, with their ability to score at almost any time, and - unusually for an elf team - a reasonably deep squad which should keep them in competitive shape throughout normal time. For the Black Axe to win, they would have to somehow force the elves to play them at their own game, where their superior power and muscle would inevitably win the day.

The Match

162,000 fans (including as many as 100 Fumbbl coaches) streamed into the stadium, buzzing with the breaking news that both sides had hired Wizards for the game, the Junkies also freebooting a Catcher, and the Black Axe calling upon the services of Varag Ghoul-Chewer himself! The two teams were evenly matched in rating terms, and both players carrying niggling injuries turned up fit to play. Coach FischerKing won the coin toss, and chose for his elves to receive.

The Junkies secured the short kick, but the Orcs' armour held up to their opening blocks and fouls. The elves then began to run receivers through the Black Axe line, but suffered an early set-back as Crazy Diamond mis-timed his leap, crashing to the ground surrounded by opposing players. The Orcs moved quickly to close down this limited breakthrough, and Ort Slavechild slid in to perform a nasty ground-blitz on the unfortunate Crazy Diamond. The referee could hardly miss such a blatant foul however, and neither player was to take any further part in the match.

In closing up their centre, however, the Orcs had opened up their right flank slightly, and the Junkies pacy Catchers now raced to exploit that gap, as the entire team spread out and evaded the Orcs. The Black Axe players pursued, while the Junkies' Thrower Nebril Neverscatter, safe and deep in his own half, watched the situation develop and waited for an opportunity. Despite much of the crowd anticipating delaying tactics, the Junkies took their first opportunity to find the touchdown, a quick feint from Neverscatter sending all the Orcs the wrong way, as he made a hand-off to Ashstar Cometwhine, who raced down the side-line to throw a pin-point pass to Dodger Strangelove in the end-zone. A precision manoeuvre with no margin for error, perfectly executed.

Black Axe 0 - Deepwood Junkies 1

The Junkies set up to defend with a widely spread line-up, looking to get behind the Black Axe and deep into their half at the first opportunity. The Orcs attacked aggressively, seeking to respond to the elf touchdown the best way they knew how: by shedding blood. The Junkies twisted away from their blows however, and those that landed carried little force. Worse was to come as Ragrag Three-eyes missed his pick-up on the ball kicked deep, and the Junkies' Catchers again sensed their chance.

Ashstar Cometwhine - seeking to confirm himself as the star man of the game - raced across the pitch, snatching the ball from under the very noses of the startled Orcs. But he allowed himself just one taunt too many as he skipped away, slipping on a loose piece of turf and crashing to the ground with a nasty crack. This stroke of luck allowed Ragrag to secure the ball, but the rest of his team continued to block weakly, and the big Thrower looked poorly protected...

Undeterred by Cometwhine's misfortune, the mobile Junkies rapidly closed down Ragrag, managing to bring him down and even get the ball to their freebooted Catcher, who ran straight across the Orcish line to score - when many spectators had again expected delaying action. Nonetheless, the elves now had a two-point lead, and now had a great air of confidence about them.

Black Axe 0 - Deepwood Junkies 2

Knowing they really needed to get a touchdown back before the end of the first half, the Black Axe set up aggressively again, risking a repeat performance of the Junkies ball-stealing antics. Perhaps put off their stride by the rock thrown from the crowd which stunned one of their Blockers, the initial Orc blocking was ineffective once again, although Zazh Fleshhoarder compensated a little by piling onto his target, knocking him out, while Ragrag was able to safely collect the ball deep.

Trying to force an Orcish mistake, the Junkies pressed up bravely to man-mark their opponents, before Ilmarin impressively wriggled loose of the Black Axe scrum and sprinted off to mark Ragrag himself. The powerful Thrower knocked the Catcher aside, and ran forward, but still found himself isolated from most of his team-mates, and in danger of again being sacked by the Junkies.

At this critical moment however, the Junkies could not quite get the position they needed to bring Ragrag down. The Orcish scrum charged in and pushed Ragrag free, while Zazh Fleshhoarder - marauding downfield - scored yet another KO. Ragrag now pulled out all the stops, masterminding a move which carried the ball downfield to Varag Ghoulchewer himself, waiting unmarked near the Junkies end zone. However, the wily old Blitzer - well aware of the elven ability to score very fast touchdowns - waited until the very last second of the half to touch the ball down, while carefully staying out of the elven Wizard's lightning bolt range.

Black Axe 1 - Deepwood Junkies 2

Both sides now steeled themselves for the second half: the Junkies knew they would be fortunate for the Orcs to block so poorly for a second half; the Black Axe with their coach's orders to protect the ball more closely still ringing in their ears. Both sides had yet to employ the powers of their respective Wizards...

Again the elves kicked the ball deep, and the Orcs struggled to cage effectively, while the Junkies sought to put a screen between Ragrag and the rest of his team. Finally, the Black Axe managed to form a protective pocket around their Thrower, only for the air to burst into flames around them as the elven Wizard intervened!

The Black Axe players were not unprepared, having been drilled in preparation for this all week! As one, the Orcs produced asbestos cloaks, and ducked beneath them, protecting themselves almost completely from the effects of the blast (except for one Orc who somehow got trapped beneath his cloak and panicked). The elves closed in, but they had not managed to expose the ball as they had been counting on.

But now the Black Axe had drawn the Junkies into their sort of game. In a close tight scrum the elves' pace and graceful dodging skills were of limited value. Ragrag could never quite get free of their grasp, but the elves could never quite get the ball out of the Orcish ruck. And steadily the Orc fouls and blocks began to bite, as they removed the last elven Catcher from the pitch, along with their less experienced Thrower, and Kip Walker, whose brave and ambitious blitz on Ragrag had ended in failure.

Gorbag Hellfire for the Black Axe and Kynde for the Junkies were each sent off as the game turned nasty, but now the elves were left with nothing standing in the way of the Orcish drive. The Black Axe cage rumbled forwards, Zazh smashing aside Wardancer Beregrin Shadowmind - who had positioned himself as a last line of defence - for Ragrag to score.

Black Axe 2 - Deepwood Junkies 2

The teams took stock of their situation as the game went into Overtime. Only six players from the elf team emerged from the dug-out, while the Black Axe had not suffered a single casualty.

Clearly demoralised, Neverscatter fumbled his efforts to collect the ball twice, and the Black Axe capitalised, beginning the work of smashing the luckless Thrower's team-mates off the pitch. Neverscatter finally managed to make a pass, but it proved far too late as the Orcs closed in, Zazh Fleshhoarder confirming his selection as GLN Man of the Match by killing inexperienced Line-elf Casper. With just one elf - Neverscatter - and the Junkies' Treeman left on the pitch, there was nothing left to stop the Black Axe from stomping relentlessly to victory, Durghash Deathcry getting the winning touchdown.

Final Score: Black Axe 3 - Deepwood Junkies 2

Post-match interviews:

Fischerking: I was close to closing out the game 3 times after I made it 2-0, I think. But I didn't have the luck needed to do it. In the first half, I actually had a decent chance of sacking him, but didn't get a needed pushback ... In the second half, I had a shot at him if my Wizard had worked, but only 1 out of 5 was hit. After that I got a 2-dice blitz on the ball, but I failed a 2+ dodge to get it downfield. Bitterness aside, congrats on the win, Petter: Sweden 1 - Denmark 0!

Petter: What a game! To summarize I'd say that FischerKing played a near-perfect game. He took command of the game early on, he utilized the movement and agility, and he played a better game of Blood Bowl than I did. My biggest coaching mistake was clinching with the treeman. Bad stuff. I had a miserable first half as the dice went, managed incredibly few blocks, but that all turned around massively in the second half - which could probably be described as D.R. (you know what the abbreviation stands for).

The GLN also attempted to interview the three Black Axe players who sported new mutations as the prize of their victory. However, Hark Bloodfist's Two Heads were too busy arguing with one another to speak to us; Zazh Fleshhoarder couldn't hear any of our questions as he towered far over us on his Very Long Legs; and interviewing Ort Slavechild just proved to be too dangerous, as his Spikes lacerated anyone who tried to offer him a microphone.

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