Back in those early days of 2003, things were a lot different. We were using SkiJunkie's client, we had none of your fancy icons... We played with lettered symbols! Ahhh, heady days.
One of the earliest FUMBBL conceptions was [L]eague play, and two of FUMBBL's giants started way back then. The first, and I believe also the oldest on FUMBBL (correct me if I'm wrong), is the Southern Wastes League (SWL). It was set-up in 2004 for coaches in the Australasia area of the world <cough - G'day Sheila!> . Then, 18 months later (in 2006) the White Isle League (WIL ) was born. Early on, it was purely for UK coaches, but that soon opened up to all Europeans.
These two protagonists regularly sparred over who was best league with a war of words. Unfortunately, little could be done about these spats; we could not settle scores with some form of violence called Blood Bowl! It took eleven years before SWL and WIL decided to conduct a formal tourney to see just who was the best of the best.
So, what concept should be used, and how to go about conducting a mini tourney? Well it was summer 2513 (2013) and England were whooping the Aussies at cricket, a series more commonly known as the ASHES. For those unaware, the Ashes are the remains of cricket bails held in an urn. An idea was forming. The SWL commish was approached, and Tomay and the rest of the SWL boys were as keen as we were. They wanted to get stuck into us Pommies / Euro 'scum' ASAP. We had to beat them off with a stick!
So what would the SWL and WIL fight over, what would they be willing to put their beloved teams in the line of fire to win? Actually - Nothing! Can't think of a better reason other than whooping the opposition and to have those all exclusive bragging rights!
But for fluff reasons, SWL & WIL needed something to contest, so we stole the idea of the Ashes, and Tomay came up with the URN title. This URN contains the remains of one of the very first Blood Bowl balls, and all of the races hold these remains in high regard. The honour for playing for them is ridiculously high. So these remains / games are sometimes referred to as the SCRAPS.
A mutual time to play for the URN had to be decided, and the only convenient time was just after Christmas, when both leagues were idle. So, in 2014 the first URN tourney between SWL & WIL was put into motion. The teams were selected purely by winners of the Premierships that year, or very high runners-up. Five teams from each league were randomly matched against one another. No draws were allowed, so OT ensured we would have a winner! It turned into a very close run thing, after 4 games it was even with 2 wins each, it all came down to that fifth and final game. Who was going to get that first URN trophy? Nuffle smiled, and the SWL walked away the bragging rights and a 3-2 series win. The WIL were left tantalisingly close and frustrated at being pipped at the post!
As the seasons progressed through 2014, the selected teams tried to pimp themselves in readiness for URN II. At the eleventh hour, two of the WIL's chosen committed hara-kiri, decimated themselves and effectively ruled themselves out of URN contention.
It's now January 2015, and the URN II kicks off. Once again the 5 best teams (available) from each league compete, and are randomly drawn against each other. This time there was no OT, if there was a series draw, then the SWL would retain the URN as current holders.
The author was actually involved in URN II and ironically / spookily tied against SWL commish - Tomay. Unfortunately my Undead didn't do so well, but we did get a keepsake. The tourney again was particularly close, though my early loss did hamstring us a bit, the guys rallied around and carved out two draws. The WIL needed to win the last two games! Serious pressure; and so it was, the SWL wrapped up their second URN trophy in game 4, eventually winning the series 2-0, sailing back home to the raucous chant of '2-0, 2-0, 2-0!' The gauntlet was thrown down, and the WIL had to win URN III.
015 was a rather long year for the WIL commish, his beloved Undead were demoted, snuffing out chances of revenge in the next URN. He waited, watched and nurtured his chosen for URN III (this included a small pep talk about not adhering to total annihilation prior to the forthcoming URN, with a particular emphasis of hitting Azure with a big stick so he understood! :)). Fortunately, the pep talk worked, managing to suffer no major casualties. The smack talk was now also cutting in with jibes between the two camps, notably from the SWL as they still had the URN and we were yet to even get our mitts on it!
So January 2016 approaches, the URN contenders are finalised, the draw made and the third instalment of the URN was about to begin!
I'll now hand over to Spubbbba, who has put together a worthy script of URN III and the 10 teams and 5 mini (ish) match reports
As always - Keep it WIL!
Grumpsh's Error 404 afterlife not found versus Mateuszzzzzz's White Isle dogs
In comparison to some teams in this in the competition, both teams were relative newcomers to their respective leagues, with both of them only gaining promotion to the top division this year. Since then they had had a significant impact, winning or finishing 2nd in every remaining season. Error 404 were the SWL Champions in Q3 and the White Isle Dogs are the reigning WIL champions.
The great strength of the Dogs was the mass Blodge and Sidestep across the board, which made it hard for bash teams to pin them down. They also had sufficient mobility to utilise their own Tackle and Diving Tackle when facing other agile teams. The last two seasons in the Prem had not been without cost, and they went into the game with only 12 players, several of them rookies or low skilled.
Error 404 had regularly topped the SWL Prem bashing stats, averaging 5 CAS per game in some seasons. Going into the game with 15 players, they could survive any damage the Elves could dish out and foul with abandon. Despite a lack of Tackle, their single player boasting that skill was star Werewolf Huge Axeman, who had won numerous CAS and blocking awards in the SWL Prem 2015 season. 2 DT ghouls would also help to constrain the Elven agility. Whilst Error 404 would find it tough to take the elves down, a good amount of MB and DP gave them a good chance of ensuring that any elves that did go down may not get back up again.
Error 404 won the toss and elected to receive, hoping to cause some damage on their drive and score late. However the devious Elves were able to anticipate the kick off, blitzing the slow-footed Necros and grab the ball. Axeman showed his quality and was able to pop the ball loose but the Ghoul Superstar ghoulhardy was unable to claim it back. The rest of the team did punish the Dog players for their impudence, causing an injury and knock out.
With Error 404 closing in and another player ending up in the casualty box, the Dogs decided to take this gift from Nuffle and scored in T3. Receiving for a 2nd time, Error 404 made sure to the ball was safely protected before proceeding to shamble up the pitch, Injuring another Elf in the process. The Dogs tried their best to stop them but were powerless against the inexorable tide of rotten players. The 2 Blood Wine Slanneshi cultists the Dogs had brought to the game proved their worth with all knocked out Elves coming back. Their reputation for sacrificing players who convalesced too long in the KO box doing as much to motivate them as the restoring property of Bloodweiser's newly released product for the Elven market. With a T8 score it looked like the game would be tied at the half way stage. The Dogs were not ready to give up yet though and pulled off an impressive 1 turn touchdown and with a mere 9 players.
Going into the 2nd half with a 2-1 lead and receiving, things were looking good for the Dogs. They retrieved the ball and rushed players into the opposing half, reasoning a quick score would leave the Necromantics struggling to catch up. A brilliant defence by the 404 quickly shut down and curtailed the elves. one by one the potential receivers disappeared under a tide of already dead bodies. Things came into a head when upcoming Werewolf Jazzie Batesman took out the ball carrier Tweed Water Spaniel VI and Flesh Golem Kev Mitchinson grabbed the ball. By then there were too few elves left to challenge and Error 404 stalled out the rest of the game to secure the draw.
Despite it being a draw, the massive CAS difference gave the SWL team a moral victory and the damage taken made it an extra challenge for the Dogs when they came to defend their title next season. As predicted, Huge Axeman was the star of the game adding another 3 casualties to his already impressive total, passing 50 in this game.
Grod's Technically Minded versus Stonetroll's HarsH North
HarsH North are the WIL Prem's heavy hitters, regularly topping the Prem's CAS rankings and ending the promising career of more than one opposition player. But they were more sophisticated than that and thanks to the 4 Warriors sporting a variety of skills and mutations such as Prehensile Tail, Tentacles, Diving Tackle and Guard they could effectively tie up more agile teams. The death of legendary Beastman CB and niggle of rising star Meltyman left much of the team's destructive potential in the unreliable hooves of the aptly named Conan the Useless. Some pundits claim the loss of CB was a good thing for HarsH North, as they had grown too bloated with excessive wage bills stifling the team. They pointed to the dominance of HarsH in the Q3 season compared to their less impressive performance in the final season of 2015.
Technically Minded were the season 58 champions of the SWL. They had the most impressive record of all the teams in the league with 35 wins, 9 draws and 6 losses giving them a 79% win ratio. The team was loaded with the standard Dwarven skills of Guard and Mighty Blow, but a smattering of stats and doubles gave them the ability to take on faster teams.
Superstar runner GLaDOS was their primary scorer with an impressive 39 TD's in 49 games. Whilst original team members Troll Slayer Wall-E and Blocker Astro Boy were the heavy hitters with 26 and 33 CAS respectively.
The Dwarves received and got off to a dream start causing 2 injuries and another 2 knock outs on turn 1, as well as caging the ball safely. The Chaos were not out of the game yet, and started to hit back, gradually knocking Dwarves out over the next few turns until the numbers were equal again. The Dwarves were still able to make their way up the pitch, some valiant defending applied enough pressure to forced them to score in T6. There was still time for chaos to equalise, a Riot gave them an extra turn though a deep kick made it that much trickier. A solid defence by the Dwarves only allowed a few players to get in scoring range and a well-timed blast from a flame cannon hired specially for the game and smuggled into the crowd proved to be 150 k well spent. How turning the cannon upright and sticking a fake beard on it fooled the security team is anyone's guess. Head bouncer Rogth'nrgh was quoted as stating "Well all dose stunties look alike don they, nuffink but beards and metal".
1-0 down and facing a full Dwarf squad, HarsH North had a lot to do. Up till now the Dwarven armour had resisted the blows of the chaos team relatively well, but that all changed in the 2nd half as HarsH ripped through the Dwarven lines, causing multiple permanent injuries and knock outs. Some heroics by GLaDOS popped the ball loose and almost stopped the equaliser, but HarsH were able to recover it. The chaos gods don't tend to reward caution, so HarsH scored in T6 hoping to go for glory and win the game outright. Down to just 8 players, with 2 of their likely receivers already out and facing a full chaos team Technically Minded went for the tactical option of holding out for the draw. As holders the SWL needed to just avoid a loss to retain the title. Technically Minded were able to pull back and form a deep defence, as Harsh lacked the time or speed to chase down the ball carrier the game was destined to be a draw. Frustrated by this and with their bloodlust not sated Harsh's final act was to sacrifice Arnold Schwarzeneggar to the chaos gods via a gang foul.
It was WIL's turn to claim the moral victory from a draw having caused considerable permanent damage this game. More than 1 of HarsH's players would be entered into the Technically Minded team's book of grudges.
DrDiscoStu's Wä?a Warriors versus PurpleChest's White and Purple Smoke
With the first two games ending in draws, the SWL had the advantage. If the WIL wanted to be in with a chance of lifting the URN for the first time, they had to start winning games.
Since their formation, the Warriors had steadily worked their way through the lower leagues of the SWL. They spent several season in the middle divisions building up a strong team with many great players such as Ubirr III. For an Orc team they were surprisingly agile, with Ubirr, Kakadu Jr and Maguk III being able to dodge past opposing players almost as often as they smashed through them. So much so that amongst fans of their slower and clumsier opposition teams a common chant was "Are you Wood Elves in disguise" . The Warriors then launched a blistering assault on the top division, going on to win the SWL Prem straight after their promotion, and as the reigning SWL champions had a lot to prove.
They faced White a Purple Smoke, a High Elf team who won the first WIL Prem of 2015. Since then the High Elves had been having a tougher time, suffering many injuries and narrowly avoiding relegation in a few seasons of 2015. Nevertheless with 2 Superstar Blitzers Max and Leo, they were always a threat and had pulled off more than one upset in past.
The Elves received, collected the ball and pushed down the left side of the pitch. The Orcs moved to shut this down but the nimble elves were able to elude them and easily score in turn 2. This was a risky strategy as the Smokes could have doomed themselves to 15 straight turns of pain at the hands of the vengeful Orcs. With typical Elven arrogance, they fancied their chances of a defensive TD or at least stopping the equaliser. Of course, having the magical support of long term patron and fanatical supporter high mage Furian the Pure in the crowd may have been a contributing factor as well!
The kick was deep and the Orcs secured the ball with Star Blitzer Ubirr III, forming a loose screen infront of him whilst the rest of the team got stuck into the Elven LOS. Little damage was done, so the Elves rushed forward knowing that if the Orcs could form a solid wall of greenskin flesh about the ball carrier it would prove very tough to crack. Although many of the Orcs were tied up, they still had plenty of scope to move forward and protect the ball. What should have been a simple case of Ubirr III brushing past a weak Elf Catcher ended in disaster when he was knocked flying. There were those who swear they saw an insubstantial fist fly from the stands to knock over Ubirr III and that no Elf could have upended such a powerful Orc. This led to several turns where both sides tried to recover the ball but neither could secure it. Eventually Elven agility proved to be superior and they ran in to score in turn 6.
2-0 down and only a couple of turns to keep the game alive meant the Orcs had a mountain to climb. A huge cheer went up as fan favourite the Goblin Ikoymarrwa ran onto the pitch. The crowd just loved to see him fly though the air and bets were exchanged on whether he would score, land on his face or get eaten by Jim Jim II. This time, the Orcs managed to keep hold of the ball but could only get a single player in scoring range. Gunlom Jr hugged the sidelines, already sure he would score got cocky and began mocking the Elven fans. This proved to be unwise as Furian was in that section of the crowd and took offence. Quicker than a Goblin could count to "2 and annuva wun" a Lightning Bolt flashed out and Gunlom Jr lay stunned on the ground. The Orcs last chance to equalise went after poor Ikoymarrwa was killed by Accidental Heroics.
Two touchdowns behind and facing a full Elven team, the Warriors would need to use all the grit and determination that led to them winning the SWL Prem. They started well by forming a strong cage and working their way up the pitch. The Elves, being ahead, were happy to run the clock down and stall out the Orcs. This called for more decisive action, and Ubirr III took the initiative, sprinting through a hole in the Smoke's defence. Just when it looked like he had broken free, he mysteriously slipped on a patch of ice. This was strange it being a warm sunny day and probably had nothing to do with that part of the pitch being so close to where Furian was sitting.
That ended all chances of a draw as the Elves recovered and went for a third TD, but the pass went awry; intercepted by Rookie Lineman Gubara II. This allowed the Orcs one more shot to pull back some pride and make the final result closer. To add insult to injury, the Elves were able to snatch this up and win the game 3-0. Worst of all for the Orcs, they caused very little damage to the snooty Elves, just a single injured elf Lineman. Probably the worst possible outcome of any game for the players of the Warriors was a game where they got to do little face punching, worst of all when facing stuck up British Elves.
The WIL went into the lead for the first time in two years, the crowd invaded the pitch and held aloft the scorers Scouse Tim, Zooom In Haste and mysteriously Furian as well who swore blind all he had done all game was cheer vigorously from the sidelines.
Faulcon's Slumbering Skink versus Ulrik's White Isle Lizards.
The Slumbering Skinks have a prestigious career in the SWL, being the longest serving team in the league and one of the oldest active teams in general. They had over four hundred games behind them, numerous records and titles over that period, and so were an obvious choice to represent the SWL. This made them the only team to be given the honour of taking part in all 3 Urns.
The White Isle Lizards had won the Prem convincingly in Q2, but since then had been targeted by their league rivals. The loss or injury of several key players meant they were too battered to defend their title and ended up relegated in Q3. Re-building the team around their 2 Legends Sir Psycho Sexy and Flawless Freak saw them gain promotion back to the Prem at the end of the year. Both teams went into the game sporting several injuries and the White Islers had just 10 regular players. They did bring this up to 11 by recruiting Star Player Helmut Wulf, reasoning his chainsaw could cut through tough scales as easily as it did metal armour.
With the WIL ahead and 2 games to go, this was a vital match as a loss for SWL would hand victory to the WIL. The SWLers had come back from tougher situations in the past though, such as in the first URN.
The Islers received and got off to a strong beginning, grabbing the ball, knocking out one Saurus and taking out three players for good by the half way point, including the Krox and 2 other Saurus. They didn't have it all their own way, and the Slumbering Skinks did some damage back, most notably killing injured vet Timmy and his Tail. An opening in the WI Lizard's defence let the Superstar Skink Shntsyeooa sack the ball carrier, but the Islers were able to recover and score in T8. T8 was uneventful with no damage or successful OTT attempt.
The Skinks were suffering after the loss of most of their heavy hitters, but having done some damage in return (and with the Ref rejecting Helmut's excuse that his chainsaw was a 'back scratcher', sending him off) and with a deeper bench, they were still in with a shot for the second half. Unfortunately the weather was to be their undoing, the extreme heat proving too tempting with three of the Skinks living up to their team name, including Shntsyeooa, choosing to bask on a nice rock over playing, compared to just one from the WI Lizards. With a meagre 5 players facing off against 8, the Skinks didn't have the numbers left to protect the ball and were quickly overrun by the WILers.
The WILers attempts to stall out the half were stopped by Star Saurus Llstrr, who forced the score on top of causing 2 CAS in the first half.
Only a single player from each team sat out in the heat, which meant 7 players were available for each side. The Slumberers had a slim chance of pulling back a draw or at least getting a consolation score and doing some damage back. But a Blitz! put paid to that, and both teams ended up scrabbling for the ball the rest of the game.
The WIL were ecstatic to have finally won the trophy, and with one game still remaining! The White Isle Lizard's Premier opponents for next season had the extra pleasure of not having to face Timmy as well.
Barre's Large Head-on Colliders versus Azure's Seven Pillars.
The Pillars were famously passed over to represent the WIL Urn team last year, despite being a champion. Outraged by this slight, their coaching staff schemed long into the night, forming plans to avenge this injustice. Rumours abound that multiple agents of Clan Eshin have been hunting WIL commissioner Prez ever since, and only his foul necromantic sorceries have allowed him to remain functioning as league commissioner and head coach of Death Isle Ghosts. The only member of the WIL team not to win the championship, the Pillars earned their spot by being the most consistently successful team in 2015, with their worst result last year being 4th. Led by now sadly deceased team captain and legend Zeal, they scored with aplomb throughout the year and more than once beat up seemingly bashier opponents.
The Colliders had started 2015 in dominant position, winning the first two championships of the year. This added to their already crowded trophy shelf groaning under the weight of trophies from past SWL victories. Perhaps they had been too successful for their own good and were targeted by opposing forces as they were relegated in season 61. The team boasted three Legends in the shape of 2 Bull Centaurs Robert Brout and François Englert, as well as Hobgoblin sneutrino. These great players built around a solid support had been essential in the team's success. Trusting in the greater strength of their players and higher armour they elected not to hire any new players for this game and started with a squad of only 11.
The URN had already been won, this game was for pride, both teams were used to success so wouldn't be holding back. A win for the SWL would bring it back to a narrow defeat, whilst a WIL win would give the largest victory yet, and bring both leagues to the same number of won games over the total competition. This would allow WIL coaches to claim the series was tied based on overall results, conveniently brushing over the uncomfortable fact of losses in the previous 2 years.
The Pillars won the toss and elected to receive. As is wont to happen with the devious ratmen their carefully laid plans immediately began to fall apart as bickering over who would get the first hit left them open to be blitzed by the more disciplined Chaos Dwarves. However, the horned rat proved to be watching over his furry disciples, and legendary Bull Centaur Robert Brout's gammy ankle gave out as he was powering into the Skaven LOS: causing him to stumble and land squarely on his head.
Lying prone surrounded by the WIL Prem's dirtiest team is not a good way to start the game, and proved disastrous as a gang foul in T2 crippled him further with his another ankle going. Many Collider fans were angry that the team Apothecary was not called to save the long-time fan favourite. Commentators speculated that Brout's wage demands had grown too high in last season's contract negotiations, and the multiple injuries he had picked up over his career made him a shadow of his former self (if not a bit of a liability). The Skaven made the most of this good fortune and quickly started removing Collider's players from the pitch, many permanently.
Compassion VII hung back in their half, leaving the rest of the team to symmetrically target the Chaos Dwarfs and Hobgoblins. The Colliders tried to fight back and did do some damage in return including killing Kindness X but more and more players disappeared under a tide of vermin, with gluon III being killed mid-half. By the time Compassion waltzed in for the score only 5 Colliders players remained for the 2nd half.
Despite Love II, Compassion VII and Kindness X being on the pitch, none of these qualities were on display in the second half as the Pillars began systematically removing the remaining Collider's players from the field. It is rumoured Mercy VIII (who fouled 7 times this game) acquired his name not through displaying this characteristic, but it being the most commonly heard final utterings of his gang foul targets.
After stealing the ball, Love II began showboating, throwing a pass to please the crowd before Zeal II scored in T4. The Colliders had long resigned them self to a heavy defeat, but T6 was especially painful. Both Atlas VI and LHCf XI were killed and Zeal ran in for the third touchdown, leaving just legendary Hobgoblin sneutrino to finish the game. This wasn't enough for the Pillars, as they passed up the chance to score a fourth TD in favour of trying to finish off sneutrino, though they only managed to knock him out.
Securing the assistance of Greyseer Spiketail was certainly a wise move for 7 Pillars. Rather than utilising his services for more conventional spells such as a Fireball or Lightning Bolt, they elected to have him cast an illusion so all the Collider's players resembled WIL commissioner Prez. This gave them the Pillars' squad extra motivation to win, and explained the savage brutality they continued to show, even once the game was clearly won.
With a 3-0 victory, clear pitch, 7 CAS (including 3 deaths), and 13 fouls, the Pillars had certainly stamped their mark on the URN. This proved to be quite literally true, as since the trophy has been displayed in WIL headquarters it appears to be gnawed in several places, and is wont to glow green and make peculiar noises when Morrslieb waxes full.