The Warpstone Open XIII Qualifier VIII kicked off today with an incredible match between the Warpstone Mining Union and AOFNurgly at the Nurgly home stadium, the Rustbucket. The match was a capacity sellout with 34,000 spectators turning out including a numerous gang of other head coaches.
Pre-match much of the talk had been about how the Union couldn't stand against a much more experienced and developed squad, especially a Nurgle side which the Union had struggled against in the past. The Gnoblar Head Coach of the Union, Bezer, was quick to put critics to bed stating in the pre-match conference that "Me boyz clawz will do da hurtz" but despite this odds were against the Underworld team competing in their first major tournament.
However, the Union put on extra-team training in the build up and secured the work of Carlo Pellegatti the Apothecary signaling to many that management thought there might be a few casualties, and there was. The Union also splashed the cash securing the work of Glart Smashrip Jr (who continues to profess that he wasn't paid and was doing this for the sake of his fellow rats) and Bomber Dribblesnot. Dribblesnot was a surprise signing for a game against Nurgle who typically fogged up the field making throwing difficult and when Bezer was reminded of this fact he held his head in his hands.
Nurgly won the coin toss and elected to receive hoping to put the hurt on the Union side and it started well. Union star blitzer Gnaw, who had been with the team since he was a little ratling, hadn't heard the whistle over the noise of the crowd and was busy tying his laces when he was suddenly hit by Nurgly star blitzer Awoka. The Pestigors horns went straight into the poor rats head spilling his brains out over the field. Carlo the Apothecary quickly ran out to attend to Gnaw attempting to scoop his brains back into his skull but in the process managed to pull the poor rats head off. He was dead. Double dead. The crowd was silent. One of the brightest stars of the Underworld circuit had snuffed it. Many Union fans sat in disbelief as they accepted defeat and many of the Union players stood in shock as Gnaws body quickly rotted and decayed before standing and joining the Nurgly box.
Enraged, Gnaw's brood brother Skrat ran across from the other side of the pitch and began scrapping with Awoka which in itself provided a gap in the Nurgly line which was quickly exploited by the agile Flea who ran into the Nurgly backfield putting pressure on the exposed Nurgly QB Miclos who wasn't famed for his pace. Flea dodged the block of Ares who backtracked to provide cover before sacking Miclos and dragging him down to the ground.
Miclos stood first and recovered the ball but in his blind panic tripped over the outstretched tail of a prone Flea dropping the ball in the process which Flea pounced on before crawling with it over the line for the first surprise Touchdown of the game. The match had exploded into life. Commentators stared on in disbelief as the Union went 1-0 up on the Nurgly drive.
Now they just had to hold on as casualties were already mounting with Skurry, one of the Union's top Throwers also taking a hit and being carried off the field.
The Nurgle crowd were fantastic throughout cheering their team on to push for an equaliser, and push they did. With the ball quickly picked up by Nurgly they pushed down the nearside taking a number of goblins out. As the Union defence shifted to the near side Miclos saw his chance and ran through a gap in the centre but in the process left himself exposed from the fast moving Tails and Mange who had just taken out Ares after Bomber Dribblesnot had bombed himself to bring down the scary Beast of Nurgle.
Nurgly quickly swarmed the loose ball killing Yob the goblin and knocking out many others. At this point the Union only had 6 players still on the pitch but they weren't giving up, Skrat again out of nowhere blitzed Awoka who was running free towards the endzone before Tails dodged away from the tentacles of the Beast of Nurgle and through the entire Nurgly team mobbed in the centre to scoop up the loose ball but he in turn was sacked by Miclos with Awoka picking up and running for the end zone.
Flea, who was having an incredible half jumped away from his marker and made a last ditch tackle on Awoka surprisingly bringing down the bruiser of a Pestigor and in the process broke the Pestigors arm nearly in half but Awoka simply shrugged as he was taken off as his arm healed itself.
But the desperate defending of the Union was working and time was running out forcing Nurgly to resort to Elvish pass plays which went as you would expect as the ball hit a drooling rotter square in the face before he reacted 10 seconds too late.
HALF TIME 0-1
The half had been brutal for the Union with 7 out and only 9 players fit for the field but they were receiving and they simply had to stop the opposition from scoring in order to win and it started well. Tails collected the ball and with the rest of his team made a play down the far side, a screen of goblins protecting the ball carrier as best they could but the highlight was Awoka, freshly on after his arm had healed up, being hit in the face by the horned Skrat who pierced the Pestigors skull with his horns killing him immediately, exactly as Awoka had done to Gnaw in the first half.
He wasn't regenerating that injury.
But even with this good start the Union were still outnumbered by the Nurgle side who swarmed the Union players forcing Tails to backtrack as they piled forward. Tails panicked as the centre of the field became a scrum around the Troll and with 2 free goblins he darted down the far sideline hoping to outrun the opposition but the goblin covers couldn't keep out Ikofino who sacked Tails and knocked him out. Without their leader on the pitch the Union were at a loss and the lack of direction set in as Miclos danced through the Union line to pick up the ball. Skrat lunged for him at the last second and managed to bring him down but the free Ikofino darted in, picked up, and dodged away from the exhausted Skrat. Miclos in a moment of madness, furious at his constant sacking, kicked at one of the down Union players getting himself sent off in the process.
But in a repeat of the first half the sacking went on with Glart Smashrip, who up to this point had had a very mediocre game came back to provide cover and brought down Ikofino with Mange trying his best to advance the ball but the opposition was too many and they were pinned against the sideline so Bezer looked on helplessly as Mange was brought down and a goblin was kicked into the crowd and beaten mercilessly. Every Union player was down battered and bruised but Mange with his last ounce of strength stood to his feet and made a brilliant run past 2 Nurgly players to again sack the ball yards from his own endzone. But it wasn't enough and AOFNurgly managed to power the ball across the line.
The Union fans were heartbroken. Their team had shown true passion and grit and determination but couldn't hold on and now they faced the daunting possibility of Over Time with only 7 players standing, 9 out including many of their stars. Their only hope was for a quick goblin throw touchdown which they had so far never been able to pull off. The troll Duh Meh didn't understand the concept unless it involved bashing someones skull in...
The players lined up and just as they kicked off violence erupted in the crowd as Union fans angry with the situation began tearing up their seats and throwing them on to the helpless Nurgle fans around them. Video footage seems to show a number of the other Blood Bowl coaches also joining in! The ref wasn't watching, the Union had time, they rushed down the far side, Flea tripping over his tail at the last second but managing to push the ball forwards towards the advanced Skrat.
The Nurgle players shifted over swamping the ball but somehow Glart was pushed free from the melee and blitzed one of the players away giving space for Skrat who just had a simple dodge to make and the game would be won. It was nail biting, the atmosphere electric, literally as many of the Skaven fired off Warp-lightning guns in celebration, the Union had done it, against all the odds, the Union had ----- Skrat fell. In a single moment all hope had gone. The whistle went. Overtime it was.
FULL TIME 1-1
The beaten up Union side huddled up, Tails, the captain and Talisman swigged down some Bloodweiser, shook of his headache and gave an impassioned speech as his battered squadmates listened on. "Its over-finished. We can't win, just lose-hurt. Save yourselves." Turns out Skaven cowardice can never be overcome. Flea agreed as the apothecary finished bandaging him up from his fall. "Flea-flee, save yourselves." But unbeknownst to them the Nurgle side had also taken some punishment and for the first time they started without a full side.
The toss was made. Nurgle won, they chose to receive. It was over. Some of the goblins cried as they made their way to the LOS. This would hurt. The Nurgle meatwall lined up ready to dish out the pain. A few rotters in the backfield ready to push forward but as the Nurgle began their drive, swamping the Union lines, Snot, who was out 'injured' but looked perfectly fine reflected the sun light off his prized "5th worst player" award he had won just last week straight into the eyes of the rotter behind who failed to catch the pickup as it bounced off his head and then who couldn't see the ball to pick up kicked it away instead.
Glart saw the chance and in a similar move to their first TD moved across the pitch to tell Skrat and Flea who were on their knees begging Obaseki, the huge Nurgle Bloater, to spare them. "Ball-thing is loose-free!" Skrat quickly stood giving a fierce uppercut to the bloater "Run-go!" he screamed to Flea who ran towards the ball. Skaven may be cowards, but they are also opportunistic.
The Nurgle team panicked but most of their players were tied up, the rotters knocked Flea to his feet and picked the ball up but they were being set on by Skrat. Ikofino let go of Glart and backtracked to tie up Skrat but this left Glart free. It felt like the Union had 12 extra players. Glart rushed forward and knocked the rotter to the floor. Nurgly where out of position, they were deep in the Union half, Stabba the goblin tying up 2 bloaters and the Beast. Duh Meh saw the Skaven rush and showing an intelligence unlike him rushed to join them as did Fungus the two-headed goblin.
The Nurgle side tried to cover, moved over, tried to force the Union into the sidelines, tried to snuff out the Union advance but they couldn't recover the ball. Fungus dodged to support the push, to stop Glart being overwhelmed by the weight of the Nurgle side. They managed to free Flea who had curled into a ball on the pitch and pretended to be dead. Glart kicked him as he held off two bloaters "RUN-RUN YOU FOOL-IDIOT!" Flea scared of being imminently crushed rose to his paws, accidentally knocking a Pestigor to the floor before running away but in doing so kicked up the ball which he instinctively grabbed hold of. AN AMAZING PLAY screamed the commentator failing to notice the look of absolute surprise and equally horror in Fleas' face as he turned to see opponents streaming towards him. His one escape route... towards the End Zone.
Only Ikofino stood in his way and Flea closed his eyes as the goat ran towards him but the hit never came, Ikofino with his head too far down had missed Flea and instead Flea's tail had whipped him in the eyes as he surged past. Flea just kept running, he was by himself, no one was near him. Bezer was running down in the technical area with his arms aloft. The crowd were going crazy. For some reason the PA system started playing "You're the Best!" and Flea skipped into the endzone and into Union folklore.
There was pandemonium in the stands. THE UNION HAD WON IT! The players jumped on each other, worsening a few of the injuries they already had and Bezer was soaked in Bloodweiser mixed with the blood of the many injured which was everywhere. In fact, the Union half of the field was more red than green but it didn't matter. They had won their first game and progressed in the tournament.
They continue however, without Gnaw and without Skurry who will miss a game meaning that things will only get tougher from now on. Especially given how their next opponents will be some form of Dwarf. But for now that didn't matter to the Union players and staff who were wildly celebrating on the field.
FINAL SCORE 1-2 to the UNION
The game: https://fumbbl.com/p/match?id=3959256
Play this song: You're the Best by Joe Esposito and imagine a bloodied and bandaged Skaven lineman being lifted aloft by his equally damaged team mates one hand in the air...
OOC: I'm out of breathe... I hope the next game isn't quite as stressful as this one. A simply fantastic game that I recommend you check out the replay for. My opponent was excellent and great company throughout and the game really could have gone either way. The many spectators were also fantastic and created an unreal atmosphere for the match. The best game I've ever taken part in or witnessed and now we look forward to our next, equally tough match up.
I honestly thought the game was lost as soon as Gnaw died on the first turn, such a bad start and I'm still confused as to why I took Dribblesnot because as soon as I took him I realised what a stupid idea it was but he actually turned out alright. A brutal match
And just finally, Gnaw was my first ever Super-Star in Blood Bowl, I raised him from the tiny ratling he was to the monster blitzer he became and I will miss him.
Real MVP had to be Flea, 2 TD's (pretty much identical in nature) and a CAS. That AG4 worked so well and he's quickly become my new favourite player.
And apologies for the length of this post, I got started and couldn't stop.