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Old 02-22-2010, 05:59 PM   #1
the phantom
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Eye Arda Cup Football 2010

Let the countdown begin!

Last year's tournament was quite exciting, culminating in a thrilling last-minute trick penalty kick by Armenelos to upset the pre-tournament favorite Hithlum.

In the Phantasy contest, the ending was equally exciting, with Skip Spence mounting a furious comeback and overtaking Boro and Nog in the final round of play.

There have been some major roster shake-ups in the offseason (our crack reporting team will be telling about those later), and this year is shaping up to be even more entertaining than last, but the only sure way to guarantee fun is to get as many people playing as possible!

Last year's participants were-
Boromir88
Eomer
Eonwe
Gwath
Hakon
McCaber
Morm
Nerwen
Nogrod
Shasta
Skip
TGEW
Wilwa

We're hoping to have all of you back, and we'd love to see a few new faces! Tell your friends! Tell your enemies! Tell those people that you don't really talk to!

Skip, Nog, and Boro are likely to be with us again, providing their thrilling match reports and expert editorials on behalf of Arda Kicker Magazine and MESPN, but as always you are invited to give your own take on the upcoming games and provide recaps from your own point of view.

The teams and rosters will be released in the coming days, and the Phantasy Competition thread will start soon after that. That is where you will pick players for your team and make trades and such.

(If you have the time and wish for a memory refresh, here is last year's tournament thread and last year's phantasy thread. Feel free to PM me with questions. I rarely bite.)
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Old 02-24-2010, 12:03 PM   #2
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Arda Cup President Boromir the 88th (no relation to any of the other Boromirs. In fact, history has only recorded 9 Boromirs to ever exist, so no one knows how he gets away calling himself the 88th), held a press conference today to field questions from the national media about getting ready to kick off the 2010 Arda Cup.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Boro: First, let me begin by welcoming all of you here today. I'm sure you are excited to start the tournament, as I am. This year we will see new players in their first Arda Cup, old players on different teams, expansion teams like Gelion and Pelennor making their first appearance, and many of the traditional teams that have been in since the first Arda Cup. This is setting up to be the deepest and most exciting tournament we've had yet. Now, I am open for your questions. Let's start with Master phantom, from MESPN.

the phantom: You said this is the deepest field ever, but you surely are not blind to the criticism against the Committee, and particularly yourself, that you have overstepped your authority to achieve this?

Boro: I'm assuming you are referring to new rules we've put in place this year like the salary cap? I should remind you the salary cap is not strict, owners do not have to be under the cap. If an owner can and wants to spend more, he may do so, but if he does then the team will be fined. These fines will then be spread evenly amongst the teams who remain below the cap, to provide them with a bit more money to maintain key players or perhaps acquire a free agent. I do not see anything inherently evil with enforcing a salary cap.

the phantom: Surely you realize it's not just the new salary cap, but you have also made it now where all trades and signings must be approved by the committee.

Boro: This was put into place because of a difficult situation towards the end of the last Cup and the start of free agency. It was clear to us that Hurin and Gwindor were not happy with their situations in Angband and wanted to leave. Angband did not want them to leave, but instead of trying to reach a peaceful agreement, the black-cloaks decided to try to scare Hurin and Gwindor into staying, by force. In fact, threatening them with a curse if they did leave. Therefor, the committee felt it was our duty to step in and make it possible for Hurin and Gwindor to leave, if they wanted to, and not being under the threat of a curse. To prevent these situations from happening again, we decided we should be able to aprove or deny all future transactions. You should notice we have not been unfair in the application of this new rule, as we approved Durin's Bane, who was not happy in his place, departure from Moria and signing with Angband, now named Thangorodrim.

the phantom: Yes, because that wasn't a move to appease Angband into allowing Hurin and Gwindor to leave.

Boro: Was there a question in there?

the phantom: Nope, just trying to make the point that by spreading the talent, and attempting to equalize the teams you are working completely contrary to your stated goal of having an exciting tournament. The end can only be, instead of having a thrilling tournament capped off by 2 great teams like Armenolos and Hithlum last year, just 32 mediocre teams playing mediocre games. That's too much mediocrity for some of us to chew.

Boro: Need I remind you these rules were voted on and passed by the majority of the owners? But if you have no further questions, than I'm moving on...yes Formendacil?

Formendacil: I find your choice of words regarding the new rules interesting, that is voted on and passed by the majority of owners. Not the disregard of the minority, but I have observed that perhaps the Committee beat all the owners into submission by making examples out of the disbanding, and then flooding of Isengard, as well as the blow-up of the Armenolos team?

Boro: With regards to Isengard we had proof Saruman was keeping all the profits for himself. Every fan, not matter what team they support, deserves to see a quality team on the pitch. This is the most prestigious sports event in the world, BAR NONE. Saruman was using the prestige of the Arda Cup to make a profit, yet field a crap team and didn't pay his Uruks for the last few matches, and NEVER paid Grima at all. Yet he was boasting record profits and when we began our investigation, Saruman could not provide any of his financial records claiming he left them in his robes and when he washed them the new detergeant turned made everything in the washer techni-colored. Thus, it was necessary to disband Isengard and flood their stadium.

As far as Armenolos, why Ar Pharazon, Sauron, and Tar Minastir left for other teams you will have to ask them. My guess is they had bigger aspirations then spending their career in Numenor. It's no secret Ar Pharazon has always wanted to go to Aman and Sauron no longer decided to be sub-servient, probably why he has taken the position of Lord, Owner, and player-manager of Barad Dur.

Form: So you are expecting us to believe you did not force Aman, who had always rejected Ar Pharazon entrance to the Blessed Realm, to now allow him on the team?

Boro: Yes.

Skip spence here, since you've brought up Sauron claiming complete ownership over Barad Dur and I notice that Melkor has left the Valar to field his own team in Utumno, I want to ask if you feel any possible danger in allowing the two Dark Lords this much freedom? What I mean is, many of us believed last year that Mandos and Tulkas were able to keep Melkor in check, but now with his own team, completely made of servants there is no one to do so. There is also musch scratching of heads at Sauron's aims when he asked several of his enemies from the 2nd Age to join his team. What is to stop Melkor from becoming the much feared Morgoth, or from Sauron trying to create a War of the very Last Alliance?

Boro: I have been assured that Melkor does want something in this world even more than total destruction, and that is an Arda Cup. He felt he could not do this under the restricting Valar, and thus left to field his own team. Sauron, Elendil, Isildur, and Gil Galad are far to honourable and prideful to debase themselves by petty squabbling as typically seen when you stick Orcs and Dwarves together.

Skip: You're making it sound like the War of the Last Alliance was a tiny curfluffle, and not the product of two deeply-rooted enemies.

Boro: Wasn't it? I mean ask yourselves what the Last Alliance accomplished? It was a mere mis-understanding, nothing more.

*~*~*~*~*~*

That is all there is time for, I thank you all for your questions and looking forward to the start of a brand new Arda Cup like the rest of you. Most teams have a filled roster, we're still waiting on The Barrowdowns, nothing unusual about that, but the groups have been decided and will be released shortly. The host teams have not all been decided yet, but that should be finalized shortly as well.
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Old 02-25-2010, 05:04 PM   #3
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Eye Roster Shake-Ups For Arda Cup 2010!

The Phantom, MESPN News

Every Arda Cup we see changes in the rosters, but this year may top them all. In some cases teams are looking to make improvements. In other cases it is individual players leaving for greener pastures, either monetary or competition based. And then of course there is pressure from new rules and regulations this season handed down from the Arda Cup higher ups. Whether or not these rules are being enforced evenly and fairly and whether certain owners have been given too much rope is a topic for another time. Right now I would just like to address some of the rumors that have been swirling around.

Rumor 1) Team Armenelos got "blown up"-
This is false. The team was renamed "Numenor" and the majority of last year's championship team is back for another run- it is only the forwards who have, for one reason or another, gone elsewhere. It was a lethal trio to be sure (Ar Pharazon, Sauron, Tar Minastir), but my sources tell me that some quality talent has filled their slots, including King Elros.

Rumor 2) The Feanor-Maedhros-Aredhel scoring team has separated-
This one is true. Despite having great success together the past two seasons, these three will certainly not be playing together again as Aredhel has agreed to sign with Gondolin, while Maedhros is co-captaining the Eithel Sirion team with his good friend Fingon. Feanor is the big question mark here. With his reputation for consistently coming through in the playoffs, every contender would like to get their hands on him, but of course he demands a high price, and also is tempermental and unlikely to work with certain individuals. Which leads to-

Rumor 3) Feanor is going to sign with (fill in blank)-
I have read on message boards rumors of Feanor signing with Aman, Beleriand, Eithel Sirion, Mithrim, Thangorodrim, Tirion, and Valimar, and I've even heard some crack-pot stories about him signing with some team that he has zero association with.

Thangorodrim has been floated as a possibility since Melkor left to start his Utumno squad, but I can't imagine Feanor has much more love for Melkor's house than he does for Melkor himself. As far as Beleriand, there's just no one there that he is familiar with. It's an exclusively mortal team (at least to this point). Aman and Valimar are unlikely because he would be subjecting himself to the Valar leadership. I can't see that. Mithrim already has half a dozen high price players, not to mention there would be possible battling over which scorer would receive top billing and be featured more, Turin or Feanor. Yes, yes, two of his sons are playing for them (Curufin and Celegorm) but I still highly doubt he goes there.

Eithel Sirion has slightly more cap room than Mithrim at this point, but if Feanor goes there it would upset the balance of power, as currently the official headman is Maedhros, and I don't doubt he would hand things over to daddy if he came to play with them. But despite that I think Feanor is so difficult for anyone to sign that he may well end up with Eithel Sirion by default.

And the hottest rumor of course is the Feanor to Tirion talk. The thing is, Tirion (aka Tuna in the past) has made their living on offense, and the potent trio of Miriel, Nerdanel, and Finwe have all signed to be back for this Arda Cup. Why in the world would they bring in Feanor at this point? The offense is already clicking- it's defensive help that they need. Unless of course they think that adding Feanor will make up for it? But that's a big risk! But with Aule managing this team, I suppose it's impossible to rule it out. He's always been a risk taker and we know he loves Feanor. It shouldn't be likely from a logical perspective, but the way things are Tirion is as likely as anyplace other than Eithel Sirion in my opinion.

Rumor 4) Several "Goodies" have signed to play with Sauron-
Absolutely true. It has been confirmed that Elendil, Isildur, Anarion, Ohtar, and Gil-Galad will all be joining Sauron at Barad-Dur. The rest of the team is not completely set, but it appears that at least a couple Nazgul will land there, and Mouth also looks to be on board.

Rumor 5) Thingol has allowed "baseborn mortals" onto his team-
Also true. With Mablung staying with Nargothrond and Beleg continuing to stick with Turin in Mithrim, Thingol simply needed an influx of talent from outside his woods, so he extended an invitation to the people of Haleth living next door, and word is that the call has already been answered.

Rumor 6) Minas Tirith will not have a team this year-
False. Very false! Minas Tirith will essentially have two teams this year- it's just that neither of them is named "Minas Tirith". One squad is playing as "Minas Anor" and the other as "Pelennor". Not surprisingly, the Pelennor team is made up primarily of those who made a name for themselves in the famous Battle of the Pelennor Fields, including Legolas, Eowyn, and Theoden.
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Old 02-25-2010, 05:41 PM   #4
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Old 02-28-2010, 06:30 PM   #5
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Eye

The Phantom, MESPN Blogger

Hey football fans, I just wanted to update all my loyal readers on what's going on leading up to this year's Arda Cup.

As you all know, rosters have to be finalized by the end of this week, so most teams at this point are in the final phase of signing talent. Dark Lord types have historically been the most proactive movers and shakers in Middle-Earth, and so it's no surprise that Melkor's Utumno squad, Sauron's Barad-Dur team, Witch King's troops from Dol Guldur, team Gorgoroth, and team Thangorodrim have already completed their moves and are holding early practices even as I write this.

To be frank, Utumno is downright scary. Six balrogs, a giant spider, an evil catlike creature, a vampire, and Melkor himself of course, and rounding out the group is Tilion. Melkor was impressed with Tilion's abilities when they played together in Valinor last season, and convinced him to join him in Utumno.

Angband was not pleased in the least to have so many players go to Utumno that they considered to be "theirs", but owners there have to be pleased with the replacements they found. Durin's Bane's return was quite a pick-me-up, and then the return of Scatha and Glaurung really brought promise.

The primary question surrounding Barad-Dur is whether or not Sauron and his cronies (3 Nazgul, Mouth, and a Fellbeast) will mesh well with the lads from the Last Alliance. The problem as far as I can see would be with the good-guys rather than the bads. Sauron already proved last year that he cares more about winning and having a great team than he does about past grudges, but will Elendil and Gil-Galad, who were actually killed by Sauron in ages past, be willing to lay aside their feelings?

Dol Guldur is ready to run with a very frontloaded team (WK, Khamul, Radagast, Bolg, Beorn, Grimbeorn up front), while the back line features a couple of new spider additions. The Witch King has made no secret about his plan to attack nonstop, and has declared, "No man can stop me!"

Gorgoroth has no official captain at this point, preferring to do everything in unison. It's an interesting collection of orcs and men (both alive and dead), and it really surprises me that they've found this sort of team spirit so early in the process. I didn't think orcs were particularly friendly with anyone, but well- the magic of football I suppose.
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Old 03-08-2010, 11:47 PM   #6
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Eye rosters and groupings...

AMAN
-GK- Nienna
-DF- Vaire
-DF- Este
-DF- Nessa
*DF- Turgon
-MF- Irmo
-MF- Nahar
-MF- Earwen
*MF- Orome
-MF- Finarfin
-FW- Ar Pharazon

A mix of Ainu and Elves here, with a horse and man thrown in. Everyone is interested to see what Ar Pharazon will bring to the blessed realm following his championship success last year. He will be teamed with some good talent up front, but the team focus will be on defense for the most part.

BARAD-DUR
-GK- Mouth
-DF- Ohtar
-DF- Nazgul #5
-DF- Anarion
*DF- Nazgul #6
-MF- Fellbeast
-MF- Nazgul #7
-MF- Elendil
*MF- Gil-Galad
**FW- Sauron
-FW- Isildur

After helping bring the Arda Cup to Numenor last year, Sauron looks to deliver the same for his famed fortress. There to help him are several who fought against him in the second age, along with a few of his loyal minions. An unexpected blend certainly, but Sauron has already demonstrated his willingness to work with others in order to obtain football glory, and his followers will fall in line. Barad-Dur will likely play with a straight-forward style- balanced between offense and defense.

BARROW-DOWNS
-GK- Eomerwarg
-DF- Mira
-DF- Gwath
-DF- Steve
-DF- Skip Spence
-MF- Fea
-MF- Nerwen
-MF- Sally
-MF- The Phantom
-FW- Wilwa
-FW- Nogrod

After strong showings the past two years under the name Tol-In-Gaurhoth, the Barrow-Downs looks to take the next step towards the championship. Since their over-aggressive style got them into trouble in the past, look for them to go with a more balanced approach this time around. Helping this new mindset is the fact that they will not be playing as Werewolves, as well as actually getting in a couple of practices before the tournament begins.

BELERIAND
-GK- Halmir
-DF- Mim
-DF- Handir
-DF- Baragund
-DF- Belegund
-MF- Magor
-MF- Hathol
-MF- Manthor
-MF- Imlach
-MF- Bregolas
-FW- Marach

Coming from various teams throughout Beleriand, this group primarily from the ruling houses of the Edain has come together as one. Beleriand will lean on a quality possession game, and Captain Marach says that when they don’t have the ball their lockdown defensive style will be tough to handle.

BREELAND
-GK- Old Man Willow
-DF- Butterbur
-DF- Lumpkin
-DF- River-Woman
-DF- Roheryn
-MF- Harry
-MF- Goldberry
-MF- Halbarad
-FW- Barrow-Wight
*FW- Bombadil
-FW- Strider

Breeland is hoping to break through this year after adding a couple of rangers to their offense and a horse and pony to their back line. Also, naming Strider as the new captain will probably improve their preseason training, as old captain Bombadil was rather absent minded about that sort of thing. Look for them to employ their tactic of attacking at all times, with Strider likely to make the Bombadil-BW duo more potent by drawing some attention onto himself, or scoring himself if he is ignored.

BYWATER
-GK- Cotton
-DF- Nazgul #3
-DF- Ferny
-DF- Nazgul #2
**DF- Shadowfax
-MF- Fatty
-MF- Maggot
-MF- Gildor
**MF- Gandalf
-FW- Saruman
-FW- Bandobras

Don’t overlook the Shire this year, as the team they’re sending from Bywater features two wizards, two Nazgul, Shadowfax, and an assortment of sturdy hobbits. As usual, hobbits are legally allowed a maximum of two liters of ent-draught leading up to the Arda Cup, and Gandalf has been warned that using fireworks to blind opponents will get him carded immediately this year. Owing to the combined wisdom and experience of their players, Bywater will play a flexible style, locking down when ahead and attacking when behind.

DALE
-GK- Brand
-DF- Roac
-DF- Nain
-DF- Carc
-DF- Thror
-MF- Moneybags
-MF- Bard
-MF- Dain
-MF- Girion
-FW- Thranduil
-FW- Smaug

Many fans are concerned that old Mayor Moneybags will abandon the team mid-game and make off with all of the ticket sale profits, but team captain Smaug assured everyone that Moneybags will behave perfectly for fear of being roasted alive. Dale will be playing a straightforward game and banking on the skill of their forwards to win the day. Smaug is always dangerous, and Thranduil showed great promise last year as part of Mirkwood’s surprise run to the semis.

DOL GULDUR
-GK- Oropher
-DF- Tomnoddy
-DF- Thrain
-DF- Attercop
-MF- Galion
-MF- Grimbeorn
*MF- Beorn
*MF- Khamul
-FW- Radagast
-FW- Bolg
*FW- Witch King

With the group of FWs and MFs that Dol Guldur has, it isn’t surprising that they’ll be attacking every minute of each match. At the back they’re hoping that the addition of two spiders will give them enough stopping power to get the job done, allowing them to simply outscore the opposition. Some are concerned though that Tomnoddy and Attercop may be easily distracted by “Bilboish tactics”, such as opponents repeatedly calling their names, particularly when paired with dancing and throwing rocks.

DORIATH
*GK- Melian
-DF- Elured
-DF- Nimloth
-DF- Elurin
-DF- Algund
-MF- Saeros
-MF- Nellas
-MF- Daeron
-MF- Haldir
-FW- Haleth
-FW- Thingol

In order to fill the spots on his roster, Thingol has allowed several “baseborn mortals” from the forest next door to join his team, though he denied requests from a couple of talented dwarves. It looks like this small influx of differing characters and styles will allow Doriath to be more flexible rather than being a strictly defensive team, and relying completely upon the highly skilled Melian to turn aside the opposition.

EITHEL SIRION
-GK- Maglor
-DF- Gundor
-DF- Aegnor
-DF- Galdor
*DF- Angrod
-MF- Bregor
-MF- Nienor
-MF- Gwindor
*MF- Hador
-FW- Fingon
*FW- Maedhros

The northern fortress is back and looking to make a splash with a more than solid assembly of Elves and Men. With no known quarrels existing between the players and much experience between them, Eithel Sirion ought to feature good team play on top of their excellent talent. Look for balance from them at all times.

GELION
-GK- Dior
-DF- Haldar
-DF- Azaghal
-DF- Caranthir
*DF- Luthien
-MF- Denethor
-MF- Bereg
-MF- Lenwe
-MF- Haldad
-MF- Amlach
-FW- Beren

For a first-time team Gelion has managed to attract several quality players who usually play for other squads in Beleriand. Though Beren and Luthien have had their troubles with Celegorm and Curufin, it appears that they are getting on well with Caranthir, and thus their back line is looking particularly good. Besides the talent present there the overall mindset is quite defensive as well, so that’s definitely where they will try and gain their wins.

GONDOLIN
-GK- Huor
-DF- Salgant
-DF- Asfaloth
-DF- Rochallor
*DF- Thorondor
-MF- Ecthelion
-MF- Glorfindel
*MF- Eol
-FW- Fingolfin
-FW- Aredhel
*FW- Maeglin

Gondolin has strong talent and playoff experience across the board, so opponents had better come prepared to play all phases of the game. With their wide distribution of talent, Gondolin will play extremely balanced football, though if they fall behind they have a higher offensive gear to shift into.

GONDOR
-GK- Romendacil
-DF- Fastred
-DF- Ondoher
-DF- Folcred
-MF- Meneldil
-MF- Ostoher
-MF- Narmacil
-MF- Hyarmendacil
*MF- Beruthiel
-FW- Eldacar
-FW- Mardil

Gondor has tweaked their line and brought back the unpopular Beruthiel in hopes that her solid experience with other teams the past two seasons can benefit them. She will not be in a position to run wild, however, as Gondor is committed to defense first.

GORGOROTH
-GK- Shelob
-DF- Gorbag
-DF- Grishnakh
-DF- Shagrat
*DF- Nazgul #1
-MF- Angamaite
-MF- Gollum
-MF- Sangahyando
*MF- King of the Dead
-FW- Earnur
-FW- Castamir

The “other” Mordor team is not one to overlook, featuring a blend of crafty orcs, powerful men, and a couple of skilled undead. And of course there’s the fearsome Shelob in the goal, whose defensive webs are not easily pierced (not a literal phrase of course- the Arda Cup committee has banned players from covering the goal with any sort of obstacle, such as spider-webs). Look for the team to support her as their strategy.

HAVENS
-GK- Olwe
-DF- Lindo
-DF- Amandil
-DF- Eriol
-MF- Ar Gimilzor
-MF- Tar Aldarion
-MF- Elwing
-MF- Uinen
*MF- Cirdan
*FW- Earendil
-FW- Tar Minastir

Havens is a very diverse team, featuring all sorts of sea-faring individuals, including Tar Minastir, whose goal-scoring was an important part of Armenelos’s championship last season. Expect them to push the ball upfield aggressively at nearly every opportunity, where the proven hammers at the front will look to rack up the goals.

ITHILIEN
-GK- Mumakil
-DF- Samwise
-DF- Adrahil
-DF- Bergil
-DF- Mablung
-MF- Elboron
-MF- Damrod
-MF- Frodo
-MF- Anborn
-MF- Beregond
-FW- Faramir

Ithilien’s team is well versed in tactics of stealth and secrecy (though they have been banned from wearing camouflage on the pitch). Look for them to plan their rare attacks carefully while playing a frustrating defensive game. Mumakil in goal is an unknown, but Captain Faramir hopes the sheer girth of the beast will make things difficult on the opposition.

LORIEN
*GK- Galadriel
-DF- Finglas
-DF- Nimrodel
-DF- Orophin
-DF- Amroth
-MF- Fimbrethil
-MF- Rumil
-MF- Fladrif
-MF- Haldir
-MF- Amdir
-FW- Celeborn

Lorien looks to be a strong and wise team overall after adding a few ents to the roster, and the ents ought to be extremely comfortable playing alongside Elves. As usual Lorien will be dedicated to defense, and with their line-tweaks Galadriel hopes that she’ll get some help this year.

MINAS ANOR
-GK- Ecthelion II
-DF- Golasgil
-DF- Dervorin
-DF- Calimehtar
*DF- Pippin
-MF- Siriondil
-MF- Denethor II
-MF- Earnil II
*MF- Nazgul #4
-FW- Falastur
-FW- Boromir I

The tower of guard is back under its old name, Minas Anor, and hoping that the name change signifies brighter days. To help they have recalled the ever likable Pippin and others to service, and with this array of talent and no clear strength, expect a flexible style suited to all foes.

MISTY MOUNTAINS
-GK- Watcher
-DF- Tom
-DF- Landroval
-DF- Meneldor
-DF- Durin
-MF- Bert
-MF- Great Goblin
-MF- William
-MF- Narvi
-MF- Gwaihir
-FW- Azog

Eagles, dwarves, trolls, and orcs come together to make a brutish looking team. Their defensive play is likely to be bruising, and in fact overall they will look for their size and strength to make up for strategy. Their most calculating players they have placed at the front in recognition of the fact that it often takes some guile to change the scoreboard.

MITHRIM
**GK- Huan
-DF- Annael
-DF- Gelmir
*DF- Celegorm
**DF- Curufin
-MF- Androg
-MF- Morwen
-MF- Aradan
-FW- Hurin
-FW- Beleg
**FW- Turin

Together again- the dynamic duo of Turin and Beleg are back, but this time joined by the steadfast Hurin up front. At the back the sons of Feanor and their old pal Huan will make their presence known to opposing forwards. This team looks to have the talent to challenge teams defensively and offensively without having to emphasize either one, though they have that extra offensive gear to use should they fall behind. Given the skill of their defense, the forwards will be freed up to do as they please.

NARGOTHROND
-GK- Beor
-DF- Baran
-DF- Arminas
-DF- Baranor
*DF- Celebrimbor
-MF- Guillen
-MF- Boron
-MF- Finduilas
-MF- Barahir
**MF- Finrod
-FW- Mablung

Sporting a solid line punctuated by a couple exceptional talents, Nargothrond will be tough to crack. As expected under Finrod’s leadership, Nargothrond will be careful and guarded with their play, and tough as nails defensively. And should they encounter a team featuring a dragon, Finrod swears that they will not use the ill-fated “bridge maneuver” this time around.

NORBURY
-GK- Arvedui
-DF- Valandur
-DF- Arveleg
-DF- Malvegil
-DF- Amlaith
-MF- Argeleb
-MF- Tarcil
-MF- Valandil
*MF- Malbeth
-FW- Aranarth
-FW- Araphor

The northern descendants of the Numenoreans have shown some good talent in the past, but this time they think they have their team tweaked just right for a deeper run in the tournament. They will play their usual style, flexible and minimizing errors, ready to capitalize on those made by their opponents.

NUMENOR
*GK- Tar Atanamir
-DF- Tar Meneldur
-DF- Ar Zimrathan
-DF- Tar Cirytan
**DF- Tar Telperien
-MF- Tar Calmacil
-MF- Tar Ancalimon
-MF- Tar Miriel
**MF- Elros
-FW- Tar Palantir
-FW- Ar Adunakhor

The defending champs are back, this time playing as Numenor rather than Armenelos. The team looks a bit different, however, losing all three of their forwards (Ar Pharazon to Aman, Sauron to Barad-Dur, Tar Minastir to Havens). Losing three players of that caliber is certainly a blow, but replacing them are the three best players from last year’s solid Romenna squad, and the talent already present is certainly nothing to take lightly. Thus Numenor expects to fare well yet again with their balanced style.

PELENNOR
-GK- Theoden
-DF- Forlong
-DF- Windfola
-DF- Snowmane
-DF- Gothmog II
-MF- Gimli
-MF- Grimbold
-MF- Duinhir
-FW- Eowyn
-FW- Legolas
-FW- Imrahil

Teams spring up in all sorts of unexpected places, including this one which sprang from the fields before the gates of Minas Tirith. They feature quality talent and have a good team spirit, and will attack without hesitation at all times. Not surprisingly, their team motto is, “Leave it all out on the field!” Of course, players like Theoden hope that the fate that awaits him on the field is one other than the one he found upon Pelennor.

RIVENDELL
**GK- Elrond
-DF- Thorin
-DF- Galdor
-DF- Celebrian
*DF- Erestor
-MF- Bilbo
-MF- Elrohir
-MF- Elladen
*MF- Arwen
-MF- Arahael
-FW- Boromir II

Rivendell teams have always shown great unity and a flare for defense, and Elrond says that this year’s team is no different. They will try to lock down from beginning to end and score when an opportunity presents itself, simple as that.

ROHAN
-GK- Fram
-DF- Stybba
-DF- Firefoot
*DF- Felarof
-MF- Merry
-MF- Hallas
-MF- Frumgar
-MF- Cirion
-MF- Helm
-FW- Eomer
-FW- Eorl

Last year’s Edoras team put on an amazing defensive show through group play, but the goalkeeper (Theoden) and one of the defensive stars (Shadowfax) have departed, and so has the valuable Eowyn. But Eorl has found quality players to plug the holes, including a couple of solid additions from nearby Helm’s Deep. He also feels that the steed Firefoot is ready to step up and fill the void left by Shadowfax, and has recalled Merry Brandybuck, knight of the Mark, to serve the kingdom.

THANGORODRIM
-GK- Carcharoth
-DF- Gorlim
-DF- Drauglin
-DF- Uldor
*DF- Glaurung
-MF- Ulfang
-MF- Ulwarth
-MF- Ulfast
**MF- Durin’s Bane
*FW- Scatha
-FW- Ancalagon

Many Angband fans put up quite a fit when Melkor departed to sign with Valinor last year, and more still grumbled this year upon hearing that he intended to restart his old Utumno squad, and to make matters worse he stole many players which looked like they might play for Thangorodrim- Telvildo, Thuringwethil, Gothmog, and several Balrogs. In addition Hurin has gone back to Mithrim, Maeglin to Gondolin, and Gwindor to Eithel Sirion. But just when things looked hopeless, it was announced that there would be a dragon reunion! Scatha came from Mirkwood and Glaurung from Nargothrond to join with Ancalagon, and the next announcement- Durin’s Bane was at last coming back from Moria! Now Angband fans can look forward to seeing a quality side which will attack and attack again without mercy.

TIRION
-GK- Aule
-DF- Amras
-DF- Indis
-DF- Amrod
-MF- Orodreth
-MF- Mahtan
-MF- Ingwe
*MF- Nerdanel
-FW- Finwe
**FW- Feanor
*FW- Miriel

When a team has a prolific offense but still is unable to advance, the normal strategy would be to shore up the defense or revise to a less risky playing style. But Tirion (formerly Tuna) has taken the opposite route, attempting to add to their already top-tier offense in the form of Feanor. Will he be like throwing wood on a fire and smothering it, or will he be like adding gasoline? Fans can’t wait to find out. In the meantime, Tirion appears to be just as attack heavy as ever, except perhaps that Feanor has brought with him the mindset of locking down after building a lead.

UTUMNO
*GK- Ungoliant
-DF- Balrog #1
-DF- Balrog #2
-DF- Balrog #3
**DF- Balrog #4
-MF- Balrog #5
-MF- Telvildo
-MF- Thuringwethil
**MF- Melkor
-FW- Tilion
-FW- Gothmog

After a spectacular performance for Valimar that in the end proved fruitless, Melkor has decided to form a team of his own, and many have flocked to his call, including a couple of his teammates from last year. Also rejoining him is his chief balrog and several of his brothers, as well as Telvildo and Thuringwethil. This team is loaded top to bottom, and will follow the strategy of getting a lead and then shutting down the opponent.

VALIMAR
*GK- Namo
-DF- Vana
-DF- Pallando
-DF- Alatar
**DF- Manwe
-MF- Ilmare
-MF- Yavanna
-MF- Tulkas
**MF- Varda
-MF- Arien
-FW- Eonwe

Despite losing some heavy hitters, the Valimar squad doesn’t look likely to take a step back after adding the best of Taniquetil to their side. As with most Manwe-led teams, Valimar will be fairly defensive minded, though this time around due to the influence of last year’s holdovers the team will be better suited to come back from a deficit when necessary.

VINYAMAR
-GK- Rog
-DF- Osse
-DF- Galdor
-DF- Salmar
**DF- Ulmo
-MF- Voronwe
-MF- Egalmoth
-MF- Idril
-MF- Duilin
-FW- Tuor
-FW- Penlod

A great many lords of Gondolin have returned to their original home by the sea, and as he did of old, Ulmo has joined them there once again. And as an extra benefit, the lord of the waters has been joined by two of his vassals, Osse and Salmar, making the defense look quite formidable indeed. Vinyamar, while capable up and down the line, will look first to their defense to win matches.

WOLD
-GK- Hama
-DF- Elfwine
-DF- Beechbone
-DF- Lightfoot
*DF- Treebeard
-MF- Aldor
-MF- Grima
-MF- Theodred
-MF- Ugluk
*MF- Quickbeam
-FW- Eomund

The denizens of Isengard, Fangorn, and Rohan have met out upon the Wold and melded into a single team. They hope to be as crafty as orcs, as hardy and strong as ents, and as forward and dashing as the men of Rohan. Captain Treebeard has made defense the focus of this squad, and has instituted a policy of not being hasty, but rather careful and opportunistic.

***********************************************
***********************************************

GROUP A
Aman
Beleriand
Ithilien
Vinyamar

GROUP B
Barad-Dur
Barrow-Downs
Breeland
Gorgoroth

GROUP C
Mithrim
Nargothrond
Norbury
Pelennor

GROUP D
Dale
Eithel Sirion
Gelion
Rohan

GROUP E
Misty Mountains
Numenor
Rivendell
Utumno

GROUP F
Bywater
Lorien
Thangorodrim
Valimar

GROUP G
Doriath
Gondolin
Gondor
Wold

GROUP H
Dol Guldur
Havens
Minas Anor
Tirion

***********************************************
***********************************************
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Old 03-08-2010, 11:50 PM   #7
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The teams are set, but they aren't all ready to go. In order to make sure they're in practice and going full speed come tournament time, the squads are going to play some friendlies (warm up matches). This will also give participants in the Phantasy League a chance to get to know the teams a bit before drafting.

First Round of Friendlies

Aman vs Misty Mountains
Barad-Dur vs Breeland
Barrow-Downs vs Rohan
Beleriand vs Bywater
Dale vs Gondolin
Dol Guldur vs Thangorodrim
Doriath vs Eithel Sirion
Gelion vs Rivendell
Gondor vs Numenor
Gorgoroth vs Nargothrond
Havens vs Norbury
Ithilien vs Valimar
Lorien vs Tirion
Minas Anor vs Mithrim
Pelennor vs Utumno
Vinyamar vs Wold
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Old 03-09-2010, 11:47 AM   #8
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Last year I had my very own Boro-blog, but this year was offered a highly coveted position at TTN. MESPN and the Arda Kicker Magazine are still nationally the cream of the crop, but I must say I was very impressed with the reach and influence of TTN. I'm at the glorious Tower of Ecthelion, which reaches many ears of soccer fans from Gondor all the way to the Shire. Then Minas Morgul, our sister station, in the East. From what I understand, those folks in Minas Morgul refer to us as the "sister station," because their ratings are far superior to the White Tower's. To put it in perspective for you, they don't have to contend with MESPN and AKM. Their followers in Mordor and the eastlands are very loyal, and at times fanatical. There was an incident here, last week, where some cult followers of Minas Morgul broke in and left fell beast droppings in everyone's desks. The White Tower's crew thoroughly sprayed strawberry-scented Beanomir Oil everywhere, but now it just smells like baked fell beast manure with a hint of strawberry. However, I am ready and waiting to get the Arda Cup started again, and especially excited to be at TTN.

What we will be bringing to you this year first, is four rounds of friendlies. These friendly matches are essentially exhibitions to give the players the opportunity to practice together, and gel as a team. They will be able to work together on strategy, and see what areas need to be improved on come tournament time. I would caution phantasy owners to not get too excited over their favorites, with the results of these matches, because most teams will not be competing at full-level. It will be interesting to try and see who can successfully pull off that balance of working hard to identify weaknesses, so come start of the Arda Cup they are playing at their highest-level, but not over-doing it now where they enter the tournament already sore and tired.

I was able to talk to many captains and players from the 32 teams to get a brief idea of what their expectations are for this year, and what they hope to see out of their friendlies. Starting with the teams from....

GROUP A

Aman- This is primarily a defensive group, and it's no different for Aman who has Turgon, the defensive mastermind captaining the team's defense. The question will be how will Ar Pharazon mesh with his new, primarily defense-minded team? Good news for Aman fans is it seems he has already won over Orome, who was leading "Zon!" chants at a team party and vowing to hook-up with him at every opportunity. Everyone knows it's not difficult to win Orome's favor, just buy him a 24 pack of Valaroma Premium Draft. However, they should also know Orome has the passion for the game and can certainly play it. If he's sincere, Aman will have a deadly counterattack, and it will be more than Orome chanting "Zon! Zon! Zon!" on the field.

Beleriand- Marach's plan is plain and simple, bog their opponents down. The stout men can run with anyone. However, he's a smart leader and knows his team is already capable of this, so during the friendlies he will be working on a cleverly designed offensive strategy. For in this group he knows 1-goal may be all that's needed.

Ithilien- I am told that Arda Cup officials have two primary security concerns with Ithilien. When fielding a team Beregond was prone to stab anyone who fouled his beloved captain, even if it was an innocent brush. One Gondorian had just slapped Faramir on the rear to congradulate him, but Beregond ran his sword through one of the guy's lungs. Beregond told Faramir it was an "honest mistake" and Faramir gave the deceased player's family, tickets to all of Ithilien's matches. League officials warned Beregond that this indeed constituted a foul, and if it happens during any match he will be immediately red-carded, but Beregond doesn't sound deterred "I was ready to die for my captain. Think I care who I kill to protect him on the field of battle!?"

The other concern is with the Mumak. Officials have security for Ithilien's matches on the "Ludicrously Severe" alert, because of the intense fear at the damage and death caused by a Mumak rampage. Theoden, from Pelennor, has graciously lent Gamling and many of his Royal Guard to help secure Ithilien's matches. Let's face it though, if that Mumak goes on a rampage it is not stopping until it hits a deep water source.

Vinyamar- This looks to be not only the best defensive team of the group, but one of the best in the tourney. Last year Ulmo led the 2nd best defense from Hithlum, who only lost the Championship on a last-minute goal to Armenolos, the BEST defensive (and clearly best overall) team. And he is expecting the same, bringing the loyal vassals Salmar and Osse to the team. It will be interesting to see what the untested FWs (Penlod and Tuor) will do. Can they manufacture enough goals making Vinyamar a balanced and down-right scary team to play? I don't know, that's why I'm asking.

GROUP B

Oooh, I love this group, and it will be an honour to write for their matches this year. I will try to not be too harsh on the completely snuggable, huggable, lovable 'Downer team (well most of them that is...the warg and the phantom make much of that nigh impossible), but you are also expected to not make me! Play honourably, win, and we will have no problems...deal? But lets start with...

Barad-dur- talent wise they look the best, but this is going to be an insanely competitive group. Sauron has extended an offer of peace to his former enemies, and to the football community's surprise they accepted! Is this a wise move? Sauron, who always wants to win, believes so, saying "These high Men and Elves were my greatest adversaries...ever. They didn't cower from my power and send in two rotten hobbits when my eye was closed. No! They beat me fair and square...well not completely fair...I mean I did take both of them at once, but that stupid mistake lies on me." When asked what about Isildur? Sauron replied: "I hate him." Because of the Ring? "Oh no, that he had just claim to. Afterall, I had just killed his Pop and Bro, he could have rightfully taken Barad-dur too, I wouldn't have cared. I just want my darn finger back."

Barrow-Downs- The mostly non-warg team will be smart, composed, and undoubtedly the best strategically. At least that is their hope, and now having fielded a team early (at least by their standards), getting to practice together should have a huge pay off. And let's face the facts, it doesn't take 'Downers long to bond. I know this from first-hand experience! Despite what many of them will individually boast, they aren't the most skilled athletes, and it will be the comradarity that will make or break the Barrow-Downs. I say "make or break," because there may be so much bonding going on, the players forget they are actually in a soccer match, and decide to tour the many Middle-earth locations and exhibits...oops I mean Harry Potter.

Breeland- Their attack looks more deadly than ever, with the addition of Strider. As well as Bombadil conceding his captain position to the King. Lackadaisical (at best) performances should be a thing of the past for Bree, under Strider's guidance. All of us will remember when Bombadil was asked, at the beginning of last year's tourney, what he expected from his Bree team, he was completely clueless: "To be honest, I have no idea what the point of this game is, it all looks rather silly and pointless. So, I think I'll just come out with brilliant poetry and a comedic song-dance routine. If that's how you win the silly Arda trophy, we should do pretty well." This year, we asked Aragorn, who said "We will win and afterwards, Butterbur will throw a championship party that has never been seen in Arda before! Our soccer play will be as legendary as his ale!" However, will Strider be the great King Elessar who led Minas Tirith last year to a playoff game, or the sketchy creeper-in-the-corner many in Bree know him to be?

Gorgoroth- No one can under-estimate this team from Mordor. There is offensive and defensive talent up and down the line. The biggest concern is going to be leadership. It's a team of followers, with a massive spider who recognizes no leader. Castamir has show great talent the past few tournaments, but those were years he was with the Witch-King, and now he must step up for Gorgoroth. However, his team is making that rather difficult, the King of the Dead is bound to only follow Isildur, or one of his heirs. Castamir has tried to appeal to the Dead-King, by arguing that he has served Sauron in the past, but the King aptly noted Castamir is not Sauron. Besides, the King, has said he wants to leave this mortal-world to find rest. Never understimate the guile of Castamir who told the Dead-King if he helps bring a championship to Gorgoroth, he will have the authority to hold his oath fulfilled. "I'm not convinced," said King o' Dead "but what the Udun? Worth the shot."

GROUP C

Mithrim- Anything short of a championship, and fans of Mithrim will probably view the year as a disappointment. Some may already be awarding the championship to them. Pointing out there is no better duo than Turin and Beleg, then when you add Hurin to the team, their offense looks onstoppable. Add to that a star-studded defense! Ahh...but not so fast...while the defense is certainly talented, there are weakness. Primarily, the mid-field. If they get the ball to Turin and the FWs, it's over for the opposing team. However, against a solid, ball-control MF (such as Nargothrond who's in Mithrim's group) they may not be able to push it up to Turin! Mithrim's defense, while certainly strong, is made better by the ability of Turin and company to push the ball up field. However, their FWs are almost useless defensively. If an opponent can keep possession primarily on Mithrim's side, and apply consistent pressure, their defense could fold. Huan is a solid GK, but is not used to facing a lot of shots.

Nargothrond- consistantly a team who has made it to the playoff round, but this could be the most difficult year for them. Finrod allows no room for mistakes, which makes them nigh impossible to crack. However, they are also not great risk-takers and in a group with Mithrim and Pelennor, it's going to be interesting to see which team strategy will prove to be superior. Finrod believes, they have the mindset and capability, to stop any attack, but also expose the spaces left open for a dangerous counter.

Norbury- they run almost a similar strategy to Nargothrond, but probably a bit more flexible depending upon what opponent they're up against. Their defense can stand up to pressure, but Araphor has proven to be a dangerous FW. Malbeth was asked what fate he sees for Norbury, and would only say: "We will rise or fall upon the boot of Araphor." When being told that didn't answer anything, and wasn't a seer vision he said "In such ways, my power does not work."

Pelennor- will seriously annoy most teams they face, and not just because of the flocking Legolas fan-girls, who are sure to show up to Pelennor's matches dawning their idol's jersey. Eowyn has said "Those fans disgust me. The only way you achieve glory is by winning on the pitch!" and then she ran off shouting "Death!" Although, Eowyn will likely not hold Legolas' adoring fans against him, he can't help it, and she will have a large crowd of supporters herself! But I digress, Pelennor will seriously annoy most teams, because they will always attack and will never stop playing until the referee blows his whistle, signaling the end of the match.

GROUP D

Dale- A very scary, and underrated offense. Thranduil looked impressive for Mirkwood last year, but there's questions whether being out of his forest will change his attitude. Especially, since he will now be playing with a few dwarves. So what caused him to come to Dale? No doubt it was money, Smaug made him an offer he couldn't refuse, but Thranduil still said in his press conference: "I do not trust the dwarves. I will never receive a pass from a Naugrim!" The next day, he changed his tune, as he was seen high-fiving and trying to lift Thror onto his shoulders. League officials are investigating the possibility that Smaug has placed Thranduil under an enchantment.

Eithel Sirion- statistically, probably the favorites of Group D. Maedhros has the same ability of his father, to completely take over a game when needed. And co-captaining the team with Fingon will be more beneficial than harmful. A dark horse to seriously contend for the championship because of skill, strategy, and unrivalled teamwork. The talent is good, but it is not top-tier. Teamwork is a great positive to have, but if you have to rely on it too much, you will ultimately lose to a team with superior talent. That will be the challenge for Eithel Sirion, but we have all witnessed games where Maedhros can rack up the goals.

Gelion- A first-time team and there's really no way to judge how they will fair together. Probably one of the teams where the friendlies will be of extreme importance, and we can get a more accurate picture of the new team. Primarily defense minded, but in this group that could turn out to be a successful strategy. Since, together, Beren and Luthien make a well-rounded duo. Luthien isn't purely a defensive player, and she will be looking to get the ball to her dearly beloved.

Rohan- Eorl is not daunted by the departure of several players from last year which took Edoras to the round of 16 and losing to Minas Morgul in a thrilling shoot out. They did lose Eowyn, but Eomer remained and Eorl brought the Hammer from the Deep to help with their attack. The key will be the horse-loaded defense, which under Shadowfax's leadership never tired, and made things relatively easy for Theoden at GK. Well, this year, both are gone, Felarof will have to set the same pace and work ethic for young Firefoot and Stybba.

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Old 03-09-2010, 05:25 PM   #9
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and continuing...

GROUP E

Misty Mountains- Despite some grumblings from the Moria team last year, because Durin's Bane was a ball-hog who may have caused the team's failure to make it out of group play, they were furious when news came he would return to Thangorodrim. The evil creatures are angry, which makes them dangerous, but this was an insanely difficult draw for them. They are up against a different, yet still defending Arda Cup champs Numenor, the defensive specialists Rivendell, and a highly-skilled, scary Melkor-led team from Utumno. Without their Balrog, they don't have the strength, skill, or guile, to win...sorry boys.

Numenor- Much has been made of Numenor losing Sauron, Ar Pharazon, and Tar Minastir, and fans fear this could lead to a decline in Numenor's performance. Obviously, being defending champs, if they don't repeat it will be a decline, but there's plenty of reason for optimism in Numenor this year as well. It was virtually impossible to score on Tar Atanamir last year, as they won every match (except the championship against Hithlum) by at least 2 goals. Ar Adunakhor at MF, showed scoring capability and he drops down to FW this year. Then, ba-da-dum Elros comes from Romenna where he was a stout GK, to be a MF and looks to fill the void offensively. They may have lost a step on the offensive, but defensively they will be as tough as ever, and no one is going to go up against Numenor and take the defending champs lightly.

Rivendell- Elrond's defenses are always of the highest quality. There will be a dog fight between 3 teams for 2 spots, so this will certainly be an exciting group to watch. Elrond has brought Boromir II back to Rivendell to be the primary scorer. This was an interesting move, because of Boromir's comments about hobbits (particularly bashing Bilbo for not retiring yet) last year on a popular radio show. However, it should be no surprise, for Elrond's house has always been a place of fellowship and forgiveness. He has written in the locker rooms "We will unite, or we will fall" and if Rivendell can advance Boromir will be the first rushing to Bilbo, to lift him high up on his shoulders.

Utumno- Melkor has taken full reigns of Utumno, but the critics have said this is only setting Melkor up to the trap of trying to do TOO much to win. Everyone knows you can't trust minions, if you want anything done properly you must do it yourself. Melkor is planning to laugh in the all the pundits' faces this year, pledging he will pretty much sit out during the friendlies. "I can play at full-speed any-time, any-day, I don't need warm-up. I will put up my 10-guys against any 11-man team and they will still win." Is Melkor seriously going to sit out of the friendlies and make Utumno play a man short just to prove a point to the critics?

GROUP F

Oh boy, another just impossible group to predict at this time. It's shaping up to be another dog fight between 3 teams for a much desired top-2 spot.

Bywater- The hobbits have stocked up on strong talent to put together a solid team. The only time the hobbits won anything was when Gandalf was on the team, and now Gandalf is back! The whole Shire was up all night partying when they heard the news that Gandalf would return, and not only that he brought Shadowfax, who was crucial in Edoras' stout defense last year. Gandalf did say that Saruman was still head of his order, and would look for his guidance, but most believe Gandalf was just playing political to appease Saruman who will be looking for the chance to rebound from the debacle with Isengard last year.

Lorien- certainly a talented defensive team, but not nearly as good as their Rivendell cousins, and Lorien's struggles are always on offense. Galadriel will keep Lorien in most of its matches, but ultimately it's a boring team, with not enough skill up front to contend with the other 3 teams of the group. There are grumblings from Lorien fans that Galadriel has to get over her feud with Feanor. There were strong rumors Feanor was willing to come to Lorien for merely a lock of Galadriel's hair, but Galadriel refused. To quiet the fans' temper of her decision, she brought in several Entwives who are usually crowd pleasers.

Thangorodrim- Wow do they look scary...3 dragons, a balrog, and 2 werewolves. They will attack constantly, and Carcharoth improved as GK for Angband as the tournament progressed. They took 3rd place last year and obviously have hopes of bettering that result. They have the power and talent to do it, but are also prone to costly defensive mistakes. If a team can match Thangorodrim's fire-power (easier said than done, of course) the defense and Carcharoth will crumble.

Valimar- Lost a lot of it's scoring ability when Melkor and Tilion left, but Manwe has come from Taniquetil to take over for Valimar and provide a real leader the entire team will support. Last year there were questions over whether Melkor or Namo was in control of the team, with Manwe taking over they won't have that problem. The knock on Manwe-led teams, however, is he believes the will of Eru determines the winner, and that is terribly poor mindset in a competition-driven sport like soccer. And Valimar will definitely face stiff competition from Bywater and Thangorodrim, who will be looking to knock the mighty Valar from their thrones.

GROUP G

Doriath- Thingol has changed it up this year, by adding some offensive talent to an already strong Melian-run defense. Gondolin is the group's early favorite, but this one is wide-open and anyone's for the taking. The overall defensive strategy is pretty weak, forcing Melian to usually have to turn away lots of shots. She's capable of meeting any challenge, but no one can rely that much on a goalie, even one as good as Melian. The good news is, Thingol promises to relieve some pressure by playing more balanced and attacking more, but only the matches will tell how successful he will be.

Gondolin- The early favorites, but they were strong favorites to make it out of group play last year, and wound up not making the playoffs. It was a huge disappointment to Gondolin fans, and some say Turgon left his Hidden City out of shame for Gondolin's failure last year. Gothmog has also left to join his master Melkor, and many of its lords went to a new Vinyamar team. So, Gondolin is looking quite different from last year, and fans hope the many changes will bring Gondolin better success. They look to have made smart moves, as Eol and Maeglin have been an unexpectedly good duo, and Aredhel has come from Hithlum. They are just as strong defensively by adding Thorondor, Asfaloth, and Rochallar, as well as Huor who made big saves for Dor-Lomin the previous year.

Gondor- Defense first for Gondor, but there's a lot of good talent up front. Not just Beruthiel, who has been a part of past successful tournament teams, and Gondor is clearly banking she can bring the same to them. However, the Good Steward and Eldacar are also skilled goal-scorers. Mardil believes Gondor matches up well with everyone in their group (including Gondolin) and that's probably not too far from the truth. (And no, I'm not being payed by my employers to make any outrageously false claims. )

Wold- last year Treebeard was on the diverse Mirkwood team who lost to Angband in the 3rd place match. Mirkwood surprised a lot of people, and gave many phantasy owners severe migraines. Treebeard thinks he has put together the right mix of diversity to create a new competitive team from the Wold. It may not be hasty either, to believe him. The Ents are capable of stopping any of the offenses they will face in this group, the question will be about scoring. For Treebeard also knows Mirkwood was the surprise team because of talent of their three FWs, so he will surely be hard at work during the friendlies to come up with a wise offensive scheme.

GROUP H

We started the groups with 4 impressive defensive teams, and the last group has the most potent offenses. This will be a highly-entertaining group, and the poor defenses of all the teams will be constantly (and mostly fruitlessly) running all over up with opposing FWs.

Dol Guldur- Wherever the Wiki goes, the Wiki brings with him a winner. Two years ago, pundits doubted how he could take over for Mordor when Sauron departed, but he did and got Mordor to the playoffs. Last year no one had Minas Morgul making it out of a group with Hithlum and Gondolin, but they did and even made ot to the quarter-finals. Sauron is obviously confident that he can leave the Wiki on his own to continue a good soccer tradition from Mordor. The major question for Dol Guldur will be their untested defense, by adding the two spiders, and Oropher who is a mediocre GK at best. Their defense will definitely be tested right at the start in this group. The Witch-King is not trouble "I played even with Feanor and his mighty Hithlum team last year! If Tirion scores 4, I'll put up 5!"

Havens- traditionally Olwe's teams are more flash than substance. He looked to address that weakness by adding three stout Numenoreans, who will not be easy to push around. However, he has decided to focus their talent on the offense, and leaving the fleet-footed, yet rather weak Elves to handle defensive duties. In the style of this group, Olwe may finally have a team who can make it out of group play.

Minas Anor- A capable threat offensively, but the likely the weakest threat in this group. Although the sturdy Stewards of Gondor will not back down from any opponent. Ecthelion II was a tower for Minas Tirith at GK last year, and he has worked hard to improve this year. A work ethic that will definitely pay off against the talent FWs from the other teams. Simply because they are not as flashy as the other teams, there's a lot of experience and strength out of Minas Anor, and they should not be taken lightly.

Tirion- probably the team with the most talk, because everyone knows the scoring potential of Miriel, Finwe, and Nerdanel. Now, they add Feanor! How can any defense stop them! Some question Feanor's attitude and overall team spirit, however returning to Tirion has always been right below winning an Arda Cup, and now he believes he can kill two birds with one stone. There was much love, before the match a few years ago when Feanor met his mother and father as opponents, I'm sure there will be no problems now that he is on the same team. Miriel had a lot of pressure on her to score, and probably a reason she tired out in the loss to Mirkwood, now that pressure will be shared by her son, and Tirion expects to go all the way.
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Old 03-10-2010, 10:30 AM   #10
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Friendlies - Round 1

Gondor vs. Numenor

Overall this was a pleasantly exciting game to watch. Both teams had great respect for eachother, and put up a good effort. It was evenly played, and at no point in the match did one team gain a significant advantage over the other. For a first-round friendly this was a nice treat.

Gondor left optimistic about how they performed. The Numenoreans are taller, stronger, and more experienced but Gondor had even shots on target, and only 1-fewer total shot. Even when Numenor grabbed a 2-1 lead, with under 10 minutes to play, Gondor made a few impressive efforts to try and get an equalizer. They were unsuccessful, but if Gondor can keep the intensity and level of play they showed today, for when it really matters, they are going to be stiff competitors.

I was able to catch up to Numenorean defender, Tar Telperien, after the match. She was obviously pleased with the win, but noted they had several things still to work on, particularly on the defense: "We gave Mardil and Eldacar too much space, they were able to take advantage getting off several quality shots, and even scoring on one of them. We got a few additions from Romena this year, and fortunately we have 3 more friendlies to completely gel as a team. We are going to have huge targets on our back, and in the group we're in this year we can't play like we did today and expect to win."

Gondor 1-2 Numenor
tot shots 9-10
on target 5-5
GOALS:
*32, 0-1 Elros (Tar Miriel)
*57, 1-1 Mardil (Eldacar)
*81, 1-2 Ar Adunakhor (Elros)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Gondor- Narmacil, Ostoher
*Numenor- Ar Zimrathan, Tar Calmacil

~~~~

Other matches from today:

Gorgoroth 1-0 Nargothrond
tot shots 7-7
on target 3-3
GOALS:
*66, 1-0 Castamir (Nazgul #1)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Gorgoroth- Sangahyando, Nazgul #1, Earnur, Grishnakh, Shagrat
*Nargothrond- Arminas, Boron

Match Notes:
*Gorgoroth aggressive on defense, but will have to try to limit the amount of cards they're picking up
*After Gorgoroth scored in the 66th minute both teams seemed content with the outcome. Gorgoroth stopped pressing the attack, and the ball pretty much stayed at midfield.

~~~~

Havens 2-1 Norbury
tot shots 13-7
on target 7-3
GOALS:
*25, 1-0 Earendil (Cirdan)
*63, 2-0 Earendil (Tar Minastir)
*78, 2-1 Araphor (Malbeth)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Havens- Ar Gimilzor
*Norbury- Tarcil

Match notes:
*Havens looked to be in mid-tourney form, but it could just be Norbury was completely unprepared.
*Arvedui made nice saves to keep the game close, but was clearly frustrated afterwards with his defense breaking down time and again.
*Norbury scored late, because after Havens got a 2-goal lead, Olwe pulled his team back to get work in for his defense.

~~~~

Ithilien 0-1 Valimar
tot shots 5-10
on target 2-4
GOALS:
*34, 0-1 Eonwe (Varda)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Ithilien- Faramir, Adrahil
*Valimar- Tulkas

Match notes:
*It was clear Valimar had the far superior athletes, despite winning only 1-0.
*Eonwe said of the Ithilien's defense: "just when you thought you broke free from one of them, another came in from nowhere to steal possession or disrupt the shot. It was brilliant."
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Old 03-11-2010, 02:34 PM   #11
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Turgon responds to Melkors criticism : We can score goals too, not only defend

Last week Gondolin and and their new captain Fingolfin were scolded by Melkor for playing boring football, sitting behind their miserly defense and seldom venturing forward. But with yesterday’s emphatic 4-0 win at Dale, the Hidden Rock has sent a clear message to the football world: this new-look team can not only defend, they can play attacking football too. A hapless Dale finished the match with ten men after Mayor Moneybags was sent off for trying to steal equipment from the dugout, but the Wilderland team was already well beaten by then, and the result did not flatter the flamboyant Gondolin.

Utumno kingpin Melkor, or the Morgoth as he is often referred to, had officially accused team Gondolin of taking a negative approach to the game and complained how this was detrimental to the entertainment value of the game and also Gondolin’s chances of winning the Arda Cup. “They've been building white walls around their penalty area”, said Morgoth to a MESPN-reporter. “That kind of play may work in the early rounds, but you don’t win tournaments with it. It’s pathetic really. But let them defend. If we meet I, I mean we, will crush them nonetheless.” When asked if he thought the addition of High King Fingolfin will give Gondolin the offensive edge they need, the imposing Melkor just shrugged his shoulders. “I have trampled Fingolfin into the mud before. I’d gladly do it again!

In Dale, a relaxed Fingolfin took time to respond to Melkor’s criticism after yesterday's display of might: “We have a strong back four; of that I won’t make excuses. But verily we can also score goals, as we have shown tonight. Utumno will feel the bite of our bright steel, if we come to meet. If that is our fate Mandos alone knows.”

Yesterday’s friendlies:

Dale 0-4 Gondolin
tot shots 3-18
on target 1-10
GOALS:
*3 1-0 Aredhel (Glorfindel)
*16 2-0 Maeglin (Fingolfin)
*30 3-0 Fingolfin (Asfaloth)
*49 4-0 Ecthelion (Eol)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Dale- Moneybags, Dain, Thror, Nain, Roac
*Gondolin- Rochallor, Eol, Maeglin
RED CARDS:
*Dale- Moneybags (53, second yellow)

Dol Guldur 2-4 Thangorodrim

tot shots 18-15
on target 8-8
GOALS:
*11 0-1 Ancalagon (Durin’s Bane)
*22 0-2 Scatha (Ulfast)
*44 0-3 Durin’s Bane (Ulwarth)
*57 1-3 Witch King (Khamul)
*65 2-3 Khamul (Radagast)
*78, 2-4 Glaurung (Drauglin)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Dol Guldur- Beorn, Attercop, Bolg
*Thangorodrim- Drauglin, Ulwarth, Uldor, Ulfang, Scatha, Gorlim

Doriath 0-2 Eithel Sirion

tot shots 7-11
on target 3-6
GOALS:
*49, 0-1 Maedhros (Fingon)
*73 0-2 Hador (Nienor)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Doriath- Saeros, Thingol
*Eithel Sirion- Aegnor

Gelion 1-1 Rivendell

tot shots 10-10
on target 5-4
GOALS:
*60 1-0 Beren (Lenwe)
*76 1-1 Arwen (Elrohir)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Gelion- Bereg, Azaghal
*Rivendell- Bilbo, Thorin
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Last edited by skip spence; 03-12-2010 at 09:16 AM. Reason: Scratch Turgon from the title too please, replace it with Fingolfin ;)
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Old 03-11-2010, 05:04 PM   #12
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The match ended in an uneventful 0-0 draw, but there was a moment of excitement in the 39th minute. Ugluk committed a hard sliding tackle, on Voronwe, from behind. The ref immediately drew out a yellow card which sent Quickbeam into a rage. His eyes flashed a bright green, he dug his roots deep into the field and ripped out a large chunk of turf. There was a 2 meter in diameter and 7 meter deep crater in the middle of the field. Officials had to call out the grounds crew to refill the massive hole before being able to continue play, and the ref carded Quickbeam for delaying the game.

Treebeard re-composed his players as they still had to set up defensively for Voronwe's free kick, which was placed only 25 meters from the goal. Voronwe was looking to guide the ball to Tuor, but he mis-hit it and it went straight into the gigantic wall the Ents made. Treebeard easily, and effectively cleared it, sending a blast that landed just short of the penalty box on the other side of the field!

The half came to a close. Vinyamar had missed on their best scoring opportunity, and neither team got as good of a chance in the 2nd.

Vinyamar 0-0 Wold
tot shots 9-6
on target 4-3
YELLOW CARDS:
*Vinyamar- Osse
*Wold- Grima, Ugluk, Quickbeam, Beechbone

~~~~

More scores:

Lorien 0-2 Tirion
tot shots 5-14
on target 2-7
GOALS:
*40, 0-1 Miriel (Feanor)
*56, 0-2 Ingwe (Amrod)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Lorien- Rumil, Orophin, Fladrif
*Tirion- Mahtan

Match notes:
*Tirion was kept off the board until late in the 1st half. Their second early in the 2nd half degenerated Lorien and the match was all but over.
*Feanor more interested in scoring with Galadriel, than against her

~~~~

Minas Anor 0-2 Mithrim
tot shots 6-16
on target 3-8
GOALS:
*32, 0-1 Hurin (Aradan)
*65, 0-2 Beleg (Turin)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Minas Anor- Siriondil, Dervorin, Earnil II
*Mithrim- Androg, Hurin

Match Notes:
*Ecthelion looked strong, but Minas Anor was no match against Mithrim's explosive offense.
*Turin doubled all match, but was still able to deliver a precisely placed ball to Beleg for a goal

~~~~

Pelennor 1-2 Utumno
tot shots 10-13
on target 5-7
GOALS:
*17, 1-0 Legolas (Imrahil)
*43, 1-1 Telvildo (Thuringwethil)
*74, 1-2 Tilion (Gothmog)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Pelennor- Gimli, Gothmog II
*Utumno- Balrog #3, Telvildo, Balrog #5

Match notes:
*Pelennor on the attack and in control for the first 30 minutes
*Melkor stuck to his vow, standing at mid-field commanding his players, not even touching the ball once during the match.
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Old 03-13-2010, 03:50 PM   #13
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AKM: Tol-In-Gaurhoth and the Lost Killer Instinct?

The Arda Kicker Magazine is back on track!


As is well known the glorious Tol-In-Gaurhoth team has made dramatic changes to this season; they have abandonded the awe-awaking name of T-I-G and quit their werewolvery playing now as humans. So it was very interesting indeed to see how their game would settle in a friendly match against a diminished Edoras team playing now under the banner of Rohan.

Everyone thought the game was over after the first period as the ‘Downers ripped the previously mighty Rohanian defences into pieces and made it 2-0 on the scoreboard in a playful manner. But the Rohanians came back to the second half with Felarof and Firefoot totally closing their defence and a hungry Eomer taking advantage of the overconfidence of the satiated ‘Downers. After the game it was easy to say the draw was a justified result. But did it tell the spectators anything of the relative strengtht of the two teams remains to be seen.

“In all the team is very optimistic and everyone gets along well, we’re very confident we’ll win everything”, the heroine of the game Wilwa rejoiced. Some others were more careful with their comments. “We need to remember a game lasts for 90 minutes” Nogrod commented shaking his head. “We can’t afford such lapses of game-control in the actual tournament” Skip Spence added. “And Eomer really needs to start picking more than half of the shots at the goal” the phantom said smiling sarcastically.

Barrow-Downs 2-2 Rohan
tot shots 12-10
on target 5-4
GOALS:
*26 1-0 Wilwa (Nogrod)
*37 2-0 Sally (Wilwa)
*61 2-1 Eomer (Cirion)
*81 2-2 Helm (Eomer)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Barrow-Downs- Sally
*Rohan- Firefoot, Helm


On other games the AKM was watching Gil-Galad made a serious appointment to contest for the title of the top goal-scorer of the tournament with his two smashing goals against Breeland. Playing alongside Sauron didn’t seem to slow him down t all, and some were already speculating whether the magic touch of Sauron could work it’s miracles this year as well, now for Barad-Dûr.

“You know me…” Sauron commented but would not say more. His grin though was a trademark thing anyway.

Many were disappointed with Aman’s performance in drawing with Misty Mountains, and the equalling goal was more or less doubtful. Even with the high numbers of cards given it was clear the referee missed half of the crimes Misty Mts. were guilty of. It will be seen how they will manage to keep their players disciplined for the tournament itself.

On the fourth game Bywater really showed some signs of being a team one shouldn’t underestimate this year. They dominated the game against the great heroes of old and the Belerianders were more or less lucky to get the late-equaliser.

“This is good fun” Gandalf laughed after the game. “Yeah, feels like being a young and stout Maia again!” Saruman nodded smiling without any evil in his grin, resting his arm on Gandalf’s shoulder. “And with the good old Shadowfax and the Nazguls in defence we are ready to take on any team in this tournament” Gandalf added and winked his eye to Saruman.


Aman 1-1 Misty Mts
tot shots 8-10
on target 4-3
GOALS:
*58 1-0 Finarfin (Ar Pharazon)
*73 1-1 Azog (Narvi)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Aman- Orome, Turgon, Nessa
*Misty Mts- Durin, Bert, William, Landroval, Tom

Barad-Dur 3-2 Breeland
tot shots 12-15
on target 6-7
GOALS:
*14 1-0 Gil-galad (Isildur)
*29 1-1 Halbarad (Bombadil)
*42 2-1 Gil-galad (Sauron)
*70 2-2 Barrow-Wight (Strider)
*85 3-2 Sauron (Nazgul #7)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Barad-Dur- Fellbeast, Elendil, Nazgul #5
*Breeland- Lumpkin, Harry, Barrow-Wight


Beleriand 1-1 Bywater
tot shots 6-11
on target 3-5
GOALS:
*55 0-1 Saruman (Shadowfax)
*74 1-1 Marach (Manthor)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Beleriand- Hathol, Mim
*Bywater- Bandobras, Ferny
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Old 03-14-2010, 02:45 PM   #14
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An interview with the Barrow Downs' players

The AKM newly appointed editor-in-chief Ugr Nogrendale managed to lure a few players from the ‘Downs to join him with some finedining and a glass of wine. The report is here, exclusively in the AKM!


~*~

We had made a rendez-vous at the “Steward’s Terrace”, one of the finest restaurants in uptown Minas Tirith. The afternoon sun still warmed the terrace but the cool southern breezes from river Anduin made it pleasant to sit outside looking over the downtown and lower circles of the mighty city.

An hour past the agreed meeting I was getting concerned whether they had just played fool with me. I ordered a third glass of classy Dorwinionian red wine and was honestly on my way planning a mighty mock-report of the arrogant wanna-be stars when they finally arrived apologising heartily.

“Sorry to let you wait, but we ended up playing some live werewolf in the lockers after the rehersals and you know how it easily takes time.” the phantom excused.

“Oh boy did I fool Nogrod big time!” Wilwa added smiling at Nogrod who just nodded returning the smile.

“But you didn’t fool me dear!” Fea snapped in a playful tone.

“Heh, that’s why we killed you on N2…” Nerwen said.

"I still wonder why some people play it online though..." Skip put in and others burst into laughter.

It seemed they could have discussed that game for ages but happily the waiters came with the menus and I had a chance to politely turn the conversation into football. And without further ado, here’s what we discussed.



AKM: “So it seems you guys have a good feeling in the locker room and the practise-field. How would you describe the mood of your team?”

Skip: “Oh we've been having a blast. Those of us who've been there anyway. The Phantom never shows up for practice. There's nothing to improve, he says. Already perfect.”

tp: “Ha- Skippy! But well, perhaps a bit too good actually! We get on very well, and sometimes we can get off track in practice. But I think as the tournament nears we will be able to put that aside.”

Wilwa: “Well of the 2 times we’ve practiced, the first was more a matter of getting to know each other, so we threw a little dinner party on the field, ya know, to get used to being there and being around each other. The second time we decided to get the ball out and after about 25 minutes it was obvious we were awesome, so there was no point in continuing.”

Nogrod: “There is a time for action and there is time for in-action. It’s all in the metaphysical balance of it. Action is mostly overrated.”

AKM: “Okay, so how do you look forwards to this year’s tournament?”

Skip: “Oh, I've been looking forwards to it, sure. Ever since last year's fiasco I've been locked up in my room, smoking the pipe-weed and painting the walls with layer after layer of black paint, then watching it dry. Now it's time for revenge.”

tp: “I've got a few Arda Cups under my belt already, so there's no jitters to worry about. I'm just anxious to get out there and start playing.”

Nogrod: “Yeah, we live in anticipation… we’re almost there already. Which is not to say we’re not here now, even if that can be doubted.”

AKM: “Well I was actually thinking about the prospects of your team. So let me phrase it this way: what do you think are the strengthts of your team, which are the weaknesses?”

Nerwen: “On the plus side is our sheer enthusiasm for the game, and our sense of, well, I can only call it fellowship, as Downers. On the other paw, I mean hand, some of us just aren't that used to taking human form– just a moment, I've got a flea.” *whimpers and scratches ear furiously*

tp: “I really think the best way to describe us is solid. We work together well, cover for each other, support each other, and know the basic habits of our mates. We don't have the sheer individual strength of your dragons and balrogs nor the speed and quickness of Feanor or Bombadil, but I think our overall quality, unity, and brains will make us equally as dangerous.”

Skip: “Hard to say, there are many new faces in this year's team. But a player like The Phantom deserves a mention. If he's only half as good as he thinks he is he's twice as good as any other player. However, with young ladies like Nerwen, Sally and Fea playing on the midfield, he must have a mind to keep his eyes on the ball and not on his pretty team-mates.“

AKM: “I see we have a strong representation of midfielders here, how would you say your midfield is up to the task?”

Fea: “I've always said that the best defense is a good offense, and as midfielder, I get a fair bit of both. It never gets boring, i can say that.”

tp: “If anything bites us in the midfield it will be inexperience. The girls are doing great in practice, but it's easy to lose your focus a bit out in front of a huge hostile crowd, or even an overly rooting crowd. But so long as there's nothing like that, I think we'll be great. They help pressure the goal when we're on offense and get back quickly to help on defense. Very flexible.”

Nerwen: “Well, midfield is simply crucial to the game, but it does take a lot out of you. You have to be able to sniff out your opponents' weaknesses, tackle them with your front legs (resisting the urge to nip their ankles, which is a foul), then, dribbling the ball with your nose, you– what am I saying?” *mutters* think like a human, think like a human...

AKM: ”How about you forwards?”

Wilwa: “What am I again? *checks* Oh yeah, forward. *thinks about what that is* The one in the net right? Oh, they’re quite important indeed.”

Nogrod: “The time has only one direction and that is forwards, that’s where everything gets resolved in the end… well that’s basically it.”

AKM: “Uhh… erm, well… on defence?”

Skip: “The key in defence will be to get our communication right. This is a new-look defence, and I think Gwath will have a big part to play here. He will have to show his leadership qualities and get the best out of young Steve and Mira. I'm really exited about Mira too, think she had a great tournament ahead of her. She will have to control her violent temper though, because physically assaulting opponents or team-mates will get her sent off.”

AKM: “Who will be the key-player to lead your team this year?”

Fea: “Me, of course.”

Wilwa: “Steve, clearly.”

tp: “I really think it's down to the veterans. Nog and I are here for the fourth straight time, and everyone else looks to us. We've both had a heroic moment or two in Cups past, and I think our team believes in our ability to pull off anything.”

Nogrod: “What he just said… And Wilwa will perform miracles as we do live in an enhanced reality.”

Skip: “I think Wilwa might surprise a lot of people. She's untested at this level but I believe she has the capacity to score many goal with people like The Phantom there to supply her with top quality passes.”

tp: “I hate to put extra pressure on anyone, but I'd have to agree on Wilwa. When SPM retired after last season we knew it'd be tough to fill the void. Nogrod and I are known commodities up front- you figure we're going to do our thing. What we don't know is if Wilwa is ready to step up. She's shown promise in practice, and we're hoping that she comes through.”

AKM: “Let’s go to some realities then, enhanced or not, you face Barad-Dûr, Breeland and Gorgoroth in the group play. What are your predictions? Who will challenge you, who will be an easy pray?”

Wilwa: “I think Breeland will be fairly easy to beat; lots of the players just have silly names. I don’t like spiders so I’m not really looking forward to playing Gorgoroth, but I hope to overcome it, perhaps by playing with my eyes closed. Barad-Dur is a tougher call, but I think Nog and I should be able to get around those Nazgul fairly easily.”

Nerwen: “Breeland will be a walkover. To put it bluntly: at least a couple of them are seriously out of shape, Bombadil can't keep his mind on the game, the Barrow-Wight's not what I'd call solid, and they're simply wasting the goal-kicking potential of their equine members by making them play in defence. Oh, and their goalie's a tree. A tree. I ask you.

Gorgoroth is harder to call. It's going to be pretty tricky to get past Shelob, I can tell you that. Still, word is she's not popular with the rest of the team– something about her appetite.

As for Barad-Dûr– I'll be honest with you– we've a strong team and an optimistic one, but we're really going to have our work cut out for us here. Morale may be a problem too, though I'd hope those of us from Tol-in-Gaurhoth will have the sense not to roll over for their one-time alpha wolf, Sauron."

Skip: “It's a very tough group for sure. Barad-Dur has a strong squad but it remains to see if Sauron can play together with Isildur and Gil-Galad. Breeland has been all about Tom Bombadil in the past, but with Strider and the Barrow-Wright by his side, he's got some quality support. It's easy to overlook Gorgoroth, but they've got some quality players and are capable of an upset.”

tp: “I wouldn't say "easy" for any of them. This year's field is the strongest top to bottom I've ever seen, and one cannot afford to take any team lightly. Now, Barad-Dur certainly will get more attention, and rightfully so- their talent is at least a match for ours, and they have Sauron. A couple seasons back a few of us actually played with him on Tol-In-Gaurhoth, so we know not only how talented he is, but how well he prepares himself and his team for matches.

Breeland you worry about getting hot and putting up goals with those forwards they have. We can't allow for Strider to get free-kick chances or even too many corners- they're quite deadly when given chances like that. I imagine our strategy will be to hold possession against them and deny them the offensive zone for the most part.

Gorgoroth is the most difficult for me to predict, as it may partly depend upon how the match is being called. They have very crafty defenders, whose tactics border on the illegal. But being the clever sort they often get away with it, and of course they have good talent up front to counter-attack with.”

Nogrod: “We should avoid the situations where the hunter turns into the hunted… easy to be hard, hard to be easy.”

AKM: “Well overall then, if not you, name your favourites to win Arda Cup this year.”

Wilwa: “If not us, I think Bywater has a pretty good chance.”

Skip: “Gondolin will be dangerous this year, no doubt. Ar-Pharazon's Numenor always play for world domination too. And never count out Melkor and his Utumno. He may not be as good as he once was, but he is still mighty among footballers.”

tp: “Well now, that's a toughie. As I said previously, this tournament field is very deep this year. It's difficult to pick one favorite. You've got a few who could ride their offenses, and a few who could ride their defense to the title. If I had to pick I suppose I'd go with Utumno.”

AKM: “Is there any team team you particularly love?”

Wilwa: “Big fan of Utumno, you can never have too many Balrogs.”

tp: “I will be following Gondolin with great interest this year. Maeglin was just absolutely clutch in last season's playoff run, and now helping him out is Aredhel, who was great with Maedhros and Feanor the past couple years. She's constantly under-rated in my opinion, and therefore one of my favorites. And then there's Fingolfin- no questioning his talent. And daddy Eol has done well lately too, and Glorfindel and Ecthelion will be supporting also from the midfield. That's quite an assembly of scoring talent there!”

AKM: ”Do you hate any team?”

Wilwa: “Numenor, too many Tars.”

tp: “I don't particularly like Lorien, primarily because of the way Galadriel runs the team. She could put together a better side if she didn't demand so much control over everything. Like this year, if you read the report from Boro- they could've signed Feanor! And Celeborn, poor chap- I think he's got some great ideas for the offense, but she has to do everything her way. I really do wish huge failure upon them, in hopes that it will shake things up enough to get some changes there.”

Nogrod: “I hate hating and love loving.”

AKM: “Fair point… but disregarding it I just have to ask this. Is there a player you’d especially love to humble?”

tp: “Ha ha! Well, hmmm... Perhaps I shouldn't name anyone very good, because I don't want them motivated when they play us! I suppose if I had to choose- Bombadil perhaps? He's such a loon, and when he's out there it's like he's not taking things seriously half the time. He's off chasing butterflies about the pitch- literally sometimes! And then suddenly after you've stopped paying attention to him he makes a surprisingly quick dash in at the goal and scores easily, laughing the whole time. Kind of gets on my nerves a bit.”

Fea: ”Morgoth. I don't care how good of a footballer he is, he still owes me some jewelry.”

AKM: “Thanks for your time. Anything you’d like to add?”

Fea: “Oh god, don't you just love Becks? And that Tony guy. He plays football, right?”

tp: “Go Barrow-Downs!”
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Old 03-14-2010, 05:58 PM   #15
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TTN Round 2 Preview
Boromir the Eighty-eight

Round 1 friendlies are complete and the Round 2 games will be coming shortly. Before previewing some of the intriguing upcoming games, let's briefly review Round 1.

I'm not sure phantasy owners can take much out of the first matches, as essentially it isn't a sure barometer of what is to come. In truth, nothing will be until the games start to mean something. However, I think the teams have learned a great deal of information about themselves and the rest of the field. They are no longer going against practice squads, and players not good enough to make it on the tournament roster, but this was everyone's first time going against a quality opponent. Playing this level of competition should be highly beneficial for all teams as no one will go into the tournament blind, nor can any team complain about being unprepared or rusty.

I would not pay much attention to the final scores of the friendlies, but more to what happens from match to match. The 1st round sets a bar, it provides a measure for how they played against another quality tournament team. Now it's about trying to improve your team-play in Round 2, which will set a new standard for Round 3...and so on. The progression (or digression) of teams, from round to round, will probably be more important than their records in the friendly matches.

Here are a few specific examples, take the Gondolin-Dale and Havens-Norbury matches. Both Gondolin and the Havens looked to be in complete control, where Dale and Norbury were absolutely unprepared to play. However, lets not annoint Gondolin and Havens as favorites to win their groups just yet. Both have something to prove this year, and clearly came out trying to prove it in their first friendly. Gondolin has very few hold-overs, completely revamped their roster, and are coming in with a new strategy from last year. They want to prove they are a different and dangerous team. None of Olwe's teams have made it past group play, he usually puts together a highly-skilled, yet nimble group of Elves, who get pushed around. With 3 Numenoreans this year Olwe wants to prove they are not going to be easy to break. The problem is, you don't want to peak too early. For 1, it's difficult to maintain this intensity, and level to play for long periods of time. No one wants to enter the tournament completely fizzled out because they spent too much energy trying to prove their worth in the friendlies. And 2, if you peak too soon, you give the opportunity for other teams figuring you out sooner. A big part of having a deep run in the tournament is being able to surprise your opponent, as Mirkwood did last year. If Gondolin is destroying all their friendly opponents 4-0 they aren't going to go unnoticed for long, and other teams may find ways to beat them by the start of the tournament.

Then on the other hand there's Dale and Norbury, who can not lose morale simply because they got manhandled Round 1. The test will be can they come out performing better in Round 2, or will they become so dejected the wheels have fallen off by the tournament? Dale definitely has proven playoff talent up front. Smaug led Erebor to the Round of 16, and Thranduil was an important key in Mirkwood's surprise run last year. The Lords of Arnor, have fallen short at making the playoffs, but traditionally play better as the tournament progresses and are never an easy foe. Arvedui was furious after the Havens match, but it will be interesting to see how they respond to Thangorodrim in Round 2. Thangorodrim plays a completely different style from the Havens, but the mighty Kings' Norbury typically match up better to meaner, harder-hitting opponents, than the speedy, flashy Elves.

Those 4 teams I'm going to take keen interest in seeing how they play in the 2nd round. So, let's preview 4 matches that should not only be interesting, but may actually prove something about the teams.

Barrow-Downs vs. Gorgoroth
Dale vs. Rohan
Rivendell vs. Utumno
Dol Guldur vs. Gondolin

I've chosen these, because the first 3 are actually teams who are in the same group. Barrow-Downs and Gorgoroth (B), Dale and Rohan (D), Rivendell and Utumno (E). Those 3 will be interesting for the fact that they will all play eachother again. So it will be important for the 6 teams to play at full-level (or as near to full level without over-doing it), because they want to be able to go back, look at the film from this round, and be able to learn from it when they play again in the tournament. The last match will be interesting, because it will be like a re-match from last year, where the Wiki-led Minas Morgul team upset Gondolin in group play to take their spot in the playoffs. So let's start with that match...

Dol Guldur vs. Gondolin

In some ways it's a re-match, and in other ways it's not. It's a rematch because a Wiki-led team is going up against Gondolin again. But it's not because there are a lot of new players. The Wiki has brought over some of his Nazgul from Minas Morgul, but has changed fortresses and therefor has many from Mirkwood and the surrounding area. Gondolin's team is almost completely different, than the one that lost to Minas Morgul.

I think Gondolin wins 4-2, because ultimately they have a feeling of wanting to prove more than Dol Guldur does at this point. Gondolin fans WANT a win against the Witch-King, as opposed to the Witch-King who will probably come in over-confident from his victory against them last year. Also, Dol Guldur's defense should prove about just as effective at stopping Gondolin as Dale did.

Rivendell vs. Utumno

If Utumno does want to win Melkor actually has to play. Will he, is another question. But no matter whether Melkor plays or not, I think the game ends 1-1. For, not even Melkor can get 2 goals against Elrond. I believe, in a 90 minute match, it is impossible to score 2 against Elrond. I qualified it with "90 minutes," because last year, Dor-Lomin did score 2, knocking Eregion out of the playoffs, but it took overtime. Also, Turin and Beleg were arguably the best 1-2 punch of the tournament. Utumno has the power and skill to get 1, but even that will be difficult, so getting 2 is out of the question. Now it will be even tougher for Rivendell to score on the Balrog-loaded defense, but Boromir II stood strong against Durin's Bane, even halting him briefly with a mighty horn blast. Arwen has also shown lots of promise as an offensive threat (for those who are familiar with last year). So, I think they can stun the Balrog-defense just long enough to get an equalizer.

Dale vs. Rohan

Good news for Dale is Rohan is not Gondolin, not by a long shot. Bad news is Rohan is coming off confident from their draw against the Barrow-Downs. That was a match BD let get away, because they under-estimated the resolve of Rohan to battle back. Smaug will be very tempermental after the embarrassment against Gondolin, and a tempermental Smaug usually does not bode well for his opponents. Rohan wins 2-1. Dale is able to play much better, but Rohan has a veteran dragon-slayer at GK, who will keep Dale's Dragon in check. Since we all know that a football match can be judged exactly by taking a story plot.

Barrow-Downs vs. Gorgoroth

Probably the match everyone is most anticipated to see. Group foes, and judging from the phantasy participants it's clear who the favorite will be. The Downs should have won against Rohan, everyone knows it, but the outcome isn't that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. They proved they can play just as good in human-form as they can as werewolves. They may even be better in some ways, because as werewolves, they had a tendancy to get down 2-goals before deciding they actually wanted to play. As humans now, they know they can't dig themselves out of a hole as easily, so they should start every match ready to play. The challenge will be, can they avoid slacking off as they did against Rohan? Will they play the full 90 minutes, and not start thinking about enjoying the Middle-earth bars together, if they have a lead at the half?

Gorgoroth will also be a different opponent. Talent-wise it's hard to say whether they are better than Rohan, but they definitely play a different style. The Barrow-Downs has proven they can play against a skilled-teamed, but ultimately one that will play you fairly and with respect. Gorgoroth will not be the same. As wolves it was almost impossible for anyone to match their ferocity. Have they lost too much of that ferocity? We will find out the answer in this match. That answer is no, the Barrow-Downs will win 2-1.

Gorgoroth will want to turn this match into a drunken bar-fight. But let me tell you, I would pick the phantom, Nogrod, Gwatch, skip, Nerwen, Mira, and Eomerwarg in a drunken bar-fight before I pick anyone on Gorgoroth's defense.
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Old 03-15-2010, 01:53 PM   #16
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Galadriel heroics save the day for Lorien in pre-tournament friendly

At the Gladden Fields last night Minas Arnor faced Galadriel’s Lorien – the last chance for each team to get match practice ahead of the Arda Cup. Lorien came out on top with a 2-1 victory, but if it wasn't for a masterful performance from the Lady between the Posts, a spirited Minas Anor could well have won this.

In a closely fought first half where goal-scoring chances were kept to a premium, Lorien took into the lead through Amdir after nice build up play by Celeborn. When Haldir scored Lorien’s second early in the second half victory seemed certain for the Elves and Galadriel ordered her team to consolidate the lead by taking no chances and getting numbers behind the ball. But this passivity only gave Minas Anor an opportunity to gain the upper hand of their opponents, and with her team pegged back deep it took some Galadriel heroics to save the day. In the 72nd minute however the legendary shot-stopper had to capitalize when Boromir I smashed the ball into the roof of the net from close range which made for a tense finish. Minas Anor now poured forward in wave after wave of attacks and up front for Lorien, lone striker Celeborn looked increasingly forlorn, chasing shadows and seeing very little of the ball. In the last minute of normal time, Boromir I beat Nimrodel on the left and hit a crisp, curling shot from the edge of the area that looked certain to hit the top corner. His team-mates were already on their way to congratulate him with arms raised in the air before realizing to their astonishment that Galadriel had made the save, flying through the air at full stretch like a Balrog and palming the ball away at the last fraction of a second.

When asked about her performance during the post-match press conference Galadriel answered succinctly: “I make saves. That is what I do.” Celeborn however was keen to add that the Lorien attack was in need of improvements in order for the team to compete at this level, but he was quickly interrupted by star goal-tender Galadriel, who excusing her husband said: “Celeborn is wise, but he doesn’t quite understand the subtleties of this game. I do have a plan to win, but it must not be revealed yet.”


Yesterday’s friendlies:


Lorien 2-1 Minas Anor
tot shots 9-13
on target 5-7
GOALS:
*39, 1-0 Amdir (Celeborn)
*51, 2-0 Haldir (Rumil)
*72, 2-1 Boromir I (Nazgul #4)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Lorien- Rumil, Nimrodel
*Minas Anor- Siriondil, Dervorin

Gondor 1-2 Mithrim
tot shots 11-12
on target 4-5
GOALS:
*43, 0-1 Aradan (Morwen)
*62, 0-2 Hurin (Beleg)
*77, 1-2 Eldacar (Beruthiel)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Gondor- Folcred, Hyarmendacil
*Mithrim- Curufin, Aradan, Androg

Havens 1-1 Vinyamar
tot shots 10-9
on target 4-4
GOALS:
*65, 1-0 Tar Minastir (Earendil)
*84, 1-1 Egalmoth (Voronwe)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Havens- Tar Aldarion, Ar Gimilzor
*Vinyamar- Galdor

Ithilien 0-1 Wold
tot shots 8-7
on target 3-3
GOALS:
*68, 0-1 Treebeard (Lightfoot)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Ithilien- Beregond, Mablung
*Wold- Aldor, Elfwine, Quickbeam
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Old 03-15-2010, 08:31 PM   #17
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Eye

MESPN News

The second of the four rounds of friendlies was in full swing today, and each team involved was doing all that they could to prepare themselves for the tournament. Valimar and Misty Mts both focused on defense, and for the most part found success, though part of their success may have been sloppy play by the offense. The match was extremely rough, with Misty Mts starting the blood flowing and the more tempermental members of Valimar retaliating.

Numenor and Nargothrond also played a low-scoring affair, but in a much less violent manner. Utumno and Rivendell ended at 1-0 too. Thangorodrim on the other hand came out swinging against Norbury and connected three times before Norbury managed to pep things up and make a counter.

Misty Mts 0-1 Valimar
tot shots 6-9
on target 2-3
GOALS:
*57, 0-1 Arien (Yavanna)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Misty Mts- Landroval, Tom, Bert, Great Goblin, Gwaihir
*Valimar- Pallando, Arien, Eonwe, Alatar, Tulkas

Nargothrond 0-1 Numenor
tot shots 6-11
on target 3-5
GOALS:
*30, 0-1 Ar Adunakhor (Tar Palantir)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Nargothrond- Guillen, Mablung
*Numenor- Tar Ancalimon

Norbury 1-3 Thangorodrim
tot shots 9-15
on target 4-8
GOALS:
*16, 0-1 Ancalagon (DBane)
*39, 0-2 Scatha (Ulfast)
*55, 0-3 DBane (Glaurung)
*81, 1-3 Aranarth (Argeleb)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Norbury- Valandil
*Thangorodrim- Drauglin, Ancalagon, Uldor, Ulfast

Rivendell 0-1 Utumno
tot shots 5-13
on target 2-6
GOALS:
*68, 0-1 Melkor (Telvildo)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Rivendell- Elladen, Thorin
*Utumno- Thuringwethil, Balrog #1
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Old 03-15-2010, 09:18 PM   #18
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The match fans were anticipating, Barrow-Downs vs. Gorgoroth, only disappointed in one way, there was no clear winner. Fans got to see some well-played football, and both teams made adjustments trying to gain an advantage.

In the first half, Nogrod and wilwa were unable to do anything against Gorgoroth's aggressive defense. Some would shake their heads in disgust and call Gorgoroth's defense "dirty," but I'd disagree. The tackles I'd call dirty, are ones that come from behind, because you could seriously injure a player that way. However, in the 1st half Gorgoroth's defense played spectacular, keeping the Barrow-Downs FWs in front of them, and making it difficult to get any quality shots. Most of Gorgoroth's yellow cards were picked up at mid-field on just silly tackles, or in Gollum's case, grabbing Fea's arm and trying to bite off the band of stirling silver on her finger.

In the 2nd half, the Barrow-Downs clearly figured out how to best attack Gorgoroth's defenses, and began to take control of the match. It was only a matter of time before they scored in the 60th minute it happened on a delicately placed cross from wilwa, to the far-post where Nogrod was there to put it in. Nazgul #1 protested that Nogrod was offsides, but the ref would hear none of it, and replay proves Nog timed the offsides trap perfectly.

Gorgoroth was not going to concede defeat easily, Castamir stepped up the fury of Gorgoroth's attacks, but the BD defense held firm. But, It was clear Castamir was not going to accept a defeat, and the Barrow-Downs' were unable to keep possession in Gorgoroth's half for long. The defense could not buy a break to regroup themselves and in the 81st minute it cost them, when Castamir sent in a rocket to the top cross-bar that Eomerwarg had no chance to save.

The match was even and after the difficult 80+ minutes both teams played, they were content to keep the score 1-1. When they face eachother again, in group play, it will not be the same story.

Barrow-Downs 1-1 Gorgoroth
tot shots 12-11
on target 5-5
GOALS:
*60, 1-0 Nogrod (Wilwa)
*81, 1-1 Castamir (King Dead)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Barrow-Downs- Nerwen
*Gorgoroth- Gollum, Angamaite, Gorbag, King Dead

Aman 2-0 Bywater
tot shots 10-10
on target 4-4
GOALS:
*38, 1-0 Ar Pharazon (Nahar)
*65, 2-0 Earwen (Turgon)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Aman- Irmo, Orome
*Bywater- Fatty, Ferny, Saruman

Barad-Dur 1-1 Gelion
tot shots 12-7
on target 5-3
GOALS:
*57, 0-1 Beren (Haldad)
*76, 1-1 Isildur (Sauron)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Barad-Dur- Nazgul #7, Anarion, Fellbeast
*Gelion- Beren, Caranthir

Beleriand 0-2 Tirion
tot shots 6-12
on target 2-6
GOALS:
*24, 0-1 Mahtan (Finwe)
*49, 0-2 Ingwe (Nerdanel)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Beleriand- Handir, Imlach
*Tirion- Orodreth, Amras
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Old 03-16-2010, 12:34 PM   #19
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AKM: Flashy Bombadil plays 12 minutes 1+1!

Much has been discussed pre-tournament about Tom Bombadill's interest - or the possible lack of it - to the game. Many speculators have thought the lengtht of his attention-span would correlate strongly with the succes and failure of the whole team. Today's match seemed like proving the point.

Bombadil opened the scoring already at the 8th minute blasting a powerful shot in from forty meters. After that his interest seemed to wane and Eithel Sirion went even and past the hosts before the half-time. In the lockers the home team had clearly awakened their star, and on the 4th minute of the second half Bombadil made fool of the entire defence of Eithel Sirion only to gallantly not score himself but giving Strider a chance to hammer the ball into an empty net.

Sadly for Breelanders, after the equaliser Tom went away to his inner spaces, purportedly composing a new lullaby for lilies and dafodills, and the team had to manage the rest of the game without his active participation.

Eithel Sirion won eventually 4-2.

But to be fair to both sides: Breeland was not bad without old Tom and especially the look of Eithel Sirion was a lot better than in the first game against Doriath. If that diesel-engine of talent and experience slowly starts gathering speed and momentum they might go far in the tournament indeed.

Breeland 2-4 Eithel Sirion
tot shots 11-19
on target 5-10
GOALS:
*8, 1-0 Bombadil (Roheryn)
*20, 1-1 Fingon (Gwindor)
*35, 1-2 Gwindor (Nienor)
*49, 2-2 Strider (Bombadil)
*61, 2-3 Hador (Gwindor)
*78, 2-4 Angrod (Galdor)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Breeland- River-Woman, Halbarad
*Eithel Sirion- Galdor, Gundor, Bregor

On other matches Eorl led Rohan to victory over Dale more or less single-handedly, and in front of rejoicing fangirls Legolas was the key to Pelennor's win over a somewhat slipshod Doriath-team (ten shots but only two on target!).

On the fourth match Gondolin continued it's impressive pre-season run beating Dol Guldur 4-1. There sure is scoring-talent in that team: eight goals in just two matches! But how will their defence hold when they will inevitably face some more stout forwards than those they have met thus far? Now that is the question anyone betting in the games would like to know an answer to...


Dale 2-3 Rohan
tot shots 11-18
on target 6-9
GOALS:
*13, 1-0 Thranduil (Dain)
*22, 1-1 Eorl
*44, 1-2 Cirion (Frumgar)
*65, 2-2 Smaug (Girion)
*83, 2-3 Eorl (Eomer)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Dale- Dain, Thror, Bard, Smaug
*Rohan- Helm, Firefoot

Dol Guldur 1-4 Gondolin
tot shots 9-18
on target 4-9
GOALS:
*7, 0-1 Fingolfin (Eol)
*17, 0-2 Aredhel (Glorfindel)
*29, 0-3 Eol (Asfaloth)
*60, 1-3 Witch King (Khamul)
*71, 1-4 Glorfindel (Eol)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Dol Guldur- Beorn, Tomnoddy, Bolg, Thrain, Khamul
*Gondolin- Asfaloth, Fingolfin

Doriath 1-2 Pelennor
tot shots 10-16
on target 2-8
GOALS:
*38, 0-1 Eowyn (Legolas)
*64, 0-2 Legolas (Duinhir)
*85, 1-2 Haleth (Haldir)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Doriath- Saeros, Elured, Algund
*Pelennor- Snowmane, Gimli, Gothmog II
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Old 03-16-2010, 03:38 PM   #20
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Hot Drafts!!!

AKM exclusive "hottest drafts corner" is here!


The AKM editors have been following the matches with calculators in hand and here will be the hottest drafts to any phantasy-league gamers after two rounds of friendly matches.

Pay heed to the statistics, but note also the following disclaimer by the AKM:
The AKM will not be responsible for any choices phantasy-league players make on the grounds of the AKM's lists. The numbers are based on two friendlies only and in the friendlies not all players might have played full-strength (-effort), different sides have had different opponents: others have had easier games others tougher ones, and the team-play may lock in later with some teams and earlier with others, some players only rise up to a real occasion... etc.


But without further ado, here are the hottest deals right now with their phantasy-point performance thus far (in alphabetical order whilst at the same phantasy-points)!

So the players with 10 pts. or more after two games...


Goalkeepers: (actual saves percentage in brackets)

12 pts.
Hama of Wold (100%)

10 pts.
**Huan of Mithrim (86%)
Rôg of Vinyamar (86%)
Shelob of Gorgoroth (87%)
*Tar Atanamir of Numenor (87%)

Defenders:

14pts.
*Treebeard of Wold

11 pts.
Amrod of Tirion
Asfaloth of Gondolin
*Glaurung of Thangorodrim
Lightfoot of Wold

10 pts.
*Angrod of Eithel Sirion

Midfielders:

16pts.
**Durin's Bane of Thangorodrim

14pts.
*Eöl of Gondolin

12 pts.
Glorfindel of Gondolin
Gwindor of Eithel Sirion
Ingwë of Tirion

11 pts.
*Hador of Eithel Sirion

10pts.
*Gil-Galad of Barad-Dûr
*Khamul of Dol Guldur

Forwards:

11pts.
*Eärendil of Havens
Legolas of Pelennor

10 pts.
*Bombadil of Breeland
Eomer of Rohan
Fingolfin of Gondolin
**Sauron of Barad-Dûr
Wilwa of Barrow-Downs
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Old 03-16-2010, 08:17 PM   #21
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Who will go through?

The Arda Kicker Magazine has been looking at the first two rounds of the friendlies and gives you it's take on the situation right now.

Group A

Aman
Winning Bywater was a must. Otherwise Aman would have been just rabble as Bywater is one of the lousiest teams in the competition. The draw with Misty Mts. wasn’t a good show either as that team takes all the cards – and seeing Misty Mts. making it through the group-stage would be a miracle indeed. So not bad, not good. Ar Pharazôn looks like he’s too lonely in the attack: without quality players like Sauron and the several Tars he has used to play with he just feels lonely out there and may need to humble in front of more talented teams. Bad move for him indeed –like reaching to Aman was in the first place? The midfielders will need to raise up to occasion or it will be “bye-bye” for Aman in the first qualifying round – unless Nienna makes a heroic effort on the goal (which is not impossible). They will proceed from the group-phase to be sure, as number ones. So lousy is the group that we can grant it.
(continuing to the play-offs)

Beleriand
Now why was this team formed in the first place? They have nothing but to lose. With that line-up one has no chance in a league as competitive as this. Okay, Halmir is a decent goalie but that’s it. He can’t save it all by himself. Now what these guys need is an effort in general and shots towards the goal in particular. Five shots on goal in two matches is just not going to be enough to face any decent team.
(falling off after the group-phase)

Ithilien
The rangers with their newlyfound aids can keep the losses at the minimum and they’re actually pretty good in defending. But that will not be enough for the play-offs. Losing 1-0 is losing. And that’s what they will face unless Faramir, Frodo and Beregond do not upgrade their game by a clear margin. The threat is that the team will make not even accomplish one goal in the tournament. To be fair though, they have had strong defences against them in the first two friendlies and they have a chance of beating Beleriand in the group-phase.
(falling off after the group-phase)

Vinyamar
Even if they just have two draws from the friendlies they seem to be the other decent team in the group. That is not saying their forwards (Tuor, Penlod) or attacking midfielders (Duilin, Idril) would get any free passes: they have been totally anemic thus far! A tight defence will not help if you don’t score and Rôg can’t hold it indefinitively. They are better than Ithilien though, not to speak of Beleriand. So a second place in the group.
(continuing to the play-offs)

Group B

Barad-Dûr
The good news are that both Gil-Galad and Isildur seem to have made themselves comfortable playing alongside Sauron. The bad news is that papa-Elendil walks in the shadows and most of Sauron’s aids seem to wander there too. The Mouth makes a decent goalkeeper but not an Arda Cup –winning one. Unless Elendil and the minions of Sauron rise up to the occasion Barad-Dûr will be left into the group stage. That is not to say that the trio Sauron, Gil-Galad & Isildur will not pose a major problem to any opposing team. And we know how well Sauron can play when he puts his effort to it: not only by way of scoring himself but making his comrades to shine…
(possibly going through)

Barrow-Downs
One could argue they’ve had two hard matches, but to be honest they haven’t. If they’re looking towards the arda Cup finals they need to do a lot better than this. Two draws, with Rohan and Gorgoroth, are not the marks of a possible champion this year. Only Wilwa and Nogrod (and Sally) have raised to their level thus far. Eomer’s goaling has been terrible, the phantom and Fea have totally disappeared (together?) and Nerwen is on -1 in phantasy points… Now this team needs some firing up. Otherwise they don’t mae it to the next round.
(possibly going through)

Breeland
They have lost both of their friendlies and everything seems to rely on whether Tom Bombadill is interested to play or not. Yeah, Strider does his best, but he seems to be a lonely rider here. Fex. the Old Man Willow is the second lousiest goalie thus far in the tournament (with save-percentages only Oropher of Dol Guldur is worse), most othersw are just well under the average. Unless Tom Bombadil awakens to some heroism, Strider manages to whip off the others and Old Man Willow pulls himself together the team is doomed. It is doomed.
(falling off after the group-phase)

Gorgoroth
Probably the most solid team in this group… which doesn’t say much. Despite them taking a huge number of cards, their defences seem to hold – and Shelob is one of the most intimidating goalies of this tournament. Castamir is deadly effective on the front but he will need some aids if the team will wish to continue from the first round of the play-offs.
(continuing to the play-offs)

Group C

Mithrim
Even if Turín is hiding flying low at the moment Mithrim is more or less 100% safe to qualify. They have one of the best goalies (Huan), a solid defence, capable midfield and dashing forwards. While Turín has been in the shadows, Hurín, Beleg and Aradan have risen to the occasion. They haven’t been flashing to be sure – and some fans seem to be bothered by it – but they have shown very solid game thus far and it’s hard to see them not going forwards. But how far? That’s the question. Surely not only the fans waited more from the trio Hurín, Turín and Beleg. Only time will tell…
(continuing to the play-offs)

Nargothrond
They have lost two games only 0-1 but still one can’t betray one’s feeling of disappointment. Somehow this team just doesn’t seem to work. The defence is okay (not spectacular or great, but okay), but the midfield is so empty and Mablung as alone striker just looks homeless there. Now we can say their opponents have been tough and that is probably right – they lost to mighty Numenor only 1-0! But if the Nargothrond team wishes to qualify, not to talk of getting themselves further in the tournament, a lots of things need to happen. The midfield is their weak spot: from the five midfielders two have -1 pts. and three have no points at all.
(falling off after the group-phase)

Norbury
All the due respect to the mighty descendants in the north but please, this is football. One of the most pathetic teams in the tournament. Thangorodrim and Havens are both good teams and that will burst up their performance of losing only in small numbers (if 3-1 can be called small numbers). Arvedui does his best in the goal but if the team cannot score or the defence deflect the shots, then his efforts are in vain.
(falling off after the group-phase)

Pelennor
Well it all depends on how good the favourites Utumno really is and how bad Doriath is in turn. Losing and winning 2-1 to those teams makes it hard to rank the team as Utumno doesn’t look that solid right now and Doriath looks like big-time losers. King Theoden has clearly underperformed thus far and only Legolas has risen to the occasion. But with the aid of his fangirls he might lead them into the second round at least. I wouls require an awakening of Eowyn, Imrahil and the whole midfield to carry them further though.
(continuing to the play-offs)

Group D

Dale
One of the great disappointments of this tournament. Somehow they just don’t seem to be able to pull their act together. They’ve had two tough matches to be sure but so many cards talk of confusion and the lack of a game-plan. The discussion around Mr. Moneybags is right into the spot of things. Where’s the flare of Smaug or Thranduil from last year, where’s the solidity of Bard’s midfield? Oropher is a quality goalie but behind a weak defence even he looks bad.
(falling off after the group-phase)

Eithel Sirion
One of the few positive surprises – if it was a surprise at all. They were no pre-elected favourites but now it looks like they could go a long way in this tournament. Doriath and Breeland are no real measures to any competitive team, but they have nevertheless cleared them easily and confidently. And that promises good for the future. If Fingon and Maedhros find their form Eithel Sirion wil be hard to beat but unless they do the team is vulnerable in the drop-off games. But it’s hard to see them not qualifying to the next round anyway.
(continuing to the play-offs)

Gelion
The black horse of the group. Dior has organised a solid defence in front of him but saldy it seems only Beren is able to score. Unless he gets help from others it will be bye-bye to Gelion, but if the team comes together they might go forwards. It would be tough for them in the first drop-out round though and few would bet on their behalf there.
(might go through)

Rohan
No one can say Rohan isn’t trying their best. The shots reign down on the opponent’s goal from wherever they can shoot. Cirion, Helm, Eomer and Eorl have proved to be a terror of the opposing side for a reason. The bad thing is that the defences are not so mighty. They played a wildcard trying to copy the succes of the Edoras team last year by appointing horses to their backline but it hasn’t worked out yet: four goals allowed in two matches tells the story clear enough. It might start to work though – as has been seen momentarily already – and anyway the team has quality enough to go forwards in front of team Gelion.
(continuing to the play-offs, probably)

Group E

Misty Mountains
They’ve really had it tough in the friendlies and their performance has been better than the numbers tell. But that doesn’t make away the fact that they are a) much too mediocre team to go forwards for long in the tournament, and b) they are too card-ready to be any decent bet for a phantasy-game player. A serious re-birth is needed if they’re going to fight for a place in the final four – or eight. The trolls need to step up also on the scoring board and Gwaihir should be ashamed of itself.
(falling off after the group-phase)

Numenor
A lot has been said about the team Armenelos breaking down and taking on a new name – even if most of the players are the same. But the loss of forwards / attacking midfielders like Ar Pharazôn, Sauron and Tar Minastir is bound to make a difference. And it is seen in the quality of the shots thus far. The former trio would never had ended up with a mediocre 14,5% scoring percentage from the overall shots they made. The magic is gone, the sovereignity is gone. But on the other hand, even if they are not winning every match with at least two goal's difference, they are winning and the defences work as well as they did last year. And Tar Atanamir is one of the best goalies of the tournament this year as well (continuing with the astonishing 87% saving ratio he had for the whole tournament last year). They will go far, but how far?
(continuing to the play-offs)

Rivendell
How many times people have asked whether it was time for Elrond to step down – and how many years in concerto have they seen him coming to tend the goal of his team with quality? It’s nothing new this year. They have faced Gelion (draw) and Utumno (0-1) so it has been a tough ordeal thus far. But somehow it feels like the team Rivendell is struggling this year. Their performance has been a good one but still they seem to lack the fire and passion for the game. They’re old and they’re experienced but maybe the critics are right: ones like Bilbo and Elrond should just retire for their own sake? And they do have a serious lack of effective strikers (sorry Boromir II)…
(falling off after the group-phase)

Utumno
One of the favourites to win the tournament hasn’t been as dominating as many of the fans would have liked. It would be a miracle if they would not qualify, but are they the favourites to win the whole tournament? Looking at the numbers they are one of the best teams and their defence especially looks like a solid thing indeed. But where’s the flare of Gondolin? Where’s the evil talent of Thangorodrim? Where’s the cool professionalism of the Mithrim? Thus far it looks like Utumno has played it safe and easy. Ungoliant has shown how great a goalie it is, the defence collects a host of phantasy points in every game, but something is still missing; the magic that would make them the champions this year. They have time though.
(continuing to the play-offs)

Group F

Bywater
After the first round of the friendlies many were thinking of giving their sympathy to the Bywater team with all the little hobbits, a nice Saruman, Gandalf and Shadowfax reunited. But to advance in the tournament they need to do more than gather sympathy-points. Their draw with Beleriand looked good in the beginning but losing to Aman straightforwardly 2-0 put the fans back to the square one. It will take a lot from this team to qualify to the next round. Facing Thangorodrim and Valimar the task looks insurmountable indeed – and even Lorien might be too tough for them.
(falling off after the group-phase)

Lorien
Competes seriously for the second place in the group even if they are placed the underdogs by the betting agencies. Galadriel leads the team with a firm grip and she knows how to make the males play – even if they don’t understand it themselves. A little more efficiency from the forwards and Rivendell could be through this group. But that’s a big if.
(has chances to continue to the play-offs)

Thangorodrim
The reunion of the dragons has just scattered the adversaries and sent a shiver into all of the ME. And the re-emergence of the Durin’s Bane (absolute phantasy-point leader) then? Now here’s the team to beat. They have a maximum talent at every position; Carcaroth on goal, Glaurung on defence, Durin’s Bane in the midfield and Scatha & Ancalagon in the offence. Who could stop them? Not anyone on the group – unless Valimar really stands up for it, which is not believable.
(continuing to the play-offs)

Valimar
The mightiest of all are back – but not with a vengeance as it is a team of Manwë. Now how will they tip-toe themsleves this year between the honour in football and being gracious gods ready to to let the little ones to prevail – like mothers and fathers playing with their children? That is the question all Arda is asking. They have politely won their two friendlies by just one goal to nil. Would that be their new strategy after last years bad performance: just winning it nicely leaving the other side a space for being proud of themselves? What if they win all their matches 1-0?
(continuing to the play-offs)

Group G

Doriath
One of the major disappointments thus far. Even with a talented team they have been the sack every team has been throwing around as they wish. Can they rise up from the two first matches? Melian hasn’t been up to her level quite yet and all the other parts of the team have messed around even worse. Any chances?
(falling off after the group-phase)

Gondolin
A pre-tournament favourite that has really stood up the challenge. Eight goals in two games, 36 shots in two games (goal percent 22,2, second highest after Thangorodrim’s 23,3) Superb performance on a wide front. The only thing bothering the fans is the goal-keeping. Huor’s saves percentage is only 60% and that’s not even the average but less. So how will they manage with more forceful / talented / wittier forwards later on? Can Thorondor and his mates rise up to the occasion then? Will the White City fall or prevail?
(continuing to the play-offs)

Gondor
They have suffered one of the hardest friendly-games programme anyone has had so far; they’ve played Numenor and Mithrim – and they have escaped with one goal losses both times (1-2 to be exact). So even if they have lost both their first games one should allow them more credit. It’s hard to say whether their defences are as bad as the statistics tell you, or whether their opponents have been such great teams. They’ll fight for the place in the play-offs with Wold.
(has chances to continue to the play-offs)

Wold
The greatest defence on ME? The idea of putting the ents in charge of the defence was masterful. And not only that, but putting Hama in the goal was another piece of ingeniunity as he has gathered the minimum of three saves in both games they have played. No one has scored against them yet. Let’s see how the spell will work in the actual tournament. But to make it further in the tournament, Quickbeam & co. need to start scoring as well.
(probably going through)

Group H

Dol Guldur
One of the major questionmarks thus far. The Witch King and Khamul have played well but the others have just fallen short against really tough opposition (Thangorodrim, Gondolin). So Havens and Minas Anor will have tough times with them even if they have lost their two first friendlies. Oropher is actually a quality keeper, but the defences need to step up a bit in the future if the team is wishing to go forwards. Anyway the team is not so bad as the numbers indicate.
(has chances to continue to the play-offs)

Havens
A solid performance but against weaker sides. Midfield is the questionmark here. Eärendil and Tar Minastir know how to score and the defence lead by Olwë on the goal should stand for comparison to any other team… but the midfield is clearly inferior unless some characters start to show their qualities.
(has good chances to continue to the play-offs)

Minas Anor
These guys have never really got their game to work thus far. Losing to Mithrim 2-0 is not such a big deal but losing Lorien 1-2 is. If one thinks of getting forwards from the group-phase that is. Echtelion II does what he can in the goal but it clearly seems the team is without a clear leader and a clear unified goal.
(falling off after the group-phase)

Tirion
With the frontline of Miriel, Feänor, Finwë, and Nerdanel everyone thought Tirion would just walk over any adversaries they faced. They actually did that to both Lorien and Beleriand but somehow one thinks something is missing here. In two games Miriel has one goal, Feänor has one pass, Finwë and Nerdanel have one pass as well. It is great to have Ingwë with two goals and Mahtan with one… but still one wonders how that quartet has only made one goal and three passes in two games (and the whole team making only four compared to Gondolin’s eight goals or Thangorodrim’s seven goals). No one questions the talent and skills of Feänor or Miriel; they have been the top scorers the last two years, but is there something in the dynamics of the team as they finally play together – or is it just laziness in regard to friendlies? But whoever makes the goals, Tirion wil go further, probably a lot further.
(continuing to the play-offs)
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Old 03-17-2010, 03:28 PM   #22
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Round 3 predictions

TTN's Round 3 Friendlies

AKM has put together a thorough assessment of the 32 teams up to this point, and their statistical analysis is without question the best a football fan will find. I would be careful about being mis-led by some of the teams performances in the friendlies thus far, however. For example, I think AKM has over-valued The Wold's defense. They've played Vinyamar and Ithilien so far, let's face it, neither of those have showed any promising capability to score. They end the friendlies against Nargothrond and Misty Mountains. After 2 games, the 4 teams the Wold has/will play in the friendlies has put up a pathetic 2 goals (a combined goal-percentage of 3.3%!!). We won't know how good this Ent-defense truly is until the start of the tournament when they have Gondolin and Gondor in their group. We've all seen Gondolin's scoring ability. Gondor does not have the offensive skill of Gondolin, by any means, but they have a lot of talent up front, and also have been able to score against the two already proven solid defenses in Numenor and Mithrim.

We can get into more examples like this at another time, because the purpose now is to preview the Round 3 friendlies. I am merely sending a word of caution to phantasy owners, before jumping on the Wold's (or any player's) bandwagon look at who they've played first, and then look at who they will play. The Wold may be playing well simply because they match up better against a team like Ithilien, playing a team like Gondolin is a much different and far greater challenge.

Without further ado, let's preview the upcoming friendlies...

Aman vs. Minas Anor

Aman hasn't had too hard of a test yet, and if they want to be taken as serious competitors in the tournament they will have to take care of Minas Anor as they took care of Bywater. Aman's first big test will come in the 4th friendly against Gondolin. Most of their top phantasy scorers are defensive players, which shows this team will rely on defense to win. We know Ar Pharazon's ability, but Finarfin is inconsistant and Orome will have to play a lot better than what he's shown so far.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): DF-Turgon, GK-Nienna (8)

I would say Minas Anor has just looked lazy so far. Yes they had Mithrim in the first round, but if they gave up 2 goals to Lorien. The offensive power of Group H (Dol Guldur, Havens, Tirion) will eat them alive, if the defense doesn't improve. Against Aman, the best they can hope for is a draw, and that only if Aman decides to play like they did against the Misty Mountains.
*Top phantasy scorer: GK-Ecthelion II (6)

Aman wins 1-0

Barad-dur vs. Dale

Barad-dur has been hit and miss so far, there are some signs of very dangerous team, but also signs that it could fall apart and not make it out of their group. We know their potential at greatness, which Sauron brings with him, but they haven't been playing as a complete team yet. It's almost like Sauron, Gil Galad, and Isildur are the only guys who decide to show up, and the rest just expect them to do it alone. Dale shouldn't put up much of a fight, their real test will come in their next match against Eithel Sirion.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): FW-Sauron, MF-Gil Galad (10)

Dale is dangerously close to completely falling apart. The problem isn't going to be Smaug and Thranduil, both will get their fair share of goals. You see they've given up 7 goals, and may immediately blame Brand's goal-keeping (63% save percentage). However, let's take a closer look at the numbers. In 2 games, Brand has seen 36 shots, and 19 of them on target which he had to try to save. Brand has had to make a save on 52% of the shots! You can't expect your Keeper to shut out a game when he sees 18 shots, 9-10 on target every game. One might say "well they did play Gondolin." But even Rohan tore apart Dale's defense. Not to knock Rohan's capable attack but their numbers against the Barrow-Downs were significantly lower (10 shots, 4 on target) compared to the carving they did against Dale (18 shots, 9 on target). I tip my hat to Brand for playing with the most pathetic defense I have ever seen. If they don't fix it fast, this team is toast.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): GK-Brand (8)

Barad-dur wins 3-1

Barrow-Downs vs. Gondolin

The Barrow-Downs has played good teams, but not a top-tier team yet, and now they will get one in Gondolin. The biggest problem I'm seeing is their inability to hold a lead. I wouldn't chalk it up to believing once in the lead they feel "we've got this game won," it just looks like there is no consistancy. There are times where the attack looks unstoppable for 10-15 minutes, and then 30-40 minutes where they can't do anything. BD fans are also unsure of what type of Keeper they have in the Warg. He was much improved against Gorgoroth, saving 4 of 5, but they're not far removed from Rohan where he stopped only 2 of 4. If he reverts back to that save percentage, against Gondolin, this will be a massacre.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): FW- Wilwa (10)

I do expect Gondolin's offensive explosion to go down slightly, because of the Barrow-Downs' cunning defensive strategy. At times it looked like they had 14-15 players on the field because of how they swarm to the ball, but again the inconsistancy because other times it was like they just left the field in the middle of play to go to the popular bookstore Elrond's & Sons. Ultimately, Gondolin's offensive numbers will likely not drop enough to make this a competive match.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): MF-Eol (14)

Gondolin wins 3-0.

Beleriand vs. Rivendell

Beleriand's attack is non-existant, but that typically happens when you want to play a conservative possession game. The defense is pretty good, but I guess the idea of trying to get a 1-0 lead and then Marach locking down, keeping possession is still too risky strategy. Beleriand seems to play for a 0-0 draw, which means not only do they find themselves on the losing end often, but makes them terribly boring.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): GK-Halmir (6)

Rivendell's offense is statistically better, but really there is no significant difference. Beleriand's had 5 shots on target, Rivendell 6. Rivendell has created more chances (15) than Beleriand (12), but unable to turn those chances into more goals. It's hard enough for anyone to get 1 goal against Elrond, forget about Beleriand scoring. The question will be, is Rivendell even capable of getting a goal in this match?
*Top phantasy scorer(s): GK-Elrond (8)

Rivendell wins 1-0.

Breeland vs. Havens

Bree will have no trouble scoring in any of their matches. Their problem is plain and simple, Old Man Willow. You will hear Bree fans grumble about Bombadil only playing 10% of the time, or the poor defense, but they've accepted these facts about the team for many years. When it comes down to it, Breelanders don't want a Rivendell team that will try to squeak out a 1-0 victory, they want to see goals. Every year, Bombadil gives that to the fans, and each year they know their defense is under a lot of pressure because of the risky offensive strategy. They live with it, but they're not going to want to live with Old Man Willow on the team much longer. I'll go back to my point about Brand. Both Willow and Brand have given up 7 goals, but Brand has seen more shots and has had to save more shots compared to OMW's atrocious 56% save-percentage.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): FW-Bombadil (10)

This will be an interesting match for the Havens, and rather important for their defense. They haven't been tested by a strong attack yet, and Bree will certainly give them one. It's going to be an important test because they will face killer offenses in their group, so if they can do an effective enough job at containing Bree's constant attack, Olwe may just have put together a playoff-caliber team. One thing we do know, they will score against OMW, and we are sure to see a lot of goals in this one.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): FW-Earendil (11)

Draw 3-3

Bywater vs. Pelennor

A lot of uncertainty surrounds Bywater so far, and fans don't know whether to be optimistic or start hoping for next year. I think Shadowfax and the 2 Nazgul have solidified the defense. They've only allowed 7 shots on target in 2 games, but Cotton is just as terrible as Bree's Tree, only saving 4. Of course Bywater has played Beleriand and Aman, so far, neither have much of a threatening attack. Let's see how their defense holds against Pelennor. Gandalf will be fine and get his points, but Bandobras has been a contributing goal-scorer in previous tournaments. He's going to have to start stepping up his game.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): DF-Shadowfax (5)

Pelennor's played well, but since there are question marks to how much effort Utumno put into their match and whether Doriath is really that bad, than Pelennor's impressive performance may be deceptive. Theoden was heroic at GK for Edoras last year, but the old king's skills might be diminishing. I don't think we'll know any more about them after the outcome of this match, because we don't know the type of team there is in Bywater. Pelennor's good morale should be able to carry them past the shaken, and uncertain Bywater.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): FW- Legolas (11)

Pelennor wins 2-1

Dol Guldur vs. Gondor

The Witch-King's going to want to lead his troops against his hated enemies, but Dol Guldur's had a bit of a slow start. You might look at their opponents so far, Thangorodrim and Gondolin, and say "those are great teams!" While that is true, I'm not sure the move to a different fortress was the wisest decision for the Wiki. The Wiki has become too arrogant from Minas Morgul's performance last year. He had The Mouth as GK, who is not a great keeper, but was certainly better than Oropher. Also, he had Castamir and his pirates, plus Beruthiel, which created a down-right scary offense. Now Khamul has joined the Wiki, but are opponents going to look at Bolg and Radagast with the same fear they would if it were Castamir and Beruthiel? Probably not.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): MF-Khamul (10)

I don't think Gondor's defensive numbers are as bad as AKM would lead you to think. The defense has held up strong to the capable attacks of Numenor and Mithrim. Numenor had 10 shots, 5 on target, Mithrim 12 shots, 5 on target. Gondor has forced most shots off-target, leaving Romendacil to only have to save 10 of the total 22 shots (45%). The weak-link has been Romendacil who is only saving it 60% of the time. He will have to improve on that percentage if Gondor wants to make the jump from playing competitively to winning.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): FW-Eldacar (7)

Draw 2-2

Doriath vs. Numenor

Doesn't get any easier for Doriath in the friendlies. Thingol and Haleth are getting off shots, but Doriath's total shots to on target percentage is not terrible, it just makes football enthusiasts sick. 29.4%!! Honestly, there's a better chance the ball winds up in the seats, than in the opposing GK hands (Correct readers, I didn't say "in the back of the goal" for a reason). This must be Thingol's "new" offensive strategy to relieve pressure off Melian? Or maybe he's a nice chap who thinks fans want to leave with a souvenir from him? Best start putting it in the net, Thingol, or giving 'em a signed jersey. You don't want to supply fans with any more easily thrown objects than what they already have avaiable, or you'll find out why soccer balls were banned from use in dodgeball.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): GK-Melian (6)

Numenor's winning, but this is something I must agree with AKM about, there's something missing. I don't mean the obvious loss of offensive-talent that happened in the off-season, because the Numenoreans are still going to get a lot of shots and it's not like goals are going to be hard to come by, like with Ithilien. Maybe it's simply Numenor is not dominating like last year? Yes, the tournament hasn't begun yet, maybe they aren't playing at full-ability, but there seems to be no fire. It's not uncommon for a team to be content with their Championship win the previous year, and thus not have the same drive or focus, in the next.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): GK- Tar Atanamir (10)

Still, Doriath is THAT bad. Numenor wins 1-0.

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Old 03-18-2010, 12:07 PM   #23
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Eithel Sirion vs. Mithrim

Promises to be an exciting match and I hope these two meet far in the playoffs so we can really see both at their best.

Eithel Sirion has looked strong in their first 2 friendlies, despite playing two weak teams. What's impressed me about both wins is the flexibility, showing they can play shut out football defeating Doriath 2-0, but also score lots of goals when playing a more offensively capable team like Bree (4-2). It was against Bree, but I did not expect to see that type of goal-scoring ability, coming into the match against Mithrim with a solid 20%.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): MF-Gwindor (12)

Mithrim's competition so far hasn't been much better than Eithel Sirion's, so just as much as they are a true test for the tower, this will a true test for Mithrim. Huan at GK should be strong, as usual, but it will depend on whether Turin decides if this match means anything. Turin is at his best when there is a lot at stake, and this is how he carried Dor-Lomin to the quarter-finals last year. However, when the match is not all that important, Turin doesn't show up in the stats, which is probably why he only has 1 assist, in the friendlies.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): GK-Huan (10)

Eithel Sirion wins 2-1.

Gelion vs. Lorien

For a new team Gelion is raising a few eyebrows, people are seeing the potential of a good team that will not be easy to run-over. So far, however, Gelion hasn't shown they can win, only play even. The defense is well organized, only allowing 9 shots on target in 2 games, and Dior with a solid 78% saves. However, Gelion is relying too much on Beren for the offense. If they can't find someone else to score, Beren isn't a dominant enough goal-scorer to handle the defensive pressure he will be under.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): GK-Dior (8)

I must admit at being surprised by Lorien's 2-1 victory over Minas Anor. I could have over-estimated the Stewards' strength this year, or maybe Celeborn has finally decided to run things his way on the offense, no matter how much yelling Galadriel is doing? Celeborn was asked if this would cause tension in their long-standing marriage: "We're Elves, not Men. We passionately fall in love, wed, and fulfill the only reason to get married...have a kid. We've been sleeping in separate tarans for 8,000 years, but she still won't leave me. You think hot shot elves and gruff dwarves are the only ones who try to get with her, and when they fail I say nothing just smirk as if to say, yep...she's with me. I think it's my silver hair, even after all these years she finds it irresistable." Do we have a new look Lorien, or is Galadriel going to tighten her grip even more?
*Top phantasy scorer(s): GK-Galadriel (6)

Draw 1-1.

Gorgoroth vs. Misty Mountains

Does anyone see a blood bath? Everyone notes the violence when sticking Orcs and Dwarves together, it's just as violence when it's Orcs against Orcs.

Gorgoroth has a bit better defensive strategy, as they've shown in both their matches. They still pick up the cards, and make aggressive tackles, but are quicker, have better endurance, and don't get beat often. Not to mention Shelob who has been one of the better GK thus far. Both goals have come from Castamir so far, but I wouldn't worry much about who else can score. If opponents start paying too much attention to shutting down Castamir, one of his grandsons, or the King, could make them pay. Earnur will have to do better though.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): GK-Shelob (10)

The Misty Mountains haven't been playing all that awful, but they still just don't look good. This is the type of diversity that kills a team, because they have no strong leader who will bring everyone together. The Wold's diversity works, because even Uruks find it difficult to hate a wise, compassionate, totally huggable tree like Treebeard. It would be like hating your grandpa. The Misty Mountains don't have that type of leader, and therefor it's a team that isn't in sync and just doesn't work. They're playing respectable, but it will fall apart soon enough.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): GK- The Watcher (6)

Gorgoroth wins 1-0.

Ithilien vs. Thangorodrim

Ithilien's just as anemic on offense as Beleriand, only mustering 5 shots on target in 2 games. They have played Valimar and the Wold, so we'll see if their chances improve against Thangorodrim. Faramir is the only one who can score, but with this talent around him, he's an average FW at best. He's got a strong and accurate boot, but not great speed. He's going to miss his brother, or uncle as another striker, because Faramir's main weapon as his stealthy ability to slip by defenders unnoticed. As the lone FW, lone scoring threat, scoring is going to be impossible to come by. Somewhat of a shame too, because the defense is pretty talented.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): GK-Mumak (6)

Thangorodrim will find it more difficult to score, since they haven't played a defense as stout as Ithilien's yet. However, they will have the same strategy...attack, attack, attack. Ithilien may get a goal if Thangorodrim exposes itself to a counter, but their defense will be under a barage of shots. It's not good enough to keep Durin's Bane, who seems well at home now, and Thangorodrim off the score board.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): MF-Durin's Bane (16)

Thangorodrim wins 2-0.

Nargothrond vs. The Wold

We've seen Nargothrond's good defense, but so far nothing from the offense. Finrod needs to open up the game, or his team will become just as dull as Beleriand hoping for a 0-0 game. Nargothrond's always had a strong defense, but the loss of Glaurung was a major blow to the team. It's not like they lit up the score, but goals were much easier to come by than they are now. Also, the plain fear in players' eyes when they played Nargothrond, because of Glaurung, is gone. The defense is still good, but there is no one on this team that will put fear into their opponents.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): GK-Beor (6)

Hama, and the defense is likely to get another shut out, but it still won't prove anything about their defense other than they can keep anemic offenses off the board. I like what Treebeard has done with the team, and bringing in the winning mind-set from Mirkwood, but even if they win 1-0 again, there will still be lots of uncertainty.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): DF-Treebeard (14)

Draw 0-0.

Norbury vs. Rohan

This will be Norbury's shot to prove they are better than what we've seen so far. Havens and Thangorodrim were certainly tough matches, but defensively they look only slightly better than Dale. Plus their offense hasn't been any better, as they can only get meaningless goals at the end of matches. If they come out and get a lead early, watch out Norbury will be back, but if they continue to only decide to press forward after the other team has completely pulled back to defend, Norbury's success in the tournament won't be any different than how they're playing right now.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): FW-Araphor, FW-Aranarth, GK-Arvedui (4)

Rohan has looked pretty strong so far, but beating Norbury won't prove much. It's a game they are expected to win, and so if they do...congradulations. If they lose, than we begin to question how good they are. It's a pretty bad position to be in, because it's almost like and Ok-lose situation. You either did what you were supposed to, or failed. Rohan's last friendly match against Dol Guldur should be an interesting one, as it's almost like the Round of 16 rematch from last year, but not again.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): FW-Eomer (10)

Rohan wins 3-2.

Tirion vs. Vinyamar

Tirion will finally have their first true defensive test, as Vinyamar will be the best defense they will be up against for quite a while. Even the Tirion Terrors will face a mighty challenge against Ulmo and his vassals defense. Aule has yet to surrender a goal, but he's only had to save 4 shots, as they were playing Lorien and Beleriand. Should be a similar story for Aule in this match, have to save 2-3 shots all match which will go easily handled. We won't know if Aule can hold together the defense until group play.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): MF-Ingwe (12)

Ulmo will keep it close, but much like several other teams, are finding it very difficult to score. They mustered one against the Havens, but nothing much to brag about since the tall Gondolin lords were up against their weaker cousins. At least defensively they'll prove that even with the addition of Feanor, Tirion's offense can be held in check.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): GK-Rog (10)

Tirion wins 1-0.

Utumno vs. Valimar

Wooh, this is probably going to be the most exciting match, and not one based on the final score (as it will probably be very low-scoring) but simply by the level of play.

If anything wakes Melkor out of a slumber, it is going against the Valar in any sport. He didn't seem to mind playing for them last year, but nothing restirs the blood of old feuds like a soccer match. You can bet him and Tulkas will be battling all 90 minutes, and Melkor will be trying to goad him into a rash and stupid foul. If Utumno can score two, the match is more than likely over, and Utumno's critics will be silenced. But scoring 2 on now the Manwe-led Valar defense, phew, that's even beyond Melkor's ability.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): MF- Telvildo, GK-Ungoliant (8)

If anything gets the Valar to throw away the generosity, and courtesy, they show to other opponents it's the chance to beat a team with Melkor and his enemies. Varda has said she wants to guard Melkor all match, because she thinks she can and has the cooler head over Tulkas. Tulkas tried to appeal to Manwe just by saying: "Melkor's mine." but Manwe sided with his wife. However, don't be surprised if Manwe changes his mind during the match, if Utumno takes the early lead.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): DF- Manwe, DF- Vana, GK- Namo (8)

Draw 1-1.
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Old 03-19-2010, 02:37 PM   #24
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The Barrow-Downs take home the thriller!

In one of the most anticipated games of the third round of friendlies, the Barrow-Downs took on their guest - the flaring Gondolin team - at their home venue late on Thursday evening. And what a game it was!

From the very beginning it was clear it was not going to be a walk in the park for the Gondolin team. Quite the contrary. It was not only the home-audience who thought that the Downers’ leading goal in the end of the first period was well earned indeed. The ‘Downs just outwitted, outran and outplayed their opponents with wit and pure willpower on the first period. Maybe the Gondolin team was not ready for the game, didn’t anticipate such an intensive play from the hometeam, or they had had a big party the previous evening, but whatever it was they were on the receiving side for the first 45 minutes.

Gondolin came to the second period with new energy-levels and took the control of the game finally leading to a well deserved equaliser about halfway to the period. After the Gondolin equaliser it seemed for a while both teams were content with the draw and the intensity of the game fell considerably.

But the phantom and Fea had decided otherwise. The AKM had noted that the two had been invisible thus far. Whether that comment had spiced them up or not, they surely weren’t invisible in this game. After a stunning display of cunning and sheer virtuosity the two outplayed the whole Gondolin defence and finally got face to face with Huor. Talk about crowd-pleasers!

The result should give a lot of food for thought to any phantasy-league player indeed.


Barrow-Downs 2-1 Gondolin
tot shots 14-15
on target 7-7
GOALS:
*38, 1-0 Nogrod (Phantom)
*64, 1-1 Maeglin (Aredhel)
*82, 2-1 Phantom (Fea)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Barrow-Downs- Gwath, Wilwa
*Gondolin- Salgant, Fingolfin

In another spectator-friendly game Barad-Dûr Took an early two goal lead and then more or less concentrated on dribbling and nice tricks, giving Smaug a chance to capitalise and bring the Dale team even. Seeing the game was not over yet, Sauron beat his team to claim the victory with some very beautiful football.

To those who had suspected his inspiration to play with Sauron (AKM included) Elendil sent a clear message with his two goals. It seems Barad-Dûr is gearing up – just like a team where Sauron is involved would do.

On other games Aman took a a win over Minas Anor but in no way was it a convincing performance. Aman will most probably qualify from their group but not because of the flare of their game but because of the low quality of their opponents. Minas Anor on the other hand will be in deep trouble in their own group unless a miracle takes place…

The game between Beleriand and Rivendell was plain boring "kicking of the ball" around the field for ninety minutes. With these performances both teams are heading for an early relegation. Sad to say that, but it is true.

Barad-Dûr 4-2 Dale
tot shots 20-9
on target 11-5
GOALS:
*8, 1-0 Elendil (Nazgul #6)
*19, 2-0 Fellbeast (Nazgul #7)
*40, 2-1 Smaug (Thranduil)
*53, 2-2 Smaug (Girion)
*65, 3-2 Sauron (Gil-galad)
*81, 4-2 Elendil (Nazgul #7)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Barad-Dur- Anarion, Isildur
*Dale- Nain, Carc, Moneybags

Aman 1-0 Minas Anor
tot shots 10-9
on target 5-3
GOALS:
*67, 1-0 Orome (Earwen)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Aman- Nahar, Vaire
*Minas Anor- Nazgul #4, Calimehtar, Falastur

Beleriand 0-1 Rivendell
tot shots 7-9
on target 3-4
GOALS:
*57, 0-1 Boromir II (Arwen)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Beleriand- Magor, Mim, Manthor
*Rivendell- Arahael, Celebrian
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Old 03-19-2010, 06:57 PM   #25
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Eye

The friendly between Mithrim and Eithel Sirion was a good contest, with both sides showing some good skill and teamwork. Mithrim saw more time with the ball on their shoes and got off some fine blasts, but Maglor was just on top of it stopping all but one try. At the other end Eithel made the most of their possessions, with the veterans up front knowing how to avoid a wasted chance and showing nice timing. It looked certain to end as a 1-1 tie, but with under five minutes Maedhros showed up his brothers and the others on the Mithrim defense, taking it in solo and sending it over to Fingon for the easy chip at the end.

Both sides seemed happy with the result, as it was obvious that the opponent had been on their game and yet had not taken the game over. And while they had not played lazy at all, neither team had worn itself down at all. "This was really a great game for everyone involved," said Hurin after the contest. "The teams and fans all get along well, so it was really just a nice chance to get together and make sure we were tournament ready. I hope to see them again in the playoffs!"

Gelion and Lorien had a similar sort of match, only with both defenses looking much more on form than the offenses facing them. In the end it was Galadriel able to stop one more shot than the other keeper, and so giving Lorien the win. "There are always things to fix," commented Galadriel following the match, "But the most important thing is coming out ahead on the scoreboard. If we can do this during the tournament, I'll be happy."

Gorgoroth and Misty Mts played a violent and at times dirty contest where the refs decided part way through just to let things go, as if they had called everything both teams would've been sent off the pitch. Castamir and friends showed a bit more polish on the offensive end than the opposing forwards and midfielders, and that proved to provide the one goal margin. In the aftermath of the bloodbath, head tournament official and referee Boromir the 88th gave a firm warning to both sides. "We let it slide today so as to allow you to get your practice in, but come tournament time we will not be so slow to pull out cards."

Ithilien had no luck following up their previous quality defensive performances, as the dragons and balrog up front for Thangorodrim were simply too much to handle when giving only friendly-level effort. After building their lead Thang surprisingly pulled back and tried some Ithilien-type defense, but found themselves completely unsuited for it and gave up a goal and nearly another before the match ended. "Now I know why we never play that style," laughed Ancalagon afterwards. "We just wanted to try it for fun."

Eithel Sirion 2-1 Mithrim
tot shots 11-14
on target 5-7
GOALS:
*20, 0-1 Turin (Hurin)
*58, 1-1 Gwindor (Hador)
*86, 2-1 Fingon (Maedhros)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Eithel Sirion- Gwindor, Gundor
*Mithrim- Gelmir, Aradan

Gelion 0-1 Lorien
tot shots 8-6
on target 3-3
GOALS:
*74, 0-1 Celeborn (Haldir)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Gelion- Haldad, Amlach, Caranthir
*Lorien- Finglas, Amdir, Nimrodel

Gorgoroth 2-1 Misty Mts
tot shots 12-9
on target 6-4
GOALS:
*15, 1-0 Earnur (Grishnakh)
*31, 1-1 Azog (Gwaihir)
*44, 2-1 Castamir (Angamaite)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Gorgoroth- Grishnakh, Gollum, Gorbag, Earnur, Angamaite
*Misty Mts- Durin, Azog, William, Tom, Great Goblin, Bert

Ithilien 1-3 Thangorodrim
tot shots 5-21
on target 2-9
GOALS:
*22, 0-1 Scatha (DBane)
*40, 0-2 Ulwarth (Ulfang)
*63, 0-3 DBane (Ancalagon)
*79, 1-3 Faramir (Frodo)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Ithilien- Damrod, Samwise, Bergil
*Thangorodrim- Ulfast, Uldor, Glaurung
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Old 03-21-2010, 11:56 AM   #26
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Utumno and Valimar was one of the most anticipated matches not only in Round 3, but of the entire friendlies. Would the loss of Melkor lead to an even earlier exit, for Valimar, from the Arda Cup than last year? Were Melkor's soccer skills quickly diminishing as he spends them on his servants? If this match provided accurate answers, than it appears Melkor's gamble will not pay off.

It looked like Utumno's equalizer within the first 10 minutes of the 2nd was going to push them onto a win, because those types of goals can be just as demoralizing as giving up one right before the break. However, Manwe was not shaken, his defense shut down Utumno the rest of the game and Varda made Melkor look like he belonged in the D-league.

The game was coming to a close, and it looked like it would end a 1-1 draw, as most experts predicted. However, to the surprise of everyone watching Eonwe decided his Lord's defensive efforts all match deserved a much greater reward than a mere draw. He received a pass from Manwe and with great haste flew down the left side of the field. The Balrogs, not expecting this type of aggressive move, were taken completely by surprise. Spiritted on by Eonwe, Arien and Tulkas broke towards Utumno's goal with majesty and power. Eonwe hit a rocket that was directed straight at Ungoliant. Fans who saw Eonwe's eyes said it looked like he wanted to blast it straight thru the spider's monstrous form, but Tulkas re-directed the shot with a wicked header. Ungoliant had no chance, it was 2-1 Valimar!

Valimar supporters broke out in grand applause and joyous songs. They have never seen their team, when Manwe was leading, make a play that aggressive, that late in a match before. And the fans wanted to make sure Manwe knew that's the football they wanted to see from Valimar.

Utumno 1-2 Valimar
tot shots 11-11
on target 5-5
GOALS:
*38, 0-1, Arien (Varda)
*53, 1-1, Gothmog (Thuringwethil)
*87, 1-2, Tulkas (Eonwe)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Utumno- Gothmog, Balrog #2, Balrog #3
*Valimar- Ilmare, Pallando, Yavanna

In other matches of the day Hama's perfect save percentage stays in tact as he stopped all 5 of Nargothrond's shots on goal. Grima gets an early goal in the 2nd to keep Wold undefeated thru 3 friendlies.

Norbury got the first goal of their match against Rohan, near the end of the 1st. However, Rohan's spirited attack awoke in the 2nd, and they were able to handle Norbury with relative ease.

Feanor got his 1st goal of the friendlies to get an equalizer, and Tirion avoided complete embarrassment. Despite only 3 draws so far, Vinyamar is confident they can seriously challenge Aman for 1st in Group A, because of ther suffocating defense.

Nargothrond 0-1 Wold
tot shots 12-6
on target 5-2
GOALS:
*68, 0-1 Grima (Theodred)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Nargothrond- Barahir, Baranor
*Wold- Treebeard, Grima

Norbury 1-2 Rohan
tot shots 10-15
on target 5-7
GOALS:
*41, 1-0 Valandil (Araphor)
*66, 1-1 Helm (Eorl)
*84, 1-2 Felarof (Merry)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Norbury- Arveleg, Tarcil
*Rohan- Frumgar, Hallas, Eomer

Tirion 1-1 Vinyamar
tot shots 11-8
on target 5-4
GOALS:
*27, 0-1, Penlod (Idril)
*65, 1-1, Feanor (Miriel)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Tirion- Indis, Feanor, Mahtan
*Vinyamar- Osse, Salmar
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Old 03-21-2010, 03:33 PM   #27
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Bombadil eccentrics continue to delight and frustrate Breeland fans

The Arda Cup draws closer by the day and last night’s friendlies proved a tasty hor'dourve to whet the appetite ahead of the main meal. One of the major draws of the tournament is Breeland superstar Tom Bombadil, and judging by his performance last night, he will not fail to entertain at the big stage. At kick-off however, Bombadil was once again missing. The River-Woman said he’d gone looking for his cow who’d gone astray, and that was that. Nob took Bombadil’s place in the starting line-up, but without their talismanic striker, Breeland was struggling to keep up with their skillful opponents from the Havens, who went into the halftime break one goal up, and it could easily have been worse for Bree if it wasn’t for a few decent saves from the Old Man Willow. He will take heart from that.

Only minutes ahead of the second half kick-off, Bombadil suddenly returned, and as soon as he came on to the field Breeland looked a whole new team and more fluid in attack than a student's Friday night diet. After only minutes on the field Bombadil himself had equalized with a fine left-footed volley, and soon after that he hit the post after a flamboyant solo run. The undaunted Havens struck back though with a fine Tar Aldarion header, but Breeland continued to surge forward and looked threatening every time they gained possession of the ball. Bombadil was again instrumental as the Breelanders evened the score a second time. Whistling like a zoo-store full of canary-birds, he held up the ball in his own half, fending off several challenges before finding Halbarad in his stride with a sweeping 70-yard ball, and the ranger’s early low cross was directed into the net by Strider. The Havens was to have the last say though as Eärendil took advantage of some sloppy Breeland defending and beat Old Man Willow with a well placed shot. Perhaps the creaky old tree should have done better with that effort.

Results from tonight's friendlies:

Breeland 2-3 Havens

tot shots 16-18
on target 7-9
GOALS:
*31, 0-1 Tar Minastir (Cirdan)
*49, 1-1 Bombadil (Barrow-Wight)
*56, 1-2 Tar Aldarion (Uinen)
*67, 2-2 Strider (Halbarad)
*80, 2-3 Earendil
YELLOW CARDS:
*Breeland- Strider, Harry
*Havens- Lindo, Uinen, Eriol

Bywater 2-2 Pelennor
tot shots 14-8
on target 7-4
GOALS:
*32, 1-0 Bandobras (Gandalf)
*48, 2-0 Gildor (Saruman)
*73, 2-1 Imrahil (Eowyn)
*83, 2-2 Gothmog II (Duinhir)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Bywater- Saruman, Nazgul #3
*Pelennor- Eowyn, Duinhir, Forlong

Dol Guldur 2-2 Gondor
tot shots 18-14
on target 7-6
GOALS:
*26, 0-1 Mardil (Beruthiel)
*42, 0-2 Hyarmendacil (Mardil)
*70, 1-2 Bolg (Witch King)
*81, 2-2 Beorn (Grimbeorn)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Dol Guldur- Grimbeorn, Attercop, Thrain
*Gondor- Ondoher, Fastred, Ostoher

Doriath 0-2 Numenor

tot shots 4-15
on target 1-8
GOALS:
*55, 0-1 Tar Telperien (Tar Miriel)
*63, 0-2 Elros (Tar Palantir)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Doriath- Daeron, Haldir, Haleth, Algund
*Numenor- Ar Adunakhor, Tar Cirytan
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Old 03-22-2010, 01:24 PM   #28
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TTN - Round 4 Preview

The very last round of friendlies, and the predictions will be significantly shorter, as most teams will be looking ahead to the Arda Cup and not concentrate on winning their final friendly. If a team isn't prepared for the tournament at this point, the last friendly won't be too helpful. Teams who've had a strong showing, will be conserving and making minor refinements. Where Doriath and Nargothrond are probably just hoping to get the nightmare over, and prove their worth when it matters.

Aman vs. Gondolin

Has Gondolin been figured out already or was it simply over-rated because they finally played a quality defense? Scoring 4 goals against Dale and Dol Guldur each, but only getting 1 against the Barrow-Downs. Aman plays a similar team-minded defense like the Barrow-Downs, and are probably better athletes, so expect Gondolin's offensive numbers to further decline. Aman is more efficient scoring (14.3%) than the Barrow-Downs (13.2%), but doesn't create nearly as many chances, 28 to BDs 38.

Draw 1-1.

Barad-dur vs. Eithel Sirion

Eithel Sirion proved they are a serious championship contender with a good 2-1 win against Mithrim. However, I also think Barad-dur proved their quality against Dale. Yes, it was against Dale, but not only was it a convincing 3-1 win, Barad-dur proved Sauron, Islidur, and Gil Galad weren't the only football players on the team. Since, both teams should be pleased with their performance in the friendlies, they will both relax and step back in this match. A shame really, because if the game meant something, this would be a most exciting match-up. Let's hope they meet in the tournament, eh?

Eithel Sirion wins 2-1.

Barrow-Downs vs. Numenor

Numenor hasn't really played any great competition in the friendlies and that could come back to hurt them in a highly competitive Group E. The good news is the Barrow-Downs will likely be one of the few teams who will bring their A-game. They play with a competitive tenacity and work-ethic, each and every game, that hasn't been seen in Arda before. The scary thing is, the Barrow-Downs has the stamina to do this, and still come into the tournament fully-rested. The Barrow-Downs will bring their best and if Numenor isn't ready, don't be surprised if the lose. However, Numenor's defense is always prepared and looks to be just as dominating as last year.

Numenor wins 1-0.

Beleriand vs. Lorien

Lorien will likely pick up their 3rd win in the friendlies, but who have they beaten? They've been playing above expectations, especially on goal-scoring (a flat 15%), but they've had a very weak friendly schedule (Tirion, Minas Anor, Gelion, and Beleriand). Out of those 4, Tirion is the only one strongly-favored to make it to the playoffs, with Gelion having an out-side chance if they can get some scoring. And they did absolutely nothing against the one playoff-looking team they did play, losing 2-0.

Lorien wins 1-0.

Breeland vs. Minas Anor

Both teams are haplessly 0-3 in friendlies, so the good news is fans should be treated to an entertaining match, as Bree and Anor will be looking for a win to give them a boost of optimism in the tournament. However, let's face the facts, whoever does win will have a very difficult up-hill battle to make it out of group play and whoever loses will have trouble just avoiding the cellar. And if it ends in a draw? They're both in the cellar.

Bree wins 3-2.

Bywater vs. Vinyamar

Shadowfax and Bywater's D really stifled Pelennor's strong attack, but again Cotton proved he is an inept goal-keeper. Seriously I'd rather place an ancient tree in the middle of the goal if I were Bywater, because at least then you are making your opponents strike the ball with a bit of accuracy. He takes poor angles, is easily faked, dives the wrong way. It's a joke, and a pity, because Bywater has a good defense. Vinyamar though has a better defense (probably because they have a better GK), allowing only 1 goal to Havens and Tirion each.

Vinyamar wins 1-0.

Dale vs. Gorgoroth

Completely opposite from Bywater. Dale's got a good goal-keeper, but a pathetic defense. 6 of their players are in negative points because of how many cards they pick up (that is double than the Misty Mountains!!) At least the Misty Mountains make it worth all the cards, by how badly they can bruise you up. Thru 3 games Brand has faced 30 shots on target (the next closest is OMW, 25). You know what the league average is thru 3 games? Halve-it! Could you imagine how good Bywater would be with Brand and how terrible Dale would be with Cotton?

Gorgoroth wins 2-1.

Dol Guldur vs. Rohan

The Witch-King's hatred against Rohan is only topped by his hatred for Gondor. It was the wench Eowyn and her little side-kick Merry whom killed him on the Pelennor. Eowyn has departed from Rohan, but it makes no difference to the Wiki, and besides Merry has returned to Rohan. This will be another rather exciting match as the teams are just natural enemies, which should guarantee a hard fought game. Plus there's still a lot to be seen from whether Rohan's new defensive players...erm horses...are up to the challenge yet.

Draw 2-2.

Doriath vs. Rivendell

Not much to say here. Doriath won't score, because of Elrond. Rivendell will eek out a 1-0 victory, but there won't be any great excitement. If it's 0-0 at the half, I would be surprised if anyone is left in the stadium to watch the 2nd. Unfortunately, TTN reporters must sit thru it.

Rivendell wins 1-0.

Gelion vs. Mithrim

There has been no indication that Mithrim will run away with the 2010 Arda Cup. While definitely a good team, they are not a juggernaut. They are too dependant on their FWs for scoring and as I said earlier, if they can't score their defense is not used to facing a lot of pressure. Gelion won't be much of a scoring threat, but don't be surprised if Mithrim's own offensive woes continue, currently sitting at a woeful 12%. For the talent, and money, Mithrim has invested this year, that is unacceptable.

Mithrim wins 1-0

Gondor vs. Pelennor

Should be one of those games that are a joy to watch. Respectful but also some well-played football. If either one makes it out of their group, they can go on a cinderella Mirkwood-like run. I would not be surprised by that at all.

Gondor wins 2-1.

Havens vs. Ithilien

Defensively, Ithillien should match up better against the Havens than the mighty Thangorodrim. However, the Havens can pretty much score against anyone, where Ithilien can't. I think Ithilien will find it much harder to score against the fleet-footed Elves than the often-times overly aggressive Thangorodrim team.

Havens wins 2-0.

Misty Mountains vs. Wold

Hama will remain perfect, but I repeat we won't know anything more about the Wold's defense. They've played 4 teams who have the scoring potential of a wet blanket, as well as 4 teams who are completely winless so far. Vinyamar's managed 3 draws and Misty Mountains 1, that's it. They've played nobody, so don't get too high on their chances to advance yet.

Wold wins 1-0.

Nargothrond vs. Valimar

Nargothrond's not going to score, that's not remotely difficult to predict. What is, is whether Valimar will make this a completely boring match, by holding possession and conserving for the tournament, or if they will try for a 1-0 win. If Valimar does decide they want to win, they will because Nargothrond's defense isn't good enough to stop them. If not, it ends a draw.

Draw 0-0.

Norbury vs. Tirion

Norbury has had perhaps the toughest schedule during the friendlies, which if they aren't too demoralized may prove their benefit in Group D, which has a vastly depleted Nargothrond team and the unknown, untested Pelennor. The Havens looks like a playoff caliber team, and Rohan's got a reasonable chance, and we know barring unpredictable collapse, Thangorodrim and Tirion are serious playoff contenders. The defenses (and Arvedui) have held up better than Dale, plus they've scored in all their matches. Norbury will leave the friendlies winless, but don't think they will get run-over in group-play.

Tirion wins 2-1.

Thangorodrim vs. Utumno

This will be interesting, because of the story at the beginning of the year when Melkor did not return to Thangorodrim and actually stole many of their players when starting up Utumno. However, those ill-feelings are likely a thing of the past, since the play of Durin's Bane and the 3-dragons, for Thangorodrim has been spectacular. Melkor will likely try to flex his muscles, to show his underlings while he's not there he is still their Master. After Thangorodrim last victory, when Uldor was asked about their upcoming match against Utumno: "We're rather glad Melkor decided not to come back. Everyone knows Durin's Bane, Glaurung, and Scatha would have never agreed to join the team if he did. And we are much better off with them than with Melkor."

Draw 2-2.
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Old 03-27-2010, 06:39 PM   #29
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The Barrow-Downs leaves the friendlies on a high note, with a solid 2-0 victory over Numenor. Numenor might not have been playing at their best level, looking ahead to the friendlies, but the shock was Tar Atanamir. Numenor fans can't remember the last game Tar Atanamir surrendered 2 goals, as he only saved 3 shots. No one wanted to comment for Numenor after the game.

Not the same for The Barrow-Downs: "We started a little slow, but ended strong with two wins against playoff teams." said Nogrod. "I would not be surprised if we see Gondolin or Numenor again. It may just be the friendlies, but we are undefeated in 4 matches, we're ready to play anyone, and there will be a great celebration tonight in Bree!"

You read that correctly, the Barrow-Downs forward said a party in Bree. Rumors are circulating that the finalists for host of Group B are Gorgoroth and The Barrow-Downs.

Barrow-Downs 2-0 Numenor
tot shots 12-11
on target 5-4
GOALS:
*51, 1-0 Fea (Skip)
*70, 2-0 Wilwa (Phantom)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Barrow-Downs- Phantom, Mira, Skip
*Numenor- Ar Zimrathan, Tar Miriel, Elros

In the other matches of the day, there were two draws, and Eithel Sirion defeated Barad-dur convincingly, 3-1. Barad-dur did not ease up on their shots, as Sauron kept pressing, but Maglor held firm, where Maedhros and Fingon made The Mouth look like a deer caught in headlights.

The pair of 1-1 games were relatively boring. Gondolin knowing their offense looked to be in full sync in the first two games, has spent their last two working to improve the defense.

Aman 1-1 Gondolin
tot shots 12-11
on target 6-5
GOALS:
*62, 0-1 Fingolfin (Maeglin)
*76, 1-1 Ar Pharazon (Finarfin)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Aman- Ar Pharazon, Vaire
*Gondolin- Ecthelion, Salgant

Barad-Dur 1-3 Eithel Sirion
tot shots 15-12
on target 6-6
GOALS:
*18, 0-1 Maedhros (Fingon)
*34, 0-2 Hador (Gwindor)
*57, 1-2 Isildur (Sauron)
*75, 1-3 Maedhros (Fingon)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Barad-Dur- Gil-galad, Isildur, Nazgul #5, Elendil
*Eithel Sirion- Angrod, Aegnor, Fingon

Beleriand 1-1 Lorien
tot shots 11-11
on target 5-5
GOALS:
*23, 0-1 Fladrif (Fimbrethil)
*69, 1-1 Imlach (Bregolas)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Beleriand- Marach, Hathol
*Lorien- Amroth, Finglas, Haldir
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Old 03-29-2010, 09:50 AM   #30
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King Of The Dead brace silences critics in "friendly" brawl.

The King of the Dead is Gorgoroth perhaps most talked about signing. While no-one has doubted the striker's ability to put the fear into the opposing defence there has been question-marks regarding his ability to actually make physical contact with the ball, given his uncertain connection with the material world. With last night's well taken brace of goals these uncertainties can be wiped out. It was plain to see that the ghostly hit-man made good contact with the ball all night.

The match against Dale finished 2-2, but although it was nominally called a friendly, there was little friendliness on the pitch. Both teams saw a man sent off after some extraordinarily violent tackles, and Shagrat was lucky not to see red too after producing a scimitar in the closing minutes of the game and threatening to give Thranduil "a shave". The ref only gave the hot-headed Orc a yellow card though, perhaps in fear of getting on the end of the same treatment.

Arda Cup is officially launching an investigation regarding the disciplinary actions of both teams. The result of the inventigation should be presented ahead of the main tournament

Results from last night's friendlies:

****************************************
****************************************

Breeland 3-2 Minas Anor
tot shots 16-10
on target 8-5
GOALS:
*27, 0-1 Falastur (Boromir I)
*37, 1-1 Barrow-Wight (Strider)
*44, 2-1 Barrow-Wight (Bombadil)
*70, 3-1 Roheryn (Goldberry)
*82, 3-2 Denethor II (Nazgul #4)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Breeland- Halbarad, Barrow-Wight, Lumpkin
*Minas Anor- Earnil II, Golasgil

Bywater 0-0 Vinyamar
tot shots 6-10
on target 2-4
YELLOW CARDS:
*Bywater- Maggot
*Vinyamar- Egalmoth, Duilin

Dale 2-2 Gorgoroth
tot shots 9-14
on target 5-7
GOALS:
*43, 1-0 Girion (Bard)
*55, 1-1 King Dead (Castamir)
*68, 2-1 Smaug (Thranduil)
*79, 2-2 King Dead (Gollum)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Dale- Thranduil, Roac, Bard, Thror, Moneybags
*Gorgoroth- Castamir, Grishnakh, Gollum, Shagrat
RED CARDS:
*Dale- Bard (50, second yellow)
*Gorgoroth- Grishnakh (66, second yellow)

Dol Guldur 3-3 Rohan
tot shots 19-10
on target 9-5
GOALS:
*36, 1-0 Radagast (Bolg)
*41, 1-1 Helm (Cirion)
*58, 2-1 Witch King
*70, 2-2 Eorl (Eomer)
*78, 3-2 Grimbeorn (Radagast)
*87, 3-3 Eomer (Eorl)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Dol Guldur- Grimbeorn, Thrain, Galion
*Rohan- Hallas

****************************************
***************************************
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Old 03-29-2010, 01:53 PM   #31
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Eye

Friendlies wrapped up today, leaving fans to hope or fret based upon the results of the four warm-up matches. Tirion picked up win number three after falling behind Norbury, Wold continued their defensive dominance 1-0, and Valimar finished with four wins after edging Nargothrond. The highly anticipated Utumno-Thangorodrim match was surprisingly tame. There may be some bad blood there, but apparently not to the point that the teams were willing to risk injury or fatigue going into the tournament. For the most part there did seem to be more coasting in general in this final set of matches, so far as physicality and intensity goes. To prove it, Misty Mts actually restrained themselves to only four yellow cards.

Doriath 0-0 Rivendell
tot shots 9-10
on target 3-5
YELLOW CARDS:
*Doriath- Saeros, Thingol, Elurin
*Rivendell- Thorin, Elrohir

Gelion 0-2 Mithrim
tot shots 7-12
on target 3-6
GOALS:
*22, 0-1 Curufin (Hurin)
*49, 0-2 Turin (Beleg)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Gelion- Bereg, Amlach
*Mithrim- Turin, Gelmir

Gondor 2-2 Pelennor
tot shots 14-9
on target 7-4
GOALS:
*15, 0-1 Gimli (Snowmane)
*43, 1-1 Beruthiel (Ostoher)
*55, 1-2 Legolas (Eowyn)
*74, 2-2 Hyarmendacil (Mardil)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Gondor- Beruthiel, Folcred
*Pelennor- Windfola, Snowmane

Havens 2-1 Ithilien
tot shots 12-12
on target 5-5
GOALS:
*53, 1-0 Tar Minastir (Earendil)
*62, 2-0 Cirdan (Uinen)
*86, 2-1 Faramir (Anborn)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Havens- Tar Minastir
*Ithilien- Mablung, Anborn

Misty Mts 0-1 Wold
tot shots 6-10
on target 2-3
GOALS:
*58, 0-1 Quickbeam (Ugluk)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Misty Mts- Meneldor, William, Azog, Great Goblin
*Wold- Ugluk, Lightfoot, Beechbone

Nargothrond 1-2 Valimar
tot shots 9-10
on target 3-4
GOALS:
*39, 1-0 Finrod (Finduilas)
*51, 1-1 Eonwe (Arien)
*65, 1-2 Tulkas (Ilmare)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Nargothrond- Boron, Arminas
*Valimar- Vana, Yavanna

Norbury 1-2 Tirion
tot shots 8-12
on target 3-5
GOALS:
*16, 1-0 Araphor (Malbeth)
*40, 1-1 Finwe (Feanor)
*74, 1-2 Miriel (Nerdanel)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Norbury- Valandur
*Tirion- Finwe, Amras

Thangorodrim 2-2 Utumno
tot shots 9-15
on target 4-7
GOALS:
*21, 1-0 Scatha (DBane)
*38, 1-1 Balrog #4 (Balrog #3)
*62, 2-1 Ancalagon (Scatha)
*81, 2-2 Gothmog (Melkor)
YELLOW CARDS:
*Thangorodrim- Ulfang, DBane, Gorlim
*Utumno- Balrog #1, Telvildo, Melkor
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Old 03-29-2010, 02:59 PM   #32
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AKM guide to the world of statistics

AKM provides it's readers with the statistics on every tournament. Here will be the total standings after friendlies.

Reading instructions.

After the name of the team there are:
- points taken from the friendlies (a win = 3pts., a draw = 1pt.)
- wins - draws - losses
- the total of goals made - goals conceded
- the goal difference, + or - something
- the total of shots made (on target) - shots against (on target)
- group (from A-H)
- shooting effectivity percentage (how many shots made make a goal - counted from all shots, not only of those on target)
- goalie's saving percentage

NB. These are only statistics from the friendlies. Some teams had harder opposition during the friendlies and others had easier ones. Stay online to read more from the AKM's group by group analysis of the teams and their prospects.



1. Eithel Sirion 12 4-0-0 11-4 +7 53(27) – 47(21) D
20,8% 81%

2. Valimar 12 4-0-0 6-2 +4 40(16) – 31(12) F
15% 73,3%

3. Thangorodr. 10 3-1-0 12-5 +7 60(29) – 49(21) F
20% 76,2%

4. Tirion 10 3-1-0 7-2 +5 49(23) – 27(11) H
14,3% 81,8%

5. Havens 10 3-1-0 8-5 +3 53(25) – 44(19) H
15,1% 73,7%

6. Wold 10 3-1-0 3-0 +3 29(11) – 35(14) G
10,3% 100%

7. Mithrim 9 3-0-1 7-3 +4 54(26) – 34(15) C
13% 80

8. Numenor 9 3-0-1 5-3 +2 47(22) – 31(14) E
10,6% 78,6%

9. BarrowDowns 8 2-2-0 7-4 +3 50(22) – 47(20) B
14% 80%

10. Aman 8 2-2-0 5-2 +3 40(19) – 40(15) A
12,5% 86,7%

11. Rohan 8 2-2-0 10-8 +2 53(25) – 52(25) D
18,9% 68%

12. Gorgoroth 8 2-2-0 6-4 +2 44(21) – 37(17) B
13,6% 76,5%

13. Gondolin 7 2-1-1 10-5 +5 62(31) – 38(18) G
16,1% 72,2

14. Barad-Dûr 7 2-1-1 9-8 +1 59(28) – 43(21) B
15,3% 61,9%

15. Utumno 7 2-1-1 6-5 +1 52(25) – 35(16) E
11,5% 68,8%

16. Lorien 7 2-1-1 4-4 0 31(15) – 46(22) F
12,9% 81,8%

17. Pelennor 5 1-2-1 7-7 0 43(21) – 51(21) C
16,3% 66,7%

18. Rivendell 5 1-2-1 2-2 0 34(15) – 39(17) E
5,9% 88,2%

19. Vinyamar 4 0-4-0 2-2 0 36(16) – 33(14) A
5,6% 85,7%

20. Bywater 3 0-3-1 3-5 -2 41(18) – 34(15) F
7,3% 66,7%

21. Breeland 3 1-0-3 9-12 -3 58(29) – 59(30) B
17,3% 60%

22. Gondor 2 0-2-2 6-8 -2 48(22) – 49(21) G
12,5% 61,9%

23. Beleriand 2 0-2-2 2-5 -2 30(13) – 43(20) A
6,7% 75%

24. Gelion 2 0-2-2 2-5 -3 32(14) – 40(18) D
6,3% 72,2%

25. Dol Guldur 2 0-2-2 8-13 -5 64(28) – 57(28) H
12,5% 53,6%

26. Misty Mts. 1 0-1-3 2-5 -3 31(11) – 39(16) E
6,5% 68,8%

27. Doriath 1 0-1-3 1-6 -5 30(9) – 52(27) G
3,3% 77,8%

28. Dale 1 0-1-3 6-13 -7 32(17) – 70(37) D
18,8% 64,9%

29. Nargothr. 0 0-0-4 1-5 -4 34(14) – 34(14) C
2,9% 64,3%

30. Norbury 0 0-0-4 4-9 -5 34(15) – 55(27) C
11,8% 66,7%

31. Minas Anor 0 0-0-4 3-8 -5 38(18) – 51(26) H
7,9% 69,2%

32. Ithilien 0 0-0-4 2-7 -5 30(12) – 50(21) A
6,7% 66,7%
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Old 03-30-2010, 03:27 PM   #33
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AKM "group by group" predictions

NB. The number in brackets after the name of the team and their wins-draws-losses is their statistical standing after the friendlies.



Group A

The teams of group A had serious goal-scoring issues during the friendlies. Three of the teams managed to only score twice in four games and the statistics leaders of the group, Aman, only scored five goals. On the flip-side of the coin Aman and Vinyamar claim some of the best goal-tending of the friendlies and their defences have been pretty effective in not giving the opposing side too many chances to score in the first place.

Looking at the stats from the friendlies Ithilien looks like the worst team there is from all the 32 teams, but if one considers the opponents they have faced thus far the picture will change. No one team has faced such opponents thus far (Norbury comes near): Valimar (2nd in ranking), Thangorodrim (3rd), Havens (5th) and Wold (6th)! So a wise gamer would not put it past captain Faramir’s team to show their qualities with easier opponents they face on the group phase.


Aman 2-2-0 (10th.)

Aman might still be the favourites of the group but that is not an uncontested place. They beat weaker opponents (Bywater and Minas Anor) but had to settle with a draw against Misty Mts. To their honour one must say they also took a draw from the mighty Gondolin – although the sceptics remind us that Gondolin is no more what it used to be, the mighty Gondolin, despite their comfortable wins against weaker sides.

Nienna has proved to be a quality keeper and with the saving-percentage of 86,7% she has been the third best goalie of this year’s set up thus far. The question is whether the Aman defences will hold later against some more quality-forwards and whether Nienna can keep up with her saving percentage against them. The Valier and Turgon have been comfortable in the backlines, but they have had it more or less easy most of the time and have not been truly tested yet.

Also it has to be admitted that Ar-Pharazôn has been far from his flare and the Noldorin prince has not been able to feed him with passes – or be available to his passes – like Ar Pharazôn has used to in the Armenelos team. A lot depends on whether “the Golden” gets inspired and connects with “the Golden Hair”, or whether the rest of the midfield can wake up to support their lonely striker-genius.

There were some shared games the teams from group A played and looking at the results from them gives one some confidence that Aman will go through to the next phase though: both Vinyamar and Beleriand played a draw against Bywater but Aman won them comfortably 2-0.

AKM prediction: advancing to the next round.


Beleriand 0-2-2 (23rd.)

They managed to draw with Lorien and that is not a bad performance, but then again Lorien isn’t a team that feasts with goals anyway. Losing to Tirion is no disgrace but drawing with Bywater might be.

It may be that Beleriand is not so bad a team the stats say, but it is hard to believe in their chances of getting forwards from the group phase. The lord of the Haladin is an average goalkeeper at his best who might be spirited against orcs but they will face none in group A.

Basically the whole team has been a disappointment. The defences let the opponents to shoot on target a way too often, the midfield is just armless (legless?) and Marach has not shown any leadership thus far. Whatever their future will be, the AKM strongly advises not to choose players from Beleriand to any phantasy-team: Halmir would have gathered 12 phantasy points in four matches (3 per game on average) but the next best players would have gathered only 4 points (1 per game), old Hathol making a disgraceful -2 phantasy points.

Comparing to the other teams in the group they played level with Vinyamar with both teams having a draw with Bywater (Aman beat them 2-0), but they lost to Tirion 0-2 while Vinyamar forced Tirion to a draw.

AKM prediction: not advancing to the next round.


Ithilien 0-0-4 (32nd.)

Looking at the stats after the friendlies Ithilien is the worst team of all: they have lost all their matches and are having a -5 goal difference with the least goals made. But appearances maybe misleading as they’ve had the strongest opposition any team has had during the friendlies. So AKM will call Ithilien the black horse of the group A.

But for them to rise to the occasion they need to stop hiding in the bushes and become the soldiers of Minas Tirith facing their opponents openly. Thus far only Faramir has taken care of coming forwards and scoring (he has made both of their goals), and the Mumakîl has been left quite alone as the last lock of the defences. Be it his strangeness to the defenders or not, but the defence needs to gather around their goalie if they want to make it through the group phase.

To downplay their chances one has to note though that Ithilien lost to both Wold and Havens while Vinyamar forced those very same teams to a draw. So that would give an edge to Vinyamar over Ithilien.

AKM prediction: might be the black horse of the group but needs to show their qualities first.


Vinyamar 0-4-0 (19th.)

The “draw-specialists” have forced quite mighty teams into a draw – but they had to contend themselves with a draw with Bywater as well. So do they have what it takes to actually win a game? In the group phase draws will not carry them forwards.

Rog “the strongest of Noldor” from the House of the Hammer of Wrath has been the fourth best goalie thus far and looking at the adversaries the team has played, the opposition will be easier in the group phase. So beware! Scoring against Vinyamar will be hard indeed as also the defence of a vala, maiar and the tall man has been just superb. Bywater only managed two shots on goal against Vinyamar while they got four on Aman and five on Beleriand (not to speak that Bywater managed 10 shots total on Aman, 11 on Beleriand but only 6 on Vinyamar).

So there will be no easy goals against Vinyamar. But can they score themselves to win games? The forwards and the attacking midfielders have been walking in the shadows thus far and need to come forwards to the light for Vinyamar to go further in the tournament. Many people look forward to Idril to take more responsibility, but everyone wonders what is it with Tuor; if others have been wandering in the shadows thus far then Tuor has been probing in total darkness.

It will be interesting to see how far a great defence will do; but playing a draw with Tirion (fourth in the overall friendlies), Havens (fifth) and Wold (sixth) is something the other teams should be aware of. This team is hard to beat!

AKM prediction: advancing to the next round.



Group B

If group A had some serious scoring problems during the friendlies, then group B is the opposite of it. With all the scoring talent group B is the top of the pops with the four teams producing a staggering 31 goals in four matches, making it about two goals on average in every match they played (group A teams made about ½ goals per match).

Many also thought that group B would be the “death-group” and in many senses of the expression it still is, but looking at the confidence with which the Barrow-Downs have beaten both Gondolin and Numenor there can be but one favourite to this group leaving all others to contest for the second place. Barad-Dûr and Gorgoroth have faced more or less easy opponents and haven’t made an impression, Breeland has had it tougher, but isn’t looking like a winning team either. So which of the three will go forwards?


Barad-Dûr 2-1-1 (14th.)

The sceptics say that Barad-Dûr’s programme in the friendlies was an easy one and thus they’re not as competitive as the numbers would indicate. Faced with one tougher side (Eithel Sirion) they were beaten quite easily 1-3.

On a good day Barad-Dûr surely can score goals. In four matches they have produced nine goals making the average 2,25 / match. But the problem is that they have bad days as well. On two games they have been left into one goal scored. A better sign is that the responsibility of scoring is spread quite evenly: Elendil, Gil-Galad, Isildur and Sauron have all scored twice. So if one is not in top shape one day the others can score the deciders. Barad-Dûr is not depending on a single player with scoring.

But they are allowing their opponents way too many goals. Their defences are just too slow for any fast-paced attack and the Mouth is not a goalie with whom one would win tournaments. Their only hope on that front is that Gorgoroth’stats on defence are too good as they have not played too many tough opponents and that the Breeland team continues performing even worst in their defence.

It would be premature to write Barad-Dûr off from the next round anyway. Even if Sauron has scored twice and assisted three goals he has not been the artist and architect he was last year. But one should never underestimate a side with Sauron on board.

AKM prediction: fights for a place in the next round.


Barrow-Downs 2-2-0 (9th.)

The Barrow-Downs’ metamorphosis into a human team has been a success so far. The team is confident and is playing top-quality football right now. After two initial draws with some pretty good sides (Rohan 11th, Gorgoroth 12th) they really started to rock’n’roll. The wins over Gondolin and Numenor showed what they are cabable of. Had not the two giants fallen to BD they would be claiming some of the overall top-seats after the friendlies (Gondolin would be in top-six and Numenor in top-three).

Like Barad-Dûr, Barrow-Downs has effective players able to decide games on a large front: Wilwa and Nogrod have both scored twice, but also tp, Sally and Fea have scored when the forwards have been marked out of the game.

After the disaster in the opening game (four shots on target and two goals allowed) Eomerwarg has found his true nature and has climbed in the goalie stats claiming the eighth place at present. If his fury and self-confidence keeps building up with this momentum he will be very hard to get past in the later stages of the tournament.

They’ve had one of the most challenging programme so far and are confidently claiming two wins and two draws, with a rising performance-curve. It’s hard to see them not qualifying from group B.

AKM prediction: advancing to the next round.


Breeland 1-0-3 (21st.)

Breeland lost to Barad-Dûr in the friendlies and have only managed to win Minas Anor, the second worst team after the friendlies. They have conceded third most goals of all the teams and Old Man Willow is the second worst goalie statwise. So no hope for Breeland?

Actually it’s not that simple. If Bombadil happens to be interested, if it’s misty enough for the Barrow-Wight to play, if Strider gets support from others… those three can probably outscore any opponent in this tournament even if their own defences are leaking big time. Thus far they have orchestrated nine goals in four games which is impressive, but is it enough? HOw could they solidify their defences?

It’s hard to predict a qualifying place to Breeland but it is not impossible either. Friendlies are always friendlies and real games are real games.

AKM prediction: not advancing to the next round, unless getting a motivation boost.


Gorgoroth 2-2-0 (12th.)

Of the runners-up of this group Gorgoroth has not impressed with their scoring but they have much more solid defences than their closest contenders Barad-Dûr. Although AKM seriously suggests any phantasy-player willing to invest on Gorgoroth-players would first check the ratio they are picking up cards as it seems that for any points gained they lose some from the cards taken.

What the sceptics said of Barad-Dûr also aplies to Gorgoroth: their friendlies programme was more or less easy. But they wrestled a draw from the Barrow-Downs, and that’s no little feat looking at the friendlies now.

There are many questionmarks however. How is Eärnur faring with his captors? In four games he has managed only one goal and two yellow cards. The team needs him, playing for the team and not just standing in the field feeling sour. Also the King of the Dead arose only in the last game. Was that just a spark that went off or is he actually awakening? Could Gollum play more Smeagolish as to avoid all the cards he’s picking up and to concentrate more on aiding the team? Can the Usurper carry the team alone if others do not raise to the occasion? Do their card-fast defences hold against attacks from the Breeland trio, or from Sauron, Isildur, Gil-Galad and Elendil?

AKM prediction: fights for a place in the next round.



Group C

Many thought group C would be a walk in the park to the astonishingly strong looking team of Mithrim. No one was ready to bet on the old Arnorians from Norbury, and so the second place was thought to be battled out between Finrod Felagund’s Nargothrond and the stout fighters of the Pelennor Fields led by Theoden king. But after the friendlies many an eyebrow has been raised and the situation looks more curly than it did before them.

Mithrim has not played the extraordinary game everyone thought they would play and Pelennor doesn’t look like it should belong to the group of sixteen best teams of the tournamnet. Nargothrond has had some real issues with scoring but Norbury, even with having problems keeping their goal clean, actually look like a potential qualifiers. This will be a hard group to predict, after Mithrim that is.


Mithrim 3-0-1 (7th.)

Mithrim lost to Eithel Sirion 0-1 but ES has played very convincing football thus far and it was only a friendly match. So nothing to get worried about. They beat the weaker opponents more or less confidently. Hurín has gathered 2+2, Turín 2+1 and Beleg 1+2 in four games. Huan is in the top ten of the goalies thus far. So everything’s looking good?

Well no it isn’t. Everyone anticipated flare and artistic brilliance from this team. Everyone presumed the team would dominate the field with ease. That hasn’t happened. It kind of feels their game has just not yet locked into place. They have now three matches to do that.

Huan has been excellent in standing between the posts as long as the opponents have been weaker sides and the quality of the shots less than remarkable. But against Eithel Sirion he allowed two goals from just five shots on target. Mithrim enthusiasts should cross their fingers it was just an accident and not something telling about Huan’s present condition.

With two shut-outs Mithrim’s defence looks pretty good (especially phantasy-pointwise) and Curufin’s sharp runs forward have already produced one goal. But their opponents have been rather weak – except Eithel Sirion – so it is hard to say how they will fare in the qualifiers – where they will of course go.

But the flare of Hurín, Beleg and Turín is the thing all the fans are missing. Or is it just the unreasonable expectations laid on them?

Be what it may, Mithrim will advance to the next round, but facing either Valimar or Thangorodrim in the first qualifying match-up will be the moment of truth to team Mithrim. It’s clear they need to be better then than they are now.

AKM prediction: advancing to the next round.


Nargothrond 0-0-4 (29th.)

Let’s face the facts: Nargothrond has lost every game they have played. Statistically their opponents have been among the twelve best and they have lost every match with just one goal. But that also tels one, that they most probably are not among the twelve best in this tournament. Groupwise Nargothrond still has chances to qualify if they can just step up their attack, especially the accuracy of their shots.

That would mean that Finrod should become the great founder and king he is – and the borrowed striker Mablung should start playing and not only pick up cards, and Barahir should come to rescue of the “friend of men” once again and not just deal the ball to and fro in the midfield while the enemy swirls around. They have faced tough teams, but honestly, they have only scored one goal! Most importantly, the effectivity of the shots is what is missing. Getting in only one shot from 34 shots taken is just a depressing stat (2,9% efficiency, the worst of all teams: compare it to the 20+% of the leading teams!).

Nargothrond’s defences are not bad. Led by the silverhand Celebrimbor they have allowed the opposing team just 1,25 goals on average / game. But allowing even that the forwards should come up with at least two goals a game – and that is what is missing right now.

Although some sceptics say that Beor is finally catching up with his nickname and is really being too old to this tournament. With a saving percentage of 64,3% he has been so far the fifth weakest goalie of all. So the defences need to be alert.

Can Finrod Felagund rally his troops around him? That’s the question.

AKM prediction: fights for a place in the next round.


Norbury 0-0-4 (30th.)

There weren’t too many people willing to bet on Norbury before the friendlies, and just looking at the numbers it looks like no sane person would do that now either. But there is a big “but”. If Nargothrond has had strong opponents during the friendlies then Norbury has had, if possible, even a bit stronger teams against it. And even if their goal-difference is one goal worse than Nargothrond’s their scoring effectivity and goal-keeping have been better overall.

Norbury’s attack revolves around Araphor and Malbeth – and they are both doing good work. But more is needed if they are to get through the group phase.

Also their defences need to step up and change the gear. So far they have conceded at least two goals in every game they have played, and even if Arvedui seems to be a better goalie his reputation allows him, he can’t pick all the balls coming his way (27 shots on goal in four games would be a challenge to any goalie).

If they get their game into form against a lot weaker opponents than which they faced in the friendlies there’s no reason to not believe they have their chances of qualifying. But it wil be close.

AKM prediction: fights for a place in the next round.


Pelennor 1-2-1 (17th.)

There were some hopes that this mötley crew of third age heroes led by king Theoden could challenge the elder generations of men, the elves, the beasts and the undying folk. But that hope should be buried now. Pelennor will not challenge any top team in this tournament, how much Legolas fan-girls might wail over it.

They just don’t have it.

Pulling a draw with Gondor is not a bad thing in itself and would point towards them being able to challenge earlier generations. Being able to do the same with Bywater is no less a feat, or winning the pathetic Doriath… but is that enough to put them into top 16? No it’s not.

But the AKM is not yet ready to write them off from qualifying from the group either. With the support of fangirls and the young male-audiences, Legolas and Eowyn might just do the trick as they have done so far. The teams Pelennor has faced in the friendlies have been a class weaker than those Nargothrond and Norbury have faced but unlike the two teams, Pelennor has scored some goals and that might give them an edge of confidence.

It will be close.

AKM prediction: probably not advancing to the next round, but has a slight chance to qualify.


***---***

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Old 03-30-2010, 08:15 PM   #34
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TTN - Arda Cup Preview - Group A

The friendlies have concluded and the Arda Cup is now in full swing. The Two Towers Network will give analysis on all 8 groups and the best phantasy insight you will ever find. It was rather difficult predicting the friendly matches, because you can't tell how teams will decide to perform during exhibitions. But, now the teams are tournament ready, and I am too. Let the games begin!

GROUP A - completely defense-focused from all the teams, so this is going to be a difficult group to predict, as 1 goal will likely be good enough to win the match (or at least force a draw). Each match is going to be a battle, and it's going to be more about what defense doesn't have a lapse to give the opposing offense a quality chance to score.

Aman- Coming into group play Aman is looking like the favorite to win the group, according to most betting agencies. It's true their friendly schedule wasn't very difficult, but the modest 12.5% scoring is double everyone else in the group, and defensively they are arguably the best. The thing I like about the offense is the steady efficiency, they're not flashy, but you know what you're going to see each match. Other teams like Barad Dur have more dangerous attacks, but are totally unreliable. Aman doesn't create many chances, but they're quality chances and it's got a machine-like efficiency. Because of this (backed by a strong defense) Aman are the favorites to take first. They will have trouble advancing far beyond group play. I can see possibly getting into the quarter-finals, but not much farther.
*Top phantasy scorer(s)- GK-Nienna (18)

Beleriand- Could beat Ithilien but that will be a difficult task, and an even harder one will be faced when going against Vinyamar. TTN agrees with AKM that they may not look as bad as the experts are making them sound, but they haven't show much promise to be able to score, and defensively they are a few notches below both Aman and Vinyamar. They've allowed 2 less goals than Ithilien, but the offenses they faced in the friendlies can not be compared to what Ithilien was up against. Simply because of the fact that Ithilien's and Vinyamar's offenses are just as dreadfully unreliable, Beleriand has a small chance to snatch 2nd, but if they make it out of the group, they won't make it past their first playoff game.
*Top phantasy scorer(s)- GK-Halmir (14)

Ithilien- Pretty much the same story as Beleriand. That is they could beat Beleriand, but it will be hard to get past Aman and Vinyamar. The bigger upside to Ithilien (over Beleriand) is they faced 3 high-powered offenses in the friendlies (Valimar - 15%, Thangorodrim - 20%, Havens - 15.1%) and the sneaky Ranger defense held up pretty good. It only allowed one more shot on target than Beleriand. The question mark remains to be the Mumak at goal. It's shown to be able to stand up well to powerful blasts, but when opposing FWs get in close, it's a bit of a clutz and doesn't handle the shot well...often being unable to adjust or allowing the ball to eek through the legs. Have a moderately better chance to snatch 2nd, but again if they make it out, they will be a first round exit in the playoffs.
*Top phantasy scorer(s)- GK- Mumakil (12)

Vinyamar- Have an outside shot at taking 1st place, but really that's Aman's to lose. Defensively they are arguable better than Aman, but really there's no significant difference between them. The edge, defensively, is slightly in Vinyamar's favour, as they held Tirion and Havens to 1 goal a piece. However, offensively, they've been as much of a threat as Ithilien and Beleriand would be. And they weren't exactly playing defenses as good as the ones they will meet in this group. They are going to be the favorites for 2nd, and it will be there's to lose, but if they rely too much on their defense to hold, Ithilien or Beleriand could steal it. If they make it out of group play, they won't make it past the first round.
*Top phantasy scorer(s)- GK- Rog (18)

Predicted Group Standings:
1. Aman
2. Vinyamar
3. Beleriand
4. Ithilien
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Old 03-30-2010, 10:40 PM   #35
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TTN - Arda Cup Preview - Group B

GROUP B- The most difficult of the 8 groups to call, but I might add, not the deepest. There are groups that will be more competitive because the talent of the teams are better, but I'm seriously contemplating copping out and giving all the teams a 25% chance of finishing 1st, 25% of 2nd...etc. Anyone can win and that means anyone's championship hopes can be dashed early by finishing 3rd or 4th. The winner of this group will be the team who will surprise us with something we haven't seen yet.

Barad Dur- The team with the biggest budget of the group, which by default means they are going to be the favorites, but way too many question marks to put strong faith as the favorites. If they don't get 1st, there will probably be some loud grumblings from Mordor fans, but if they are eliminated from group play you can bet all of Barad-dur will be unleashed in rage. The upside is they can score, in the group only Breeland had a better goal percentage, and that's not a bad thing to say. And while their friendly schedule wasn't all that challenging, it was tougher than their fellows from across the plain. They beat Bree, but this is a whole new game, whole new monster, don't be surprised with a different result. The biggest concern with Barad Dur is which team is going to show up? Because they really have the talent to make a long run in the playoffs, but also be a terrible flop and finish 4th.
*Top phantasy scorer(s)- **FW- Sauron (17)

Barrow Downs- After the exhibitions they are quickly rising in popularity and may be picked the favorites by more than a few loners in the football world. It's hard to find a weakness in their overall solid statistics during, especially with Eomerwarg stopping the shots he has been after the bad first game. I will say my primary concern with the Barrow Downs is the giant slayer syndrome. They seem to play more to the level of their competition, and not the best of their ability each and every game. That is, they get fired up to beat the giants (such as Gondolin and Numenor) but then play down to Rohan and Gorgoroth. This is not to knock Rohan and Gorgoroth, but if the Downs can beat the giants, they should have beaten Rohan and Gorgoroth. So the draws with those two are a little concerning. With that said, it's hard to discount the stats, they have a better chance than the rest of taking one of the top 2 spots.
*Top phantasy scorer(s)- GK- Eomerwarg (16)

Breeland- The defense will be their un-doing, plain as that. The 30 shots on target was far more than any of the other goalies in the group had to face, and OMW's percentage is nothing to brag about. You can't count them completely out, because of Bombadil. However, you also have to put less faith in their chance to advance...because of Bombadil. This is a group where every game will be of dire importance to win. To most players that is enough to get them to play their best every game, but not Bombadil. A pity, because he is a fabulous player to watch, and Bree fans love him for it, but there will be lots of moments where Bombadil will simply not play, and Bree can't afford it when he does.
*Top phantasy scorer(s)- *FW- Bombadil (17)

Gorgoroth- This is a difficult team to firm a solid conclusion about, because they went undefeated in the friendlies, yet their statistics are pretty mediocre. Their 6 goals were the fewest of the group, and they also created the fewest chances. Now, defensively they allowed the fewest shots on target, but the amount of cards they pick up is going to be a problem. Plus it seems like when playing skilled FWs, Shelob isn't as dominant as she might think she is, giving up 2 goals to Dale in their last match. And Shelob will be up against stronger FWs when facing the teams in their group. While able to get goals themselves, they aren't going to be able to outscore a Barad-dur team on it's full game, let alone Breeland. If one Barad Dur doesn't make it out, can you imagine the chaos in Mordor if neither of their teams make it!
*Top phantasy scorer(s)- GK- Shelob (16)

Predicted Group Standings:
1. Barad Dur
2. Barrow Downs
3. Breeland
4. Gorgorth
(Haha, alphabetical order)
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Old 04-01-2010, 05:36 AM   #36
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TTN - Arda Cup Preview - Groups C + D

GROUP C- It looks like the sure lock for 1st is Mithrim. 2nd will be up for grabs between the other three. It will be a tight race, but not particularly exciting since they are not great teams, more mediocrely even.

Mithrim- There is no reason to believe Mithrim will not sweep the group, even if some would call their friendly performance disappointing. I can't see anyone being serious challengers to Mithrim. The excitement and true test for Mithrim to prove themselves will be in the first playoff game. TTN is projecting Mithrim will play either Valimar or Thangordrim in the first playoff, and either one of those teams will make for a great match up. The winner will quickly shoot up as the favorites to take home the Arda Cup.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): **GK-Huan (18)

Nargothrond- historically Nargothrond has not only made, but been tough competitors, in the playoffs. This is the first year TTN thinks it is more likely Nargothrond will miss out. There is history and experience working for Nargothrond, but they are vastly depleted in talent from previous tournaments. The good news, for any fan of the sport, is Finrod will never allow his guys to quit, so all of their matches will be close down to the last minutes. However, when I look at Nargothrond's line-up, I think of veteran finesse pitchers in baseball. They're solid players, because of their knowledge and wisdom for the sport. However, you don't fear them, like you would facing a pitcher who can throw 102mph. When you look at Nargothrond's line-up, everyone knows their talent, but there is no Feanor, there is no one an opponent will fear. They are a good team, but ultimately a beatable one, and Norbury and Pelennor know it.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): GK- Beor (8)

Norbury- I like Norbury's chances to finish 2nd better than Nargothrond and Pelennor. Their friendly schedule was brutal. Tirion and Thangorodrim are heavy semi-final favorites and have some of the best odds to win the championship. While the Havens and Rohan have high hopes and look like playoff-caliber teams too, Nargothrond and Pelennor don't. In most other groups, Norbury would have a tough time advancing. They match up well against a careful, mistake-free Nargothrond, because Norbury stresses the same but has a clear edge scoring. It is going to be against Pelennor where Norbury will have the most trouble. Their defense allowed 27 shots on target, while their offense got 15. Pelennor loves to attack, Norbury's D will be hard-pressed.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): FW- Araphor (11)

Pelennor- It's going to be a peculiar situation, because the match against Norbury is one that Pelennor could easily win. However, they don't match up well against the much sturdier defenses of Mithrim and Nargothrond. Even with a win over Norbury, in a freak way, Norbury could still finish above them(depending on if Norbury can best Nargothrond). The key match will be against Nargothrond. If they get at least a draw, and with a win over Norbury, you have to like their chances of advancing
*Top phantasy scorer(s): FW- Legolas (15)

Predicted Group Standings
1. Mithrim
2. Norbury
3. Pelennor
4. Nargothrond

GROUP D- Kind of like Group C, where it should be replatively easy for Eithel Sirion to win the group, and the battle for 2nd will close between the other 3 teams. However, the Group D teams look all around stronger than Group C.

Dale- Dale had a rought start to the friendlies, and looked to be in utter shambles, but has gotten more consideration by surprisingly posting an 18.8% goal-percentage. But the combined skill of Smaug and Thranduil will not be enough for Dale to advance. Over half their team finished the friendlies with negative phantasy points. With the amount of cards the defense picks up, as well as allowing the most shots on target (37), they can't advance. At least fans will be treated to some great goals.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): FW- Smaug (15)

Eithel Sirion- Have proven themselves on both offense and defense. While not the strongest defense in the tournament, no one in this group should give them too much of a problem. The thing that strikes me the most about Eithel Sirion is the even spread of talent, they define a complete team. Only Bregor had no phantasy points, and 7 players ended with 10+. Expect to see a drop in that output, but having 1 or 2 players from Sirion on your phantasy teams would be a wise move.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): *MF- Hador (21)

Gelion- They could be too tough defensively for Dale and Rohan, but I doubt their ability to score enough to win. They allowed the fewest shots on target, but Dior also conceded at least 1 goal a match. If that trend continues, Gelion isn't good enough to get 2 goals and win. And draws won't be enough to sneak by in this group, the other teams are too good offensively to not pick up wins against eachother.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): GK- Dior (12)

Rohan- There are many questions about their defense. Offensively they will be fine, they had as many chances as Eithel Sirion, and only 1 less goal. They also gave up 8 goals though, and the only great offensive power-house they played was Dol Guldur. They'll be confident having defeated Dale earlier, and despite the sub-par defense it still should be good enough to hold Gelion to 1-goal. Also, of the three, I give them the best chance at a surprise knock-off of Eithel Sirion. Their offensive outputs are virtually even, but their entire defense has downgraded from last year. Even at GK, Theoden is performing better for Pelennor than Fram is for Rohan.
*Top phantasy scorer(s): FW- Eorl (18)

Predicted Group Standings
1. Eithel Sirion
2. Rohan
3. Gelion
4. Dale
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Old 04-01-2010, 10:28 AM   #37
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Eye

If you're having trouble coming up with your team or making predictions, this may help you.

If you have trouble understanding it, I'd be happy to give a more detailed explanation (unless someone else beats me to it).
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Old 04-02-2010, 10:12 AM   #38
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Eye From MESPN Sports Blog Central

(Sorry about the link. It was April Fool's Day and I couldn't resist. )

Using friendlies to predict the course of a tournament is a tricky business. One never knows precisely what the teams are aiming for during their run-throughs and what they are holding back as a strategy. In addition, a team can look rather off pre-tournament and suddenly find chemistry during group play. With that said (and thus our behinds completely covered) here is the after-friendly breakdown by MESPN’s football blogging team, featuring their best and most vague guesses as to what's going on.

Aman- They showed the ability to hang tough with the rough teams and run with the quick teams. They were very sound fundamentally, though undoubtedly they will have to kick up the effort a notch once the matches mean more. A decent round of friendlies for them overall, but not statistically dominant by any means, so there shouldn’t be any overconfidence there.

Barad-Dur- The offense appears to be, for the most part, primed and ready to go, and captain Sauron says that the sub-par defensive performance was partly due to all focus being on bringing the offense together. Also, it appears that their plus one scoring margin does not accurately reflect that shot margin they enjoyed against their foes, so their prospects are likely to average out to a better level.

Barrow-Downs- They began things with a couple of ho-hum ties in which they appeared content just to get a bit of practice in, but in the last couple games they turned things up a bit, making sure that they’re ready to go full speed into the tournament. The fact that they weren’t merely dominated athletically by Gondolin and Numenor is promising, though we’ll have to see if they are able to raise their game as many levels as the other elite teams when it counts.

Beleriand- They played in a similar manner to what they will in the tournament, and demonstrated the ability to keep matches close against all foes, though they only managed to scrape out two ties. Once they up the intensity and speed for the tournament, they will perhaps be better able to translate their efforts into victories, so long as their execution remains constant.

Breeland- They played in a rather loose and relaxed manner in the friendlies, but that is the way they prefer to play anyway, so in group play we can expect more of the same from the offense, but who knows if the defense will be able to rise to the occasion. Captain Strider says that they will, and that friendlies was merely “fun-time” for the team. “We’ve been training hard and needed a break from the grind.”

Bywater- In playing some rather gifted athletic teams, Bywater impressed by staying even with them for the most part. The Hobbits in particular were much improved (this year’s Ent-draught is said to be a special new formula), and the Nazgul, Wizards, horse, and elf were as good as ever. Though they were outscored, they actually outshot their opponents, and the shots weren’t poor, and so they hope to see the numbers average out to their favor all on their own.

Dale- They experienced many problems in their friendlies. Their talent is fine, but they seem disjointed- unable to piece together their talent. How best to take advantage of Roac and Carc’s aerial abilities on defense? How to get the ball up to the forwards more efficiently? These are the questions that must be answered for Dale to find success. Most of all they have to cut down on the amount of shots they allow at their goal.

Dol Guldur- They were certainly unable to withstand the skill and speed of Gondolin in that second round, but other than that they held their own with everyone, outshooting Rohan, Gondor, and Thangorodrim. Since attack is what they plan to do, I’d say they’re ready to play in tournament form, particularly when you consider that Oropher’s save percentage has surely bottomed out. I mean, it can’t get worse, right?

Doriath- Things would be much worse for Doriath if not for Melian making twenty-one saves, which partly masked the problems their defense had. Their offensive problems were obvious, and they need to figure out a way to do something on that end- anything at all to provide some balance, even if it’s only holding onto the ball and denying their opponents.

Eithel Sirion- Overall solid work on their way to sweeping their friendlies. This team proved it has top of the line talent, but Maedhros and Fingon told their team last night that “Talent alone cannot win once everyone is playing with full effort and strategy.” So, while their fans should feel quite pleased and looking forward to making a run in this tournament, the team captains are guarding against overconfidence.

Gelion- They proved that they know how to play some smart defense, holding Barad-Dur, Rivendell, and Lorien to one goal. Now in group play we just have to wait and see if they’re able to put it in the net more with their counter going full speed. Captain Beren: “We will look to utilize the element of surprise with sudden counters, so obviously it wouldn’t do to give everyone a feel for it early on in the friendlies.”

Gondolin- In the first two games they proved that they have the athleticism and skill to run away with a game when the stakes aren’t high, and that seemed to be enough for them. In the games against Barrow-Downs and Aman they elected not to ramp up their attack to counter those more cohesive defenses, but rather focus on keeping the score low and saving energy for the groups. We’ll see if that strategy pays off, or if they lose their edge.

Gondor- All in all they played even with everyone, upping their game somewhat for the better teams and relaxing when possible. They seem to have gelled early and felt comfortable using the friendlies as a mere practice- making sure they were prepared for the skill they’d see from their competitors.

Gorgoroth- They showed some very tough defense for the majority of their matches, and the other teams in their group are going to experience some soreness win or lose. The only problem is, they’re getting carded right and left, and if they up the intensity for group play, will that mean even more cards? They’d better show some control there.

Havens- They played some good ball during the course of friendlies, and showed the ability to come out ahead in low and high-scoring affairs. Given the teams they played their defense was not exactly stellar, however it must be pointed out that they were always holding the lead and were perhaps content to let the other side take their shot at the scoreboard.

Ithilien- They kept the game at one goal difference gainst Valimar, Havens, and Wold, so nicely done there, except for the fact that losing by one goal doesn’t gain points. Though perhaps all this new team cared about was gaining confidence, and showing themselves they could compete while saving their best effort and tricks for group play. We’ll see.

Lorien- Overall decent play from Lorien, but they had better be ready to show more on offense once group play starts, though it’s true that they did what was necessary for the most part against defensive oriented teams. Galadriel was as solid as ever, so she’ll be pleased with that end. Celeborn needs more looks on the other end though if they plan to keep even against shot-happy teams. Galadriel can only save so many.

Minas Anor- They didn’t let any of their opponents run and hide on them, but the fact remains that they were statistically beaten and they need to do something different to start picking up points in the standings. Their shot selection was not good, which is probably the primary problem that needs to be addressed.

Misty Mts- They proved to be as violent as advertised, and didn’t let anyone get away from them, suffering three single goal losses and forging a tie. If other teams wear down before they do, it is then a promising style for later rounds especially. Though of course there is the problem of cards- it’s difficult to win when you’re one man short.

Mithrim- It was a nice warm-up for them, going up against several good teams and coming out ahead on the stat sheet every time. Once things get more serious, expect Turin and Beleg to turn up the heat like usual. They’ve worked together so much that they never have to worry about using friendlies to get rid of rust, and elected to rest for the most part during friendlies.

Nargothrond- Don’t jump off a cliff yet, Nargothrond fans. While they may have finished with no victories or ties, they were competitive in every contest and were even on the stat sheet at the end of friendlies. So while they certainly aren’t in a position to feel accomplished, they are poised to compete, and with an increase in efficiency can do just that.

Norbury- There’s no getting around the fact that Norbury lost their games and was beaten statistically to boot, but the die-hards aren’t panicking at this point, as Norbury was visibly playing with low energy and effort. It is quite usual for these lads to play according to the moment, rising to the occasion when necessary, particularly with late game heroics. This is a very frustrating team for a prognosticator to deal with.

Numenor- Opening with three solid wins, Numenor certainly showed that they hadn’t lost everything from last year, but their final game against Barrow-Downs wasn’t the way to end. Perhaps the critics are right when they say they’re missing the necessary flair this year. They look like they’ll have some success, but to go far they’ll have to find that edge.

Pelennor- They started off looking promising, but those last couple of ties with Bywater and Gondor were perhaps a bit lucky, as Theoden had to face more and tougher shots than his comrade on the other end of the pitch. He showed last year he’s up for a challenge, but the defense needs to protect him better.

Rivendell- Elrond was at it again, saving 15 of 17 shots he saw. But while allowing two goals in four games may look promising, the fact remains that the defense did not do a good enough job in getting the ball up into the other half of the field. And when they did, the possession game of the offense was off, and they weren’t able to secure the best shots. That needs to change if they want to advance deep.

Rohan- They had promising friendlies overall, showing that they were working well together and hanging around athletically with everyone they faced. The real downside was the way they finished, with Dol Guldur really able to be effective against their defense. They were lucky to get the tie in that one, and they’ll need to step it up in group play.

Thangorodrim- Up until Utumno no one was able to bother Thangordrim’s offense much, as they pretty well held it when they wanted and went where they wanted, and with finishers like they have naturally that led to goals. Always running out to three goal leads, there was never any reason for the defense to do their best, so we’ll have to see how they do when called upon.

Tirion- They played a rather curious round of friendlies. Successful (three wins and a tie), but not at all in the style expected. They kept their explosive offense reigned in, and instead played as if holding a three goal lead at all times, focusing on defense and holding the ball. They allowed fewer shots on their goal than any other team. Captain Feanor: “We expect to find ourselves ahead a lot, so we wanted to work on holding a lead. We’ll let loose with our offense once group play begins. No reason to waste energy now.”

Utumno- It definitely appeared as if Utumno was conserving their energy for group play, coasting along on their top-notch talent through the friendlies, content with a couple close wins and a tie. Knowing full well that Valimar could very likely be a playoff opponent, Utumno really went into a shell for that game, showing as little as possible to their foes. That’s a good strategy so long as Utumno is able to turn it on and play well full speed once it’s time.

Valimar- Their defense was suffocating and the offense was efficient, but we already knew they were savvy, experienced, and athletically capable (which translates to friendly wins). The question is, will they still be that effective once everyone is going all out against them? Will they find some fire? They never had to exert themselves, so their first major test in group play will tell much more about them.

Vinyamar- They played extremely conservatively and without any sort of life, almost as if wanting to fast forward to group play. With the talent they have and their style, it’s not completely surprising that even playing like that they managed not to lose, but not losing isn’t good enough once the tournament begins. They’d better be able to kick it up at this stage.

Wold- Despite picking up three wins and a tie, Wold shouldn’t get too comfortable. They had the fortune of playing exclusively against ineffective or apathetic offenses, and actually got out-shot by three of their four opponents. So while they were a pleasant surprise in not making errors and playing cohesively and with good spirit, they still need to improve to make a run.
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Old 04-02-2010, 01:34 PM   #39
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TTN - Arda Cup Preview - Groups E + F

*note: I seemed to have left my stat sheet on my laptop which I will not have access too all weekend. Therefor, I will not be able to give the teams top phantasy scorers of the friendlies for the final 4 groups. My apologies to all those loyal phantasy readers.

These two groups are the deepest and will be the most competive of the tournament. 6 teams have great talent and reasonable chances of making the playoffs. The other 2 are no slouches either, they are just unfortunate to get the tough draw. There will be no "sure and easy" wins in these groups

GROUP E

Misty Mountains- Their best weapon is physicality which can wear down and bruise their opponents. The problem isn't just running the risk of having players sent off with cards, but I can't see a hard-hitting defense being very effective against the teams in this group. The hardy Numenoreans are difficult to wear down and then there's Utumno, who's front line players will scare even the trolls. It may work to their advantage against Rivendell, but Elrond's teams are always composed and don't get drawn into making silly mistakes, like being coaxed into a foul. And as far as the defenses they'll be up against? They should consider getting 1-goal in 3 games a success.

Numenor- The previous 2 years the Numenoreans have put together some of the best tournament teams. I'm just not seeing the same fate this year. Tar Atanamir struggled in Numenor's last friendly, but I wouldn't worry about that. He'd be a fine GK for phantasy teams, as always, and still relatively cheap. They're lacking the scoring threat this year, especially when they will have to be up against the defenses of Rivendell and Utumno. And to be frank, if the Misty Mountains keeps all 11-players on the field they won't be easy for anyone to score on. Maybe starting the tournament will give the spark that turns into the brush-fire the Numenoreans will need, because right now they look like wet logs.

Rivendell- I'm going against the grain and saying Rivendell gets in instead of Numenor. Simply because of the defense, and the masterful goal-tending of Elrond. I would not be surprised if he doesn't concede a goal in any of these matches. What I noticed as a problem in the friendlies, is the defense played a little more open than usual. They are one of the best team-oriented defenses...great communicators and cover well for eachother, but they are not the best athletically. I do think Elrond will fix this, by tightening up his formation, which will limit the space, and metaphorically choke opposing offenses. The bigger question will be scoring. They don't have enough to go far in the tournament, but there is enough (with an impeccable defense) to get into the playoffs. The key player will be Arwen, who surprised everyone with impressive offensive numbers last year. What makes a player great though is being able to repeat, which she will have to do for Rivendell.

Utumno- A bit of a lackluster friendly, but Melkor didn't seem to interested or concerned about winning. He will be in the tournament, this is why he started up his own team in Utumno. We can safely assume Melkor will be one of the best MFers, as always, even with his lazy friendly workout. The balrog defense is just as physical as the Misty Mountains but they avoid the cards because they play wiser. They are masters of disguising dirty tackles, because they don't just go ramming into people with their shoulders. I expect Utumno to sweep the group, but they will not be easy wins by any means, which could be their ultimate demise in the tournament. Melkor's teams have a long history of starting out like an unstoppable category-5 hurricane but quickly diminish to a tropical storm by the time it reaches land.

Predicted Group Standings
1. Utumno
2. Rivendell
3. Numenor
4. Misty Mountains

GROUP F

Bywater- Shadowfax was a great addition to that defense, which greatly limitted opponents scoring opportunities. And if they keep getting more scoring chances than their opponents they're a nice upset pick. I can see them matching up well against Lorien and Valimar. The reason I have them being eliminated though is their shaky GK Cotton. Thangorodrim and Valimar have FWs who can not only blast the ball off their foot with authority, but put wicked movement on it when they have to. I don't see Cotton being good enough to stand up to those kind of shots, no matter how few chances he'll face because of a great defense.

Lorien- I must admit they've performed better than I expected in the friendlies, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Still, they're not going to get into a high scoring match with anyone. And defensively, while being good, I would not pick them as a Top-5 defense, they may not even be Top-10. Galadriel is a very good goal-tender, but she's slightly overrated, because you just don't think of her as a top-notch goalie. For instance, yes, I would take the more expensive Huan and Elrond in a heartbeat. But I would also take Tar Atanamir, Mandos, and Melian over Galadriel, and you can get them for the same cost.

Thangorodrim- Between Thangorodrim and Valimar you can pretty much flip them. However, while I think Valimar has a greater chance to win the group, I think Thangorodrim has an overall better chance of advancing. So, if they don't finish first, they'll likely wind up second, because they are that much better than Lorien and Bywater. Where Valimar, if they don't finish first, have a bigger chance to be upset by Bywater or Lorien simply because of their conservative style. Thangorodrim is the complete opposite, which does leave their defense vulnerable. However, it's hard for teams to exploit that vulnerability because their FWs and attacking-MFs always have the ball, and always push forward. For why I have them finishing 2nd though, see Valimar.

Valimar- We saw a different Manwe team than usual. You usually see a dreadfully conservative and terrible belief that they don't have to play, because if Eru wills it they will win, and if not they won't. However, we saw a different will in their match against Utumno, the will to win. They should have that same fire against Melkor's servants in Thangorodrim. The question is how do they play against Bywater and Lorien? We are hearing a different tune out of Valimar than usual though. Manwe said in Valimar's last press conference: "No. We still believe in the will of Eru. However, in the off-season we learned a valuable lesson from a brave and courageous hobbit. He had fate on his side, but did not sit comfortably and kick back at home, waiting for the Ring to levitate to Mordor and destroy itself. He acted and in doing so, made his own fortune. You have to, and if it is by Eru's fate we win, then we will."

Predicted Group Standings
1. Valimar
2. Thangorodrim
3. Bywater
4. Lorien
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Old 04-02-2010, 03:21 PM   #40
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AKM Editorial announcemet

Due to a minor controversy and the strike of the AKM staff’s following thereafter we, the editorial board, have been left alone to make the stories – and you know how pathetic that can be. We decided to be frank with the matter.

It all began with Ugr Nogrendale’s paid visit to Minas Tirith to eat and drink with the Barrow-Downs team on the expense of the AKM – and the rumours that were sparked thereafter about free champagne running after the interview between him and the ‘Downers, the different paid luxuries not suitable to be detailed in any family-friendly site, travelling in the first class with unauthorised company criss-sross Minas Tirith etc…

As a result of these accusations of Gonzo journalism Hunter S. Thompson style, Mr. Nogrendale is banned form reporting for now. Sadly the other journalists are refusing to work unless they receive the same benefits he seem to have been enjoying. At this global economic situation the AKM has no other chance but to continue reporting the Arda Cup with editorial board’s efforts only. Whether it be good or bad will be up to you readers.


So soon to follow, there wil be the AKM editorial board’s look at the group-phase.

But first of all we need to deal with MESPN networks’ comments on teams doing their own stuff during the friendlies and thus the friendlies not being a reliable meter to value the teams. And our comment is that of an agreement: just think how Gondolin played two matches with a full swing and then fell down, how Barrow-Downs suddenly turned an excellent team after two initial half-hearted draws, how Tirion’s forwards seem to have been saving themselves, how about if the Breelander trio is just not concerned with friendlies? Et cetera…

But there is one statistic that normally doesn’t lie. And that is the goalie’s performance. It would take a lot of nerve and intentional fooling for the goalie to admit a goal when s/he had a chance to save it. So we will read the keeper-stats as they are. Otherwise we’re looking at the general performance and for the best explanations for the games to result the way they did.
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