As the seasons turned from the cold winter months to the blossoming spring of 2009, many a’ young gamers’ thoughts turned to the elite sport of Grifball. And, for the first time, the AGLA was going to be “elite” on a whole new level that had nothing to do with Blargfaces.
Adam Pisani and other pro-caliber Grifballers put together a detailed proposal for a new “Elite”-level Grifball league that would run alongside the normal Rookie and Legacy leagues. That’s right: for SL09, the admins planned to run a third Grifball league. This special league would be only for the best-of-the-best. Only the most accomplished, most dedicated Grifballers would be allowed in. The hope of Pisani and others was to create a league where there were no forfeits, and where every game meant something. A single loss during the regular season could doom a team’s chances at making it to the post-season and winning the coveted championship.
Pisani put together a detailed point system to determine which teams would play in the Elite league, and which would play in Legacy or Rookie:
Entrance into the first AGLA Elite League will be based on a points system. Interested teams will apply for Elite status, and will be graded on the following points system. The top 14 teams by points will be accepted into the league. The 4 next highest teams will play in a small double elimination tourney to determine the final two Elite teams. All players will be assigned points, but only the 5 highest point-value players on each team will factor into the end sum of points, to remove the bias towards larger teams that including each player would create.
* Players who played in the Legacy Finals in the WL09 count as 10 points. Players whose teams made it that far and didn’t play count as 7 points.
* Players who played in the Legacy Final 4 in the WL09 count as 8 points. Players whose teams made it that far and didn’t play count as 5 points.
* Players who played in the Rookie Finals in the WL09 count as 6 points.
* Players who played in the Legacy Elite 8 in the WL09 count as 5 points. Players whose teams made it that far and didn’t play count as 3 points.
* Players who played in the Rookie Final 4 in the WL09 count as 4 points.
* Players who played in the Legacy Sweet 16 in the WL09 count as 4 points.
* Players who played in the Rookie Elite 8 in the WL09 count as 2 points.
* Players who played in the Legacy Playoffs in the WL09 count as 3 points. Players who have made the Legacy Playoffs or previous seasons’ Legacy Playoffs (or simply The Playoffs for WL08 and SL08) are awarded an extra 2 points per playoff season.
* Players from teams who placed third or higher in their division in Legacy WL09 count as 2 points.
* All other players count as 1 point.
The plan going into SL09 was to have the top 16 teams in Elite, other experienced teams in Legacy, and all new and relatively new players in Rookie.
Before signups opened, US Commissioner PP MooCow PP (aka Caleb) agreed with community requests to open up spots in the AGLA administration for interested community members. With so much talent in the community just waiting to be tapped, Caleb announced that five spots would be open for election: The head of Team Stats, Individual Stats, Elite League Rules, Rookie/Legacy Rules, and Events. Once the votes were counted, these folks had been elected by the community:
Team Stats Committee Chair: x JacenSolo x
Individual Stats Committee Chair: Thurmanator
Elite Rules Committee Chair: Shadow s16
Rookie/Legacy Rules Committee Chair: Kalbelgarion
Events Committee Chair: Mikinater
Before and during the season, Kal overhauled the rules page, JacenSolo, Thurm, and their helpers kept track of stats, Shadow helped Pisani run the top-tier league, and Mikinater ran events.
I thought the elected positions were a great idea to help out with stuff instead of leaving everything up to the admin to decide. ~ NHALING2XHALE
On Saturday, March 28, signups were open for SL09. Unfortunately, due to too few teams signing up to play in the Legacy league, a major change had to be made:
Unfortunately due to low sign-up rates there are going to be some changes. This being that we are merging the rookie and legacy leagues together to form the Amateur League and renaming the Elite League to be the Pro League.
The reason for the merge of the two leagues is due to low sign-ups. Only 35 teams signed up this season for Legacy and with this size, few teams would play in their desired divisions. We (myself and the League Admins) feel that it is more important that teams receive their first and second choices instead of 3rd so its easier to get a team on to play.
To compensate for the skill difference between experienced “legacy” teams and new “rookie” teams, Caleb and Amateur League Admins Menz and HighlndHellrazr made an effort to separate teams into a more experienced divisions and less experienced divisions. The league itself was separated into a weekday “Hammer” conference and a weekend “Sword” conference. In the playoffs, the Hammer champion would face off against the Sword champion for the very first AGLA Amateur League title!
When I first “tried out” I was pretty well liked, and subatomic bman taught me how to dance and tank. That was really fun, we spent a long time practicing. Taking a team screenshot was also pretty fun, we kept bonking each other. ~ xl Neo xl
It was my first season. I was actually recruited to play for OneHawk’s team by my good friend General Machine. After playing grifball in the playlist with friends and teammates i realized it was a blast and OneHawk was a good captain who helped me out a lot at the time because I was so inexperienced. Harmful if Swallowed ended up having to wait about 3-4 months because we missed the signups for winter league but it actually ended up being a positive thing for our team because we gained a lot of experience and became better overall as a team and individually so once spring league rolled around we were easily one of the most competitive actual rookie teams in the ammy league. ~ T RICH Da King
It was our first season, General and I had found out about the grifball league through me watching RvB. We decided to make a team, and after recruiting and losing a whole whack of players we finally got a solid lineup. I remember when we recruited T RICH. He was fucking absolutely god awful. Horrible. I figured we’d pick him up as a backup, just in case, because we needed players. Little did I know he’d turn into, y’know, T RICH. ~ TheOneHawk
This was my first season in the AGLA. Me and Judas decided to make a team of a bunch of our friends who thoroughly enjoyed playing grifball dbl exp and customs on a daily basis. Judas had been on Five Finger Discount the previous season but the team disbanded after the season so thus began the birth of ::ZERO Logic::. I had a wonderful time finally getting to play in a league game and our very first game of the season was when right off the opening tipoff, I got a half court sword lunge for my very first bomb plant. We went on to win that game 7-2. ~ NHALING2XHALE
Well this was my first season ever. I was playing in XXP weekend and I was matched up with neomalkin. We started talking and playing more, then he introduced me to the league and whatnot. A few of the players of both Team Frozen Over (legacy) and Team Frozen Omen (rookie) changed their gamertags to include TFO. I changed mine, so did tin tin and trooper. Someone else might have but I couldn’t say for sure. Now all three of us have x’s and l’s in our gamertags oddly enough. Around week 2 or so I got RROD and was only able to play the first game in which we beat Knights of the Ozone. The remnants of TFOmen went on to become Collateral Damage and I went on to have one my best seasons ever with Inglorious Bastards. ~ xl Neo xl
On the Pro side, sixteen teams were accepted and placed into four divisions of four teams each. Well-known names like Grunts of Fury, Bleep Bloop, Cheap Ass Gamer, and Separate Intelligence were there, and up-and-comers like Team USA and Put it on the Pad rounded out the league.
The Pro League required free scheduling. Although teams had similar availabilities, it was up to each captain to schedule their games with the opposing team and, if they would like, a neutral host. Neutral host, a concept which saw a dramatic entrance during game three of the WL09 Legacy Championship series, moves the “host” off the court and allows the two teams of four to play each other without any player on the court having the advantage of “hosting” the game on their Xbox. Players who have host routinely have a better range and are oftentimes harder to kill, giving one team a potentially unfair advantage. In the Pro League, teams were encouraged to use a neutral host whenever they could. During the season, neutral host was a great debate in the community:
Some players, such as Hard Liquor Chaser’s Dragon of Exile, see the overcoming of host as a skill that differentiates the good players from the best. As Dragon commented, “It’s how fast people learn how to deal with other players which I find as a skill onto itself…. Host is not definite, it’s not always fair, and it can’t really be predicted to a fine detail. And I think for games such as the final four and championships, you need to win the same way you got to that position. If you can’t, I’m afraid that’s too bad.”
Others, such as TheOneHawk from Harmful if Swallowed see it differently: “Host is a very large advantage given to a single player on the court, and then everyone else depends mostly on their skill, and to a lesser degree on their connection to that one player. That one player has a perfect connection, so they don’t need to use as much skill in order to win a fight, and when you add a skilled player with a massive host, you get something that’s pretty much unstoppable.”
I made my feelings on THIS issue abundantly clear. I was a rookie, but I was constantly posting on the forums (much to the annoyance of the vets) and became very pro NH. I remember being contacted by Goose to help write an article with the pro’s and con’s of NH. It made my day :) ~ TheOneHawk
My team was in Ammy league, so neutral host wasn’t required at that point. The option was there, but none of our league games were played on it. Our team was actually criticized and scrutinized because we weren’t in favor of it. We were new and naive and thought that Host was irrelevant and a solid team of 4 working together to the best of their abilities could overcome the host being on the other side of the court. We quickly realized we were wrong in our assumptions though and became in favor of required NH over time. ~ NHALING2XHALE
I didn’t even know there was such a thing; I pulled host when I played but I wasn’t really aware of it. ~ xl Neo xl
Neutral host was the best H3 idea ever. ~ Menz
The season started without a hitch, and continued until the biggest public scandal in Grifball history struck the Amateur League:
It has been brought to the attention of the league officials that mclaggerz JC, Aspence501, and Thunder4400 have been playing on alternate accounts for other teams. As a result, Backpack Express, Ching Chong, Red Kube Klan, Retarded Face Kickers with Hammers, and Toboggonation have forfeited all of their matches this season. The involved players have a myriad of punishments, from 2 game suspensions to full season suspensions.
Cheating will not be tolerated. If you suspect someone cheated, send a message to one of the league admins and we will look into it.
During a game against Retarded Facekickers with Hammers, we met a new player on their team: purplechicken. Goose was on the stats committee at the time, and she didn’t recognize the tag. In the pre-game lobby, a player on Facekickers referred to this new player as “laggerz”, a well-known Grifballer. Looking back, we probably shouldn’t have been all that surprised when this newbie went to town on us. While we had beaten Facekickers earlier in the season, they now beat us pretty handily. I sent Menz a message about it after the game, and the situation was a lot bigger than we had imagined. I still think it’s pretty funny that they tried to cheat against a team that had both a member of the stats committee and the guy who literally wrote the rules for the league. ~ Kalbelgarion
It turned out that Laggerz had been playing on at least five teams during the season. Some captains claimed that they didn’t know it was Laggerz. He had used a different gamertag each time, and kept his multiple online personality disorder a secret.
After the regular season, it was time for playoffs!
The Amateur League playoff bracket was an epically inclusive tournament with 64 teams – 32 from each conference – vying for the ‘ship.
The chemistry we had as a rookie team (Harmful if Swallowed) was amazing and I wish we could have beat Str8 Griffin in the playoffs but that time period had to be the most fun I ever had playing grifball. ~ T RICH Da King
In the end, the Sword Conference Champions, the Galloping Seagulls (Dr WAFFELS, Doerstopper, The Silvaa, and El Diablo X230X) defeated the Hammer Conference Champions, Team India, the Commish’s team, in the Amateur League finals. The series was decided in two, 7-2 neutral hosted games.
On the Pro side, six teams made it to the post-season: The four division champs, and two wild-card teams. The league featured inter-divisional play during the regular season, so teams had to excel outside their division to make it to the playoffs.
Cheap Ass Gamer and +1 Beer won the top seeds and a first-round bye. Qu09, Strictly Business, Separate Intelligence, and Crayola Magic rounded out the six best teams in the league. In the end, Strictly Business and their familiar roster of Shadow S16, x0 pie x0, ii Flowers ii and Super Status took the very first Pro League championship.
As for the Pro league, Strictly Business toppled Separate Intelligence in two games, also eliminating the need for a third. Like the Amateur championship, both games were played on neutral host. The final score for the first game was 5-4 and the second 6-3. This marks the third championship for Shadow S16, II Flowers II and x0 Pie x0.
Another SI championship appearance, another SI championship choke. ~ Menz
During the season, GrifballHub.com continued to supply league-related content to the community. The Spring of 2009 saw Pro League rankings and the weekly Amateur Top 10 by Zeg, and even the very first installment of the Grifball Hubcast. Goosechecka started the American Grifball Cup: A giant tournament to determine which region of the country could lay claim to the best Grifballers.
At the tail-end of the season, GrifballHub.com celebrated their 100th article with a special 2v2 tournament:
Recently we passed our first milestone here at the Hub when we published our 100th article. Considering the life span of past grifball related websites, I’d like to think hitting one hundred articles was a pretty good accomplishment. So good in fact that we’re going to celebrate the occasion by hosting a 2v2 grifball tournament this Friday, May 29th at 8:30pm eastern standard time.
After roughly two and a half hours we had a champion, Shut Your Lips and Learn. Congratulations, guys!
SYaL featured Scet Shin and x0 pie x0 of the Pro league team Strictly Business. Their opponents in the championship game were Yougnastyman and Blade from +1 Beer (also of the Pro league), playing as Beers and Blunts.
Although it started with high-hopes followed by a bit of uncertainty, SL09 was a huge success. After SL09 was in the books, SML09 was literally just around the corner. The off-season only lasted a few weeks before it was time to hit the court again.
Tune in next time as we discuss the second season of the Pro/Amateur split: Summer League 2009. If you have any memories you’d like to share about SML09, please fill out this small questionnaire.
If there is anything you’d like to discuss about Spring League ’09, please leave a comment below.