Like Arizona asphalt in August, Summer League 2009 was super-heated and played tricks on the mind. The first mirage of the season was the super secret PP MooCow PP announcement: over a talkshoe podcast, PP MooCow PP announced his retirement as commissioner for SML09. Less than a week later, MooCow pulled what was then referred to as a ‘Brett Favre’ and retired his proposition of retirement.
Registration for the SML09 season opened on June 28, 2009 for both the Pro and Amateur Leagues. 90 Amateur teams and 24 Pro teams registered for the season. Once signups closed, the admins divided the teams into an Amateur league of 15 divisions and a Pro league of 6 divisions.
I heard about the league from a group of people that I ran into in action sack. I had never played Grifball for more than an hour at a time and had about 50 exp in the playlist, so it was sufficient to say that I was pretty new. I only joined because I wanted to play with my friends and have fun. ~ RDG NHL
A conscious decision was made to expand the Pro League. With 24 teams, it was the largest Pro League to date. Experienced teams from SL09, such as the The Galloping Seagulls, Str8 Griffn, Put It On The Pad, and Team ROFLCOPTER made the leap from the Amateur League to the big leagues, and they joined the normal squad of the Green Armies, Cheap Ass Gamers, and Power Outages of the world.
Before the season began, the community made their picks on what the top ten Pro teams were. Shut Your Lips and Learn, made up of old-timers Shadow, Zeg, and company, were ranked the best team in the AGLA:
The defending champions got stronger over the off season, picking up Zeg, Moocow, and the ever famous Gabazingi. The question now becomes, how will chemistry change with the new players? If all works out, you can expect another deep playoff run for Shadow and company
Dragon put together an analysis of every team in the Pro League:
The lights are going out again as PO makes their return to grifball. With an almost exact lineup from their best season regrouping to make another run. Hell, this team made the playoffs one season playing mostly one man down. Now they’re back to full strength? People should look out. But the only problem is SYLaL which had decisive wins against PO previously being right in their division. They needed a new game plan to shock the league, and looks like it might be working. On the other side, they have two untested teams to try to prove themselves.
Penguinocalypse of Bleep Bloop even did a detailed statistical analysis of the Pro teams to determine what would be the best match ups – the biggest clash of the titans:
From these and the upcoming Schedule I can give you a few weekly highlights of what we can expect from certain matches. All matches will be followed by the percentage chances of both teams winning.
Biggest match (Highest combined rating between the two teams).
SYLAL (644) vs. Power Outage (514) – 82/18
Biggest walkover prediction (Largest difference in Ratings)
CITHC (610) vs. Fizzlewinkie (449) – 86/14
Closest match (Closest matching Ratings)
Bleep Bloop (498) vs. Dude, Where’s the Runner (498) 50/50
Fizzlewinkie (449) vs. Red Ray (449) 50/50
With 24 high-caliber teams, the Pro League delivered on delivering unparalleled Grifball action:
We had a 50 minute game (either 1st or 2nd longest ever at that point) with Bleep Bloop! on Baby Tortoise’s host. He went +70, yet we still almost pulled out the win. ~ Menz
This past week there were several big games played in the Pro league, two of which involved my team, Bleep Bloop. On Monday Bleep Bloop faced off against Crayola Magic in a nearly 41 minute battle. Though the score ended up in an 8-1 victory for Bleep Bloop, it doesn’t properly reflect how hard fought the game was.
Two days after after that game, Shut Your Lips and Learn, one of this summer’s pre-season favorites to win the championship found themselves the victims of a huge upset win by a revamped Put it on the Pad squad. There’s no doubt they are a much stronger team this season. The final score of the game was 6-3.
Finally on Friday there were two more monstrous games which were perhaps a couple of the most epic the Pro league has seen in its two seasons of existence. The first game featured +1 Zing besting That’s What She Said in 49 minutes and 39 seconds. It was a game which featured nearly 1,300 combined kills. In the end Zing took the win 5-4.
Zing and TWSS briefly held the record for the longest game in Grifball Pro league history until Bleep Bloop and Separate Intelligence completed their match-up just a few minutes later. It took Bleep Bloop 50 minutes and 13 seconds to finally shut down SI in what was definitely the most epic game I’ve personally ever played in. The final score was 5-4 and it was literally a war. ~ Puptastrophe
We started practicing the short range launch which is basically a launch, not traditional from half court, but it’s in their zone, about 4 or 5 squares away from the plate. If we can’t get those last few kills, we use it. The opposing tanks all look up and take their eyes off our tanks. You either get a massive betrayal or the other tanks on your team will get them as they’re looking up in the air. If it works, you score, if not, your tanks come in and kill everyone. ~ TurbanEspy
But the Amateurs weren’t left in the cold; iStormwarning put together his thoughts on the top ten teams in the Amateur League:
1. Team Black (5-0)
Only being scored on twice, and them being from the same team, they are looking at being the number 1 seed going into the playoffs. With easily the most experienced lineup in Amateur, they are the team to beat. There isn’t much to say other than no team in Amateur has proven they can measure up to this team.
It was my 2nd season, but I wanted to keep on going. I had a great season the season before, so I took some new friends with me and lulz’d up the court. ~ Bobbybirdseed
NHALING and I first started talking about a team, and I had a crazy name that wasn’t going to fly. My idea was “WTC Ground Zero”. Just not a good name. Nhaling was in favor of the name “Flawed Logic”. We combined the two names. Zero logic just came really easy for us, rolled off the tongue really well. ~ JudasFEKE II
I’d been in H3 MM for awhile and heard about the league after other randoms accused me of being “”a league player”” and had no idea what they meant. I played against Pup & Friends (and kept them from getting any highlights) and was able to get some info from them. ~ totally batty
Well back then those were the days where double exp was fun. I finished a game gong positive and I was playing against One Hawk and T rich .They invited me to play after the game and later told me about the league. Then Introduced me to who was the DiE Captain at the time, DarkRiegn Elite. I joined and later he had issues and couldn’t captain and and gave me captian. I Started my team with me, JAW5H 0F D00M,PoorFire(Now Ezy08),II Wazy II,Daniel,and Project Skate x. ~ kev1897
My favorite memories were getting together with my life long friends and Banjo and just playing some lulzy Grifball. In my opinion, that’s what Grifball is all about, and I’ll continue playing that way until the end of time. ~ BobbyBirdseed
The season entered the playoffs in August, and the best-of-the-best faced off for the SML09 championships.
SI somehow snuck our way into playoffs after finishing a dismal 5-5 before getting bounced out very quickly. This season was the beginning of the end for SI. ~ Menz
I remember the longest game in Grifball history. An epic 70+ minute showdown between SYLaL and Power Outage. I remember that as our winning goal was scored, everyone on the team just exploded with energy and excitement. It was like nothing I had ever felt before. I knew at that moment, that we had a fighting chance of winning it all. ~ The Corn Ninja
I remember everyone doing research to see if i was a Pro player on a second account pretending to be a rookie… I had the biggest ego in that first season! ~ totally batty
Power Outage beat SYLaL in the playoffs. We were the definite underdogs even after our victory in game one of the series. Now that I think about it, we were underdogs in every series we played in the playoffs. ~ The Corn Ninja
The ten Pro playoff teams were:
In the end, the Pro League Championship was won by Power Outage, made up of TurbanEspy, TheCokester, Jlamanna91, Proj3ctSnake, The Corn Ninja, and Sean Cohen.
On the 11th of September, Power Outage played Cat in the Hat Crew in a three game series for the AGLA Summer ’09 Pro League Championship. After losing the first game 7-2, Power Outage retaliated with a 6 -3 win and claimed the title in the final match with an extremely close 5 -4 win.
I thought we had a shot, but when we lost the first game, it was a real heartbreaker. We’d have to come out in the second game. I guess we just stepped it up and decided not to suck anymore. ~ TurbanEspy
If you look on the forums, you can see people counted as underdogs. It really helps – that’s how we play. We don’t go into any game thinking ‘wow these kids are bad’. We always come in thinking we have to try our hardest. ~ TurbanEspy
On the Amateur side, Zero Logic took home a surprising victory in the finals. Surprising not because of their skill, but rather surprising because they did it off-host.
On September 15th, Zero Logic played Irish Mafia for the AGLA Amateur League Championship. Irish Mafia won the first game of the series 6 – 3 in a 23 minute match. Zero Logic rallied in game two with a 5 – 4 win in a 19 minute match. The final game of the series ent to Zero Logic 6 – 3 in a 17 minute match.
When i started playing, before we were in the league, we’d play league people and get super upset because we got destroyed sometimes. We joined the league to beat those kids, so to join the league and win the championship feels really good. For Blue Collar especially since he’s been there and lost before. We were a bunch of matchmaking misfits before and now we’re champions. ~ JudasFEKE II
Winning the Ammy ‘Ship off-host in a 3 game series against Irish Mafia. We couldn’t find anyone to pull host over Phil, were reaching the deadline to get the games done, and were tired of lobby warrioring and running host checks for hours only to not get to play so we decided to play them on their host. We lost the first game 6-3, Judas decided to take himself out of the next game cause he couldn’t do anything on Phil’s host, so Otaku took his spot and we rallied back to win Game 2 5-4, and then we captured the ‘Ship by winning game 3 6-3. ~ NHALING2XHALE
As the season wrapped up, big news was breaking. Grifball was being moved in new directions that would take the sport off the court and into real life.
First, the matchmaking playlist got an update. In addition to the classic Foundry court, Bungie added Mayan Grifball, Grifball Up There, and Aerial Grifball on Sandbox map variants.
It will still not be a Mythic required playlist but what this means is that if everyone in the game has the Mythic maps, there’s a good chance you’ll see one of Nokyard’s Sandbox grifball maps show up, which means you’ll finally have the option to veto. Now we don’t have to listen to the very old “veto!” joke anymore.
Second, Macfarlane created an limited edition Grifball Halo 3 action figure. Complete with a hammer and Recon armor, the eight-inch figure was first available at ComiCon, and then at PAX Prime in September 2009.
This year at ComiCon in San Diego, for the first time grifball lovers will be treated to a very kickass McFarlane exclusive Grifball Spartan figure. If you’ve been around the community long enough and remember the recon adorned team Canonball, you’ll probably think the figure looks a lot like JoePro. Joe of course was their runner back when Cannonball was still in the league.
The good news is that you don’t actually have to attend the ComiCon in order to score your very own figurine. Toys R Us has begun selling them online. Supplies are limited to 6,000 though, so if you want one, you better fork over the cash soon before they’re all gone. I’ve ordered mine. With tax and shipping the total was just over $22.
And perhaps most excitedly, at PAX Prime 2009, the very first PAX Grifball panel took place! Hundreds of people showed up to hear from Burnie Burns of Rooster Teeth and members of the Grifball.com and GrifballHub.com administrative team.
I’m sure some of you know about some of the secret projects I have been working on. Well it’s time to announce one. We have a Panel this year at PAX!!! On Saturday, September 5th, 2009 from 8:30 to 9:30 PST you can come to the first official AGLA Panel! The Panelists will include BurnieBurns (Grifball Creator), PP MooCow PP (Grifball Commissioner), Adam Pisani (Pro League Admin), I Citi I (Amateur League Admin), HighlandHellrazr (Amateur League Admin/GrifballHub rep) and HellSlayer (Grifball.org rep). Special thanks to Leo for the idea and helping put this together. The panel will have info ranging from Grifball’s history, to its future, an exclusive video, a Q&A segment and special announcements.
We showed up for the Grifball panel about a half hour early to set up and were greeted at the top of the elevator by Blade and Zeg holding hand-drawn signs promoting the panel. Further into the hall, there was a queue stretching around 2 sides of the Serpent Theater and it took me quite a while to realize that this line was actually people wanting to go to the Grifball panel. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty shocked. We ended up with a final count of approximately 240 attendees. ~ Goosechecka
During the panel, a special highlight reel from vidmaster Puptastrophe was shown to the audience:
The best part, not only of just the panel but of my entire trip, was the premier of the new Pup and Friends video. Considering that the projected avatars were quite literally larger than life and the swing of a gravity hammer shook the floor, it was about as close to being physically in an actual Grifball game as you could ever get. The music selection was perfect and probably the best part of the whole thing was the audience. They cheered and clapped and laughed and were completely into it. I’d seen the video in advance, and although they’re all good clips, they are things I’ve seen before. However, it was really refreshing and exciting to watch as people reacted to seeing their first hawk dive or ridiculous matchmaking launch. 90% of the crowd had only played DXP and it was definitely amazing to experience those “holy shit how did he do that!?!?!?” moments vicariously through them. ~ Goosechecka
The panel also brought up the biggest contraversy in Grifball history with one simple question:
Win Stick? Or Wind Stick?
During the panel, one questioner mentioned that they called the hammer in Grifball the “Win(d) stick”. Attendees and viewers at home disagree vehemently whether or not the person said “Wind Stick” or “Win Stick”. Both sides made persuasive arguments, but much like the fabled Pie vs Cake debate, a winner was never determined.
Join us next week as we take a look at Fall League 2009: The first (and final?) autumn Grifball season. It was a time of turnover in leadership, ranked Grifball, and even an auction for an actual Grifball bomb. An exciting time for the Grifball community, to be sure. If you have any thoughts on FL09 you’d like to share, please fill out this form.
Feel free to share your memories of SML09 in the comments below.