the ONE 'N DONE
Murphy's Law. A team who made it to the semi-finals is being dismantled!?? It sounds ridiculous, but yes. The Law had a nice season on paper, winning nearly half their games, doling out absurd amounts of damage, and setting a few League records along the way. Okay, better than just a 'nice season'. When they were on, they were deadly. This is precisely how they won their first round series against the Swamp Things - drawing their combo before they could. Their Pandemonium + Dreadnought combination made league history. Check out the All-Time Records that this Law team now owns:
- #1 in Fastest Victory = 3 turns (Week 22: Law 17, Icy Hot -4)
- Turn 1: Plateau, summons Enlightened Tutor for a Sol Ring
- Turn 2: Plains, Sol Ring and Angelic Renewal played, suffer one mana burn
- Turn 3: Mountain, Pandemonium and Phyrexian Dreadnought played for 24 damage.
- #1 in Largest Margin of Victory = 46 points (Week 6: Law 6, Smashed Potatoes -40)
- #1 in Most Damage Inflicted in a Single Game = 60 points (Week 6: Law 6, Smashed Potatoes -40)
- #1 in Fastest Avg. Turns to Win for a Season = 6.13 turns per game
Find the combo fast, win the game. But, don't find the combo, or find it too late, lose the game - those games just weren't fun. Most teams in this league are built to play offense and defense. The Law were an all-offense squad. Fall flat on the defensive end and they were sitting ducks. This ain't a league for ducks, as evidenced by a U-DPI that couldn't even place in the top 67% of teams all-time. That said, it's time to break the Law.
Frozen Stiffs. Odd year for the Frozen Stiffs. The second of the one and done group, the Stiffs were in 2nd place by Week 6 riding high on the coattails of their staunch defense and Team MVP, Winter Orb. They started 3-0 by knocking off three playoff teams (Murphy's Law, NLFY & Sliver Lining). Then, a free-fall to 10th place by Week 10 where they stayed until Week 17, even losing five in a row at one point. Ouch. Frozen's regression seemed to center around a main theme; work. There was just too much of it. The roster turned over to place more of an emphasis on Yawgmoth Demon, but 'ol Yawggy's got some serious drawbacks and the Stiffs found themselves breaking their backs to even have a chance each game. No bueno. Their playoff run featured a 2-games-to-1 victory over one of the worst teams in history (The Attritionists) where they won by an average of 4.5 points, followed by a sweep by Darwin's Doom. The Stiffs, by season's end, were a like an old car - they needed a lot of work to get the engine going and even more work to keep it on. More often than not, it died. See ya, Stiffs.
The Attritionists. Well, that didn't really work. Didn't work at all, really. Call me crazy, but it still feels like an improvement from their predecessor; Thrull Frottle. There was no leap or jump forward necessarily, or even a jog in place for that matter. The Atts got their rears handed to them time and again and showed few signs of a congealing strategy. It's unclear how/where to double-down on this roster for them to become competitive, especially since one of their new entrants is on the way out to start his own team; Underworld Dreams (See: Big Gloves). All four of their wins featured a different Game MVP. Highlighting their Team Captain, Hecatomb, appears an uphill battle given the number of competitors who are out to disable the opposing mana supply (4). That's nearly half the league Yeeeesh. Usually there's a light at the end of the tunnel, but The Atts might be in a cave - their U-DPI rating is 2nd worst all-time. Much, much help is needed, and maybe a B12 shot. As of right now, The Atts feel like more like a tear-down than a reclamation project. Clearly their "Do Less" motto played too strongly into their own game plan.
Fire Drilled. Nice bounce-back season for the Drillers! They doubled their win total from Season 4, and improved their U-DPI by about threefold (0.028 to 0.084). Excellent improvement despite their rosters' revolving door with over 30 player transactions. That's the new high water mark for roster turnover in one season. It goes without saying that FD has been dealing with one serious identity crisis. Per last season's recap, the Drillers went whole-hog into mana boosters like Mana Flare and tried their hand at punishing opponents for unused lands (Power Surge). The strategy was only semi-effective, as they were hopeless in games with a constrained mana supply. It forced their hand to get more competitive. New players shuffled in and out, and it started to feel as though FD would never get back to their dominant ways of the past. This is a team that won the Championship in Season 2 and hasn't made it past the first round since. Once the playoffs rolled around, most of their strategy was refocused on flame-throwing opponents with quick-hitter spells, like Lightning Bolt. The results said it all - they stifled the #4-seed Slivers in a three game sweep and then took the eventual runner-up, #9-seed Darwin, to a Game 7. The new burn strategy was a strong departure from what we've known Fire Drilled to be, hence the pending rebrand to Dark 'N Stormy. The burn strategy will arm the former-great with much more agility in a mana-strapped game. Certainly much to build on entering Season 6 in their new digs. Fire Drilled, we thank you.
Icy Hot. An encouraging first season! They snagged a few wins against top competition, rumbled into a promising strategy and adapted a nice roster as the season progressed. Their identity started to crystallize as the season concluded, actually, as a souped up defensive squad - the only one aiming to deal damage via opposing mana supply (thanks Manabarbs!). It might be overzealous, but, then again, they almost dispatched Darwin's Doom in the first round of Qualifier Bracket after winning Game 1 and nearly taking Game 2. Not bad. Heading into Season 6, the Hot will add key defensive pieces like more Maze of Ith, an Invoke Prejudice and a Wall of Tears. Offense, however, is a different story. The Hot were one of the least potent teams in the league, doling out only 11.45 damage points per game (3rd worst in the league). Defense is great, but they'll need far more firepower to extinguish opponents in the future. Who knows, maybe more defense is enough.
Sliver Lining. The Sliver finally plateaued after owning the League's best record over the prior two seasons (27-11), going 12-8 as they locked up a #4 seed in the playoffs. Season 5 was a tale of two halves for the Lining, going 5-6 in the 1st half of the season, then 7-2 in the 2nd to climb from 9th place is Week 11 to 4th at the close. A considerable uptick, bt one that may have contributed to their undoing. Their quickened pace to victory, at 6.58 turns, was good enough for #3 All-Time. Fast. The Slivers damage per game, at 18.70, also ranks in the Top 10 All-Time. Some bruiser, this squad. Muscle Sliver took home Team MPV honors, demanding a W in two of their final three victories (Week 19 vs. Bad Ass Fault and Week 20 vs. The Atts). That's when it all went blank - in the Games Won column, that is. The Slivers lost three straight to #5-seed Fire Drilled in the first round. For the second year in a row, Sliver Lining were dealt a bad matchup. The Drillers were able to stand toe-to-toe with the Slivers absurd creature base, destroying at least five of them per game, with more than enough firepower march on unencumbered. Last season's recap seems even more applicable this year; "One thing is for sure, it's safe to say the Slivers are pissed off, and pumped up about next season."
Smashed Potatoes. Ahhh, the former champ. Best regular season in team history at 14-6 with a 70% win percentage to lock down the #3-seed. Their U-DPI irked up to a sound 0.116, also a team record (including earlier Crusade teams). Although, the Potatoes may have been this seasons' unlucky team - 6.83 turns (3rd fastest all-time) was the average amount of time it took for opponents to best them. That's mighty fast. Their losses averaged a stoutly 10.28 turns over their first four seasons. A target on their back as defending champion, it looks as though everyone was out to mash up them Potatoes. Nine is the number of different players to take home a game MVP award during the regular season so more parity than last year (5), but it was Crusade that helped push their regular season boulder up the hill more than any other card. In eight, count it - EIGHT - of their 14 wins, Crusade played a game-changing role, and takes home Team MVP for the season as a result. Ironically, though, they had a few holes in their defense - creatures in the regular season (4 losses) & artifacts in the playoffs (2) where they were bested by longtime foe; No Lands For You. Maybe a quick tune-up on the defensive end, but otherwise, these Potatoes are in the oven and ready for the heat.
Swamp Things. Now THAT's a season! The Things blew doors off of just about everyone, notching a win against 9 of 10 total teams to go 15-5 in their third season. Their wins were offensive and downright demonstrative, pulverizing opponents by a record-setting 25.50 points per game. Total damage done to opponents this season was a ridiculous 510 - far and away the most in League history by over 100 points. That's truly absurd and speaks to the powerful card combination of Buried Alive & Living Death (Team Co-MVPs). Unsurprisingly, their U-DPI (0.191) is also #1 All-Time too. The Things were beasts in Season 5 and very few teams were prepared to handle their graveyard resurrection strategy. That said, they were a much, much weaker team when the aforementioned card combo didn't happen. Four of their five losses came against mana destruction teams - so no chance to bring the rain. Their first round series against Murphy's Law exposed their reliance on the "Certain Death" combo. They simply couldn't draw it enough to win, and failed to take out the #7-seed as a result. Their offseason demands more attention to a secondary strategy that brings more balance to their roster. If done well, the Things could be unstoppable.
Bad Ass Fault. Treason! Villainy!! Cheats!!!! For the first time in the history of the League, we have scandal on our hands! As it turns out, our beloved Ass Fault had been taking advantage of their opponents, their fans, the Commish, the Pope and then some. A major rule violation was discovered mid-season that completely nullified a core part of their strategy. Turns out discarding a Rukh Egg from one's hand does not qualify a Rukh to return into play. So, the first turn Dark Ritual-Hidden Horror-Rukh combo? Ya know, the one that meant two 4/4 creatures hit the battlefield before an opponent had a chance to even glance at his library? Not legal. Neither was using Wheel of Fortune or Pox to make the move. So then, what can we make of this fearsome faux!? Well, at least five of their wins leaned partly on the Rukh Egg foible - a good start. Oh, and last season's 12-game win streak is without question in question. Once the faulty card play was rectified, the jugger-nought become mortal. Of course, the Commish made no mention of marking when the Rukh rule changes went into effect, so reviewing a post- win/loss record is impossible, but they did drop their first round series to #9-seeded Darwin. Season 6 will tell us what to really make of this team. Who knows, they could be a sheep in wolf's clothing.
Darwin's Doom. The Doom fall back a bit after their best season in team history. They were +200 in damage point differential in Season 4 and fell to only +17 this season. Their U-DPI dropped by a scary 70% (0.146 to 0.044). Six losses were due to mana issues, but others were close, so not a lost season at all, especially given their outstanding Cinderella playoff run in which they went 15-8 against seeds 10, 8, 1, 5 & 6. The first two rounds of victory against #10-Icy Hot (2-1) and the #8-Frozen Stiffs (2-0) weren't close. They laid into #1-Ass Fault with three wins in a row after dropping the first, then outlasted the #5-Drillers in a battle royale best of 7. The League has never seen a run like this by an underdog - truly outstanding. Many of their victories, as detailed earlier, were due to defensive players (Tranquility, City of Solitude & Hurricane) and card advantage (Fastbond & Sylvan Library). More help from these guys coming in the offseason, for sure. Their finale against NLFY was down to the wire and arguably favored Darwin given the first four games. They dropped Game 5 by one measly point, and then Game 7 due to mana troubles. As wild a finish as we've had in the finale. Can't wait to see what they can do in Season 6.
No Lands For You. Victory!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Fans (okay one fan can) rejoice as their beloved No Landia take home a second crown (also won in S1)!! The doubters, the haters, the game-wagerers and the naysayers have all been silenced. It is high times for the original all-blacks! Their regular season was anything but impressive as NLFY notched their lowest win percentage at an even .500 since going 5-7 in Season 2 ( 0.4167). NLFY only dealt 14.75 damage points per game so their U-DPI (0.074) was less than average. That said, the DNA of this team is not to deal heavy blows, they're content with simply outlasting their opposition. Keeping wins to 10.80 turns per game, and losses even longer at 12.00 turns per game, the all-blacks demanded a longer game than any champ in history. In the playoffs, they pushed their winning pace to an even slower crawl - 11.27 turns per game. There were fifteen roster changes this year, speaking more to a tightening of their strategy vs. a shift. A bit more of an emphasis was placed on disabling mana (Sinkhole, Choking Sands, Strip Mine) which paid big dividends (Sinkhole & Strip Mine were extremely active contributors) in addition swapping in a more potent creature base (Sengir Vampire, Demonic Hordes, Black Knight). These additions paid off nicely as well. A bit more creature kill helped too (Quicksand, Nevinyrral's Disk & Hellfire). Black Vise takes home Team MVP for the second time, winning game MVP four times in the regular season and another four times in the playoffs. Nice. A growing weakness for them is defense against enchantments. The League is seeing them as a focal point in every deck now, and NLFY has no way to remove them from the board. That could be a scary hole in subsequent seasons. NLFYs playoff run was largely uneventful until the finale with Darwin. They swept up their long-time nemesis - Smashed Potatoes / Crusade - in three games, then dismantled one-hit-wonder Murphy's Law in 4 games in the semi-final. The home team won every game in this series. Enchantments like City of Solitude and Aluren helped power Doom's early victories as NLFY faced mana troubles. Three games in this series were decided by less than 5 points. A wild finish to the best season yet. No Landia has their work cut out for them in Season 6 as the competition level only increases. Could we have our first repeat champion? Only one way to find out.