post

Its getting down to the nitty gritty…Semi Finals!

At the start of September, 21 teams entered the WowLof with dreams of glory. Now only four remain with a chance to claim Blood Bowl’s biggest prize.

It’s the WowLof Semi Finals

Crookback Clippers v Prehensile Renegades

This is the first ever WowLof Semi Finals to feature no seeded teams. But that doesn’t mean it’ll lack quality, oh no! Both sides have scored hat fulls of touchdowns and caused bucket loads of casualties this season. Players like Teh-Kan, Stitch, Madraw, Krok-Grr and Thrabble have made massive names for themselves in their rookie seasons. Tom Gosling is in his first wowlof semi, whilst Jim McMahon has demonstrated his quality.

After finishing P4 quietly with two draws, the Renegades moved through the gears in the quarter finals demolishing 3rd seeds Baby Bells 3-0. They were the only side to score thrice and only the second team ever to score thrice in a wowlof quarter final. Equally they are the only side in either side of the play offs to keep a clean sheet. Krok-Grrr and the Gor’s really dominated the Bells, giving Teh-Kan the room to do his thing. The league’s top scorer shows no sign of relenting in setting a completely unbreakable mark for touchdowns in a single season.

It would be churlish to say that the Clippers are only in the Semi’s because they won the toss to receive in overtime against the Blues. The truth is the rat men had already got on top in the bash race, which meant that their speedsters really had free reign to do as they wished. With the league’s most proficient offence and amongst the highest casualty causers, the Clippers are serious outfit who can cause even the best teams problems. Fans in Skavenblight have already begun to talk about them as the best Skaven team since season 2 champs the Dirty Rats. Can they make the final and prove the fans right?

Ultra violent Kroxigor Krok-Grrr and his Saurus support clearly give the Renegades and advantage in this one. If they can get on top of the LOS early and cause similar amounts of damage as they did in the quarters, then this is only going one way. Whilst the Skaven are overmatched on power, the mutated claws sported by Thrabble and Reekz Blitz have proven more than the equal to many players armour this season. If they can remove a few players and keep in close on cas – then things will get really interesting. With three of the league’s highest scorers on the pitch the touchdown potential is massive. Any advantage the Skaven have by having 2 out of those three is surely balanced by the Renegades better defensive record. Ultimately there will be a lot of cas and the score will be tight. The Renegades won the league game and despite the presence of Stitch and Madraw,  in Teh-Kan the Renegades have the player on the pitch that seems most likely to provide a game winning moment of magic and so the prediction is 2-1 Renegades.

 

System of a Touchdown v Red Ead Smasherz.

I don’t know if it gets any bigger than this. These two sides meet for the third time in two seasons with the results standing at 1-1. In replay of last season’s final, arguably the two best teams in the league meet to decide which of them will get the chance to grab a place in the final.

What can you say about the Smasherz? Nick Kirklands boyz stand on the brink of becoming the only WowLof side ever to make 3 finals. They have 80% of their play off games ever, including the last 4 in a row. They’ve only lost once all season and are now unbeaten in 7. During those 7 games they’ve scored 15 touchdowns and only conceded 3. They’ve caused 27 casualties and only taken 9. The stats are incredible. The play style is built around a core of four powerful black orcs backed up by Wakgut the Blitzer who is clearly stronger than the average Orc and of topped of Sog the troll. The whole team can block. The troll, black orcs and blitzers all guard each other. The blitzers all tackle well and hit mightily. This is simply the greatest team the league has ever had. There are rumours of retirements and spiralling salary demands. If the Smasherz return for series 5 it is likely there will be several new faces. Before they go, have this team got what it takes can they make history one more time? No number 1 seed has ever made the final.

Peter Gallagher is a cerebral coach who coaches his team to play to a System. A System that gets touchdowns. Like the Smasherz they have only lost once all season. For fair comparison in the last 7 games they have scored 11 td and conceded 6. They have caused 22 cas and only taken 7. The Awesome Foursome on the LOS, have looked brutal and hungry led by the league’s most violent player Chop Suey, who has 16 casualties this season. Out wide star runner Psycho has led a team of players who have caused cas and scored touchdowns. Gallagher has also succesfully implemented a passing play into the team’s arsenal, giving them a way to score quickly and to really stretch the play when they need to. Just as the Smasherz inherited the best team mantle from the Dirty Rats, System seem to be the heir apparent to the Smasherz. Have they got it in them to deny the Orcs their annual place in the final. Can they do what no one has done since the Dirty Rats and beat the Smasherz in a play off game.

Technically System have never lost to the Smasherz having lost to them in overtime in last season’s final. They are also the only side to have beaten them this season. The Smasherz just dont lose play off games. But when Chop Suey, Suite Pee, Chic’n’Stu and Shimy line up against Azuk, Ghorbash, Kogan and Krag on the LOS that is all going to count for very little. Blood, Thunder and the laughter of thirsting gods. This is the biggest game in WowLof history, history, legacy and victory in an enduring rivalry is at stake. And the Smasherz just don’t lose those games. Prediction 2-1 Smasherz.

 

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the WowCof play offs would be lower on quality and less keenly contested than their more established big brother. But even a cursory glance at the coaching line up for these semi finals would soon set you straight. The competition of fear is already making waves and creating history. Glory and a place in the records awaits one team, ignominy and defeat for the other three. Who can reach out and grab it?

Badizt Basharz v Penkemheim Punishers

Another all Bloodweiser affair in the WowCof pitches veteran coach Ryan McKnight against rookie Dan Cunningham. Can the Basharz get revenge for their regular season defeat? Can the Punishers find a way to stop Grova? If Dan was ginger, would he look as good in black as Ryan? Two out of three of those question will definitely be answered.

The loss of their troll and one of their Black Orcs in the quarter final victory over the Warriors was undoubtedly a massive blow to the Basharz. It will be interesting to see how coach Cunningham ‘re organises his offence and defence to compensate. This rookie team have shown impressive resilience and bounce back ability all season and so most commentators are sure that they will find a way. Certainly with a remarkable player like Grova Headstabba in their ranks you’ve got to think they’ve got a chance. 3 touchdowns and a casualty in the quarter finals demonstrate just how important Grova is to this side . Cometh the hour! Cometh the Orc.

McKnight is considered by many to be the best coach to never win anything in wowlof. But having come through an enthralling contest against the much fancied EdgeLords last time out there are signs that his Punishers are really warming to these play offs. Thunder is really starting to look like a team leader making several telling contributions whilst Jaundice also looks dangerous in the backline. The loss of the highly powered Zombie No.9 is a blow on the LOS but Steel Frank and Freshman are still power full. In short they’ve got everything they need to go all the way but will the stitches hold or will everything fall apart?

It is too simplistic to see this as the veteran against the up and comer. The Punishers still carry the baggage of their previous semi final defeat, whilst the Basharz can go in with no fear. Defensively the Punishers have the better record whilst offensively the Basharz look stronger. The Punishers look like the more well rounded team whilst the Basharz have the best individual player on the pitch. Stylistically the Basharz are more prone to risk taking whilst the Punishers tend to play it safe. Ultimately the fatalities suffered in the quarters and the fact that thr Punishers won the regular season game probably make McKnight s boys slight favourites. So prediction is 1-0 Punishers.

Village Green Preservation Society v Bone Train

Oh wow! The reigning SBBL champion Philip Bridge vrs 2 time wowlof semi finalist Michel Ordidge. Likabatoutahelf v Hopper, Freight v Black Willow, Zygomatic Steam v Elfmar jnr. The coaching and playing talent is littered across this one like a sprinkling of star dust. Will the nerves get the better of the players and dull the sparkle or will the majesty of the occasion bring out its true beauty?

What a remarkable season for the VGPS. The first wood elf team to make a play offs. The first elf team to make a semi final. One of the highest casualty causers in the league, one of the highest touchdown scorers in the league and the producers of a load of household name players. Seldom has a team achieved so much and written so much history in its first season.  The concern for Bridge will be that his teams form hasn’t been brilliant, only winning 1 of their last 4 games and conceding 7 touchdowns in the process. However, by winning their quarter final they showed an ability to win when it matters. Hopefully that will continue against the Train.

Like VGPS, the Trains season was derailed by a fairly miserable closing period and they have in fact only won 2 out of the last five also conceding 7 td. Whilst it will come as now surprise that they have scored 3 less td than their semi final apponents, the fact that they’ve caused 4 less cas is a bit of a shock. Last season’s most violent player, Freight looks a shadow of his former self with only 3 cas all season. It’s not all doom and gloom super Ghoul Hopper has rediscovered his form, scoring 5 in the last five to level Dirty Rats superstar Twitch on 17 career touchdowns. The Train have the pedigree and experience to go all the way. Now is the time to get the boiler stoked and full steam ahead.

The LOS battle between tree blocker Black Willow and mummies Freight and Diesel will be fascinating. You suspect Ordidge might choose to run his mummies a bit wider to give them a clearer run at the elves. But the elves phenomenal pace and agility suggests that they could just run around and past any slow moving players out wide. Indeed such is the pace and scoring potential of the elves that you’d think that train will need to massively dominate field position and possession to have any chance. If those stats are anywhere near close its likely to mean an absolute hammering has occurred. Train are one of the league’s most popular teams and people will be routing for them but the problem for Train is that really none of their players have stood up and dominated a game all season. Whilst in Likabatoutahelf the elves have one of the stars of the season. The suspicion is this will all be too much for Train and it’ll be 2-0 VGPS.

 

*all credit for art to original artists