Here my world cup experience.
The Trip started around Friday morning at 11.00. In the car: Ettore, Mary, Lorenzo and me!
The city was empty because of the Holiday, the problem came when we crossed the motorway entrance line: all the people was there waiting for us! A queue long 100km made us to change our plan of glory to visit a bit Voitsberg in the afternoon. 10 hours instead of 6 isn’t actually a good welcome for the kick off holiday!
After the very tiring trip (the last 2 hours driven by Lorenzo) we arrived in Voitsberg. The first KOA face I saw this year was Peter! I thought to not see him this year because of his world trip, instead it has been the first KOA face of 2013! Michelone (we call Michele in that way to say Big Michele) followed few seconds later!
When we finished to move all the things in the room arrived also Michael Malli to bring us the the Friday night dinner.
I left Maria Chiara and Ettore at home because the child was very tired and Maria Chiara as well, but once I entered in the place where the KOA Friday night was held, watching my KOA family I decided immediately that although she was tired, Maria Chiara could miss that one, because the feeling was simply amazing! So I made a run back to hotel to take her and Ettorino.
The meal was very nice and it was a great emotion for me to present Ettore to the KOA community, it has been a sort second baptism, it was fun for everybody I guess, and I he enjoyed it too!
A great idea by our organizers Michael and Michael to bring the KOA in such lovely place.
The hotel and the room was very good as expected, I loved the continental breakfast and in particular I love that cosy breakfast area!
This year for me everything had a special taste: being there with my son was something that I don’t think I have the words to describe.
Anyway, in some way I think that it was something that somehow was infectious!
In the years I watched many times the pictures inside the Voitsberg ‘s world cup venue. Well, entering again in that place, I thought that pictures and memory were never enough, compared to reality. The sensation of majesty entering in the venue is something new every time!.
After a nice pre tournament show presented by Alkis (all the stats of each player attending the world cup with a nice background music).the tournament started and for the first time ever we had a day one as a real and proper qualification round to make the perfect seeding for the world cup!
For the first time we used a software that I was used to use for Milan local tournaments.
The operators at the desk were very glad to see that the program, although it was written in Italian, it was absolutely easy to use, in day one I just supervised but they were clever enough to do everything by themselves. Btw, Thanks to Wolfgang and and Kurt, they were very helpful for every thing during the world cup!
A venue that can contain at least 100 kick off players seemed empty with 18 players but I must say that I didn’t care much, we had more room to share between friends. Much better than that time that in Luton 2006 we had to stay in 21 in a venue that was smaller than a phone box with a smell of dead goat in putrefaction coming from all of us
So we even had room to lay down a carpet for Ettore letting him to play! or better we should say, letting Maria Chiara to play!
It was amazing to play and rock him between match and match. I even played a 4 hands match against Klaus who can clearly ask for a rule infraction and disqualify me!
We knew that we had a new guy in town so I was really curious to watch him and taste his flesh…
I watched a Christopher match and I immediately realized that force was strong in that one. An impressive way to play, great talent in all the aspects of the game, attack defence, timing, quickness, precision, good tactic knowledge, solid under pressure. and also a very nice, fellow! I think that, he liked a lot the world cup and the KOA, I can bet he will join again many world cup, starting from Copenhagen, since he lives in the north.
So we faced each other once and the standing had some strong confirmation and also some big exploit.
I closed first winning all the matches.
About me I think I played my best world cup so far: I have been able to play a very good kick off against everybody and I’ve been able to revert the score even in those games where my opponent was playing at a stellar level.
Andy was leading the first half 4-1 and he saved even a Penalty kick and a couple of header save in front of the goal. than I came back him getting 6-4 but in the end, closing the gap to 6-5 Andy was very close to catch the draw.
With Steve the game was close from the beginning to the end the match, Steve caught the draw in the second half of the 10th minute but at the very last second I found the victory with a diagonal header goal! I found Steve playing very well, very solid in defence, he was able to shot many and many times, luckily for me very few lobs crossed the white line. 4-3 is a great result after all.
Against Michael Ma, remembering our match in Birmingham, the 6-6 game was still burning. This time the sum of goals was again 12 but distribute in a different way.
Ettore helped me to beat Klaus then. The game was clearly unfair and I’m expecting some notification from the sporting judge.
After that game I played Alkis. The game started with two penalty kick for me that I promptly converted in goals. In the end the fouls were 0-10 and the score was 8-3. Probably Alkis wanted to double digit me, he founded somehow the way.
We had the lunch break then. The meal was very good indeed, and I liked a lot both the meal, on Saturday and on Sunday.
In the afternoon all the other games followed, starting from Oliver. I’m always afraid to play him because I know he is one among those that have the numbers to beat me. He is very strong and he has been very close to beat me few times already. Anyway I was able to stop his powerful attack again. On the other side my attack is somehow difficult to be stopped.
Michelone then. I think it was a very hard world cup this year. I think he has been even unlucky in the results. If you watch the stats, you see that he scored and conceded the same goals as Klaus, the difference is that Klaus got the 11th position while Michelone got the 16th.
In defence he was able to stop me many times although he collected 8 goals against me.
Lorenzo played an amazing defensive game. He squeezed the 532 to the maximum. The problem was that he was so focused in defence that he forgot to check the presence of Fisher in my goal. We never sow him in the whole match.
Finally I played with the Rookie of the Year. It was said that Christopher beat Michael Ma twice and Alkis had a job to have reason about him.
He asked me if I really was the 3 times world champion and 6 world cup final owner (he knew everything, I was surprised!) so I understood he wanted to see how play the best player in the world. Also to understand if he was better then me or not. So I removed my mask of family man and nice fellow and I showed him the real face of Dr. Pain.
A part the score that it was severe for him, I realized how strong and the big potential there is in Christopher. A very strong talent, I can put him at the level of Mario and Paolo D and probably further. He has just some lack of knowledge in the deep mechanism of the game, but his absolute talent with the joystick is not in question.
I played Jorg then. Winning without many problems and then I finally played with Dino Dini! We spoke the whole match and he played in Blitz!
a good solution since he scored me twice and both were very nice goals! I’ve been glad to see him shouting for his goals scored!
After Dino I played another one of my Online Rivals, the one that is most improved in the last two years: of course I mean Durban.
Also with him I have a very hard job as he led the first half 4-1 basically dominating me. When I realized that much people was starting to stand behind us, I understood that it was time to do something, otherwise my winning streaks in Voitsberg would have been broken.
I made s strong come back then, allowing nothing to Mark that was a bit upset since he was starting to taste the victory.
In the end I played Jorn, Michael, Helmut and Peter. I loved in particular the last game with Peter as he scored a very nice goal in the end of the match.
After that everybody played all their 17 matches, the last 4 players played the new formula of game of shame. I think that this 4 players match was very entertaining and I think that was the best game of shame so far. Michele and Michael F beat Dino and Peter 4-2. In the end Dino wore the short of shame, losing the final shoot of shame versus Peter.
I want to spend some words about Dino. The most I know him, the most I see he is a very nice, fun, and willing to joke. An Italian!
I don’t know how many celebrities would have worn the infamous shirt of shame for two days. It is a pleasure to me, to see and to know that he cares much about the KOA.
In the end of Day one we had some surprises: the big one was to see Mark over Andy and Alkis over Andy! Ok, Alkis is a master but he had a daughter, he didn’t sleep for weeks and above all he was completely out of practice. On the other side Andy was on fire, in the last years he played thousand of matches, practicing against the best players around. To see Andy at the second place was more than plausible. Instead Alkis played like a demon and got just a lost against me, winning al the other matches.
What surprised me much was the very bad performance of Lorenzo. I would have seeded him in the top 8 for that I knew about him. But the tension is a black beast.
About the dinner, we have been in the same Pizzeria where we have been on the Sunday night dinners in 2009. the Pizza wasn’t be best pizza so far but who cares, we were there to stay together and have fun. So that made the job.
After another one very good breakfast we went again in the venue.
Day 2 was going to start!
After Day one that ruled actually as a Draw/qualification stage, we had finally a perfect standing gathered in 4 groups.
The groups gave use the biggest surprises.
Just my group (B) went somehow as expected, so I won, Michael Ma second, Rodolfo for the silver semi final and Michael behind.
The other groups were driven in a roulette.
Group C. Alkis and Oliver were the big names, Lorenzo basically didn’t have chance to get the quarter final world cup, above all in light to his day one fiasco.
He was in a group where there was even Jorg: a player that gave Lorenzo many disappointments.
The only chance was to pass Oliver, but if you consider that Oliver even snagged 3 points to Alkis, you can understand that just a miracle could give to Lorenzo the Quarter finals.
Miracles sometimes happen. Lorenzo beat twice Dino and Jorg and in the end got 4 points Vs Oliver, getting 16 points and the second place in the group! You cannot imagine the Lorenzo’s face. Andy recorded those moments. Hope he will publish soon!
In group D Mark (3rd in day one) was the favourite to get the first but Steve (8th in day one) had a different idea.
Steve, quite and light, was having one of the best defence in the world cup and in the group stage he confirmed his trend, he was performing a very good world cup.
Group E, with Andy and Christopher gave no chances to the 3rd and the 4th to get the top 8. they were to strong. There was just a problem. The second of the group had to face me in the quarter, in the last 8 years that meant sure death so to avoid the second place was a matter of life and death.
In fact the last game that decided the final position (the game was showed on the big screen) was a game full of mistakes driven by a tension that was practically touchable.
Andy seemed the ghost of himself, but also Christopher missed a load of passes, chances, narrow angles that without such pressure would have scored easily.
Christopher won 5-1 confirming to be a new big in the KOA.
That send Andy on my road to world cup.
I didn’t know that match was my last stop, putting end to a streak long 8 years of big screen games, 8 years straight of medals, and my “all wins” status in Voitsberg soil. But, as it is common to say in Major League Baseball: “Streaks are made to be broken”. Kick off doesn't make exception.
Andy is a special player and a special fellow. His outgoing personality is reflected also in his game style. Never banal, always looking for a good angle to approach the goal. Stellar skills with his joystick, very competent on every pixel of the pitch. A big weakness his that suffers a lot under pressure. The tension of the world cup is able to make him to play at 20% of his real power.
In the first match Andy, practically speaking drunk, to kill the tension, dominated the first half leading 4-1. This time I wasn’t able to complete the come back in the second half so the game finished 6-5 for him. Andy was laid down on the flow!
In the second leg, Andy, practically speaking drunk played less better then the first leg, on the other side I had to come back, the tension was high but I was playing very well getting a strong lead and a complete control of the match. In the second half I was leading by 3 goals the aggregate count and I was playing on the velvet, seen that the last goal I scored was even a stop volley header.
Anyway in Kick off never say never again and, like the best Spyros, Andy, playing with great heart and willpower was able to come back and equal the aggregate score that led us to the extra time. In the extra time he had a one two that cut my legs off.
In some way it reminded me a lot Rickmansworth !
Amazing success for Andy that found the way for his 3rd big screen games in 3 world cup attended.
The other 3 quarter finals went as expected so the who was first beat who was second in the group stage.
Of course looking just to myself I was sad to get out the quarter finals, but if I have to look things with a wider angle, I think that the Andy’s victory was a good for the KOA. If always the same players win, there is no interest in the competition. And then, people love the heroic feat, I think that Andy did so.
But Andy wasn’t the only one in to do the heroic feat. Christopher, the new guy, got the big screen at his first world cup appearance! Amazing! Amazing was also his mate that was supporting him! What a passion! Neither Thorsten would support me in such way! I’m always glad to see such things. Really hope to see both next year and who said, maybe early in some internationals tournaments.
I played the play out semi finals with Michael. I think he is very strong and above all, he knows well few advanced techniques that the most don’t handle well, I’m sure that he hasn’t reached hid edge yet. My play out final was with Lorenzo! Another one world cup hero. From the 13 place in day one to the 6 position in day two. Amazing performance. A pity for him that he wasn’t able to handle Steve, a player that faced and beat on line many and many times. But I have to say, finally, that the Voitsberg’s Steve was the best Steve I ever seen. Maybe he mistook some games, but overall did an amazing tournament, crown with a great bronze medal, his first medal in 13 World cup Attended. Finally!!! The right award for a guy who spend much time for this community!
Oliver dominated the Silver cap final then, over a good Klaus.
In the Semi Andy took his revenge against Christopher while Alkis took a steamroller to pass over Steve.
Steve saved some fuel for the 3/4 final while Christopher gave everything in the semi final.
The Final was very tense. I think that we could cook an egg over the chairs where they where sat down.
Although I don’t like his lob attitude, I was supporting Alkis because of his special story with the Holy Shield. The last time he won, television was still in black and white, joystick were made in wood and tournaments were held in caverns.
Andy is young, this is just his 3rd world cup, he has time to engrave his name on the Holy Shield, on the other hand, I needed 5 years to engrave my name on the Precious… His moment isn’t much far!
The Alkis celebrations was something that I couldn’t miss for anything on the Earth.
Great final presentation held by our host Michael and the moment that Dino gave the Holy Shield to Alkis was simply fantastic.
About me, I simply want to say thanks to organizers and the KOA to give me the lifetime achievement award. I’m very proud of it and I felt very lucky I could share it with Maria Chiara. She is a true organizer, she really cares about the KOA.
I’ve been also very glad to get the best attack and best defence award! Just hope I made well the counts, I would want to send back some trophy to somebody else!
The last night unluckily I missed part of the fun being gone away early due to father duties, just hope that some one will post it soon, I cannot wait to see full monty Jorn!
Last early breakfast with some KOAers again (Steve, Alkis and somebody else) then we started the trip back to Milan. Luckily this time the trip was perfect, we arrived in Milan on time to let Lorenzo to catch the train and get back in Rimini, his town.
It was a fantastic and memorable Christmas!
I miss my Kick off family, I really hope to see all you soon! Long life to the KOA!