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  The random thoughts of a bored worker during his lunchbreak  050414  
Things have been rather quiet on the coverage front recently so I thought I?d write a little piece about future NQR projects and what?s going on in the NQR HQ.

Most of you will know about our 2 ?new? projects. Firstly, we?ve got NQR North America (site). Def & co are running a 10-team league for North American teams. It?s nice to see the Yanks and Canucks getting their 4on4 fix without having to play whining Euros on UK servers for a change. There are even some brave European players mucking in with high pings to help the North American scene, such as Purity, HangTime and Sassa. One non-North American that has caught my eye however has to be Zip from the Confederacy team. Zip is a Brazilian and has been playing with 150ms in the tournament. Despite this significant handicap he holds #3 position in the overall fragrank with an impressive average of 89 frags. It?s a shame that we will unlikely see him pit his wits against the likes of Dag and Griffin with 13ms on both sides.
The second new project is the NQR Ladder (site). The ladder was conceived by myself as a replacement for the long-departed AdMortem. For those who don?t recall, AdM was a ladder site designed and overseen by Akke, Slime & Dag, and it was an enormous success. The NQR Ladder aims to pick up where AdM left off, and so far it has been going well. Activity is high, with several games being played every day and many different maps being tried out. Our coding genius, aap, is currently working on a map stats page that will present us with some hopefully very useful information on what maps are popular.

Apollyon recently posted an interesting article on the Smackdown website about him hating the divisional structure. NQR has also come under fire this season due to inactivity. I can accept that perhaps the current ?conference? structure does not help remedy situations where clans are idling, but I think it is a little trite to blame the league for idling clans. Last season was on the whole very succesful and divisions 2-4 were very active, with 1 & 5 not far behind.
Some are claiming that divisions like 3 & 6 are idle because of the conference structure. But that doesn?t make much sense to me, because divisions 4 & 5 are doing OK. People will point to division 2 being the most active, but even that is behind schedule in terms of fixtures, and if the structure is the reason for the activitiy, why is division 1 lagging behind so much? It?s true that division 1 has always been less active, but last season division 1 was a lot more active at this stage of the campaign.
Whatever the reasons for lower activity and fewer games, it?s clear that the NQR crew will need to carefully consider the structure for NQR9. Perhaps a return to straight divisions could be on the cards; with divisions of (for example) 12 teams, we could see a good number of games and divisions not being too affected by idle clans. On the other hand, there would be more divisions (probably something like 8) and the scope for misplacing teams would be higher than it is now.
One possibility that has occurred to me would be that all clans wishing to play in NQR8 that hadn?t participated the season before should have to register with the ladder site and play a certain number of games to prove that they are active enough to compete. Some clans are certainly taking the mickey with their inactivity this season and I can?t think of too many other alternatives to ensuring that we only get clans who are serious about playing their games.

Within a couple of months it is inevitable that discussions will begin over the NQR9 map pool. Speaking as a player, I am really not that fond of this season?s pool. I do like TB3 and as a purist I think those maps offer the best gameplay for 4on4. However, variety is the spice of life and I enjoy the challenge proffered by other maps. E2M2 bores the pants off me with its linear style and I would like to see E2M2TDM modified slightly and put back into the pool if we are to keep E2M2 at all. Certain things about the TDM version are certainly better; lower water level, extra entrance to quad, YA placement etc, but I did not like the fact that RA was so chaotic with the lift up there (although the lower entrance to that area is a good idea) nor the fact that you were effectively trapped in YA/RL area if enemy had quad ? there needs to be a route out from YA/RL towards the water/mega as in the ID version.
A 7 map pool would not be out of the question. It would of course require teams to eliminate two maps each for decider situations but it would allow us to offer a nice mix of TB3, CMT3 & CMT4, an id map (E3M7?) and a newwer custom like Schloss, Grim or one of Link?s TDM maps. When it comes to deciding all of this, I think the ladder?s map stats will be very useful indeed. So please, I encourage all clans to try out the TDM maps as well as CMT1, 2 and 5 and give us feedback: we want to know what maps should be considered for the next season.

Next season should also see the new website at last. Aap has come on board after his excellent work coding the ladder site and our plan is to have the site ready for the Summer Cup so we can do a public beta test before NQR9. Speaking of the Summer Cup, we are open to ideas and suggestions as to how we should run it. Last year?s was plagued with walkovers and inactivity, so a straight knock-out does not seem like such a good idea. The idea with which I am toying at the moment is to have a Champions League-style group stage followed by smaller playoffs (like Smackdown but with smaller groups, i.e. 4/5 teams). This would allow allt eams to play a few matches and then hopefully the more active teams would be able to play in the playoffs for glory.

Hopefully I will be able to write some coverage of NQR8 in the coming days, watch this space as they say. Remember, the NQR crew always welcomes feedback on the league providing it is presented in a thoughtful and constructive manner. We want to know what you think needs to be done to improve and build on the biggest league in Europe.

Peace out and happy fragging!


  Round-up of the first 10 days  050317  
In Division 6, we?ve seen very few games so far. Team Toholampi of Finland have played twice in 6a and have won both games 2-0, with EGDA and Korea Team Fighting being their victims in battle.
Last night 6a lost one of its teams to inactivity - JohnBauer Quakers.
In 6b the Conquistadores of Talivanes sit behind fellow-Iberians Rebellion of Thunder. RoT beat the German team WoB 2-0, and Talivanes won against the Norwegian team Pursuit of Perfection by the same margin.

Division 5 has been a little more active. For example, in division 5a, only bosams are yet to play a game. Euro-mix Knockback are sitting pretty atop the table, having won both their games with comfortable margins. Jagarna and Samojedit have also made winning starts although both are separated from the leaders by the Fins from Clan QuadKillers. CQK are the most active team here, having played 3 matches. Unfortunately they have lost 2 of them, which could hurt them come the end of season shake-up.
Sympozium have dropped out of the league this week.
In 5b, the Portuguese team defs lead the way, having won both of their games quite comfortably. Danube and WAR have also won their first games, albeit only the one each. Demolition Crew sit in 2nd but have looked vulnerable in their games so far. It would be a surprise to see them still there in 6 weeks? time.
SmackThatAss are yet to play, but keep an eye on them. They are a good tip to win the conference so don?t rule out a late start by them.

Division 4 has also lost teams already. Both Clan Cube Squad and Nobody?s Bitch have been killed off by inactivity before even firing a rocket in anger.
4a has had reasonable activity thus far, but there are a few too many teams with 0 games played. Clan metally troopers are looking strong, having beaten Buff and PHC with relative ease. It?s tough to tell who will be up there at the end and it?s all still up in the air at this stage. Watch out for the POFFers; they lost to megamen but are more than capable of beating the other teams in the division and climbing the table.
In 4b, it looks like Fjortiz and Da Quaking Manjakks will be the teams to beat. Fjortiz have an impressive frag difference of almost +500 from just 2 games despite losing a map against Quakeworld Corporation. QWC?s DM2 game looks strong enough to keep them up there throughout the season, but two clans with a great chance of beating them are yet to display their skills: Ax3 and Jokkmokk. XZ and The Boss had tough times in their opening games and will hope for an up-turn in fortunes in the coming weeks.

Every ?a? conference has lost a team already this season, and Division 3 is no different. The Axemen retired due to lack of players earlier this week, leaving 3a with 8 teams.
Dybbuk and Death Dealers lead the way with 2 wins out of 2 but Bad luck troopers look likely to be hot on their heals all the way through the eseason. BLT only just lost to D2 and that result could have a big bearing on the end of season positions. 2 clans likely to have a shout at a playoff spot, Klatch and ChopstickNinjas, are yet to play a game and so Just for fun sit in 4th despite having lost both matches. It looks like the season will be a tough one for Fraggers United who have lost 2 out of 2.
3b is the most inactive division outside of the top and bottom, with just 2 matches being played. Both of these involved my own clan, Osams. Last Sunday we lost 2-1 to Thangorodrim and then won 2-1 against Luis. We were pretty disappointed to lose the first match but I?m confident we can win enough games in the rest of the season to get into the playoffs.

Every NQR season sees its fair share of dramas, and it looks like Division 2 will be the prime setting this time around. Following the debate and discussions over the size of the division in the week leading upto kick-off, this division has become the most active in the league. However, this hasn?t stopped controversy from flirting with the likes of Paranoia, who had 2 poitns deducted after refusing to play their opponent?s map choice of CMT3.
Suddendeath lead the way, having played 4 games and lost 1 (MNY beat them 2-1 whilst SD had a weakened side). MNY are the most active team with 5 games played and sit in 2nd place, but the fact that they have already lost twice indicates they will slip down the table as more teams play games.
Only 2 teams have 100% records so far; HPR and the impressive-looking Death Team. The Russians of DT dispatched with MNY easily and beat their countrymen 4Honor last night to cement their good start to the season.
SSC have lost 3 out of 3 but have played 3 of the top sides so far; they would expect to improve against the other mid-lower table teams in the coming weeks.
Postal Justice, many people?s tip for the title, slipped up by losing against last season?s runners-up, Veterans but made up for it by easing past Boefje. All in all, this division looks very tight and there have been relatively few ?big? wins so far. The clan that finishes 1st in this division is likely to have lost at least once during the regular season.

NQR?s showcase division, Division 1, has been as idle as Division 3b and Division 6a/b so far. Just 2 games have been played, both being contested by KOFF. Gamer?s boys lost both of these match-ups (vs CMF and LegeArtis), but it?s hard to gauge anything about these clans? abilities due to KOFF?s lag problems which meant they played both games with ? of their players on 90ms and above. LA, AntiQuad, Fragomatic, Game Over, Insanity and Slackers have all been active in the last few days, but this means nothing if no NQR games are played. So please, put down your prac sticks and drum up some NQR action!
There?s one other piece of semi-interesting news in division 1; Riker has upped sticks from LA and joined Griffins Tappra Gossar. He tried to join division 2?s Postal Justice but the move was blocked by the admins and so it seems he is joining his fellow WoW addicts in GTG for this season. All this means that GTG?s best side looks something like Mrlame, Griffin, Riker & Ermac/Dakoth. If GTG get their practice boots on then it could make the division even more interesting than it has already promised to be?

  NQR 8 preview  050307  
My first article of the new season, and of course it's a look ahead to what we can expect in the 6 divisions over the next few months...

Division 6a
6a is the Scandinavian conference in NQR8?s basement division. As usual, calling the winner at this stage will prove difficult as most of the teams are unknown quantities. ?kalvar aspirerar till bufflar? appear to be the b-team of last season?s division 5 winners ?bufflarna flyger i luften? and so perhaps one would fancy them to do well. Several other clans, such as JohnBauer Quakers, Lambi and EGDA, all have NQR experience and will be keen to make a good impression this season.

Division 6b
This is the Southern/Western European conference, but due to the numbers involved there are also three Scandinavian teams thrown in. Again, most teams here are unknown quantities and only unleet (vadrigar) and Profeterna (Ryska Posten) have previous NQR experience.

Division 5a
Like Division 6, Division 5 was seeded geographically. Swedish clan Jagarna will be keen to make up for a tough season in NQR7 where they were bottom of division 4a, and they lead a group of clans that all have a chance of victory. My personal tip is the Euro-mix Knockback, who have a tight E1M2 game and have boosted their chances by recruiting Son from last season?s Division 4b winners, Be Evil. The other playoff spots will be hotly-contested: expect the likes of bosams (The osams b-team), sympozium and ChoseN to be up there come the end of season shake-up.

Division 5b
5b is another one that?s tough to call. Experienced clans like the Germans of SmackThatAss (NQR5 Div 7, NQR6 Div 5, NQR7 Div 4) and the Hungarians of Danube and the Cube Squad B-team will be tough to bring down. Amongst those who have a chance of taking them down are Portuguese clan defs (who have added some non-Portuguese players and as such now have the option of fielding a team without a single Portuguese person in) and the Dutch/British mix team from Wicked Assault Rangers.

Division 4a
Once again we have a division where several teams have a chance of seizing the top spots. The Pigs of POFF have taken a step down from last season and will be one of the favourites to take 4a, especially as their old home map of E2M2 is now in the pool. Bufflarna flyger i luften, last season?s division 5 winners, will be keen to press for a second successive championship and have boosted their chances by recruiting former HGC and !MM! player Canius. Shadow minions reached last season?s final and they should be there or thereabouts again but it will be a lot tougher this time around; they were in the ?easy? conference last time and will face hard competition from the likes of Clan Metally Troopers, Nobody?s Bitch and killaz in suits. Clans likely to find life tough in this division include Psychohaloons Crew, Harmonium and megamen.

Division 4b
Yesterday I would have tipped New Quake Order as the favourites for this conference, but it seems as though they have lost some of their new recruits already. Unless they can add some more quality to their squad I foresee a mid-table finish for them. The teams to watch here will be the Polish clan Ax3, the Swedes from Jokkmokk and Euro mix Quakeworld Corporation. It might be worth keeping an eye on Fjortiz, a team led by fragomatic?s Grisling who has ?done a znappe? and decided to play with real life mates for this season. And after a season where we had no American teams, we have 2 in NQR8. Illumunati are in division 5 and it will be very interesting to see how ?The Boss? manage with life in division 4.

Division 3a
Amongst the teams hoping to squeeze into the 4 playoff spots in division 3a are Finnish veterans Bad Luck Troopers. Their squad features some experienced players such as havz (aka skii) and heddan and they will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season. The clans with a big chance of stopping them in their tracks include Link?s might Axemen, Chopstick Ninjas (powered by Fah-Q and Primus), and Just for Fun. To be frank, I think every clan in this conference can beat any other and this could be just as tight as last season?s division 3b. Watch out especially for Easy to Kill (semi-finals of last season?s division 4 playoffs) and the germans from Klatch and Dybbuk.

Division 3b
Division 3b is once again where I find my own clan, Osams. It looks like a tough group and there will be a big fight for the playoff spots. Suspected have dropped down from division 2 and they are my favourites for taking the division, but the likes of The Riddlers (Kat, Inex), A2K (who have recruited saemuz, formerly of 4Kings) and sexy (Oiva?s latest clanhopper mix team) will all be in with a big shout of stopping them. As with 3a, all the teams here have a chance, but I would expect Luis clan to be down near the foot of the table come May. The surprise package here could be the British stalwarts from JAMS; they?ve often been placed in a tough division and ended up placing in the middle but this season it should be a little easier and they have a great chance of making the playoffs.

Division 2
There are a lot of strong teams in this division and picking the top 6 for the playoffs is going to be very difficult indeed. One would think that the Russians of Death Team are sure-fire bets for a top 6 place (especially as they have recruited Unnamed/XN) and I imagine that the likes of SuddenDeath and Postal Justice will be up there too. Then there are experienced old school clans like MNY, Kala and Paranoia alongside newer teams such as Boefje and the Pures and things suddenly look a bit more interesting. It?s hard to find weak teams in this division and even the ?worse? teams in the division will be in with a great chance of picking up a few wins.

Division 1
All of the top teams are back from last season and it looks like being a good season in NQR8?s division 1. NQR7 Champions Clan Sivfunction will go into the season without being burdened by the ?favourites? tag as star player Angua is in the army and thus somewhat inactive. Lege Artis have to be the odds-on favourites at this stage, especially as the map pool is now TB3 only. The likes of Fragomatic, Griffins Tappra Gossar and Hard Guns Crew will all surely have a shout when it comes to the end of the season. And of course, one can never rule out Slackers. Hib is back playing, and if he can get back to tip-top shape then SR will be very hard to stop. It will be very interesting to see how Firing Squad do during the regular season; seeing them win the Invitational Classic Cup was a big shock to many and I hope they can play a simarly solid game during the upcoming season. The darkhorses for me this season are Gamer and his merry men from KOFF; they have improved immensely since last season and regularly beat the likes of LA and SR in practice games. How they can go in a competitive tournament is another matter, but the fact that they beat LA on DM3 in the ICC is a big step in the right direction.

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