[BladeCast - Storyline] Spain's challenge of remaining at the apex

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Tardet

French Toast
Count
NW
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With the recent announcement of Bannerlord Early Access set to March 2020, excitement has been growing inside the community for what could possibly be one of the very last tournaments on Mount & Blade Warband. Obviously, with Bannerlord itself having been announced a while back, the rumours of tournaments being hosted for the very last time go back far in time, so much so that it ended up becoming a well-established joke within the competitive community. For that reason, erring on the side of caution remains the safest approach as it still is to be seen how the game will be received once its access is spread to a larger public.

Nevertheless, there is no arguing that March of next year will be a month awaited by many players of the community, competitive or not, and for that reason, the upcoming tournaments set for the end of this year ( Nations Cup 2019 ) and the beginning of the next one ( Warband Native League 8 ) might be looked back at some of the very last competitions ever played on the game. In the case of the 10th edition of the Nations Cup, applications closed the Saturday 28th of September, and we are now in the fourth week of the competition.

To accompany you in this competition, BladeCast_TV will be publishing a series of contents which we hope will help you to enjoy this tournament to its full extent. Below, you can find a list of some of our upcoming articles, as well as those already published.







In this series of articles, we will take a closer look at some of the participating teams and dive into six of the biggest storylines of this Nations Cup 2019, continuing today with Spain.
 

Tardet

French Toast
Count
NW
BladeCast Storyline - Spain's challenge of remaining at the apex

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2010
Ranking | -
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TBA
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TBA
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TBA
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TBA



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[size=12pt]2011
Ranking | 9th-12th
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Acid-NN-9 (C)
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ALs
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Flaxon
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Bazinga
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Spainer (C-C)
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MiguelSnake
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Temerium
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Lumitor
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Athelin
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Kanny
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HornBlower
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Jimmy
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Spektrum
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SirJulian
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Sparkie
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Charlini
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Trazer

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[size=12pt]2014
Ranking | 13th-16th
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Galahad
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DonPollo
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Vera
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Markes (C)
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Charlini
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CTCoco
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Donut
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Juanky/Martín
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Chacal

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[size=12pt]2015
Ranking | 13th-15th
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Sparta
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Donut
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Sir Galahad (C)
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Juanky (C)
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Piotes
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Chacal
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Laurens
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Maximo
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Asediado
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Dume (C)
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SirAlecks
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Zytum
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Gasset

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[size=12pt]2016
Ranking | 9th-12th
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Sparta
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Charlini (C)
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Traeeseron
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Donut
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Galahad (C)
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Piotes
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Gasset

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[size=12pt]2017
Ranking | 3rd
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Sparta
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Charlini (C)
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Sparkie
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Traeeseron
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Asediado
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Moroman
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Dume (C)
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SirAlecks
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Braulio

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[size=12pt]2018
Ranking | 2nd
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Charlini (C)
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Sparkie
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Traeeseron
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Piotes
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Asediado
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Magenstor
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Dume (C)
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SirAlecks
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Braulio
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Scarta

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[size=12pt]2019
Ranking | -
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Charlini (C)
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Dume
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Sparta
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SirAlecks
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Sento
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Retamar
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Aitor

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[size=11pt][size=11pt]Unlike most of the nations that have been (and will) be mentioned in this series of articles, Spain's rise to the top has been very recent, and certainly stands out in comparison to the likes of Turkey, Poland, France, Russia or Germany, all present and well-established as top teams from the very start of the Nations Cup. Yet, the manner in which the Spanish have managed to develop themselves as a serious contender for the title in the last two years deserves all the praise, and is certainly worth looking back at in a more detailed manner.

To understand the story of Spain throughout the Nations Cup, we must go back to where it all started, in 2010. There was indeed a Spanish team for the first edition of the Nations Cup but after 9 losses, they had to resign from the tournament due to a lack of members. The second year went much better for the team, as Spain managed to make it out of the group stage, yet wasn’t able to progress much further, losing to two very experienced teams, France and Turkey.

In the following two years, Spain simply went missing and we had to wait until 2014 to see the return of a Spanish national team within the Nations Cup. Unfortunately for them, that two year break didn’t help the Spanish community to build a strong lineup, and the team lead by Markes, Galahad, and Donut was unable to get anything going that year, losing two matches in a very one-sided manner, once again not being able to complete the last one due to a lack of interest from their members. That issue of not being able to complete some of their matches followed Spain during the next two years and obviously meant the team wasn’t able to accomplish better results than they did in past editions. With that being said, the 2015 and 2016 iterations of the team have this interesting factor of showcasing for the first time some of the players who would become instrumental for Spain in the following years.

Sparta, Traeseron, Piotes, Dume, Asediado, and SirAlecks were first spotted in 2015, whereas Charlini and Sparkie had played in 2011 together but only came back actively starting from 2016, the same year DarkLight joined the national team. The results were not amazing at first, far from it, yet little by little, the lineup which would impress the native scene in 2017 and 2018 started taking shape. It also must be said that all things considered, it was extremely hard to foreshadow Spain’s performances in the following years, at least with the available public data. As mentioned above, the 2015 and 2016 years were nothing special for the team, and though the Spanish players showed some glimpses of improvement, it was not sufficient enough to imagine them being capable of threatening the top squads of the Nations Cup only one year after. So what changed so much in that one year for Spain to make such a huge leap forward?


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THE RISE OF CHARLINI AND SIRALECKS AS SUPERSTARS CERTAINLY PLAYED A LOT IN SPAIN BEING CAPABLE TO AIM FOR NEW HIGHS

First, it is fair to mention that the 2017 and 2018 editions of the Nations Cup marked the decline of a certain interest for the tournament, which until then, had been one of the most anticipated in the native scene. The 2017 edition - and its overcomplicated format – lead to a lot of teams losing interest before the end of the tournament and this was felt during the following year, where the hype was gone and a lot of teams started the Nations Cup with lineups no-where near their full potential. While it doesn’t mean Spain got a free ticket throughout both tournaments, it certainly gave them a window of opportunity to start challenging teams which had remained inaccessible before that.

The second - and most important point - is that having an opportunity to progress further is a good thing, but knowing how and when to take it is a whole different ball game. In that regard, Spain acted in the perfect manner, and when the announcement of the NC 2017 was made, they started practising much harder and earlier than a lot of teams. Among the players we previously mentioned, Moroman was the only noticeable addition though it’s also fair to mention the absences of key Spanish players such as Donut or Galahad. To not help their case, Spain was not given an easy group at all, in fact, being still considered an unknown quantity, they were placed with Russia, an all-time strong nation in Warband, and Turkey, the previous NC winner in 2016, with Iran and Czechoslovakia rounding out the group. Knowing that, it appeared obvious that Spain would be forced to pull off a magical upset against one of the heavy favourites of their group, if not both. And that’s exactly what they did.

After a loss against Russia in the first week where the team had shown some good promise, Spain went on to face Turkey in the third week, who coincidentally had also lost against Russia the week prior, making their encounter the deciding match for the second seed of their group. The match was a back and forth affair which Turkey eventually won, 9-7. However, due to a ruling from the administration concerning a breach of the substitution rule, Turkey had to forfeit three relevant sets, meaning Spain was awarded the win in the end, 7-6. This result allowed the team to qualify for the upper-bracket of the knockout stage while sending the defending champion Turkey, to the lower bracket. Tables had switched and Spain was given a formidable occasion to prove their worth by advancing to a stage they had never once managed to reach in five years.

Looking back at it, it would have been very possible for Spain to crumble just after making it out of the groups and their run, to be without effect for the rest of the tournament. But it wasn’t meant to be. After qualifying for the upper-bracket, Spain’s momentum kept on growing as they defeated both Sweden and the United Kingdom, with the same 10-5 scoreline both times. Once again, Spain had prevailed in these important matches and defeating another top nation such as the UK certainly confirmed that the Spanish had the capability to go all the way. Sadly, the fairytale which could have been Spain’s run in the NC2017 stopped after that. In the Final A, Spain took on a strong Germany team, and despite getting the lead on the open map, the Spanish players didn’t come even close to challenge their opponent on the closed map. Their second (and last) attempt to reach the Grand Final happened to be against Russia, the same team they had faced in the group and once again, they got defeated, by a much larger scoreline this time. Going out in such a fashion was certainly a heavy blow for the team, but the bronze medal they got that year was fully deserved and sent a message to the other teams. Spain was now capable of competing with the big guys.

After the impressive performance, they no longer had the advantage of surprise coming into the 2018 edition of the Nations Cup, meaning a tough tournament was awaiting them, where most of the top teams would take them for what they are, a serious contender for the title.


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AS MANY OTHER TOP NATIONS, SPAIN ALSO HAD THEIR FAIR SHARE OF SOUL-CRUSHING MOMENTS

The administration of that edition decided used a different format for that year, in order to negate the issues witnessed in 2017, which lead to the format consisting in a 6 weeks ladder stage where only the top four teams would qualify for the knockout stage. With an almost identical roster as the previous edition, Spain lost two of their matches against Turkey, though both times on some relatively close score lines. Whereas they absolutely stomped most of their other matches, against Turkey II, Finland, or even the ever-threatening Poland. After these six weeks, Spain emerged in the third position, tied in points with Germany and North America. On the back of having more Buchholz points, they got through to the next stage, alongside Germany, Turkey, and Poland. They met the latter in their semi-final, and this time the match appeared to be much closer, with the outcome being decided in the very last set, where Spain 3-0ed Poland and won the match, 8-6. Once again, the Spaniards had managed to replicate their amazing run of the previous year, and in a high-stakes situation, the whole team stepped-up, qualifying for their first grand-final in their NC history. They would be facing Turkey one more time in that tournament, and have the best occasion to take their revenge from the previous matches. 

We will never know if it was due to a lack of experience, or the pressure coming with playing a grand-final, but despite fighting valiantly, Spain didn’t manage to contest the first map, River Village, at all and was punished for it, finishing half-time at 6-2 in favour of Turkey. Castellum started on better terms and during one set, the team which had been so impressive in these last two years seemed to be back. Powered by two stellar infantries, Piotes and Charlini, Spain started to initiate an amazing comeback, winning two rounds back to back, and with a huge gear advantage (they had only lost four players in these two rounds), the 3-0 seemed inevitable. Unfortunately for them, that’s also why you can never count such an experienced team as Turkey out and after running the clock down in the third round, Turkey managed to make the best of an open flag spawn, raising it just enough so that Menethil could survive close to it and steal that round away in the very last second. That definitely switched momentum back in Turkey’s favour while also applying the pressure back to Spain. Answering Piotes’s heroics in the following rounds was Pendragon, who first got a massive triple kills under the flag to tie the scoreline at 2-2 - then in the very last round of the set - went out of his way to clutch a 2v4 alongside Flawin, and definitely crush Spain’s dreams of taking that grand-final home.

Obviously, the result was disappointing for Spain, which had have a fair shot at taking the gold, though in the end, it is fair to say that the best team won. Nonetheless, losing that grand-final in such fashion does not take away the amazing rise of Spain throughout the last two years. Not a single other teams, who was not already established among the top nations prior to that, managed to make it that far twice in a row. Up to this day, Spain’s performance in the Nations Cup remains something rather unique.

The title of this article aimed at illustrating the difficulty that Spain was innevitably going to face, trying to continue with their amazing form coming into this edition. The team's roster remains almost unchanged, but the activity and interest in the game is not half of what it was for a huge part of the lineup, and that could be felt in their opening matches against the United Kingdom and Poland, where they got absolutely decimated. With that being said, Spain showed some reminiscence of their past performances against Turkey last weekend, proving there is still a fire burning inside them. Obviously, these first two defeats make it difficult to imagine the Spaniards getting through to the next stage, but there is still a couple of scenarios in which they could avoid elimination. Their last two matches against France and Germany will be decisive in that regard, and it is now up to Charlini and his men to show that, despite the old nations coming back strong for this last edition of the Nations Cup, they still have their place among the top. 



ARTICLE BROUGHT TO YOU BY @BLADECAST_TV, CUSTOM GRAPHICS BY @ROSSLINGTON, SPANISH BANNER BY @ROUDRAC, ARTICLE WRITTEN BY @TARDEEET, PROOFREAD BY @JARVISANDPI
 

Tardet

French Toast
Count
NW
This storyline is quite huge, I didn't necessarily plan on making it that long but the fact I got to witness Spain's rise while it happened makes it easier to write about.

As per usual, if some of the rosters have mistakes in there or you have more information then what old NC threads can provide, feel free to suggest the required changes.

I don't expect everyone to read the full thing though I hope atleast some spaniards will! Big thanks to Jarvis who proofreaded such a huge piece of writting in a really short time.
 

Charlini

Grandmaster Knight
Pretty nice being able to re'watch' our history and remember all those games, and development. Thanks a lot for the inmense work once again, whole team appreciates it!
 
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