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One year ago today - on May 20th, 2012 - Grifball.net and the National Grifball Association were launched and for better or worse, we're still here today! SquirrelBurrito set up a thread for us all to take a walk down memory lane and share our favorite NGA stories.

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Archive for tag: 2012

2012: Year of the NGA (A Retrospective - Part 1)

As the end of the year approaches, I thought it would be a good idea to look back and see how far the NGA has come since its launch in May. If you're a tl;dr kind of person, this might not be for you, but I have truly enjoyed the time we've been running this league for you, and this is my way of providing an end of the year montage of memories (just getting ready for awards season.) So, here goes!

Before we get to the NGA itself, I'd like to go back to 2008. Halo 3 was king, and you could still play Halo 2 online (make it right, 343, come on now.) It was a time of Double EXP weekends and hits such as Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl," Leona Lewis's "Bleeding Love," and Flo Rida's "Low." Shadow (xtc) and I were expecting our first daughter in June, but that didn't stop us from stocking up on snacks and hunkering down for long weekends of glorious Double EXP Grifball. We ran with our Halo 2 BFFs, OReg0N ViRuS and ORegON ChAoS, and life was good. We would play for dangerous amounts of time during those weekends, and we didn't have a care in the world. Grifball was obviously a gift from the Gods (thanks again Burnie!) and we were untouchable (in MM) (not trying to start a fight, H3 Vets!)

Then, Nola. Those commercials aren't kidding, having a baby does change everything. At least when both parents are addicted to Halo! Although the first thing we did with her upon coming home from the hospital was teaching her how to gun a Warthog, in short order we dropped offline for well over a year, missing all of the H3 leagues as well as the first few months of Reach. Not really knowing what I was getting us into, I snagged two copies of Reach in a Black Friday blur, and on Christmas morning, it was on. Well, not really, it took us two or three days to reactivate XBL and get the discs in our 360's. Grifball MM soon followed, and we started no-lifing it up once again, making amazing friends along the way. Our first team was with our old crew, followed by a good half a year with Nhaling2Xhale and his scrappy crew of HaloCharts junkies, including HC Jules, HC SOlO, HC Shocky, and the irreplaceable DirtieBirdie. We fared alright, had a blast, and even became HC's official Grifball team for a time before the site went down. Having such great teammates, friends, and an amazing community behind us meant the world. Then came the dark times.

That ugly beast, statpadding, sure did a number on Reach Grifball. First, our captain got banned for a months old game. Then our team largely fell apart because of it. We've spent most of the past year and a half having different lineups every season. We've had many of those friends and teammates end up banned. People who would play with us every day started disappearing offline. Grifball wasn't fun any more. We went through the AGLA, GGL, and UGL, and it started feeling like going through the motions. Shadow used the incredible API power of old and started up the infamous Stat Padding Locator, which in time, produced the even more infamous "List". During this time, we chose not to believe the hype, and became great friends with the now perma-banned Legacy, the extremely lovable Dead Psych0, and the former DPS Sundown (SunnyD! <3), who became a real life friend at 2012's PAX East. We "reformed" a few career stat padders (at least for awhile!) and brought them into the leagues. I'm talking about you, BroccoliRob54 and Sci Arcane!

Most importantly, we learned, very quickly, that even though some of these people play the game in a way others don't agree with, and even though they might be a little rough around the edges at times, they are all amazing people I'm proud to call my friends. If you spy on our friends lists, it's no secret that we have been friends with some of the Top Ten Most Wanted Reach Statpadders for a long time. They never forced us to stand on a spawn in a back alley or anything, and we've always had a good time when playing together. During this time, we welcomed our second daughter, Cortana into the world. Not a joke, for those of you who haven't asked incredulously yourselves! It was actually a night of drunken fun knowing I was sitting in Labor & Delivery that got Legacy his uber ban. Not willing to make the same XBL sacrifice a second time, coupled with the fact that Nola was now quite addicted to the 360, we paired our sleepless infant nights with Grifball, and decided we were sticking it out this time. We spent many hours in customs with the girls beating up on their numerous Halo Uncles, and all was well. And then came BossTycoon x.

We had heard the hype, and the anti-hype, for quite some time. We'd had vicious MM battles with Boss going back to our HaloCharts days. We'd never met in a league setting, but we had run across him with Sundown and Legacy enough times that we never should have been friends. But during one night of random customs, Boss approached us, complained about my full friends list, and suggested that we should be friends. Once again, we took a chance, and without it, the NGA would never have happened. Some of our friends weren't happy with our new buddy, but that was nothing new to us. We insisted on giving Boss a chance, and despite everything, we developed a strong friendship. Through Boss, we got to know Rage, and since their West Coast schedule complimented our sleepless-with-a-baby schedule so well, we eventually started playing together almost every night. And it was during one of those nights that the NGA was born. We could have put it aside as a joke, but we were all fed up with certain things and wanted to have fun with Grifball again. And we thought we could make that happen, so we set forth with that goal in mind and haven't stopped since. We called on our HaloCharts buddies HC Jules and HC Zappy, as well as Master Sundown and Dead Psych0, and away we went.

2012: Year of the NGA (A Retrospective - Part 2)

So, if it wasn't obvious, that was more of our personal backstory than a history of the league. But all the people and events described there had a huge impact on why the NGA exists and why it is the way it is, so I felt it was important. Plus, it was great to have an opportunity to give shoutouts to all those who have been there with us along the way. Here's where we get a little more into the factual history of the NGA. On May 20, 2012, Grifball.net went live, a little bare, but custom coded with love by Shadow. Things slowly built up to our Inaugural BOMB on June 2nd. We had 12 teams come out to compete for MSP prizes, and in the end, ShadowAlch3mi5t and his team Shuyamouf (ActiveHate, Dennymacpotv2, Ezy08, and Packfan010) took home the glory. One might think that having a major dispute and one hour backup in the first round...involving an admin...might be a bad omen for the league, but nah. It was a fun night with some epic matchups. Shortly thereafter came our chatbox, where there have been many a lulz.

After that first event, we added stats and opened signups for our first season in June. We had 24 teams sign up, and when all was said and done, our champions were On the Fence, captained by four to oh, and consisting of Crusader0102, Cutthroat912, iHoncho316, L1ght5aber, NEJI HYUGA240, and x Sabceef x. Congrats again, guys! Our first season stood out for a few reasons because of some ideas we tried in it. The first is something we're still doing now in Season 3. When it became evident that we had a number of teams signed up with no intention to play, and other teams on the sidelines who had missed registrations for one reason or another, we instituted a policy where teams who have not played any games through week two were replaced by new teams waiting in the wings. It helped get more games played by more people, and it worked out well. We let everyone who finished out the season into playoffs, and we also experimented with a double elimination playoff bracket, to see what would happen. While it didn't produce the underdog intervention we were hoping to see, it did help us reach the milestone of having a two month long playoffs (our apologies.) It was a slugfest to the finish in those playoffs, however, with On the Fence and BossTycoon x's team, Blunts of Fury, going back and forth in more than one series for the title. It is also interesting to note that Season 2's playoffs started a mere 3 days after the championship for Season 1 was decided!

In the meantime, we ran a ton of fun events over the summer and into the fall. They included Scorefest (Winners - Do the Sandusky Shuffle: Rage More Nerd, NOPLEX, Priest XYZ), which introduced the never- ending round feature seen in Halo 4 Grifball; Grifpile (Winners - ...: ICECARDZ, ACE B S1lentND1), a 2v2v2v2 insanity fest created by DirtieBirdie featuring grifball weapons, the Stockpile gametype, and a flag instead of a bomb; The Battle of the Regions (Winners - Colonial America: OVERweightGOAT, ColonialPie, Ezy08, KidQuantum, KoolAid MAN v9, Packfan010), where players registered individually and were matched by geographical location, and the infamous (we're good at infamy) Stat Padding Derby (Winners - Almost Famous: Master Sundown, four to oh, HORRENDOUS NOOB, ixGingy, Rage More Nerd, yoyog109), a sadly misunderstood but really awesome event where we removed the bomb plants and turned Grifball into a game of Slayer for the matchmaking-prescribed 15 minutes. We also invited the community to find and destroy us in matchmaking in our Admin Hunt.

Over time, we also made some really great friends and affiliations with other communities out there. HaloUNITY, TheRealForums/TXI, HaloTracker (<3 you, edge), Kings of Pain, and HaloCommunity have all had mixers with us, and all of them were awesome in their own special way. Firestream of HaloCharts fame made us an incredible desktop background, and if you haven't downloaded it yet, you really ought to - it's beautiful. That's not to say we get along with everyone. We've got a serious talent for getting threads locked, we're somewhere in the range of a dozen right now, but I digress. It's not that we want to argue with people or communities, it's just that we stand up for what we believe in. It is as simple as that. We aim to be accepting of all players, but we expect them to play by our rules (which there aren't many of, if you've ever looked.) If we believe something is wrong, we'll tell you about it, but we'll also suggest how we'd fix it. It's why, when a modded file that disabled sprint in Halo 4 fell off a truck directly into our laps, we turned it into Vanilla Grifball.  We didn't mod the file ourselves or ask for it to be done, but the community wanted to know if it would improve gameplay, so we gave it a try. We're certainly not the face of Grifball, and we feel comfortable in taking direction from the community and trying new things. It might get us in hot water from time to time, but our intentions are always good.

Season 2 approached as Reach's days were coming to a close. Still slightly taken aback by the neverending playoffs of Season 1, we very carefully planned out the season, remaining Reach events, and playoffs. It was a short season, only four weeks, but we had twenty-five teams register, and a lot of great match-ups. During the season, we ran some fun events. Our Random Reach Customs Nights were a blast, and we can't wait to have enough gametypes to do that again. The first Customs event ran, streamed, for well over eight hours. We jumped back into Halo 3 for fun one day, and brought back GrifPile, only Extremer - 4v4v4v4 this time. We held a classic Vanilla BOMB (Winners - Black List: BossTycoon x, ACE B S1lentND1, Ezy08, PAPA x VIPER) and then held a Vanilla BOMB draft style (Winners - Turquoise Jeep: Ezy08, Master Sundown, ShadowAlch3mi5t, ActiveHate), with Major SiIva going first in that one. We had a fun all-star game for Season 1, but skipped it for Season 2 given the shorter than usual length of the season. We offered up Scorefest, GrifPile, and Dash for one last hurrah. And then it was time for Halo 4!

Well, not quite yet. From the get-go, Season 2 was slated to have 8 playoff teams so we could guarantee the season would wrap up before Halo 4 hit stores. We scheduled the Championship for the final weekend of Reach before the season even started. A good number of strong teams didn't make the cut with this setup, which we hated doing, but given the number of people who have already sold their Reach discs...it is a good thing we did a short playoff! We decided to institute a policy where all playoff games were required to be streamed, and we completed that goal, 100% - something we are very proud of. We were fortunate enough to stream countless awesome games in the final days of Reach, and we'd like to thank the players for allowing us to do so as well as the community for coming out to watch. We've been streaming as much as possible in Halo 4, but would always love to do more, so as always, please feel free to let us know when your team is interested in streaming a game. After a major upset by A Righteous Kill in the semi-finals of the Season Two playoffs, the final showdown was between them and BossTycoon x's Black List, with Black List (BossTycoon x, ActiveHate, Ezy08, PAPA x VIPER, ShadowAlch3mi5t, x Sabceef x) coming out on top in the end, avenging their loss in the Season 1 finals. Way to go!

Halo 4 has brought its share of both fun and challenges so far. We opened the first league signups in Halo 4, and started the first league with a total of 56 teams registered. We're currently in make-up week and ready to get the playoffs (and streaming) going. We've held two BOMBs using our current official settings - the Halo 4 Settings Trial BOMB and the WL13 Orientation BOMB (Winners - Sab puts points on the board: Crusader0102, x Sabceef x, Shadow S16, Tad Neptune) as well as a BOMB with Vanilla settings calling it Halo 3each (Winners - Aborted baby society (get them all)SlimJimX50KidQuantumPAPA x VIPERThe Platapus), and had a few informal get togethers, including our super awesome and fun NGA Gamertag night. Still gotta give props to Crusader0102 on that one (sorry, Boss.) We've added new staff and have given the site a total makeover, courtesy of Doct0r Chaos. We're running our first Pick'Em competition, and we'd love to do more like it in the future. We're currently on the hunt for a few more staff members as well as some interesting gametypes and communities to have some fun with, so be sure to contact us if you think you can help in those departments. As admins/founders/owners/whatever you want to call us, we've done everything in our power to make fair and reasonable decisions for the community. None of us enjoy settling disputes, but at the end of the day, after everything is discussed in a group and voted on, we always feel we've done the best we can. We're glad that some of our innovations have been adopted by the other leagues, since imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. Credit? That's overrated. Honestly, what's good for the community is good enough for us, so it's cool. Really, I'm not that catty. I swear! On a personal note, Shadow and I still scramble to make a team every season, but it's been worth it as we've loved our time playing with Halfbreed, Jbar, Greenthumb, and T Rich. For some reason, we get rewarded for procrastinating. Oh, and thank you to everyone who supported #FreeSquirrelBurrito on Twitter, and all you wonderful people who haven't rage deleted us after our kids screamed into the mic and burst your eardrums!

What's next? Aside from National Squirrel Appreciation Day being just a few weeks out, and a few surprises we've got up our sleeves, the possibilities for the future are endless. We're here for the community, so it is all in your hands. Let us know where you want to go. Thanks for all the memories so far, and here's to a whole year full of fun, competition, new friendships, and great experiences. Happy New Year, and to all our staff, members, players, and friends, we truly appreciate the time you spend being a part of the NGA!

Peace, love, and Grifball for all!
- Squirrel


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