It was about one year ago today when I remember feeling euphoric after Laos won the WCP Cup and ended ROI's two-year championship run. It felt like an underdog story, or the New York Yankees getting toppled by the little guy or something like that. The last thing I wanted was a three-peat champion and in my mind the game seemed like a perfect way for the Saskatoon-loaded Ireland to meet its end.
One year later I'm having second thoughts after really thinking about Laos, their roster and all of the advantages that team has compared to every other team in the tournament. The more I think about it, the more I think that Laos are actually the Yankees, with all the money, player-pickups, and rule violations that they enjoy.
The money? Oh yes, the money. The dirty little secret about the Teppanyaki sponsorship that Laos enjoys is that they really, really enjoy it. Free food? Of course. Lots of free food? Definitely. Making offers to key players so that they 100% sure know there's free food? Only natural. If it sounds like a college booster recruiting star players it's because that's essentially what it is. Throw in some free shoes, and other nice things for cash-strapped players and bingo, you've got a star-studded Laos roster.
Now, you could say that every team still has to follow the heritage rules..... Oh wait, that's the other dirty little secret that isn't actually a secret about Laos, isn't it? Everyone on every other team is certain there's no way Laos has enough heritage. You can look at the players and instinctively know, but there's nothing anyone can do about it, that's for the tournament organizers to enforce.
And that's where Adam Ailsby comes in - the Striker for Laos who also doubles as the tournament lawyer and guy most in charge of checking heritage. If it seems fishy it's because it's a blatant conflict of interest. Not in a legal sense, just in a purity of the sport and tournament sense. Couple that Ailsby is always trying to seem like he's on some kind of moral holy ground and it's enough to make you gag.
So going into the 2011 tournament, let's just say there's no way I want to see Laos prevail again. I can handle the momentary euphoria from 2010, but if that were to happen again I think it would make me nauseous. Hopefully, a fully rules compliant, non-rich underdog can win in 2011 - that would make for a suitable ending.