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The truth behind Puskás Akadémia FC - How Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán stole a legend, built a stadium in his backyard and guided his team to Europe
The 2019/2020 season of the Hungary’s National Football League (NB1) – being one of the first leagues to restart play - came to an end on 27 June. If a casual observer (for whatever reason) decides to check out the final standings, he would be not surprised at the first two positions: record-champion Ferencváros defended their title, while regional powerhouse Fehérvár (Videoton) came in second. However, the third place team,Puskás Akadémia FCmight seem unusual and one could think that there is a story behind that. Is there a team named after Ferenc Puskás? Did some academy youths make an incredible run for the Europa League qualification? Well, the observer is right, there is a story behind all this, but it’s absolutely not a fun story. It’s a story about how one powerful man’s obsession with football stole a legend, misused state funds and killed the spirit of Hungarian football.(Warning: this is a long story, feel free to scroll down for a tl;dr. Also, I strongly advise checking out the links, those images are worth seeing). Naturally, political influence in football has been present ever since the dawn of the sport and we know of numerous state leaders who felt confident enough to use their influence to ensure the successful development of their favored clubs – Caucescu’s FC Olt Scornicesti and Erdogan’s Basaksehir are well-known examples of such attempts. However, I fear that very few of the readers are aware of the fact that Puskás Akadémia FC is nothing but Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán’s grandiose project for establishing his hometown’s club as one of the country’s top teams. Considering that Orbán managed to achieve this goal using state funds in an EU member democracy in the 2000s, one might even say that it might be one of the most impressive attempts of cheating your way through Football Manager in real life. Now that Puskás Akadémia FC escaped the desolate football scene of Hungary and is getting ready for the European takeover, I feel that it’s high time to tell its true story.
Part 1: Part time striker, part time PM
Our story begins in 1999 when the 36-year-old striker Viktor Orbán (recently elected as the country’s Prime Minister) was signed by the sixth-tier side of Felcsút FC residing in rural Fejér County. It might sound surprising that an active politician would consider such a side job, but given that Orbán has been playing competitive low-level football throughout his whole life and has always been known as a keen football enthusiast, people seemed to be okay with his choice for a hobby. Orbán spent most of his childhood in the village of Felcsút (population: 1,800), so it seemed only natural that he would join the team after one of his old-time acquaintances became team president there. Orbán’s arrival to the club seemed to work like a charm as Felcsút FC immediately earned a promotion to the fifth league. The Prime Minister’s busy program did not allow him to attend every training session and game but Orbán did make an effort to contribute as much as possible on the field – there is a report of a government meeting being postponed as Orbán was unavailable due to attending Felcsút FC’s spring training camp. The 2001/2002 season brought another breakthrough for the side as Felcsút was promoted to the national level of the football pyramid after being crowned the champion of Fejér County. Sadly enough for Orbán, he suffered a defeat on another pitch – his party lost the 2002 election and Orbán was forced to move to an opposition role. No matter what happened on the political playing field, Orbán would not abandon his club. Just before the 2002 elections, Felcsút was surprisingly appointed as one of the regional youth development centers by the Hungarian FA. Orbán continued contributing on the field as well (he had more spare time after all) but his off-the-field efforts provided much more value for the team as he used his political influence to convince right-wing businessmen that they should definitely get sponsorship deals done with the fourth-division village team. Club management was able to transform the influx of funds into on-field success: Felcsút FC was promoted to the third division in 2004 and achievedpromotion to the second division in 2005. Although these new horizons required a skill level that an aging ex-PM is not likely to possess, Orbán regularly played as a late game sub and even appeared in cup games against actual professional opponents. The now-42-year old Orbán did not want to face the challenge of the second division, so he retired in 2005 – but this did not stop him from temping as an assistant coach when the head coach was sacked in the middle of the 2005-2006 season. Success on the playing field did not translate to political success: Orbán lost the elections once again in 2006. However, this was only a temporary loss: the ruling party committed blunder after blunder and by early 2007 it became absolutely obvious that Orbán would be able return to power in 2010. Now confident in his political future, Orbán opted for the acceleration of football development in Felcsút – by late 2007 he took over the presidency of the club to take matters in his own hands. Sponsors seeking to gain favor with the soon-to-be PM were swarming Felcsút FC, so the club was able to stand very strong in an era where financial stability was a very rare sight in the Hungarian football scene, accumulating three medals (but no promotion) between 2007 and 2009. On the other hand, Orbán realized the value of youth development as well, and started a local foundation for this purpose back in 2004 that gathered funds for the establishment a boarding school-like football academy. The academy opened its doors in September 2006 (only the second of such institutions in the country) and Orbán immediately took upon the challenge of finding an appropriate name for the academy. He went on to visit the now very sick Ferenc Puskás in the hospital to discuss using his name, but as Puskás’ medical situation was deteriorating rapidly, communication attempts were futile. Luckily enough Puskás’ wife (and soon to be widow) was able to act on his incapable husband’s behalf and approved the naming deal in a contract. According to the statement, naming rights were granted without compensation, as “Puskás would have certainly loved what’s happening down in Felcsút”. However, there was much more to the contract: Puskás’ trademark was handed to a sports journalist friend of Orbán (György Szöllősi, also acting communications director of the academy) who promised a hefty annual return for the family (and also a 45% share of the revenue for himself). Ferenc Puskás eventually died on 17 November 2006 and on 26 November 2006 the football academy was named after him: Puskás Academy was born. Orbán shared his vision of the whole organization after the opening ceremony: “It’s unreasonable to think that Felcsút should have a team in the top division. We should not flatter ourselves, our players and our supporters with this dream. Our long term ambition is the creation of a stable second division team that excels in youth development and provides opportunity for the talents of the future.” Let’s leave that there.
Part 2: No stadium left behind
Orbán became PM once again in April 2010 after a landslide victory that pretty much granted him unlimited power. He chased lots of political agendas but one of his policies was rock solid: he would revive sports (and especially football) that was left to bleed out by the previous governments. The football situation in 2010 was quite dire: while the national team has actually made some progress in the recent years and has reached the 42nd position in the world rankings, football infrastructure was in a catastrophic state. Teams were playing in rusty stadiums built in the communist era, club finances were a mess, youth teams couldn’t find training grounds and the league was plagued by violent fan groups and lackluster attendance figures (3100 average spectators per game in the 2009/2010 season). Orbán – aided by the FA backed by business actors very interested in making him happy – saw the future in the total rebuild of the football infrastructure. Vast amounts of state development funds were invested into the football construction industry that warmly welcomed corruption, cost escalation and shady procurement deals. In the end, money triumphed: over the last decade, new stadiums sprung out from nothing all over the country, dozens of new academies opened and pitches for youth development appeared on practically every corner. The final piece of the stadium renovation program was the completion of the new national stadium, Puskás Aréna in 2019 (estimated cost: 575 million EUR). Orbán commemorated this historic moment with a celebratory video on his social media that features a majestic shot of Orbán modestly kicking a CGI ball from his office to the new stadium. Obviously, Orbán understood that infrastructure alone won’t suffice. He believed in the idea that successful clubs are the cornerstone of a strong national side as these clubs would compete in a high quality national league (and in international tournaments) that would require a constant influx of youth players developed by the clubs themselves. However, Orbán was not really keen on sharing the state’s infinite wealth with private club owners who failed to invest in their clubs between 2002 and 2010. The club ownership takeover was not that challenging as previous owners were usually happy to cut their losses, and soon enough most clubs came under Orbán’s influence. Some clubs were integrated deep into Orbán’s reach (Ferencváros and MTK Budapest club presidents are high ranking officials of Orbán’s party) while in other cases, indirect control was deemed sufficient (Diósgyőri VTK was purchased by a businessman as an attempt to display loyalty to Orbán). Pouring taxpayer money into infrastructure (stadium) projects is relatively easy: after all, we are basically talking about overpriced government construction projects, there’s nothing new there. On the other hand, allocating funds to clubs that should be operating on a competitive market is certainly a tougher nut to crack. The obvious solutions were implemented: the state media massively overpaid for broadcasting rights and the national sports betting agency also pays a hefty sum to the FA, allowing for a redistribution of considerable amounts. However, given that the income side of Hungarian clubs was basically non-existent (match day income is negligible, the failed youth development system does not sell players), an even more radical solution was desperately needed. Also, there was definite interest in the development of a tool that would allow for differentiation between clubs (as in the few remaining non-government affiliated clubs should not receive extra money). The solution came in 2011: the so-called TAO (“társasági adó”= corporate tax) system was introduced, granting significant tax deductions for companies if they offered a portion of their profits to sports clubs – however, in theory, funds acquired through TAO can be only used for youth development and infrastructure purposes. Soon enough, it became apparent that state authorities were not exactly interested in the enforcement of these restrictions, so some very basic creative accounting measures enabled clubs to use this income for anything they wanted to. Companies were naturally keen on cutting their tax burdens and scoring goodwill with the government, so TAO money immediately skyrocketed. Opportunistic party strongmen used their influence to convince local business groups to invest in the local clubs, enabling for the meteoric rise of multiple unknown provincial teams (Mezőkövesd [pop: 16,000], Kisvárda [pop: 16,000], Balmazújváros [pop: 17,000]) into the first division. Although it’s not the main subject of this piece, I feel inclined to show you the actual results of Orbán’s grandiose football reform. While we do have our beautiful stadiums, we don’t exactly get them filled – league attendance has stagnated around 3000 spectators per game throughout the whole decade. We couldn’t really move forward with our national team either: Hungary lost 10 positions in the FIFA World Rankings throughout Orbán’s ten years. On the other hand, the level of league has somewhat improved – Videoton and Ferencváros reached the Europa League group stage in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Too bad that the Instat-based top team of 2019/2020 Hungarian league consists of 10 foreigners and only 1 Hungarian: the goalkeeper.
Part 3: Small place, big game!
As seen in the previous chapter, Orbán did have a strong interest in the improvement of the football situation Hungary, but we shouldn’t forget that his deepest interest and true loyalty laid in the wellbeing of Felcsút and its academy. Now that Orbán had limitless means to see to the advancement of his beloved club, he got to work immediately. Orbán handed over formal club management duties to his friend / protégé / middleman / businessman Lőrinc Mészáros in 2010, but no questions would ever arise of who is actually calling the shots. First of all, no club can exist without a proper stadium. Although in 2011 Orbán explicitly stated that “Felcsút does not need a stadium as stadiums belong to cities”, no one was really surprised in 2012 when the construction of the Felcsút stadium was announced. Orbán was generous enough to donate the lands just in front of his summer home in the village for the project, locating the entrance a mere ten meters away from his residence. Construction works for the stunningly aesthetic 3,800-seater arena (in a village of 1,800 people) started in April 2012 and were completed in April 2014, making Felcsút’s arena the second new stadium of Orbán’s gigantic stadium revival program. The estimated budget of the construction was 120 million EUR (31,500 EUR / seat) was financed by the Puskás Academy who explicitly stated that they did not use government funds for the project. Technically, this statement is absolutely true as the construction was financed through the TAO money offered by the numerous companies looking for tax deduction and Orbán’s goodwill. However, technically, this means that the country’s budget was decreased by 120 million EUR unrealized tax revenue. Naturally, the gargantuan football stadium looks ridiculously out of place in the small village, but there’s really no other way to ensure that your favorite team’s stadium is within 20 seconds of walking distance from your home. Obviously, a proper club should also have some glorious history. Felcsút was seriously lagging behind on this matter as though Felcsút FC was founded in 1931, it spent its pre-Orbán history in the uninspiring world of the 5th-7th leagues of the country. Luckily enough, Orbán had already secured Puskás’ naming rights and they were not afraid to use it, so Felcsút FC was renamed to Puskás Academy FC in 2009. The stadium name was a little bit problematic as the Hungarian national stadium in Budapest had sadly had the dibs on Puskás’ name, so they had to settle with Puskás’ Spanish nickname, resulting in the inauguration of the Pancho Arena. But why stop here? Orbán’s sports media strongman György Szöllősi acted upon the contract with Puskás’ widow and transferred all Puskás’ personal memorabilia (medals, jerseys, correspondence) to the most suitable place of all: a remote village in which Puskás never even set foot in. While the off-field issues were getting resolved, Orbán’s attention shifted to another important area: the actual game of football. Although academy players started to graduate from 2008 on, it very soon became painfully obvious that the academy program couldn’t really maintain even a second division side for now. In 2009, Orbán reached an agreement with nearby Videoton’s owner that effectively transformed Felcsút FC into Videoton’s second team under the name of Videoton – Puskás Akadémia FC. The mutually beneficent agreement would allow Videoton to give valuable playing time to squad players while it could also serve as a skipping step for Puskás Academy’s fresh graduates to a first league team. The collaboration resulted in two mid-table finishes and a bronze medal in the second division in the following three seasons that wasn’t really impressive compared to Felcsút FC’s standalone seasons. It seemed that the mixture of reserve Videoton players and academy youth was simply not enough for promotion, and although Orbán had assured the public multiple times that his Felcsút project was not aiming for the top flight, very telling changes arose after the 2011/2012 season. Felcsút terminated the Videoton cooperation deal and used the rapidly accumulating TAO funds to recruit experienced players for the now independently operating Puskás Academy FC (PAFC). The new directive worked almost too well: PAFC won its division with a 10 point lead in its first standalone year which meant that they would have to appear in the first league prior to the completion of their brand-new Pancho Arena. Too bad that this glorious result had almost nothing to do with the academy - only two players were academy graduates of the side’s regular starting XI. Orbán did not let himself bothered with the ridiculousness of an academy team with virtually no academy players being promoted to the first division as he stated that “a marathon runner shouldn’t need to explain why the other runners were much slower than him”. Orbán also displayed a rare burst of modesty as he added that “his team’s right place is not in the first league, and they will soon be overtaken by other, better sides”. The promotion of PAFC to the first division made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. Supporter groups were united in hatred all along the league and not surprisingly, away fans almost always outnumbered the home side at PAFC’s temporary home at Videoton’s Sóstói Stadium (demolished and rebuilt in its full glory since then). One of the teams, however, possessed an extraordinary degree of anger against PAFC: supporters of Budapest Honvéd – the only Hungarian team in which Ferenc Puskás played – felt especially awkward about the transfer of their club legend’s heritage to Felcsút. Tensions spiked at the PAFC – Honvéd game when home security forced Honvéd supporters to remove the “Puskás” part of their traditional “Puskás – Kispest – Hungary” banner – the team answered the insult with style as they secured a 4-0 victory supported by fans chanting “you can’t buy legends”. Despite Orbán’s prognosis, other better sides did not rush to overtake his team, so PAFC, now residing in their brand new Pancho Arena, came through with a 14th and a 10th place in their first two seasons. Naturally, conspiracy theories began to formulate, speculating that government-friendly owners would certainly not be motivated to give their best against PAFC. However, as the league size was reduced to 12 for the 2015/2016 season, PAFC found themselves in a dire situation just before the final round: they needed a win and needed rival Vasas to lose against MTK in order to avoid relegation. PAFC’s draw seemed to be unlucky as they faced their arch-enemy Honvéd at home, but Honvéd displayed an absolute lackluster effort – fueling conspiracy theories – and lost the fixture 2 to 1 against a home side featuring four academy players. Vasas, however, did not disappoint, their 2-0 victory resulted in PAFC’s elimination and a very relaxed sigh all over the football community. PAFC’s relegation seemed to be in accordance with Orbán’s 2013 statement, so public opinion supposed for a while that Orbán’s project came to a halting point and the Academy would go on to actually field academy players in the second division (especially as rostering foreign players was prohibited in the lower leagues). However, if you have read through this point, you know better than to expect Orbán to retreat – obviously, PAFC came back with a bang. With a ballsy move, PAFC didn’t even sell their foreign players, they just loaned them across the league, promising them that they would be able to return next year to the newly promoted team. The promise was kept as PAFC went into another shopping spree of experienced players (easily convincing lots of them to choose the second division instead of the first) and easily won the second league. Orbán – now aware of his negligence – opted for the doubling the team’s budget,making PAFC the third most well-founded club in the whole country (only coming short to his friend’s Videoton and his party minion’s Ferencváros). With an actual yearly influx from TAO money in the ballpark of 30-40 million EUR, PAFC management had to really work wonders in creative accounting in order to make their money look somewhat legitimate. The books were now full of ridiculous items like:
Construction of a new tea kitchen for youth players for 650,000 EUR
Employment of a 45 person “cleaning and maintenance staff” for the academy.
Naturally, in the country of no consequences, absolutely nothing happened: PAFC went on with its spending and signed 35 foreigners between 2017 and 2020. They did so because they could not hope to field a winning team in the first league consisting of academy players, despite the fact that Puskás Academy has been literally drowning in money since 2007. This seems to somewhat contradict Orbán’s 2013 promise, stating that “Puskás Academy will graduate two or three players to major European leagues each year”. To be fair, there have been players who managed to emerge to Europe (well, exactly two of them: Roland Sallai plays at Freiburg, László Kleinheisler played at Werder Bremen) but most academy graduates don’t even have the slightest the chance to make their own academy’s pro team as it’s full of foreigners and more experienced players drawn for other teams’ programs. Despite their unlimited funding, PAFC could not put up a top-tier performance in their first two years back in the first division, finishing 6th and 7th in the 12-team league. Many speculated that the lack of support, motivation and even a clear team mission did not allow for chemistry to develop within the multinational and multi-generational locker room. Consistency was also a rare sight on the coaching side: club management was absolutely impatient with coaches who were very easily released after a single bad spell and there were talks of on-field micromanagement request coming from as high as Orbán. Even so, their breakthrough came dangerously close in 2018 as PAFC performed consistently well in the cup fixtures and managed to reach the final. Their opponent, Újpest played an incredibly fierce game and after a 2-2 draw, they managed to defeat PAFC in the shootout. Football fans sighed in relief throughout the country as ecstatic Újpest supporters verbally teased a visibly upset Orbán in his VIP lounge about his loss. Obviously, we could only delay the inevitable. While this year’s PAFC side seemed to be more consistent than its predecessors, it seemed that they won’t be able to get close to the podium - they were far behind the obvious league winner duo of Ferencváros and Videoton and were trailing third-place Mezőkövesd 6 points just before the pandemic break. However, both Mezőkövesd and PAFC’s close rivals DVTK and Honvéd fall flat after the restart while PAFC was able to maintain its good form due to its quality roster depth. PAFC overtook Mezőkövesd after the second-to-last round as Mezőkövesd lost to the later relegated Debrecen side. (Mezőkövesd coach Attila Kuttor was fined harshly because of his post-game comments on how the FA wants PAFC to finish third.) PAFC faced Honvéd in the last round once again, and as Honvéd came up with its usual lackluster effort, PAFC secured an effortless win, confidently claiming the third place. PAFC celebrated their success in a nearly empty stadium, however neither Orbán, nor Mészáros (club owner, Orbán’s protégé, now 4th richest man of Hungary) seemed to worry about that. While Orbán high-fived with his peers in the VIP lounge, Mészáros was given the opportunity to award the bronze medals (and for some reason, a trophy) to the players dressed up in the incredibly cringe worthy T-shirts that say “Small place, big game!”. Big game, indeed: in the 2019/2020 season, foreign players’ share of the teams playing time was 43.6% while academy graduates contributed only 17.9%. On Sunday evening, less than 24 hours after PAFC’s glorious success, György Szöllősi, now editor-in-chief of Hungary’s only sports newspaper (purchased by Orbán’s affiliates a few years back) published an editorial on the site, stating that “the soccer rebuild in Felcsút became the motor and symbol of the revitalization of sport throughout the whole country”. Well, Szöllősi is exactly right: Felcsút did became a symbol, but a symbol of something entirely different. Felcsút became a symbol of corruption, inefficiency, lies and the colossal waste of money. But, hey, at least we know now: you only need to spend 200 million EUR (total budget of PAFC and its academy in the 2011-2020 period) if you want to have a Europa League team in your backyard. Good to know!
Epilogue: What's in the future?
As there is no foreseeable chance for political change to happen Hungary (Orbán effortlessly secured qualified majority in 2014 and 2018, and is projected to do so in 2022 as well), PAFC’s future seems to be as bright as it gets. Although consensus opinion now seems to assume that Orbán does not intend to interfere with the Ferencváros – Videoton hegemony, we can never be really sure about the exact limits of his greed. One could also argue that entering the European theater serves as a prime opportunity for making splashy transfers who could be the cornerstones of a side challenging the league title. However, as all political systems are deemed to fall, eventually Orbán’s regime will come apart. Whoever will take upon the helm after Orbán, they will certainly begin with cutting back on the one item on Orbán’s agenda that never had popular support: limitless football spending. Puskás Academy, having next to zero market revenue, will not be able to survive without the state’s life support, so the club will fold very shortly. The abandoned, rotting stadium in Felcsút will serve as a memento of a powerful man who could not understand the true spirit of football. But let’s get back to present day, as we have more pressing issues coming up soon: PAFC will play their first European match in the First qualifying round of the Europa League on 27 August. We don’t have a date for the draw yet, but soon enough, a team unaware of the whole situation will be selected to face the beast. I hope that maybe one of their players does some research and maybe reads this very article for inspiration. I hope that the supporters of this club get in touch with Honvéd fans who would be eager to provide them with some tips on appropriate chants. I hope that other teams gets drawn as the home team so Orbán wouldn’t get the pleasure of walking to his stadium for an international match. But most importantly, I very much hope that this team obliterates PAFC and wipes them off the face of the earth. 5-0 will suffice, thank you. And if this team fails to do that, we don’t have to worry yet. Due to our shitty league coefficient, PAFC would need to win four fixtures in a row. And that – if there’s any justice in this world – is a thing that can’t, that won’t happen. Ball don’t lie – if I may say. TL,DR Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán redirected some 200 million EUR of taxpayer money over 10 years to fuel his ambition of raising a competitive football team in his hometown of 1,800 people. He built a 3,800-seater stadium in his backyard, expropriated football legend Ferenc Puskás’ trademarks and heritage and built up a football league where almost all clubs are owned by his trustees. His team, Puskás Akadémia FC was originally intended to be a development ground for youth players graduating from Orbán’s football academy, but eventually the team became more and more result-orianted. Finally, a roster full of foreign and non-academy players came through and finished third in the league, releasing this abomination of a team to the European football theatre. Please, knock them out asap!
I Want You to Play More Adventure Games (Part II: 1994-2000)
PREVIOUS POST -- PART ONE I wanted to continue my discussion of adventure games considered the greatest of all time. As before, this is not an exhaustive list but I have carefully aggregated reviews from a variety of sources to make my decision. Many wondered why certain titles weren't included on the previous list. This is because the list only went up to 1993! Let us go beyond and discover the later years of the Golden Age of Adventure Games and find out where it all went wrong. First, I want to give props to sites like Adventure Gamers and YouTubers like PushingUpRoses who produce excellent reviews of these games, far better than anything I'm likely to write here. Second, if you don't like adventure games, and don't think you ever will, this list may not be for you. The title of this post is not an imperative, just a hope that you'll find entertainment as I have, and that I can share some of that with you. 1994-1997: The Rise of Pre-Rendered 3D, FMV, and 16 bit graphics By the mid-90’s, we were saying fond farewell to DOS, as Windows and other 16- and 32-bit operating systems took its place. It was a transitional period, some games released had installation options for both DOS and Windows on the same disk. With the rise of improved graphics and commonality of CD-ROM drives, we see larger games with more intensive assets. Pixel graphics gave way to a more cartoony style which would last until the rise of 3D rendered models a few years later.
8 Full Throttle (LucasArts, 1995) Tim Schafer takes the lead on this game along with co-writer Dave Grossman. A romp through a post-apocalyptic future featuring chromed-out motorcycles, hovercars, gangs of technology-worshipping cave dwellers, and demolition derbies. You play as the leader of a bike gang caught up in a world of murder and corporate intrigue. Having said that, the tone of this game is pretty light (I mean, come on, it’s Tim Schafer), emphasis on kicking butt and being a badass over violence and adult themes. There are some action fight scenes which are a bit of a pain but you can skip them with a cheat code. Aside from that, it’s a great game. Only other downsides are how short it is and some complaints about a relatively abrupt ending. I recommend buying the Remastered version from 2017.
7 The Pandora Directive (Access, 1996). High point in the Tex Murphy series, and FMV game with first-person elements. Interface is a little clunky, but basically you’re going around in first person mode looking for clues. When you interact with a character, it turns into FMV. Plenty of puzzles to solve, also tons of moments on unexpected humor. The Tex Murphy universe seems to be some run-down future version of San Francisco with mutants and homeless everywhere (wait, did I say future?). The atmosphere plays like a wacky version of old noir detective films. Your ending depends on how morally forthwright you behave during the game (repaying old debts, not being an asshole to people) and there are several paths and dead ends. Available on GOG.
6 The Beast Within: A Gabriel Knight Mystery (Sierra, 1995). Maybe the best FMV game ever created, along with the Tex Murphy series and maybe that X-Files game from 1998. Again, you play as Gabriel Knight, now living in Germany, as he investigates a new threat-- werewolf attacks! I had no hopes for this game, but was pleasantly surprised by its execution. The acting is solid, notably Dean Erickson. Like any good mystery game, the focus is on going around and gathering evidence, though there are a few puzzles thrown in. Available on GOG.
5 Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness (Sierra, 1993/1994). QFG is back! After a mediocre romp with Quest for Glory III: Wages of War, the series sees a return to form. Again, you play as the same hero from the previous titles, going around doing side quests and slowly progressing the main plot. And what a plot! The setting is based on Eastern European and the slavic folktales found there, with some Lovecraft elements thrown in. It’s a much darker game than its predecessors, with more mature themes and darker villains and monsters. Expect friendly villagers hiding dark secrets. Voice acting is clutch here-- John Rhys-Davies hams it up as the narrator and Jennifer Hale (Metal Gear Solid, Baldur’s Gate, Mass Effect) makes her earliest video game voice over appearance here. Love the dark atmosphere, but there are plenty of silly moments in true QFG fashion. Available on GOG.
4 The Last Express (Brøderbund, 1997). Hey, what happens when you, Jordan Mechner, ambitious game developer responsible for the graphic marvel that is Prince of Persia, spend $5 million making a game for a company that’s about to go bankrupt in a year, and just lost its sales and marketing department? You get a complete and total commercial failure that buries your game for years. And what a shame, because it’s actually extraordinarily good! Compare this to Phantasmagoria which costs $4.5 but grossed $12 million and you’ll see that we don’t live in a fair or just universe. Anyway, this game puts you on the famous Orient Express, immaculately reproduced in pre-rendered 3D, on the eve of World War I. Your character has escaped police aboard the train and is looking for his friend, but finds him unavailable due to a violent death (and now you've got to clean it up, blech). Your job is to solve the mystery of the enigmatic Firebird, uncover a web of conspiracies, and make it to Constantinople. There are over a dozen passengers on the train, each with their own detailed personality and backstory, each with their own time schedule. Timing is important, as certain events only happen at certain times. But don’t worry, you can go back in time as often as you want so that you don’t miss anything. The art style bears mentioning-- everything is rotoscoped. Characters are sometimes fully animated, but usually they are hand-drawn over still photos, giving the game a choppy animation at times. This game is complicated, but really a must-play. The final act loses some steam, but I found the ending satisfactory and often revisit this game. You can find the original version on GOG, or there’s the slightly improved version, The Last Express Gold, available on Steam, with hints and achievements and an improved interface.
3 The Neverhood (The Neverhood Inc, 1996). This game is insane. I have never seen such a labor of love, such intense artistic devotion, to make a game like this. This game is entirely claymation. You move your claymation character around a claymation world and engage in claymation puzzles. The art style reminds me of the TV show “Bump in the Night,” released the same year, as opposed to the cleaner style of Wallace & Gromit or Pingu. There’s not too much plot here, except for a huge amount of expository reading scattered throughout the game. I don't even want to tell you any more-- you're better off going in blind like I did and discovering this gem for yourself! I’m not sure the best way to legally obtain this game (yo ho), but I can tell you it’s playable through SCUMMVM.
2 Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templars aka Circle of Blood (Revolution, 1996). A favorite of mine, high water mark for Revolution Software, which created such titles as “Beneath a Steel Sky” and “Lure of the Temptress.” Amazing Disney-quality animation as you guide your character through the streets of Paris and beyond, trying to solve a mystery that spans the globe. Seriously, the plot here is great. There were moments that I found emotionally touching, and moments that made me giggle. The characters were often larger-than-life but I really felt connected to them. Dialogue is quippy and… well, there’s a lot of it. You can ask every single person about every single inventory item you have and there’s a unique dialogue thread for each. I recommend playing the original version of this game. I'm told if you buy the Director's Cut (which abridged much of the dialogue and animation in order to fit it on handheld devices), you'll get the original version as well.
1 The Curse of Monkey Island (LucasArts, 1997). The last of the truly great Monkey Island games (IMO), this game saw a handing of the reins to a younger team of developers at LucasArts, who I feel managed to exceed expectations. This game is extremely quotable. There’s a minor location where your character becomes obsessed with the 1991 movie JFK and starts peppering his dialogue with references (“You can’t be sure of that. That shot may have come from the grassy knoll!”). Murray the talking skull became something of a fan favorite for his combination of evil intent and lack of ability to act on it. The ending is a bit rushed, but I enjoy revisiting this game. Available on GOG and Steam.
Riven: The Sequel to Myst (Cyan, 1997). To start out, this game is dated. It and its predecessor use prerendered 3D environments that you walk around in a sort of PowerPoint slide system. When you perform an action, like pulling a lever, a Quicktime animation plays. It’s actually quite well done and the environment, while dated in presentation, is still lovely to explore to this day. There’s very little here to worry about, no one’s shooting at you, in fact most people you find run away from you, leaving you to explore on your own. The framing device is that you’re trying to rescue Atrus’s wife Catherine from her home world where she is held captive by Atrus’s father Gehn. Essentially, you need to find a way to transport yourself to Gehn’s world via these magic books the three of them can write to teleport to, and alter, worlds. Gehn’s not very good at it, apparently, and so he’s been isolated from his home planet for years so it’s up to you to go in and save Catherine. It is truly amazing to me how the puzzles all fit together, you’re solving little puzzles but really you’re learning how everything on the planet fits together-- the numbering system, the animals and their noises, where the books are located and their designated color so you can solve the infamous marble puzzle. Since this game is not in realtime 3D, it may turn off players, and every time I play it I tell myself it’ll be the last time, but I keep going back. A real work of art.
Under a Killing Moon (Access, 1994) Predecessor to “Pandora Directive,” I actually recommend playing this AND its above sequel, though PD is definitely the better game. Clunky interface as always but a great story, characters, and dialogue. Minimal puzzle solving.
The Dig (LucasArts, 1995). Critics were lukewarm about this game when it came out, and fans to this day say it doesn't compare to other LucasArts outings. I, however, strongly enjoy it. You play as an astronaut stranded on an alien world. Spoiler! You do not zoom around in a space suit all game. You must reactivate alien technology, which can be difficult since your monkey brain is primitive and doesn't comprehend foreign tech. The music is phenomenal. Yes, the puzzles are often obtuse. After all, you're exploring an alien world. But it's no Rama, I can tell you that! If I were you, I'd play this game without hesitation (but with a guide) to enjoy the amazing visuals. I was reading critic reviews of this game, and they were already starting to grumble about the low-res quality that 2D games still had. No wonder studios seemed desperate to move to 3D graphics. Dialogue is by Orson Scott Card, and People. Are. Talking. All. The Time. Quip quippy quip quip. Less is more, Orson.
Soft recommends: (ie, if I don't include these, people will talk)
1998-2000: Hardware-rendered 3D and the death of the classic adventure game Some blame Myst. Some blame Quake, Doom, and Unreal. Whoever is to blame, but the late 80's, everyone knew 3D gaming was the future. They knew it! I mean, why have lush 2D backgrounds and characters when you could have clunky, boxy models in a pre-rendered space? This spelled the end of the classic adventure, as sales during this time period were lackluster and the cost of making these games increased due to the new 3D mandate. Isn't it weird how obsessed with 3D models we became? Pixar comes out with a few movies, a few years later, Disney decides all animated movies have to be computer generated from then on. Maybe it was cheaper, I'm just impressed by how quickly they went from The Lion King to "Home on the Range sucked, only CGI from now on." And don't try to tell me that the models looked good; "Chicken Little" looks dreadful compared to "Lilo & Stitch." Anyway, around this time, we also started getting more story-heavy games in previously shallow genres: RPGs, long noted for their storyline, were gaining mainstream appeal thanks to Final Fantasy VII and its ilk. Action/shooter games like Half-Life and Metal Gear Solid and Deus Ex showed that games can have good storytelling and narrative. Even when adventure games stopped being produced by major studios, it's not like I suddenly stopped playing games. Post-2000, I could still get my story fix in games like Silent Hill 1 & 2, Halo, Kingdom Hearts, Baldur's Gate, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, not to mention all the Zeldas, Fallouts, and Resident Evils of that time. Let's look at some of the games that helped usher out the era:
6 Zork: Grand Inquisitor (Activision, 1997). The last in a long line of Zork games. This game has a marvelous art style, the bizarro humor the series is known for, plus well-acted characters, fun gameplay, and plenty of puzzles. You progress first-person style ala Myst, but with 360 field of vision. I don’t want to say too much about this game, as I’d rather you discover it for yourself. Available on Steam and GOG.
5 Journeyman Project 3 (Presto Studios, 1998). The best of the Journeyman series, this sci-fi game reminds me of 1990’s shows like Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Babylon Five, and Stargate SG-1, only you can interact with it! The game stands on its own so you don’t need to play the other two. I’d recommend this for anyone who has an appreciation of the 90’s sci fi shows. Available on GOG.
4 Sanitarium (Dreamforge, 1998). A dark and manic title with good intentions, you play as an amnesiac inmate in an insane asylum who must discover his identity by plumbing the dark depths of his mind. The art style kind of reminds me of Grant Morrison/Dave McKean’s “Arkham Asylum” graphic novel which also takes place in an insane asylum and features dark, disturbing imagery. You travel to several different fantasy worlds but the first two are probably the best, along with the scenes in the asylum itself. Not a perfect game, but well worth playing for its depiction of psychosis and psychedelia. Available on GOG and Steam.
3 Blade Runner (Westwood, 1997). Ah, Westwood. We hardly knew ye. A cult classic game based on the cult classic movie, you control one of the titular replicant hunters as he uncracks a series of murders. A technically impressive game with beautiful pre-rendered backgrounds, all 3D modeling is based on voxels so you didn’t need a 3D accelerator. [Edit]: I recently had a chance to replay this game in its ScummVM form. I used to think this was a flawed masterpiece, marred by bugs and poor compatibility. Now I think it's absolutely brilliant. The backgrounds are still stunning after all these years, maybe some of the best pre-rendered visuals outside of a Myst game, and the attention to detail is amazing as is the pure "cyberpunk"-ness of it all. Very accurate to both the movie with some notes taken from the original Phillip K Dick book and some original world-building. The story is not the same as the movie, but has many parallels and similar beats. You're a Blade Runner chasing a group of renegade replicants-- who is and is not a replicant is changed randomly at the start of each game (some will always be replicants, some never). You interview witnesses and suspects and get to use the Voight-Kampff test at some points, but it's mostly there for decoration. Like in the movie, you can use the ESPER system to analyze photographs, which I love. Gather clues, follow up on leads. The ending changes depending on whether you want to sympathize with the replicants, kill them off (it's your job!) or just get the hell out of town. It's not terribly difficult now that most of the bugs are sorted. A MUST PLAY.
2 The Longest Journey (1999/2000, Funcom). I’m off again/on again with this one. I shouldn’t like this game, the 3D models are blocky, the main character is a painfully ordinary self-doubting art student who keeps a diary and finds out she has strange powers (Life is Strange, is it not?), the ending is bittersweet, and yet the setpieces and dialogue and quirky moments keep drawing me back. You are responsible for the fate of two worlds that hang in the balance, a world of science, and one of magic. Great lore here and rich characters. The puzzles are very solvable without a guide (thankfully). Dialogue can be a little off, which I blame on the localization from Norweigian, but it’s still very entertaining. You can buy this game on GOG, but I recommend adding an HD texture and movie pack to greatly improve the graphics. I played it recently and it really added a lot.
1 Grim Fandango (LucasArts, 1998). Everyone’s clamoring for it already, you’ve all heard of it, it’s the Dia de los Muertos / Neo Noir / Grim Reaper fan favorite, Grim Fandango! This game, a commercial failure at the time, became such a classic in later years and is often considered one of the finest examples of the genre. You play as Manny Calavera, a down-on-his-luck travel agent (aka “The Grim Reaper, baby!”) who uncovers a conspiracy in the Land of the Dead (based on Mexican folklore and some Aztec influences). You’ll encounter monsters, beatniks, demons, communists, lawyers (the usual cast of hell), but everything is in this 1940’s and 50’s style of sets and costuming that lovingly rips off many of the classic movies of that era (Casablanca, Passage to Marseille, The Big Sleep, Out of the Past, The Third Man, Rififi). Made long before Coco, it lacks the latter’s vibrancy and colors but you’ll see a lot of the same character styles-- every human character looks like a skeletal calaca. And it’s funny, this is Tim Schafer’s finest work, the script is so quotable, the puzzles are fun but no too difficult (except maybe the puzzle with the betting stub), it’s a total blast to play. I recommend the remastered version from 2015.
Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned (Sierra, 1999). Lambasted on Old Man Murray for its cat/syrup/mustache puzzle, I actually enjoyed this game. Like the other two, you learn a lot about the history of whatever paranormal thing you’re investigating (in this case, the Holy Grail). The ending is extremely rushed so I can’t fully recommend it, but while some of the puzzles are flipping insane, you have some incredible ones (Le Serpent Rouge!) as well.
Quest for Glory V: Dragon Fire (Sierra, 1998). Last of the QFG series, and we’re lucky to have it at all, even if it’s suddenly in 3D and more of an action RPG than adventure game. I’ve included it here for sake of completion. Mediocre graphics and action aside, if you’ve played the other games, definitely play this one to get closure on the story and for pure fanservice. Available on GOG.
TO BE CONTINUED So that's it, the end of the Golden Age. What came next? I will be back, talking about Syberia, some releases for Nintendo DS, and maybe pointing out a few visual novels that cross the line into adventure game territory (yes, that means Phoenix Wright), before getting into the modern era of the last 8 years. Edit: Altered the list to move Quest for Glory V out of top spot. How'd it get there? Edit 2: Added links to all titles I could find for sale online.
🎓 BUT IS IT GREY MARKET?: AN ANALYSIS OF ARITZIA TB ITEMS USING THREE CASE STUDIES (welcome to my dissertation) 🎓
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: PLEASE GET YOUR SNACKS, SANGRIA AND READING GLASSES PREPARED BEFORE ATTEMPTING TO READ THIS LONG ASS REVIEW. IT IS FOR YOUR OWN HEALTH AND SAFETY.
So homegirl has an Aritzia addiction. Like it's bad. But recently, Aritzia's prices have been sliiiiightly out of my price range. Like can I spend $168 on a dress or $148 on a turtleneck? Technically no but I did it occasionally for those "investment pieces" (lol k). Then Aritzia had that 20% off. Sale psychology man... Wallet goes in for gastric bypass and comes out several hundred dollars lighter. Recovery tbd. I spent all my hard earned $ that I slaved away at work for (scene cuts to me watching TikToks and writing Christmas cards at my desk and I look at the camera a la Stanley from the Office). Aritzia lust is ignited and I decide I need to buy a new wardrobe that's all Aritzia and my wallet cries and I cry and my credit card bill cries. Then I went into a grey market Taobao black hole. What is grey market? What is a dupe? Which stores are potentially selling grey market? I was/am on the case. Thesis to follow. My plan of attack was this: buy pieces that I already own to compare. My assumption was that if a shop was selling one grey market item then probably most of their stuff would be grey market.. And if a shop was selling dupes then probably most of their stuff would be dupes. THEREFORE if I could confirm if a shop was selling grey market then other pieces from that shop were likely safe bets. Some indications of grey market that I was looking for from the TB store:
Spotty sizing and colours available
Actual photos of the product with tags OR with tags strategically blurred out
Reviews if available
This stuff was all hauled together using a private agent who asked that her information not be shared publicly. The package was shipped out via EMS on April 23 and received it May 29. It cost a whopping 622 yuan ($120 CAD/$87 USD), paid via a TB link, because it also had this rattan stool thingy which I found people selling on Etsy for $180 CAD/$130 USD + $60 shipping. Rattan is just ridic expensive everywhere here so I figured shipping it with other junk would still be cheaper. Also too many hoodies recommended by the nephews over at fashionreps. I'd give this agent a 10/10 for communication because she's kind, sticker game on point and I think her shipping prices are fair. She also messages me when she sees on 17Track that my parcel is out for delivery! Taobao communication with all shops was easy- the various shops sent the products quickly and without issue.
COMMERICAL BREAK/INTERMISSION/ALCOHOL REPLENISHMENT TIME. Insert ad for honey, nordvpn, expressvpn, audible, care of, function of beauty, better help. You get my drift. YOU GOOD BRO? OKAY LET'S KEEP GOING.
THE STORES I INVESTIGATED
Sweet Small Square: many of the product photos have the actual product shown with a branded tag. But, many of the products have all sizes and colours available which is a red flag to me. I was considering buying the New Plunge Front cardigan from this shop and I can't remember why I went with the other one. I think some of the real life product photos were the same and the other one was cheaper.
North American Fashion: I think this is very solidly grey market (everything is screaming it at the top of their lungs). This is where the cape is from.
Z freed: this was a weird one. Had some really weird things but also random Aritzia pieces like this shirt which clearly shows Babaton tags or this TNA tank. Also had random Lululemon which I'm so confused on because I've never seen true Lululemon grey market but also ?????????????. This is where the cheetah tank is from.
Mimiko: this hits all the grey market check boxes. Odd sizes, tag photos. However, the reviews on the Wilfred cocoon coat threw me off because the one photo in the product reviews looked OFF. LIKE OOOOOOOOOOFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF. And, the photo has now disappeared from the comments? But could be an anomaly. Just read the reviews ppl.
MixMei: this is a juicy one. Almost bought this turtleneck buuuuut a girl can only have so many turtlenecks. I'd put money on this being grey market.
PiStudio: a strange one- I bought this bodysuit in a previous haul and if it's not grey market then IDK what is. BUT I also bought a tank top from there which is no longer up (the Arjun one if u know) and the material was slightly different than the auth and it had no tags. A fluke?
Small eggshell: some products show tags, some don't. Some products have lots of colours/sizes, some don't. Like this is supposed to be the Montpellier sweater but I KNOW it wasn't made it all those colours. My best guess is dupes. This is where I bought the New Plunge Front cardigan from- I was pretty sure it was a dupe but wanted to see how it compared material, size and shape-wise because I have the auth and I love the style.
INTERMISSION elevator music while u refresh ur beverage BACK TO BUSINESS
COMMUNITY IONIC CAPE
Edna Mode: NO CAPES!!!!!!!!
Size xs/s in both the rep and auth
128 yuan ($24.70 CAD/$17.93 USD), retails for $75 CAD/$75 USD (muahaha benefits of a canadian company- the prices in CAD are actually better than in USD)
Accuracy - 9.5/10 - Material is SPOT on, shape and fit are SPOT on. I will deduct a half point because the tag is strange and one I've never seen on Aritzia clothing in my entire purchasing career (long and illustrious). My auth doesn't actually have a tag anymore lol. But if you look at the inner care tag, the fonts for "Community" are different. I do think it went through a logo rebrand at one point but I did purchase this cape probably like in 2012. That being said, I think this is grey market and IDK what happened with the tag. OR, it's a good enough dupe for me to think it's grey market. If you have seen this tag before, lEt Me kNoW iN tHe CoMMeNts bELoW as the youtubers say to try to boost their engagement.
Quality - 10/10 - Like I said above, the quality of this is exactly the same as my auth version. Material is nice n knubby and no pulls!
Satisfaction - 10/10 - This is a great add to my closet because piece is fabulous for an office in the summer. It's cardigan-esque so you can cover up a little bit but also not be a sweltering sweaty mess. And sometimes I find regular cardigans grandma-ish so yeah. I wanted another last year when I realized it was discontinued so this was an excellent purchase. Good thing I am now never ever going into my office again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Shop communication/service - 10/10 - Shipped quickly and without issue. Flawless execution dear!
But is it grey market? METHINKS SO. Honestly, this has to be grey market or else its that thicc 1:1. I will note that this item is now discontinued… (WOW THIS IS ME EDITING THIS POST- IT'S NOT ACTUALLY DISCONTINUED! THEY BROUGHT IT BACK!) So how there would be grey market available, I'm unsure.
WILFRED NEW PLUNGE FRONT CARDIGAN
Formerly the Thais cardigan. Why did Aritzia change so many of their names? New tie front pant (formerly Jallade pant), new tie front shirt (formerly just tie front shirt lol)
Size m in both the rep and the auth
218 yuan ($42 CAD/$31 USD), retails for $138 CAD/$138 USD
Accuracy - 8/10 - So the shape is just sliiightly off from the auth. The sleeves are way more bell shaped (which may be appealing to some). Tags are identical though I could be seeing slight font and spacing differences but also my eyes could be tricking me. I also swear you can see the differences in the material in the pictures. The auth is more of a silky smooth situation and the rep is more of a scratchy cotton-esque situation. Do you ever just shock yourself with your own eloquence?
Quality - 6/10 - Am I allowed to swear here? FUCK this shit is scratchy. I am a very sensitive person to fabrics (okay and just sensitive overall shut up) and this is so scratchy I'm unsure if I'll be able to wear it. Now if you were a normal person not sensitive to fabrics you'll probably be fine.
Satisfaction - 5/10 - Bleh highkey disappointed. I love the auth of this because the material feels soft and I like the shape… Both categories on which this item kinda failed! I will attempt to wear this but also maybe be itchy and uncomfortable the entire time. The sacrifices we make for fashion amirite ladies?
Shop communication/service - 10/10 - Shipped quickly and replied quickly when I asked about the quality/whether it was grey market. The shop's answer didn't reveal much beyond "it's good quality!" but like I wasn't expecting the details of how they heisted the Aritzia merch under their trench coats in the middle of the night.
But is it grey market? IT'S GOING TO BE A NO FROM ME TODAY. BUT (I like big butts), it is a good enough dupe that I'd probably repurchase from this shop.
BABATON EVERLY TANK TOP
In cheetah cause we are spicccyyyyyyyyyyy. I really dislike the regular Everly tank, it's just so boring to me. But this material/colour got me going....................................... Wild…………………………. I'll see myself out.
88 yuan ($17 CAD/$12 USD), retails for $68 CAD/$68 USD
Accuracy - 10/10 - Alright, I don't have the auth of this because if you actually read about 3 lines up you'd ALREADY KNOW WHY. I have tried it on in store though and the shape is exactly the same. The Everly camisole comes in a bunch of different fabrics and this seemed the same as other similar ones I've felt. Never actually saw this one on the Aritzia site or in store. This also has tags so infer for yourself what this means.
Quality - 10/10 - V nice. Silky. Drapes good. Idk what else to say about it. It's a camisole. I like the colour. It's a camisole. The end.
Satisfaction - 9/10 - So I deduct one point because the shape of the Everly is maybe just not for me. I think camisoles like this stretch weird and tight over my boobs and large man shoulders. I think the neckline sits a bit high for what I personally find flattering.
Shop communication/service - 10/10 - Very very quick shipping! No complaints from this whiner!
But is it grey market? SURVEY SAYS? YES. Tags are correct, shape is correct, material is correct as far as I can tell. This was the weird store though so take that with a grain of salt.
Most theses/dissertations probably end with a long ass conclusion with the word "therefore" used at least once. Well jokes on you this is not a professional academic work THIS IS A REDDIT POST. So my eloquent conclusion is: bye bitches, until next time. Jk, I hope some of you found this helpful and please share any future Aritiza TB purchases!!
A Simple Guide for Those New to "CS Style" Gameplay
I'm not sure how many people will read this (or care about it), but if it reaches even a few people, that's great. I've been playing competitive shooters for a very long time, over 15 years of CS, GM in Overwatch, COD, Battlefield, BRs. But CS is my pride and joy. I figured I'd whip up some really simple tips for those that might need to hear it. You're welcome to ask questions if you have it, I'll respond to anything I can (and I'm sure others will answer questions you might have as well!) Again: this guide is not for players that are experienced in CS already or for CS styled games. This is more for our Overwatch and League and whatever other players that might be experimenting with this style for the first time. I know this guide is going to be long even before I start writing it, I am going to break it up as best as possible, skip to areas you feel you need if necessary. Again, maybe no one will read this, or I'll be downvoted for trying, or it'll just be lost in the sea of highlights, or whatever else. But if it reaches a couple of people that find it helpful, I'll be stoked about that.
I might add more sections to this if someone suggests something and the activity hasn't tapered off. I will mark new sections with an asterisk (*) in this case, I just added the "Win Conditions" section. Also; I really do enjoy teaching CS/CS Styled Games. If there's a question you're too embarrassed to ask in public, or you just want some friendly tips, my DMs are always open. If I get overwhelmed with messages, I might be slow to respond, but I'll try and get to everything. I love CS (and Valorant is growing on me), and I love teaching it and talking about it. So if you want help, find me! Edit 2: Thanks for the golds and random awards guys. I'm really stoked to see that people like this guide and are getting some good usage out of it! I'm glad I could help some of you! Keep practicing out there! Edit 3: Learning to aim well, learn the gunplay, etc * I'm getting a LOT of questions from people looking for help learning how to aim, or improve their shooting mechanics. I'm going to post here what I've been telling a lot of them. There really aren't any "shortcuts" to learning how to aim. A guide like mine, or a video on YouTube might give you tips on controlling recoil, or counter-strafing, or lowering your sensitivity. But really, you just gotta PRACTICE. CS has existed in one form or another for over 20 years now, some of us have a LOT of experience and it's ingrained into our muscle memory. You can't expect to learn that type of thing over night. Run the bot training in the Practice Range until you can get 30 out of 30 every time. Practice controlling your spray. Practice burst firing and tap firing. Just hop in live games and do your best. I promise, if you keep practicing, the aim will come. No one out there can give you some magic trick that will suddenly turn you into the best aimer in the world. You just have to keep on trying! Edit #4: I added a few new terms to the Glossary towards the bottom, they are marked with an asterisk (*). If I think of more, I might tack them on.
Win Conditions *
u/Helfeather suggested a write up on exactly how rounds are won and lost, and I liked the idea so much I'm adding it to the BEGINNING of this post. Winning a round in CS is done one of 4 ways, I'm gonna name them, and give a brief explanation of how to maximize your chances of that happening.
Planting the bomb the Spike (or "Bomb" as CS players might call it) gets planted at one of the two (or three) bomb sites. If that bomb blows up, regardless of how many players are still alive on EITHER team, the Attackers win. The bomb timer is 45 seconds long, and once it's down the timer begins. The most important thing to remember to win off a bomb plant is to, what we call, "playing the bomb". Instead of leaving the site and trying to find the remaining Defenders, put yourself in a position where you can see the bomb, and are covered from as many angles as possible. Make the Defenders come to you! The more often you do this, the better chance of a detonation you have. Eliminating all the enemies Even if the bomb is never planted, eliminating all the enemy Defenders wins you the round. Simple as that really, play your role on the team, and if you get 5 kills before they do, you win the round.
Defusing the bomb once the bomb has been planted, your only concern should be defusing it. I'm not sure exactly how long the defuse timer is in this game, someone can jump in with that information, but defusing the bomb successfully is a round won even if there are still Attackers left alive. "Retaking" the bomb site if all the defenders from that position are dead is your best bet. Wait for your team mates to be close enough, and push in together. (At this point, basically pretend YOU'RE the attacker and play the same way you would on the Attack side of the game.) Push in togehter, check your corners, and make your way to the bomb. If you're last alive and you can't find the remaining Attacker(s), something you can do to try and draw them out is called Fake Defusing. You walk up to the bomb and press 4 (or whatever you're defuse bind is), this will make a sound that notifies enemy players that you've begun defusing. At that point you can immediately release 4 and watch to see where they come from to attack you. This is a bit of a mini-game within the game. Good players know about faking a defuse, so they might not peek straight away. So you might be able to get away with holding the defuse even when theres an enemy lurking about. (Colloquially you might hear a CS player say something like "PROS DONT FAKE" which is a bit of a CS meme. The implication that Pro players don't ever fake defusing a bomb, they just hold it, so you have to peek THEM.) A BIG TIP about fake defusing here: if you fake defuse and then make a foot step sound, the enemies will know you are not still defusing. You can't walk and defuse at the same time, so if you fake defuse and want to adjust your position, WALK. Use shift and readjust while you wait for them to come out! Eliminating all the enemies Just like on Attack, if you eliminate all the enemies before the bomb is planted, you win the round. BUT REMEMBER unlike the Attacker side, if the bomb has been planted, and you kill all the enemies, you still need to defuse it. If there isn't enough time left, and the bomb blows up, the Attackers still win the round even if they're all dead. So either kill 'em quick, or don't forget about that bomb! Time running out the Defenders have an additional win condition of the round clock. If the timer hits 0 and the bomb has not been planted, the Defenders win. Even if all 5 members of the enemy team are still alive. Even if the bomb is planted JUST AFTER the clock hits 0, the Defenders win. This is where "stalling" comes in to play. If you're holding a bomb site and it's late in the round and an Attacker tries to sneak in and get a plant, stall him. Shoot at him and make him stop the plant animation. If you can stall him long enough to either A: get your team mates there, or B: run out of time, you can win the round without even needing to kill him. Stalling is huge.
One of the big things to remember is to pick a site to defend, and stay there for the whole game. When you're on the Defender side (or CT as some CS players might refer to it), whatever site you're assigned, or have chosen, or are playing, it's important to not suddenly switch to another site without saying anything. If you aren't comfortable with the site, ask if someone is willing to swap with you. If you think you can't play a site alone, ask for someone to back you up. Sometimes someone might suggest stacking a site, or playing more than the usual number there, that's fine. If YOU feel like they might come A, let people know you're giving up B site to stack A. But don't just leave your spot without saying anything, it can leave sites open if people are unaware, or force people to defend from unoptimal positions.
Rotating is when the bomb is seen or a push of one site is called by a team mate. Knowing when to rotate (and how to rotate) is crucial to good CT sided defense. One important thing to be aware of is whether or not the bomb has been seen or called. If you're at B and one of the A players calls that three are pushing into A, but they haven't seen the bomb yet, it might be good to hang back at B and "lurk" until bomb is spotted. It might leave your team with one less player to defend A, but it prevents a bomb site from being left completely open. If you lurk at the opposite site when bomb isn't spotted, even if you cant kill the enemies coming in, you can relay the information to your team that the bomb is coming to THAT site instead of A. By the same token, if the bomb is called as seen on A, even if you know someone is at B, as long as you're not in an active fight with him, it might be better to just leave him there and move to A to defend the bomb. Inform your team that someone was at B, and they might come from the flank, but the Attackers can't win without the Spike, so it's better for you to defend from the bomb instead. If you're playing a bomb site with a team mate, and one of you needs to rotate to defend a bomb site, communicate it. Tell them you're leaving them to back up B (or C), and that you think they should lurk until the bomb is spotted. Don't just up and leave without letting them know. Learning the pacing of rotations is one of the harder skills of CS to master, not over-rotating or under-rotating can often be the difference between winning and losing a round. Don't fret if you're not grasping it immediately, it will take some time!
Playing a site with a team mate
Some bomb sites are going to be defended by only one player (maps where mid is very important, or Haven where it's better to have 2 at B/mid than 2 at C.) But if you're defending with another player, it's important to work together. Have a "default setup" to defend from, one person watches long, the other watches short, stay at that spot unless it's discussed between you and your partner that you're going to be off position. Don't leave someones blind side open without telling them that you're not there. Sometimes you two might decide to push together, either both of you pushing from the same angle, or both pushing from separate sides to pinch potential attackers. Sometimes you might want to play further back a more passive angle and let them get in before contact.
Where to attack/play/watch
Attacker (or T side as CS players might call it), is a much more complex and dynamic side than the defenders. Different maps, diffrent opponents, different economy situations will call for different types of attack. Some of the basic styles that you might hear called by a team mate: Rush - this ones pretty simple, someone is suggesting that the entire attacker team (or at least most of them) fully rush into the site and over whelm the defenders with numbers. This can often mean rushing THROUGH smokes or flashbangs. A rush only works if everyone gets into the site and no one is left alone on site, or lingering behind a smoke. If a rush is called, just do your best to get in site with your team mates, find the enemy, and do what you can. (I don't want to get any grief for this, so I'm adding a little editors note here: pushing through a smoke is not ALWAYS the play, even on a rush. Sometimes it's the right thing, other times it's not, but it's very situational. But it's important to remember that smokes are not impenetrable walls that can never be walked through. Sometimes the smartest play is the one that seems dumbest, walking (or even running) through a smoke might seem dumb, but sometimes it's going to catch the enemy off guard. So basicaly, don't always rush through smokes, but don't always be afraid to rush through smokes either.) Split - a "split" attack is performed at a site that has more than one entrance. Say A Site on Haven, you might send 3 players to long and 2 players short and attack from both sides. Whether or not you push a smoke or not will depend on the situation, but the idea here is to attack a limited defense from multiple sides before they can call a rotation from their team mates. Playing for Picks - when a team mate suggests playing for picks, this means that you separate to different areas of the map, and play a slightly more passive role while waiting for a Defender to get aggressive and give up a kill. You might send 2 to A, 1 to mid, and 2 to B, no body pushes in, everyone communicates where they are spotting (or hearing) enemies, and you wait for someone to make a move. Once someone GETS a pick, your team will have to collectively decide if you want to "push off the pick", which means you start pushing into the site you got the pick on. Or if you want to "play for the rotate", which means you guys will assume the Defenders are going to rotate to make up for the dead CT, and the Attackers move to the opposite bomb site. Contact - a "contact" play is a slower take of a bomb site. The majority of the team will group up at one bomb site, and move slowly. Everyone will walk, you won't throw smokes or flashes or any utility until you've seen an enemy. Once you've seen an enemy, or (more importantly an enemy has seen you), then you fully commit. Get smokes down, flash in, take the site. The goal here is to get as close to the site as possible before the enemy can call that you're there and ask for backup from his team. But once you're spotted, no more time for lurking, push into the site as fast as possible, cover up the entrances, and get the bomb down. Set Take - a set take is going to be a scenario where your team mates drop smokes (and other utility) at predetermined positions to cut off the enemy team. Typically it goes as follows: the team will set up outside of, say, B site, a specific time on the clock will be agreed to (say 45 seconds), at which time characters with smokes (in this case namely Brimstone) will drop his smokes in key spots to cut off defender visibility and rotations, and you'll all rush in together. Set takes can be very powerful if you know the defenders play from passive positions. And with all the different types of utility in the game, you can smoke angles out, and then use one of the AOE attacks (fire, freeze, grenade) to flush enemies out of corners.
Planting "safe" vs planting "open"
There are two main types of plants for the bomb. If you're unaware of where the enemy is, especially if theres only 2 or 3 Attackers left, you might plant "safe". Planting in a corner that covers you from as many angles as possible, on B site Bind, planting inside the tube for example. This is to minimize risk of you dying while planting. But planting OPEN is usually a much better alternative. If you have full control of the site (you've taken it with 3 or 4 of your team mates still alive), try to plant in the open. Somewhere that you can defend it from multiple angles. Rely on your team mates to cover your open angles and not get shot while planting. Regardless of which type you plant, try to call where you're planting for your team mates. Just say "planting safe" and they'll know the bomb is going to be tucked in a corner. "Planted for Long" would mean that one of your team mates can defend from the "long" entrance to the bombsite and still be able to see the CT when they try to defuse. As the game progresses, bomb sites will organically develop a "default" plant. This is the spot that you plant in that is reasonably safe, but you're not sure if you're safe or not. Saying "planted default" will immediately let team mates know exactly where the bomb is. Strategies can get a lot more complex, "fakes" are when you draw a lot of attention to one site with utility, gunshots, visible angles, wait for CTs to start rotating, and then you fall back and take the now empty (or weaker) site. At more advanced levels, there might be decoy plays, where 4 players rush a site and 1 lone player with bomb tries to sneak in the other side and get a plant. (Useful on Eco or Save rounds.)
Good communication is perhaps the most important thing to a successful game of Valorant. It's a very complex issue, and rather than dragging it out too long, I'm just going to touch on a few key topics. As a defender try to be precise with your calls. Instead of "they're coming A", try to say HOW MANY are coming A when possible. "3 A", or "I hear multiple Long A" is better than just "they're here". Remember to call the bomb if it's seen if you've seen the bomb, either on an Attacker or just down on the ground, relay this information to your team. Your team mates can then start to safely leave their bomb sites and make their way to you to defend. Try not to talk after you're dead in most cases, once you die, you should just let the other players play. If you saw someone or heard someone that you REALLY think the person you're spectating didn't see, then tell them quickly, and then quiet down again. "You saw him behind the box", something along those lines is concise and if the player you're watching was unaware, they'll work off that information. Short reminders are helpful, even after you're dead but be quick, and don't try to micro manage. If you're on Attack, and only one of your team mates is alive, he is going to want to keep his eyes only on his crosshair and what's in front of him. If he is low on time, typically just saying "time" will remind him that he has to speed it up a little bit, or decide to save his gun. Reminding him he still has utility left if he may have forgotten is also usually okay, but again, don't micro manage, don't tell him how to use them, just remind him and let him focus on his game. Once freeze time has ended, non-game related chatter should end, during buy time if you're laughing about the previous round, or just shooting the breeze, great, but once buy time ends, trail off the conversation and focus on listening for enemies, and hearing the calls of your team mates. Be quick about calls try to be as concise with them as you possibly can. "3 Long A" is enough information, you don't need to tell your team exactly what guns they have, where they're positioned, what they are wearing, how they've styled their hair. If someone asks for additional information ("have you seen bomb?") answer of course, but getting the call out fast is more important than up to the minute information. Calling places you're unfamiliar with everyones new to this game, even the CS players. Sometimes you're not going to know the "official" name for a location, or even what it's been colloquially referred to as. But getting out something is better than nothing. On Haven, most people will understand what you mean if you say they are "C Hall", most people will get it if you refer to A long on Bind as either "bathrooms" or "long", or "showers" or "toilets" for you Europeans. Terms like "behind you" and "to your right" only work if people know exactly where you are/were playing and who you're referring to. Using generic terms for locations is the better choice if you don't know or can't remember what its called. Most importantly however is to find the right flow with your team. Some types of teams function better with more information, some want every little thing called. Some teams will want as little as possible called. Some players/teams don't mind if everyones chatting while playing, some do. CS/Valorant styled games are often considered more "serious" than some other shooters, but it still should be fun. Find the right times to talk and laugh and be silly while also letting those that want to "try hard" do so.
Trading and Baiting
This section could fit in all the other sections, so I'm going to give it it's own. Trading is the act of responding to a kill from the enemy team with a kill from YOUR team. So say you and a partner are entering a bombsite that hasn't been cleared yet. Even if you time things perfectly, chances are one of you will be seen before the other. Sometimes that first person isn't going to get the kill, it is important for you to be in position to return the kill. Trading is HUGELY important. Having a man advantage in Valorant can make all the difference, and no player is going to survive every round, everyone will die their share of times in the game, so it's very important to be in position to "trade" the kill and keep the numbers even. The keys to doing this are to just work with your team mates. Push in with them, don't leave them stranded on their own, and if they die, try to kill their attacker. Baiting on the other hand, is sort of a modified form of a trade. Baiting can be very negative (willfully letting your team mate die so that you can get the kill instead of them), but baiting can also be used intelligently. If your team mate is already on extremely low health, he might say something like "bait me". Which means you will play very slowly behind him while he rushes into the site, his job is to find the enemy, do any damage (if possible) and tell you where he is so you can immediately peek out and take the kill without taking any damage yourself. The difference between "good baiting" and "bad baiting" is usually as simple as communication. If you're not telling your team mate you're playing back, and you let them die just so you can get the kill, thats a bad bait. But if you inform your team mate that you're going to bait him for information, usually they won't mind, especially if they are low on health, or perhaps don't have a gun.
There's lots of terms that you might not be familiar with coming from other games, I know there have already been other guides and videos on this stuff, but I figured I'd add in a few, and repeat a couple of them. These are terms that CS players are accustomed to using, and might instinctively call, especially in the heat of the moment. AK - AK is the Vandal M4 - That's the Phantom. MP5 - Would be the Spectre. Deagle - The Sheriff. Scout - The Marshall CZ - The Frenzy. A-W-P - The Operator. (Some people, namely Europeans, call it by it's initials A-W-P instead of "Awp", for Americans Riot preemptively negated this issue by naming the AWP an "Operator" which is easily shortened to the AWP homonym "Op". Bomb - The Spike itself. Save - This can have two meanings. 1: a save round, your team is short on money and you should avoid spending a lot. A pistol, maybe a couple of your abilities. You want to keep at least 3900 for the next round (visible on the Buy menu). 2: saving your guns, sometimes as either attacker or defender, a round is deemed unwinnable. Maybe you're last alive with 5 Attackers having already planted the bomb, if your teams money is low, you might choose to save your gun. Typically you'll find a place far away on the map to hide, be silent, and hope you dont get found. Save the gun for your next round. Eco - Same as a "save round" detailed above. D-Eco (pronounced dee-coh) - Just a save round where you all buy the powerful Sheriff (Deagle) for hopes of one shot kills against armored enemies. Long (bombsite) or Short (bombsite) - A lot of the bombsites in this game will have multiple entrance. Usually one being a longer "straighter" path, and the second being a shorter and more "cluttered" path. Long, and short respectively. Mid - * Mid refers literally to the "middle" of the map. The area between A and B (on a two site map). On most maps, having mid control is very important as it allows you to attack a bomb site from an additional area. On Split for example. The B bombsite only has one "natural" entrance, the garage tunnel. The other entrance to B is the upper walkway that connects to mid. If the Attackers can gain control of mid by killing Defenders, they can attack B from two sides instead of just one. (Note: the maps in Valorant seem less reliant on having a normal CS styled mid. In CS, mid is typically a very pronounced "lane" to steal a moba term. But in Valorant, a lot of the mids (even on the 2 site maps) are kind of split. Bind for example, both the area connecting Attacker spawn to Hookah could be considered a mid, as well as potentially the area from Attacker spawn to "short A".Neither are really your typical mid, normally a mid has access to BOTH bomb sites equally. The Attacker spawn to Hookah does not have fast rotation to A, only to B. Meanwhile, the Attacker spawn to Portal side DOES have a fast rotation to both A AND B, but it's also directly connected to an exposed A bomb site, which makes it more of a "short A" than a mid. Which area of a map is determined as "mid" will happen organically by players as we move forward. Heaven - * Heaven is a term you might hear a lot from CS players. It typically refers to any designated upper area on a bomb site. I'm not talking just a box in the middle of the site that a Jett or Raze may have boosted onto, but areas specificly elevated. On Bind, there is an upper ledge at the back of A, this would typically be referred to as a "Heaven". (Note, if an enemy is standing directly underneath this walkway, they are often referred to as being "under heaven" or "hell". DD - * "D-D" will refer to "double doors", right now this is only present on Haven, but it's something you might hear called. Just a faster way of calling that someone is playing in, at or around the double doors near B. Window - * Someone calling that someone is in "window" would be an area LIKE a "heaven" spot, except covered a little bit better. What Americans have begun calling "Hookah" on Bind is an example of a "Window" spot. It's elevated, and has more cover than a Heaven-named spot does (compare it to "heaven" on A site). Default - another one with multiple meanings. 1: A default hold is all 5 Defenders playing from their usual positions, no stacks, no weird positioning or doubling up, just your normal. 2: A default TAKE is all 5 attackers running a pre-determined strategy. Usually it has all 5 players spreading out and playing for picks (each of you at a predetermined spot, similar to on Defense). and 3: the "default plant", I mentioned this above, but basically as the game progresses, players will organically determine which the "default plant" spot is. This is a spot that is a little bit open, but also a little bit safe in case there are enemies lurking unknown. Execute - as sort of detailed above, an execute is just the take of a bombsite. "We're executing A" usually means they're putting their smokes and AOE down, and moving in. This is a warning to players that might be lurking at other sites or mid to either listen for rotations from enemies, or start making their way over to A to help defend the planted bomb. Boosted - * A player being "boosted" means they are on top of a box or other area of the map that they couldn't normally get to solo. Jett, Raze, Omen and Sage can get to some of these locations by themselves, and there have been various methods for boosting team mates on top of your head. So if someone calls "boosted on A site" it probably means they are up on top of a box or other object on the bomb site. I think that's all I got for now. Again, this is meant just to include some really basic information for players new to a CS style game. I didn't include anything overly advanced, nor did I include every potential "basic" thing about the game, I'm sure there are already plenty of guides on exactly when to buy and save and force buy and all that. If you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them if I'm capable of doing so. Others that are knowledgeable are welcome to do the same. If this helps you at all, I'm a happy camper. Good luck out there, and have fun!
Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives. PREVIOUSLY:
Okay, look, here's the deal. The obituaries, as sad as they are, contain some of Dave's best work. But good lord, they are looooooooooong. And they never contain anything newsworthy that is relevant to 2002 or anything. But they're always super interesting from a historical perspective. But last week, Dave wrote a brief obit for Lou Thesz (only 5,000 words, ahem) and promised to go into more detail this week. So this week, we open with a 16,000+ word obituary for Lou Thesz and I just can't. Sorry. It's really good though, you should all go read it. But I've got, like, a family and a job and responsibilities and stuff. I can't recap this. It's an incredible piece of work though.
The World Wrestling Federation is no more. On May 5th, the company unveiled its new name, World Wrestling Entertainment. Dave recaps the history of the company briefly (was originally called "World Wide Wrestling Federation, or WWWF, until 1979 when it was shortened to WWF, which is has remained for the past 23 years). But as of this week, the company has been rebranded to WWE. The website domain was changed to WWE.com and all references to "WWF" were changed to "WWE." The scratch logo was also changed, with the F being removed, so now it simply looks like "WW" (which, honestly, never really did make much sense to me. Even though the logo has changed, it's still "WW" to this day). Anyway, this all stems from the World Wildlife Fund lawsuit over in the UK, in which the WWE lost every court case and appeal. They were planning to appeal the ruling in the UK's highest court, their final last-ditch effort to save their name, but the reality is, they weren't going to win that case. Vince McMahon and the company blatantly and repeatedly violated the agreement they signed in 1994. It was 1000% obvious they were in the wrong here and they had gotten spanked by every single court before, often losing their appeals by unanimous decisions. So they weren't going to win this final appeal either and they knew it. So they dropped the appeal and threw in the towel and finally agreed to just change the name. The WWE has until May 15th to remove all references to "WWF" from their shows and merchandise. Any merch with "WWF" on it can no longer be sold after that date. All video packages and posters will have to be changed and any "WWF" mention or logos after that time on television or in past footage will have to be censored. Last year, during the court case, the WWE claimed it would cost them more than $50 million to change their name and to deal with all the legal and rebranding headaches that come with it. But this week, they backtacked on that and said it wouldn't be that expensive after all. Who knows if that's true, but the idea of this costing $50 million was enough to make the shareholders shit themselves, so Dave says they claimed it won't cost that much in order to keep the stock from plummeting. Anyway, none of this had to happen. In 1994, Vince McMahon and the Wildlife Fund signed an agreement that the wrestling company would not use the "WWF" name for promoting itself outside of the U.S. (since the Wildlife group is based overseas) and that worked well for a year or two. But then Vince McMahon apparently decided, "Meh, who cares about agreements?" and began repeatedly and blatantly violating it, constantly, for years, at which point the Wildlife group finally got upset enough to file a lawsuit. Anyway, on the first Raw since the name change, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler repeatedly stumbled over the new initials, accidentally saying "WWF" multiple times. Gonna take time for everyone to get used to calling it the new name.
The buyrates for Wrestlemania 18 are in and it appears the event will have to settle for being the #2 biggest money show in wrestling history after it came up short and failed to surpass Wrestlemania 17. Final numbers aren't in yet, but latest estimates put it somewhere around the 800,000 buys range (ended up being about 880,000) which is quite a bit down from WM17. It was also #2 in total revenue from live gate and merch. Internally, it's actually being seen as something of a disappointment because with the power of the Hogan/Rock dream match, they were hopeful this show would top 1 million buys but unless something drastic changes with these buyrate numbers, it looks like the final total will be a good bit short of that.
NJPW's latest Tokyo Dome show is in the books. The show drew a sellout crowd of 57,000 fans, there to see the Masahiro Chono vs. Mitsuharu Misawa dream main event (which ended up going to a 30-minute draw). It was the biggest non-Jan. 4 crowd NJPW has drawn to the Dome in 2 years. So that's the good news. The bad news is that the show flopped in the ratings on TV. A big part of that is because the Chono/Misawa match didn't air as part of the show (due to the Asahi-TV/Nippon TV network issues discussed in past issues) so the televised show was built around the Shinya Hashimoto/Naoya Ogawa vs. Scott Norton/Hiroyoshi Tenzan match and man, the fans sure didn't seem to give a fuck about that. In fact, the rating was so bad that there's concern that this will be the end of pro wrestling on prime time TV in Japan for the foreseeable future. But there are justifiable reasons for the rating. The show went head-to-head with the Kirin Cup soccer tournament, which was a huge deal and did more than double the rating the NJPW show did. Unlike the U.S., wrestling and "real" sports in Japan have a major crossover audience, so having real sports competition severely hurt NJPW's show. Also, while Ogawa is a draw as a singles star, putting him in a tag match against Norton and Tenzan isn't exactly setting the world on fire. The show lasted 6 hours, which was way too long and the crowd was burned out before Misawa vs. Chono even started.
Other notes from the NJPW show: it opened with an hour long 30th anniversary ceremony. They had a 10-bell salute for Lou Thesz and brought out a bunch of legendary NJPW names from the 70s and 80s. Then they did an angle where Antonio Inoki came out to give a speech, but he was attacked by Tiger Jeet Singh. But then Chyna made the save, attacking Singh, running him out of the ring, and challenging him to a match. Inoki's ex-wife, famous Japanese actress Mitsuko Baisho then made an appearance, getting a huge pop, and she and Inoki did his famous catch phrase to kick off the show. Minoru Suzuki of Pancrase (who started with NJPW as a pro wrestler) was also there. Jushin Ligher and Minoru Tanaka won the IWGP Jr. tag titles and then Liger challenged several NOAH wrestlers who were at ringside (most notably KENTA) and they all jumped in the ring and it ended with a staredown. The Steiner Brothers reunited to face Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kensuke Sasaki, with Chyna as the special referee. Tanahashi was working hurt, but he still worked. They did a spot where Tanahashi ran into Chyna and he went down off the bump instead of her and Dave seems annoyed by this since Tanahashi is a guy they really need to be pushing who can be a huge star for this company. Dave doesn't like him selling bumps for Chyna. Anyway, decent match but the Steiners basically steamrolled them and Tanahashi was pinned by Scott Steiner. Chyna then challenged several All Japan Women at ringside as well as Scott Steiner, Tanahashi, Sasaki, and even IWGP champion Yuji Nagata, saying she wanted a title match. Dave thinks this company has lost its damn mind. Speaking of Nagata, he retained his title in the next match. And then, of course, the main event. Usually during interpromotional matches, the crowd is always super pro-NJPW but this time, they went insane for Misawa and it was clear there were a ton of NOAH fans in the building. Chono did some Inoki moves and Misawa did some Great Baba moves, to kinda have a spiritual "Baba vs. Inoki" tribute in the match I guess. Ended in a draw and by the time it was over, no matter how big the dream match was, the crowd was burned out and weren't as hype for the match as you might expect once the entrances were done.
Goldberg has received a full buy-out of his WCW contract from Time Warner and as of this week, he is now an unsigned free agent. Goldberg did not request the buy-out, the decision was made by the Time Warner side after the most unprofitable quarter in their history. The company was looking to cut expenses, even at a loss, just so the books can look better in future quarters. Goldberg reportedly received almost all of his remaining salary (more than 90% of the nearly $3 million he was still owed) in order to get him off their books. When Goldberg realized he's going to be a free agent a year earlier than expected, talks with WWE started up. But as usual, they went nowhere. WWE (I feel like I'm having to get used to typing that all over again. Really does feel like 2002 again) has interest in him, especially given the way ratings continue to plummet lately. But Goldberg has always wanted more than WWE is willing to pay. Plus, they're feeling burned right now after signing Hall and Nash to big money, long-term contracts for part-time work, only to have Nash get injured and Hall likely to get himself fired at any moment (that moment is coming sooner than you think), and neither of them really getting over in any meaningful way. Even Hogan, who is also making big money for a reduced schedule, was hot for a minute and boosted ratings and buyrates. But after only a few months, that train already seems to be out of steam and TV ratings are back to floundering with Hogan as champion leading the shows. So WWE is kinda gun-shy on opening the checkbook and paying out the ass for these big stars, futilely hoping that one of them is the quick-fix that can stop the bleeding.
There's also the question of how Goldberg would fit within the WWE locker room. He hasn't been shy about his dislike for Triple H, dating back to WCW when Triple H trashed Goldberg in a radio interview and saying that even if Goldberg was available, they wouldn't want him (which, at the time, when WCW was still alive and Goldberg was the biggest star in the company, is just about the dumbest thing he could have said. In 1998, WWF would have gladly traded 10 Triple H's for Goldberg). Anyway, Goldberg took the comment personally and even confronted Triple H face-to-face at the Toy Fair convention in New York a couple of years ago, in a bit of an ugly scene where Goldberg was yelling at him and Triple H and Stephanie kept their heads down and said nothing. Goldberg also has a lot of dislike for Scott Hall, which is another of Triple H's good friends, so ya know. The latest on Goldberg is that he's considering working some in Japan but he's just fielding offers right now. Word is he's interested in working with PRIDE as well as NJPW. Of course, if he's looking to maximize his money potential, WWE is still the place to go if you want to make big bucks. If promoted right, matches against Rock, Austin, Triple H, and others could do huge buyrates. And if they keep Goldberg and Austin apart for a year and build to a match with them at Wrestlemania, well, needless to say, that show would set records. Dave talks about how Goldberg got nuclear hot in 1998 and even in 1999, he was the biggest drawing wrestler in the business. But by 2000, the company was dying, Goldberg was injured, and "Jesus Chris with an Etch-a-Sketch" couldn't have drawn in WCW. Dave again does the math and talks about how WWE should have brought Goldberg in for the Invasion angle. Yes, it would have cost them a lot of money and upset the salary structure, but he would have more than made up for it with the kind of buyrates he could have drawn with those dream matches and the Invasion angle might have had a chance. But alas.
And of course, who's to say how WWE would use Goldberg? They already have Brock Lesnar and they're currently giving him the unstoppable monster push. Lesnar is bigger, younger, and a more legitimate athlete (for whatever that's worth). And WWE probably isn't going to give Goldberg an endless string of jobbers to beat. In WWE, he's going to be expected to work longer matches, sell for people, etc. They won't book him the way WCW did so who knows how he'd get over in WWE? If they wanted to build to an Austin/Goldberg match, it would make sense that Goldberg first has to plow through guys like Triple H, Undertaker, etc. And politically, that just ain't gonna happen. Dave doubts NJPW can afford him for anything more than one or two big shows. As for PRIDE, he could probably make a lot of money there, but the problem is.....PRIDE is a shoot. They haven't had "worked" matches in a couple of years and doing so now would kill their credibility. Which means Goldberg would have to go into a legit shoot and one embarrassing loss there would severely hurt his future earning potential. In the end, Dave thinks it's inevitable that Goldberg will end up in WWE, but probably not any time soon. But he's certain it will eventually happen. There's too much money on the line for both sides and WWE's ratings woes are making them desperate, so it'll happen some day (yup, less than a year from this).
And the moment is here! For those of you who had "under 3 months" in the "How long will Scott Hall last?" pool, come collect your prize. Scott Hall was released by the WWE this week due to misbehavior on the European tour. Firstly, he went on a drunken binge during the entire tour and was even worse on the plane ride home (much more on that in a bit). Dave says this was inevitable. WCW fired him. Even ECW stopped using him when he got arrested at one point. And even though he was seemingly behaving during his Japan tours, even NJPW cut ties with him shortly before he went back to WWE because they were fed up with some of his antics. And now WWE has fired him. Dave talks about how Hall made a drunken spectacle of himself in the locker room on his very first day back in WWE, before the NWO even debuted on TV, then he showed up in Toronto for Wrestlemania in no condition to perform (later came out that he was hungover from the night before), which caused Austin to insist on ending their feud at WM (which was the plan, but Dave says Austin has continued working with Hall afterwards simply because they don't really seem to have any other credible opponents for him). Hall's match with Bradshaw at Backlash was an embarrassment and the night before that show, agents had to help him back to his hotel. Just endless incidents like this. In Europe, Hall was such a blatant drunken mess that even the other wrestlers were calling for him to be fired. Hall was 45 minutes late for the bus they all took to London and then passed out in the locker room during the show. On the plane ride back, he was starting fights with people and eventually passed out and it got to the point that people were worried about his health. When they got back to the U.S. for Raw, they literally had to wake him up from a drunken stupor backstage to send him to the ring to do his segment (and yes, he wrestled). After the show, they fired him. No one came to his defense, and even Hall's closest friends are now admitting that he simply can't handle the pressures of being on the road and being released is the best thing for him right now. Dave talks about how a lot of wrestlers have been fired in the last couple of years for drug and alcohol issues and that's all well and good, but the big problem is why hire them in the first place? Scott Hall's issues were not a secret. It wasn't like he cleaned himself up before he came to WWE. He was getting in trouble and collecting arrests like Pokemon all the way up until the day they brought him back. Anyway, Hall had a 2-year deal, believed to be worth $600,000-per-year downside for only 10 dates per month. So a really sweet deal, but it's gone now.
Hey, speaking of that European tour, turns out there was a bit of trouble on the flight back to the U.S. Perhaps you've heard of it. Most of the trouble wasn't even due to Scott Hall. Turns out Vince McMahon didn't make the trip and lots of people decided that was a good reason to cut loose and have fun. Plus, since everyone has seen Hall get away with being drunk 24/7 for the last few months, they figured nobody would get in trouble. So....folks got DRUNK. Among the various incidents on this flight: Goldust got on the speaker system and began drunkenly serenading his ex-wife Terri with love songs. Terri was extremely uncomfortable and begged him to stop and then Jim Ross had to go sit him down. Ric Flair also "started to get wild" but Jim Ross calmed him down as well (Dave doesn't seem to know just yet exactly what Flair "getting wild" entailed, but if you don't know, it involved getting totally naked except for his robe and started helicoptering his dick at flight attendants. And it gets worse if you feel like researching it. The flight attendants later filed a lawsuit against Flair and accused him of sexual assault). Curt Hennig was spraying people with shaving cream and he kept trying to get Brock Lesnar to fight him. Lesnar, being a newcomer, didn't know how to handle it and didn't want to get in trouble, but he ain't gonna let Hennig talk shit to him either. So anyway, Lesnar got up and basically annihilated Hennig, repeatedly taking him to the ground and embarrassing him because, well, of course he did. It's Brock Lesnar. At one point, Lesnar slammed Hennig up against the side of the plane, right into the emergency exit door, which freaked everybody out for obvious reasons. Michael Hayes got into a scuffle with Bradshaw and then tried to pick a fight with Hall (although everyone on the plane said Hall had it coming). Anyway, Hayes was apparently obnoxious as hell and annoyed everyone. But then he made the mistake of falling asleep and someone (believed to be X-Pac) cut his hair off. When Hayes woke up, he was furious and tried to fight several people. The next day at the Raw tapings, his entire mullet was in a plastic bag, pinned to the wall of the locker room for everyone to see. Gerald Brisco, Arn Anderson, and Hayes all caught a ton of heat from Vince afterward since they were the people who were supposed to be in charge. Anderson and Hayes especially, since their jobs are to keep the boys under control, but they were apparently having just as much fun as everyone else. Everyone's waiting to see how Vince is going to handle this situation. As noted, Hall was already fired and Hayes got an earful from Vince, Stephanie, and JR at Raw the next day, but there will likely be more fallout. Undertaker was also said to be furious over how out of hand everything got (I'm sure we haven't heard the last of this).
Anyway, while they were in Europe, WWE presented its latest UK PPV, Insurexxtion. As usual with the UK PPVs, this was little more than a glorified house show. They announced the show as sold out, but there were empty seats everywhere. RVD vs. Eddie Guerrero for the IC title was the show-stealer according to every report Dave heard, and was said to be far better than their Backlash match. Brock Lesnar teamed with Shawn Stasiak (lol wut) and lost to the Hardyz. Brock beat up everybody after the match. Triple H beat Undertaker in the main event and Dave doesn't know why since Undertaker is the one challenging Hogan for the title at the next PPV. The top rope broke during the match when they did an Irish whip into the corner and when the rope snapped, a metal piece broke off from the corner and flew into the crowd and barely missed hitting a small child in the face.
Smackdown on 5/2 drew the all-time lowest rating in the history of the show. Dave says that's the scariest thing to happen to WWF in the past 5 years. It was also the 3rd lowest rating for any Smackdown or Raw dating back to 1998. The rating was a full 18% drop from the week before, which was already scary. The rating was even lower than previous holiday episodes. So what was the problem? Well, it was headlined by Hogan defending the WWF title against Chris Jericho (as it turns out, the final time the "WWF" title was ever defended). Dave says the title has been meaningless for years now and Hogan's steam is running out. And Jericho hasn't recovered from spending the first part of the year being emasculated and playing second fiddle to Stephanie McMahon in the Wrestlemania feud. Add all that together and you've got a recipe for a shit ratings night. Among other things. Dave isn't blaming this all on Hogan and Jericho by any means, there's a lot of problems with the company as of late, from bad storylines to failing to make new stars, and it's all starting to come home to roost.
Keiji Muto wrestled a match in AJPW under his alternate gimmick of Kokushi Muso. Turns out "Great Muta" isn't his only other persona. The Kokushi Muso gimmick is basically like Hakushi in WWF, where he's covered his entire body in Japanese writing. He originally debuted the gimmick in Michinoku Pro last year, when teaming with....Hakushi (Jinsei Shinzaki, who occasionally brought back the old Hakushi gimmick in Japan). Anyway, same thing here. He teamed with Hakushi for this match, while using that gimmick (Muto would use that gimmick a handful of times throughout the years, always when teaming with Hakushi. It's like that was only his gimmick for that team. The last time he used it was in 2009, also in a tag match with Hakushi).
Former NOAH Jr. champion Naomichi Marufuji underwent knee surgery this week and should be out around 6 months (ends up being 9 months).
NJPW is doing an angle (according to Dave) similar to the Vince/Flair angle last year where Antonio Inoki and Masahiro Chono are battling over control of the company. Although it's more realistic. Inoki is in the press talking about how many of NJPW's shows aren't doing well and is pushing for them to use Naoya Ogawa more, while Chono doesn't want to. Inoki is also saying Chono needs to retire from wrestling and focus his energies on managing the day-to-day business of the promotion full-time. Dave says this is an angle, but it doesn't sound like much of one to me, and I think later years have kinda proven there was a lot of blurring between fiction and reality here, because there was a ton of behind the scenes turmoil in NJPW during this period.
Will Smith appeared alongside Antonio Inoki at the Japanese movie premiere for the film "Ali" based on Muhammad Ali's life. Crowd went absolutely insane for Inoki (I've tried like hell and can't even find a picture of them together. But then again, I can't find a single pic from the premiere at all).
When reviewing the recent Dos Caras Jr. shoot fight in Japan, Dave talks about the guy's potential as a wrestler. He has a strong amateur background, legit shoot skills, and a famous name. Dave thinks, if he's even halfway a decent worker, he can almost be a guaranteed star in Mexico (based on his name alone) and probably Japan too, if he decides to pursue that career (indeed he did, and indeed, he was fairly decent at it. Of course, he later became Alberto Del Rio, accused rapist and pretty much confirmed all-around piece of shit).
Former long-time WCW referee Randy Anderson passed away this week after a long battle with testicular cancer. Back when WCW was still around and he first got diagnosed, they did an angle out of it where Eric Bischoff fired him and then laughed at his wife and kids when they begged him to give Anderson his back. Of course, he was later re-hired when Flair became on-screen commissioner and continued to referee until 1999 when the cancer forced him to retire.
Random news and notes: Bobby Heenan is said to be in good spirits and is especially excited because WWE recently contacted him about doing a WWE Magazine feature on him. Verne Gagne's wife Mary passed away from cancer this week. Goldberg will be appearing on this week's Wrestling Observer Live show to be interviewed. Mil Mascaras is releasing an autobiography (in Spanish of course) and man, I'd love to find an English translation of that because I bet it'd be interesting. Chyna appeared on "Sabrina The Teenage Witch" this past week.
Bruno Sammartino turned down an invitation to attend the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame ceremony in New York (yes, that HOF existed and still does, in a different city now). Bruno did an interview with the local paper and said "Wrestling is how I made my living and supported my family, but it's over. I don't want anything to do with it anymore." Bruno managed to turn the discussion to the WWE, despite them not having any affiliation with this HOF and grumbled about how Vince McMahon blocked him from being inducted into the Madison Square Garden Hall of Fame. However, the new MSG owners have apparently promised Bruno he'll be inducted this year, since he sold the place out 200 times (Dave jumps in here to correct it and says the real number of sellouts is closer to 45. Bruno only main evented the Garden 127 times and by no means were they all sell-outs. But it's one of those myths that has been perpetuated for so long that Dave begrudgingly recognizes that people are always going to believe the 200 number is true, but it's not even close. He compares it to the claim that Andre The Giant was 7'4, which also wasn't true but people repeated the lie so often that it became accepted as fact).
Afa Anoa'i Jr., the son of the legendary Wild Samoan, is a star football player at his high school and is being recruited for Penn State. He also sometimes wrestles on his father's indie shows (that would be Manu, who was very briefly part of Legacy with Orton, Dibiase Jr., and Cody).
Former WCW announcer Scott Hudson will be doing commentary for Jerry Jarrett's new promotion, and Bob Ryder is said to be in a major front office position.
Jarrett has put out a press release saying that his new promotion has had talks with Randy Savage and Ultimate Warrior. Word is Warrior wanted a 15% ownership stake in the new company, which pretty much ended those talks right there. They're also apparently interested in Scott Hall now too, with the idea that since they're only doing 1 show per week, he won't be a screw-up here. Dave is skeptical. Anyway, currently Road Dogg and Brian Christopher expected to be some of the company's top stars and Dave's not optimistic.
XWF wrestlers were told last week that a television deal should hopefully be finalized this week. But Dave has been told no chance it's happening that soon. The rumors are that the deal is either with the FX or Fox Kids networks. Ted Turner had inquired about buying this promotion a few months ago, but when he learned how much it would cost to get them off the ground and make them competitive, he lost interest (TV deal never materializes, company is already dead, etc. etc.).
The Scorpion King slipped to 2nd place this week, falling to the new Spider Man movie which did a record breaking $114 million opening weekend. Randy Savage has a small role in that movie.
Speaking of, The Rock worked his first match in about a month at a Fort Lauderdale house show, teaming with Hogan to beat Jericho and Angle. After the match, Hogan tried to get Rock to pose with him, but Rock wouldn't do it. Rock thanked the fans for the success of Scorpion King and said it would likely be his last match for awhile. There was a ton of local media there, but Rock didn't talk to any of them. Basically, the house show was in his neck of the woods and he simply decided to show up and work it just so he could see his friends and hang out with the locker room, he had no interest in doing interviews. He was just there because he wanted to be. Backstage, Rock was telling people that Hollywood higher-ups have told him he has to leave the wrestling business if he wants to be taken seriously as an actor. Those in the company feel it's a certainty that Rock really is leaving and he's likely going to break out of wrestling into Hollywood and actually become a rare success story (yeah, you could say that).
Look how long this is already. Imagine if I had covered that Lou Thesz obituary in full. JUST IMAGINE!
Notes from Raw: Dave compares it to an episode of Thunder, with the crowd half-dead for everything. Also, the roster was exhausted after just returning from the Europe trip (and the plane ride shenanigans) and that was apparent too. Brock Lesnar won his match via pinfall instead of the usual ref stoppage and Dave says that word is Triple H got in Vince's ear and convinced him to end the ref stoppage gimmick for Brock. Sure, why not? Hogan was supposed to ride off on Undertaker's bike at one point, but then the motorcycle wouldn't start. It was one of those awkward live-TV moments where time stood still and nobody knew what to do. Flair finally turned heel on Austin, to a shocking lack of heat from the crowd. Nash returned, etc. Dave recaps the rest of this show and it sounds like a lot of bad WCW stuff, coincidentally enough with a lot of the same people.
The man who played the effeminate gay guy applying to be Vince McMahon's secretary on Smackdown a few weeks ago was new creative team member David Lagana. He recently joined the company and has written for several other TV shows, including "Friends" and has a strong knowledge of the industry (Dave says if you've been reading the Observer closely for the last few years, you're probably familiar with him, he's written in to Dave a lot over the years).
Dave goes on a brief rant about how to use older stars. In the past, everyone, even Vince McMahon, talked about how you should use guys like Hogan and Flair in small doses and how WCW's reliance on older stars like that is what made them less special. Dave talks about back in the day in Memphis, Jackie Fargo would come back once or twice a year and he was always the biggest star in the company when he did. Because he was used sparingly. But WWE has pretty much built its company around Hogan and Flair (and to a lesser extent, Vince and Undertaker) over the last few months and they've been totally overexposed because of it. Just 6 weeks ago, Hulk Hogan was getting some of the largest crowd reactions in the history of the business. Now, he and Undertaker are practically hearing crickets during their on-screen interactions.
Lita underwent neck surgery this week and isn't allowed to do anything physical for 9 months. Scotty 2 Hotty also had neck surgery and is expected to be out for about a year. Both are expected to make full recoveries though.
Jesse Ventura admitted this week that he received WWF stock options as partial payment for some work he did with them. Dave doesn't know if it's related to the Summerslam appearance a few years ago or the XFL announcing gig. Ventura says he has 10 years to exercise those stock options but wouldn't give any further details.
Scott Steiner told WWA he will work their next UK tour but after that, he's going to WWE. Dave is skeptical. Reports are that Steiner was in horrible pain after every match he worked on the last WWA tour and there's significant doubt that his body will hold up to a WWE schedule.
The new Steve Austin "What!" DVD has a lot of WCW footage, including the full Austin vs. Steamboat match from WCW Bash at the Beach 94. Dave doesn't say so, but I believe this is the first time WWE used any of the WCW library for commercial release after they purchased it the year before.
Someone writes in and asks Dave to stop spending so much time writing about steroid use in wrestling and instead says he should write a story about racism in the business. This person writes about the allegations from years back of Dusty Rhodes using the N-work with impunity, or the time DX parodied the Nation by wearing blackface. The WCW discrimination lawsuit, the embarrassing angles they've done with Mark Henry such as Sexual Chocolate, etc. This guy is asking why is it white wrestlers outnumber black wrestlers by 35-to-1 ratio in the U.S. (70-to-1 in Mexico and 80-to-1 in Japan). He wants to know why Dave isn't writing about that stuff. Dave responds and agrees that the blackface DX promo was racist, and it was racist when Buff Bagwell did it in WCW and when Roddy Piper did it in the 80s. Dave says wrestling, especially from the 70s through the 90s, had a horrible history of exploiting stereotypes and/or saying and doing racist things. You can argue it's gotten better, but no doubt the problem still exists. Dave lists some examples but he also pushes back on some others. For example, he's heard people complain that Booker T isn't being used properly due to his race and Dave disagrees. It's true that Booker T probably deserves a bigger push, but you can make the same case for guys like RVD and Jericho and Raven or DDP (when he first debuted, at least) and that didn't happen either, so Dave doesn't necessarily think Booker's lack of top-star push can be blamed on his race (we're less than a year away from Triple H definitively proving otherwise).
There's also 2 letters about the Rock/Hogan match at Wrestlemania and they couldn't be more different. One guy writes in and he can't understand why people are praising that match because if you put aside the hot crowd, it was awful, everyone's moves looked bad, it was embarrassing, etc. and says Hogan should have retired afterward. Then someone else writes in and says he was there live and, taken as a whole, Rock vs. Hogan was the greatest match he's ever seen. Basically the same "love it or hate it" opinion people have about that match to this day. Also, someone else writes in about the recent Low-Ki vs. American Dragon match from an ROH show and puts it up there among some of the greatest matches of all time (listing off several classic WWF matches like Shawn/Razor and Owen/Bret at WM10 for example). So there ya go.
NEXT WEDNESDAY:more fallout from the Plane Ride from Hell, more on the beginning of Jarrett's new NWA-TNA promotion, more on the NJPW Tokyo Dome show, and more...
How lap times in different motorsports compare to each other
If you are a motorsports fan like me, you probably wondered, how fast the many different cars and classes are in relation to each other. While thinking about this question, I quickly realised that it is a near impossible task to measure this, you can’t compare cars from different series unless they share the track at the same point in time, which rarely happens. But still, I wanted to know, how the different classes compare to each other within their limitations (be it from the rules or from the conditions), in other words, which cars could go faster than others and by how much. To measure this, I chose the superior method of comparing lap times: percentages. (On a side note, I honestly don’t understand why teammates are always compared in tenths over the season, like saying X was on average 4 tenths slower than Y. This is just dumb, let’s all switch to percentages! Four tenths around Red Bull Ring is different than four tenths around Le Mans.)
For the extremely busy, very unceremoniously and without additional commentary (as that comes later in this post), these are all the important racing classes with their regulations as of 2019:
Formula 1 (100-104.3%)
Super Formula (108-111%)LMP1 (112-114%)Indycar (112.5-115%)Formula 2 (114-117%)
MotoGP (132-139%)GT3 - GTD (134-140%)Australian Supercars (136.5-142%)Formula E (134-140%)
Moto2 (140-144%)NASCAR Cup (141.5-144%)
NASCAR Xfinity (144-146%)
GT4 IMSA (145-150%)
TCR (146.5-153%)NGTC (147-149%)
GT4 SRO (149-155%)Moto3 (149-155%)
What I did can be described very simply, I looked up the fastest qualifying laps, of each series/class here on a bunch of tracks all around the world. Then I started comparing. First, if there was a direct comparison to F1, I calculated the percentage averages. Then, I started cross-referencing to other series which were active on most of the tracks (mainly GT3 and TCR) and calculated back to F1. There are some problems with this method. I can’t be 100% sure that for example GTD and GT3 have similar pace, or that TCR in Europe and TCR in Japan have similar pace. But with these two classes, the differences are not that big, which allowed me to have a more or less clear picture. After that I estimated the percentage range and made it bigger, because track conditions and other factors could mean up to 1-2% in lap time (this was the most “subjective” part). Because of the big ranges, I will always provide the direct comparison to F1 if there is one.
Why are there ties?
Many classes were surprisingly close to each other regarding their percentage ranges, despite (or maybe because) they rarely race on the same track. This led to some three- or four-way ties. In those ties I tried to rank them, based on feeling and direct comparisons. The classes could be in a different order within those ties if they raced in similar conditions, we can never be sure. Which leads me to the final boring paragraph I promise.
What factors influence lap time?
• Drivers, especially in series where there are pro and amateur drivers • Qualifying and race formats: how much fuel is in the car; do you have to start with the fuel load; is it an endurance series; is it a one-lap shootout or is it the average of all drivers, do you have to negotiate around lower class cars; does your engine need to last another 5 races or 24 hours etc. • Tires, very important, explains differences between GT500 & DTM or GT300 & GT3, think about how much faster F1 would be if the softest of the five compounds was available everywhere • Performance Ballasts (BoP, EoT etc.), can be very severe (e.g. in LMP1 it is up to 2%) • Track Conditions, very important even in a single session, as the track constantly changes • AiTemperature conditions
Lap Time Percentage Ranking
1 Formula 1 I referenced all percentages to Formula 1 because it is obviously the fastest motorsport in the world. The pinnacle of motorsport (like it or not, it is the pinnacle) has mind bending machines, which produce enormous amount of downforce, have incredibly efficient and powerful engines and in the words of George Russell “ridiculous” brakes. On the note of Russell, I calculated the average percentage difference of the faster car of the slowest team to the pole time: 104.3% (side-note: it was surprisingly not always Williams, in Hungary, both Racing Points were beaten by a Williams). To give you another example about percentages: the slowest team in recent history HRT had a 109% lap time on their worst days. Just in case you forgot how an F1 car looks: 2019 Mercedes W10 2.1 Super Formula (108-111%) direct comparison: 109.3% Super Formula (formerly called Formula Nippon) is the top racing series in Japan and is the second fastest open-wheeled motorsport in the world. They race on Japanese circuits only, which gives us few direct comparisons to big international series (Suzuka with F1 and Fuji with WEC). It has a spec chassis and two engine manufacturers (Honda and Toyota). The new car, introduced in 2019 was to the tenth as fast as an LMP1 car in Fuji, but edges the class on direct comparison with F1 at Suzuka. this is how the Dallara SF19 looks like in the hands of last year’s champion Nick Cassidy 2.2 LMP1 (112-114%) direct comparison: 112.7% On to the fastest non open-wheeled series, the next fastest cars are the magnificent sports car prototypes of the World Endurance Championship. This class has produced many great hybrid cars since 2014 from Porsche, Audi and Toyota, which battled at the 24h of Le Mans. Unfortunately, in the later years, only Toyota remained with a hybrid LMP1 and their car now competes against the privateer LMP1s of Rebellion. LMP1 beats both F2 and Indycar on direct comparison. If there is one class which could go much faster, it has to be the hybrid LMP1 Toyotas. The WEC introduced the fancy-named Equality of Technology, which basically should slow down the hybrids to the privateer speeds. Unfortunately, it actually means that the Toyotas go 2.5s per lap slower than they could and lose 1s per lap to the non-hybrid Rebellions at COTA. Because of that, the lap records are from 2016-17, when Audi and Porsche still were on the stage, pushing each other to greater and greater speeds. this is the 2020 Toyota TS050 Hybrid, you won’t see this car for long on track because in the near future, there will be new prototype regulations 2.3 Indycar (112.5-115%) direct comparison: 114.6% The premier North American open-wheeled racing series would certainly be unbeatable on ovals, but on road courses, they are edged out by a few series. Again, like with SF, Indycar only races in a specific region and few tracks are visited by big international series, but they finally gave us a direct comparison with Formula 1 at COTA. This series also has a spec chassis (also by Dallara) and since 2018 a universal aero kit. There are two engine manufacturers: Honda and Chevrolet. this is how the Dallara DW12 looks like in the hands of last year’s champion Josef Newgarden 2.4 Formula 2 (114-117%) direct comparison: 115.8% Finally, the slowest series in this four-way tie is the top feeder series for F1. This is a series, where young drivers can finally be part of the F1 paddock by racing in support races on the same weekend with the big ones. There is no direct comparison with Indycar and through cross-referencing it is still impossible to tell which one would be faster. The series employs a spec chassis by (again you guessed it) Dallara and has one engine manufacturer (Mecachrome). This series is more about the drivers, because it should find the best of the talents looking to get into F1. this is how the Dallara F2 2018 looks like in the hands of last year’s champion Nyck De Vries 3.1 GT500 (117-120%) direct comparison: 119.8% The grand touring beasts populating the top class in the Japanese SUPER GT series are astonishingly quick. These race cars are the fastest production-based cars right now (well at least they kinda look like a production car) and can put some prototype classes to shame with their lap times. They beat the WECs LMP2s in Fuji but have unfortunately few other direct comparisons with similar classes. There are currently three manufacturers competing in GT500: Nissan, Toyota/Lexus and Honda. Recently, GT500 and DTM aligned their rules to be able to compete in each other’s series, which led to the Class One cars, as they are called now. While the chance of seeing DTM cars in SUPER GT and vice versa is low, it provides a great opportunity to see how tires influence car performance, as GT500 (having a tire war with 4 manufacturers) is clearly faster on track than DTM. this is how the Lexus LC 500 GT500 championship winning car looked like in 2019 3.2 DPi (118.5-122%) no direct comparison The Daytona Prototype International class is the top prototype class in the IMSA United Sports Car Championship and has the honours to be the second fastest prototype class. It was introduced in 2017 alongside the new LMP2 regulations and became a separate class in the championship in 2019. This is the first class which had no direct comparisons to F1, but it is clearly faster than the WECs LMP2 class at Sebring. It is quite interesting in the sense that despite having four manufacturers (Cadillac, Acura, Mazda and Nissan) the cars used are based on four other LMP2 chassis (Dallara, Oreca, Riley and Ligier). this is how the Acura ARX-05 2019 championship winning car looked like 3.3 LMP2 WEC (118-125%) direct comparison: 120% The second class in the WEC is a very popular one, with many privateer teams battling it out for LMP2 honours. The class is also used in the European Le Mans Series with similar specifications. The class was overhauled and redefined in 2017, four exclusive chassis manufacturers were appointed (the ones from DPi), a closed cockpit was mandated and there is a spec Gibson engine. The current cars and rule concepts are the basis, together with the DPis for the future LMDh regulations. It comfortably beats the 4th placed Formula 3 cars on direct comparison. this is how the championship winning Oreca 07 by United Autosport looked like in 2019 4.1 Formula 3 (122-126.5%) direct comparison: 123.6% The third tier in the world of Formula 1 is the lowest which has a worldwide championship. It is one stage under Formula 2 and replaced GP3 in 2019. This change of name and structure also came with a new Dallara chassis and a spec Mecachrome engine. As you may have noticed, I only looked at the FIA Formula 3 Championship, and not at other regional or national series. this is the Dallara F3 2019 driven by Robert Shwartzman, the 2019 champion 4.2 DTM (123.5-126.5%) direct comparison: 124.9% The cars used in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters are called touring cars only for historic reasons. These cars are silhouette cars, meaning actually purpose-built machines using a body which resembles (slightly) to their road going counterparts. Although it is a series competing in Europe (mainly Germany with some few races in other places), it actually shares few circuits with faster series, so there is no direct comparison to the WEC or the ELMS or even Formula 3. So, it is hard to call which one would be faster. This should be changed with the DTM set to race at Monza (Edit: now it looks like they go to Spa) in the 2020 season. The DTM is as mentioned before the sister series of SUPER GT, which gives a perspective of how much faster these cars could go. Unfortunately, the future of the series doesn’t look too bright with only one manufacturer left after the end of this season, there’s a big chance that we won’t see these great cars in the future. this is the Audi RS5 Turbo DTM_FP1.jpg&tbnid=VulVzwUeOXs-QM&vet=1&docid=EJNx6BNH9-qE1M&w=2560&h=1706&q=rene+rast+dtm+2019&source=sh/x/im) of champion Rene Rast in 2019 4.3 LMP2 IMSA (123-126%) no direct comparison The second class in North American sports car racing is a little bit slower than their WEC counterparts. This is also visible at the direct comparison at Sebring. The reasons for this could be that the LMP2s in IMSA were slowed down to create a bigger gap to the very similar DPi cars. Other features are exactly the same than in the WEC, the only difference being that there were only two entries in 2019. 5.1 GT300 (129-134%) direct comparison: 132.7% I think the Japanese like to show the world how fast some cars actually could go. GT300 is the lower class in SUPER GT, it consists mainly of GT3 cars from European manufacturers but also JAF-GT cars, which are just a Japanese GT class. What is surprising is how easily the GT300 cars beat their European GT3 counterparts and even the WEC GTE class is beaten fair and square at Fuji. here is the Honda NSX GT3 Evo, last year’s championship winning machine 5.2 GTLM IMSA - GTE WEC (130-138%) direct comparison: 132.6% Now to the supposedly highest level of GT racing, which actually is beaten by two and pressured by a third one. GTE in WEC/ELMS or GTLM in IMSA is in all three championship the top GT class. The GTLMs beat the GTEs at Sebring but I still decided to take both together because they are very similar in performance. These cars are awesome, look awesome and I suspect could produce much better lap times, but especially in Europe, they are sometimes even beaten by the top GT3 cars. There are now five different manufacturers competing in the WEC and IMSA combined. this is the Porsche 911 RSR which won in IMSA and WEC in 2019 5.3 LMP3(130-134.5%) direct comparison: 132.7% LMP3 is the lowest prototype class, which is more thought as an entry level for drivers and teams to prototype racing. It is used in the ELMS, Asian LMS and the IMSA Prototype Challenge. In Europe it beats the GTEs marginally and in North America it is beaten by GTLM marginally, so the actual difference between GTE and LMP3 is too close to call. There are five cars available and all have the same spec engine. This is a Ligier JS P3 which won in the ELMS in 2019 6.1 MotoGP (132-139%) direct comparison: 135.1% There are two groups in motorsports which I consider the craziest. Those who jump into their small hatchbacks and rip through some forests or mountains on roads barely wider than the car itself and those who jump on a bike which can go with 360kph and you can touch the ground with your knees while negotiating corners. MotoGP is astonishingly quick, sometimes even beating GT3 race cars. There are six manufacturers currently competing in MotoGP with purpose built mororcycle prototypes. This is last year’s MotoGP winner Marc Marquez and his Honda RC213V 6.2 GT3 - GTD (134-140%) direct comparison: 136.9% - 135.4% On to the arguably most widely used racing class right now: GT3. There are a lot of different championships using these cars, and there have been 51 cars homologated since its inception in the mid 2000s. The highest-level series using GT3s are the SRO sanctioned GT World Challenges (formerly Blancpain Series) and the IMSA Sports Car Championship with the name GTD. On top of that there are countless national championships, so it’s hard to actually say how fast GT3s are, because they race at so many places. Sometimes they beat GTE in Europe, they play a secondary role to GTLM in IMSA, sometimes they barely beat Australian Supercars. The interesting thing in GT3 is the variety of car styles, types, engines and the fact that all these different philosophies are tied together through Balance of Performance which equals out all the cars. here is the Bentley Continental GT3 which won the last international GT3 race, the Bathurst 12h 6.3 Australian Supercars (136.5-142%) direct comparison: 141.4% The (maybe not so hidden) gem in motorsport is the Australian Supercars Championship (also known as V8 Supercars), it evolved from the Australian Touring Car Championship and has really fun to watch and actually pretty fast race cars from Holden and Ford (with sometimes other manufacturers coming and going). It is close to the Australian GT Championship lap time wise, but is a bit slower than GT3s at Bathurst, where a big international GT3 race happens every year. There are otherwise few meaningful comparisons to other series. Unfortunately, there are some doubts over its future, with the car brand Holden no longer active. this is the Ford Mustang GT of Scott McLaughlin, last year’s champion 6.4 Formula E (134-140%) direct comparison (manually measured with a youtube onboard): 134% The premier electric racing series in the world is notably famous for racing on unusual (controversial?) tight circuits located in city centres. Because of that, there is only one proper comparison with another class (TCR at Marrakech) and you can kinda guess their time in Monaco’s last sector while watching an onboard and measuring it with a stopwatch. So based on this data, we can estimate that their speed is somewhere around GT3 and Supercars. Of course, Formula E is very strong on its own circuits but would lose to everybody at Bathurst, just like a Supercar couldn’t negotiate the Paris Circuit fast enough. We can only hope, that the championship with the highest manufacturer involvement goes to the full Monaco layout for a proper comparison. The car currently used is the 2nd Gen FE car, it has a spec chassis and battery but individual powertrains. here is the DS Techeetah of 2019 champion Jean-Eric Vergne 7.1 Moto2 (140-144%) direct comparison: 142.8% The second tier motorcycle championship also comes in at a kind of no-mans land between Supercars and NASCAR. Unfortunately, I don’t know much more about Moto2 so here is last years champion Alex Marquez with his Kalex Moto2 bike 7.2 NASCAR Cup Series (141.5-144%) no direct comparison The most popular form of motorsport in the US, NASCAR is centred around oval track racing. So much in fact, that its calendar only has two road courses (Watkins Glen and Sonoma). On top of that, to make direct comparisons even rarer, they use different layouts to Indycar and IMSA at both tracks. That leaves us with cross-referencing the Cup Series to its minor league, which leads to the conclusion that NASCAR is tied with Moto2 on pace and just edged out by Australian Supercars, which some consider to be kind of similar (very far reached imo) to it. credit to u/TacoHVAC for the laptimes here is the 2019 Toyota Camry of cup series champion Kyle Busch 8 NASCAR Xfinity (144-146%) no direct comparison Fortunately, NASCAR’s minor league, the Xfinity series goes to two of road courses using common layouts (Road America and Mid-Ohio) so we can at least compare these cars to other classes on this list. The Xfinity cars are a bit slower than their Cup Series counterparts, and with that, they are far from GT3 and Supercars, but comfortably ahead of GT4. this is the Chevrolet Camaro of 2019 champion Tyler Reddick 9 GT4 IMSA (145-150%) direct comparison: 146.3% We arrived at the slowest GT class, GT4 is widely used in some national championships. In North America, the Michelin Pilot Challenge is a support series of the IMSA Sports Car Championship and there you can see GT4 competing as the top class against TCR, which explains why the IMSA GT4s are faster than their European brothers and sisters. this is the Audi R8 LMS GT4 which won last year’s Michelin Pilot Challenge 10.1 TCR (146.5-153%) direct comparison: 149.9% The most widely used touring car class was approved in 2014 and fully took over the touring car world in 2018, when the World Touring Car Championship also adopted the regulations. These cars are “true” touring cars, with many standardised parts and a performance ballast system to ensure fair competition. There are many manufacturers and twice as many series, with nearly every region having their own TCR championship. All the results from these championship count towards the TCR Model of the Year “championship” which is handed out since 2017. TCR provided a very constant basis for other lap time calculations (especially for the Japanese series), because it is so widely used and has universal rules. In Europe it beats GT4 very consistently. here is the Hyundai i30 N TCR driven by World Touring Car champion Norbert Michelisz 10.2 NGTC (147-149%) no direct comparison One of the few places where TCR isn’t the main touring car class is of course the British Touring Car Championship. They have their own cars, called Next Generation Touring Cars, which have most likely a very similar performance than TCR. I say most likely, because there are not that many international series competing on some lesser known British tracks, so I used the British GT Championship (GT3) as a reference for NGTCs. this is the BMW 330i M Sport driven by 2019 champion Colin Turkington 11.1 GT4 SRO (149-155%) direct comparison: 151.9% Finally, we are at the bottom of this list with the GT4 cars competing in various national and European SRO series. These cars are by no means slow, they beat road going hyper cars like the Koenigsegg One:1 or the McLaren P1 at Spa, which just shows how incredibly fast race cars are, even if they are slow (if that makes sense). the final car on here is the BMW M4 GT4, winner of the 2019 GT4 European Series 11.2 Moto3 (149-155%) direct comparison: 152.3% The lowest class in motorcycle grand prix racing has about the same speeds as GT4. Generally you can say, that the different motorcycle tiers are much closer to each other than F1 - F2 - F3 are. this is the Honda NSF250RW Moto3 winning machine That’s the end of the list. As you can imagine it was quite fun to research everything, but it also took a long time. Please correct any typos and feel free crosspost. What comes next? I plan on doing something similar but for historic classes and look if somebody could challenge F1 for the throne in the past (my bet is on Group C or 70s Can-Am). Edits: Due to popular request, I added some motorcycle classes, also corrected some technicalities about NASCAR tracks
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