Competitive play occurs when two parties engage in a match with the victor being awarded a commonly desired good. The greater the perceived value of the good, the more competitive the event is going to be. Unlike the case with professional competitive sports, in Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy (JKA) those goods rarely if ever include set material rewards like money prizes; instead, they are mostly centered around social goods like status, prestige and respect. The primary goal of competitive play in JKA is therefore the testing of one's merit and skills as a player or team against that of other competitors. The competitive event can take on various forms in various gametypes and although competition in Capture The Flag (CTF) has a very long and powerful tradition in JKA, competition most often happens in the context of two parties engaging in some form of saber combat. In all cases, competitive play flourishes the most when situated within a larger organizational structure, like a reliable league or ranking system.
The Beginnings in Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
While Saber-Only Tournaments would eventually dominate, the roots for competitive play in the Jedi Knight games can be found in Jedi Outcast's CTF gametype. Being comparable in it's gameplay to games like Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament, Full Force and Full Weapon CTF was dominating in the early days of the game. The highlight of this era became the ESL Pro Series Season I in December 2002, a big money prize tournament that featured Jedi Outcast among other games like Counter-Strike and Warcraft III. Winner of the tournament was team pro-gaming, which defeated Team Helix in the finals, winning a prize of 5000 €, Team Helix winning 3000 € for the second place. This is to this date by far the biggest prize pool in any Jedi Knight-related tournament in the history of these games.
The History of Competitive Sabering in Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
The history of competitive sabering is a cross between the history of formal competitive venues in general and the history of great clans and players in particular. Competitive sabering events are almost exclusively played without pickups and without Force powers and are governed by a codified set of rules agreed upon by all the players. The most prestigious events of any format are major international tournaments.
Rulesets vary widely across events, but the two most common for duels are: The American standard of playing a match where the victor is determined by the player that first scores 10 points, with each point being awarded for a successful kill, and the health of both players resetting after each point. The second standard is the European ESL one where the victor of a given duel is determined by the player who either first scores 10 points or ends up with the most points after a 10 minutes timelimit, and where the player scoring a point continues on with the same amount of health and shields that he had left over from the previous fight.
Team Free For All (TFFA) matches are most often held across two rounds with either a specified fraglimit, timelimit or both, and the winner is almost always determined by counting up the points of both rounds together and awarding the team with the highest score. The most prestigious form of TFFA competition is the 3v3 or 4v4 format, also called Team Deathmatch (TDM), but 2v2 matches are not only widely popular, they are oftentimes highly acclaimed as well.
Although serious competition is definitely possible on heavily modded servers, it most often takes place on BaseJKA or mods that strictly aim to preserved the original sabering environment as much as possible. The reasoning behind this insistence on unmodded servers is that the point of competitive play is to determine the better player simpliciter, that is without any qualification, whereas playing on mods like JA+ that significantly change the sabering system just adds such a qualification. A second popular argument is that modded servers inevitably make the sabering mechanics worse by (oftentimes unintentionally) introducing factors that increase the randomness of the gameplay. Whatever the case may be, the main reasons as to why competitive play never took off within communities favouring modded servers was on the one hand the lack of a central organizational structure, like a proper league, and on the other hand a lack of interest towards competitive play in general by players that frequented modded servers.
Strong Roots: Late 2003 to Late 2005
The early history of competitive play in JKA is now shrouded in a lot of darkness, because very little tangible information survived over the years. The time period between the release of JKA and late 2005 features very little interaction between the American and European communities - this is for two reasons: First, the fact that both sides had their own specialized competitive organzations, providing them with ample opportunity for formal means of competitive play, and secondly, the way internet latency heavily affects gameplay in JKA was a demotivating factor for both sides and made formal cross-continental competition more difficult.
America and BWN
Although shortly after the release of the game in September 2003 many high-profile clans had formed, like OoS, KoP, AIM and BSoV, the early period of American JKA was first and foremost the period of clan Master, a large but elite clan with roots in JK2 run by Master DarkStar. It would be the members of clan Master that eventually set out to create a formal competitive venue in late 2003, dubbing it Bladeworks Network (BWN). However, although BWN provided a good competitive outlet for the American community as a whole, it lacked the necessary rigour for competitive play to truly flourish, as it had serious flaws that made the system prone to abuse and thus an unreliable means of tracking player skill. As it turns out, BWN was released in an unfinished state due to the project's lead programmer Moria having to abandon it for personal reasons. Despite its flaws, it was the only semi-formal league that the American competitive scene had at its disposal and so it attracted a lot of highly skilled players over the course of its lifetime.
In early 2004, after the dissolution of top clan OoS, WoV started becoming more respectable as a clan thanks to the efforts of Intrepid aka Kilroy, who took it upon himself to recruit a lot of top ex-OoS players. In just a few months WoV ascended from being an inactive JK2 clan to a serious force in competitive JKA, rivaling other great clans like BSoV, Seraph, JKT, DoX and Loi at that point. Master was still by far the most dominating clan though, with some of their members gaining an almost mythological reputation for their skill in combat.
Most prone to this kind of idolisation was Master DarkStar. He was at that time widely considered to have been the greatest of all players within the American competitive scene - for many he was the greatest player in the world. He was the dominant force behind clan Master, both in terms of fighting prowess as well as administrative authority, and was for a year and a half the single most successful duelist on BWN. Many speculated that he must have been an internal beta tester for the game, seeing as he was so far ahead of everyone else in terms of skill shortly after the game was officially released. Whatever the case may be, because DarkStar tried to maintain as high a standard of recruitment for clan Master as possible, Master was thus a notoriously difficult clan to get into, with trialing periods oftentimes spanning multiple months. It is therefore to noone's surprise that Master remained by far the most looked up to clan with the highest skilled members in North America, including such former greats as Sword, Predator, Psycho, SiNiStaR, Ugly, D00M, Viper, Ninja! and Oldlady.
However, as time went by, so did WoV's prowess increase, so much so that the clan was eventually recognized as rivaling Master in terms of sheer skill. Things turned for the worse as some of Master's core members, most notably DarkStar himself, became more and more inactive towards the end of 2004 and Master suddenly and surprisingly disbanded in December of the same year. WoV used this opportunity to pick up some of the most notable ex-Masters, including former Master Viper, and became the de facto best American clan for its time.
Some of the other ex-Masters formed their own teams, as did Ironlung with Wu, Keyo with clan Prophet or Oldlady with clan Nurse, the latter of which became a temporary playing ground for a lot of former Masters, like Radman or Wick3D aka Raw. Others joined various miscellaneous clans, as did former Master LFT who joined clan YV. Most were either inactive or just simply retired, including Sword, Predator and Psycho.
It was in late 2004 that WoV was suddenly challenged by a European team that claimed to be amongst the best of the best: It was Zedi. This was unexpected, seeing as WoV had very little business with the European side of the community prior to this point in time, but it was apparent that Zedi must have heard of WoV's reputation and decided to challenge them to a match. Zedi pitched Dimension, Angel and Dizzle against WoV's sh0, Deschain and Viper on servers that allowed for both sides to play with relatively low pings. Zedi managed to win the first round 44-38, but lost the second one 32-57, resulting in a total victory for WoV with a score of 76-95.
WoV had tasted blood: It was just a short time after their first major victory against a European clan that WoV was becoming more serious about its aspirations towards greatness and in January 2005 it underwent a major restructuring, forming a new rank that was reserved only for its best and most prestigious players. That rank was named Wovian. The initial players included were Intrepid, sh0, Sauce, Noir, Kidster, Leif, Viper, Deception and Fusion, with later additions being Matrix, Ransom and Autumn/pr0. They sought not only to preserve their merit as the very best competitive clan within the American scene, they also, for the first time ever in the history of American JKA, actively sought out to compete against top European teams.
So it was that Wovian began practicing on European servers a lot to get used to playing with a high ping. They were very quickly recognized as a major contender to many top European clans at that time, although they were completely unaware of the ESL's existence. Wovian played Ozone in an official match on 15.03.2005, a few months before Ozone went on to join the ESL, and they managed to beat the Europeans with a score of 40-25 and 34-40.
A few weeks later Wovian would get to replay Zedi once more; this time they would have to face the famous Europeans at their best: The match was supposed to be played in Zedi's favourite format, namely 2v2, and against their very best team - zedi`Twilight and zedi`Dimension. Even the servers favoured Zedi's cause, so that the Americans would ping between 130-150 on the European server, but Zedi would only ping around 100 on the American one. Despite all of that, Ransom and sh0 managed to defeat the famous team 17-10 in the first round and barely even lost the second round, ending it with a score of 16-17. In fact, shortly after that Wovian would go on to play Zedi once more in a rematch, this time played between Twilight (aka Valentine) and Maze on the one side and Viper, sh0 and Intrepid on the other. Once again the pings favoured the Zedis, but they were unable to achieve victory: Wovian lost the first round 30-26, but won the second one 21-30 for a total score of 51-56.
In the meantime, DarkStar surprisingly made a return and reformed clan Master under the guise of [Ki], which most former Masters flocked to once again. However, even though [Ki] quickly rose to challenge the top clans of the American community, it was widely acknowledged that they could not compete against Wovian anymore, which was now too preoccupied by its quest for world domination. In fact, [Ki] never bothered to formally assert itself against Wovian, being content with playing actively on BWN. For many of its members the game had radically changed, with poke having become ubiquitous, and it was much more difficult and much less satisfying to stick to the old style of play that had made Master so famous - a style that heavily relied on creative and varied attacks. Some of [Ki]'s players adapted, but many refused to use poke to stay competitive and quit the game entirely. Amongst the latter was DarkStar himself, who suddenly disappeared in April 2005, leaving the clan without a leader and eventually letting it fade away into oblivion.
It was during that April of 2005 that Wovian was at the height of its power and officially challenged the very best European team to a match: Wovian would go on to play Team-aXiom. On the second of April, Wovian fielded sh0, Viper and Ransom against aXiom's Dureal, Xerxes and Warp. The first round was to be played on a European server, from which aXiom easily emerged victorious with a score of 68-32. For the second round Wovian tried to
counteract the possibility of aXiom adopting a very passive strategy and picked the duel map Bespine Courtyard for the match. Unfortunately, although Wovian won the second round easily with a score of 82-59, they were unable to catch up with aXiom in points, losing the match with a final score of 114-127.
Even though Wovian managed to play a good game against aXiom, their first major defeat since early 2004 was too big of a disappointment for a clan that was so used to winning every major event they signed up for and so they began falling into inactivity. The resentment that the restructuring caused amongst the members that were not allowed into the elite Wovian section was becoming a burden, with many important members feeling betrayed and leaving the clan out of protest. Wovian tried to counteract this development and eventually abandoned its rank structure in late April 2005, but it was too little too late. The German top clan *aiming would formally challenge the team on the first of May 2005, but Wovian was by that time so inactive that they didn't even respond to the challenge (source).
With this onset of inactivity, some of the core Wovian members began to leave the team. This included most notably Matrix, who joined DoX. Shortly thereafter DoX would also recruit former KoP player subLime, who was widely considered alongside KoP's Dark_Knight to have been the best dual saberist in the entire American community. With those recent acquisitions and the inactivity of Wovian and [Ki], DoX was looking to usurp the title of NA champions. However, their aspirations would be dashed from an unlikely source. A team with no reputation at all had gained tremenduous momentum over the last few months, defeating various smaller clans, and in August 2005 they had become serious enough to challenge DoX to an official match: It was the Jedi Academy Aurochs.
The Aurochs were the first competitive NA-European hybrid team that emerged out of the ideals propagated by The Jedi Academy, which was a school dedicated to helping new players improve in all aspects of JKA. They were also the only competitive team left in JKA to play without poke. As of mid 2005, the Aurochs' lineup included most notably such players like Tido, Jaws! (aka JKXIII), former Master Deqlyn, Sauce, Refl3x, ProXimo, Kain and Masta. DoX did not pull any punches against the Aurochs and fielded their very best lineup, consisting of Matrix, Havok, subLime and skillz. A lot was on the line. After an incredibly close and tense match, the Aurochs won both rounds with scores of 50-48 and 50-46.
The Aurochs went on to play the top clan KoP shortly thereafter and won convincingly with scores of 50-39 and 50-40. Just to make sure everyone got the message, they rechallenged DoX to another game that was held on 10.08.2005. However, this time around DoX was losing so badly that some of their members, most notably subLime in the first round and skillz in the second one, ragequit in the middle of the game, forcing DoX to substitute them with lesser skilled players like bWb and brutality. The scores were therefore appropriately convincing: 50-23 and 50-39 for the Aurochs.
For almost half a year the Aurochs, playing without poke, would remain at the very top of the American competitive scene. In fact, in September 2005 they would go on to become the first American team ever to sign up for the ESL and actively compete against the European elite.
Europe: Zedi and ESL
The early history of European competitive play was largely dominated by the ESL - the Electronic Sports League. Due to the success that JK2 enjoyed as part of the ESL, the organization made available a plethora of ladders for JKA on the release of the game in September 2003. This provided an excellent means for competitive play right from the start, but even with a proper structure secured, European competition flourished outside of the ESL from late 2003 to late 2004.
In fact, although the ESL quickly saw the creation and ascension of great teams like aXiom and *aiming, alongside various strategic developments like the discovery of the wiggle aka poke, many of the best European clans from late 2003 and early 2004 could be found playing in non-ESL competitive venues made available by various others organizations like Wireplay or ClanBase. In fact, it would be those other leagues and tournaments that facilitated the rise of clans like RNX, BBQ and eF.
While aXiom][Ðureal quickly became famous for introducing the poke into the ESL in late 2003, thus ending the domination of staffers on the ladders, clans like BBQ with top players like Picto, Remus and Blindside were already ontop of the European scene. In fact, BBQ was the only team to have been a match for aXiom's early 2v2 stars Ðureal and Sadrior in late 2003, who lost to BBQ early on in aXiom's conception. It was against this background that in January 2004 a few members of the then recently disbanded clans [SASH] and [dF] founded a clan that would become one of the most famous and controversial clans in the history of JKA: Zedi.
Right from its conception, Zedi had great aspirations: Their purpose was to become the best and most respectable clan ever made. The original set of members were Maze, Tox, Cookie, Dimension and Sleepy, the latter of which soon afterwards went out to recruit Dark and Twilight. A few weeks later Envy, pr0 and FeadeR joined the team as well, with Cookie and Tox quickly becoming inactive.
Zedi practiced a great deal before they accepted official matches or signed up for leagues to avoid early losses. They nonetheless incured an early defeat against clan Pain and then, once they had signed up for the Wireplay 4v4 League, lost their first match against BBQ early in 2004. Unfortunately BBQ left the league a few weeks later, disbanding shortly afterwards, but Zedi still had other hurdles to overcome on their road to glory: They were put in the same league division as the top clans RNX and eF.
Although RNX was a serious contender at that time with good players like Evangelic, Lazy for a short while, and LightBladeX, Zedi's main threat was clan eF with such great players as Te0, Ri0 and Lazy. This would be Zedi's greatest challenge yet, and in two incredibly close matches Zedi tied eF 196-196 and 122-122. They would go on to beat RNX twice in the league, but lose once outside of it,
and defeat the rest of the lesser teams signed up. This would secure Zedi the first place in the Wireplay 4v4 League and they were awarded the championship in early April 2004. Later on in the same month Zedi signed up for the ClanBase 2v2 League, which was one of the largest tournaments at that time but unfortunately did not feature any of the other top European teams that participated in the Wireplay League a few weeks earlier, and so Zedi would take the championship uncontested.
In the meantime, the ESL had become the go-to league for central European talent, most notably the Germans. It had a very strong German community with a lot of top clans actively competing against one another, including *aiming, eSe, hac, sR and most notably aXiom. In fact, aXiom's ESL dominance had already taken roots in early 2004 when Ðureal ascended to the first rank of both the international and German 1v1 ladders with barely any losses. He was also at the head of the most successful 2v2 team at that time, consisting of himself and Sadrior. By the time Zedi won their ClanBase championship in April 2004, aXiom's 2v2 team had been placed first in the 2v2 ladder for four consecutive months with a score of 22-2.
Zedi was doing quite well in April 2004 and played a lot of matches outside of the leagues and tournaments that they had signed up for - this included most notably matches against the German top clan Saber Riders, which fielded such famous players as BlooDclaw and zentur1o aka EviLWindu. There is some controversy surrounding that match, however, as team sR had to play with rather high pings on Zedi's server in the first round and yet only just barely lost with a score of 80-89. Also, it is uncertain whether this match was supposed to be mere practice or if it was an official clan match.
Despite the success, Zedi was quickly becoming inactive in May 2004. In fact, even though they knew very well about the existence of the ESL and even signed up for it, they didn't play any matches there at all. (source) After a few additional games outside of any formal venue, including games against *aiming, hac, XiO and TuA, Zedi officially disbanded in October 2004 for a variety of reasons, but mostly due to the frictions that had formed between their players.
The remaining Zedi players, most of them inactive by that point, formed team Presidents and even signed it up for ESL, but they once again failed to play any games outside of two 2v2s against insignificant teams. Around November 2004 Zedi was reformed once again when Presidents merged with clan [<<] and brought in new players like AngeL. (source) This created a streak of activity where Zedi would go on to play a lot of clans over a period of a few weeks, including the top American clan WoV, to which they lost 44-38 and 32-57. However, they once again completely avoided playing on the ESL, despite having league accounts and registered teams.
In the meantime, aXiom established itself as the most dominant force on the ESL. Ðureal stopped losing 1v1s entirely by that point, running a score of 142 wins to 4 losses on the international 1v1 ladder, and the majority of the top 10 players on there were on his team. He would go on to win a large 64 players international tournament in early 2005, beating most notably aXiom][blooDclaw 8-5, Crypt0n 10-5, the legendary Austrian staffer eviLwindu 7-5 and his teammate Xerxes 2-1 in the finals. Ðureal's 2v2 team with Sadrior was equally as successful: By the end of 2004, they were ranked first on the ladder with a record of 28 wins and 2 losses. He also signed up aXiom for the TDM ladder in early 2004 where they kept a record of 18 wins and 1 loss, beating such top German clans like *aiming, hac and RGA on multiple occasions. The team seemed unbeatable and aXiom would eventually go ahead and host a 2v2 tournament in December 2004.
Zedi signed up their main 2v2 team consisting of Dimension and Twilight for aXiom's tournament. They reached the finals of that tournament without facing anyone of note, but were now pitched against aXiom's famous duo: Sadrior and Ðureal. Unfortunately the match never got off the ground because Zedi repeatedly failed to show up for the match, so aXiom was awarded a default win.
This sparked a controversy that put Zedi's achievements into question. Before the official dissolution of Zedi in October 2004, their results page correctly distinguished between matches that were official, matches that were played as part of the Wireplay or ClanBase leagues and matches that were merely practice, calling the latter 'friendly'. (source) However, Zedi did not properly distinguish between official matches and scrims, so they calculated the practice matches into their overall score, with many teams complaining that Zedi was priding itself on doing well in scrims that other clans didn't take seriously. (source)
The controversy reached a highpoint in December 2004 when zedi´Dimension and zedi´Nanaki went on to show off results on the ESL forums of matches that Zedi played against some of the top German clans at that time. They were widely criticised for bragging about victories of unofficial matches and were called out multiple times to play the teams in the ESL. Zedi did not comment on those allegations and although they promised to play on the ESL, no TFFA matches were conducted. Some of their players, like Dimension, Nanaki and Twilight joined the ESL 1v1 ladder shortly thereafter, but were largely unsuccessful: Dimension most notably played Ðureal in a 1v1 and lost both rounds with scores of 8-2 and 8-6 (demo); Ðureal played Nanaki shortly thereafter and won against him as well. Twilight, on the other hand, only played two matches against nobody of note and left the ladder shortly thereafter.
Zedi's activity remained sporadic for the first few months of 2005, largely consisting of spontaneous matches against various clans. They most notably lost to Wovian twice around that time, despite fielding their best 2v2 teams against the Americans. It was also in early 2005 that Zedi had shut down their website for various reasons and replaced it with a score table that did not discriminate between 'friendly' and official matches at all anymore, with no mention of their match
against Wovian either. (source)
Zedi made a very short lived comeback in September 2005 with more promises of playing games on the ladders (source), but this time around, they did resolve to take the challenges of the other teams more seriously. In fact, push came to shove in October 2005 when Zedi played the only official ESL match in the history of the clan, which was against the then top German team biowar/bioXar. They lost both rounds with scores of 44:34 and 104:67, with Dimension trying to save face by claiming that Zedi had fielded JK2 players that were not ready to face the Germans in JKA.(source)
More importantly, June 2005 saw the formation of a team that would go on to become actually great: no.Limits. Right from the start team no.Limits was recognized as a serious contender after they had managed to assert themselves against top clans like the second ranked LeiSure as well as the old timers *aiming and hac.
However, noone at that time could have forseen what would befall the European competitive community in that autumn - something happened in August 2005 that fundamentally upset the entire order of the ESL and forever marked the European competitive scene: Ozone had signed up for the ESL.
Highpoint: Late 2005-2006
In August 2005, the ESL ladder had for the most part a fairly stable structure: The top 5 was dominated by well established German clans, including *aiming, hac and LeiSure. Team aXiom was at that time still widely considered to be the most skilled and successful of the bunch, having reigned supreme in every ESL ladders for well over a year now.
Their star player Dureal was running a score of 306 wins to 10 losses on the international 1v1 ladder. Team no.Limits was quickly making a name for itself by defeating some of the better clans, but even they lost a match against aXiom by a pretty significant margin in June 2005.
It was in this context that Ozone first joined the ESL - a somewhat unknown team at that time. Although some of their members were familiar, especially o3Dark aka The ThinG, who played for Zedi in 2004 and interacted with some of the people on the ESL forums, and the duo inSane and Osiris who had signed up for the 2v2 ladder and played a few matches a month before that, the vast majority of them had little to no prior exposure to the ESL. However, they had gained a lot of skill through practice sessions against other clans and various competitive events outside of the ESL, so that by the time they joined the league, most of them were already seasoned competitive players. Ozone's main lineup at that time consisted of Dark, inSane, OsiriS, Hell Raiser and Ven aka RiC.
Exactly how skilled they were, and how quickly they would adapt to the new environment, nobody could have predicted. Their first matches were against unknown teams, but they quickly gained momentum and started challenging more established teams like 333, which they defeated with convincing scores. Ozone then went on to defeat the entire upper echelon of the competitive European scene: In short succession they beat *aiming (in TDM as well as 2v2), LeiSure, sG/bioXar, hac and even the rising no.Limits with scores of 36-36 and 36-28.
In just two months Ozone had managed to rise from zero to hero and was all of a sudden perceived to be a real threat to aXiom's supremacy. Team aXiom had become somewhat inactive at that point, having only played four matches in the last four months, but they stood up to the challenge and scheduled an official match against Ozone on the 26th of October. Nothing but the very best lineup would do against Ozone, so aXiom fielded Sadrior, Dureal, Slither aka Warhammer and Evil aka Shirasaya. Ozone returned the favour and fielded Dark, inSane, Osiris (playing as RiC) and Hell Raiser. In the most anticipated and widely talked about game in the history of JKA, Ozone came out ahead in the first round with a score of 57-36 and even managed to win the second one 69-55. They had done what nobody had thought possible until then: They had effectively dethroned aXiom. Thus began the age of Ozone.
Team aXiom recognized after their defeat against Ozone that they had become too inactive to deserve their first spot on the ladder and consequently withdrew from competitive gaming in late 2005. Some of their more active members went on to form neXor.Gaming aka Serenata in November 2005, including Evil and Warhammer, later on recruiting aoshi and divinity into the team. Others joined p3g in mid-2006, like Xerxes, Warp, blooDclaw and Sadrior. Both teams were fairly successful, although they could not live up to the standard set by their former team and were mostly on the receiving end in significant matches against Ozone and no.Limits.
That the Germans were finally eclipsed in JKA, after having dominanted the competitive scene for two years, would become especially apparent during the ESL's Jedi Nations Cup in early 2006. The Jedi Nations Cup (JNC) was a special event where national teams were formed and pitched against one another in a large tournament setting. Both the German as well as the British national teams fought their way through their respective sides of the brackets and met in the finals in February of the same year. The British team consisted almost entirely of Ozone players and fielded a pure Ozone lineup with Dark, Hell Raiser, Osiris and MinTy (Ven) against the Germans in the finals. The Germans had a mixture of aXiom and *aiming players, fielding *aiming.BuDgi, *aiming.divinity, aXiom][blooDclaw and *aiming.bAsti in the first round and replacing bAsti with aXiom][Evil in the second one. This JNC match showed JKA at its tactically most sophisticated, with both teams playing at their very best. The British team eventually managed to win the first round with a close score of 26-21 and the second one with 60-31, which the Germans gave up on in the last few minutes of the game.
Despite this blow to their confidence, the German-speaking JKA scene continued to go strong: EviLwindu aka zentur1o was at the height of his power, winning two significant German cups in mid/late 2006 by defeating such players as mrl 3-2, Despair 10-5 and Warhammer twice, once 2-0 and once 3-2 in the finals. When it came to team games, even though some of the newer clans like roYality, p3g and corona were less successful, *aiming remained a serious force on the ladder. They prevailed against the other German teams, keeping their ambitions in check, and remained competitive even against no.Limits, to which they lost once in September 2006 and won once in November of the same year.
Up until late 2006, it would be Ozone that would reign supreme as the most dominant force in competitive JKA . They would go on to win many significant matches, defeating most notably eSe, no.Limits, Number 2 and bioXar in April 2006, the latter of which fielded such famous players as EviLwindu and former aXiom][blooDclaw. But the vast majority of the other better clans got a taste of Ozone's superiority as well: They took out promising newcomers like roYality, defeating them twice, p3g twice as well, TuA and 333 once each and Jedi Sentinels thrice.
Team no.Limits on the other hand had now thoroughly established itself as a JKA powerhouse that could take on the best of the best. They even managed to beat Ozone in March 2006 with a very close total score of 94-92 and kept competing against Ozone for the first place on the ladder until the end of Ozone's stay in late 2006. It was no.Limits
that kept beating up the aXiom successor teams Serenata (neXor) and p3g in multiple games and kept the other successful teams, including p3g/corona, 333, Number 2 and *aiming in check. They were also on the forefront of various creative venues, with #nL.averan releasing the excellent sabering fragvideo Decapitation in February 2006.
Team no.Limits' best player, the legendary staffer Cube, would go on to win the JKA 1v1 World Cup 2005 in October by defeating aXiom][Evil (aka Shirasaya) 4-3, Ozone's inSane 8-6 and P!ng 10-8. He won the second World Cup organized in mid 2006 as well, beating most notably *aiming.divinity 10-5 and zentur1o (aka EvilWindu) 10-8. But that was not enough: Cube also won a huge 128 players 1v1 tournament in May 2006 by defeating Osiris with a score of 10-7, then Ozone's famous Dark 9-7 and finally Hell Raiser 10-5. He then played aXiom][Warhammer (now in p3g) in October on the 1v1 ladder, beating him with scores of 6-2 and 10-8. Cube and his teammate S3cht would also defeat Ozone's famous 2v2 duo inSane and Osiris in the 2v2 ladder in early 2006 and score many significant victories after that, including games against TuA's main 2v2 team consisting of Hell Raiser and Dwight and Number 2's HiC and Mage. Thus team no.Limits remained successful throughout the entire year in every area of competitive play, ending it with a total score of 16 wins and 2 losses in the 2v2 ladder, and 46 wins and 13 losses in the TDM one with many tournament victories and championships under their belt.
As the end of the year was dawning, Ozone was becoming more and more inactive and eventually decided to withdraw from competition after a final flurry of matches in October, ending their domination with a final score of 54 wins to 4 losses and leaving the ladder to no.Limits. But the year came to a close with a bang instead of a whimper: In October 2006 the Aurochs player P!ng released the now famous fragvideo Revelation 4 to great critical acclaim.
It was at that time in October 2006 that the once completely unknown and casual Croatian JA+ clan Jedi Sentinels was gaining more and more momentum. They had become competitive at the beginning of the year and were now becoming a serious force on the ESL; this was especially due to the talent of two of their best players: Minneyar and Grizzli. These two had improved in skill so quickly that they were able to compete against the very best that the European scene had to offer at that time. Going as far back as May, their 2v2 team had played close losses against Ozone's famous inSane and Osiris and no.Limits' Cube and S3chT. However, it was in that October that they almost managed to take down Ozone's main team, playing a draw against them in terms of scores, winning the first round 47-41 and losing the second one 37-43, but losing the match due to the ELO scoring system. It was also in October that Minneyar played the seemingly unbeatable staffer zentur1o on the ladder and despite all odds managed to achieve results that topped those of any other player since Dureal from 2005 and would not be repeated ever since: He played a draw against zentur1o with scores of 3-3 and 5-5.
So it came to be that when the ESL organized an invite-only tournament in December, made up of the best and most successful 1v1 players at that time, including Cube, zentur1o, Osiris, Warhammer, S3chT, Hell Raiser and mariachi, the up and coming Croatian player Minneyar was obviously invited. Indeed, this would be the final breakout event for Minneyar, who defeated Cube 10-4 and 10-9, then S3chT 2-1, 3-10 and 2-0 (demo), and was then supposed to play the great zentur1o in the finals. Meanwhile, zentur1o had defeated Osiris 5-2 and 1-1, and Warhammer (again!) with scores of 10-2 and 5-4 (demo). Unfortunately the finals never took place because of various difficulties that arose with scheduling the game, but the sole fact that Minneyar had come this far was enough to secure his place amongst the greatest players in JKA history.(source)
Thus ended 2006.
America: The ESL as an International League
The American competitive scene was still largely informal in late 2005. Even worse, BWN was losing its charm and was having a lot of server problems around that time; they would eventually shut down completely for server related reasons in early 2006, but even before that their contribution to the flourishing of the American competitive community was becoming less and less significant. Meanwhile, the Jedi Academy Aurochs were left uncontested, and with no adequate formal league structure to provide a proper venue for competition, they decided early on to sign up for the ESL and would be the first American team to do so. Despite their promising appearence, the Aurochs were largely unsuccessful in their first few months on the ladder, losing to minor teams like TuA, sF and guArdians.
While the Aurochs were preoccupied with the ESL, former Wovian Ransom returned from inactivity and decided to join incognito a random JA+ clan called SITH in hopes of finding new talent and converting the clan to competitive play. He also convinced his former teammate Wovian Viper to do the same and both became known as SITH_Judas and SITH_Black respectively. However, that was only supposed to be a side venue, since both of them had larger projects in mind - it was at that time that they joined the newly created pan-American team Number 2.
Number 2 was the brainchild of two completely unknown but talented players: HiC and Mage. They had seemingly appeared out of nowhere, but had become very good in a very short amount of time and gained the respect of many well established competitive American players. Number 2 was to become the American flagship on the ESL; with the Aurochs being very strict in their recruitment and their adherence to a non-poke style of playing, Number 2 was the perfect clan for many of the more ambitious Americans to join. In fact, most of the former Wovians would join it, including Matrix, Intrepid, Vozen aka Serium and of course Ransom and Viper; other notable members included dox.subLime, KlAze, Mugenji, Lawless, Achilles and Ascension. It was a colourful mixture of various top clans, although the only players to actually play regularly for Number 2 in high-stakes games were Ransom, Viper, Matrix, Vozen, HiC and Mage.
It was with the creation of Number 2 that the transformation of the ESL from a mostly German league to a fully international one had now been completed. With teams as diverse as the British Ozone and TuA, the Polish no.Limits and 333 and now the American Aurochs and Number 2 actively competing on the ladders, the ESL had become the international center of the competitive scene. This brought many challenges in its wake that the ESL would have to resolve; most of the issues revolved around server choices for cross-continental play, seeing as JKA's gameplay was heavily affected by internet latency. As teams and players barely ever had access to servers that simultaneously provided the American as well as the European teams with acceptable pings, debates raged on in the ESL as to what the proper code of conduct for cross-continental play ought to be. It was tentatively agreed upon that both sides should try as much as possible to minimize ping issues for their opponents, but seeing as the amount of servers available to play on was quite limited, both sides oftentimes accused each other of intentionally trying to cheat their opponents on pings.
Whatever the case may be, the American teams were most of the time treated with respect. Number 2's relation to the Aurochs was very friendly and although the two teams never played each other with serious lineups, it was informally agreed that Number 2 would take on the mantle of the best American clan at that time, especially in light of their successes and Aurochs' lack thereof in early 2006. That is not to say Number 2 was having it easy: They lost early to Ozone 51-28 on the European server and 32-33 on the American one. They went on to beat a few insignificant teams and lost to *aiming, LeiSure and hac in November. Their fortunes recovered a bit in December when they beat LeiSure and *aiming, but lost to neXor (Serenata) and once more to hac.
Despite these setbacks, Number 2 was proving again and again that it could actively compete against the top that the European scene had to offer. In their next match against Ozone in January 2006, the scores were much closer: 80-67 for Number 2 in the first round and 41-67 for Ozone in the second, resulting in a win with a total score of 121-134 for Ozone. In fact, this would culminate in a five games winning streak in March 2006, where Number 2 managed to do the unthinkable and actually take games off of both Ozone and no.Limits. They would be unable to repeat those achievements in April, once again losing to both of the previously mentioned clans as well as neXor and corona. They left the ladder after their losses in late April 2006 with a record of 21 wins and 17 losses.
It was around the same time in early 2006 that clan SITH was on the rise. The ex-Wovian players Ransom (aka Krazee) and Viper had managed to turn the completely unknown JA+ clan into a serious force within the American competitive community - working on developing the great potential of such players as Fire and Mith. SITH also signed up for the ESL, though they had even less success compared to the larger and more well known American teams on the ladder. However, a small rivalry developed between the Aurochs and SITH shortly thereafter. Push came to shove when the Aurochs challenged and defeated SITH in an official match in February 2006 with scores of 45-33 and 43-48.
With Number 2 having left the ladder in April, the stage was left open for SITH and the Aurochs to fight it out on the American side of things. The Aurochs challenged SITH for a second time shortly after Number 2 left the ladder, this time facing SITH's best lineup, which consisted of Viper, Joker and Ransom. In a rather close match, the Aurochs once again managed to emerge victorious with scores of 48-38 and 39-43. They would go on a six games winning streak before
losing to the bigger clans on the ladder, including TuA, no.Limits and p3g. This didn't discourage the Aurochs though and in a flurry of matches in June 2006 they managed to defeat a lot of well established clans in short succession, including roYality, fiDelity, BolS, TuA's B-team twice, SITH for a third time (now renamed 'Insane') and the then emerging Jedi Sentinels, who fielded the top players Minneyar, Grizzli and Unique. This culminated in the Aurochs reaching the third rank in the ESL - something that no other non-poke team would manage to repeat until late 2009.
In mid-2006 Wovian was becoming more active again. They formed their own ESL team in April and were being spotted practicing on various servers - they even went so far as to hold an internal tournament called the Wovian Classic. Now, because the Aurochs player Jaws aka JKXIII was also affiliated with Wovian at that time, he was allowed to take part in their tournament. Jaws went on to easily defeat Deception, Matrix and played Intrepid in the semi-finals, beating him 12-10 in a very drawn out game. He was awarded a default victory when players from the other side of the bracket were failing to show up.
The Aurochs saw this as a good opportunity to challenge Wovian to an official match, seeing as the two teams had never officially played each other and the Aurochs were eager to maintain their grip on the top spot of the American competitive community after Number 2's departure. Although Wovian kept declining the challenge, stating that they were still too inactive to play, the entire discussion got rather heated and the Aurochs could be spotted playing Wovian in full tags and with proper lineups at various points in time. This resulted in some confusion on both sides, as nobody was sure which matches were to be counted as proper because nothing was officially scheduled, with each side claiming that their own victory was to be considered as officially binding.
In any case, the Aurochs went on to play p3g twice in a row, facing a lineup consisting of almost purely former aXiom players at both occasions. Although the Aurochs were underperforming for technical reasons, the scores were much closer than anyone would have expected: 57-53 and 19-33 for the first match and 35-38 and 37-59 for the second one. For various reasons, the team was becoming more and more inactive after those matches and eventually decided to leave the ladder in August 2006 with a final score of 26 wins to 14 losses.
It was only appropriate that their final match took place against Krazee's team Dynamite, which the Aurochs were even unable to field a proper lineup against. Team Dynamite was the inofficial reincarnation of Number 2 and was formed in June 2006, consisting almost entirely of members from the previous team; even HiC and Mage were present, but neither actively played after the dissolution of Number 2 in April. Dynamite remained inactive until after their match against the Aurochs in August 2006, after which they went on to defeat most notably *aiming 59-47 and 33-35 and even played a draw against no.Limits in September. Despite their performance, Dynamite seemed at that time even more short lived than their predecessor was; they left the ladder in September, staying for slightly over a month with a total score of 9 wins, 2 losses and 1 draw.
Surprisingly enough, out of the four major American contenders, namely Number 2, Dynamite, the Aurochs and SITH/Insane, it would be Insane that proved to have the longest staying power on the ladders in 2006. After many months of harsh defeats, players like Mith and Fire were starting to live up to their potential. Their reputation and that of their entire clan would take a tragic hit towards the end of the year when it was found out that during their match against no.Limits their player JoKeR uploaded modded saber hilts that increased the damage and extended the range of his swings on the server they were supposed to play the second round on. Insane was caught red-handed and was consequently kicked out of the league. JoKeR was banned for life, the rest of the players were banned for a year. Most in the community speculated that the rest of the clan had nothing to do with this debacle and that both Mith and Fire didn't even know about the existence of those modded saber hilts on their server, so they were pardoned in early 2007, but Insane as a clan effectively stopped existing in late 2006.
With TNT inactive, Insane completely disgraced and the Aurochs on the verge of collapse in October 2006, the American competitive scene hit a new low point. However, it is worth mentioning that it was exactly during this October 2006 that clan Savior was formed, with pr0fits and hisownfoot joining it shortly after its inception. Savior was just a tiny and unknown clan at that point, but it would eventually grow into one of the most significant influences on both the ESL as well as the American scene as a whole.
Transformation and Renewal: 2007
Team no.Limits was at the height of its power at the start of 2007. With Ozone having left the ladder due to inactivity, the only real contenders left were *aiming, neXor and p3g/corona. That no.Limits was indeed superior to the latter two would become especially apparent during the 2007 ESL New Years Cup, which all the major teams attended. In that tournament no.Limits played *aiming in the semi-finals, beating the Germans in three rounds with scores of 53-41, 27-35 and 36-33; and they went on to play neXor in the finals, losing the first round 19-23, winning the second 25-24 and also winning the third one 53-36, thereby winning the entire tournament. (source)
Indeed, no.Limits would further cement their reputation as the undisputedly best clan in JKA at that time by defeating p3g 78-75 and 89-87 on the ladder, then winning games against such teams as Jedi Sentinels, 333 and Godlike amongst others, and going on a 14 games winning streak from January to April, which was only stopped when p3g and neXor merged to form xeTox and finally became good enough to challenge no.Limits' supremacy, inflicting on them their first loss in almost half a year.
Throughout that time #nL.Cube and his teammate S3chT were also left uncontested in the 2v2 ladder, leading it with a score of 16-2. After Cube had left the 1v1 ladder in November 2006, S3chT quickly ascended to the first place in early 2007 and firmly established himself over the rest of the competition in the next couple of months by outscoring the second ranked player with over 100 points on the ladder. However, Cube himself was far from being inactive: He participated in the 32 players ESL tournament in February 2007, beating most notably Warhammer 10-3, Despair 10-8 in the semi-finals and the Jedi Sentinels player Grizzli in the finals with a close score of 5-4, winning the tournament. (source)
The fact that Cube only really had to struggle against Grizzli is an attestation of how far Jedi Sentinels had come: After all, the only team outside of p3g that gave no.Limits any significant trouble on the ladder was Jedi Sentinels, which had technically won their game against no.Limits in January with scores of 41-32 and 16-21, but had lost the match due to the controversial ELO scoring system used on the ESL. Both Minneyar and Grizzli were by then recognized as belonging amongst the very best players in the world. Minneyar himself had managed to rank second in the inofficial JKA World Cup 2007 in January by defeating the ex-aXiom player Shirasaya (aka EviL) 4-2, the American player Mith 5-4 and just barely losing to mrl 7-8 in the finals (source) (source2). He also managed to reach the finals of an ESL tournament in March, beating ritchey on the way and barely losing to 333's Wonder in the finals. Minneyar and Grizzli reformed their 2v2 team in February and went on a 10 games winning streak on the ladder until March, most notably defeating the then second ranked team consisting of #nL.slize and #nL.aline with scores of 7-7 and 20-14.
Both of the famous Jedi Sentinels players were invited to join o3Dark's plans to bring back clan Zedi in February 2007. In retrospect, Dark's Zedi of 2007 was only Zedi in name, seeing as it was much more an unintended reincarnation of Ozone than anything else; the team consisted almost entirely of Ozone's former core players Osiris, InSane, Ven, Dark and Fox, with the addition of the two JS stars Minneyar and Grizzli. Former zedi´Twilight did join the team on the ESL, but their lineup almost always consisted of a combination of Ozone's core players and either Minneyar or Grizzli.
Whatever the case may be, Zedi (o3) was rather successful during its short run on the ladder: They defeated every major team, including *aiming and XiO. However, in a serious upset they just barely lost to xeTox by 1 point in March, winning the first round 24-22 and losing the second one 31-34. They continued to go on a 8 games winning streak, most notably beating the American clan Sin even on the US server with scores of 35-27 (NA) and 36-17 (EU), but were already getting more and more inactive towards the end of March; they eventually played xeTox again in a state of near inactivity and lost once again. Zedi (o3) would leave the ladder shortly after with a final score of 18 wins and 2 losses and would never return again.
Team Sin was the only purely American team left on the ladder in early 2007. They were formed as a more serious and competitive branch of clan Savior, which itself was on the rise back towards the end of 2006. Before they signed up for the ESL, Savior competed a lot against the American branch of clan vVv, which boasted such players like Maverick, former DoX skillz and Technique as well as former Aurochs Evenue. Savior benefited a great deal from the small rivalry that had formed between those two teams and Savior eventually began to informally outplay vVv in early 2007. In fact, it was in early 2007 that vVv retired from competitive gaming and Savior went on to pick up their remaining active players, including Evenue and Technique, but they also recruited ex-Number 2 and Dynamite players like Matrix, subLime and Necrofusion.
So it came to be that by the turn of the year Savior ended up the only major competitive American clan in the entire JKA community. They were completely uncontested on the American side, seeing as there was no real competition anymore to begin with, but were now focusing their attention on the ESL. Their main team consisted of Matrix, hisownfoot, pr0fits aka Komence, Evenue, Elminster, W@R and Ascension, and they went on to win 11 games by the end of April 2007, most notably beating the then third ranked xeTox 40-18 (US) and 20-41 (EU). Savior/Sin lost their only game at that time to o3Dark's Zedi in March, as was previously mentioned.
In early April 2007, Ransom aka Krazee briefly showed up and rebuilt team Dynamite with players like Khako and the previously banned and disgraced JoKer from SITH/Insane, who was playing on a fake account to circumvent his ban. They played 8 games in April against nobody of note and won all of them. However, they did manage to beat Sin in an incredibly close game, winning the first round 32-30 and losing the second one 27-28. They also signed up for the ESL's TDM tournament and reached the finals by defeating the Polish team WhiteRabbit, but lost it against xeTox in three rounds with a final score of 92-120. Despite that, Dynamite's stay would remain very brief and the team would eventually disappear once again from the competitive scene by the end of the month, while Sin continued to go strong.
Sin played some good games in mid 2007, winning against teams like corona/crontex, TuA and roYality, but suffering defeats at the hands of no.Limits and BHK. Team no.Limits on the other hand remained dominant, most notably beating xeTox in May and staying ontop of the rest of the competition. Cube participated in
another tournament in May, beating xeTox players noiz 10-8, 10-7 and mrl 6-4 and 10-6 in the semi-finals before facing Ozone's Osiris, who was playing for no.Limits after Zedi (o3) left the ladder in April. However, even Osiris could not stop the Polish staffer, so Cube went to take the tournament with scores of 9-6 and 9-10 in the finals. (source)
However, the biggest and most significant event of the year occurred in July: After a two year break, devon and Dureal had held talks about restoring the team and team aXiom had finally returned to the competitive scene. There was a great amount of hype surrounding aXiom's return, with the German ESL section featuring lengthy articles on the team and its players. (source) Indeed, this was not supposed to be a mere aXiom successor team like p3g or neXor; no, this was the real deal - all of the old greats like Xerxes, Zer0soul, devon, Warp, EviL aka Shirasaya, blooDclaw and of course Dureal himself had returned. They did sign a few new players to bolster their ranks, including former zedi`Twilight and Ozone core player InSane and later on *aiming's raDonis, but aXiom's core players would almost always consist purely of the original team. Although none of them would actively compete in the 1v1 ladders anymore, devon and raDonis had quickly taken up the number one spot in the 2v2 ladder without losing a single game, and the team signed up for the TDM ladder two weeks after the announcement of their return.
Their first game in two years took place against the now well established Jedi Sentinels, which aXiom managed to defeat without too much trouble, winning both rounds with scores of 39-21 and 63-57. Team aXiom was off to a good start. In fact, they would go on to win the next many
games and play against their old rivals *aiming in August 2007. However, aXiom had notable players missing, and this time around *aiming came out ahead, being the more seasoned team at that time and inflicting a significant defeat on aXiom in both rounds with scores of 40-33 and 32-26.
It was around that time in August that the ESL decided to host another Jedi Nations Cup (JNC), with teams grouped according to nationality playing each other in a grand tournament. The JNC was initially well received with many teams signing up for it early; a lot of the early matches from the group stages were played as well, but it became more and more difficult for organizers and teams to stay within the strict time schedules given for each match. In fact, more and more default wins were given out, with some teams dropping out entirely, and the situation got so dire that the cup had to be put on hold for a few weeks to get everything sorted out again. Although it eventually resumed, the situation did not improve much, which lead the ESL admins to abort the tournament entirely.
The failure of the JNC 2007 was an indicator of the state of competitive JKA as a whole. After four successful years, inactivity had become increasingly problematic - but this time not for individual teams or players, but for the entire competitive community. The 1v1 tournament that the ESL organized in October told the sad tale: While most of the tournaments so far had at the very least 32 players signing up, this time around it was only 14; S3chT won it over Minneyar 10-9 in the finals, but besides these two, barely anyone of note signed up for it. In fact, many famous teams and players were leaving the game entirely at that point; aXiom's return was too little too late to bring about a second golden age of competitive JKA.
Team no.Limits, for example, was having inactivity issues since the middle of 2007 and after one last great victory against *aiming on the 13th of August, they decided to retire the team from competitive play, leaving the ladder with a total score of 74 wins, 1 draw and 18 losses. Shortly after that, Savior's team Sin left the ladder in September with a score of 27 wins and 11 losses; Savior's second team would remain playing for a while longer, most notably defeating Krazee's team Dynamite, which had returned for a handful of weeks in October, but both Dynamite as well as Savior would leave the ladders entirely by the end of the year. Even the largest German clan at that time, namely xeTox, would retire and disband after the debacle in September during their most recent match against Sin, where they had provoked the Americans into playing the second round of their game against xeTox with pickups enabled, which was the only way the Europeans stood a chance against Sin after having lost the first round with a 20 points deficit.
But then aXiom defeated *aiming; with other words, it was not all doom and gloom for JKA. Both *aiming, aXiom and Jedi Sentinels as well as a variety of other German-speaking clans like myINFACT/corona and saberAcademy were still around. The ESL's diversity did take a hit, but there was still a lot to be gained from competitive JKA. Most importantly, unlike the other events that took place towards the end of the year, the traditional large 1v1 December Cup was a huge success. It attracted such former greats as zentur1o aka EviLwindu, Shirasaya and S3chT and almost all of the matches there were actually played.
In that final cup, Shirasaya easily defeated bimon, raDonis and scored a default win against S3chT in the semi-finals; in the meantime, zentur1o beat kAmui, pr0fits, torax aka dreamz and was now pitched against Shirasaya in the finals. There zentur1o lost the first round to the aXiom player 5-4, won the second one 7-10 and also managed to win the third one 5-4, taking another large tournament and further cementing his reputation as one of the very best 1v1 players ever to have graced JKA.
Competitive Fall: 2008
Although team no.Limits had officially left the ladders in late 2007, S3chT remained competitively active for a long time after that. He participated in a 32 players tournament in February 2008 and won it by defeating wonder 10-9 and 10-7 in the finals. S3chT and a few other ex-nL members, including Cube, slize etc, would in fact join hisownfoot's American/European hybrid team called Cross-Continental (CC) in early 2008. This team consisted for the most part of Savior members like pr0fits, Matrix, Elminster, Marduk, Evenue and Ascension, with the addition of the newly recruited former no.Limits players, but it would be hisownfoot, pr0fits, S3chT and Matrix that would in various combinations make up CC's lineup in almost all of their matches.
CC had quite a successful but short lived career on the ladder: They defeated TuA twice in early 2008 and, more importantly, took out the then first placed saberAcademy with scores of 29-16 and 38-45. However, their biggest achievement would occur in May, when they challenged and defeated aXiom's lineup, consisting of Dureal, mrl and Zer0soul, despite suffering a ping disadvantage against them. In fact, despite all odds CC managed to take both rounds 45-35 and 47-46 in a significant upset. So when the ESL announced in February 2008 a large 2v2 tournament, hisownfoot and S3chT immediately decided to sign up for it to represent CC.
Many significant teams signed up for this tournament, which ended up filling 32 slots with 2v2 teams, including such high-profile ones as Jedi Sentinels' Minneyar and eazy, *aiming's Talon and bimon, *aiming's dev and Serrazel, aXiom's raDonis and Twilight as well as the notorious Serenata team consisting of Shirasaya and despair. Talon and bimon lost their match against aXiom's team early on in an incredibly close game with scores of 12-13, 12-8 and 10-11, while the second *aiming team defeated the Jedi Sentinels with significant scores in both rounds, although there were problems trying to schedule the match and the two rounds had to be played separately. Whatever the case may be, Serrazel and dev went on to play and lose against Serenata in the semi-finals with scores of 15-20, 20-16 and 14-18. CC's 2v2 team had a rather easy bracket, getting into the finals without too much trouble. So in May 2008, Serenata played CC in the finals and won the first round against the hybrid team 19-17 (EU), but lost the second round 11-20 (US), and despite all odds they also lost the third round 12-17 (EU), with CC taking one of the largest 2v2 tournaments in the history of competitive JKA.
But CC was not yet finished. They went on to play a handful of games on the ladder, bringing their winning streak up to 16 games before they challenged aXiom for a second time in June 2008. Team aXiom was doing incredibly well at that time as well: They had played 22 games since the start of the year and only lost one of them, namely the one they had previously played against CC in May. But when CC rechallenged aXiom in June, things just did not seem to go all that well for the Europeans: They lost the match 23-42 and 39-26 for a total score of 62-68 to CC. However, CC's time on the ladder was coming to a close and after one final disastrous match against an unknown team on the 1st of July, during which they had incurred their very first loss ever, CC had officially disbanded after 17 wins and 1 loss.
It was around that time that Jedi Sentinels had also left the ladder after a rather successful run: They had won 16 out of their 18 games, but had lost twice to *aiming in fairly one-sided matches. In fact, *aiming had now deservedly ascended to the first rank on the ladder - the only defeat that they suffered at that time was an incredibly unlucky game against saberAcademy in January 2008, where they had lost both rounds 35-36. However, *aiming went on to beat TuA's main team thrice, corona twice, Jedi Sentinels twice as was previously mentioned, and a handful of smaller teams until July. They also won two local tournaments around that time: One was a German 2v2 tournament that took place around March and during which dev and Serrazel defeated a minor aXiom team consisting of aoshi and battousai, advancing to the finals against a second *aiming team from the other half of the bracket, against which dev and Serrazel emerged victorious (source). The second tournament was a German-Polish TDM cup that saw *aiming defeat SithAlliance and the newly emerging team aimneX in the finals, which had fielded rzr, ragga0, Die_d00pel_Null and Westbam amongst others.
So in mid 2008 the competitive scene was once again divided between the two powerhouses aXiom and *aiming, with both of them restored to their former glory. It therefore comes as no surprise that the two teams would play each other four times over the course of the year to determine who truly deserved the first spot on the ladder; the
only other major contender was corona, which *aiming easily swept away in three victories in a row in late 2008. However, out of the four matches that *aiming played against aXiom from August to December 2008, they only managed to win one of them, namely the final one in December. Although the matches were for the most part incredibly close, where victories were decided by a 2-3 point difference in scores, aXiom had emerged as the undisputed champion by the end of the year.
It was at exactly that time in late 2008 that aXiom had fielded an incredibly powerful 2v2 team made up of Zer0soul and mrl to conquer the ESL 2v2 ladder. They stayed for about half a year, playing 35 games in total and emerging undefeated at the end of November. There was no lack of competition either: The team most notably defeated S3chT and Shyne 15-10 and 15-14 in July, Warhammer and pain 16-15 and 20-11 in August, the famous Dwight and HellRaiser team 16-14 and 20-9 in August as well, and finally the then first ranked Serenata duo Shirasaya and despair with a score of 20-10 and 11-9. Zer0soul and mrl turned somewhat inactive towards November though, having played no matches in October at all; this also explains why they never played a certain other team that joined in October and left in November: Jedi Sentinels. Minneyar and Grizzli briefly returned in October to win 15 matches in a row, get to the first spot on the ladder and then leave again in early November.
In September 2008 the ESL organized a larger 32 players 1v1 tournament called Coruscant Champion Cup (CCC), using for the first time in ESL history custom maps for its matches. Although zentur1o was missing, the tournament itself was quite well attended. Dureal met his teammate raDonis in the first round and defeated him in a close game 4-3 and 9-7, while *aiming.kAmui had to play S3chT early on, losing to the Belgian player 4-5, 6-5 and 4-10. Dureal went on to play S3chT next, whom he managed to beat with scores of 3-2, 5-10 and 6-4, and was now pitched against Minneyar in the semi-finals. This on its own had proven once again that Dureal had been restored to his former glory, but he would go on to actually come out ahead against the great Croatian player, winning both rounds with scores of 3-2 and 7-5. In the meantime, aXiom's mrl had completely taken out the other side of the bracket, defeating bimon 10-3 and 10-4, blooDclaw 10-6 and 10-4, and Warhammer 4-3 and 10-5.
So it was that two of aXiom's best players were now pitched against each other in the finals of the largest tournament of that year. This alone reinforced the fact that aXiom had indeed become once again the most dominant force in competitive JKA. In an incredibly close and tense match Dureal actually managed to win the first round against mrl 4-3 and just barely managed to win the second one as well with a score of 6-5, thus winning the entire tournament.
American Resurgence and Requiem
With the only major American teams having left the ladder in late 2007, it seemed as if the American competitive scene itself was coming to a close. The formation and incredible success of the hybrid team CC under the American player hisownfoot told a different story though. But even after CC had disbanded in mid 2008, the American scene experienced a significant resurgence throughout the next couple of months. CC players like pr0fits and Elminster went on to compete for the Aurochs, where they almost took down aXiom once again in June, losing by a hair's breadth with scores of 22-25 and 22-22. Clan Savior rejoined the ladder shortly thereafter in July, defeating most notably corona/crontex twice in a row with significant scores even on the European servers. Savior also challenged aXiom, but lost heavily to them; they did, however, play one of the other American teams that had formed at that time, namely CreepDog, which consisted of Khako, Sane, Mugenji, zYne amongst others, and defeated them easily with scores of 30-27 and 36-28.
CreepDog was the product of a spike in activity within the American competitive scene, brought about by the introduction of the BWN clone Sabermetrix. This served to revitalize the competitive community a bit, giving the North American players their own slightly formal league system to play and compete on. This even saw the brief return of older Wovian players like sh0, Intrepid and even subLime amongst others.
Although CreepDog was not very successful on the ESL, having lost 7 out of their 10 games, a third team was doing much better: namely Wovian itself. However, this reimagining of Wovian did not have any of the older core players that had made the team great and famous back in 2005-2006; instead, it was made up of players like Arc, Damien, frOst, Fire, mith, and tecH (the top American Wovian lineup during the time) and most uncharacteristically: the European dual user Icarus Unlike CreepDog, Wovian did quite well on the ladder, winning all of their 6 matches that they had played between July and September, beating most notably TuA and CreepDog itself. There was a challenge issued to Savior, but the match never got off the ground for some reason. (source)
Wovian also held a small invite-only tournament in late 2008, where Khako managed to beat sh0 10-6 and Mith defeated Deception 10-3. Mith also beat Khako 2-1 in the semi-finals and was awarded a default win in the finals as the other half of the bracket descended into inactivity. (source) Indeed, as short lived as Wovian's stay on the ESL was, so was the activity spike on the American side of things. Savior only remained on the ladder for the duration of July, leaving
it again in August; Sin returned for a very short while in January 2009, but played no real matches outside of their rather significant victory against $A's best team, consisting of Kamui, SoXaZ and Elixir, which they managed to beat even on the European server with a score of 41-16 (US) and 35-33 (EU).
Sabermetrix was eventually shut down in January 2009 and the American competitive community once again degenerated; even informal competition was scarce from that point on. Wovian did hold a tournament in early 2009, inwhich Fire defeated subLime 10-6, Mith beat Crimelord 6-4, Fire lost to Mith 10-4 and Mith also defeated the former Aurochs player Elminster in the finals with 10-6. (source) However, this was too little too late: With the collapse of Sabermetrix, the American scene had become nothing more than a conglomeration of informal PUGs. Savior was the only clan with a few organized appearances, but even they were rarely seen with a full proper lineup after that. Sin remained signed up for the ESL ladders between 2009 and 2010, but they didn't play any games at all and they were just idling on the first spot as the competition was dying down on the ESL. A Savior team briefly returned in July 2010 to play 4 games, beating most notably TuA and winning against Violence Perfected in terms of overall scores, namely 29-15 and 12-24 for a total of 41-39, but losing due to ELO. They left the ladders shortly afterwards, never to return.
And thus the American competitive scene, after a brief resurgence in late 2008, had entirely degenerated by the end of 2009.
The End of an Era: 2009-2010
With the beginning of 2009, aXiom had firmly established itself as the best clan without qualification. They had a firm grip on the first spot on the ladder and had asserted themselves against *aiming and various other contenders over the last couple of months. However, with the turn of the year, they stopped playing altogether; inactivity had set in, but not only for aXiom: *aiming played corona one last time in January, defeating them easily with scores of 60-45 and 51-37, but played no other matches over the course of January and February either.
This sudden streak of inactivity was taken advantage of by a third party that had just recently returned to the scene: Team no.Limits. The team was brought back and reformed by Slize, who recruited a significant number of new talent to bolster the then empty ranks of what was once the very best clan in JKA. Besides former no.Limits core players Cube and S3chT, where the latter was the only one still playing the game, the team's new members included such players as Minneyar, TequiLa, HiFly, Shogun and later on x4n, orion and wonder as well. That no.Limits had indeed returned became apparent after they went on an 8 games winning streak from January to March 2009 - and with that they had become once again a serious threat to both aXiom as well as *aiming.
On the 8th of March *aiming played a very close game against Powerplay, winning the first round 42-33 but losing the second one 33-44, which would in fact become *aiming's final match on the ladder. The team withdrew from the ladder entirely with a final score of 69 wins and 34 losses, leaving behind a strong legacy of excellence. The remaining active *aiming players, including dev, Serra, Shirasaya and Sylezz, all decided to merge with aXiom to form a new team called Qmatic; this lasted for a short while, after which Qmatic once again renamed to aXiom. This new and revitalized aXiom gained a lot of momentum in March by winning 7 games in a row, most notably taking revenge on Powerplay with scores of 34-28 and 44-21; aXiom was now once again ready to actively compete against no.Limits, but even though a clash between those two giants seemed inevitable, a match never came to be: They scheduled one, but it was cancelled for unknown reasons.
So it was that because competition outside of those two teams was a bit scarce, both teams kept dominating the rest of the scene until the end of the year, but decided for some reason to keep each other at a distance and never played against one another in a straight match. By August 2009, team no.Limits was at 30 wins and 1 loss, having most notably defeated TuA twice, whereas aXiom was at 22 wins and zero losses, most notably having defeated corona in March, crow.gaming in June and Powerplay in September.
However, the most interesting aspect of 2009's competitive scene would be the incredibly successful Jedi Nations Cup (JNC) held between April and July.
Although the new team no.Limits and aXiom would not face each other on the ladder, they would get to play each other in the Jedi Nations Cup under the guise of their respective country's national teams: Under team captain Slize, Poland would almost exclusively field Orion, Wonder and x4n in all of their matches, while Germany, under team captain Dureal, would most often field Shirasaya, Elixir, mrl and Dureal himself. The third favourite to win the entire tournament was team Alpine Regions (Austria and Switzerland together), fielding most often dev, Serra, Warhammer and Kamui under team captain dev. The constellations seem striking, for pretty much the entire lineups of both team Germany and Alpine Regions consisted almost purely of aXiom players at that time, while the active Polish lineup was at the same time part of team no.Limits.
The United Kingdom, the defending champion from 2006, did field a team of its own, but its members were so inactive at that point that they had a lot of trouble getting their lineups together for the matches, let alone win any of them; so it was that the UK was put into the lower bracket early on by losing to team France with a score of 20-15 and 27-19, and was eliminated entirely through a no-show against Romania a few weeks after that.
More importantly, for the first time ever in the history of the JNC, both Canada as well as the USA were represented: The Americans were lead by hisownfoot and fielded Spike, pr0fits, zYne, Crimelord and Khako, while the Canadian team was led by Matrix and included Fire, Narcosys, Lenin and FroSt. Unfortunately, Canada did not get to play a single match due to timezone issues and inactivity problems, so they were eliminated early on. On the other hand, the USA
had to face Germany in their first match and suffered a crushing defeat, almost losing the first round on the American server with a score of 11-12, then heavily losing the second and third rounds with 30-15 and 33-17 respectively. This in itself was an attestation of the state of the American competitive scene as a whole, seeing as they had falled from grace due to significant periods of inactivity. The American team was eventually eliminated in the lower bracket against Slovakia due to a no-show.
Germany was now to face Poland in the quarter-finals. It was a highly anticipated match, especially due to the small rivalry that had formed between aXiom and no.Limits on the ladder. In two incredibly close rounds, Poland actually managed to come out ahead with scores of 28-26 and 26-21, relegating the favourite to win the tournament into the losers bracket. The Polish team went on to defeat France 11-8 and 32-31 and was now placed against the Alpine Regions in the upper bracket finals. In another incredibly close game, the Alpine Regions managed to win the first round 18-16, lost the second round 22-19 but won the final round 23-14 and thus secured their spot in the finals.
In the meantime, team Germany had fought its way through the lower brackets by easily defeating the Netherlands, Hungary, France and then finally meeting the Polish team once again in the lower bracket finals. In a surprising turn of events, Germany managed to actually win the rematch against the Poles with scores of 26-22, 24-25 and 34-21.
So it was that Germany had pulled a great comeback against the Polish team and ended up pitched against the Alpine Regions in the grand finals of the tournament. In an incredibly intense and very close match, Germany managed to win the first round of the finals with a score of 2-1; there were connection problems during the second round, so it was conceded to the Germans. The German team, consisting of Dureal, Shirasaya, Elixir and mrl, had now taken the championship against both a significant Polish force stemming from team no.Limits as well as a significant chunk of the other half of team aXiom. (source)
The Last Straw?: Late 2009 to Late 2010
Towards October 2009 aXiom once again turned inactive, playing and winning only two games over the course of the month: once against TuA and once against corona. However, it was around that time that aXiom had formed a new 2v2 team, this time consisting of Dureal and mrl, which kept on actively competing during aXiom's slow descend into inactivity on the TDM ladder. However, even worse had befallen team no.Limits: They only played one game over the course of September, namely against Powerplay, and incurred a loss in an upset. There were no games at all played for no.Limits in October either - and only three wins in November. Indeed, team no.Limits would shortly thereafter leave the ladder completely in late November 2009 with a record of 34 wins and 2 losses. This time around, Team no.Limits was gone for good and the ladder was once again left completely to aXiom.
It was around that time in early 2010 that a larger 64 players 1v1 tournament was held where most notably S3chT/Zeht had managed to take out aXiom][mrl 7-6 and 10-5 and Minneyar 5-10, 5-4 and 2-1 in the final round. Minneyar then defeated Itachi 4-3 and 10-5 in the lower bracket and finally Till 2-3, 9-6, 10-4. The tournament was concluded with the Polish player Wisnia beating S3chT and Minneyar in the finals.
However, the state of affairs on the TDM ladder would not last very long, for around the time no.Limits was turning completely inactive, a different team entirely was making its return to the competitive scene: It was Jedi Sentinels. The once purely Croatian team was quickly reformed to adapt to the changed competitive environment, with a lot of new players being recruited. The now reborn Jedi Sentinels team was renamed Xentinels to reflect those changes, which included the addition of a lot of former no.Limits players after the latter had officially disbanded; this included S3chT/Zeht, Bismarch, Shox and later on x4n as well.
Xentinels took the ladder by storm. While aXiom was struggling with its own inactivity by the end of the year, Xentinels had accumulated 32 wins. The only real competition that they faced on the ladder was during an incredibly close game against team 40sec, which they drew in scores with 27-26 and 16-17, but lost due to the ELO scoring system used by the ESL. There was somewhat of a controversy surrounding this match as 40sec was playing an incredibly passive style that was bordering on excessive avoidance of player contact, but their victory was eventually conceded to them by the ESL admins.
Whatever the case may be, although aXiom was not playing many games, the team's duo was far from inactive: By the end of the year, Dureal and mrl were on a 10 games winning streak in the 2v2 ladder. However, in December 2009, Xentinels responded to this with their own 2v2 team, namely the famous Minneyar and Grizzli. Those two were immediately successful on the ladder, and so it was that at the turn of the year, aXiom was threatened on both fronts by a reformed Jedi Sentinels team. A clash was inevitable.
That aXiom had not lost its competitive edge would become especially apparent during a German ESL tournament held in November 2009, which saw dev take first place over dreamz and mrl. And aXiom was again successful in the ESL Winter Cup held between January and February 2010: They defeated TuA in a one-sided game with scores of 37-20 and 50-28 and got to play team vVv in the finals, which fielded Morph, Hell Raiser and Icarus. Just a few days before that match, aXiom's mrl and Dureal had already defeated vVv's 2v2 team consisting of Hell Raiser and Morph on the ladder with scores of 9-7 and 6-5. But it was now time to step it up a notch: The finals of the Winter Cup turned out to be fairly close, as aXiom won the first round 37-21, lost the second one 28-32 and won the final one 25-24, winning the entire tournament.
More evidence as to the prowess of the old team could be found in their victories in the German tournament that took place at around the same time in February. Team aXiom got into the finals without much opposition, where they played a team made up of Westbam, afiNity and bAtsu. Despite the close scores, aXiom came out ahead in three rounds and added another championship to their long list of achievements. It was also at that time that a 16 players German 1v1 tournament was being held, which saw both Dureal as well as mrl take out their respective brackets with ease. In what became one of the closest and most intense games of the year, the two famous saberists clashed once again in the finals. Dureal took a close lead in the first round with a score of 3-2, and won a very close second round 2-1, winning the entire tournament. Team aXiom was once again at its best, dominating the TDM, 2v2 and 1v1 formats, with their best players in great shape.
They went on to play and win 5 more games on the TDM ladder and 33 on the 2v2 one, losing none. However, Xentinels was not being idle: In the timespan between January and March 2010, they went on an 11 games winning streak on both the TDM and 2v2 ladder. Everyone was anticipating the clash between those two teams, and this was exactly what happened in March 2010.
On the 11th of March, aXiom's seemingly unbeatable 2v2 team was challenged by the famous Minneyar and Grizzli to an official match. In an incredibly tense first round, aXiom managed to come out ahead 11-8, but lost the second round 20-11 with the Jedi Sentinels taking the game. Only a few days later, namely on March the 21st, Xentinels challenged and played aXiom on the TDM ladder. This time around, Xentinels won both rounds, scoring 32-22 in the first one and 27-26 in the second.
Thus ended aXiom's reign on the ladders. Their 2v2 team would go on to play a few more games, and obviously win them all, before leaving the ladder once and for all with a total score of 35 wins and 2 losses. Their main team stayed on the TDM ladder for a few weeks, playing no games at all, before they eventually left in April 2010 with a final score of 26 wins and 1 loss, never to return again. Team aXiom had now left the scene forever.
With aXiom gone, there was nobody left to stop Xentinels. Although Minneyar and Grizzli left the 2v2 ladder in April 2010 as well, with an astonishing record of 44 wins and zero losses, Xentinels remained active throughout the year. In fact, after their victory over aXiom the team went on to win their next 23 games over the course of the year, ending up with a 47 games winning streak by January 2011. Although they would lose some smaller Cups to minor or spontaneously organized teams, their dominance was pretty much uncontested. They would turn more and more inactive towards late 2010, with fewer and fewer games played, and they eventually left the ladder forever in January 2011 with 97 wins and only 3 losses.
Xentinels was the last of the older clans to leave the scene, and with their departure an era of competitive JKA had come to an end.
Fear the HUNs: Late 2010 to Late 2012
Xentinel's departure from the competitive scene marked a significant turning point in the history of competitive JKA: With a lot of the more established players having now withdrawn, the community did not collapse, but experienced an unexpected influx of newer players instead. Many of these newcomers were from Eastern Europe, most notably Hungary, and some were beginning to make a name for themselves. Although it took the community a long time to accept these newcomers, the few remaining core players of previously successful clans were not as opposed to the newer generation as the majority of the community was - in fact, these few players intermingled with the newer guys successfully: Players like S3chT and bimon, for example, went on to play for the mostly Hungarian team Violence Perfected, while Crush and WhiteSnake (aka JohnnyGambler) joined the newely formed German-only team Vintage.
This newfound diversity was reflected in the various ways that the scene had changed by the end of 2010: For one, Eastern Europeans had already been widely known for being great staffers, so it comes as no surprise that the amount of staffers playing on the ladders greatly increased in late 2010. However, there was also a shift in tactics as more and more staffers turned to passive styles of play, which made for an effective combination that would significantly change the way that JKA was to be played ever after.
That the Hungarians were becoming a more serious force in JKA had already been evident as far back as late 2009 when the mostly Hungarian team 40sec aka 40Seconds2Die played a draw against Xentinels, one that was nevertheless counted as a win because of the ELO scoring system. 40sec consisted mainly of up-and-coming Hungarian players like Balin, dni, rzr, (Balin and rzr soon joined maLice after vP’s loss to the American team) Jerdor and Till, and their performance against Xentinels was an indication of things to come.
A few months later, Hungary was granted its own 1v1 ladder due to the strength and size of its player base. The Hungarian player Drawner quickly became one of the most successful 1v1 player on the ESL, recording wins even against such established players like Wisnia, S3chT and kAmui. Although he was far from unbeatable, with the Polish player x4n enjoying a strong record against him and Serra defeating him in the Spring Cup 2010 that took place in April of that year, he became known for his very passive style of playing staff, which helped him attain over 1850 points on the international 1v1 ladder and win the Summer League Playoffs in late 2009, in the course of which he beat such players like dev, mrl and even Dureal. Following Drawner's success, the passive Hungarian style of play became far more widespread, with many of the already reputable Eastern European staffers adopting it.
All of these changes that the ESL was undergoing were most clearly reflected in the 1v1 Winter Cup of March 2011. Despite some older players partaking in that tournament, including mrl, S3cht, Spike, CrAv3 and eazy, the winner's bracket finals saw the Romanian player Razerer play against the Polish singler angel, while the loser's bracket finals had the Hungarian Balin aka Edward Cullen play against the Bulgarian player DeXo, the latter of which would go on to win the entire tournament against angel in the grand finals with a score of 3-1 and 10-7.
As time went by, the Hungarians became the most dominant force on the ESL, and dni's Violence Perfected established itself as by far the most successful team on the ladder. With the ESL loosening the rules around the amount of time that a team had to wait before they could rechallenge their opponent, vP's core team of rzr, Till and dni took the ladder by storm. Despite the existence of other up-and-coming teams like WarMachines, Jedi Knights, Vintage and 7LIVES, vP barely met any opposition at all in the TDM ladder, only losing eight matches between May 2010 and October 2011. vP’s first loss in the ESL ladder was to the American team maLice, starring tecHnique, Khako and vuzion (source). MaLice was lead by tecHnique who later joined vP himself. Besides that, vP lost three times against TuA, three times against Vintage and once against Registered Sex Offenders, a short-lived all-star team featuring players like mrl, Icarus and Hell Raiser. Initially conceived as a purely Hungarian team, dni's willingness to recruit any whom he believed to be top international players ensured that vP would retain a high level of activity and stay on top of the ladder from late 2010 onwards, with an expanded core membership consisting of S3chT, Bismarch, Llova, WhiteSnake, nobody, Tequila, Drawner, and one of the top North American TDM players, tecH. By May 2011, they had a score of 81 wins to 7 losses. Indeed, it was only against TuA's main team that vP did not have a positive win ratio on the ladders by that point in time. TuA even managed to defeat vP in the grand finals of the 2011 Spring Cup with scores of 32-27 and 26-25, which also marks TuA's first ever championship victory since its conception in 2004.
Despite vP's great success on the ladder, the team was generally much less successful when it came to tournaments: They had already lost to Vintage in the semi-finals of a previous cup in late 2010, which Vintage went on to win convincingly against roYality, but they were now facing inVision in the grand finals of the 2011 Autumn Cup in November. Violence Perfected managed to take the first round 42-30, but in an incredibly close game they went on to lose the next two rounds 44-45 and 26-27, suffering another tournament upset.
That final loss was one of the reasons as to why some of vP's members broke off from the team to form their own, dooming vP to inactivity. They called the new team 'Metric', which was lead by dni and LIova, and despite some early successes, it ran into a losing streak in December 2011 and disbanded shortly therafter. At around the same time, vP left the ladder and its players dispersed; some went on to join Vintage, some others went to short-lived teams like BEAR, others in turn were recruited by 7Lives aka neTwork. BEAR eventually disbanded after it had suffered a defeat in the finals of the 2012 Winter Cup - a tournament that Vintage ultimately won.
But it was team 7Lives/neTwork that was to become the most successful team of early 2012, with many of their new members having come from places like TuA, Vintage and the former Metric and BEAR. After Vintage became inactive in early 2012, many of their members went on to join different teams, often staying only for a couple of weeks to months. Whitesnake, afiNity and Diesel joined 7lives, while cmdkeen and kinetic joined Eleven. Later cmdkeen, Lala, kinetic and afiNity would join team Ensium, which also featured players from Violence Perfected like Till and Drawner. A similar lineup would later that year form a team called Violent Perfection, which featured a number of players from Violence Perfected, Ensium and Vintage, which reached the first place in the TDM ladder in september. In the meantime, dni had decided to remake vP by recruiting rzr, stw, Llova and grimmhold, but following some disputes, both rzr as well as grimmhold decided to stay with neTwork. Dni eventually got banned entirely for abusing his admin powers in the Hungarian section of the ESL, which however did not prevent him from pursuing vengeance against team neTwork: He remade a team called Avenger Force using a fake account for the sole purpose of defeating neTwork on the ladder, which he indeed managed to do with the help of Till and Llova (source), but once he was found out, all of AF's matches that he participated in were deleted.
More importantly, team neTwork had eventually managed to unite many of the most successful players of early 2012 and stayed fairly uncontested on the first spot of the ladder until May, only ever losing once to Haste. Players like neTwork's rzr and neTwork's Spiritz had also very successful tournament runs in the 2012 1v1 Spring Cup that took place in April of that year, where both of them played against each other in the semi-finals and rzr eventually took the entire tournament by winning against Itachi with scores of 3-2 and 10-7. Seeing as the previous handful of tournaments were all very well attended, the ESL decided to try something more daring: They hosted a Premiership for JKA, full with qualifiers, group stages and playoffs.
Jedi Premiership: JPS 2012
The Premiership was an immediate success as the news about it spread and many players scrambled together to form oftentimes spontaneous teams just for the tournament. So although the by then more established teams were present, like Vintage, Warmachines, neTwork and Haste, a good amount of the strongest teams had been made up exclusively for the tournament. This included team VICE, lead by Abaddon, which had players such as bismarch, rzr, Jerdor and FuSion amongst others; the mostly French team called 4.3.4 Excessive Avoidance, featuring S3chT, Yberion and Shogun, and team Fast Five, with its core players Trey, Spiritz and Terra, also featuring players like HellRaiser, shox, Ivar, Reaper and Llova. Even some of the older players and teams returned exclusively for the tournament, most notably Ozone and the Polish clan FoR. Although some of Ozone's former core players did make cameo appearances throughout their matches, they mostly fielded a team consisting of anyone who wanted to play, with no regard for efficiency; they also did not put a lot of effort into preparing for the tournament, which made their reappearance less spectacular and interesting.
Nevertheless, the Premiership was very well attended, featuring a full 32 teams bracket for its qualifiers. Besides the obvious contenders, both FoR as well as Ozone's team qualified for the group stages, but failed to get into the playoffs. FoR's team lost all of its matches, whereas Ozone's won against Prismatic, but lost against Haste and Fast Five. Most notably team Abyss, whoCares and neTwork/JediMindTricks did also not make it out of their respective groups, leaving the then most promising eight teams to fight it out amongst themselves in the playoffs.
It was hard to predict who would take the victory, as no clear favourite could be established. Both VICE as well as 4.3.4 had excellent lineups that they could rely upon, but team Fast Five was quickly making a name for itself during the previous two rounds and had become a serious force to be reckoned with. All three of them had no problem getting through their respective brackets in the playoffs, until they faced each other. The first great match took place in the semi-finals between VICE and 4.3.4, where VICE just barely lost the first round by a single point, going into the second round with a deficit of 11-12. They managed to win the second round 19-16, and since the format was a classic best-of-3, the game went on to the third round. In another incredibly close game, 4.3.4 finally managed to come out ahead 26-22, securing their spot in the finals against Fast Five.
Now it was up to Fast Five to prove their mettle against the French team. Trey, former Aurochs player and team captain of Fast Five, made sure to have his team practice a lot before the game, and to everyone's surprise, despite fielding their very best team, 4.3.4 was taken out in both rounds with scores that were not very close at all: 31-27 and 29-24. The sole fact that team Fast Five had so far closed all of their won matches with 2-0 victories was becoming more and more impressive: And now they even took out one of the strongest teams in the entire tournament with another 2-0, making their way to the grand finals.
In the meantime, VICE got through a pretty inactive Vintage and wctbl in the lower brackets and got a default win against 4.3.4 when the French team failed to show up. Fast Five had to get through another one of the strongest teams in the tournament to claim the championship. Due to the high stakes, it took VICE a long time to agree to a fixed date for the match. With tensions rising high between some of the players of Fast Five and the problems of inactivity that were starting to plague the team, it was not looking good for them at all. Despite team captain Abaddon's best efforts, VICE was beginning to show signs of inactivity as well, so when the match got finally started in early November, both teams had been out of the loop for a while. They both tried their very best though, which lead to a tense standoff between the two.
Fast Five fielded Trey, HellRaiser and Spiritz, while VICE fielded Abaddon, rzr and fusion in the first round,
switched fusion for zara in the second round and rzr for Jerdor in the third. Fast Five took the first round with scores of 31-27. Abaddon, playing the game of his life, single-handedly carried his team in the first two rounds and earned a total k/d ratio of 17:11 in round 1 and 22:13 in round 2. He managed to win the second round for his team with a score of 34-30, but even someone like Abaddon has his limits: By the third round he was so exhausted that his performance dropped severely and he was getting killed left and right. This in turn resulted in Fast Five taking the final round 36-28 and winning the entire championship.
The Beginning of the End: Late 2012 to Early 2014
Despite the overall success of the JPS, inactivity was becoming a severe issue for the ESL. It got so bad that in July 2012 the German ESL ladder was closed down for good, ending the one remaining major sub-branch of JKA with its long and rich history of competitive play. The admin team arranged for one last farewell tournament, for which only nine players signed up and were unable to finish the finals, as one of the finalists forfeited his match. This highlighted the sorry state of the once so great German competitive community. Even worse, in September of the same year Dureal retired from his position as Master League Admin (MLA) of the JKA section. One of the most productive and well respected members of the community, he decided that after years of having offered his services, it was time for him to move on. Former Co-MLA Toaster was appointed to lead the section as the new MLA, while former MLA of the German section afiNity became the new international Co-MLA. Another evidence for the decline of the German community was the fact that the Jedi Premiership in 2012 was the final tournament for Vintage, dropping out of the TDM ladder with a final score of 60 wins and 25 losses. Vintage was the last successful team in the ESL that was composed solely of German players. While some of it's players like afiNity, crush or Westbam stopped or already had stopped playing the game for good, some others like kinetic or Diesel went on to join other successful teams like Violence Perfected or 1hit.
Early in January of 2013 it was decided that team Violence Perfected would once again rejoin the ladder with their initial core players rzr, Till, dni and S3chT. Their run was largely successful, but they were far from invincible anymore and most notably lost a few games to such teams like Abyss and Warmachines. Trey on the other hand, inspired by his victory in the JPS, re-founded the legendary team eForce that had been successful in the early days of JKA. He got Ozone Dark's blessing for that, a former eF player himself, who became an important part of the new team and helped out with the administrative aspects of the clan. Alongside Dark, former Ozone player Osiris also joined the team and made a few cameos in some of the matches, but eF's core players mostly consisted of former Fast Five members with a few additions, lead by both Trey and Terra.
Team eForce had a rather successful but short-lived run on the ladder, staying only for two months till January 2013 when they left with a score of 17 wins to one loss, beating most notably Abyss twice. Both eF as well as vP participated in the 2013 Winter Cup that took place between January and March. As tradition has it, Violence Perfected only made it to the semi-finals of the tournament, where they lost against team Rise of the Phoenix with scores of 35-17, 20-30 and 23-16. They went on to forfeit their third place match against Warmachines, dropping out of the tournament entirely. On the other hand, team eF had a much more successful run, defeating
Abyss, Haste and Warmachines before having to play Rise of the Phoenix in the grand finals themselves. Trey, Spiritz and Grimmhold won the first round 16-13 and the second one 39-28, taking another championship.
As previously mentioned, eForce did not stay for long and was withdrawn shortly after the Winter Cup championship. With eF gone, Trey picked up his inVision squad again, recruiting DentoN, Suwwi and Grimmhold, which quickly rose to the second place on the ladder. He challenged vP a few times, but it never came to a clash between the two for a variety of reasons, but mostly because inactivity made scheduling a match difficult for both sides. Team vP eventually left the ladder sometime in June 2013, never to return.
The Rocky Road to the JNC
To counteract the issues of inactivity plaguing JKA, vP's leader dni aka Heisenberg decided to launch his own set of tournaments in mid-2013, which he called Heisengames. To keep the administrative side strictly under his control, and because nobody from the ESL wanted to cooperate with him due to his bad reputation, having abused admin powers in the ESL before, he decided to keep Heisengames completely separate from the ESL infrastructure, launching his own website and appointing his own staff. His plan was to increase activity and to lure older players back to JKA by offering tournaments with money prizes - something that the ESL had so far been unable to provide.
Dni launched Heisengames in March 2013 and it proved to be quite a success at first. The 64 players 1v1 tournament filled up quickly and was renamed to Grand Tournament 1. Although not very successful at getting in new blood into JKA, it did get the attention of some of the older players that decided to make a return: This included such players like Warhammer, Serra and wonder amongst others. The finals of the first Grand Tournament took place between Tiber and Drawner, which Tiber managed to win with scores of 5-1, 1-2 and 3-2. However, Tiber as well as most participants of the GT1 failed to read the fine print when they signed up for the tournament, which said that the prize money would only be awarded to the winner of the tournament if he then could beat dni in a 1v1. Tiber went along with it anyway, defeated dni and received the amount promised to him.
Seeing as the tournament went quite well, dni decided to step it up a bit. He subsequently renamed Heisengames to basejka, hosted a public archive for demos, which was nicknamed the democloud, announced preparations for Grand Tournament 2 and began launching a variety of smaller cups with money prizes. Despite his already bad reputation and the negative publicity that he gave basejka by flaming on the ESL forums, dni's tournaments were doing well. However, due to the way dni started to treat some of the people signed up for his site as well as due to the rumours that he had no intention of paying the victors of his tournaments, many players refused to continue their matches out of protest.
With no regard for the trouble that was brewing, dni ventured on to plan an even more daring project, namely basejka's very own Jedi Nations Cup. He announced the tournament in June 2013, featuring a total prize pool of 600€. However, despite the amount of money on offer, people were very reluctant to sign up for it due to the wider issues at hand: GT2 was quickly becoming a fiasco, and some of basejka's admins were stepping down in light of the way dni was treating other players.
Dni was now in full damage control mode. He stepped down as the person in charge of basejka and had rzr take control over the website; but his efforts were too little too late and barely anybody believed that dni had rescinded his claims to basejka. The following month the ESL launched its own JNC, which saw twice as many teams sign up for it over the course of just two days than it had for basejka over an entire month. To make basejka more appealing, dni increased the prize money for the winning team from the initial 600€ to 5000€, but he had a hard time being taken seriously anymore. He even resorted to threatening some players and teams with bans if they would not boycott ESL's JNC tournament, and he removed himself from the Hungarian national team on the ESL that he was in charge of.
Shortly thereafter, as rzr and Till won basejka's 2v2 tournament and were not paid out any money at all, they too stepped down as admins and quit the site. With that, basejka was finished, and on the 30th of July dni rescinded his support for the site and it was eventually taken down shortly thereafter. Ten days later, the first JNC matches on the ESL were taking place.
ESL's JNC was surprisingly well attended for 2013: For one, team Alpine Regions made an unexpected comeback, bringing back some of the great players from the previous JNC, namely Warhammer, Serra and kAmui. It was, however, the only team to be entirely made up of players from the previous generation; wonder joined the Polish national team, but he played alongside Almi and d'light. The former champion team Germany was now, for example, entirely made up of new players, with none of the original greats making a return. Due to the large amount of players, both Poland as well as Hungary were allowed to field two teams each; Hungary's first team consisted of rzr, Till, zara and Jerdor, the second one of Borka, Hitless, Ropa, shinzo and Torrento.
Despite some early default wins against mostly inactive teams, like Team USA, almost all of the matches throughout the tournament had been played. Team Alpine Regions allegedly suffered connectivity issues in their match against Poland's first team and lost with a rather high score count, whereas Germany convincingly beat Turkey but suffered a no-show against Hungary's second team. Germany got through Serbia in the lower brackets before being eliminated by Hungary's first team 49-45 and 62-55. But how did the Hungarians, the favourites to win the tournament, get into the lower brackets to begin with?
While the UK's national team, mainly consisting of Terra, Sabu, Temok, Osiris, Viking and Spiritz, had managed to defeat both Polish teams in quick succession, the Hungarians had to face Romania. In an impressive show of force,
the Romanian players Trey, Tiber, Razerer and Stone managed to beat Hungarian's first team 47-41 and 53-39, before they faced and defeated the second team 27-26 and 44-27. In the lower bracket, the Alpine Regions went on to eliminate the Czech and second Polish team before facing off against Hungary #2. A true clash between the older and newer generation of players was about to occur, and in one of the closest game in the history of JKA, the Alpine Regions scored 22-23, 23-22 and 33-50 against the Hungarians, losing their shot at the championship in the process. Thus the three oldest teams in the JNC were eliminated by the Hungarians: First the defending champions Germany; then Poland, which had always been a strong contender; and finally the Alpine Regions, a team made up entirely of older generation players. A sign that the times had truly changed.
But was this really a Hungarian age anymore? As the two Hungarian teams clashed in the lower brackets, it was to everyone's surprise that the second team managed to come out ahead, defeating the fan favourites rzr, Till and zara 42-36 and 47-37. Hungary #2 had now to rematch Romania, which had lost against the UK before. In a very tense standoff between the two, the first round was lost by Trey, Tiber and Stone 23-36, the second round won 38-22 and the final one as well with a score of 28-22. The Romanias had single-handedly eliminated Hungary from the JNC - they had defeated the Hungarians three times in a row, twice in the upper bracket and once in the lower bracket.
It is truly astonishing to consider how far Romania had come as a scene. Between Trey's continuous victories in tournaments and Tiber's seemingly endless stay on the first rank of the international 1v1 ladder, they had proven once and for all that Romania had merit equal and above that of Hungary, and that they could not only hold their own against the very best that Hungary was able to throw at them, but were able to actively challenge, if not consistently defeat the greatest that the Hungarians had to offer.
Now the Romanian national team had a second shot at the ESL's world championship: They were now allowed to replay the UK in the grand finals. It was hard to predict who would come out ahead, since Romania had gained tremendous momentum by defeating the Hungarians, but they had already lost once to the UK in the winner's bracket finals. The Romanians did not decide to change their lineup for this match and stuck with fielding players that had been previously successful against the Hungarians: Trey, Tiber and Stoneripper. The UK switched the players around a bit though, so instead of using the ones that had previously defeated Romania, namely Spiritz and Temok, they settled on fielding Osiris, Sabu and Viking.
Despite putting up a great game, the first round went to the UK with a fairly high score of 47-29. The championship was on the line; the Romanians decided not to switch any players and went into the second round. Even though Viking experienced slight connectivity issues during that match, the UK managed to take the second round as well with a close score of 31-26, thereby winning the entire championship. So it came to be that the UK, fielding a team that was a combination of former greats like Osiris and a handful of promising newer players, had managed to repeat their victory from 2006. In fact, they once again managed to take on a team that represented the heretofore most dominant branches of the ESL - back in 2006 it was the Germans, now it was the Eastern Europeans.
Although the JNC 2013 produced some very memorable games, it still wasn't looking good for JKA as a whole. The ladders were barely active at all anymore; the 1v1 one was almost entirely filled up with people who hadn't logged into their accounts for months, while the TDM and 2v2 ladders had only a few games played per week. Ontop of that, the then MLA Toaster retired on the 20th of September and did not appoint a successor. An ESL supervisor took charge of the section and noticed the poor state of the game. This began a series of high-level discussions between the existing JKA admins, the supervisor and some core ESL admins as to whether the section should be closed. Fortunately, the admins managed to make their case well enough to prevent an immediate closure, so that JKA was given a second chance.
An Autumn Cup was organized in early November, but despite the low number of participants, the tournament dragged on into early 2014 due to general problems of inactivity. Other attempts at trying to breath some life into the scene were only temporarily successful: In mid-December the single-only ladder was closed and the original 1v1 ladder was replaced by a best-of-3 one, doing away with the controversial ELO system that determined the victor by comparing the score ratios of both rounds to one another. This helped spark some activity for a short while, but after a few weeks the bo3 ladder became as inactive as its predecessor had been.
Ontop of all that, the British player Sabu was banned in early February for using a cvar unlocker to give himself an advantage over others in his matches. This sparked a large controversy over whether the ban was justified at all, how the admins managed to figure Sabu out and whether having banned one of the most active players in the scene would doom the place to inactivity. In the aftermath, all of Sabu's 1v1 matches for 2014 were deleted and all of the matches of the teams that he played in were declared void. This raised uncomfortable questions over the legitimacy of UK's victory in the JNC, seeing as Sabu had played a significant role in securing that victory in January 2014.
Whatever the case may be, Sabu's team WarMachines withdrew from the ladder shortly after he got banned. This had left the place to the newly established eForce, which had returned in early January and was recording a perfect score against everyone else on the ladders - with sole exception of team WarMachines itself, which had defeated eForce on two separate occasions, but after it was found out that Sabu had been cheating, those matches were declared void and consequently removed. Team eForce was left to reign supreme in the ladder, but their first spot was becoming more hollow as more and more teams were withdrawing - at one point in time, the TDM ladder was down to only three teams.
This state of affairs changed dramatically in March 2014 as the competitive community experienced a significant surge in activity. It was in this context that Tiber had brought Jerdor and rzr together and had formed team tryHARD to take on eForce - and so they did, as they defeated eForce twice in a row on the ladder. Team eForce eventually did manage to beat tryHARD once as well, but they suffered a significant defeat in the 2014 Spring Cup, where tryHARD took them out with close scores. They had more success in the 2v2 format, as eForce's grimmhold and Spiritz took on Jerdor and rzr twice in a row with incredibly close scores. Team eForce had still retained their first place on the TDM ladder, but it was clear to everyone that they had found a worthy contender.
The overall activity spike in March lead to the ESL supervisor in charge of the section to appoint former admin Pingu as the new MLA for the JKA section, with Toaster making a return as a co-MLA admin. This lead to a new staff of admins and put the section back into the hands of the community. This also saw the introduction of an evening cup series, the first of which Jerdor managed to take over Tiber in the finals. However, the activity spike was just that: a spike, and although it inspired a lot of new players to join the ESL and form new teams for the various ladders, the state of competitive JKA was slowly beginning to once again grind to a halt. In mid-April, barely any matches had been played in any of the ladders and the running tournaments were dragging on for months.
The Final Chapter: 2015 to 2021
In the following years, the community had to face a new all-time low in activity, only a small amount of tournaments were played and the size of the community was only a fraction of what it used to be only a couple of years before. The website Basejka, as an alternative to the ESL made a short comeback in 2016, hosting a couple of successful tournaments, but vanished as quickly as it had appeared. 2015 however saw the rise of a new community, one that had been relatively underrepresented prior to that: The Russian community started to become the biggest and most active community in the game, which organized itself and held its own tournaments, Russian player Tray being one of the main organizers. Between 2017 and 2018 however, almost nothing happened in competitive JKA and the ESL section was closed due to inactivity.
After the remaining community started to organize itself on the chat-platform Discord, it managed to convince the ESL staff to reopen the section for Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, which made a short comeback in 2019. But only months later the section got closed again, this time for good. However, the remaining community formed their own tournament-platform called "Epic Saber League" which successfully hosted another Jedi Nations Cup, the first one since 2013. Team United Kingdom could claim the win against Team Hungary in the finals, marking the third won JNC for Team UK. In 2019 and 2020 the activity in the competitive scene was at a new high since it's downfall in 2014, with the biggest amount of tournaments since 2012. This era also saw the comeback of a number of older players, who hadn't played the game for a long time. In the beginning of 2021 however, the activity dropped again, proving that the previous activity spike was only of temporary nature and only possible by a huge amount of organisation and advertisement by the tournament organizers.
Rivalries: The Big Four
As is the nature of competitive play, some teams and players will be closer to one another in terms of skill compared to other teams and players. Sometimes, teams that are similar in skill but play each other a lot in competitive venues, be they tournaments or ladders, tend to develop a kind of rivalry. This rivalry is sometimes explicitly stated, but a lot of the time it is merely perceived. This part is going to focus on the most notable rivalries between clans as they spanned over a period of many years and encompassed the highest level of play. The four most notable teams that were involved were starAiming, no.Limits, Ozone and aXiom. This group of clans can be labeled the Big Four.
The striking difference between those clans and other top teams in the world can be made apparent by taking a closer look at how those other top clans did against the Big Four in competitive matches. For example, clan TuA is widely considered to be amongst the best competitive clans ever conceived, harboring many excellent players like Hell Raiser and Dwight, and TuA has not shunned away from challenging the Big Four many times over a timespan of roughly four years. They played *aiming 6 times, aXiom 8 times and no.Limits 6 times. Out of those games, they won not a single one against *aiming, not a single one against aXiom and only one out of their 6 games against no.Limits.
And yet again, it doesn't look any better for any of the other top clans: 333's record against Ozone is one loss, zero wins; against *aiming it's one loss, zero wins too, and against no.Limits it's 4 losses and 3 wins. The top German clan corona/bioXar/cronTEX has a record against no.Limits of 5 losses and 1 win, against Ozone it's 2 losses and no wins, against *aiming it's 9 losses and 7 wins and against aXiom it's 3 losses and 2 wins. The great American clan Number 2 lost against Ozone 3 times, winning once, they lost against no.Limits 4 times, winning again only once, and they tied with *aiming 1-1.
Ontop of that, the Big Four were for the most part tightly knit invite-only clans that rarely accepted new members and rarely had anyone leave their clans for other team - unlike the case with many other top teams like corona or TuA. A team aXiom without Dureal is unimaginable, no.Limits without S3chT or Cube seems illegitimate at best, and *aiming without dev and Serrazel could not possibly exist. So the Big Four was an elite group, harboring not only the very best JKA players in existence, but also staying far above the rest of the competitive world in terms of sheer skill. Everyone knew that whenever a clash between Big Four members was taking place, the resulting games would be the stuff of legends. But how well did the four clans do against one another?
Team no.Limits joined the ESL ladder in mid 2005 and left it in late 2007. After a year long break from competitive play, they rejoined the ladder in late 2008 and stayed for another year till August 2009, when they finally retired. In that time, no.Limits played *aiming on many occasions, starting as early as August 2005, where they won both rounds with scores of 58-41 and 62-59. Although no.Limits would go on to win their next encounter as well, their win-loss ratio evened out in 2006, where victories would alternate between the two teams. Their final match would take place in January 2007 in the finals of the ESL New Year's Cup and would see no.Limits lose the first round 27-35 and a win the second one 53-41, winning the entire match with a score of 80-76.
Clan *aiming would turn out to be the team with the greatest consistency and staying power. They were one of earliest
teams to sign up for the ESL, namely on 21.10.2003, shortly after the ESL made available ladders dedicated to JKA, and would stay on the ladder, playing at various levels of activity, until March 2009. Unlike the other teams of the Big Four, *aiming never reformed their main team or abstained from playing on the ladder for longer periods of time. Their 2v2 team, consisting of *aiming.dev and *aiming.syLezz, was one of the most successful teams in the history of JKA and they were the first ones to beat Ozone's famous players Osiris and inSane in an official ESL match on 29.06.2005. Ozone would take its revenge a few months later, beating *aiming both in 2v2 as well as TDM before they took their sights on team no.Limits. Ozone's core players Dark and Ven would later on, teaming up with JS' Grizzli under the guise of zedi, take on *aiming one more time in March 2007 and win with a score of 41-31 and 62-54.
Ozone was peculiar in many ways. They had the shortest longevity of any of the Big Four, staying only from 25.08.2005 to 27.10.2006 on the ladder and later on partially reforming as Zedi in 2007 - the vast majority of Zedi games in 2007 were played by Ozone's previous core players Dark, Ven, Osiris and either one of the previous Jedi Sentinel players Minneyar and Grizzli. So even if drawing a continuity from Ozone to Zedi were permitted, the clan only remained actively participating in the ESL for roughly two years - a rather short period of time compared to *aiming's six years. In that time, however, Ozone achieved more than any other clan in the history of JKA.
As previously mentioned, Ozone set their sights on no.Limits after their 2v2 and TDM victories against *aiming, and they successfully beat the top team in an incredibly tense match with the scores 36-36 and 36-28. They would go on to lose to no.Limits twice in early 2006, but win a victory shortly after in one of Ozone's final matches with a score of 52-50 and 57-51. Most notably, however, would be the fact that Ozone effectively dethroned aXiom as the world's best team in both 2v2 as well as TDM, tying with aXiom's 2v2 team 1-1 in matches and defeating them in one of the most famous TDM matches in JKA history with a score of 57-36 and 69-55.
Before that famous loss against Ozone encouraged aXiom to take a break, aXiom had already defeated no.Limits with a score of 75-61 and 91-73 in the only match that would ever take place between the two clans. They had also defeated *aiming three times in TDM and once in 2v2 by that point. After aXiom returned from their break in July 2007 and rejoined the ladders, they lost their first match against *aiming in August, but went on to play the team five more times, losing only once at the very end of their career in December 2008.
From a chronological point of view, certain areas of dominance become apparent: Team aXiom was incredibly successful early on from around 2004 to 2005 and then once more in 2007 and 2008. They were unfortunately almost entirely absent in the critical time period of late 2005 to early 2006 when Ozone was at its best. Whereas no.Limits and *aiming remained powerful throughout, both clans became the dominant force in JKA after Ozone had become inactive in mid 2006.
In terms of the overall amount of matches won against members of the Big Four, aXiom is the clear winner with an overall score of 10-4. However, they owe 8 out of their 10 wins to *aiming, against whom they maintain an 8-2 record. Considering how often aXiom played against *aiming, one therefore has to take the overall scores with a grain of salt: If it were not for *aiming, aXiom's record against the Big Four would be at a meager 2-2. Ozone takes the second spot in
terms of win ratios: They draw against no.Limits with a score of 2-2, beat aXiom 2-1 and *aiming 3-1 for an overall record of 7-4. Team no.Limits comes in third with an overall record of 6 wins and 5 losses against the Big Four. However, if one were to remove *aiming from the equation, the rankings would look rather different: Ozone would secure first place with a score of 4-3, aXiom would be tied 2-2 and no.Limits would remain third with a score of 3-4.
As for the total amount of wins on the ladder: aXiom once again takes the lead with a record of 133 wins and 14 losses over a time period of 42 months. It is interesting to point out that no.Limits played almost exactly the same amount of matches as aXiom did, with a record of 108 wins and 20 losses, but they only stayed in the ladder for 29 months in total - almost a year less than aXiom did. They were thus generally more active than aXiom, but still far below the peak activity of Ozone, which managed to score 64 wins to 6 losses over a period of just 18 months.
This is of course not taking the 2v2 achievements of the various teams into account, which would heavily favour aXiom because of their especially long and impressive tradition of successful 2v2 play. Consider aXiom's team made up of Dureal and Sadrior, which was active from late 2003 to late 2005: They left the ladder with a record of 61 wins and 4 losses. Team aXiom's Zer0soul and mrl ran a team in late 2008 that went for a record of 34 wins, zero losses and one draw; and again, their team from late 2009 to early 2010, consisting of Dureal and mrl, finished their run with a total score of 35 wins and 2 losses. All of those taken together results in 130 wins, 6 losses and one draw over the course of about 3-4 years in the international 2v2 ladders alone.
But the other members of the Big Four did pretty well with their respective teams too: Ozone's inSane and Osiris played for about a year from mid 2005 to mid 2006 and left with a record of 39 wins to 7 losses. Team no.Limits famous duo Cube and S3chT played for about a year in 2006 with 22 wins and 3 losses, while *aiming's dev and Sylezz played for about half a year with a score of 16 wins and 4 losses.
Although *aiming seems to be an outlier in every regard, it is important to note that this clan more than any of the other Big Four aspired to almost exclusively play good teams and oftentimes ignored challenges of lesser ones. *aiming is the team with by far the most overall games played against the Big Four, namely 20 in comparison to aXiom's 14 and Ozone's and no.Limit's 11. It is also the team that played the most clans that were ranked top 10 or higher on the ESL ladder, with 89 of their 103 matches being against the top10 of the ladder (86%), while the next Big Four on the list would be aXiom with only 91 out of their 133 matches played against the top10 (68%). Coupled with the fact that *aiming never reformed their team, it is safe to say that they have the longest tradition of exceptional play and great achievements.
|Games||Big Four||Ladder||vs Top 10||Months in Ladder|
|aXiom||133||10 – 4 (71%)||119 – 14 (90%)||91 (68%)||42|
|Ozone||70||7 – 4 (64%)||64 – 6 (91%)||35 (50%)||18|
|no.Limits||128||6 – 5 (55%)||108 – 20 (84%)||77 (60%)||29|
|*aiming||103||5 – 15 (25%)||69 – 34 (67%)||89 (86%)||65|
Notable Games with Demos
- 30.12.2003 1v1 - aXiom][Ðureal vs [$A]Virus - demo
- 17.02.2004 1v1 - aXiom][Ðureal vs sR^EviLWindu - demo
- 22.02.2004 1v1 - aXiom][Ðureal vs sR^EviLWindu - demo
- 07.03.2004 4v4 - Zedi vs eF - demo
- 14.04.2004 1v1 - Master DarkStar on BWN - demo
- 18.04.2004 5v5 - aXiom vs RGA - demo
- 30.04.2004 1v1 - Master Ugly on BWN - demo
- 27.07.2004 1v1 - EviLWindu vs aXiom][zer0souL - demo
- 22.12.2004 1v1 - aXiom][Ðureal vs zedi´Dimension - demo
- 26.01.2005 1v1 - aXiom][Ðureal vs aXiom][Zer0soul (Cup Finals) - demo
- 10.02.2005 1v1 - [Ki] Darkstar and [Ki] Lotusfire on BWN - demo
- 12.02.2005 1v1 - Wovian VIPER vs Wovian sh0 - demo
- 13.02.2005 1v1 - aXiom][Ðureal vs sR^EviLWindu (Cup) - demo
- 13.02.2005 1v1 - aXiom][Ðureal vs aXiom][Xerxes (Cup Finals) - demo
- 03.04.2005 3v3 - Wovian vs aXiom - demo
- 03.06.2005 1v1 - aXiom][Ðureal vs #nL.cube - demo
- 12.07.2005 4v4 - no.Limits vs LeiSure - demo
- 03.08.2005 3v3 - Aurochs vs DoX - demo
- 18.08.2005 3v3 - Aurochs vs DoX (rematch) - demo
- 16.10.2005 4v4 - Ozone vs bioXar - demo
- 26.10.2005 4v4 - Ozone vs aXiom - demo
- 30.01.2006 4v4 - Number 2 vs Ozone - demo
- 05.02.2006 4v4 - Germany vs United Kingdom (JNC 2006 Finals) - demo
- 25.02.2006 4v4 - Aurochs vs SITH - demo
- 05.03.2006 4v4 - Ozone vs no.Limits - demo
- 28.03.2006 2v2 - no.Limits vs Ozone - demo
- 07.04.2006 3v3 - no.Limits vs Ozone - demo
- 18.04.2006 1v1 - #nL.cube vs o³Osiris (Cup) - demo
- 06.05.2006 2v2 - Jedi Sentinels vs Ozone - demo
- 14.05.2006 1v1 - #nL.cube vs o³Dark (Cup) - demo
- 22.05.2006 1v1 - #nL.cube vs Hell Raiser (Cup Finals) - demo
- 09.06.2006 1v1 - #nL.cube vs o³Osiris (Ladder) - demo
- 15.06.2006 4v4 - Aurochs vs fiDelity - demo
- 07.06.2006 4v4 - no.Limits vs p3G - demo
- 10.09.2006 3v3 - *aiming vs no.Limits - demo
- 07.10.2006 1v1 - zentur1o vs Minneyar (Ladder) - demo
- 27.10.2006 1v1 - Minneyar vs Cube (Invite Cup) - demo
- 17.12.2006 1v1 - Minneyar vs S3chT (Invite Cup) - demo
- 17.12.2006 1v1 - zentur1o vs Warhammer (Invite Cup) - demo
- 05.01.2007 3v3 - Jedi Sentinels vs no.Limits - demo
- 19.01.2007 1v1 - Minneyar vs Shirasaya (Cup) - demo
- 26.01.2007 1v1 - Minneyar vs Mith (Cup Finals) - demo
- 04.02.2007 3v3 - no.Limits vs *aiming (Cup) - demo
- 11.02.2007 3v3 - no.Limits vs neXor (Cup Finals) - demo
- 18.03.2007 3v3 - Zedi(o3) vs XiO - demo
- 25.03.2007 3v3 - Zedi(o3) vs *aiming - demo
- 03.06.2007 3v3 - Sin vs cronTEX - demo
- 05.08.2007 3v3 - *aiming vs aXiom - demo
- 12.08.2007 1v1 - Warhammer vs Wonder (JNC 2007) - demo
- 14.10.2007 3v3 - aXiom vs *aiming - demo
- 23.12.2007 3v3 - Savior vs saberAcademy - demo
- 27.01.2008 3v3 - *aiming vs saberAcademy - demo
- 24.02.2008 1v1 - raDonis vs Minneyar (Cup) - demo
- 02.03.2008 3v3 - CC vs saberAcademy - demo
- 19.04.2004 2v2 - Serenata vs CC (Cup Finals) - demo
- 24.05.2008 3v3 - CC vs aXiom - demo
- 09.06.2008 3v3 - Aurochs vs aXiom - demo
- 08.10.2008 1v1 - Minneyar vs aXiom][Ðureal (Cup) - demo
- 22.10.2008 1v1 - aXiom][Ðureal vs aXiom][mrl (Cup Finals) - demo
- 18.01.2009 3v3 - Sin vs Sith Alliance - demo
- 09.05.2009 3v3 - USA vs Germany (JNC) - demo
- 22.05.2009 3v3 - Poland vs Germany (JNC) - demo
- 04.06.2009 3v3 - France vs Poland (JNC)- demo
- 19.06.2009 3v3 - Poland vs Alpine Regions (JNC) - demo
- 28.06.2009 3v3 - Germany vs Alpine Regions (JNC Finals) - demo
- 07.02.2010 2v2 - aXiom vs vVv - demo
- 11.02.2010 3v3 - aXiom vs vVv (Cup Finals) - demo
- 23.02.2010 1v1 - aXiom][Ðureal vs aXiom][mrl (Cup Finals) - demo
- 25.02.2010 3v3 - aXiom vs SFTO (Cup Finals) - demo
- 10.03.2010 2v2 - Xentinels vs aXiom - demo
- 21.03.2010 3v3 - Xentinels vs aXiom - demo
- 16.04.2010 1v1 - S3chT vs aXiom][mrl (Cup) - demo
- 23.04.2010 1v1 - Minneyar vs S3chT (Cup) - demo
- 27.04.2010 1v1 - Minneyar vs Itachi (Cup) - demo
- 18.12.2010 3v3 - Vintage vs roYality (Cup Finals) - demo
- 06.06.2011 3v3 - TuA vs Violence Perfected (Cup Finals) - demo
- 08.11.2011 3v3 - Violence Perfected vs Vintage (Cup) - demo
- 13.11.2011 3v3 - Violence Perfected vs inVision (Cup Finals) - demo
- 27.12.2011 1v1 - Cmdkeen vs afiNity (Cup Finals) - demo
- 22.01.2012 1v1 - WhiteSnake vs Hellraiser (Cup Finals) - demo
- 10.02.2012 3v3 - 7Lives vs Warmachines - demo
- 26.02.2012 3v3 - Vintage vs Bear (Winter Cup 11/12 Cup Finals) - demo
- 14.03.2012 3v3 - eForce vs Rise of the Phoenix (Cup Finals) - demo
- 04.09.2012 3v3 - 4.3.4 vs VICE (JPS) - demo
- 08.09.2012 3v3 - 4.3.4 vs FastFive (JPS) - demo
- 04.11.2012 3v3 - FastFive vs VICE (JPS Finals) - demo
- 18.03.2013 1v1 - Tiber vs Drawner (GT1 Finals) - demo
- 05.05.2013 3v3 - Eternity vs noCFG - demo
- 03.06.2013 2v2 - Profi vs DW (Warhammer, Serra) - demo
- 06.06.2013 2v2 - inVision vs r2r (SpringCup Finals) - demo
- 06.10.2013 3v3 - Romania vs Hungary#1 (JNC) - demo
- 20.10.2013 3v3 - Romania vs Hungary#2 (JNC) - demo
- 11.11.2013 3v3 - Poland#2 vs Alpine Regions (JNC) - demo
- 24.11.2013 3v3 - Alpine Regions vs Hungary#2 (JNC) - demo
- 22.12.2013 3v3 - Hungary#2 vs Romania (JNC) - demo