Sunday, 21 November 2010

Scotland and Spain - a dichotomy of duopolies

Okay, first things first, this is about football not esports.

Watching Barcelona demolish Almeria last night was actually somewhat depressing. As an unashamed glory-hunting Barca convert (in my defence, i'm hunting glorious football, not necessarily success ) that might seem a bit strange, but hear me out. I've been a Celtic fan for many years due to my upbringing and i've seen the inevitable downside of what a duopoly like Celtic and Rangers can bring to not only their leagues, but also themselves. When was the last time you saw Celtic do well in the Champion's League? Obviously that's a rhetorical question.

With Barca and Real Madrid there are of course some obvious differences. Both of them individually have far more spending power than The Old Firm combined. They also both have recent pedigree, which Celtic - despite their European glory days of the past - do not have. But as exciting as the Spanish league can be, the fact remains that only two teams ever win it nowadays, just like the Scottish equivalent.

It's rather a strange situation, and not as straightforward as 'no competition = no improvement.' In Scotland, that is definitely the case, and both Glasgow teams only have six truly top class fixtures to contend with per season. Celtic had even less in the last couple of seasons, since they failed to qualify for the main round. In Spain, despite the absolute dominance of Barca and Real, they still get at least a handful of decent opponents every season. Exactly why they finish top so comfortably is strange when you consider the calibre of the opposition - at least two other CL teams each season.

Perhaps it says something about just how good those two teams really are. If they can completely dominate such a strong league, they must be unstoppable. Yet results in Europe suggest otherwise. Of course they do very well, and it's only a season since Barca won the whole thing, but they don't wreck teams four or five nil every CL game like that theory would suggest.

Is it possible that, rather than stifling themselves as Celtic and Rangers have done by dominating Scottish football, they have simply created something like the top four in the English league? Man United and Chelsea don't win every CL game either, but you wouldn't find many takers if you asked people to bet on them finishing outside the top four of the Premier League.

In the end I suppose that Celtic and Rangers just got TOO far ahead of the opposition, domestically. Barca and Real have simply timed their dominance better. It has come in a period where European football is the absolute pinnacle and the format means that they will be testing themselves far more regularly than either of The Old Firm teams. On top of that, the other Spanish teams have got much more benefit than the other Scottish teams due mostly to the fact that four teams can qualify from Spain.

So while, on the surface, the duopolies look very similar, underneath they are quite different.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

An esports drinking game

The rules to this one are pretty simple. You need your drink of choice plus any esports livestream. For maximum chance of alcohol poisoning, try and find a livestream with American commentators.

Once you have the bottle(s) opened and the stream up and running, you take a drink every time the commentator says "wow," "oh my god," or any variation of "oh my god/gosh/goodness."

I imagine that, on average, you will be paralytic inside 10 minutes.