DBL Revisited, a look back at the season of 2019

Today we have a post written by Ewan, a regular team member of One Turn Touchdowns UKTC team and a member of the DBL.

DBL 19 review: further thoughts on league play

Although this is my first blog for 1TTD, I’ve known Tom and Chris for a while having been part of their team at UKTC for the past 2 years. This article is my experience of the Dragon Bowl League 2019 (DBL 19) season and is a follow up piece to Tom’s excellent overview of DBL 2018 [https://oneturntouchdown.com/2018/09/04/league-play-my-introduction-to-the-dbl/ ]. Hopefully this gives a slightly different perspective and highlights how the DBL has evolved. The first section is about my overall experience of playing in the DBL, whilst the second is an insight into the madness of Finals Day, when the two semi-finals and the final are played back to back in a glorious season finale! This post was originally meant to come out in the Spring, but then Coronavirus happened and it sat in draft until DBL 2020 kicked off and prompted me to get it finished.

But first a bit of background: I’ve been playing competitive blood bowl for about three years and I’m really enjoy this aspect of the game. Although I play several other board games, BB is definitely my favourite table-top game. Most of my competitive experience has been in regeneration tournaments (around a dozen of them, mostly finishing mid-table; NAF name lord_relictor), but I’ve also had the pleasure to play in the Dragon Bowl League the last two years (2018 and 2019). This is where I first met Tom and his Deadwood Rams, playing out two nail biting draws that could have gone either way. Although I’ve not played in other tabletop or online leagues, I’d definitely consider them in future. 

 

Part 1 – The Glorious DBL

In 2019 the DBL expanded the league season to 60 players (yes, sixty!), which probably makes it one of the biggest table-top leagues in Britain, if not the world. This makes for some organisational challenges, but it also provides a large community keen to play BB in all its formats. To cater for this the DBL runs stunty and 7s leagues running in the off-season. It’s also been a good place to organise teams and travelling groups for tournaments around the UK and overseas. They sent several players to the world cup in Austria and I was booked up to attend a tournament in Bilbao with around 10 others in July (stupid global pandemic). The DBL’s “Underworld University” beginner/refresher league, which runs in parallel to the DBL, has also continued to grow and had around 12 players this year.

As far as abilities and competitiveness go, there’s a good range of both in the DBL. There are several very serious and talented tournament players who’ve won NAF tournaments, but there are also plenty of people just playing for laughs. And even the good players often take lower tier teams to spice things up or to test themselves (Phil/Avecmontage took Halflings in the DBL and went on to win a competitive NAF event with them). Although there can be some tense games, it’s definitely not WAAC and there’s a big focus on the fluff and social sides. It was also pleasing to see almost all races were represented, with only the poor Pro Elves missing out (although let’s not feel too sorry for them). This means there was huge variety in the racial match ups and very few mirror matches.

 

The Teams and Fluff

As it was last year, there’s an incredible effort across the board on team painting, fluff/background and logos. My Orc team were the Brewgrog Punks, with a craft beer theme so all the players had brewery names (e.g. the troll was called Meantime and the goblin was Tiny Rebel). I knocked up the logo on a free website and (eventually) drafted some silly fluff to go with it. Every one of the 60 players made the effort to create a logo and bought into the story telling side of it. I think this really helps to build the community and the reasonably high effort ‘barrier to entry’ discourages flaky players.

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The Organisers

The key to the DBL’s success is the commitment and imagination of the Commissioners and the Governors. Two co-Commissioners (known as the Commishs) were in overall charge, with 6 Governors (Guvs) running each of the conferences. There were also two additional Guvs who do the merchandise and graphic design – both a key part of the overall experience. They organise the two draft nights, ensure all the matches are played on time, handle any rules enquiries and generally keep everyone motivated. This seems like a lot of effort, but it would be difficult to run an endeavour of this size without plenty of burden-sharing.

 

Some of the high quality logos

 

The Theme

Each year the league has an overall theme, and this year it was “Revolution”. On draft night each of the Guvs had a costume related to their favourite revolution and . I was drawn in the West Conference and my Guv (Alex) wore a top hat and handed out flat-caps to each of his players, representing the factory boss and his workers during the industrial revolution. We also had the Gillet Jaunes from protests in France and one of the Guvs was a very convincing Fidel Castro, complete with stick on beard and fake cigars! I think it’s fair to say Revolution wasn’t quite as memorable as the ’80’s’ theme we had in 2018, but that’s a high bar (especially when you factor in the brilliantly cheesy 80’s sound track – think Wham, Footloose, Eye of the Tiger, Kenny Loggins…).

 

The League Format and Draft Night

In 2019 the Guvs added a 6th conference to accommodate the 10 additional players from last year (6 conferences of 10 players). This was called the “Exiles” conference, to go alongside the existing North, South, East, West and Central conferences. Each is split into two 5-person divisions: A and B and has its own colour and theme (Northern Hard Nuts, Southern Comforts etc). Each player then has a home and away game against each of the 4 opponents in their division. Although many league bowlers prefer playing different opponents in each game, I quite enjoyed the “return legs” against previous opponents, where scores can be settled and lessons identified can be put into practice. They stuck with a schedule of playing an average of 2 games every 3 weeks, which feels right to me.

As it was in 2018, qualification for the knock-outs was achieved by finishing in the top 32 of an overall league table for all 60 players, rather than your placing in the 5-person division. This means it’s possible for 3 or even 4 people in your division to qualify, so it doesn’t feel too cut-throat with other players in your division. It also encourages inter conference rivalry as you look at who has the most players near the top of the table. 

The remaining 28 players went into the ‘plate’ tournament, known as the Cuckleberry Cup. This gives less experienced (or just unlucky!) coaches a chance to experience knock out games and make up for early season mistakes. Although it’s not as serious or competitive as the Championship, it’s still a high standard and included several experienced NAF coaches. The 2019 Cuck was won by Steve and his unpredictable Underworld team, led by their talismanic troll “Bumsmell”.

 

minotaurs-collection-004Did you know, with the current global pandemic still causing disruption around the world, DBL 20 was very close to being the next casualty of Covid-19 but because of the unsurpising hard work of the commisioners and Guvs it has been able to kick off in a restriced and safe way for a limited number of coaches. It will be without a doubt a huge part of history but who will mak their mark on the pitch.

 

Draft nights

These were just as brilliant as last year. The first one is for the league draw in July and the 2nd is for the knock-outs draw in October. The organisers allocate players by drawing balls out of a bingo machine, which generates a huge amount of banter and excitement. Once the draw is done players can either play the opponent they’ve been drawn against or take part in games of Deathbowl. Several players come in fancy dress related to their team and everyone’s in a party mood. Drinks flow in the club and we hit the town when it closes. Since the draws take place on a Monday I’ve learnt to book the Tuesday off work! The draft nights are always held at the club in 7 Dials, but league games are often played at other venues, with particular venues being Steam Engine in Waterloo and Rule Zero in Hackney Wick.

 Draft night games and part of the draw

Every year there seems to be a random conference or division that sparks the imagination. In DBL 18 it was a division that had 4 elf teams out of 4, which led to some crazy, high scoring games, full of elfy bullshit! This year it was a division that included 4 stalwarts of the Edinboro Castle Blood Bowl League (ECBBL). The DBL has a friendly rivalry with the ECBBL, with several bowlers playing in both, so it was really funny to see most of them drawn together in a “division of death”.

 

Conference Championships

Another interesting twist the DBL has is the Conference Championship. After the league season, but before the knock-outs, the top player in each of the two divisions play off in a one off regen match for the conference title. Each of these 6 titles has its own name and lovingly painted miniature trophy. After a long league season these add a bit of spice to the intra-conference rivalry, with players in each division backing their representative to win the trophy. 

The Exiles cup in progress and the West’s “Magenta Fist”

 

The Merch and Rules Pack

An integral part of the DBL and its sense of camaraderie and community is the bespoke merchandise. In 2019 everyone got a pint glass, a coffee mug with their team’s logo and some DBL dice – organised by the Merch Guv Oli. Each of the conference Guvs also arranged some conference specific dice and novelty clothing (related to the revolution theme). I was in the West conference and my excellent Guv Alex gave each of us a flat cap, whilst he wore a top hat (to represent the industrial revolution!). There was also additional merch for those that wanted it, including a red West t-shirts. Quite a few players wore these during their games and at NAF tournaments, which really helped build conference camaraderie.

 

West Conference merch, a Central coffee mug and some of the pin badges

The hard-copy Rules Pack is another amazing part of the DBL package. This is brought together by the Guvs before the season, particularly by the design Guv Sam. These are such beautiful documents, printed on high quality paper with gorgeous graphics linked to the theme, in this cse Revolution. They contain all the relevant league rules for the DBL and a handy reference doc for kick off tables and weather charts etc.

 

So how did I get on?

Well it’s fair to say 2019 went much better for me than 2018. Playing with Orcs (I was keen to try bash after last season’s dash with Skaven) I finished the regular season 4-4-0, topping my 5-person division and qualifying for the DBL round of 32 knock-outs (as one of the top 16 seeds). I had some great games against Dark Elves, Halflings, Nurgle and Bretonnians; none of which were easy. This also put me in the Conference Championship game, so before the knock-outs I competed against Sam’s Khorne team for the West Conference trophy, the ‘Magenta Fist’. This was a brutal affair with his Block, MB, Claw, Frenzy, Piling-On Blood Thirster tearing through my previously robust greenskins. It finished 2-0 to him and about 6-2 in Cas. Just as well it was regen!

After making generous use of the Magic Sponge, my team went into the round of 32 against Tom’s Ogres. Although he’s an excellent player, and very experienced with Ogres, it was a pretty good draw for me and I won 2-0. The last 16 was a grind fest against Lewis and his Khemri, but I sneaked it 1-0. The Quarter Final was a very different experience against Jerome’s Vampires. He’s a real maverick and almost pulled off a score on my drive after some sloppy caging. However, the Orc pain train got rolling and the numbers advantage saw me through. I won 3-0, but it was much closer that the score suggests. So against all expectations I was in the DBL finals day for the first time!

 

The DBL graphics are always top notch (thanks to Sam) and the DBL knock-outs and Cuckleberry draws are no exception 

Part 2 – Finals Day

Finals day is something of an institution in the DBL. It’s the culmination of a long season and one of the big three set piece events, alongside the two draft nights. The last couple of years it’s been held in Loading Bar in Dalston, a boardgames pub that’s happy for us to take up a large section of the pub and set up AV equipment for live streaming. As it’s a fairly long event – with setup, the two semis, the final and the awards ceremony – it usually starts early afternoon and finishes well into the evening. Around 20 DBLers will attend during the day, some just come down for part of it whilst others stay for the full day and a few arrange to play friendly games of 7s or regular bowl in the margins. This year the UU final was also played their on the same day, so it was a real festival of Blood Bowl! My first finals day was in 2018, when I came down to watch the games and catch up with friends. That buzz and sense of occasion was really inspiring – definitely a motivator to play my best and qualify for future finals days.

It took a bit of organising and rescheduling to get all four semi-finalists there together, so despite the QFs finishing in early December, finals day didn’t happen until February. Although it’s definitely better than the alternatives (sub in replacement players or play the semis separately from the final), it’s still a bit frustrating as the season lost a bit of momentum. Most players who’d already been knocked out had moved onto other boardgames or started in other BB leagues and competitions, so it look at bit of effort from the Guvs to get the rest of the DBL psyched up for it.  Before the draw I wrote down and sent round the Punks’ fluff. A few other players had done this earlier in the season and it really adds to the narrative.

 

DBL TV

Something that makes finals day really special is the live video and commentary on each game. The DBL is pretty good at reporting on other games, with a separate Whatsapp chat just for match updates, but having a full commentary throughout and live Youtube stream up takes it to the next level. We’re lucky to have a few tech wizards in the club, so they come down early at set it up. One of the semis and the final get full video and commentary, whilst the other semi only gets text commentary via Whatsapp. I obviously wasn’t able to see the video at the time, but it’s still on Youtube (hyperlink: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SotbH9Bzq_Y&t=10962s&has_verified=1 ) and I have since watched it back. Quite strange watching yourself play and shouting at the screen saying “don’t do that GFI, you’re going to roll a 1”, and “don’t put the Goblin there you idiot!”. The only previous time I’d been streamed before was with the ‘Beer and Blood Bowl’ guys, but that was at the bottom tables during the Europen in Cardiff, so I hadn’t bothered to watch that one back! 

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The commentary team look less than impressed

 

The commentary team rotated through the day and each of the guys added some unique insight and humour. They covered the tactics, player skills, league record, history in the DBL, as well as numerous less serious comments and innuendo. If I have to pick a favourite it would be Phil G (king_ghidra), who brought wit and irreverence to his colour commentary. The video and commentary really helped bring the event to life for the folks who weren’t able to make it to Loading Bar on the day. I also later found out that a few non-DBL friends of mine had even tuned in to watch the games and show support.

To keep me going through the day I’d brought along a banana, some cereal bars and a Red Bull. I’ve been to a few NAF tournaments and always have some snacks at hand in case games overrun and there isn’t time for get food. I’d also thought about whether I wanted to drink alcohol during the day. Blood Bowl for me is closely associated with drinking and having a pint can be quite relaxing, but I definitely didn’t want to get pissed. I ended up having 3 or 4 beers spread over several hours, which felt like a nice balance. 

 

The Final Four (or five)

The four semi-finalists were myself, Gav (gcoleman76 – High Elves), Alex (cerumol – Wood Elves) and Fraser (Necromantic). Gav had finished top of the DBL league table having won 7 and drawn 1 of his 8 matches. Alex had won 7 of his and scored the most Tds (with Gav scoring the 2nd most!). So it’s fair to say that many people were predicting an all-Elf final. Fraser also had a very tasty Necromantic team, which included an AG4 Werewolf (with 78 SPP after 11 games, the highest ever in the DBL). 

But disaster struck and unfortunately Fraser was ill on the day so couldn’t make it. The DBL organisers decided it should be one of the losing quarter finalists to fill his place. Only two of them were going to be at finals day and one of them was James the Commissioner, who stood aside due to his organising duties. So it was to be the former Commissioner Mark (overgone5), whose Brets had been narrowly knocked out in the QFs, who would take Fraser’s place against Gav. Mark was also my compatriot from the West Conference, so we’d already played out two really tight draws in the regular season. So I was hoping we’d both make it to the final for some delicious narrative! Although it was a real shame that Fraser wasn’t able to play, it was absolutely the right call. Trying to rearrange would at best have delayed the event, but could have led to it not happening at all.

 

The Semi-finals

I knew in advance I was playing Alex and his Woodies. He’d built up a really strong team and had thrashed another Orc player 5-0 in the knock-outs, but I was feeling reasonably relaxed going into this match. I was definitely the underdog and had already got further than expected, so as long as I played reasonably well there was no shame in going out now. The ‘Maryland Marvels’ had a lot of Dodge and was packed full of skilled up players, including an AG5 lineman and an a plus MV Catcher and Thrower. However, they were also missing the other dancer after he as MNG’ed in the QF game against Mark; so the remaining MV9 Strip Ball dancer would be priority target No1. We were drawn to play on the second table, without video streaming, but we had excellent text commentary on the Whatsapp chat from Tom (loynster from the TalkNuffle podcasts). 

What followed was one of the most bizarre dicings I’ve ever been part of. Alex’s first block was double skulls and that set the tone. By T4 he’d used all his rerolls. Of the first 20 D6s he rolled, I reckon 10 them were 1s (particularly galling for an elf!). Despite kicking to him, I got hold of the ball and slowly ground my way down the pitch. He mounted a stellar defence and by my T7 I was only just in range for the score with 2 GFIs. He just needed to dodge out and push me on 2D… but Nuffle had other ideas. He snake-eyed the dodge roll and reroll, then I made several more difficult rolls to score. 1-0 at HT. To make matters worse, I’d KO’ed the remaining dancer in T7, who then didn’t come back second half. Second half I slowly ground my way done the pitch and tried to limit his chances. Eventually I ran it in for 2-0, giving him only 1 turn for a consolation score. He demonstrated his skill and experience to score the one-turner, but it wasn’t enough.

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Alex contemplates what he did to offend Nuffle, whilst Mark (wearing his West t-shirt) and Gav throw down on the main table

 

Throughout the game Alex was an absolute gent. Given the stakes involved, it would have been easy to get angry or miserable, but he accepted his rotten dice with good grace. It must have felt particularly tough given he narrow missed out on winning the DBL the year before, having been beaten by Paul’s Dwarfs in the final. However, I have no doubt he’ll be back to finals day again and the dice will hopefully be kinder.

Meanwhile on the “show table”, Mark and Gav were playing out a tight game. The Brets had induced Dolfar Longstrde so both teams were moving it around quickly. I started watching at the beginning of overtime, after the first 16 turns ended 1-1. In the DBL extra-time is two 4-turn halves, with each side receiving once. Both teams scored on their drive, but Mark was forced to score his equaliser quickly, thereby giving Gav 2 turns to win it. His Strong Arm and Accurate thrower made the Long Bomb pass look easy, so their catcher could run it in to win 3-2.

 

The Final

Before the game there was a short break so I had time to nip out for a sandwich and some fresh air. Up until this point I’d been quite relaxed and was enjoying the occasion, but the realisation that I was now within touching distance of the cup had brought on the nerves. Making finals day had been an achievement in itself, so I wouldn’t have been too disappointed if I’d played well and gone out to Alex in the semis. But it now I was in the final, and there was limited chance of me ever getting back there, the pressure had increased significantly. It was difficult to tell if Gav was also feeling the occasion but he looked fairly relaxed, probably down to his experience of playing at the top end of tournaments online and in table top. 

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The Punks prepare for the final, with skill rings from Magic Works – really handy when players have multiple skills

 

He had a 15 man squad and chose to buy a keg, so I had 250k in inducements. I thought about stars or a wizard, but ended up buying a 4th reroll with spare cash and then taking 4 dirty trick cards at 50k each. Most of them are useful and some are amazing at that price. One of the cards allowed me to get an extra player on the pitch, so when I won the toss I decided to receive and make the most of my drive. This decision had been complicated by the Sweltering Heat, but I thought it was worth the risk. 

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Tense moments and delivery of an emergency pint to calm the nerves!

 

The first half was a bit of a grind as I conservatively made my way up the pitch. Knowing how good and aggressive Gav was I was being quite risk averse. In the build up I’d decided it was better to miss out on the score than open up and give him a chance with AG4 and MV9 (+1MV catcher). This definitely led me to being too cautious and come turn 7 I’d had to move the cage sideways, leaving a gap, in order to get within 5 of the endzone. He duly dodged into the cage on a 5++ and sacked the ball carrier. Argh! I still had a chance to pick it up and run it in, but at this point the pressure definitely got to me. I failed to set up my blocks properly and had to made extra dice rolls. So when I eventually failed the pick-up in a TZ it was all over. HT 0-0.

At this point there were around a dozen people from the DBL gathered around the table and occasionally random punters would come over to see what was happening. I don’t think I’d ever had more than a couple of neutrals watching me play so it felt a little bit claustrophobic, adding to the existing pressure of being in the final. The other new experience was the commentary team discussing my every move just 3 feet away. I couldn’t really hear what they were saying into the mics, but knowing that everyone’s analysing and judging your decisions was quite intimidating! I also remember being devastated when I failed to score: it definitely felt like that was my chance and I’d blown it. 

At the start of the second half we rolled for sweltering heat. I got luckier than him, even though I’d had twelve on the pitch and only a squad of 13, so we both started a full team. He’d lost a couple to injury, but his deep squad and keg meant I still had a way to go to get the numbers advantage. He decided to score quickly and with the speed of his catchers and the super thrower, there wasn’t much I could do to stop the 2-turner. His defence is really solid and he probably backed himself to turn me over. Although I had 7 turns to equalise, I wasn’t hugely confident, especially given I’d previously failed to score after 8 turns with 12 players! It was looking even worse when he rolled a Blitz on the KO table!

He got two players to tag the Blitzer the under the ball and it was looking dicey. If I’d failed the pick up or rolled a double skulls at this point he would likely have gone 2-0 up and put it out of sight. However, at this point my Armour and Injury rolling picked up. He was already down to 10 players whilst I still had 11. In my first turn I managed to KO 2 elves so it was 11 v 8. I then made the big pick up roll and recovered into a reasonable cage. 

Gav was using a dice tower for his rolls and I decided to drop my Injury dice into it – when they started coming up hot I continued the habit for fear of offending Nuffle. I’m not a superstitious person and I have a strong belief in probability and statistics, but given my fortunate run to the final I felt this was something I needed to continue! I still wasn’t playing particularly well and needlessly gave him a couple of 1 dicers on the blodging ball carrier Blitzer (thankfully neither came off), as well as fluffing one of my Dirty Tricks (auto success on armour roll during a foul) by messing up my Goblin’s positioning. However, by around turn 6 I was deep into his half and the casualties were starting to mount. I knew my luck was still in when I managed to argue the call to prevent my Goblin being sent off for a T15 foul (a moment that would later prove very significant). I was then able to escort it in and equalise on T16. FT 1-1.

 

Extra-time

Going into extra time it was 10 Orcs vs 9 Elves and thankfully the weather then reverted to normal. 4-turn halves probably slightly favour the faster teams, but my slight numerical advantage would help. I managed to move the ball downfield fairly quickly and was able to run it in on my T4, but he had a 1-turner attempt. I played the Dirty Trick ‘Slippery Shoes’ that makes GFIs fail on 1-3, but fortunately he double-skulled on one of the blocks, and then to rub salt in the wound I broke armour and Cas’ed the Blitzer!

In the second half of extra-time Gav repeated his 2-turner, charging down the wing and making the long throw to a catcher. He’d equalised to make it 2-2, but I still had 3 turns to win it. When DBL games are level after extra-time we go to ‘penalties’. The players take it in turns to roll 2 block dice (repeated 5 times); if there’s a Skull on either die you miss, if there isn’t then you score. Player with the most scores after 5 rounds wins. However, you can use any team rerolls you have left at the end of the match to reroll the 2 dice. Before the match I’d probably have taken penalties, with the format favouring the less experienced coach. I also had a few rerolls more than him, so the odds in a shoot-out were probably in my favour. Therefore I didn’t feel under huge pressure to score in those 3 turns. It was definitely more important to play it safe and avoid giving him any chances to steal the ball, especially having been Blitzed earlier in the game and knowing how aggressive he can be.

So I set up quite conservatively and made sure to get the ball safe. Assuming I could do this, I’d already decided to go for the throw team mate on the final turn. There was probably a higher probability play by running a couple of blitzers down the sidelines for the pass/hand-off, but I felt I needed maximum protection around the ball in the earlier turns. Come T4 the Goblin had the ball in a cage near halfway. All the Troll TTM rolls came off, but the Goblin scattered into the tackle zone of a well placed linemen; so a 5+ was needed to land. At this point the excitement in the crowd was building and with every successful roll the noise level went up a notch. So when the Goblin landed with a roll of a 5 all the spectators went crazy: screaming, taking photos and probably scaring other patrons of the pub! I still had to make the dodge to score, but when this came off the Goblin (who had earlier avoided an early bath by arguing the call) ran in for the winning TD. 

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Tiny Rebel makes his only useful contribution of the whole season!

 

After about 7 months, 14 games and numerous nail-biting moments, it was finally over. I’d won the cup! In terms of upsets and probability, I think it was probably akin to Leicester winning the Premier League or Greece winning the European Championship. Throughout the season it just felt like everything had gone my way, including avoiding injuries, rolling good skill ups, being drawn against lower tier teams, the draw opening up for me and a huge dose of luck in several matches (especially in the semi). Although my tactics and decision making has improved a bit over the past couple of years, I can’t pretend it wasn’t mostly down to Nuffle’s benevolence (which means I’m due nothing but skulls next season). 

 

The Awards

Another great part of Finals Day is the post match awards. The Commissioner(s) do a quick speech to thank everyone for taking part and to the Guvs for helping organise it. They then hand out prizes to the four semi-finalists. Each player gets a framed print out of a Backbreaker Sport (the regular, light-hearted DBL ‘newspaper’ that records matches, player deaths etc) that featured their team. This is a really nice, personal touch, that again adds to the prestige of qualifying for finals day. On top of this Gav was also given a £20 gift voucher. I got a £40 voucher and the GW Ogres pitch. But most importantly, I also got the trophy, which was made by Mark, the ex-Commisioner. It’s not fancy, but it has a real charm to it and having each winners name engraved on the side is a nice touch. At the end of the awards ceremony they also announced that I was going to be a Conference Guv for the following season, which for me was the perfect finish to a memorable day. 

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Summary 

Although I’d really enjoyed my first season in the DBL in 2018, it had often felt like I was finding my feet and ending up kicking myself for making novice mistakes. This season I’d been a lot more on the ball (pardon the pun) and had walked away from all the games having had a good time and feeling like I’d played reasonably well. Winning the cup is something I’ll never forget, but I would still enjoy playing in the DBL even if I had no chance of winning. To emphasise this, immediately after the final I decided to take Goblins in DBL 20 – in honour of the little fella who scored the winning touchdown!

In terms of the league Commissioners and Guvs, they did and exceptional job. This season was bigger and better than the last, with a record number of players and games. The only minor problem was the delay between the QFs and Finals Day, but in the grand scheme of things this is pretty trivial. The fluff, the organisational work, the merchandise, the commentary, the set pieces and the camaraderie were all absolutely brilliant. DBL 20 has just started (possibly a future article) and the number of players is down to 35 – hardly surprising given the global pandemic. However, it’s great that it’s still happening and I’ve no doubt it will still be a great experience and the numbers will bounce back in DBL 21.

And finally, a big thank you to all my opponents, conference colleagues, people who came to Finals Day, the Guvs, the Commissioners and everyone else in the DBL last year. I enjoyed every minute of it and look forward to playing in many more Dragon Bowl seasons.

 

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