Once again it's time for Zot to step up to the Podium of Ponderous Pontification, but this time it aint for no Academy Awards. Gone are the glitz and glamour, the dancing girls, the flashing smile and the sequined suit. Instead it is a black cassock, a sombre mien and a solitary spotlight.

Reverend Zot is back... and he's gonna kick some ass.

Zot's Final Words
All good things must come to an end.

I've heard a lot of theories why the SGGL has declined, but I have seen the Truth, and the Truth is: Blizzard Entertainment.  For those of you who may have said this before I did, you're right.

Reason #1: The Death of Warcraft

The Truth is that at heart we're not the "Solid Gold Gaming Leagues" at all - we're still basically one league, and it's a Warcraft league.

(You might be interested to note that when I checked the game logs a week ago in order to decide whether to keep going or shut down, it was the old SGWL which had the most life out of all of our leagues! )

War2 and the KPUDs lie at the heart of our reason for existence. Even the SGSL consisted - with virtually no exceptions - of our War2 people who happened now to be playing Starcraft together. It was inevitable that the dawn of Starcraft would deal us a harsh blow as the bulk of War2 players jumped ship.

Reason #2: Battle.Net

We might have been able to survive as a Starcraft league - God knows there are enough SC players out there - but not on Kali. For in the same way that Bill Gates couldn't stand the thought of Netscape making money in a niche he hadn't yet claimed, Blizzard couldn't stand the thought of Jay Cotton making money when they had the bucks and the market share to take over the whole thing for themselves.

So they bundled Battle.net with Starcraft and destroyed Kali. Which destroyed another possibility for our long-term survival, because in the same way that at heart we're a War2 KPUD crew, we're also at heart a Kali crew. So with War2 and KPUDs and Kali all sidelined, we didn't have much left.  

You all know that I tried to move our SGSL core to B.Net to give the league a chance for survival, but I failed. Again, however, I lay the blame not at your door but at Blizzard's:  B.Net is a horrible place for amateur leagues, and I'm convinced that this is deliberate.

Kali is anarchistic - people go where they like, they can see where people are, and anybody can have a server. Because of this general state of anarchy, when -]War2 KPUDS had 40 people on it all the time, Warcraft players browsed through to see what the action was. It's why, once we had a critical mass, we thrived.

Battle.net just doesn't let you do that. I called and asked them for a public channel, and they outright refused. It doesn't take a college degree to realize that the last thing they want is an amateur operation getting all the traffic and hogging the prestige, especially since they have a deal with the PGL.

So with amateur channels hidden away from the casual browser, with the B.Net ladder's instant access and built-in reporting system and with the PGL buying all the prestige, I'm prepared to predict a short life for any amateur league on B.Net, for the simple reason that people won't ever hear about it in the normal course of gaming.

Frus, it was a lovely eulogy you gave the SGSL but I think you were a bit too hard us. We didn't die of illness or apathy or even natural causes - we were killed.

For what it's worth, I've been hard on myself too. I know I burnt out on online gaming some time ago and haven't had the emotional energy to throw into the league like I did at the start. Plus, when it came down to convincing an ornery crew of gamers to sacrifice their own comfort and devote themselves to the mission of promoting our league in a hostile environment, it just got to be too much like work. :-P But after a long and sober look at it, I don't think even my scintillating personality could have done much to stave off the inevitable.
I hope that this doesn't sound too much like sour grapes... If I sound sour, it's not so much because of the death of the SGGL as it is because our league is simply one more casualty of the profit motive.  Not that ours is even close to the worst casualty of that particular demon - it's sad to see the death of amateur leagues in the way that we knew them, but frankly I grieve a lot more for the children in the factories around the world than I do for our little online enterprise.

But despite the fact that it's only a gaming league, the fact remains that the SGWL/SGGL seems to have had a profound effect on many of our members. And so it behooves me to remind you that as sad as it may be to see something that we love die, we must remember that our sadness is only because our league has given us much to celebrate.

I think Frus put it best when she quit the SGWL only to return shortly thereafter and comment "brr... it's cold out there".  The SGGL in many ways functioned as a warm home in the cold world of lame online gaming.  And that home in a sense will always be there - the friendship and trust we have established amongst ourselves is something we will always have with each other no matter where we encounter each other online, whether it's on Cases or Battle.Net or whatever comes along next.  This is a great thing - the league is a great thing - and despite the fact that we are putting it to rest, it was a phenomenal success.


Yup - can't do a farewell speech without thanking everybody, so here goes. :-)

First and foremost I feel immensely privileged to have met and befriended all of you. I have loved the banter, the wit, the mix of ages, and the sense that in this environment I didn't have to live up to the usual expectations of a small-town clergyman (my favourite quote here is from Dogboy: "Zot ain't a real minister... real ministers don't say 'shit'."). Thank you for that - you have been more important to me than you know.

Thank you also to all the people who have supported the league during its lifetime: to our referees; our leaguemasters; our message-board pundits and poets; to Ohwrd and Philo; to our financial donors, and to the gamers who made league games a delight to play. Your names are too many to list here (and I'm sure to miss somebody), so I won't even try.  The people make the league, and in this case that means you.

There is one person who deserves special mention, however, and that is MugWump. In addition to the top-quality professional work he has given us, Mug in particular has put in countless hours maintaining the software, rolling over seasonal databases, and weeding out cheaters. His generosity to us cannot be overstated, and I only wish there were words enough to thank him. In the end all I can say is "thank you", so: thank you, Bill.

So be of good cheer, folks: the SGGL was a gift you might never have had. It was given freely, and for the sheer joy of giving and of gaming. We've had great times and we've made good friends.  And if this league has inspired anyone to value cameraderie or sportsmanship or common decency, or even maybe to look in a dictionary once in a while, then it was 18 months of my life well-spent.

Stay cool, kick butt and have fun,
Office of Retirement