Stowaway World Cup – Week 4

Well, what a week that was. If you cared, which you probably didn’t.

Throughout May, we’ve been playing the Stowaways World Cup, an entirely pointless contest in which we pitted 32 of the most-mentioned artists on this blog against one another, based on a mixture of randomness and their past credentials, with a very unhealthy dose of biased refereeing.

There were disappointments right from the start – Sparks could have easily progressed to the latter stages, but never managed to win a single game. The Beloved repeatedly lost their only player due to fouls (that was, in retrospect, a little unfair, so the rules were changed for later rounds). Even Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark failed to progress beyond the group stages due to performing slightly less well than Röyksopp.

The group of 16 saw surprises too, with two group winners and blog stalwarts being knocked out by group runners-up. By the last few matches, the finalists were increasingly closely matched. Erasure suffered a run of games ending with penalty shootouts, Pet Shop Boys, who had had a fairly clear run to the final, snuck an extra goal in at the end of extra time, and won the final, taking away the not-coveted Stowaway Cup. For the record, these were our final top four:

  1. Pet Shop Boys
  2. Erasure
  3. Depeche Mode
  4. New Order

Which is a pretty respectable result. We’ll take a short break on this blog now, but we’ll be back in a week or so with the regular schedule of posts.


Stowaway World Cup – The Final

So, we finally reach the final of this entirely pointless tournament, which sees Pet Shop Boys take on Erasure for the first and last title of Stowaways World Cup Champion. The road to this point has been unnecessarily long and arduous, and will hopefully never be something any of us has to live through again. But at the end of this post, we will find out who the winner is. So let’s begin, as always, with the first half.

  1. 2+3. An early attack! Goal for highest number of views of a post on this blog. Pet Shop Boys claim 780 views for the exploration of the Bobby O Demos, while Erasure have 315 views for the review of The Innocents. 1-0.
  2. 1+4. No goal.
  3. 3+3. No goal.
  4. 2+3. Foul. 1+2. That’s a penalty for Erasure, but they miss.
  5. 1+6. No goal.

At the halfway point, Pet Shop Boys lead by just one goal. But anything could happen in the next five dice rolls, so let’s see where the second half takes us.

  1. 6+2. Goal for best album. Tough. For me that’s probably between Behaviour and either Chorus or Erasure. Erasure equalise. 1-1.
  2. 6+4. Goal for worst performance in previous games. Neither has lost a single game before now. Erasure have scored slightly more, but there’s really nothing in it. No goal.
  3. 1+5. No goal.
  4. 1+5. No goal.
  5. 1+3. No goal.

So, after Erasure equalised at the start of the second half, there was no further goal action. That means we have to play extra time.

  1. 4+4. No goal.
  2. 4+1. Goal for most weeks on UK single chart. Pet Shop Boys have the edge, with about 40 weeks more. 2-1.
  3. 6+4. Foul. 4+5. Penalty for Erasure again, but another miss.
  4. 1+4. No goal.

That’s it! Full time! Pet Shop Boys scrape through to win the championship, with a 2-1 win. We’ll close this series out with some final commentary tomorrow. In the meantime, I hope you didn’t mind the slight diversion for a few weeks. If you did, there’s just one post of this nonsense left!

Stowaway World Cup – 3rd & 4th Place Runoff

Here we are at last, at the battle for third and fourth place, where Depeche Mode meet New Order. Both slipped out of the semi-finals by the narrowest of narrow margins, and both have a similar pedigree, so this could be anybody’s game. Let’s see how things look after the first half.

  1. 3+3. No goal.
  2. 5+1. No goal.
  3. 1+1. No goal.
  4. 5+2. No goal.
  5. 1+2. No goal.

Well, it seems there isn’t a lot of enthusiasm to go out and win this game – both teams are playing defensively. Hopefully the second half will give us a little more drama!

  1. 3+3. No goal.
  2. 1+2. No goal.
  3. 1+6. No goal.
  4. 3+3. No goal.
  5. 5+2. No goal.

Still nothing! We’ve only had a couple of goalless matches in the whole competition before now, so now we have to go to extra time.

  1. 3+1. No goal.
  2. 4+2. Finally! Goal for most single releases. Depeche Mode have 55, while New Order have 44, plus 5 EPs. Goal for DM. 1-0.
  3. 6+5. Things are hotting up. Goal for most impressive haircut. Easy goal for some of Depeche Mode‘s eighties looks. 2-0.
  4. 2+3. Goal for highest number of views of a post on this blog. That would be the Beginner’s guide to Depeche Mode, with over 600 views. 3-0.

So, finally, after extra time, an exhilarating 3-0 win for Depeche Mode. They take third place overall, pushing New Order into fourth.

Stowaway World Cup – Semi-Final 2

In the second semi-final, Pet Shop Boys take on New Order. Both have won all their games to date, so this really is a battle between two giants. Each has particular strengths and weaknesses which could make all the difference in this game. Let’s see what happens in the first half.

  1. 3+5. No goal.
  2. 6+4. Goal for worst performance in previous games. So much for dice throws – this seems to have come up nearly every game since it was introduced after the group stages. In this instance, it does little good – neither team has had any particular struggles, so the referee rules that this is no goal.
  3. 6+4. That’s a foul. 4+4. The referee was a bit confused, so no penalty.
  4. 1+2. No goal.
  5. 1+6. No goal.

For the first time in the last couple of rounds, the game is scoreless at the halfway point. There was a bit of fumbling during the second and third rolls, but nothing much happened otherwise. Hopefully there will be a bit more offensive action in the second half.

  1. 1+6. No goal.
  2. 1+3. No goal.
  3. 5+1. No goal.
  4. 6+3. Goal! Finally! Goal for most innovative recording. That has to be Blue Monday, so New Order take a very late lead. 0-1.
  5. 2+6. Goal for percentage of members who have remained. Pet Shop Boys equalise. 1-1.

So, after a couple of late goals, we’re still on level pegging. Maybe extra time can help decide this one.

  1. 4+2. Goal for most single releases. Pet Shop Boys have 65, while New Order have just 44. So PSB lead 2-1.
  2. 2+4. Goal for quality of last album. Little could ever top Music Complete, so New Order equalise. 2-2.
  3. 2+1. Goal for most charismatic performer(s). There’s one more goal chance after this, but it might be the decider. The referee is struggling, as neither has a lot of onstage presence. He rules no goal.
  4. 3+6. No goal.

There’s little change in the score after extra time, so this match goes to the dreaded penalty shoot-out.

  1. Pet Shop Boys: 1+2. No goal.
  2. New Order: 6+5. No goal.
  3. Pet Shop Boys: 3+1. Goal! 3-2.
  4. New Order: 6+6. Goal! 3-3.
  5. Pet Shop Boys: 1+5. Goal! 4-3.
  6. New Order: 4+5. No goal.
  7. Pet Shop Boys: 3+1. Goal! 5-3.
  8. New Order: 6+1. No goal, and New Order can no longer catch up.

So that’s it, decided by penalties. Pet Shop Boys advance to the final to play Erasure, and New Order take on Depeche Mode in the decider for third and fourth place.

Stowaway World Cup – Semi-Final 1

Now we reach the first of our semi-finals, where former labelmates and bandmates Depeche Mode meet Erasure. Depeche Mode struggled to second in their group, but then walked through the group stages and quarter finals, while Erasure were the strongest performer overall in the group stages, but have struggled with two penalty shoot-outs in both of their last two games. The referee may have to make some awkward decisions about Vince Clarke‘s allegiances between the two teams, since he’s been in both. So let’s see how the first half shapes up:

  1. 1+1. No goal.
  2. 6+1. Goal for best song. There are plenty of contenders, but maybe that’s Enjoy the Silence or Ship of Fools. Depeche Mode sneak the edge. 1-0.
  3. 4+4. No goal.
  4. 3+6. No goal.
  5. 6+4. Goal for worst performance in previous games. This one again! Technically Depeche Mode have a loss, while Erasure have a healthy portion of near-draws. 2-0.

So at the end of the first half, Depeche Mode have snuck two goals ahead, but each by the narrowest of narrow margins. What will happen in the second half?

  1. 1+4. No goal.
  2. 2+5. Goal for best artwork. It’s time for Erasure to sneak in a close goal. 2-1.
  3. 6+6. No goal.
  4. 2+5. Foul. 2+6. Erasure equalise with their penalty! 2-2.
  5. 4+2. The last-minute deciding goal. Goal for most single releases. Depeche Mode have 55, while Erasure have 54, but also 7 EPs, at least three or four of which were big hits with radio play for at least one of the tracks. If you need a tie-breaker for this goal attempt, we can also discount Vince Clarke‘s early work for Depeche Mode, so Erasure clinch a late victory. 2-3.

So Erasure are our first finalists, and we’ll see them again on Sunday. Depeche Mode will be back on Saturday to try to steal third place from the loser of tomorrow’s game.

Stowaway World Cup – Quarter Final 4

Now we reach the last of our quarter finals, where David Bowie meets New Order. Both teams walked the group stages, and both teams led their last stage match by three goals. So both are very strong contenders – which of them will progress? Here’s the first half:

  1. 2+5. Early goal attempt. Goal for best artwork. The referee rules that this has to be Music Complete. 0-1.
  2. 3+4. No goal.
  3. 2+4. Goal for quality of last album. Music Complete again. 0-2.
  4. 4+2. Goal for most single releases. 1-2.
  5. 2+5. Foul. 5+2. Penalty and a chance to equalise for David Bowie, which misses.

So, an aggressive first half for goal scoring, with New Order slightly ahead at half time. Let’s see what happens now in the second half:

  1. 5+6. No goal.
  2. 2+1. Goal for most charismatic performer(s). Tough. Very tough. I think we have to hand this to Bowie. 2-2.
  3. 1+4. No goal.
  4. 5+2. No goal.
  5. 6+4. Goal for worst performance in previous games. This one keeps coming up, and will decide this match. The referee rules that it’s New Order, who scored considerably fewer goals in the group stages, while conceding only one less.

Was the referee biased? Maybe. New Order progress to the semi-finals, where they will meet Pet Shop Boys in a couple of days’ time.

Stowaway World Cup – Quarter Final 3

So we commence the third quarter final, with Pet Shop Boys versus Air. The former team has had a fairly clear path to this stage, blitzing the group stages and then flying through the group of 16 with relative ease. The latter team were the surprise winner of their group, knocking out 80s and 90s stalwarts alike, and have got to this stage fairly easily as well. This might be a surprising statement, but it really could go either way. First half, then.

  1. 1+6. No goal.
  2. 2+6. Goal for percentage of members who have remained. No goal.
  3. 1+6. No goal.
  4. 2+4. Goal for quality of last album. Easy goal for PSB. 1-0.
  5. 2+2. No goal.

So, at the halfway point in the game, Pet Shop Boys are just 1-0 up, so this could still be anybody’s game. Where will the second half take us?

  1. 3+2. No goal.
  2. 1+3. No goal.
  3. 5+2. No goal.
  4. 4+5. Goal for most hits on UK album chart. 2-0.
  5. 1+3. No goal.

So that’s it! The whistle blows, and Pet Shop Boys advance to the semi-finals, after a 2-0 win.

Stowaway World Cup – Week 3

After the relative excitement of Erasure versus Kraftwerk yesterday, this seems a good time to take a quick breather. The last week has seen us work through the group of 16 and half of the quarter finals, so we now know half of our semi-finalists. We’ve had a number of shocks and surprises, and there are two quarter finals left:

  1. Pet Shop Boys versus Air, which will be played tomorrow
  2. David Bowie versus New Order, coming up on Wednesday

So this is what the semi-finals look like right now:

  1. Depeche Mode versus Erasure, which will be on Thursday
  2. Pet Shop Boys or Air, versus David Bowie or New Order, on Friday

Hopefully Depeche Mode‘s match against Erasure won’t involve another penalty shoot-out, as Erasure‘s last two games have been thrilling, nail-biting, events. Would have been, anyway, if this contest were actually of any interest to anybody.

Saturday will see the battle for third and fourth place, and the all-unimportant final is this Sunday. So let’s enter the last week of this “thrilling” competition, and see how it all pans out.

Stowaway World Cup – Quarter Final 2

Our second quarter final pits Erasure against Kraftwerk. Both were runaway successes in the group stages, with Erasure being the only team to manage not to concede a single goal, but then in the group of 16, Erasure crept through on penalties, while Kraftwerk managed a decisive win. So let’s see where the first half takes us.

  1. 2+4. An early goal. Goal for quality of last album. Easy score for Kraftwerk. 0-1.
  2. 6+1. Goal for best song. The referee rules that to be Ship of Fools versus Radio-aktivität, and then, after much deliberation, awards it to Kraftwerk. 0-2.
  3. 6+6. No goal.
  4. 3+6. No goal.
  5. 3+4. No goal.

So, at the end of the first half, Kraftwerk seem to be looking strong, leading 0-2. But anything could happen in the second half

  1. 5+1. No goal.
  2. 2+5. Goal for best artwork. Very tough – both have some fine examples. The referee rules that Erasure takes the edge. 1-2.
  3. 6+4. Goal for worst performance in previous games. That’s easily Erasure‘s nail-biting last match, but could this be going the same way? 2-2.
  4. 3+4. No goal.
  5. 3+2. No goal.

Erasure dominated the second half, taking us into extra time.

  1. 3+3. No goal.
  2. 6+6. No goal.
  3. 3+6. No goal.
  4. 3+1. No goal.

Here’s a shocker! Erasure end up deciding their game with penalties again, for the second game running. They win the toss, and go first.

  1. Erasure: 2+1. No goal.
  2. Kraftwerk: 4+3. No goal.
  3. Erasure: 6+2. Goal! 3-2.
  4. Kraftwerk: 2+6. Goal! 3-3.
  5. Erasure: 2+2. Goal! 4-3.
  6. Kraftwerk: 4+1. No goal.
  7. Erasure: 1+2. No goal!
  8. Kraftwerk: 6+4. Goal! 4-4.
  9. Erasure: 6+2. Goal! 5-4.
  10. Kraftwerk, who need this goal to stay in the game. 5+1. Goal! 5-5.

So, all is equal at this stage. Sudden death commences.

  1. Erasure: 2+6. Goal! 6-5.
  2. Kraftwerk: 4+6. Goal! 6-6.
  3. Erasure: 2+3. No goal.
  4. Kraftwerk: 1+4. No goal.
  5. Erasure: 4+4. Goal! 7-6.
  6. Kraftwerk: 5+6. No goal.

Finally, after extra time and sixteen penalties, Erasure are carried through to the semi-finals on a wing and a prayer.

Stowaway World Cup – Quarter Final 1

So, here we already are, at the first quarter final, an exciting pairing of Depeche Mode versus the odd couple of Madonna and Yazoo. Both teams were runners-up in the group stages after two wins and a loss each, but then beat their opponents to sneak through to the quarter finals. Let’s see how the first half plays out!

  1. 3+5. No goal. A quiet start from these two great teams.
  2. 4+2. Goal for most single releases. Depeche Mode have 55, whereas Madonna takes a clear lead with 88. 0-1.
  3. 4+4. No goal.
  4. 5+4. No goal.
  5. 2+6. Goal for percentage of members who have remained. Depeche Mode has hung onto three of its original four. Technically Madonna has retained 100% of her line-up (herself), but for this category we have to include Yazoo as well, neither of whom are currently in the band. The rules are every bit as stupid as this whole competition, I’m afraid, but this is an equaliser for Depeche Mode. 1-1.

So, a 1-1 draw at the half way mark. Let’s see how things develop in the second half!

  1. 2+2. No goal.
  2. 1+2. No goal.
  3. 5+2. No goal.
  4. 1+5. No goal.
  5. 2+6. That’s a repeated throw, so a foul. 4+2. Depeche Mode are awarded a late penalty, and score, winning the match 2-1.

After all that, to decide the match on a penalty seems a little unfair on Madonna and Yazoo, but if you play dirty, you get what you deserve. The odd pairing had worked in their favour in earlier games, but comes back to bite them now. So our first semi-finalists are Depeche Mode, going through to the final four.