Wild High: The Day After the Ascension

Welcome to the Wild High division: a disjointed collection of teams thrown together, residing in the crater left behind by the Baltimore Crabs blasting upwards.

Look at those Crabs, happy & free up in the Above.

This is not to say the teams themselves don’t have strong identities; quite the opposite. But as a division? As a collective group? There’s not much connective tissue in this rough assemblage. It once held together a fearsome division, but things fall apart.

And yet.

The end of the Grand Siesta provides a prime opportunity to develop an answer to “what is the vibe of the new Wild High?” Before we get there, let’s sift through the debris to see how we got here.

The High Party

After the Chicago Firefighters won the ILB championship in Season 5, fans voted to enact the “High Filter.” This Decree was to have three parts:

Not much of a consolation prize for the Wild High, TBH.
  • Rearrange teams into new subleagues & divisions, based on Season 5 regular season records, grouping teams in quartiles.
  • At the end of a season, each division would experience a unique Blood Bath where teams would gain/lose stars based on ranking within the division.
  • Possibly/probably something else as part of the seasonal Blood Bath? The full details were never un-redacted, and the Blood Bath never actually happened, so…

Since the High Filter went into effect, the realigned divisions evolved different collective vibes over six seasons & the Grand Siesta. To get at the Wild High’s splintering and lack of vibes entering Season 12, I’m gonna offer my takes on the other three divisions. These are not canonical vibes. There is no canon for that. I can already feel people getting ready to disagree or wonder where I even came to these conclusions or analyses.

That’s fine. These are the vibes I get, as an outside observer who’s not very active on Discord servers.

The Luckey Haskins Completely Subjective Takes on Divisional Vibes

Wild Low: The “(Mess) Around & Find Out” division. The “Tubthumping” division. These are the teams that would knock out their own tooth just to spit its bloody remnants in a god’s face. They grow, evolve, and/or mutate into the teams they need to be. You can’t hurt them anymore than they hurt themselves. When they win a championship, it was a long time coming (and probably a really weird season).

Mild High: The division of gravitas and grizzled veterans. They’ve all been through some stuff, won their fair share of games, and are ready for whatever you throw at them. Less Thunderdome, more of a gauntlet. You’re not going to faze these teams, even when they seem down & out. When they win a championship, it probably happened in the past, before the Mild High existed.

Mild Low: The division of “DON’T MIND IF I DO!” They may (mess) around, they may find out; the two aren’t mutually exclusive in the Mild Low. They could be #PartyTime speed run champs, or win a championship. Y’know, whatever they feel like at the time. When they do win a championship, you don’t see it coming, and the winning team will be screwed over or cursed afterwards. No big.

Here Comes the Wild High Life

Wild High: …a giant shrug? Maybe a confused scratch of the head?

If you’d asked about this any time before Season 11, I would have described something akin to a Thunderdome of friendly rivalries. The five best teams from Season 5, herded into a single division; this included the Baltimore Crabs fresh off FOUR Blessings, which skyrocketed their overall quality. And they faced each other so often (see: Chiclawgo), their records masked how good they were until they played outside the division. The Wild High slurped up external wins like Richardson Games slurps up defensive stars.

Do you remember before?

Today, though? The division is scattered debris left after the Crabs ascended and the Blood Bath was abandoned. How did it change so drastically?

Drain the Blood

We still don’t know all the details of how the Bloodbath would’ve worked, but it seemed like it revolved around the idea of dynamism. It gave the appearance that the seasonal Bloodbath would provide movement of stars, if not of teams. But it never activated, and a new Decree brought a simpler method to potentially address imbalance. A method that the Wild High teams usually arrived at late, after most of the stars had left.

Oh, We’ve Stayed Much Too Late

This new Decree, Enhanced Party Time, was enacted after Season 6. From here on out, teams that entered Party Time (i.e., eliminated from playoff contention) had a chance to gain stat boosts. The more time a team spent at the Party, the more stat boosts they could get. Teams that made it into the playoffs received no boosts; the playoffs were their prize. Teams that hung around but just missed the playoffs? They got no postseason AND few (if any) boosts from Party Time. Classic Wild High.

As Seasons wore on, the non-Crab Wild High teams stagnated: no Bloodbath to stir the waters, not enough Party Time to keep up with power creep, few Blessings to boost them, and (with the exception of one playoff series) no succor against the inevitability of the Crabs. And yet, even then, the Wild High was still itself. The cracks wouldn’t form until after Season 8, setting the stage to crumble after Season 10.

Dismantle Me

The Season 8 elections caused a few teams to seek new divisional homes. The Wild High said farewell to the New York Millennials, who now found themselves in the Mild High. Two seasons later, the San Francisco Lovers joined the Mills, leaving the Wild for the Mild High after another election. That same offseason, the Baltimore Crabs exited the Wild High (and the Immaterial Plane) via Ascension.

What remains are five teams that don’t yet form a cohesive division. The Hades Tigers are a storied team that was on the cusp of ascension, the former Antagonist of the ILB until the Crabs wrested that role. Hades has won, lost, been beat around, and still stands atop the power rankings. They’re classic Mild High vibes now finding themselves in a twisted metal throne abandoned by Baltimore.

Meanwhile, the team that literally stepped into the Crabs’ empty slot, the Tokyo Lift, still have the new car smell. We got a sense of their vibes in Season 11, but they’re too shiny & fresh to have developed rivalries and traditions. Tokyo is on the path, but they still have a lot of reps to go before they see those gains.

Bridging the gap between new arrivals and original Wild High teams is the Mexico City Wild Wings. The Season 7 Cinderella story spent a couple of seasons getting picked apart, slingshotting across leagues and divisions, and crashing into the Wild High. They spent their first years in the Wild High at the bottom, before the Lift tagged in to be the basement team.

Finally we have our only two remaining original Wild High teams, the Chicago Firefighters and Breckinridge Jazz Hands. While they’ve made names for themselves outside the standings, their on-field product hasn’t kept pace with the league. Both teams are currently in a stagnating cycle of being good enough to miss out on significant Party Time boosts, but not being good enough to be regular playoff contenders.

All Soaked in Blood Like a Newborn Babe

This is where the Wild High finds itself at the end of the Grand Siesta: a collection of fragments that are fascinating, but only parts of a not-yet whole. That said, Season 12 is a time of opportunity, the chance to forge a new path for the Wild High. New slogans, new potential for frenemies & rivalries, and new chances for shared experience. In addition, something is happening with the Baltimore Crabs, whose claws are still clamped tightly onto the legacy of the Wild High.

The Crabs may drop again; but now we will see what Ascension & the Grand Siesta has created of the Wild High. What rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches toward Season 12 to be born?

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