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"I think I've lived long enough to see competitive Counter-Strike as we know it, kill itself." Summary of Richard Lewis' stream (Long)
I want to preface that the contents of this post is for informational purposes. I do not condone or approve of any harassments or witch-hunting or the attacking of anybody.
Richard Lewis recently did a stream talking about the terrible state of CS esports and I thought it was an important stream anyone who cares about the CS community should listen to. Vod Link here: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/830415547 I realize it is 3 hours long so I took it upon myself to create a list of interesting points from the stream so you don't have to listen to the whole thing, although I still encourage you to do so if you can. I know this post is still long but probably easier to digest, especially in parts. Here is a link to my raw notes if you for some reason want to read through this which includes some omitted stuff. It's in chronological order of things said in the stream and has some time stamps. https://pastebin.com/6QWTLr8T
"The last month has convinced me, that we are going to be heading into a dark place for Counter-Strike esports in 2021."
"I think I've seen the scene essentially kill itself."
"For the past 5 to 6 years, we've basically been in a holding pattern of people coming into our game wanting to run it, wanting to run all of the esports and wanting to profiteer and its been sort of a concerted effort to drive them off and push them away."
"We're spread way too thin."
"If Riot don't get involved and stop the scumbags that have moved over to Valorant from getting their feet under the table, Valorant is going to have real problems."
RL thinks too much has happened all at once for us to do anything except watch it play out, like:
Recent CSPPA strike against BLAST
ESIC failures and them not being supported enough
Teams cheating i.e. coaches/bugs
Widespread match fixing
"People who try to hold bubble events are so incompetent and fuck up and people get the 'rona and its their fault."
"People who say Flashpoint is a bubble is full of shit and is a lie and people are now suffering for that lie."
"To save money they let people go home and break the bubble for a week."
"Not just Flashpoint peoples decision, they have a partner that handles the production." (hinting FACEIT)
"People are trapped in hotels essentially under house arrest because of COVID restrictions and has fucked peoples lives up."
"It's all too much, all of this incompetence, all of this greed, maybe we ride it out."
RL says he has talked to the Riot devs (the ones working on Valorant) and says, "They are so cognizant of all the fuck ups and all the problems we have in Counter-Strike."
He continues to say that this is factored into their business plan and that we never had a competitor, but just so happens to have one coincide, when we are at our worst.
CSPPA - Counter-Strike Professional Players' Association
"Who does this union really fucking serve?"
RL believes that the CSPPA is a mockery.
He points out the hypocrisy that they wouldn't strike for the pros who were kicked out of ESL Pro League, or for Jamppi or dream3r.
He also says ESL paid CSPPA and are racketeering and many other TOs have to pay them to get their "seal of approval"
He says they would strong-arm TOs saying "well if you don't give us the money, these guys are so we'll just have to commit to playing their event."
Also points out that they will strike against a competitor they are not in agreement with (Flashpoint)
RL: "It's what it says about every other time you haven't done it and it's about every time you don't do it now moving forward." "The issues they've chosen to ignore this year alone are embarrassing."
Then he points out that there was no strike for Valve qualifiers even if we have no major but Jamppi and dream3r can't play in them.
"and Valve have said 'Oh yeah we know actually their stories are accurate, Jamppi didn't cheat, now in a legally binding document. Yep dream3r did have his account hacked in a LAN café', but they still can't play. Where is the fucking solidarity? Gone. Doesn't exist. It's not important [because] it doesn't affect you." "That's what the union does right now, it looks after all the tier 1 people."
He says the CSPPA doesn't represent all players all the time and has driven a divide where you have the haves and have-nots
"We have a tier of players that operate with impunity and do not help their tier 2 or tier 3 players out at all." "If you are not a tier 1 player you do not matter, they don't event ask your opinion."
He tells chrisJ to admit and own the fact that the reason he didn't speak up during the ESL Pro League debacle is because it didn't affect him
"They are looking after some players at the expense of other players. How the fuck is that a union?"
He says the BLAST situation is a reasonable dispute and supports the players but is not the right time for a strike and have not even identified the correct enemy
He thinks players are lashing out now due to previous incidents and are upset that BLAST are working with ESIC
He stated that CSPPA shouldn't beefing with ESIC and they should be working in harmony
He says what they need to do is talk with the teams/organizations that have sold that right to BLAST
RL: "Your employers, the people who pay you that massive exorbitant salaries, when you don't stream and you don't do interviews and you offer no value beyond your ability to click heads and you get 25k dollars a month." "Why don't you talk to them about it? Oh right. You're happy to take away BLAST's paper, but you don't want to risk your own."
"I am seeing such unbelievable cowardice from the players here with the battles you choose."
"Where was the strike action when in the qualifiers for the world championship, there were teams and players engaged in huge conflicts of interest?" "Where was the strike action when your image rights were taken and sold to every league you've ever been in every union type organization you've ever been associated with like, WESA, to your org every time you sign a contract, to the leagues you play in."
"Your image rights are essentially worthless now, there's about 10 fucking separate parties that have them, and how many of them are giving you anything for it? Not much pretty much your org by the way."
"That's a big issue. Your image is you, your image is your brand. What are you doing about that? Nothing."
He is also angry at SirScoots who is "popping off" at people on Twitter who all want the same thing, which is 'A unified Counter-Strike scene for everybody, that works for everybody, that has a sustained ecosystem that nourishes everybody.' "We don't have that now."
He also says their rankings are a joke
"Just so happened, oh look TACO, that very important prominent member of the board, we pushed his team artificially up when they weren't even in the fucking top 20, not by a long shot."
He also says the ineptitude of the CSPPA cost Flashpoint a monitor sponsor
"Is it really a player association or is it like a fucking agency at this point"
ESIC - Esports Integrity Commission
"They have been put in an impossible position."
RL says that Ian Smith, the founder of ESIC and who was done work in mainstream sports, is a good and honorable man who has dedicated his life to integrity and sports. He takes on both sides, ensuring match fixers are punished, but also doing appeals and ensuring those punishments were fair.
"ESIC is a tiny organization" and are in need of money, "They didn't run a grift like the CSPPA did."
"Saying 'you want our support and you want the players to turn up you better pay us.' They don't do that."
"Had startup seed money from MTG and since then they've been pecking shit with the hens."
Ian Smith made sure that the money given by MTG (Modern Times Group, parent company of ESL, ESEA, DreamHack) was nothing more than startup money and wouldn't be in debt to them
Ian Smith sat down with other TO's not part of MTG and wanted to partner with them. They declined and called ESIC "ESL spies and we will never align ourselves with you"
"They only were just able to afford, hiring a PR guy on a full time salary to deal with the press and send out those releases you've seen, this year."
"They have a tiny group of staff investigating these things and they have taken on the biggest problems in our scene: the cheating, the match fixing."
ESIC have had "unprecedented levels of cheating to deal with, because there's something wrong with our scene ever since we went online. There's something wrong with it, everyone's lost their fucking pride and self-respect and they got no passion for it anymore, so they think fuck it, what's in it for me?"
He calls out coaches who are talking about players rights when they would rob and steal from them.
Also says more coaches being banned are coming
He also points out flaws in community's reaction to the punishments to coaches bans: "Half of the cunts still have jobs and some of the cunts got new jobs. We didn't even shun the cheating coaches."
ESIC have "found I think another 2 or 3 exploits like that one and they are investigating them all right now, it's going on right now."
"I know that there are going to be more names getting banned, again."
"So they're doing that on a skeleton crew while, investigating 3 continents worth of match fixing in MDL and semi-pro level CS." "They're doing this with half a dozen people." "They don't have any money or any help. People barely even fucking cooperate with them, they are treated like pariahs. It's ridiculous."
"Why are the CSPPA popping off at ESIC on my Twitter timeline, when you should be working together." "because its all about what's in it in for me." "2020, the online era of CS: 'What is in it for me?' How can I cheat, how can I get my paper, how can I bleed this scene one last time before I fuck off and play shooty shooty bang bang Riot Games babys first fps."
RL says that in the CIS region, teams have gone to tournaments and have been eliminated multiple times by the same team. We found out they were cheating and those players who lost, have been cut from their roster, careers ended because of cheaters.
"They're all at it in the online era, they're all at it, they're all cheating, they're all using exploits, probably that see through smoke bug got used a bunch of times"
RL talks about how there is no integrity from dead (the player), always denying when caught doing something
On the topic of 'BLAST never said we couldn't stream snipe': "Lies, BLAST never said you could do that, they had to sort of retcon it." "because what happened after that they fucking started snitching and squealing"
"Suddenly you had like, 10 of the top 15 teams in the world, staring into the abyss of being banned for 6-12 months in line with ESIC recommendations."
He says that ESIC was put in a tough situation and couldn't enforce the bans because it would have resulted in killing CS. What resulted was, BLAST, ESIC, and teams came together and gave them a warning and told them, in RL's words "don't do this again or you're gonna get got."
He then says the top teams brushed this off and didn't give a fuck
The new MiBR team playing Flashpoint, that wasn't involved in the previous incidents are doing it again (stream sniping). He gave credit to Flashpoint for the quick resolution and punishment and respect for cogu's response to the situation.
"ESIC came out and said, once more, 'Guys, zero tolerance from now on.'" RL then got upset at community's reaction calling ESIC "pussies" for their non enforcement and said if we want competitive CS we cant ban the top 10 teams.
He points out how players have no integrity and will do anything for an edge as long as they won't get detected or banned or it's within a grey area.
"All of this shit was mad avoidable, even in the pandemic era."
He talks about why aren't we filming them. Why aren't there representatives for leagues and tournaments making sure players aren't cheating?
"How many years have we let our scene be fucking pillaged by these greedy cunts?" "We just let it happen."
RL says that gambling and skins betting which existed in moderation was "accelerated and blown up by the Call of Duty greedy fucks."
"Never forget TmarTn was on the board of EnVyUs." "His website, CSGOLotto, they had a bunch of off-the-books sponsorships." "NBK promoted them. People forget."
"Those people who had access to the skins, go to the players" "Even people like s1mple, best player in the world, even he scammed knives and skins off fucking fans."
Owners of skin casino sites would approach pros and lend them skins to use in tournaments and possibly keep them after reaching a deal
Players would tip off inside info about matches and teams in exchange for skins. Info such as: roster changes, how they played in scrims
They would use this info to bet and subvert the odds on their sites. "That happened religiously, I can't even tell you how many times it happened."
"I had access to the biggest database of information, from an inside betting circle in NA, and it would take information and screenshots from other pro players, who were feeding them info in exchange for money or skins."
"Some of these players are still playing." "Incredibly, there are players still in the CSPPA today, complaining about the BLAST recordings, that were embroiled in this murky shit back then."
RL also says that there were tournaments where teams contrived with each other, who should throw, who should win.
"There's a handful of people that are trying to fucking clean it up, and you think you get something over the line and you see something like the CSPPA and it's run by corrupt fucking chuckle heads, and now you've got another corrupt body you have to fight on a fucking daily basis, it's demoralizing."
"It's too far gone. Our entire semi-professional scene is compromised."
"It's rife guys, I'm not going to lie any more. It's not just China, it's not just Russia, it's here, it's NA, it's Europe, it's Australia, so much more than you think, so much more than we can prove."
"I get sent chat logs all the time […] and they're morons, these players, short-sighted, amateur, morons and they're doing it on WhatsApp." People would get cut from the bets because they want to make more money, then they leak the logs. He says, from the chat logs, they spread "little" bets across every site they can (400 to 1k dollars) to prevent shifting odds
He says the scumbags who've fucked off to Valorant will do the same there if Riot doesn't do something and says Valorant "is an esports scene heading for a very early fall based on the sheer volume of scumbags that are already there."
"That's tier 2 CS in a nutshell these days. They know they're never going to play in a major, so what's the punishment?"
"All of these tier 2 fucks that are fixing games now they are like the fucking mafia compared to iBuyPower" "These guys are working with organized criminals to fix entire seasons worth of games. That's what's going on in your tier 2 CS."
"I'm literally being told that there are players fixing games at all levels of Chinese esports and motherfuckers with guns are turning up to team houses and stuff."
"Everyone in NA has left we've lost a continents worth of support during this pandemic and Valve haven't said a fucking word."
RL says the Call of Duty "goblins" that destroyed CS for years are the same people who are now trying to leave CS. "The nerve to treat a game where the fans, and the community, and the TO's were nothing but good to you." "To just kick the players out now and go and leave and say 'It just doesn't make financial sense.' Oh you'll slither back when we have a major though for them stickers won't you."
There's a cascading effect in NA where people don't bother with CS anymore and people like Chaos suffer.
He says NA team owners are incompetent for always wanting it easy and always wanting a guarantee on their investment without skill or nuance.
RL says he would be able to market a team correctly and would have a good ROI and also points out how TSM wouldn't even be bothered to tweet that their team, which was one of the best in the world, was playing at the Major.
He also says not all NA owners are like that, compliments and respects Jason Lake who nearly lost everything to keep Complexity going.
He then calls out the incompetence in Infinite Esports when they acquired OpTic Gaming and bought an Indian CS team.
He says HECZ is not to blame here and that they couldn't tell forsaken was cheating when it was so obvious.
They measured his reaction time to the likes of dev1ce and s1mple
When an enemy showed up on his screen he won that duel something like 44% of the time
"was like the number 1 player in the world statistically"
He brought a laptop to their bootcamp and refused to use the high end PCs that hey provided
He respects Andy Miller (NRG CEO) and HECZ but says that the attitude of not being able to easily monetize their teams is "piss weak" and there needs to be a risk.
He says Chaos EC shouldn't be cutting their roster and should be competent enough to be able to figure out how to make money off their team.
He says there are still opportunities in NA and people are panicking and pulling out, and says Valorant will be the same if not worse.
He also says "bums" who couldn't even get out of groups in NA competitions, are making crazy money in Valorant and says it will continue to inflate.
He also said that he heard rumors that EG (Evil Geniuses) are done.
He also thinks that the rumors of a Valve franchised league from before was sparked up from "these lazy fabled weak NA fucking team owners basically trying to see if Valve would bite at the hook if it was dangled and they didn't"
Slasher says NA team owners are really in favor of franchised leagues because they want to make more money. "Most of the powerful team owners right now are on board with ditching this third party organization structure, or they are trying to play this power politics with all the TOs, and that is contributing to a lot of the problems there"
RL says that Riot has proved they can run a franchised league (LCS) and will be profitable in 2021 which is what a lot of team owners care about and says the competition will only serve to snatch people away from CS.
RL continues to say, "I am so sick and tired of what we have done to this scene, I am just exhausted with it." "I think we have legitimately fucked it, I really think we have. I think we're staring into almost like a CGS (Championship Gaming Series) wasteland in NA." "Counter-Strike esports is a fucking joke."
"TO's have treated CS talent like absolute human garbage for years now."
RL says that people like Sean Gares and ddk switching over to Valorant isn't for financial reasons because they are making less over there.
He points out that TO's can't even give talent a 3 month in advance calendar.
Because of the pandemic TO's won't hire certain people and some people are working more hours for the same money.
He says we as a community don't respect journalists enough which is why we don't have good journalists.
He also says DeKay is leaving the scene soon and that Thorin is close to leaving also
He says he had to talk a caster down from quitting and was struggling to find reasons.
He says that DreamHack told Vince they would hire him but not if he wants to stick with dusT and says that this is the norm in esports. "Constant leveraging of people against each other." and says this is why we don't have a talent union.
New gen casters are getting put into shit situations and the community's reaction to them is adding fuel to the fire
He says the reason Moses left was because of the terrible conditions
He says that Anders had to constantly leave his family and kid because someone fucked up or broke promises and had to constantly tell his kid to their face that "daddy can't be home this weekend."
He says that esports has always been a lie to sell you this dream, "Meanwhile there's about 2% of the cunts getting all the checks."
"Anything that Riot does, is better than Valve's inaction"
Slasher says that the larger aspect of esports as a whole compared to other entertainment mediums and Valve's lack of inattention are the bigger problems. He continues saying that the fact that Valve let their game be ran as an esport, they need to take on the responsibilities of it.
Both Slasher and RL wants Valve to take control but not on the level of Riot Games, there needs to be a balance.
In case it was ever a question: Gabe Newell has been to 0 CSGO Majors.
RL calls Valve out saying they could have done something during the gambling era.
He says Valve used to come to the majors, but doesn't think they do anymore.
RL had met with Valve at the Cluj-Napoca Major and had tried to appeal iBP's indefinite punishment and had also gave Brax's life story:
A recent family member passed away, they had lost a lot of income, they had to live in trailer, iBuyPower did not pay any salaries, and was pressured by family to make money who didn't support his career.
RL said that Valve told him, "How dare you try and make us feel guilty." "We shouldn't feel bad about enforcing the only thing that matters that we need to make players afraid of: cheating and match fixing"
RL also tried to share other info about match fixing and nothing came of it
RL points out that Source 2 or a new engine is not something you will want based on the experience of transitioning from CS 1.6 to CS:S. "Valve's track record with brand new engines being launched, not fucking great from what I remember."
Slasher says "If there is anything the community should do, is pressure Valve to hire a community manager."
They say that we need a commissioner, a community manager (not the person who runs the Twitter who posts memes all day), then we need to have a circuit
RL reiterates that Valve doesn't care about CS esports and says they need to change the culture at Valve to make them care about CS esports
Slasher says a systemic problem is making it so working on CSGO would be a bad decision for you as an employee for Valve
He also hasn't talked to Valve in ages and have sent over bugs and cheats and doesn't get emails back anymore
Slasher says we should be directing attention at the developer leads, pointing out Ido Magal, if he even is still the project lead
RL thinks that Ido and Brian are the only people that "vaguely even give a fuck about CS" and were the only people that RL recalled that actually read Reddit and paid attention from time to time
"It is really fucking precarious. Somebody has got to step the fuck up and start giving a shit"
Slasher suggests org owners, with CSPPA, with ESIC, with TOs have a concerted effort against Valve
"Riot Games are doing better things than Valve in the esports space" which is something RL didn't think he'd say.
"People who used to be talent, working with unions, arguing with other talent, when the unions fucked them over, can't understand their perspective, TOs fucking over broadcast talent, broadcast talent wanting to leave and go and work for orgs, orgs having no money, Valve might take coaches away because all the coaches are cheating, ESIC has about 4 people in a fucking call doing the investigations, everyone thinks they're spies for ESL, ESL are just the evil fucking overlords wanting to rule the scene and will just somehow, like cockroaches outliving a nuclear bomb, and Valve are in a fucking holiday in Hawaii thinking about the next Dota character because they don't give a fuck about us."
"We've peaked. If we want to sustain and exist, now is the time to figure it out. No esports lasts as long as this, we've already done 8 years. We've already broke the records. We have got to figure out a way to coexist and drive the negative forces out and we need to do it as a collective and we're not doing that."
RL compared the Counter-Strike scene to the people on the Titanic who ran around with guns robbing people while the boat was sinking.
"We have given up on being a respectable esports scene." "We are now a conduit to make money for those who want to just milk it, just have one last ride, one last roll of the dice. It's done." "What a fucking mess. What have we done to our fucking scene?"
"There's just too much self-interest driving all of this." "I don't see a way we stop the dominoes." "When it's that bad, when there's that many dishonest people that ESIC have to come out and say that if we punish them all there's no one left. What does that tell you?"
"How many opportunities have we had to clean house? How many times have we said, 'this must never happen again', and another scandal." "The entire skins betting operations was the biggest criminal conspiracy in esports ever executed and no one has been punished for it." "The people who could be driving that don't want to."
"Right now people are fans of those organizations because the scene has value. It is worth being a fan of Astralis because they are excellent at Counter-Strike. It is worth being a fan of s1mple because he is the best player in Counter-Strike, maybe the exception of ZywOo. If the scene is devalued, if the scene loses its meaning, those things lose its meaning too, and people will leave, people will stop tuning into the games. I have seen it happen in multiple esports, this is not my first time at the rodeo. I am getting big Brood War vibes right now and I don't like it."
"The role you play in all of this as fans, as viewers, as listeners, as consumers of esports content, it's absolutely imperative that you know who the good guys are. It's absolutely imperative that you use your voice. It's absolutely imperative that when things are bad, you know who, at least, is trying to make them good, and you have to apply your criticism to the right targets."
He continues saying it's no good in continuing to attack ESIC and saying how they are bad, ESIC have it hard
He says CSPPA are on the right side of the argument on BLAST but have been on the wrong side of many arguments many times.
"If you are not willing to stand along side the weakest member of the union, with the least amount of influence, and the least amount of power, then it is not a union at all and you shouldn't pose as one." "You wanna serve a bunch of special interest do it, everyone else in esports fucking does, but do not pose as something you are not." "We love the players. I've been fighting for players rights for as long as I've been able to, but the CSPPA is not what we needed."
"They are not applying the pressure to the right people, they are not fighting the right battles, they are not helping their weaker members."
He says what orgs have done by keeping or hiring coaches is bad. "When you give up on holding an appreciable standard, you've lost the scene" "Competition matters, rules matter, punishments matter, achievements matter, excellence matters" "If you start stripping that away, you have nothing" "You guys need to take that knowledge and apply it sensibly."
"Valve has sold you all down the river, they sold everyone in the esports scene down the river, tournament organizers are selling their talent down the river. Don't hate on them for sounding tired after a 16 hour day. Don't hate on them because the hype for a matchup they've seen for the 20th time in the past 3 months, they can't be as excited or it sounds contrived. Support your guys, they're there for you, these are your people."
"This community has got to start acting like one for the first fucking time. Just put the petty shit away, let's try and fix this fucking scene while we still have one to save."
"You can't rely on Valve, you can't rely on ESL, you can't rely on the CSPPA, you can't rely on anyone." "Once again, it's gonna be the likes of us, the amateurs, the people who give a fuck, rolling up our sleeves and grafting." "I'm old and tired and I don't want to have to do it again. People need to pick up the torch and do it."
"Like Michal did, like Dudenhoeffer did. You see something wrong, fix it. You see somebody doing something wrong, call it out. If you think something could be better, let people know."
"Vote with your wallets if you're not happy with the direction Valve goes in. If when we do get to the Major, they serve up another subpar, same old bullshit stickers and signatures package again, do not buy it."
"You're a powerful block and if you use it correctly we can fucking avert this disaster."
"I'm not doing another year in this broken, bust-up fucking scene, where everyone is miserable, everyone is broke, everyone is tired, and everyone is trying to fucking rob everyone else, blind, while the fucking people who are meant to be protecting you, are just fucking enhancing it and lining their own pockets."
"I'm not doing it anymore and you shouldn't want to do it either."
"I stand by every fucking thing I said. I mean it, because this game fucking matters to me, this scene fucking matters to me. I put my life into this, my adult life, and to see it in this state is fucking sad."
I guess it’s funny to scam nowadays. Whoever just managed to switch and take my bank I sincerely hope you enjoy it. God you would think the first time in the sand casino would be a good experience, lesson learned, never ever gamble in RuneScape again. Also, cancel my membership and spend £50 on world of Warcraft this month instead of bonds until I’m over the fact 90% of the people I’ve met playing RS literally just want to scam me. Guess I’m no longer a noob and now a toxic asshole that generalises the actions of a few and distrusts the RS community - I was gonna post an achievement post about 6 pets/120defence and an intro for new players into the game; feels worthless if I’m playing with assholes. God damn, why? Enjoy the Reeeeee, play on your own, fuck am I turning on public chat ever again.
After I tried to stop this series and start a new series (which failed), I am back in the driver's seat for King's Survivor's final phase, since it would probably have lasted longer if Adobe didn't cancel Flash (thanks for rushing my series, mate!). This season, I tried to do what u/swoldow did before and make a season called Saints Vs Sinners, where 10 people who embody the term "Saint" will face off against the people who embody the term "Sinner", but unfortunately, it seemed like a lot of the people who signed up misunderstood the definition of saints and sinners. For the love of god, someone who is slightly villainous is not a "sinner", and average people are not "saints". Oh well. I guess it's the best I'm gonna get. Here is the cast: Kahramanca (Saints) Tribe: Ardet Prifti, 31, Rhythm Guitarist, u/Twig7665 Ardet lived a difficult life. Born in Albania with a family that was associated with the mafia meant that Ardet was never safe, and one day, he came back home to find his whole family had been murdered by the Albanian mafia. He spent years on the street, struggling to survive, before he discovered his musical talent. He played a guitar (which he had to steal), which enabled him to earn money. After a few years of doing that, he moved to the United States, where he did his best to get into the largest music college in that country, and actually succeeded. He met some people that became his bandmates, and soon they were pretty popular in the underground scene. When their fame exploded, Ardet's bandmates grew either egotistical or paranoid, but Ardet saw fame as a way to spread awareness for mental illness. He has now become a strong supporter of mental health charities around the country, and he signed up for Survivor to raise money for one of the charities he supports. Ava Chrisly, 23, Kindergarten Teacher, u/Gemini_B Ava was born deaf. After her father died when she was 3, her birthmother struggled to care for her and her 3 siblings. Ava was especially tough since she needed special treatment and one night her birthmother left her on the doorstep of a rich widow with a note explaining how Ava got there. The Widow, not wanting to deal with a deaf child, left her outside where she spent a cold night alone and scared. She came across Marissa, a young girl who ran away from home. Marissa took pity on her and the two banded together. They spent years together on the street with Ava learning to read lips and Marissa learning sign language. Marissa quickly saw that Ava had a gift with children and encouraged her to find a job with kids. Ava didn’t want Marissa to leave, but then Marissa surprised her by revealing she had a scholarship to a teachers college. Ava went off to the collage and became a kindergarten teacher, but when she returned she learned that Ava had gone to jail for stealing from a rich old woman and using the money to bribe a college administrator. Ava promised she’d help bail Marissa out, and learned about survivor. She’s hoping she can win the million to help free Marissa and get their lives on track. Chelsea Rutherford, 22, Lifeguard, u/IAmWolfNinja Chelsea was the heiress to the throne of a foreign country with a corrupt government. The wealth that came with such a status meant nothing to her, since she was utterly disgusted with the actions of her family. Knowing her resentment for their governmental policies, Chelsea's family gradually became verbally abusive towards her. Unable to take any more, she escaped as a teen to pursue her own path. When she arrived in America, Chelsea wanted to do everything she could to erase her dark past and the actions of her family, so she got a job as a lifeguard, where she has saved countless lives. She's occasionally recognized as an heiress, but when it's brought up, she tends to have nervous breakdowns. Chester "Cap'n" Richardson, 67, Retired Naval Officer, u/swoldow Some may see him as just the average old man, but Cap’n has seen and done things most people couldn't fathom. Cap’n joined the navy at a ripe young age about 5 years before the Cold War began, and learned everything from afar, slowly working up the ranks. When things got bad in Vietnam, he was given the chance to take charge of a ship during the war, and he immediately said yes. He ran the ship strictly, but he got both respect from everyone, as well as being genuinely liked as a person by his crew. He led them to many naval victories but unfortunately that didn't last, when his ship was shot with a torpedo, which blew the whole thing up and killed everyone on it, except for Cap’n. With the emotional baggage of watching people he has gotten to know kick the bucket, he immediately resigned from the navy after. As a result of the shipwreck, his mindset has changed, as he’s now super overprotective of his family, and still can't let the explosion go after years and years of retirement. He hopes Survivor can help him learn more about himself, and be the thing he needs to live the rest of his life in peace. Cornelius Von Helton, 52, CEO, u/Gemini_B Cornelius was raised by a family that had fallen from riches and was in tough times. He never expected to get to go to university but got lucky by getting a scholarship for his creative greeting cards. While at university, he enrolled in a business course and after collage started a greeting card business with some friends. All of his friends quickly gave up on the business, but Cornelius stuck through it. When he made a greeting card that was delivered to Eddie Murphy, the comedian was impressed and hired him to do his greeting cards to his friends, family, and invitations to parties. Quickly other celebrities started to hire his business and many fans wanted to get into the trend. His business rapidly expanded and he soon found himself with a company that covered parties, greeting cards, published books and even dabbled in a touch of Realestate. While in his thirties though, Cornelius was mugged while on a walk in the park and got stabbed. He was quickly rushed to the hospital and while there, he was nursed back to health by his soon to be wife. He claims that she saved his life and proceeded to date her after leaving the hospital. She was reluctant at first, but he quickly charmed her and the two have been married for 15 years now. He has two children, a son aged 10 and a daughter aged 8. He's continued to run his business, but leaves most of the work to his higher-ups as he wants to be able to spend as much time with his family and employees as possible. He views his employees as his family and does his best to remember all their names and make the workspace as nice for them as possible. He's come to survivor because his wife loves the show and wanted to compete, but due to growing health issues can't. She's trained him to win, and he wants to do this and win for her. Dana Vasquez, 43, Stay At Home Mom, (filler character) Greg Zimmer, 40, High School Teacher, u/AngolanDesert Greg is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. He is very trusting and kind and will do anything for the people he loves. Since he grew up in Texas, hard work has always been his priority. He knows that if he wants to win this game, he has to work hard at everything he does. Greg decided to be a high school teacher so he could teach his students the importance of hard work. He has been a fan of survivor for a while, so when he saw that applications for survivor were going out, he knew he had to join in. Hopefully, he won’t disappoint his students. Gwendolyn "Gwen" Wallerby, 52, Baker, u/ghetra Gwen works at a bakery where she gets to do what she loves every day: make many different kinds of pies. She is a very warm, loving person and has a reputation for helping out whoever needs it, usually by baking for them. Baking takes a lot of patience and strength, and she is stronger than she looks. She naturally has a very loud voice that sometimes irks people, but once they get to know her it quickly becomes endearing. Now that her children are out of the house, she has started reading much more and taking classes on different subjects that interest her. The world is her oyster. Kirk Smolarek, 62, History Teacher, u/Twig7665 Kirk never had a normal childhood. His mom walked out on his family not long after he was born, and his father was a former Polish soldier with PTSD and a severe drug addiction, leading to Kirk experiencing abuse from him for as long as Kirk can remember. Wanting to escape his miserable life, he smuggled himself on a boat bound for Australia when he was 16. Lo and behold, the ship got caught in a windstorm and ended up sinking, and Kirk and a few other survivors ended up stranded on an island. After spending more than a month there, he was taken back to his homeland after being found there. He ended up being the only survivor of the whole ordeal. He was returned to his deranged father, where the next time his father tried to abuse him, he fought back, causing his father to end up in the hospital. Deemed not guilty because he defended himself, Kirk did not spend time in prison for this. His father on the other hand did spend time there for drug-related charges and child abuse, but was killed by another inmate before he could be released. Kirk then went to college, where he studied history there, and decided to become a history teacher. He then kept that job title for over 40 years now, and despite being in his 60s, he is still an enjoyable presence for his students, as he incorporates unusual teaching methods to make his students interested in what he's teaching. Despite being financially stable, he wants to win the money so he can be well off when he retires in a few years. Maralyn Sander, 32, Tour Guide, u/Void_Drone Maralyn gives tours of New York, driving around in her bus, answering questions, watching broadway shows. And she spends most of her money on her family, except for the money she spent on her pink pearl necklace. She enjoys the tours for the most part, but when she's alone she vents about how annoying the tours can be. Kotu Adam (Sinners) Tribe: Alexa Station, 20, YouTuber, u/IAmWolfNinja A 3AM YouTuber who arrived late to the trend, Alexa has a tendency to flex her belongings when no one really cares. She was recently involved in a scandal where she faked her boyfriend's death, causing endless amounts of controversy, and a near arrest. Her sub count is dropping significantly every day, so she joined to help gain her popularity (relevancy) back. Carter Witworth, 23, College Student, u/JTsidol Witworth, he was born to a extremely rich family, but his parents didn’t have time for him, but spoiled him rotten, when he got into school, he was known for being a bully, however no one confronted him, and everytime he’d get in trouble or fail a test, his parents would pay his way out, last year, he got a slap in the face, when his parents yet again had to bribe the college board to accept him, they cut off his allowance, he’s playing just for the money, nothing else. Irvin Eamers, 32, Olympic Sprinter, u/asiansurvivorfan A born athlete, Irvin loved competing in all sports but wasn’t known to play fair as he was never a team player and would often torment others to win. He started training for the Olympics at the age of 17 and eventually got the opportunity to compete in multiple Olympics where he took home many gold medals. However, they were striped from him when he was caught doping and using steroids to give him an edge in races. After the controversy, Irvin’s current wife left him and he was banned from competing in any future competitions. He came on Survivor for one reason and that is that is the money as he’s currently being sued by the Olympic committee. Jessica Abrefa, 25, Poker Player, u/Twig7665 Jessica wasn't the most well off growing up, she lived in Alabama, where racism was rampant. As such, she was bullied for her race, until one day, she decided that they will all be wrong about her not being able to do anything because of her skin colour. She publicly humiliated the whole football team at her high school, and that stunt got her expelled in her senior year. She didn't care, and then she decided to run away to Las Vegas, which she did. While there, she started modeling, but found it boring. She then picked up the hobby of gambling, and played her first poker match when she was 21. She proved herself to be a formidable foe by beating one of the top poker players at the time, a dude named Brett Herman. Impressed by her skills, he tried to form a bond with her, but she turned him down due to him being a very paranoid man. Now, Jessica dates and cheats on men almost daily, and is considered one of the top female poker players, despite only playing for a few years. An avid Survivor fan, she wants to be as flirty and manipulative as she is in her real life. The only problem would be meeting another poker player, but she finds it unlikely that she will. Joey "Wildcard" Caruso, 24, Poker Player, u/wordonthestreet2 Joey did not grow up with the best moral compass as his father notoriously had ties to the mafia. He used the money his father made through illegitimate businesses to gamble throughout his teenage years. When his father learned about his poker abilities and how easy it was for him to manipulate his opponents they began using his poker career as a way to launder mafia money through various casinos. He is known for his excellent poker face and unpredictable style of play which earned him the nickname Wildcard. Maize Nguyen, 28, Heiress, u/Vicctoryy From the outside looking in, the Nguyen Family Dynasty of San Francisco looks like a well supported and strong business, but from the inside, things are crumbling apart. The matriarch and patriarch are always at each other's necks over the company, leaving their children to clean up their messes. Maize, being the oldest, has taken it upon herself to lead the company, and she leads with an iron will and even harder iron fist. While she seems like a worthy replacement for her faulty parents, she has never been afraid to leave with force. Anyone at the receiving end of a verbal lashing from Maize is likely to not return to work the next day, or ever again. She is arrogant, rude, demeaning, and yet she gets things done. Saving the company from absolute bankruptcy caused a lot of backlash, but Maize couldn't care less. Success should be accomplished by stepping on the necks of those who aren't ready for the power, and Maize has done that exact thing. Any person in Maize's way has been an obstacle she has to conquer, and with a flip of her finger, that obstacle is no longer a problem. She has never been afraid to crack a few eggs to make an omelette, and unfortunately, those eggs have just been working class people struggling to make minimum wage and put dinner on their table. Too bad for them according to Maize. Maize has come to Survivor to prove that the Nguyen Dynasty is far from over, and their business monopoly will run on for years with Maize at the front of it. She is the iceberg, everyone else is a ship with no idea of what's in their way. Those too bold to step in her way are trampled, quite literally. Maize has no problem with controversy, controversy brings attention, attention brings money, and money brings power. Molly-Anne Benson, 26, Marketing Assistant, u/ghetra Molly-Anne is a social butterfly. She loves chatting with people about pretty much anything and loves meeting and getting to know new people. She has a natural charm about her that draws people in, but sometimes people are bothered by how chatty she is. She also loves to gossip and is not above spreading rumors. However, she is rather sensitive and can be set off by just about anything. She frequently will push people's buttons if they offend her and will hold a grudge until the end of time. Nikki Lopez, 29, Stripper, u/Void_Drone Randall Martin, 49, Real Estate Agent, u/TDSwaggyBoy Being a self proclaimed sleazeball, which is a very weird thing to be proud of, Randall's life was never too good. He didn't grow up with a lot of close friends. Sure, people liked him at first, but when they really got to know him they didn't appreciate him nor his antics very much. Randall had to make a name for himself. He quickly found a career in the world of real estate. Not even his co-workers enjoyed his company, but they appreciated his skills. Being a fast and smooth talker really pays off in his industry. And now, Randall wants to put his skills to use in SURVIVOR. How well will that pan out? Vito Luco, 49, Used Car Salesman, u/swoldow Vito is the last person you'd want to trust with anything. A true con-artist at heart, he now has a job selling used cars, but his past jobs would make you run away from him in fear. When he was younger, he was a part of a major drug-trafficking operation run by the mafia, and he later got a job selling illegal fireworks, both of which got him to do jail time for a decade. Newly released, he seems to be back to his old ways, as he scams people out of their money daily with his faulty cars. He was born constantly overshadowed by his perfect younger brother, who is a popular politician, while he just swindles from people. As a result, he hates people who play loyally, and wants to prove that evil is the best way to play. He isn't afraid to play hard, as that's what he did all his life, and he'll either win, or go out swinging. Link to Season Episode 1: The 20 new contestants are welcomed into Turkey, where their first task is to compete in a challenge for reward. The Sinners tribe win this reward due to having more young and fit members than the Saints tribe. As a result, the Saints are already demoralized as they arrive at camp. Cap'n starts to feel good vibes from Ardet and Maralyn, and takes them under his wing to form an alliance. Ava, on the other hand, reveals that she is deaf to Chelsea and Gwen, and the three form another alliance due to being close to one another already. Cap'n sees this and scrambles to find an idol, and does so. Over at the Sinners tribe, Witworth and Jessica see their opportunity to look for an idol, and they find it, giving them more security, while back at camp, Maize and Nikki get into a fight over thinking that the other has an idol, which neither of them do. Vito becomes the moderator of this fight, saying that the three of them plus Irvin and Molly need to stick together in the long run. Randall sees this alliance form and tries to get Alexa, Jessica, Witworth, and Wildcard on board, which they all agree to at first, but then Wildcard sees this as his opportunity to cause conflict within his tribe, so he becomes content with being a swing vote. The Sinners win immunity, and on the Saints tribe it quickly becomes a race to see who can scrape up the swing votes the fastest between Cap'n's alliance and Ava's alliance. Dana becomes the target for Ava's alliance because of her weakness in challenges and her blind loyalty, while Greg is targeted by Ardet and Cap'n due to his shiftiness. They are able to get Kirk and Dana on board to blindside Greg, and they try to talk to Gwen, but she does not flip. Instead, at tribal council, we end up with a 5-5 split, followed by a 4-4 vote split due to no one flipping. Then a rock draw occurs on the first vote of the season. Ardet becomes the victim of the rocks, sending him out of the game despite never receiving a single vote. Episode 2: After an explosive first vote, Cap'n tries to figure out who flipped on the six and sent Ardet home. No one tells him who did it, so he assumes it was Ardet. Ava tries to flip Maralyn from Cap'n's alliance, but is unsuccessful at doing so. At the Sinners camp, Jessica and Witworth, despite being closely aligned, argue over who gets to keep the idol, and Witworth ends up keeping it in the end. The Saints pull out a surprise victory over the fractured Sinners, and back at camp, Wildcard decides to snake the alliance he was pretending to work with, and joins Vito's alliance. Their first target is none other than Alexa, who saw this game as nothing other than a tool to get more relevancy back, and it particularly irked Vito, who wanted to play against people who played hard. So together, with his alliance and Wildcard, they vote for Alexa. Meanwhile, the four person alliance realizes that Wildcard snaked them, so they vote for him, and Alexa becomes the second person voted off in a 6-4 vote. Episode 3: After Alexa's vote off, Irvin tries to bond with Vito, wanting to be his right hand man, and they become closer due to both being sleazy people. Wildcard begins to feel like he's in control, and it starts to annoy people on his tribe. At the Saints camp, Cap'n starts to rub people the wrong way because of his cockiness due to having an idol, but no one catches on to him having an idol, which is good news for him, because he plans on holding onto the idol until the merge. The Sinners win immunity for the third time, and they grow cocky because of this. Cap'n and Kirk, being the two oldest men on the tribe, join forces with Dana and Maralyn to take out their biggest threat in the opposing alliance, Greg. However, the other side has majority, and they decide that Dana has been blindly loyal to the other three, and hasn't been pulling her weight in challenges, so she becomes the third person voted out in a 5-4 vote. Episode 4: After a somewhat boring vote, Greg starts to get paranoid, since he's already gotten 9 votes and it's only episode 4. He then tries to get the minority alliance to pin their votes onto Gwen, but Gwen gets angry at him for doing so, and they have an argument. At Sinners camp, Jessica tries to talk to Irvin, trying to get his alliance to help hers take out Wildcard, and Irvin tells Vito about the plan, and Vito starts to see Wildcard as not being of use anymore. After losing the reward challenge, the Saints come back harder and beat the Sinners at the next challenge. Wildcard lets Vito know that he is going to vote Maize, since he wants to make a big move early on. This becomes the final nail in Wildcard's coffin, as Vito was quite close to Maize. At tribal council, Wildcard becomes the first unanimous boot of the season, going out in a 8-1 vote. Episode 5: Vito starts to think that Irvin has been playing way too loyally, and he gets into a discussion with him that slowly devolves into a full-blown fight between them, but Vito, realizing that Irvin would make a bad enemy, tries to make it up to him, and it works. The Sinners win both reward and immunity, and they feel elated about it. Cornelius goes to Cap'n and proposes an alliance to him, allowing them to control things from behind the scenes with Maralyn. He also reveals that he has grown a disdain for Greg, and that they need to flip the numbers on him. They get Gwen and Kirk on board, or so they think, but Gwen blabs to Greg and their alliance, leading to Kirk to flip as well. They decide to vote Cornelius out due to him being the biggest gamer on the tribe, and he goes in a 5-3 vote. Episode 6: The tribes pack up their things, anticipating a swap, but then the host announces that they will be competing for individual immunity on their tribe, and whoever wins will be safe from the double tribal council taking place that night. Maralyn wins for the Saints, and Vito wins for the Sinners. The Sinners also win reward, earning food to enjoy while they watch the other tribe go to tribal council. Witworth, Jessica, and Randall decide it was now or never to get rid of Maize, who had a fight with Randall earlier that day, but Vito, hearing about this, decides that Randall is the biggest sleaze on his tribe, and he needed to go as soon as possible. In his voting confessional, he states there can be only one sleazy guy on the tribe, and that was himself, so Randall had to go, and Randall becomes the sixth person voted out in a 5-3 vote, and he is bitter as all hell about it. At the Saints tribe, Cap'n becomes angry over the fact he cannot vote in the majority, and it makes the majority annoyed with him, so they decide to vote him off. Luckily for Cap'n, he still has an idol, so he and Maralyn vote for the most threatening player in their minds, Chelsea, and Cap'n plays his idol, sending Chelsea out of the game in a 2-0 vote. Episode 7: After Chelsea's idol out, Cap'n officially became public enemy number one on his tribe, and he tries to find his rehidden idol, but Kirk finds it instead. Maralyn and Greg have a fight due to the food on their tribe running low, and morale being even lower. At the Sinners tribe, Nikki begins to be seen as an easy goat due to her one-sided loyalty to Vito. Morale at the Saints tribe dips even lower when they lose both reward and immunity. Not wanting to lose again,the majority decide to vote off their oldest member, Cap'n, as a last ditch attempt to prevent them from going on a losing streak. Cap'n and Maralyn vote for Greg, and Cap'n becomes the eighth person voted out in a 5-3 vote, missing out on the jury by one placement. Episode 8: After Cap'n's vote out, there are only five members on the Saints tribe, compared to the Sinners having seven. The Sinners increase their winning streak by two by winning both reward and immunity. At the Sinners camp, Jessica and Witworth have another fight over the idol, with Jessica insisting that she keep it. This causes the rest of the tribe to be alerted to the fact that Jessica and Witworth have an idol, and Witworth becomes a target because of this. At the Saints tribe, the women form a tight three, and Kirk and Greg are forced to band together to survive. At tribal council, the three women stay strong, and Greg is voted out 3-2 and becomes the first member of the jury, leaving only four Saints left in the game. Episode 9: With his back up against the wall, Kirk knows that he's probably gone next if he didn't have the idol, which ensured his survival until merge. The Saints finally win a challenge, a reward challenge, but lose immunity once again to the inflated egos of the Sinners. Not much else happens this episode, but Kirk tries to get Maralyn to flip and vote out Ava, but she disagrees to do so, and she votes for Gwen instead, making Kirk not trust her, and he decides to vote for her, while also playing his idol. This causes a 1-1-0 tie between Gwen and Maralyn, and Ava, misunderstanding what would happen if she forced a tie, votes for Gwen while Kirk votes for Maralyn, and Ava becomes the second person in King's Survivor history to be eliminated by default, due to there being no other options, and she becomes the second member of the jury Episode 10: At long last, the tribes merge into the purple Ucurum tribe, meaning balance in Turkish. Left in the game is Witworth, Gwen, Irvin, Jessica, Kirk, Maize, Maralyn, Molly, Nikki, and Vito. At first, it seems like it would be Saint Vs Sinner, but Jessica and Witworth come to the three Saints left in the game, and they convince them to vote with them come tribal council. Vito wins his second immunity challenge of the season, and his target was Witworth for being the strongest male not in his alliance, and also for lying about not having an idol, which he believed was given to Jessica. At tribal council, the lines cause a 5-5 divide between Irvin and Witworth, and on the revote, Maralyn randomly decides to flip to avoid a tie, and Carter Witworth becomes the third member of the jury, and also another person to go out with an idol in their pocket. He is understandably pretty pissed about this ordeal, but wishes his tribe well. Episode 11: The day after Witworth's blindside, the nine remaining contestants compete in a reward challenge, which the team containing Irvin, Maralyn, and Vito win. At the reward, Irvin and Vito realize how dangerous Maralyn could be after she starts trying to talk game with them. Soon afterwards, Maralyn finds the idol, and Jessica calls out Molly for following Vito almost blindly. Nikki wins the second post merge immunity challenge, and Vito tries to recruit Jessica for the vote, which succeeds. They then choose to target Maralyn, since she was the most threatening out of the three Saints, and the six remaining Sinners pin votes onto her. Unfortunately for them, Maralyn pulls out an idol, and the Saints vote for Irvin, a potential immunity threat, making him the fourth member of the jury in a 3-0 vote. Episode 12: After Irvin's blindside, only two men are still in the game, compared to the six women. Nikki is able to find an idol, after thinking that she hasn't been playing hard enough, while Molly gets into a fight with Maralyn over the latter pulling out an idol, which she hadn't wanted her to do. Molly wins immunity, and it becomes a battle of the Saints Vs the Sinners, just like the theme of the season. The Saints go after Maize, wanting to weaken Vito further before going after him, but they are unable to swing anyone over and Vito, fueled by vengeance, gets his alliance to vote for Maralyn. In a 5-3 vote, Maralyn becomes the fifth member of the jury. Back at camp, the final seven become annoyed at Nikki's arrogance after being safe from being voted out, so she becomes a target for the two remaining Saints left. Kirk also becomes a target for being a perceived leader for Gwen, causing him to be target numero uno. After Kirk wins immunity, the target shifts from him to Gwen, due to her being perceived as not wanting to play the game, and rather would be along for the ride, which Vito found unpalatable. Kirk and Gwen then try to vote out Molly for her strength in challenges, and in the end, Gwen gets the boot in a 5-2 vote, making her the sixth juror. Episode 13: With only six people left in the game, the final reward challenge takes place. Maize wins it, and she shares it with Vito, her closest ally, and Jessica, who her and Vito wanted to bring closer. Soon, they realize what a threat she could be, especially because she's a poker player, she becomes the biggest target instead of Kirk. Luckily for her, she wins immunity. Kirk tries to bond with Maize as a way to get Vito to not vote him out, but it backfires, and he becomes the biggest target yet again. At tribal council, he votes for Molly, but everyone else votes for him, making him the seventh juror in a 5-1 vote and completely eliminating the Saints from the game. Finale: Jessica, Maize, Molly, Nikki, and Vito remain. Five players who had remarkably different playing styles, but all came from the same tribe. They compete in the second-to-last immunity challenge, which Maize wins, and the biggest target becomes Jessica again, who has proven herself to be the only player not following Vito, and only voting with him just to get further in the game. Vito does not feel the same way about keeping Jessica around, so he and his alliance with Nikki, Molly, and Maize vote for her, and Nikki plays her idol in case someone flipped on her, and Jessica becomes the eighth juror in a 4-0 vote. Back at camp, Vito feels incredibly cocky, and he tries to influence a fight, and he does so between Nikki and Maize. He then goes on to win final immunity, and Nikki tanks her own game with her fight with Maize, and everyone votes her out, causing her to become the ninth juror in a 3-1 vote. The final three consists of Maize, Molly, and Vito. Molly gets criticism for her lack of strategy, only using her social game to get far, and her challenge capabilities. Maize is seen as following too closely to Vito, but the jury is willing to vote for her if Vito tanks his jury speech. He does not, and explains his game in great detail, saying he started out forming a five person alliance on the first night, he commenced the Wildcard blindside, the Witworth blindside, the Jessica blindside, etc. He did it all, but the bonds he formed in the game were genuine, and he didn't intend his villainous backstabbing to be taken personal. In the end, he gets all the jury votes, even from two people he never met, Greg and Ava. Maralyn wins the Fan Favorite for standing up to Vito and her idol play. Winner: Vito Luco, u/swoldow Fan Favorite: Maralyn Sander, u/Void_Drone Potential Returnees (yeah, I haven't done this in a while): Vito, Jessica, Kirk, Maralyn, WItworth, Ava, Cap'n, maybe Ardet, if I do a first boot season Next season, will be the final season before season 35, I won't spoil the theme for 35, but trust me, it won't be a season to miss. Season 34 however, with the release of the new Island Of The Idols sim, it will feature two King's Survivor Idols, who will be revealed with the sign ups. Next season will be King's Survivor Venezuela: Island Of The Idols!
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I started writing the backstory of my Star Wars Saga Edition character, but gave up when the game fell apart
Sozafi Zae had the wind knocked out of them as they slammed into the ceiling, and then they braced for a fall that never came. Being violently thrown into the air had been jarring enough, but there’s no way they could be so rattled they’d miss the return trip, could they? They tentatively opened one eye. The floor loomed over--under?--them. At least the carpet in this penthouse was really soft. Maybe they’d only break one or two ribs, tops. Probably an arm. “You picked the wrong apartment to rob, kid,” the old togruta woman said with a yawn. In all the excitement of somehow finding themself pressed to the ceiling, Sozafi had almost forgotten about the person who put her there… Onoam was beautiful, especially at night, when Naboo could be seen hanging in the sky. Or, Sozafi supposed, Onoam was hanging in Naboo’s sky. There was too much light pollution out there to really see many of the stars tonight, with all of the night culture still going strong, but some nights, when things were calm, Sozafi could still tell they were there. They could draw in the deep air of the sea and feel the galaxy swirling, the hundreds of beings in the city all milling about in gambling dens and restaurants and theaters. This wasn’t really one of those nights. Naboo was nothing but a large teal marble peeking out from behind the heavy grey-black clouds. Rain had begun to fall, a light drizzle that made it all the more dangerous to be clinging to the side of a building. Moments earlier, the twenty something scrumrat had miraculously made it to the third floor, scaling the side of the building in a few bounds. It was a talent she had. If they concentrated, and got a running start, they could feel the world at just a slightly different angle. It was liberating to move through a space like that, feeling the ground retreat. That was how Sozafi made a living as a second-story-neutrois. They were charismatic, and could be charming enough to steal from the tourists, but getting right into the apartments of the wealthy was always a lot more lucrative. Most people wouldn’t bother locking their balcony windows. After all, how would anyone get up there? That wasn’t the case this time. The mark had actually taken precautions. That was just fine. They pulled out a set of security tools and knelt down at the lock, getting to work. With a little bit of concentration, Sozafi could feel the pins working into the right place, and with a gentle turn, the door opened with an unnoticeable click. With that out of the way, they slunk into the room, carefully on the lookout for any signs of security. The mark was some kind of criminal, which meant that she wasn’t likely to have anything that would call official security, and the woman didn’t seem to have any backing. When it came to the distinction between legitimacy and criminality, the distinction was often arbitrary, but it was a safe bet that someone with this much money could stand to part with it. Once the coast was clear enough, Sozafi started looking around for anything important. Credits, obviously, but anything that could fit in their pack and fetch a good price would be worthwhile. They had good instincts for hiding places, and this mark was definitely the kind to use plenty. Several, like the toilet tank or underside of the table, held holdout weapons like a thin barreled concealable blaster or a vibro-knife. They could stay where they were. There were also plenty of credits already tucked into a bug-out bag hidden in a false bottom of a clothes hamper. Sozafi had no need for the handful of fake scandocs for the togruta, so they left those where they were, but the credits would be very useful. It was an hour into Sozafi’s gentle ransacking that their instincts seemed to lead them astray. Inside another false panel, they found nothing but a strange metal tube. The air of the penthouse seemed to grow cold as the neutrois touched the tube, and pulled it out to better look at it in the light reflecting off of Naboo. “No way…” they murmured, suddenly afraid of the thing in their hands, like one wrong move would release a swarm of ravenous blister fleas down their arm. Sozafi knew it had only been twenty years or something, but this was practically a relic. And contraband. Suddenly all the scandocs, the bugout bag, it all made sense. But still, something inside of the felt… excitement. They could sense the aura of the device. It practically thrummed in their hand. Sozafi held it out, knowing the danger, and reached their other hand out to fiddle with the controls… That was when Sozafi found themself Forcibly lifted into the air and pressed against the ceiling. They hadn’t even heard the woman come in, they were so enraptured by the artifact from a more civilized age. The togruta didn’t even look at it, leaving it where it was on the floor. “Who are you?” She asked, looking up at Sozafi. “How…” The togruta rolled her eyes, and dismissively waved her hand with a sigh. Sozafi fell to the floor, shaky but on their feet. They were thankful for the thick carpeting, but they could tell that some Force had lessened the fall. “Who are you,” the woman said again, this time more pointedly. “I’m no one,” Zae coughed out. They cut a glance to the window. The orange-skinned woman was near the door, but if Sozafi could get to the balcony… Her eyes darted back to the erstwhile mark. “You’re a J--” Before they’d even started to say the word, the togruta spit out “No, I’m not.” There was a tension in the air. Seemed as good a moment as any to make a break for it. Unfortunately the scrumrat didn’t get very far. There were no magic tricks this time, but the togruta was fast, and before taking a step further, she was blocking Sozafi, who actually surprised her by throwing a punch. They didn’t connect of course. The togruta on the other hand did, but Sozafi was no stranger to a punch, and rolled with it. It was followed up by a kick that the older woman didn’t seem like she should have been able to make, and Sofazi had to throw up both her arms to catch it with a block. They weren’t going to stay on the defensive, and lashed out with a blow. It didn’t matter what they did, though, her fists always came up short. A sense of fear started to fill her. This was a legendary warrior. She wasn’t even breaking a sweat. She was toying with them. Sozafi tried to run again, but was jerked back, choked by the collar of their shirt, which ripped as the togruta pulled it. They were spun around, swinging their arm as they did, but once again they hit nothing but air, the woman ducking below the swing, only to throw a series of short, quick jabs to Sozafi’s ribs and breast, knocking the wind out of them. Breathless, Zae saw the old woman stand up tall and lift her thigh up to her heavy chest and kick out like she was going to stomp flat a can of caff. Sozafi threw up their arms to block, but was still sent tumbling back and sprawling over a chair meant more for decoration than comfort. The chair came with them, and by the time they got right side up, the togruta was back in front of them. In a flash of anger, Sozafi remembered the vibro-blade stuck to the bottom of the table, and without even thinking it was in their hand, shooting across the apartment, eliciting a startled gasp from the togruta. They bounded forward, lunging in anger, wanting revenge for all the bruises and pain she’d caused in just the last ninety seconds. And then a sound like metal shearing erupted, and a thin shaft of brilliant green light aimed itself at Sozafi’s throat, her rage disbursed by the soft hum of the lightsaber blade. “Force…” the scrumrat murmured with the tone of a swear, the vibro-blade slipping from their hand, forgotten. “You really are a Jedi…” As if their words were an ion charge, the blade disappeared, and the reverent moment went with it. “No.” The togruta said through clenched teeth. She took a centering breath, closing her eyes, her brow furrowed. Quieter, she finally added “Not for years now. There are no more Jedi.” “Tell me everything.” “There isn’t much to tell,” Azasham said, knowing this kid wouldn’t hear how weighed down with weariness her words were as she sipped the caf. The two had stopped fighting. There wasn’t much point after that. Azasham had tossed her lightsaber aside, and with the same flick of her wrist, both it and the vibro-knife, now deactivated as well, had landed into the chair, which had also righted itself. If she was being honest with herself, Azasham was showing off a little. She hadn’t obviously used the Force like this in… over a decade, at least. And here was this Force Sensitive who had somehow avoided the notice of the empire. Was it because they were here on Onoam? It wasn’t like Palpatine’s home system was free of the bastard’s grip. Beneath the tranquil streets and bustling tourist attractions, miners still toiled for the Empire, and while fully armored stormtroopers were unwelcomed by the galaxy’s elite with their vacation condos and chalets, crisply uniformed Imperial officers helped comfort the wealthy after the terrorist assassination of Moff Panaka three years earlier and had never left. Funny how the rich and powerful could be comforted if you just put the agents of imperial violence in a nicer uniform. Had this guttersnipe managed to stay under the radar for two decades simply because the terrifying black armour and blood-bladed sabers of the Inquisitorius would be too frightening a sight for the members of the ruling class who came to Naboo’s peaceful moon with the luxury of forgetting about partisans and terrorists and unruly systems not yet brought to heel? Or, maybe, a little ember Ashazam wished would burn out already whispered, maybe it was the will of the Force. “What about me?” “What about you?” “Am I Jedi?” Azasham let out a noise that the human neutrois considered rather rude, judging by their facial expression. “No, kid, there’s more to being a jedi than moving things with your mind.” “Teach me, then.” “No.” “You want to,” Sozafi said, more as a statement than a question. Azasham sipped her caf, not a single muscle moving that didn’t have to. “I knew it,” the scrumrat said, eyes lighting up. “I could just kill you,” she offered, only barely hiding her smile. For a second she thought she might have been a little too stoic as the colour drained from the neutrois’ face. But it was only temporary. They weren’t convinced. “You could have killed me from the start, but you knew I was a Jedi,” they said, wheels visibly spinning. Another snort, another glare from the kid. “You’re not a Jedi.” “Yes I am! You saw it. I pulled that knife to me, and I can sense things.” Sozafi’s wheels spun faster as things fell into place. “And I can run up walls! I just thought I was good at parkour… I can do all that because I’m a Jedi.” The knife flew from across the room, causing Sozafi to jump as it whizzed by their head. Azasham put it down on the other side of the table from Sozafi. “Do it again, then, Jedi.” The knife stayed where it was, no matter how much Sozafi glared at it. They even stretched out a hand, fingers forming a claw, wrist slowly turning. There was grunting. Then, their shoulders slumped in defeat. "That's what I thought," Azasham murmured. Something about how she said it must have set Sozafi off. They gave out another growl of frustration and screwed up their face. It happened quickly, a little wiggle at first. Acting before the vibro-blade even moved, Azasham's hand shot out to catch it. The sharp durasteel blade, luckily unactivated, dug into her palm, and her blood dripped into her mug of caf. For the first time tonight her heart rate had spiked. Sozafi had once again lost all their anger, looking at the tip of the blade with wide eyes. It had completely ignored their outstretched hand, assuming right for their face. Without Azasham's lightning reflexes, they'd have been dead. The blade was only inches away from splitting their head like a melon. "Oh fuck, oh fuck", they said jumping up so quick that another chair fell over. Sozafi panicked, looking around the room for something to fix this. "Stop." Sozafi did, though the panic didn't go away. "Towel, by the sink." They blinked for a moment, then rushed to grab it, holding it out as Azasham slowly opened her hand and let the knife fall. It was a mess, but the cut was clean. All that mattered now was staunching the bleeding, but she winced a little more than necessary, playing up how much it hurt. It would do the kid good to be scared. "Now go get my medkit," she said, lekku shifting as she jerked her head to the bedroom. "It's in the bag from my hamper." Once again, the neutrois did as they were told, quicker this time. Maybe this wasn't going to be so bad an idea after all. A few minutes later, as she was gingerly coating her hand in a bacta strip, Sozafi finally spoke up. "So I guess I am a Jedi, then?" They asked, voice cracking a little. Azasham couldn't help but laugh. "No." "Oh come on, seriously?" "You're untrained, and dangerous. You're sensitive to the Force, but that doesn't make you a Jedi." After a pregnant pause, the corner of her lip curled upward and she added "yet." Sozafi vibrated like the activated knife, their face splitting in an excited grin. "You'll need to focus. I could just be training you how to get yourself killed spectacularly. Or I could be creating a monster.” Sozafi laughed nervously, “A monster? Isn’t that a bit dramatic?” Azasham’s durasteel glare made the scrumrat swallow, but their throat caught. “You’re untrained, and that makes you dangerous. Which is why I need to train you. But in doing so, I’ll be making you more powerful.” Sozafi’s eyes brightened in a troubling way, though Azasham couldn’t fault them for the feeling. They did have the sense to feel conflicted about that excitement when Azasham gave a sigh. “The Dark Side is strong in you. I can feel it, particularly when you want something. You’ve killed before, haven’t you? Have you ever called upon the Dark Side to do so?” Azasham wasn’t sure she even wanted to know the answer. Would she have to murder this youngling after all? Would it be easier to spare them being found and turned by the Inquisitorius, or worse, tempted by the Dark Side into abusive relationships, unfocused and untrained as little more than an animal with no restraint? Sozafi was fidgeting, thinking before they spoke, which was at least a good sign. “I… I don’t really know. I’ve called upon the Dark Side, I just don’t think I knew it, and always in fights. And I…” They bit their lower lip, chewing it in thought, “I have killed someone. In self-defense. But only twice. Well, once, I’m pretty sure the other guy survived, just never messed with me again. I don’t use it to cheat or steal or anything” Azasham thought about it for a long moment. What kind of damage had living on the street done? Would the hardships have created a monster? She didn’t want to think that they had, but then again this kid was already growing on her. The eagerness, the excitement. This wasn’t something she had seen from someone in a long time, and certainly not in a Jedi adept. “You were stealing from me,” She pointed out after considering it. Sozafi blushed. “Well, I was going to. But you’re not from Onoam. No one who isn’t from around here other than the miners has good intentions. I thought you were just some rich person, and it doesn’t count if you steal from the rich. They all stole it from the poor.” They narrowed their eyes, and looked around, “wait, how did you get the money for a place like this anyway?” Azasham’s lip curled to show the tips of her pointed teeth. “I stole it from rich people.” Two days later, Sozafi sat cross legged in a field of blue-green grass across from Azasham, who still seemed to be lost in contemplation. They’d come to these empty fields for Sozafi’s first lessons. Azasham had asked them to wait two long days, and now was still waiting. At least it was a nice day. They’d still tried to experiment on their own, just a bit, trying not to get angry as they made a rock rise up from the floor of their poorly kept little one room hovel apartment in the poorer end of the local district. It was frustrating, but knowing that you really can do it tends to make things easier. They hadn’t even bothered to go out running any scams or stealing from anyone, since Azasham had given them enough credits to live off of. An act that mad Sozafi’s eyes go wide, but they never said no to credits. By the end of those two days, Sozafi was slowly pulling their few bits of furniture round the room telekinetically. Azasham hadn’t seemed impress when they told her, demonstrating by levitating a credit stick. Azasham pulled the stick out of the air and wagged a finger at them, looking around the crowded street outside her much nicer apartment as they walked to the alley where her landspeeder was parked. “You have to be more careful about where you use your… talents,” she admonished, one orange finger pointing at Sozafi. The ride had gone by in silence, at least when Sozafi got the hint. And now they were sitting here in the grass, where the city was just a line of colour on the horizon. Waiting for Azasham to finally make up her mind about what to do, Sozafi once again stretched out with their senses. This, too, they had come to realize, was a part of the Force. They’d never been so far away from the hustle and bustle of Onoam’s crowds. Even at night, the city was thrumming with beings experiencing the city’s nightlife. Here, it was… different. The sun warmed everything, and there was still so much life. Sozafi had never really thought about it, but the grass was alive. There was life in the grass--insects and small lizards and rodents, even nesting birds--but the grass itself was also alive, a hundred pinpricks of light all woven together. Suddenly another presence eased itself into being. Not necessarily bigger, but deeper somehow. A being that was both aware and aware of her. Tentatively, Sozafi reached out her senses, just barely brushing the edges with her consciousness “That tickles,” Azasham said, in a rather deadpan voice. Sozafi opened their eyes and nearly fell over. “That was you?!” The togruta smiled a toothy smirk, but didn’t open her eyes. “That was you,” Sozafi said again, righting themself on the blanket. “You’re immense.” Azasham snorted, and opened one eye, “I haven’t had time to watch my figure,” she said with another grin Sozafi blushed, “Not like that, I mean…” They motioned incoherently with their hands. “I felt you. In there. In the Force, I guess.” “In there is everywhere,” she said, finally opening her eyes and relaxing a bit. “You’ve got an awareness of your surroundings. That’s good. That's our first lesson. Are you familiar with midi-chlorians?" “Aren’t those the folks famous for being bounty hunters?” Sozafi asked. Azasham paused for the briefest moment in confusion and then continued. “Midi-Chlorians are symbiotic beings found in all life. They are a part of us, and in turn we are a part of them. They connect us all, and connect to each other. This is the Force. You have the ability to communicate with the midi-chlorians.” Sozafi had begun to stare at their hand, as if they’d see microscopic bugs crawling on it, giving them super powers. They knew that wasn’t quite how it worked, though. Probably. “When you move things, you are working through them. When your actions are in balance, you ask them to move the object.” Azasham demonstrated this by levitating the stones around her. It was nothing compared to the outbursts she made the other night, but the control was astounding compared to the wobbling rise that Sozafi had managed. “But you are powerful, and you are not always in balance. Your emotions get the better of you, and that makes you dangerous.” Sozafi sat quietly, their thoughts swirling. This was a lot to take in. They’d have to take this more seriously than simply throwing rocks around, but that was a lot of responsibility. “When I’ve found balance, what am I supposed to do with this power?” they wondered, tracking one of the rocks as it made a circuit around Azasham, locking eyes with her for a moment as it passed her face, and then nervously snapping back to the rock’s path. “I mean, the Jedi kept peace, right? But I’m just a burglar.” Azasham closed her eyes and thought about the question. It wasn’t one she even knew the answer to. What had she been doing with her power? Was she keeping the peace here on Onaom? No. She wasn’t. She was just being a burglar herself, albeit far more skilled than Sozafi would ever be without training. For over a decade now, she had barely been doing more than surviving. The night came back to her. The night when Hex, Copper, Ransom, and the others had died. The night when the orders they had been born to follow finally came. The blaster fire. The sounds they made as her blades whirred through their plasteel armour. The limbs hitting the ground. She wasn’t sure if it actually was raining on Raxus that night, but she always remembered it that way. But no, she hadn’t even been a peace keeper back then, had she? A lightsaber might arguably keep the peace, but an army of clones? Just how much of the war had Palpatine engineered so that the Jedi and their armies would conquer the galaxy for him? There was no peace to be had there, and certainly no peacekeeping involved in ripping off casinos. So what was the point, then? What reason did Azasham have for teaching this youngling, well past their prime? She looked at Sozafi, so full of determination, and of anger. It was all too familiar. Azasham killed another Stormtrooper, sliding past him and slicing him in half. These weren’t the men she had fought with during the Clone Wars. They were sloppy. Even just seeing them wearing those uniforms, making a mockery of the men she served with, irritated her at this point. “Just die already!’ she shouted in challenge. She came up from her slide with a flourish and knocked a blaster bolt back where it came, causing a trooper’s head to snap backwards as his bucket helmet was caved in. There was only one left, his knees shaking. Azasham stalked forward through the flames of the building, lazily batting blaster fire away, her shoulders slumped. She was barring her sharp teeth, and could practically see herself from his eyes. With her montrals and lekku, and bloody, mess stained clothes she looked like some kind of a monster from his planet’s legends, a fanged demon He had been an idealist at firsts, believing that Palpatine and the Empire wanted to bring peace. But by now he knew better, now he had done horrible things in the name of peace, and with the stalking togruta Jedi survivor coming closer, he couldn’t deny it anymore. She looked like something from Hell come to take penance for his sins. He dropped his blaster and ran. His panicked fleeing was cut short as the armour around his chest crushed inwards, and he was dragged backwards, boots grinding along the dirty floor. “No, please, no!” he shouted, reaching up to take off his helmet, his modulated voice giving way to the cracking begging of a real person. “I’m sorry!” The stormtrooper tried to squirm around, still begging for his life. Azasham glared at him, the icy fury coming off of her choking his screams. She looked into his eyes as the hope, and then life, faded from them. The lightsaber burned his flesh as it cut him smoothly from shoulder to hip, the plasma blade giving just enough resistance that she knew he was there. He held together and whimpered incoherently as he died, stumbling forward. His hands grabbed at Ashasam’s clothes and she watched him, fire still burning. She brought her saber up and stabbed him in the chest, and unneeded move that pushed him away and ended the last few moments of his life. She looked at him, wound up like a Kodashi viper and nothing else to strike at and fill with the deadly venom other species always expected she had. She looked down at her lightsaber, gripping the hilt so tight her orange fingers became pale. Her anger and hatred for the Empire that took everything from her stretched out and collapsed inward, coalescing into her blade. Streaks of unmistakeable crimson cracked through the viridian like Sith lightning, and the humming lightsaber wavering in pain as it was made to bleed. The kyber within lashed out, and pain flashed up Azasham’s arm. She dropped the lightsaber to the ground, blade still emitting. She fell to her knees next to it, reaching out trembling fingers. “I’m so sorry…” she whimpered, wincing as the words left her lips. They sounded so much like that trooper’s words. She touched the hilt, worried that it would turn red again, but the blade stayed green and true. She held the blade up and knelt her head, controlling her breathing and began to meditate. “The Force is with me. I am with the Force…” “Whatever you do is up to you,” Azasham said in the present, her voice giving away very little, but still Sozafi sensed there was something more. “I’m only here to teach you balance. Control.” “Over my powers?” “No, over yourself. But, yeah, kid. You’ll learn all the cool powers. One day you might even need them. You’ve been incredibly lucky, Force preserve you, but there’s no way that will keep up.” Over the next several weeks, Azasham put Sozafi through their paces. That first lesson was easy. If there was one thing that Sozafi could do, it was let their mind wander. Sending out their senses to the vastness of the galaxy was a lot easier than dodging heavy durasteel crates that Azasham moved around first back and forth and then in spiral patterns and finally seemingly at random. Sozafi was still living on their own, but Azasham was loaded, and gave them enough money to afford a decent apartment. Not in the same penthouses that Azasham lived, but now they wouldn’t have to worry about getting stabbed when they were leaving. That had only ever happened once, and it wasn’t deep, but the new place was much better without having to worry about that. After a few weeks of meditating and concentrating, trying to learn how to lift things of their own, and dodging crates as big as they were, Azasham finally started to give Sozafi “lightsaber” training. Except she didn’t want to give her the actual thing just yet. First to learn the forms, they had to use a collapsible baton. “It’s the same thing,” Azasham teased, a baton in one hand and her lightsaber in the other. Sozafi felt the Force as Azasham extended the baton with it while igniting the lightsaber. “See?” Then she turned the one off and let the other collapse. She tossed the less impressive of the two to her apprentice. At one point Sozafi might have been caught off guard, but now their reflexes had been sharpened and they flicked it out in the same motion as the catch. “Yeah, I feel just like a jedi now,” they replied, waggling the security weapon in a way that didn’t at all seem threatening. “Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it. We’re starting with forms, you won’t need to swing a laser sword around. “We’ll start with Shii-Cho, the Way of the Sarlaac. This is the first form that a Jedi learns, from the days when lightsaber combat was new…” After that, each day added an additional lesson. Meditation. Stretching. Avoiding obstacles. Lightsaber forms. Meditation. Blaster training. Concentration. Combat training, with and without a weapon. It was grueling, and each night Sozafi would go to bed sore and smiling. There was a meaning to it all. It was different from simply stealing from the rich and pawning their junk and hoping to make it through the week. Every day was another push forward to something. Every so often, at intervals Sozafi could only guess at, they were given a reprieve from lessons, and left to their own devices, often with the instruction to practice some form maneuver or sophisticated telekinetic trick. Running a rock through some maze without touching the side or juggling objects with their mind. These reprieves would happen once every week or two, and could sometimes last days. Sozafi had figured out by now that Azasham was actually some kind of a criminal, and that she often went off world, but it was still a shock when they were commed after a week long hiatus by a grunting and pained sounding Azasham. “Kid…” her voice came from the speaker, distorted and crackling. “Get to my apartment. Hurry.”
News Heading into Friday July 24th 2020 NOTE: PLEASE DO NOT YOLO THE VARIOUS TICKERS WITHOUT DOING RESEARCH. THE TIME STAMPS ON THE FOLLOWING ARTICLES MAY BE LATER THAN OTHERS ON THE WEB. THE CREATOR OF THIS THREAD COMPILED THE FOLLOWING IN A QUICK MANNER AND DOES NOT ATTEST TO THE VERACITY OF THE INFORMATION BELOW. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR VETTING YOUR OWN SOURCES AND DOING YOUR OWN DD.
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