After a challenging winter season, many of the Ertegun athletes were flagging but the team came together for one last cup final match organised by experienced referee Maria Kouroumali. All the highest-level players were present, including returning sports stars such as [Redacted] and GeltTrip alongside newcomers to the Ertegun team, seeing action for the first time off the bench. Warm-ups were soon underway, with each player providing their own beverage of choice and presumably following a thorough brain-stretching regimen before the game. Despite the trials and tribulations of the Michaelmas tournament, every Ertegun team-mate was determined to make their mark in such an important cup final.
The beginning of the match was flagged by some familiar technical issues – not the VR cameras this time but the zoom software, leaving this humble commentator without sound for the first fifteen minutes and delaying the start of play. Once the speakers were rewired and the software rebooted, the players made their way to the virtual pitch, selecting mascots and nicknames alongside some final hamstring stretches. At this point, an interloper entered the game, donning the disguise of ‘Ertegun Administrator’, stealing the identity of the quiz’s very own referee. Nonplussed by this in-game identity fraud, play commenced with two Ertegun Administrators on the pitch.
With the first round of questions, newcomer Aristhotle quickly dominated the game, taking control of the ball and racing ahead in the point scores. Questions after question was easily batted aside by the more elite athletes, though some flagged behind, barely making it out of their own half. The referee kept a close eye on play, leaving no room for dodgy footwork or offside quizzing. Your loyal commentator ended the first round at the bottom of the leaderboard under her alias Santa Clorrs, hoping for redemption as a loveable underdog alongside the Ertegun House Elf and the aptly named ‘NoIdea’.
After the close of the first round, the pace of play only quickened, moving swiftly into challenges including arts, culture and winter holidays from around the world. The game covered much ground, with questions ranging from Gilbert and Sullivan to Michelangelo’s David, really testing the abilities of even the more experienced Ertegun players. Only one player did not stumble when asked to give the accurate rendition of St. Nicholas of Myra’s name in a series of festive questions, with even the programme’s theological superstar wing attack Friar Andrew missing out the requisite full stop. There was a challenge to the referee over the shifting dates of the Islamic festival calendar but the rebellion was quickly subdued in favour of a return to play with no red cards given.
At the end of the game, GeltTrip was awarded Man of the Match and unmasked as our very own Lena, with Aristhotle and [Redacted] in hot pursuit, overtaken after their early leads in the game. The administrative challenger was revealed to be Chiran, who promised to return her job to Maria and not commit further identity fraud when bribed with the prize of a voucher. The spirits of the athletes were lifted by an action-packed and highly festive cup final, with all coming away feeling like winners.