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The Rise, Fall, and Rise of Team Better Than You

posted 11/1 by John of Team BTY

If you've been playing Raw Deal long enough, you should recognize the name 'Team Better Than You'. A lot of you might not, because we've been out of the spotlight for a while. Here's a re-introduction for people who know us and a history lesson for those who don't:

When Raw Deal was young, there were a large number of fan-operated websites out there. The most well-known, then as now, was Team Canada Online. Team Canada had colorful commentary and enthusiastic writers, but the quality of their articles and decks was questionable (to use a diplomatic term). In the opinion of a group of friends from Gardner, Massachusetts who had been aggressively promoting and competitively playing the game from day one, the Raw Deal internet community deserved a better site, better articles, and better strategy. They chose the name "Team Better Than You" and started such a website with a tongue-in-cheek attitude, but immediately after announcing their presence to the online Raw Deal community, they became the targets of much resentment and bitterness. Team BTY posted quality decks and strategy, collected and presented a large number of tournament reports from all around the country, and made a few bold predictions about the first World Championship event at Gencon 2001.

Team Canada had arranged a "Survivor Series" match against a group of players from Chicago to take place at GenCon, but the Chicago group backed out a couple months before the Con. The Canadians posted an open invitation to face them in a Survivor Series match and Team BTY jumped at the challenge. In the run-up to the convention the two websites traded barbs and trash talk, and the originally good-natured spirit of the "website war" nearly degenerated into outright hostility. Team Better Than You publicly predicted not only victory in the Survivor Series match, but in the World Championship as well. GenCon 2001 rolled around and Team BTY won every major event, including the Survivor Series exhibition match, highlighted by Mike Canu's 12-0 performance in the first World Championship.

Following GenCon Team BTY was at the top of the Raw Deal world. Our team members were invited to the playtest team where we contributed to It's All About the Game and the Mania expansion. Mike Canu successfully defended his title at Wrestlemania X-8 in Toronto. The team's success and notoriety drew players from all over the country, and even internationally, to attend local events held at Gardner's game store, The Knight's Quest. A little podunk burned-out factory town in the middle of central Massachusetts was, for a while, the center of the Raw Deal world.

Unfortunately the web site which Team BTY used to catapult itself into the public eye languished. Team Canada upgraded to a forums site, centered around user interaction, and established a vast searchable Arsenal Archive for user-submitted decks. As the maintainer of the BTY website, a promotion at my job and a move to a location far from my home left me with progressively less and less time to keep up the site.

Slowly members of the team lost interest in Raw Deal. Mike Canu was already disinterested by the time World Championships 03 rolled around, and he failed to defend his title, only playing the game on rare occasions from that point forward (although still helping to promote and manage tournaments at the store). As 2003 turned into 2004 attendance at local tournaments was dropping at the Knight's Quest, the large quarterly events came to a halt, and the store itself closed for good in September 2004. With no local place to play, the last core members of Team BTY packed up their cards with no intention of playing Raw Deal ever again.

Then at the beginning of 2006, I found myself in a situation where I wanted to find a fun social activity to fill a void in my life, and started talking to some old friends who still played Raw Deal. They updated me on the things I had missed at the end of '04 and all of '05, and I was intrigued. SS3, Afterburn, and the throwback concept made the game seem a lot more fun and level than it had at the time I stopped playing. I picked up a selection of cards from the intervening sets and hopped right back into the tournament scene, achieving early success and starting the long climb out of the rankings basement I had to restart from. I billed myself as the "Sole Survivor" of Team Better Than You, but I was in for a surprise.

Chuck and Ray, two of my old teammates whom I hadn't spoken to in quite a while, independantly contacted me and told me they were interested in getting back into the game. I offerred to help thme out with cards and deckbuilding, and once again Team BTY became active.

Now with an entirely new era of Raw Deal on the horizon, in the form of Raw Deal Revolution, I feel there is a lack of old-school fansites for the game. Forums are excellent, but there was something special about the old TBTY web site that's never quite been duplicated. So I'm re-establishing the site both to look back at Raw Deal's past, and to look forward to its future. I hope you'll all enjoy what we've got to offer and visit frequently.

-John of Team Better Than You