One more important restriction is that we are not allowed to attack the opponent’s pusher. Otherwise, everyone would just target the pusher and it would be destroyed before the other team had a chance to do anything. However, only one pusher is immune to attack, so while we are allowed to use more than one, it is disadvantageous to do so. Most teams only used one pusher.
“So, is this good for the pusher?” Shun asked, his forehead glistening with sweat.
While we were all fooling around with the clay, only Shun had the capabilities to freely shape it to his will. It was impossible for the rest of us. The overall shape was a short cone with a shallow rounded bottom like a boat’s to help it glide on the field. In order to control the ball, there were two arms coming out of it at a hundred-twenty degree angle from the front. It looked like a person with his arms outstretched.
“That’s pretty good. It’s simple, but still looks cool,” Maria commented.
“So now all we need are attackers. Since Shun is focusing on working the pusher, we should split up the rest of the work among the rest of us,” Satoru said, taking the opportunity to hand out tasks to us.
“How is team one doing?” Mr. Endou poked his head in, smiling at us. His round face, framed by his hair and beard, somehow earned him the weird nickname “Sun Prince”.
“We’ve just finished the design for the pusher,” Satoru said, proudly showing off the model.
“Oh, you’ve done a pretty good job in such a short time.”
“Yup, we’re thinking of hardening it now.”
“Who’s controlling the pusher?”
“Just as I expected,” Mr. Endou nodded.
“Well, the rest of you work hard on the attackers.”
“Yes sir!” We replied energetically.
Later, after a heated discussion, we decided on five attackers. Shun would control the pusher and an attacker simultaneously while the rest of us each had an attacker.
At this time, no one remembered that there used to be one more member in team one.
Our first round was against team five. That was a stroke of luck. Rumor had it that team three had built the best pieces and was the favorite to win the competition, and that team two had been spotted behaving suspiciously.
A round of rock-paper-scissors determined us to be the first to attack. Since this was our first match, we were nervous to see what team five’s defenders would look like. They had six wall-like defenders moving from side to side, blocking the entire width of our path.
We huddled together in a circle, each of us silently reciting our mantras.
“As we expected, they’re using the most basic strategy,” Maria whispered, looking delighted.
“This won’t even take half a minute,” Satoru chuckled like he’d already won.
“Let’s break through the center,” Shun said quietly. “With that kind of defense, we can break through wherever we want, but it looks like the middle of the field is the flattest.”