Wednesday, September 23, 2009

World Cup '09: The Corner is the Key

It's the home stretch and just about everybody will be using the next two weekends to finish their preparations for this year's World Cup competition. So instead of the generic How-To I was planning I decided to focus on playing the snake on this year's layout.

So why is the corner the key? If it isn't clear already it soon will be. Keep reading.

There are two ways to get into the snake, off the break or as a secondary (or even tertiary) move. OTB is higher risk, higher potential reward but some teams won't have the speed to consistently succeed and even if you have the players to try if you do it too often you become predictable and the other guys will simply focus on killing the snake runner so realistically the move to the snake for the likely majority of most points will be a secondary move and this is where the corner comes into play. (Hang on, I need to catch my breath. That was one long sentence. Whew.) The corner, as the widest wire side prop other than the snake, can shoot outside in. This is a significant advantage that allows the corner to dominate edges in order to free up a secondary move--into the snake. Particularly when uncontested by a mirror. On this field the corner player can also be the one making the move into the snake. But what the corner gives it can also take away. It's great if you're in the corner, not so great if the other guy is so it's equally important that you plan to deny the corner to your opponents. Which is where the diagram comes in. (Click to enlarge.)

Green lines give an idea of the angles available to a corner player able to wrap. The red lanes are OTB lanes. The home shooter (A) has 3 clear options although A2 is a dotted line because it may be an obstructed and/or blind lane depending on precise bunker placement. The result is that the home shooter can lane a snake runner but has no uncompromised lane on a corner runner--particularly one running low and directly to the corner. Which is what position B is all about. B is protected from the home shooter and can minimize exposure using the upfield dorito. B has a pair of excellent options with B2 capable of contesting both snake or corner runner depending on the corner runner's path. However, since B can be countered effectively if you use it too often and all the lanes are fairly narrow it's important to have C in reserve. C has the most open lane choices and can be used as either a change-up or as an additional laner if A & B are ineffective.

So, you're denying the opponent the corner and you're working hard to make it work for you but this was supposed to be about snake play, wasn't it? (Yep, I went back to the beginning just to make sure.) The first goal was getting into the snake. Now we make it pay off and the pay off is simple. Get to that fifty Temple (Aztec) as fast as you can and past it if possible. Sure, there are some shots from S1 and S2 but don't let that distract you. You want to use the snake to dominate. The fifty Temple allows you to play a fifty the same way you want to play the corner--except now you're at the fifty! And if you had a shot or two back at S1 how much better and more effective will the shots from the fifty be? You also want to apply as much pressure as possible on your opponents. The danger posed by a super aggressive snake player will force the other team to react to that player by turning guns off other lanes, tucking in super tight or pushing them into high risk moves. All things everybody else on your team can take advantage of.

Control the corner and press your snake attack. Don't let your snake player become distracted. Push him up the snake so fast and so aggressively that you force the other team to react. And when they do their instinctive, automatic reactions become your opportunity.

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