A peek to the Royal grand finale…
22/12/2010 § 2 Comments
came to the tournament under the radar. But UKM surprised me when it steam-rolled all the other teams during the preliminary rounds. Topping the league is one thing. But going undefeated through six consecutive matches, that is really something. The quality I truly admire about UKM is the effort, and humility. This particular UKM batch is one of the most hardworking teams I’ve ever seen (and has improved so much in such a short span of time). When they crushed UTP in the quarterfinals, I really thought the defending Royal champion was lock for another crown. And quite honestly, I secretly hoped they would make it all the way. Because it is always pleasant to see hardworking teams get rewarded.
Then disaster happened. UKM got it tactically wrong during the semifinals match, against the under-dog host, UTHM. How bad? It was so bad – that I instantly knew UKM would lose terribly before the match was even half-through. Taking the role as the government, UKM opened the case and outlined the direction of the debate. Pada detik itu juga saya hampir terlompat dan mau menempik mereka keluar dari bilik pertandingan. Because I really wanted to stop the debate, there and then! The way UKM conceptualised their approach could have NOT been worse. More unfortunate, the Prime Minister (first debater) presented it with so much clarity, and full of confidence. When the delivery was clean and precise, the ugliness of the super bad approach was automatically highlighted. For everyone to remember. Perhaps for the rest of their lives. Seriously, it was beyond traumatising.
Without taking anything from the very confident and much-improved UTHM, the match was typical example of ‘losing it’, rather than ‘winning it’. Had UKM not given the match away, it would have been much harder for UTHM to earn it. But all credits to UTHM for optimising the opportunity when it was there to be taken. Because believe me, that is not easy to do. Not all teams can do it. UKM’s strength lies not so much on the ability to twist cases, and trap the opponents. UKM is always known for its clean delivery. They are usually very strong in defending their own ground, but they are not naturally good in attacking. Time to change the tactical approach, perhaps?
I personally don’t favour ‘defensive’ teams (e.g. UKM, UIAM, UPM). I prefer ‘offensive’ teams more (e.g. UiTM, UPNM, UTHM). You must attack (whether you’re the government or opposition). You can’t just stay passive and wait for your opponents to destroy themselves. This (defensive) tactic is probably effective against lesser opponents (e.g preliminary rounds). It won’t work against good teams. Especially in the knock-out stage where the stake is higher, and every team comes to the match with different mentality. Well, opting for the “safe tactic” does pay, sometimes. But not all the time. Why Serena Williams has more slams than both Hingis and Cljister combined together? Why the super talented Bjorn Borg has less number of slams than the talentless ball-basher Sampras? The key lies in their styles of playing: defensive vs offensive.
UIAM and UM used to be highly tactical + factual (1990s-early 2000s). But now they are getting more factual, and less tactical. Whereas other teams (e.g. UiTM, UPNM, UTHM) are moving to the opposite direction. I still believe (solid) substances and (clean) delivery are the key. But as you go deeper into the draw, and the challenge gets stronger – tactical skill is eventually becoming more relevant. Jadi, kemahiran untuk mempelbagaikan dimensi pendekatan amatlah dituntut. We have to respond to the challenge. Yang pasti berbeza pada setiap peringkat dalam satu-satu kejohanan debat. I initially expected a different story-line for Royal Debate 2010. But in all honesty, I think a UiTM-vs-UTHM pair – with due respect to the other teams – is a good match-up for the grand finale. They are adopting (more-or-less) the same style. Buku bertemu ruas. Both are good and very comfortable in applying tactical attack. They won’t just wait for the opponent to make mistakes. They will find a way to push each other to the edge. Should be very interesting to see who will lose the cool first. I have this nagging feeling: the team that loses its composure would probably lose the match. So, the question is: who can crack who, FIRST?
Who holds the advantage? UTHM has improved tremendously in the last two rounds (QF and SF). Frightening enough, they still look very eager and motivated to get better. And I can totally see them switching to the next higher gear, when it truly matters. However, UiTM is never known as a mentally-weak team, which easily melts down under pressure. If anything, they love to absorb pace. That is typical UiTM. If you impose pressure on them, they will take it with pride and flirt around, happily. I don’t see them get panicked and make major mistakes at this big stage. But who knows…
It is now all about mental toughness, and who can handle the pressure and expectation better. It is no longer about oratory skill – because both teams already have what it takes to win the prestigious cup. It also goes down to which team can adjust better and quicker. Debating in a small room is very different from a big hall. So, basically… your experience in the last 8 rounds is irrelevant. You need a different kind of persona to reach the judges/audience who are now, at least, 15-20 meters (physically) farther.
Trust me, whoever ‘reaches’ the audience more effectively – will hold the advantage.