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Final Fire were actually excited to see that a worthy domestic opponent was getting ready to create a more competitive situation in Austria. In fact, they encouraged and supported Black Mantis in their efforts to get to the level where both teams could battle for the top spot. The NSL News story on 3 October 2019 provided more details of the background and history of 4-way competition in Austria.
The final rise of Black Mantis to the top spot in Austria began with indoor competition and an impressive 22.0 average at the Wind Games this year. The team was well prepared after working with top coaches like David Grauwels, Dennis Praet and Roy Janssen.
Final Fire is an outdoor team and did not even compete at the Austrian Indoor Nationals 2020. Black Mantis won their second national 4-way title with 24.0 at the indoor competition a month after the Wind Games and planned to compete for Austria at the next indoor world meet or world cup.
Austrian Indoor Nationals 2020
|1||Windabona Black Mantis||AT||18||22||17||-2||21||42||-2||18||29||18||-2||34||-2||21||240||24.0|
|4||HSV Red Bull AerodynamiX||AT||10||16||13||14||19||13||23||13||14||14||149||14.9|
|5||UPCS Team Restmüll||AT||12||12||9||15||19||11||22||15||20||11||146||14.6|
|6||UPCS Fliegende Fetzen||AT||5||8||8||4||11||7||10||5||7||7||72||7.2|
Black Mantis were planning to use the Paranodon Cup in Illertissen, Germany, as a warm-up opportunity. The timing seemed to be perfect, as the event was scheduled two weeks before Austria's national championships. It was a great opportunity, as two German 4-way teams (Airbus, NeVa) would be competitive enough to create a pressure situation that Black Mantis would face two weeks later.
However, the weather did not cooperate very well in Germany. Only two rounds were completed at Skydive Paranodon, and Black Mantis arrived at the Austrian competition site in Wels without much additional competition experience.
Final Fire's performance and scoring level was somehow predictable. Black Mantis knew that it would take the team's top performance to defeat the defending champions of the past decades, even though Final Fire was barely training any longer at all. In fact, even the few training jumps that Final Fire have been doing prior to the national championships year by year did not happen in 2020, also due to the corona virus crisis.
Austrian Outdoor Nationals 2020
|Rank||AAA/4-way Open Class||10,P,F,16||15,11,B||C,J,12,N||6,K,20||Q,22,L,9||H,3,19||1,7,13||M,18,O,8||17,5,21||A,14,D,2||Total||Avg|
It became even more difficult for Final Fire when the team's videographer was not available for the national championship event. They substituted on the camera slot and lost several points due to camera angles after the exit.
The competition still became a 10-round thriller, as Final Fire fought back against the challenger round by round, after falling six point behind in the first two rounds. It was eventually the combination of video busts and too many additional penalties that generated the 4-point difference after Round 10. Final Fire completed more formations within working time (145 - 142) and lost a total of 12 points, while Black Mantis finished on the same level as in 2019, where Final Fire was still 14 points ahead.
Black Mantis can now prepare for their first trip to a World Championship of Formation Skydiving. Final Fire congratulated and wished Black Mantis the best of luck. They will probably be back again next year to offer the new Austrian 4-way champions a new competition for the national title...