5GW Tactics and Counter-Tactics in Hockey

note: This is a guest post by Catholicgauze. CG’s been a friend of mine for some time. Before starting his very good blog, he wrote a three-part series on the geographer H.J. de Blij which appeared on tdaxp [1, 2, 3]. The following are his first thoughts on the 5th Generation of Modern Warfare

Engber, Daniel. (2007). Rorygate. Slate. January 18, 2007. Available online:

It started out as a joke. Steve Schmid, a twenty-two year old hockey fan from New York, wanted a run of the mill hockey player to be in the All Star game. He chose the Vancouver Canucks’ Rory Fitzpatrick as his candidate. Schmid started his campaign on Something Awful’s forums and on a few other online message boards. The campaign was only semi-serious and the online voting by self-described “goons” was expected to go nowhere.

However, when the campaign moved past its organizer/leader and into leaderless aggression or fifth generation warfare (5GW) results began to materialize. A website for Fitzpatrick’s draft to the All Star game was constructed by a supporter. Political-style ads promoting Fitzpatrick, and even some jokingly negative, appeared on YouTube. Traditional media then began to pay notice. A cycle of news stories increased awareness and support for the draft movement culminating with Canucks’ players practicing with shirts supportive of Fitzpatrick.

When online votes for the All Star game were being tallied as the polls remained open it became apparent that Fitzpatrick had a shot of being elected into the game. Various sports journalists, NHL officials, and even Wayne Gretzky laminated this and begged for voiding Fitzpatrick’s votes.

The release the “Rory Vote-O-Matic” by supporters practically guaranteed Fitzpatrick’s election. The script allowed browsers to continually submit votes, there are no limits on how many times one could vote, for Fitzpatrick. With this the NHL decided to act but only half-heartedly. Minor increases in ballot security were quickly countered by Vote-O-Matic makers.

Then something odd happened. The near-equilibrium between votes for Eastern and Western was disturbed by something and support for Fitzpatrick collapsed while votes for competition remained constant. Many on the internet believe the disruption was caused by the NHL covertly eliminating votes for and only for Fitzpatrick. In the end Fitzpatrick officially fell about 20,000 votes short of going to the All Star game.

This battle between a leaderless movement and the National Hockey League is a great example of 5GW. When the NHL instituted minor modifications into the environment the movement adapted in the style of a living organism. Only when the NHL abandoned the light-footprint model and instead changed the rules of engagement completely did they deny any possibility of victory to the Fitzpatrick draft movement. The only thing which stopped a complete NHL victory was their lack of subtlety.

The message is clear. To win 5GW the rules have to go out the window. A traditional attack will simply be adapted to at the cost of wasted resources by the attacker. Change the rules; however, to something where there can be no adaptation. Easier said than done but a game plan none the less.

5 thoughts on “5GW Tactics and Counter-Tactics in Hockey”

  1. I meant to comment on this last night.

    As one who’s in the early stages of taking in, considering and understanding the principles of 5GW this article helped a great deal.

  2. Jay,

    There’s a pretty good conversation on Catholicgauze’s thoughts over at “Dreaming 5GW” [1,2]

    Be sure to check out the original post, “Dreaming 5GW,” [3] as well. 🙂

    [1] http://www.fifthgeneration.phaticcommunion.com/archives/2007/01/winning_a_hockey_5gw.php
    [2] http://www.fifthgeneration.phaticcommunion.com/archives/2007/01/toward_a_better_understanding.php
    [3] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2005/07/20/dreaming-5th-generation-war.html

  3. Sounds like what Vote for the Worst [1] has been doing this season to American Idol — the deliberate votes for the “worst singer” will likely see Sanjaya Malakar into the final four. Interesting experiment in uninhibited, unlimited voting: how many finalists will have to be voted off until Sanjaya and his VFTW followers have the least amount of votes?

    [1] http://www.votefortheworst.com

  4. Now that the season is over (and we can look back with perfect hindsight) — it appears the Sanjaya campaign failed because it was an unpopular, “4G” movement. 5GWarriors would have used proxies, who may not have cared about Sanjaya one war or another, to get him named as as this year’s American Idol.

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