by Bruce Donnelly
Butts, butts, butts.
Alright, now that the obligatory nonsense is out of the way, welcome to Long Shots, my new twice-a-month feature on quidditch analysis and shit-talk.
Originally, this week’s wasn’t going to be too exciting—just a brief overview of the season so far. I was excited to sit down and throw the article together, because I wasn’t gonna have to pay attention to this any of this past weekend’s tournaments but Diamond Cup. But then everything got fucked up by a couple of scrub teams and now I’m gonna actually have to talk shit early.
Yes, I am starting with what is currently the most boring region to talk about. But hey—it’s home. Plus, the Northeast can be summed up in three sentences:
- Speaking objectively: Quidditch Club Boston is the best team in the region. Speaking slightly less than objectively: nothing else comes close.
- Rochester United, RPI, and the BosNYan Bearsharks make up the second tier and there’s not as much competitive separation as people want to admit.
- The rest of the region is a muddled mess of teams on nearly equal footing and not worth talking about until the next tournament weekend.
Before I found out that the Warriors were going to San Marcos for Diamond Cup, I had a nice little blurb about how this region is even more simple than the Northeast, where I noted that Maryland is more than an overtime victory better than the Warriors and how slow ball with average beaters won’t get the Warriors terribly far in more competitive games.
Then the Warriors went to Texas.
The results of their games aren’t entirely surprising. They beat who they should have beaten—Silver Phoenix and Austin Quidditch—and lost to who they should have lost to—Texas State and the University of Texas. That said, their losses were both in snitch range, which was much closer than expected.
Having admitted I perhaps judged them a bit too harshly, the Warriors still lack a game-breaking beater, which explains part of the loss to Texas State and their offense is still lacking anything remotely dynamic, hence the loss to Texas.
Oh, boy. Another relatively inactive region. Bowling Green State University, on the back of a great beater—Max McAdoo—is still the best for now. Lake Erie Elite is coming on strong, especially since having added Andrew Axtell and John Gaffigan. Even still, until I differently, they’re Maelstrom to me, even if that’s not very fair of me to say.
Ball State University is good, but not great. Despite protests from certain members of the FBI staff, the loss of Tyler Walker and Blake Fitzgerald do weigh heavily. They have a good system, though, and therefore should perform well at USQ Cup.
I am fairly certain that the University of Missouri won over University of Kansas at the Midwest regional championship (RC), but I could be mistaken.
Basically, this region has always failed to leave a solid mark on me, and while I know Mizzou and Kansas are good teams and the rest of the region is less than, I haven’t had a lot of their film to watch. Partially a failing on my part (which I’ll rectify in the coming weeks) and partially the fault of a lack of footage (a topic which I’ll also discuss in the coming weeks).
I’m actually a fan of South region, despite what I know about their inability to progress deep into national tournaments.
However, we’re finally at a region that still has meaningful games to play before US Quidditch Cup and that makes me excited as all hell.
Starting at the top: the South is probably a two-team race. That’s a dangerous statement—I clearly hedge my bets with that “probably”—but I’m pretty confident that Carolina Heat and Florida’s Finest are the region’s two best teams. Though, I did think Finest was the best team in the region last year and look how that went.
Back in November, these two teams faced each other at Flagler Cup*, an occurrence that makes this comparison a little easier. During their match-up there, Finest was leading in quaffle points when Carolina Heat caught to win. This, as I mentioned, was almost three months ago.
Since then, Carolina Heat has added two players of College of Charleston fame, Matt Corder and Steven Schwark. Prior to their addition, I’d have said that what the team lacked to win the region was height, a second primary ball handler for when Ryan Davis went to seek, a second good male beater, and non-male depth. Schwark and Corder solve half of those issues and bring with them a major reason CofC made it to the finals of SRC a couple years ago.
Is Carolina Heat unbeatable? Not a chance. Finest brings a physicality that Heat has rarely faced this season. Finest is probably the biggest team and have the best beating depth in the region.
Beyond the two teams at the top, the South is another muddled mess. A couple of community teams litter what could be the next tier, but Southern Storm seems to have become weakened by the presence of Carolina Heat; Gainesville Seige remains a major step behind its Floridian rivals; and the aptly named Forgotten Ones have yet to play an official game and remain a mystery.
The South does have some strength in its college teams, though. Most of the three bids behind Heat and Finest could all easily go to the spread of available college teams: Miami still boasts a strong squad, winning MidKnight Cup earlier this season over Gainesville Siege, but they’ve also struggled mightily this season against Florida’s Finest. College of Charleston’s young squad could make a decent showing, having recently taken a win over Appalachian Apparators at Old Money Classic.
Since this is becoming a South RC preview, I guess I’ll give my predictions.
I’m going to lock in my pick that Carolina Heat is going to win over Florida’s Finest in the finals.
I don’t think that coming in second in a pool on day one is necessarily a death knell, but I could see the Siege/Storm match-up cannibalizing one of their chances. Since I think Siege will win that match, I select them for one of the three final spots. Miami, too, is strong enough to qualify. For the final spot, I’ll take a long shot—heh—and say that College of Charleston returns to US Quidditch Cup.
Hey, Diamond Cup happened. I went into this past weekend very hopeful that this tournament might teach me something new about the Southwest.
Then every game went as predicted. One thing was definitely confirmed, though: the rumors of Lone Star’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Their quaffle point tie in the finals of Diamond Cup against Cavalry means that the two teams are very likely on the same competitive level despite that previous consensus that Cavalry was the top in the region. I’ll probably get into a hundred more arguments about my disdain for snitch play, but without, it these two teams play to an equal level. We won’t know for sure what Lone Star’s ceiling is until its final roster is together, but if this is its basement going forward, it’s a damned good place to start.
Super exciting, right? When we loop back around here in two weeks, I’ll treat this region with all of its due reverence. Don’t worry.
I know, I know. Everyone who saw the comment thread regarding a recent article released by a “rival” outlets has got to be excited to see what I say about this region.
First things first: I’m vastly disappointed with the two top teams in this region—LA Gambits and the Lost Boys—for not having created much distance between 1) one another, and 2) themselves and the West’s middle tier.
I’m well aware of any “reasons” these two teams use to explain away losses to Long Beach Funky Quaffles and Anteater Quidditch (like…who?) respectively. I’m here to publicly announce that I’m not here for that nonsense. I know how hard it is to get up for a game against a team you feel like you’re much better than, and I know how injuries can pile up and cause trouble for your team.
If you’re going to be a top 20 team, you should probably still win that game. I’m going to be firm on this, but the first half of the season is done and it’s time for your RC and US Quidditch Cup. No excuses. Show up and play.
As far as the two teams go, I think they both have the ability to dominate the region for different reasons, but obviously the Gambits are above the Lost Boys. The strength of the Lost Boys is its beating, but their quaffle game is just not strong enough to contend with the Gambits’. While the Gambits do have the overwhelmingly more talented quaffle game, their moderate reliance on a single quaffle carrier—as well as the Lost Boys’ much better beating game—sets them up for a major upset, especially at the end of a two-day tournament.
Like the Southwest, I’ll give the West much more attention in two weeks, when I preview their RC also.
Before this past weekend, I asked a colleague (Mitch Hatfield) whether or not I had to give the Northwest tournament any attention. I was told that without Boise going, it was going to be, as the name suggests but does not perhaps fully convey, considering—Subdued Excitement Showdown 2: The Streets—subdued.
Instead, the Rain City Raptors, who I desperately want to succeed, went and lost to the Western Washington Wyverns (WWU) and really made me question what I know about the region.
What I do know is that the region became immensely more difficult for Rain City to win, or even get out of, once a team I felt could be in at least the West RC semi-finals—Utah State—made the switch to play in the much more geographically reasonable Northwest RC.
That likely leaves only one bid for the original Northwest teams. Between Boise, WWU, and Rain City, the spot will be hotly contested.
And it could still go to Provo Quidditch, another West team who made the change for their RC and already has a win over Rain City this season.
Luckily, I have one month and a grand total of zero events involving Northwest teams to figure this region out.
*I am aware that the results of Flagler Cup were deemed unofficial after the tournament. Much like Wolf Pack Classic earlier this season—and, honestly, most unofficial games—I do not care. I’m of the belief that these games were played under the assumption that they were official and the results should be treated as such.