By Carrie Soukup
From the beginning of the Major League Quidditch championship (MLQ) weekend, the final game seemed to be pencilled in as a showdown between Major League Quidditch’s two undefeated teams: the Boston Night Riders and the Austin Outlaws. The match that many expected did happen. The Boston Night Riders remained unbeaten in their MLQ history and took home their second straight Benepe Cup, prevailing in a two-game sweep 80*-50 in the first and 150*-120 in the second over the South Division winner Austin Outlaws.
Boston entered the finals on a two-year winning streak to defend its title at 26-0 while Austin carried a 14-0 record into the series.
Both of these teams are world class, and it showed in the level of play. Back and forth, the beater play went on, the game rarely, if ever, out of snitch range. Ultimately, in two games that proved equal on quaffle points, it was Harry Greenhouse and Jayke Archibald, with help from Boston’s superb beater play, who decided the two contests and kept the championship with the Night Riders.
As dawn broke on the second day of the Championships in League City, it was obscured by clouds and rain on the horizon.
The first game on this second day featured the host League City Legends vs. Austin in a South Division rematch and it was a rout, with Austin not letting League City on the board and racking up a 110*-0 final score.
Boston got off to a slightly rockier start against Indianapolis in its first game, eventually winning by an 80*-20 score. This pitch was less muddy than Pitch 1, but that didn’t mean the rain was going to make it an easy game to play.
In the second Austin vs. League City match, the thunder rolled and play stopped at the 40-10 scoreline around 10:35 a.m. Due to inclement weather (for which MLQ had a backup plan in place), the play finally resumed at 12 minutes of game time, but almost four hours later. The wait time apparently had an effect on the actual game. Once the snitch was released, no one could catch them. Thirty minutes in: 100-40, Outlaws. Forty-three minutes in: 110-40, Outlaws. Due to the no handicap rule for snitches in effect for MLQ, it took an hour and 11minutes for the Mud Bowl to end with a final score of 210*-50, the Outlaws overturning the home team to advance to the finals.
Boston’s second game took place at the same time as Austin’s due to the revised schedule, and the Night Riders advanced to the title game with their victory over Indianapolis, 110*-60.
The MLQ Championships, held in League City, Texas on a sweltering, damp, then wet and muddy weekend, proved to be quite exciting and held some surprises. Going pod by pod, here are some standout details:
Pod 1: League City Legends, Los Angeles Guardians, Cleveland Riff
The major upset of the tournament was the first game between the Guardians and League City. League City came from behind to beat Los Angeles 220*-180. These teams ended up playing three games total; the second game had Los Angeles winning 120*-50, but in the third game, League City again came from behind to grab the snitch and win 70*-60, propelling the home team into the semifinals.
Pod 2: Austin Outlaws, New York Titans, Detroit Innovators, Phoenix Sol
Phoenix had to forfeit; Detroit did not have a win aside from this forfeit. New York played well, but Austin handily put away all the teams in the pod to be the second team to join Boston in the finals. Austin’s undefeated streak stayed alive.
Pod 3: Boston Night Riders, San Francisco Argonauts, Kansas City Stampede
As expected, Boston Night Riders came in undefeated and wanting to defend their cup. Despite the best efforts of both San Francisco and Kansas City, Boston could not be stopped on its march to the finals. Kansas City could not win against the Argonauts, while Boston blanked out San Francisco to make it to the semifinals.
Pod 4: Indianapolis Intensity, New Orleans Curse, Washington Admirals, Salt Lake City Hive
Pod 4 was a very closely-contested Pod. The first four games were all won within snitch range (10-20 points). After that, the games widened a bit, but the largest upset almost came at the hands of the New Orleans Curse, who entered the tournament winless, but backed the Indianapolis Intensity into a corner before Intensity managed to grab the snitch and its spot in the semifinals.
The newly minted South Division was the only division to place two teams in the semifinals.
The League City Legends were the only team that was not the top seed in its pod to advance to the semifinals.
Second-seeded Salt Lake City Hive won seven games in the regular season but failed to win a single game at the Championship.
The four hour rain delay resulted in the cancellation of planned consolation games.