By Misha Whittingham
Western Canada’s second tournament, the Team Instinct Invitational, took place over this last Canadian Thanksgiving weekend in Vancouver, Canada. In attendance were the hosts UBC Thunderbirds Sports Club (UBC) and UBC Quidditch Club (UBCQC), along with SFU Quidditch and the Rain City Raptors (RCR). Round robin play resulted in a three-way tie between UBCQC, Rain City, and the Thunderbirds. Quaffle point differential produced a Rain City-UBC final, ending in a 100*-80 snitch catch victory by the home squad.
Record: 0-3, Goal differential: -260
For a team that seemed poised to jump into the Pacific Northwest’s elite tier at the end of season, SFU’s first tournament of the season did not produce a strong result. A 120*-60 snitch-range loss to the UBC B team, UBCQC, was the best showing the team had at the tournament. That game was accompanied by two blowout losses of 160*-10 and 170*-30 to the Thunderbirds and Raptors respectively.
The bulk of SFU’s offensive attempts came from strong quaffle carriers Danny Ly and Raunaq Singh, but the team just did not have the size to support its driving offensive style. It seems, at least from this tournament, that the absence of last year’s standout driver James Champion has significantly hurt SFU’s ability to compete with local rivals. The absence of sophomore keepers Karim Moodad and Avery Herbert did not help in that matter either. The team’s beating was certainly a strong point in its play, but it was unable to give its chasers anything to capitalize on. The team’s seekers also failed to produce a single snitch catch in the tournament; it was evident that SFU sorely missed the presence of its starting seeker from last season, Grifyn McErlean.
Part of SFU’s goal-scoring problems could be attributed to the team not being able to field its full roster, as the tournament was held on a major Canadian holiday. However, if its offensive style is anything to go by, SFU is going to need to find some support for its main drivers if it wants to have any success going forward.
UBC Quidditch Club
Record: 2-1, Goal differential: +20
UBC’s B team, formerly known as the British Columbia Quidditch Club (BCQC), put together a surprisingly solid tournament. The squad was boosted by the unofficial additions of highly skilled veterans, including former Team Canada member and Thunderbirds’ player Louis Leung, plus long-time UBC veteran beaters in Erica Milley and Brandon Rivas. As any games played with these veterans were deemed to be unofficial, only UBCQC’s game against SFU will be counted as a QC official game. Unsurprisingly, it was also its least impressive showing of the tournament, as it took the team a snitch catch to defeat the otherwise lackluster SFU squad.
The team’s two remaining games against the Thunderbirds and Raptors were more convincing, especially the latter, which UBCQC won 140*-110. While its quaffle point differential was not good enough to get the team into the finals, UBCQC has shown itself to be a formidable squad. However, if the veterans who joined for the team’s games against UBC and Rain City don’t stay with the B team, that success may not last long. The team is already expecting to lose Rivas, one of its top beaters, in January 2017 when he begins graduate school in Australia.
Rain City Raptors
Record: 2-1 (Lost to UBC in the finals), Goal differential: +140 (+150 after finals)
The Rain City Raptors came into the tournament with a strong history of soundly defeating their Canadian opponents. The team’s chaser organisation and consistent beater play remained highly effective, and Rain City had no shortage of offensive output, scoring at least eight goals in each of their games on Sunday. However, Rain City was unable to quell the offenses of either UBCQC or the UBC Thunderbirds as effectively as in recent years. The scores reflected this, as both games against the UBC squads were SWIM-range games.
This closing of the gap is barely attributable to roster size, as the squad Rain City took to Vancouver will most likely be the roster they will be running with for the rest of the season (with the notable exception of expert quaffle carrier Ross Schram von Haupt). Rain City has barely practiced as a team so far this season though, which seems to have hurt them in a greater way than any one player’s absence. Their new players, such as veteran beater Jake Sullivan and former Western Washington University Wyverns keeper Marcus Toomey, although great additions, will take time to mesh with the rest of Rain City’s core. With a bit more time to work out a cohesive gameplan, the team should return to form, but they seem much more human now. If this tournament is anything to go by, speculation that Rain City has gained on the Boise State Abraxans since last season will have to be put on hold.
Record: 2-1 (Won the finals against Rain City), Goal differential: +130 (+120 after finals)
The host team has now won both tournaments they attended this season. While there were initial concerns about how well this team would be able to handle the loss of many of its veterans, UBC do not seem to have missed a beat. Though UBC’s victory against its own B team may not prove much, the drubbing of SFU and solid split against the Raptors shows that the coaching staff is more than capable of quickly familiarizing its rookies with the sport.
The team’s beating lineup still showed signs of inexperience, but that was to be expected, as that is where UBC lost many of its veterans from. Veteran beater Janik Andreas dominated whenever he was on the pitch, and was a solid safety net for the rookies to learn the game. UBC’s chaser offence did not miss a beat from last year and has arguably only improved. A full season of a healthy Cameron Cutler, who scored over 10 goals this Sunday, does not hurt that cause. With Austin Wallace on the roster, UBC’s seeker game has always been good, but solid showings this tournament by sophomore Travis Gritter and rookie Thomas Rayment proved that they are not just placeholder seekers while Wallace is off the pitch.
In addition, UBC seems to have found a way to curb its aggression in the last week, showing a notable decrease in cards drawn from their showing at Octobear the week before. If UBC continues to build on their offensive ability and overcome the inexperience on the back end, they are going to be a hard team to stop this year.
This tournament was full of surprises, whether it be the unexpected makeup of UBCQC, the uncharacteristically beatable play of the Rain City Raptors, the unhindered strength of the Thunderbirds, or the disappointingly poor play of SFU. The Team Instinct Invitational has given us a better idea of the dynamics at play in both Quidditch Conference of the Northwest (QCON) and Canada West, especially with every registered team in Canada West having now played at least once. With the QCON season coming up and Canadian Western regionals just around the corner, we are closing in on learning just what the Pacific Northwest is going to look like this season.