By Rein Anspach
Editor’s Note: Rein Anspach is Quidditch Nederland’s Teams Director, as well as the North Sea Nargles’ President.
In earlier seasons, the Dutch quidditch community met semi-regularly for friendly matches and only played each other competitively at tournaments. This season, for the first time, they will have the opportunity to compete with each other through a more formalised league structure.
Quidditch Nederland (QNL) wanted a league to give teams the chance to play each other more regularly. Friendlies tend to be mixed teams, both because of a lower attendance and because that is a great way to learn new things. However, this means that teams do not get a lot of chances to play together against other teams, and last season the national tournament was the first official match for many of the teams’ new players.
The original plan for this season was to have two leagues of half a year each, with one running from October until December, and one from February to around June. This would allow both QNL and the teams to get a feel for organising and participating in a league structure, create a logical moment to switch over to IQA Rulebook 2016-2018, and the hope that more teams would be ready to join the league in the second half of the season.
Since there are currently only three competitive teams in the Netherlands, the format for the first league is quite simple. QNL is organising League Gamedays in a common tournament structure where the teams will face each team once.
Sadly, due to a lack of certified referees the first league will not be official; however, there will still be unofficial games between the teams who originally signed up. QNL hopes that teams will be certified for IQA Rulebook 2016-2018 by the start of the second league; with the Dutch Quidditch Cup (DQC) – the Dutch European Quidditch Cup (EQC) qualifier – scheduled for January, it seems likely there will be fewer issues with referees by then.
Even if the games in the first half of the season will not be official, it is still worth talking about the participating teams.
The North Sea Nargles are the oldest team. They were officially founded in January 2015, but they already existed unofficially as two separate teams in summer 2014. They won the Dutch Quidditch Cup of 2015 but subsequently failed to impress at Benelux Cup and Open Dutch Summer Cup (ODSC), placing behind the other Dutch teams attending. This was partly because the Nargles recruited throughout the year and thus always had inexperienced players to pay attention to. However, they currently have the most players, 24 of them, and are being coached by last year’s national team’s head coach, Bram Vries. This has considerably improved their fitness levels and they are much more competitive this season.
The Wageningen Werewolves are currently the only non-community team, although they are not yet officially college-affiliated either. As such, they benefit from the opportunity to recruit at their university and having everyone live reasonably nearby, but on the other hand they cannot easily accept players from outside their university. Their roster size is modest, with somewhere around 16 people, and they attended both EQC 2015 and EQC 2016, placing 32nd in 2015 and last in 2016.
The Dom Tower Dementors are a relatively new team, but they have some experienced players who have been around since the start of Dutch quidditch, such as Captain Nick van Klaveren and Finn den Boeft, as well as secondary players Jerona van der Gevel and Arjen van Assem. Despite having the smallest roster of the three teams, they have performed well at tournaments, having been finalists at DQC 2015 and playing fiercely at Benelux Cup and ODSC in spite of a small playing roster.
It is hard to make any specific predictions; each team has its strengths and weaknesses. They all have new players, and it is yet to be seen how they develop. All three teams have implemented approximately the same tactics so far, which is to be expected in such a small community with all teams facing the same opponents, so unless a team thinks of something entirely novel, no surprises seem to be forthcoming.
In the past two years, there have been no blow-out games between any Dutch teams; the biggest point differential was during ODSC’s fifth place game between the Dementors and Nargles, won by the Dementors by 100*-10. As such, it is not clear who will take any of the titles this year. It all depends on which team is the fittest and makes the best use of their new players.