Looking Back at Random’s Cup III

by Fraser Posford and Lena Mandahus

On October 29-30, The Quidditch Random’s Cup III: Superhero Edition was held in Paris. Hosted by Paris Frog Quidditch, this was the third iteration of Random’s Cup, making it France’s oldest fantasy tournament. Seven superhero-themed teams fought for the cup with just over 100 players participating. We would like to review various aspects of the tournament before giving a final verdict on the event.

Gameplay
Except for the German Gangsters, each team was assigned roughly 14 players with some degree of randomness by the organisers (to what extent we are not fully aware), staying true to the tournament’s name and traditional drafting format. This drafting process ensured a certain amount of equality between the teams, with the top-talented players spread out amongst the teams, preventing the stockpiling of quality that can happen in auction drafts, especially in a tournament of this size. Being relatively early in the season, this also allowed newer players the chance to play alongside and learn from their more experienced teammates, which is certainly a massive plus for the development of French quidditch just two weeks before La Coupe de France.

Tournament Graphic | Photo Credit: Paris Frog Quidditch

The tournament took the format of a round robin; the winner was decided on amount of wins before point differential and snitch catches as extra tie breakers. Every team played a total of six games over the weekend, which made for incredible value for money (particularly for those travelling from overseas), avoiding the exclusion that comes with many elimination tournament formats. The organisers ran a tight schedule with matches expected to run for about 30 minutes (including stoppages) to ensure the tournament finished on time. This led to an early finish on Sunday afternoon, allowing players to fully participate in the tournament without having to leave early to travel home. However, this came at a price in terms of the matches themselves with the seeker floor being cut to 15 minutes, snitch handicaps every two minutes from the 20-minute mark, and a tied match after a successful snitch grab going straight to double overtime (sudden death). Ultimately, this meant slightly less game time than a standard match and only one overtime game, but the quantity of matches and small roster sizes made up for the reduction in match lengths.

Action
Here’s a brief summary of how each team fared over the weekend:

German Gangsters: Seventh place, white
Random’s Cup III was the German Gangsters’ second tournament appearance, having made their debut at September’s Barcelona Moustaches Time 3 (BMT3). The German Gangsters were unfortunate in Paris, losing all of their matches, two of which were in snitch range and one a sudden death loss to Les X-Men. Prior to the tournament, the Gangsters’ perceived strengths were the familiarity between the players and a shared playstyle. However, due to a large change in personnel from the BMT3 team that reached the quarterfinals, these strengths were somewhat negated. On the plus side, there were still notable performances from the Gangsters, including the off-ball play of Hanna Große, the support play of Bremen’s Jonas Becker, and former Bangor Broken Broomsticks player Felix Linsmeier’s continued transition from chaser to beater.

Les Avengers: Sixth place, red
Although they only claimed one victory, the Avengers were close on a few occasions, notably taking Les Gardiens de la galaxie to SWIM range on Day One. Captain Antoine Coudoux and Crookshank Lyon’s Raphaël Fayolle led the quaffle offence with a mixture of speed and strength in a driving game that proved difficult to stop at times, whilst Austrian international Lena Mandahus and Thomas Staub from Novas Quidditch excelled in the beater department. Ultimately, a lack of communication, particularly during snitch-on-pitch play, undermined the team’s efforts and resulted in some narrow defeats.

Les Avengers | Photo Credit: Paris Frog Quidditch

Justice League: Fifth place, black
Although Justice League managed to win half of their matches, they ended up placing fifth behind Suicide Squad due to an inferior point differential. Lille Quidditch keeper Clément Hasbroucq displayed some powerful driving as well as some excellent bludger deflecting skills, but it was Rouen Skrewts’ Romain Kernéis who was particularly impressive with his ability to finish many of the team’s goals. Former NTNUI Rumpeldunk beater Claudia Leuch made some intelligent plays, and Yves Ferraris-Bouchez was a menace with his aggressive bludger play.

Suicide Squad: Fourth place, purple
Just missing out on the medals thanks to a snitch-range defeat to Les X-Men was Suicide Squad, led by Nantes Quidditch’s Benjamin Le Pogam. Suicide Squad went with a somewhat experimental approach to Random’s Cup with many players testing out new positions, such as France keeper Albert Bregeault donning pretty much every headband but his regular green, Paris Frog’s Abderahim Belferroum making a somewhat successful transfer from beating to keeping, and Agathe Delépine (also a French international), who showed capability as a beater alongside some extremely impressive chasing. Ultimately, inexperience in certain positions cost the team the odd victory but it’s never a bad thing to try out a new position, especially in a fantasy tournament.

Les X-Men: Third place, grey
The X-Men collected the bronze medal and were generally a pretty solid team. France keeper Mikel Poisse was the real driving force behind the team with his powerful running and excellent ability to break tackles, which resulted in plenty of goals (he put in a surprisingly good performance as beater in their game against Justice League). Bastien Lucas-Duplessis showed his worth as a utility player, showcasing some agile chaser and beater play. Experienced chaser Emeline Bosc also had impressive spells in the black headband, while Lyon’s Renaud Mortier was chaotic in bludger play, creating plenty of opportunities for Poisse and his fellow quaffle players to score.

Les 4² Fantastiques: Second place, dark blue
In what was a hotly contested middle group of teams, Les 4² Fantastiques came out on top to take second place on point differential from Les X-Men. French internationals Amel Belferroum and Lenny Vincent proved their class in their respective positions whilst Vienna Vanguards’ captain Dominik Heinzl showed some much improved hussle and organizational skills on the defensive end. Caen Quidditch’s Cyril Dumas also proved to be an excellent seeker, using his strength to great effect. In their last game of the tournament, Les 4² Fantastiques gave Les Gardiens de la galaxie a real run for their money and pulled within overtime range at points during snitch on pitch play, providing a worthy runner-up performance against the eventual winners.

Les 4² Fantastiques | Photo Credit: Paris Frog Quidditch

Les Gardiens de la galaxie: First place, orange
The Guardians went six for six to take the title. Continuing his experiment as keeper from BMT3, Titans Paris captain and France international Valentin Farese was instrumental in the team’s victory, scoring the majority of the Guardians’ goals. Fraser Posford of the Madrid Wolves (on loan from Southampton Quidditch Club) made three snitch catches, improving his steadily growing reputation in the yellow headband. Clément Nonymes and Harry-Olivier Cabo formed a dynamic beating partnership, whilst new faces Julia Portocarrero and Thomas Bourgoin impressed with excellent speed and game awareness. Despite a perfect record, the Guardians’ tournament victory was by no means dominant; they flirted with defeat in matches with Les Avengers, Les 4² Fantastiques, and Suicide Squad. Thanks to some great team management and communication directed by non-playing captain Quentin Lescroart, they managed to get the job done.

General Analysis
One thing that was prevalent throughout Random’s Cup was a lack of recognised international-quality players in the beater position. Since no one team had particularly strong beater defence, there was plenty of tense, high-scoring matches in which quaffle offence reigned supreme, featuring some potent finishing and the standard powerful driving game associated with fantasy tournaments. Ultimately, one of the deciding factors was quaffle player defence in which Les Gardiens de la galaxie held the narrowest of edges over their rivals thanks to the experienced point chasing of Posford and the agility of Farese and Emina Botic in scramble defence. There was also a noticeable absence of internationally-recognised seekers, which allowed room for development as various players gained experience in the position against some particularly good snitch runners such as Vincent Bedier, Antoine Coudoux, and Cyril Dumas.

Refereeing
One of the major negatives from the tournament was the quality of the refereeing. This is hardly a new problem in France due to the language barrier making it difficult for many budding referees to properly understand the rulebook or referee tests. However, it was certainly very noticeable throughout the weekend. There were frequent (and in some cases unnecessary) stoppages of play for infractions and injuries along with a lack of equipment checks, overlooked fouls, incorrect carding (notably a large amount of blue cards for physical fouls), and turnovers. There was also static, quiet, and indecisive assistant refereeing, highlighting a severe lack of experience in many of the officials. However, with the release of the new IQA Rulebook 2016-2018, there is now a two-season window of opportunity for a French translation of the rules (and potentially referee tests), which should hopefully improve the quality of refereeing in French quidditch and encourage more people to become officials. Guaranteeing a controlled and safe environment for all participants is extremely important to the development of quidditch as a recognised sport, and refereeing is an issue the Fédération du Quidditch Français (FQF) must strive to improve in the near future.

Goal reffing at the fields at Stade Porte de Bagnolet | Photo Credit: Paris Frog Quidditch

Venue and Facilities
The venue was conveniently located close to a metro station, which made getting to the pitches very easy. The venue was relatively small, which made it easy to locate officials as well as players, and it generated a friendly atmosphere. The facilities provided were excellent, with changing rooms for every team just a few metres away from the two pitches, which were situated right next to each other on one football pitch. Games were played on an artificial (3G) surface, meaning no holes or mud, which are sometimes hazards of natural grass fields. Nonetheless, having two quidditch pitches on one football field meant that the pitches had a very short, hard boundary due to a lack of space, which led to confusion over turnovers and bludgers rolling from one pitch to the other. However, the hoops provided by Paris Frog were very good and withstood the two-day tournament without any problems.

Lunch for the participants was provided next to the pitches by the organising team in the form of sandwiches and was included in the 35 euro tournament fee (along with a team shirt and first aid medical support). The organisers made sure there were options for all dietary needs, even offering a vegan option. Food being served at the venue meant nobody had to leave the facilities to get food, making it easier to stick with the schedule.

Social
The social took place on Saturday evening at a bar in the city centre. In the beginning, the draw for the third French Cup in Nantes was held by FQF president Baptiste Julien Blandet and tournament director Quentin Lescroart using unbiased attendees Anna Koivu, Emina Botic, and Martin Čurnek (the first two associated with Quidditch Austria, the latter with the Slovakian Quidditch Association) to determine which teams will play each other at the cup. The draw was live-tweeted from the FQF Twitter account. After that, music, drinks, and food were had by all, further enhancing the friendly atmosphere surrounding the tournament.

Verdict
All in all, Random’s Cup III was a very successful event. The excellent facilities, organization, and location (something that’s not easily attainable in a city as big as Paris) laid the foundations for yet another outstanding tournament that looks set to be part of the French quidditch calendar for seasons to come. On pitch, the overall quality of quidditch played was decent with all teams contributing to some entertaining matches instead of being bogged down in tactical mind games. New players were given plenty of chances to develop their skills in a competitive setting and more experienced players found the opportunity to test out different positions to further enhance their quidditch knowledge. Despite some shortcomings in the refereeing, Paris Frog delivered an excellent tournament once more, which we would fully recommend to any quidditch players looking for an early season quidditch fix. Perhaps looking into an expansion for next year’s event would be an interesting avenue to pursue after yet another success.