Eastern Canada Regionals Recap Roundtable – Part 1

For the Quidditch Post’s recap of Quidditch Canada’s Eastern Regional Championship on Nov. 12 and 13, we have put together a roundtable discussion to recap the weekend.

Joining Serena Cheong, QP’s Canada Director and moderator, are the following participants: Courtney Butler (University of Waterloo Ridgebacks), François Carabin (Quidditch Lionel-Groulx), Mathew Mcveigh (University of Guelph Gryphons), Edgard Ngalissamy (Canada’s Finest Quidditch Club), and Arjun Patel (UTSC Phoenix).

First in the series is a discussion of both the championship and bronze medal games, analysis of all four teams that participated in these matches, and the surprising outcome of Valhalla Quidditch’s weekend.

Serena Cheong (SC): Let’s start off with the championship game. What are your thoughts on the University of Ottawa Quidditch (uOttawa) and University of Guelph Gryphons final match?

Edward Ngalissamy (EN): I thought that this game was the only game where Guelph kind of underwhelmed, considering its dominant form throughout the tournament.

Courtney Butler (CB): Great job on Guelph’s part for making it to the finals. It had to play a lot of games to get there and pulled quite a few upsets to work its way to that final. Guelph definitely deserved to be there, but because it played so many games before the final, you could tell that the team was very tired. It was a bit of a blowout for uOttawa, who dominated pretty much the whole game. Every time Guelph got a scoring chance, uOttawa would answer with another goal or two.

EN: uOttawa obviously deserves a lot of praise for its rebuilding efforts, seamlessly integrating a group of rookies while retaining its core playstyle and mentality.

SC: Did Guelph not bring a full roster, or was it relying on a few players?

Mathew Mcveigh (MM): We brought a full roster, but nine games against top level teams will have an effect on you. We were within range during the quaffle game for the most part, but as time went on into the snitch game, we got tired.

CB: I believe [Guelph] had a full roster, but I know it had to play five games on the first day against the toughest teams in Pool One and Pool Two, as well as work its way back up in the second day by playing three games before the final game.

Guelph and uOttawa in the championship game | Photo Credit: Sarah Breedon

François Carabin (FC): I can’t stress enough how dominant uOttawa’s beater lines were, but I think we all know that. The whole team also relies on aggressive play to make goals. uOttawa has a tendency to try long passes and it often connects, which creates fast breaks.

CB: uOttawa’s beaters definitely overpowered, but that’s to be expected, as they have four returning beaters who have all been playing for a very long time and are quite experienced.

MM: uOttawa wasn’t that dominant against Guelph; uOttawa lost to Guelph the day before in pool play.

SC: So what was the difference between the two games? Just exhaustion?

MM: First game of the tournament vs. last game of the tournament. uOttawa was also better rested on Day Two, and it has a lot of veterans with championship experience. It’s hard to unseat a team like that.

CB: Not to mention Guelph pulled a huge upset against Valhalla to make it to the finals, who was a favourite to win this tournament.

MM: Can we really call them upsets when Guelph has been within snitch range of these teams all year?

CB: I meant more of an upset in that most people were choosing Valhalla to be the favourites to win.

MM: Favourites for sure, but every game between Guelph and Valhalla has been in range.

SC: Speaking of Valhalla, what happened?

EN: Concerning Valhalla, I have a statement from Ittaana Krow [from Valhalla] praising Guelph and Royal City for their performances at the regional championship:

“We want to take this opportunity to recognize the incredible efforts of Guelph this season: not only did [its] A-team make it to the finals, but the performance of Royal City was also an incredible improvement from last season. As an organization, Guelph Quidditch has not only established [its] team as one capable of being a top-tier team in Canada, but have simultaneously developed a team where new players are also able to compete competitively.”

MM: Valhalla and Guelph was a close game.

CB: I agree that Valhalla should have went further, especially considering it only had four games on Day One and a “bye” on Day Two. That game was Valhalla’s fifth of the tournament, whereas it was Guelph’s seventh game.

SC: What went wrong for Valhalla, apart from running into a hot Guelph team? Not to dismiss Guelph’s performance, of course.

EN: I don’t want to speculate, but perhaps they were a little bit too aware of the fact that they played fewer games, and therefore were more fresh and ready to go. I don’t like to use the complacency argument, though.

SC: Perhaps Valhalla underestimated Guelph?

Arjun Patel (AP): I don’t think so. In my opinion, Valhalla is a bit lacking in the beater lines compared to the other top-tier teams. What was the final score for that game?

SC: The final score was 70*-60 for Guelph.

MM: The game between Guelph and Valhalla had a lot of stoppages, making it difficult for either team to have momentum. Guelph’s beaters were on their game, and the Guelph seeker had a quick catch when the snitch was tied up with Valhalla’s seeker. Valhalla has a powerful chaser and keeper lineup, but it allowed the Guelph seeker and beaters to have so much room.

Valhalla beater Erin McCrady seeker beating | Photo Credit: Sarah Breedon

CB: I think something Valhalla might struggle with is working more as a cohesive unit, which is fair considering it gains a lot of new players every year. Of course, the players it brings are all very experienced veteran players; many are graduates of the top teams in the east. However, they still need to work together as a team, since many of them have never played together before. I think that is seen when Valhalla gets pressured in the early game. When things stay in snitch range for Valhalla, it could basically go either way. If the other team’s beaters can solidly seeker beat and play solid defence, then Valhalla is beatable. This being said, I didn’t actually get to see the Valhalla vs. Guelph game.

SC: Any last thoughts about the championship game between uOttawa and Guelph?

MM: Guelph was tired and a bit banged up and, as usual, uOttawa put on an excellent performance.

CB: I think if the tournament format were different, the final would not have been a uOttawa blowout. Guelph was put through the ringer with all the games it had to play. I can empathize, as Waterloo had a similar draw and had to play the same teams on Day One, and it really took a toll on our injuries and exhaustion in general.

Great job to uOttawa for continuing its development and showing a strong performance yet again, and as well good job to its captain/coach for making the right calls to take certain games easier on Day One to allow for the players to be rested and ready to go for Day Two. uOttawa’s coaching staff definitely analyzed the format beforehand and played its cards right, allowing players to be well rested for Day Two.

SC: Speaking of playing their cards, what do you guys think of uOttawa’s blowout loss to Valhalla on Day One?

MM: uOttawa’s beaters were chasing and seeking, and its chasers were beating.

SC: So they basically threw the game?

CB: It wasn’t throwing the game; just trying to calm things down and make sure they all made it out of Day One without injury. [uOttawa] knew it would end up in the top two either way, so it decided to let its players relax and give some of its rookies more playing time. By taking the game a bit easier to avoid injuries, the team would be well rested for Day Two. I think it was a smart decision on uOttawa’s end.

uOttawa vs. Valhalla | Photo Credit: Sarah Breedon

MM: uOttawa told Valhalla that it wasn’t taking the game seriously.

AP: uOttawa told Valhalla that? I heard Valhalla wasn’t happy about it.

MM: Yeah, uOttawa told Valhalla, and I think Valhalla was a bit insulted.

EN: Can we say that this is where Valhalla showed its inexperience as a team? Playing right into the uOttawa’s hands and playing full strength, despite the other team looking forward to its next games already?

MM: Well, it depends on how you look at it. I know the players well on both sides, and I think they see the game differently. One could say it was smart of uOttawa to do what it did, but it can also be seen as rude and unsportsmanlike. I think Valhalla thought it was rude. Valhalla also gets to add another win to its record.

AP: I don’t know about inexperience, but that approach definitely aligns well with Valhalla’s personality. In my opinion, Valhalla didn’t take it easy because it’s not in its personality to do so. The team consists of veterans who love the sport and, no matter what the circumstances are, will give it their all.

CB: I can see why Valhalla would think it’s rude, but at the same time, it had already played uOttawa that day, and either way, Valhalla would get a bye the next day. I still think it was a smart move on uOttawa’s end.

MM: One could also see it as a cop out: uOttawa didn’t want to risk a serious loss again, so it didn’t take the match seriously and in case it loses, the team keeps its reputation.

EM: I think this topic should remain open to interpretation.

SC: Moving on then…what about the McGill Quidditch and Université de Montréal (UdeM) bronze medal match?

AP: I think UdeM surprised a few people by reaching fourth place.

MM: It was a quick game, with both teams having their moments. I think the surprise was UdeM’s win against Waterloo, as a lot of people saw Waterloo in the top four. UdeM was able to hold bludger superiority for a while, and I find McGill’s weakness is operating with only one bludger.

FC: UdeM got a lot of players back from last year; the team was way more experienced, its beater line was more efficient, and its chasers were making plays, which it hadn’t really been able to do all year. UdeM is a very physical team as well; it used its quickness to get most of its goals on fast break.

EN: UdeM is very entertaining to watch, but my god, the team takes a lot of penalties.

FC: Yup, a result of its physical game.

CB: UdeM is a super physical team, more physical than most. I was an assistant referee for that game and there were a lot penalties on both sides. Also, major shoutout to the beater duo Vlad [Steanta] and Corey [Collier] on McGill. I feel like they never get mentioned, but man, they are a great duo.

EN: I think Philippe Burns, McGill’s point man, deserves a mention. The guy just never goes down and always tries to make something happen.

Philippe Burns in the bronze medal game | Photo Credit: Sarah Breedon

FC: In the end, I think McGill’s experience decided that game. You feel like the wing chasers were always alone around the hoops. A few of McGill’s goals were scored because a beater made a play in midfield, which gave its chasers a free lane to the hoops.

MM: I wouldn’t say it’s [McGill’s] experience. I think UdeM also brought a lot of its experience; take Dac[-Toan Do] as an example. McGill was faster and its beaters, specifically [Collier], were able to get into Montreal’s zone and disrupt UdeM’s beaters.

EN: A beating duo of [Steanta] and [Collier] is just silly good sometimes, although they can be caught being overzealous, especially with long-range beats.

MM: The other thing about McGill is that it has some really good female chasing in Grace [O’Brien] and Robyn [Fortune]. I am critical of their seekers, though; I find it is easy to catch up to McGill because its seeker game is prolonged and distracts beaters, therefore leaving [Do], Felix Tremblay, and Rithy Min to do their thing.

EN: I agree with Mathew; a lot of UdeM’s major plays went through the aforementioned three players, especially [Do].

FC: Yeah, [Do] was instrumental in a lot of UdeM’s goals throughout the tournament. He is a very creative player.

CB: I think McGill’s cohesiveness as a team was what won the game against UdeM. Both teams are pretty physical, but McGill matched UdeM’s physical style and aggressive defense very well. A lot of UdeM’s players showed up just for the regional championship; the team has been down a lot of players at previous tournaments, but UdeM had its full stacked roster for regionals.

FC: Ema [Shiroma-Chao] is a major part of UdeM’s beater game too, and she didn’t play all tournaments for them. She’s a great leader as well, and I feel like UdeM’s whole beater line got way better in this tournament as a result.

Stay tuned for the second installment to this three-part series, where our roundtable will discuss the remaining teams that competed in this season’s Quidditch Canada Eastern Regional Championship.