By Kamil Urgun, Can Kaytaz, Kaan Bolat
Editor’s Note: Kamil Urgun, Can Kaytaz, and Kaan Bolat play for METU Unicorns.
On Oct. 15-16, Turkish Quidditch Cup (TQC) III took place at Bilkent University, Ankara, where, after Gazi Black Bears dropped out at last minute, 13 teams challenged each other for two of Turkey’s three European Quidditch Cup (EQC) spots. The final match was postponed, and METU Unicorns and ODTÜ Hippogriffs met again at Bilkent University on Oct. 30 to compete for first place.
Group A was the only group with five teams, while other groups had four, and all of the four SWIM matches of the entire tournament took place in this group. ODTÜ Hippogriffs topped the group with four wins, one of them being a nail-biter second overtime win over METU Minicorns. The Hippogriffs managed to win the rest of their games out of SWIM range.
Hosts of the tournament Bilkent Foxes took second place in their group, managing to get comfortable wins against ODTÜ Hippogriffs B, Uludağ Aragog’s, and METU Minicorns. Their match against ODTÜ Hippogriffs ended without a snitch catch; before a good snitch catch could happen it got too dark to play, so both teams and the tournament committee agreed to end the game with the current score, which was 260-160 to the Hippogriffs.
METU Minicorns were a part of three of four SWIM matches of the tournament, one of them against Uludağ Aragog’s with a score of 160*-150. Their other win was one of the most exciting matches of the tournament against ODTÜ Hippogriffs B. Two B teams of METU gave a mighty challenge to each other. In the end, Ata Sarçın of the Minicorns caught the snitch and ended the match with a score of 110*-100.
A total of 65 hoops were scored during Hippogriffs B vs. Uludağ Aragog’s match. However, 33 goals by Aragog’s was not enough to get their first official win. With a score of 350*-330, they fell to Hippogriffs B and finished the tournament with four losses.
Group B had predictable yet high-scoring results. None of the games ended in SWIM range as METU Unicorns took the lead in the group. The closest game was BOUN Centaurs vs. Shades Quidditch, where Shades showed some real potential despite losing 240*-150. BOUN Renegades (at the time named BOUN Centaurs B) came to the cup with half a squad, not to mention their only three female players were merc players, so they were not able to put up much of a fight against any of the more experienced teams.
Similar to Group B, all the games of Group C ended as predicted and out of SWIM range. İTÜ Honeybees topped their group comfortably. A depleted Hacettepe Phoenix was unable to resist the Honeybees, but still had comfortable games against the newly formed teams, İTÜ Bumblebees and ODTÜ Hippogriffs C. The Bumblebees had the upper hand against Hippogriffs C and were able to qualify for the quarter final playoff.
Bracket play showed no surprises either, with no matches ending in SWIM range. Although the games were fun to watch, the level of quidditch was not as good as it should have been. As a matter of fact, none of the games played on Day Two ended in SWIM range, and all the predictions came true. The quarterfinal matchups were Bilkent Foxes against Hacettepe Phoenix, METU Minicorns against ITU Honeybees, ODTU Hippogriffs against Shades Quidditch, and METU Unicorns against BOUN Centaurs. After the relatively less exciting quarterfinal games, the final four were determined; METU Unicorns were to play against ITU Honeybees, against whom they had lost in Turkish Quidditch League, whereas two close teams Bilkent Foxes and ODTU Hippogriffs were to play for the final and guaranteed spot at EQC.
The game between the Honeybees and the Unicorns was worth a watch. Even though the Unicorns won out of the SWIM range with a score of 220*-150, İTÜ Honeybees put up a great effort and held the Unicorns within the range for quite a while. This, in addition to the close friendship between the two teams, gave the audience an excellent game to watch.
The Hippogriffs vs. Foxes game was a tough one, on the other hand; the game was in snitch range almost until the end. Both teams gave their best against each other but there could only be one finalist, and it was ODTÜ Hippogriffs with their 160*-90 win against the Foxes.
The third place game was an intense one; İTÜ Honeybees put up a strong start, giving no room to the Bilkent Foxes. The ruthless bludger play of the Foxes, which carried them throughout the tournament, was not enough to stop the killer chasing trio of Olgaç Can Öztürk, Arif Gülbiter, and Fuat Cemiloğlu. They were supported by the fast line of Umut Müezzinoğlu and Berk Akyüz, as well as a smart bludger play by Cemre Avcı, and the result was a clear win for the Honeybees. It is doubtless that experience from Barcelona Moustaches Time has contributed a lot to the Foxes players, but it was not enough to beat one of the top teams in Turkey. İTÜ Honeybees have exhibited excellent and patient play since EQC 2016. They were unlucky to be matched with the Unicorns in the semifinals, making one wonder what would have happened had they faced the ODTÜ Hippogriffs.
Two ODTÜ teams, two of the first teams of Turkey, two friends, and two eternal rivals, played against each other at the postponed final. These two teams played against each other at all the Turkish Quidditch Cup tournaments; in fact, they have been playing against each other since quidditch first started in Turkey. At the first Turkish Quidditch Cup, they played both in the group stage and in the final. Last year they played a tense semifinal that ended in a SWIM catch in favor of Unicorns at the second Turkish Quidditch Cup, and once again they faced each other at the finals this year. These top-level quidditch teams, especially in terms of physicality, have given everything they have to gain superiority over the opposition. METU Unicorns were strong from the first minute, but ODTÜ Hippogriffs did not give up and let the Unicorns go comfortably out of snitch range. It took more than an hour, but the Unicorns were once again the winners of Turkish Quidditch Cup for the third year in a row, 320*-220. They once again proved that they are ahead of the rest of the Turkish teams, and they showed everyone that they are one of the biggest candidates of the cup for EQC 2017.
Players to watch
Benan Emre (İTÜ Bumblebees – chaser)
The co-captain of İTÜ Bumblebees, the second team of İTÜ, has shown a remarkably strong presence on the pitch. Her fearless runs and confident posture immediately carries her above her peers. These abilities, coupled with her leadership skills and hard work, may result in her rising to the Honeybees squad if the Honeybees take the EQC spot coming from Turkish league. There are some who claim that if she really devotes herself and experiences the EQC, she might even become a second Sıla Yüksel of Turkey.
Yasemin Genç (Shades Quidditch – chaser)
Yasemin Genç started playing quidditch about six months ago with Hacettepe Phoenix but moved to a new team. With Shades Quidditch, she really shines with her increased responsibility. She is a great offensive player, has great positioning, makes crucial runs, can catch fast passes, and immediately releases to pass or to shoot. She can also use her feet impressively, leaving the opposition confused with timely and accurate cuts. On top of that, she has an acceptable beater game if needed. The biggest shortcoming of Genç is her lack of defense. If she can become more eager to get physical with her opponents, she could find a spot on Team Turkey.
Berk Akyüz (İTÜ Honeybees – chaser)
Having played and contributed a lot at EQC 2016 for the İTÜ Honeybees, Berk Akyüz was nowhere to be seen during the league matches due to his exams schedule. As a result, most of the Turkish quidditch arena was unaware of him, and people who know about him tend to forget his talents. At Turkish Quidditch Cup, however, he showed everyone how dangerous he can be; with direct runs to the hoops, an ability to put extra scores on the board, fast feet, and smart play, Akyüz shines as a new star of Turkish quidditch.
Beyza Usta (BOUN Renegades – beater)
Beyza Usta was one of the merc players BOUN Renegades borrowed from Unicorns Quidditch, and she had only played quidditch in two training sessions before the tournament. As the Renegades had only three female players, she was almost always on the pitch and, though exhausting, all that experience really improved her game. Usta is a beater who can play both the aggressive and defensive side of the game fairly well and learns incredibly quickly. Her drastic performance increase over the course of the three games she played at the TQC led to her spot on METU Minicorns. If she keeps improving at this rate, she can easily find her way to EQC, or even the European Games.
Ata Sarçın (METU Minicorns – chaser)
Ata Sarçın was the best tackler among the freshers, bringing down players left and right despite suffering from a minor knee injury during the tournament. His abilities do not end with tackling, as he performed well both as a chaser and as a beater in times of need and even caught a snitch when 20 points down to grab a victory for the Minicorns. His enthusiasm, combined with his natural talent, may see him move to the Unicorns squad before the EQC if he continues to perform like this.
Nazif Bilgen (Uludağ Aragog’s – beater)
Nazif Bilgen is not a new face in Turkish quidditch, but it is certain that he really shined at this Turkish Quidditch Cup. He has been a part of Uludağ Aragog’s from the beginning of his and the team’s quidditch career, and it seems he has increased his understanding of the game a lot within the past year. With his field awareness and aggressive, tireless play, in addition to his smarts, he promises to be a fantastic beater. It is obvious that with a little bit of hard work, there is a chance that he can find a spot in Team Turkey, among the top level beaters of Europe.
Irmak Güzey (BOUN Centaurs – beater)
Irmak Güzey is another promising beater who makes it onto our list. She started quidditch this October and learned the basics of the game rapidly. Her positioning on the pitch made people think she was an experienced player; she was very confident while throwing her bludger and tackling opposing beaters. If she keeps improving her game play like this, there is no reason for us to not be watching her beat for Team Turkey this summer at the European Games.