The second half of the USQ season picks up quickly this coming weekend with four tournaments across three regions, featuring teams from five different regions. Our writers go around the country with an eye on what to watch out for.
Horns Up for Harambe Memorial Championship
By Audrey Wheeler and Kenny Stowe
Editor’s Note: Audrey is the President of Florida State University and President for the Florida Quidditch Conference. Kenny is a player for Florida’s Finest Quidditch Club
Date: January 21
Number of Teams: 7 (1 unofficial)
Host: University of South Florida (USF) Quidditch
Location: Tampa, Florida
With seven teams heating up for a quidditch royale in Tampa, Florida, the Horns Up for Harambe Memorial hosted by the University of South Florida will be nothing short of a winter welcoming. The tournament will host teams from all across the state.
Several teams at Harambe need this official tournament in order to qualify for the South Regional Championship on Feb. 11-12, so USF Quidditch must run a perfect tournament or else risk dropping the last chance many of these teams have to satisfy their gameplay requirements for that tournament.
Florida frontrunners Gainesville Siege and Florida’s Finest will both be attending and may finally face off after spending an entire season without competing against each other. The winner of this game will be the team that can distinguish itself in beater play. As both teams pose strong chaser lineups, this will be a high-scoring game and the team that can effectively play defense will emerge triumphant.
One of the most interesting matchups within this tournament will be between powerhouse Gainesville Siege and the dark horse, University of Miami. The Canes this season have been off the radar, attending only their own short-lived tournament in the beginning of fall and Wolf Pack Classic at the end of October. Coming into this event, Miami lacks exposure to many Florida teams, whereas Gainesville has faced more in-state opposition. This match will be very close and will likely come down to snitch range. Will Miami be able to fly high like it usually does toward the end of a season, or will the Siege prove to be a stronger flock? Prediction: Siege 140*-90 Miami.
Besides the Big Three, the team to watch is Florida State University (FSU). The Noles have come a long way since the start of the season, slowly acquiring a full team and becoming competitive within the region. But the question on everyone’s mind is whether the team is ready to take the next step and elevate itself above the middle of the pack. Horns Up for Harambe is the chance for FSU to make a statement. If FSU is able to upset a favorite, it just may be the real deal and a true dark horse come February in Columbia, South Carolina.
Flying Panthers Quidditch Club and the Nearly Headless Knights will also be in attendance with both trying to score an upset, while University of South Florida Quidditch will be hosting and competing unofficially.
With Siege, Finest, Miami, and even FSU all serving as favorites for the five South bids to the National Championship, this tournament might be the best predictor of what to expect at the South Regional Championship next month.
Old Money Classic IV
By Neha Korrapati
Editor’s Note: The author is a player for UNC Quidditch
Date: January 21
Number of Teams: 10 (5 unofficial)
Host: College of Charleston
Location: Charleston, South Carolina
Old Money Classic is back for its fourth iteration. Last year, at Old Money Classic III, the Appalachian Apparators (AAQ), beat twice defending champions, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Quidditch (UNC), to take home the title.
This year, there looks to be three strong contenders for the title: UNC, AAQ, and Carolina Heat Quidditch Club. Carolina Heat and UNC have played two snitch-range games, with Carolina Heat winning both matchups. Meanwhile, UNC and AAQ played a close game at Halloween Hoedown 2, where UNC beat AAQ with an overtime snitch grab during bracket play. At a recent series of games, Carolina Heat soundly beat College of Charleston, while AAQ easily handled the Southern Storm earlier in the season. Five teams will also be attending unofficially.
Grindy Slam Winter Jam
By Nat Davis
Date: January 21
Number of Teams: 6
Host: Grand Valley Grindylows
Location: Allendale, Michigan
For the first time, the Grand Valley Grindylows will be hosting an indoor tournament to kick off the second half of the 2016-17 USQ season in the Great Lakes region. Though this is a new tournament, Grand Valley has gathered what looks to be an exciting field.
All eyes immediately turn to Bowling Green State University (BGSU), the third ranked team in USQ and the tournament’s clear favorite. After winning the Great Lakes Regional Championship this past November – including a finals victory over the Ball State Cardinals, a team that gave BGSU some trouble in the 2015-16 season – BGSU heads into the final leg of the season undefeated and looking to continue its dominance.
The newly-formed Lake Erie Elite (LEE) is back at Grindy Slam. Despite injuries to Jacob Heppe and Matt Dwyer, Lake Erie performed well enough at the Great Lakes Regional Championship to land a bid to US Quidditch Cup 10. After taking the Chi-Wizard Tournament the following weekend, LEE established itself as a force to be reckoned with. Though it may not win against BGSU, it will still provide the team with some good competition. However, Lake Erie cannot count on Jacob Heppe to catch against BGSU’s Samuel Roitblat, but is still the favorite to finish second.
The six-team field is rounded out by the hosts, the Falcon Warriors, Illinois State University, and Michigan State University. Illinois State is the most likely team to crash the finals, but more likely than not it will find itself finishing third. The hosts and Michigan State will play for the third time this year after trading victories earlier in the season, with Grand Valley winning out of range and Michigan State winning in range. Finally, the Falcon Warriors will look to reverse the course on their season as they have posted just a 1-7 record at their last two tournaments.
3rd Annual Brooms on Brazos
By TJ Goaley
Editor’s Note: The author is the captain of Sam Houston State University (SHSU) Quidditch
Date: January 21
Number of Teams: 8 (2 unofficial)
Host: Baylor Quidditch
Location: Waco, Texas
The first tournament of the semester for the Southwest kicks off this weekend in Waco, Texas. The 3rd Annual Brooms on Brazos will perhaps be most helpful in providing clarity on where Baylor stands in the Southwest. Right now, Baylor sits at 1-3 on the season, with its only win coming against the San Marcos Sharknados. However, with a chance to play against SHSU Quidditch (a solid and consistent mid-tier team) and Texas Cavalry (currently the hands-down top of the Southwest), Baylor’s position in the region should come more into focus after the team failed to qualify for US Quidditch Cup 9.
Tribe, North Texas, and Death Row will also be competing. All of these teams have had sub-par seasons to this point and are looking to improve their records. When the lower tier of the Southwest plays against one another, they often produce some of the most exciting matches. Los Osos de Muerte and Victoria Quidditch will also be in attendance as unofficial teams.
The clear favorite for this tournament is Cavalry. Its trip to the finals will be uncontested, and this will just be a warm up as the team prepares for bigger and better things. Cavalry will likely meet either SHSU (6-4) or Baylor (1-3) in the finals. SHSU has actually started the season better than it has in years past, with an above .500 record for the first time ever going into the second part of the season. SHSU also traditionally plays its best quidditch in the second part of the season. Not much is known about Baylor, as it has only played in one tournament this season. Both teams have talent, endurance, athleticism, experience, and a solid seeking game (beater- and seeker-wise).The X-factor is how many people SHSU will bring, since it has not had more than 15 people in any tournament this season. Against a team with Baylor’s pedigree and potential, and without being at full power, SHSU may not have enough in the tank to finish the job.
Overall, nobody will be surprised with the outcome of this tournament. Cavalry is just too good to be taken down by either Baylor or SHSU. This tournament will give a lot of insight to the potential Death Row, Tribe, and North Texas have for qualifying for Consolation Cup. It will also give people a better idea on what we can expect from Baylor. Should we expect the team to qualify for the National Championship? Or will it find itself competing for the second time in a row at Consolation Cup? This tournament ought to clear up a lot of things.