By Rein Anspach
Editor’s Note: Rein Anspach is the captain and president of the North Sea Nargles, and the Quidditch Nederland Teams Director.
On Jan. 22, the Dom Tower Dementors, the North Sea Nargles, the Rotterdam Ravens, and the Wageningen Werewolves will battle at the Dutch Quidditch Cup (DQC) for the one Dutch spot at the European Quidditch Cup (EQC), making Quidditch Nederland (QNL) the very last European NGB announcing their qualification rankings.
As there are only four teams, all teams will play each other once, with the top two teams facing off in the finals and the bottom two teams battling for third place.
Dom Tower Dementors
The Dementors are led by Nick van Klaveren, an experienced keeper who has also been chosen as the assistant coach for the national team for this year. He leads his team into a physical game with a lot of fast breaks, often assisted by aggressive beater play by Geert Beuneker. Recently van Klaveren has also been playing as a beater, but whether that leaves enough strength and structure in the team’s chaser game is yet to be determined. Their new keeper, Niels van der Wal, is a rather physical player who has been improving noticeably. Their main seeker, Finn den Boeft, is not to be underestimated in his agility.
The Dementors tend to be strong despite usually having a small roster. The team reached the finals at the last DQC and have performed well at most tournaments since. They have a strong core of experienced players with a few new players added this season. The team has, however, lost chaser Arjen van Assem and experienced beater Jerona van der Gevel, who have both become trainers and primary players for the Ravens this season. The fact that the Ravens managed to win over the Dementors during their very first match as a team, shows that the Dementors might not be as strong as they once were.
North Sea Nargles
The North Sea Nargles are the defending Dutch champions, but since last DQC they have failed to impress. They have the advantage of the largest roster this tournament, with 15 players, of which only three are new players. The team relies on teamwork and smart long passes, with quick wing players such as Emrys Karlas picking the quaffle out of the air smoothly for a quick score. However, they have lost Maikel Roelofs, a National Team 2016 chaser who was one of their main scorers, to university obligations.This season, the Nargles are coached by Bram Vries, a former national team coach, who has a lot of experience in all positions. He has built up the team to be more athletic, forward, and aggressive. In beater play, this mostly shows in Robin Mier switching from chasing to very tenacious and offensive beating and experienced beater Charlie Hölscher finally returning after an injury acquired at World Cup. Having created a strong beater lineup, Vries is now switching to the chaser game to be a playmaker with an eye for fast break opportunities. Hanna Bouma is a reliable seeker as well as newbie Oscar van Engelen who shows considerable talent at this position.
The main weakness the Nargles show is a lack of physicality, as well as low reliability and lack of focus in many players, whose capabilities fluctuate a lot depending on circumstances.
The Rotterdam Ravens are a reasonably new team, founded by Jerona van der Gevel, who has been around since the start of Dutch quidditch. They started up hesitantly but have managed to become a competitive contender in the past few months, bringing a roster of around the same size as the other teams, and beating the Dementors at a league game in December. They are a mostly new team whose main strengths are Van der Gevel, who leads the beaters, and Van Assem who captains the quaffle play. Their lesser-known players are mostly unreliable in terms of strategic knowledge, which can sometimes lead to shoddy passes and running into bludgers, and can also be unreliable in terms of rule knowledge, which might lead them to get carded more often. However, they have gained three certified head referees over the past month, which may solve the second problem. Their biggest strength lies in that the rest of the community does not know their playing style yet, as well as in multiple fast chasers who can break away fast and run through tackles.
The Werewolves are an experienced team with a strong core of people who have been playing together for a while, but also a couple of new players. They have a very strong beater lineup, with Robert van de Ven likely being the most physical beater in the country, and Marit Epskamp and Linda Hooijschuur as experienced and accurate players as well. In quaffle play, the Werewolves’ main strengths are the lightning-fast and tenacious Twan Elting, who can dodge most people, as well as tall keeper Willem-Jan Kok. They tend to use a combination of fast breaks with passing. They also historically have had a gender rule problem due to a lack of male players, which tires their male players, but this may have been solved by their new players. As for the seeker game, both Hooijschuur and Elting are also highly successful seekers.
Their success will likely depend on how well they have integrated their less experienced players in the team as teamwork and communication is the factor that makes or breaks the Werewolves.
This is certainly not a tournament that has been decided in advance. All the teams are very close together in skill level, roster size, and tactical choices, and have been performing variably over the past season. The Dementors were the most likely contenders for the cup, but this expectation has been tempered by their recent loss to the Ravens.
It seems that for all teams, it mostly depends on how well they have integrated their new players and on how good their teamwork and communication is.
Right now, the Wageningen Werewolves appear to have the best chance to win the cup, because they are the most stable team. The Nargles and the Dementors have about equal chances at second place, but if either team shines they could still be expected to take the day and snag the EQC spot. The Ravens stand a good chance to win one or multiple matches, but their lack of experience will potentially cost them the ability to win the entire tournament.