By Lena Mandahus
The German Winter Games (Deutsche Quidditch-Winterspiele [DQWS]), Germany’s qualifier for the European Quidditch Cup (EQC), took place in Munich on January 14-15. Eighteen teams from all over Germany competed in the tournament for a chance to play with the other top European teams at EQC in Mechelen, Belgium, on March 25-26.
The Winter Games turned out to be very accurately named, as winter had indeed arrived in Munich; heavy snowfall and a snowstorm over the weekend meant that many of the volunteers had to shovel snow (some started as early as 5 a.m.) so that the pitches could be played on, and one of the matches even had to be stopped mid-game due to a snowstorm.
Venue and Organisation
The venue, Sportpark Nymphenburg, offered two pitches with artificial grass used for hockey, and two artificial grass pitches usually used for football. Both had to be, as mentioned before, cleared from snow before the games; however, by midday on the second day, the hockey pitches were completely frozen and bore a closer resemblance to ice skating rinks than safe quidditch pitches, so all the games scheduled for those pitches had to be relocated to the football pitches in order to prevent injuries and to not endanger any of the players or officials. Luckily, the football pitches did not freeze over, which meant that despite a few timing issues caused by the loss of two pitches, the tournament could still go on.
Other than this issue with the pitches, the tournament ran smoothly. Due to the snow, the tournament ran slightly behind schedule, but all the officials and tournament committee members were well-informed and able to help with any sort of questions directed at them.
Thanks to the connections made with Sportdeutschland.TV, who provided the livestream at World Cup this past summer, pitch one was livestreamed on online television. All the games filmed can still be viewed on the Sportdeutschland.tv website.
Format and Groups
The teams at the Winter Games got sorted into four pools based on seeding and their region. The seeded teams were last year’s best teams, and the tournament organisers made sure that no teams who play in the same area or league were in the same group.
On Day One, Rheinos Bonn and Tübinger Thestrale dominated Group A. Bonn won all of their games, whereas Tübingen, who won on a snitch catch against the Hamburg Werewolves to get into second place of their group, only lost their game against Bonn.
In Group B, Darmstadt Athenas and Berlin Bluecaps topped their group, with Berlin only losing one game to Darmstadt and Darmstadt winning all of theirs. The Three River Dragons Passau and Looping Lux Leipzig in Pool C dominated their group of four with Passau winning all of their games with ease.
In Group D, Ruhr Phoenix from Bochum easily won all of their games, followed by Portkeys Bremen who came second in their group after winning a close match against TGB Frankfurt Mainticores.
In the lower bracket semifinals, Portkeys Bremen narrowly defeated the Black Forest Bowtruckles on a snitch catch, which put them up against the Berlin Bluecaps, who had won their semifinal against Braunschweiger Broomicorns. In a close final, Portkeys Bremen won 90*-80 against the Berlin Bluecaps.
At the business end of the tournament, Rheinos Bonn, Three River Dragons Passau, and the Darmstadt Athenas all successfully secured their places at EQC. Passau and Bonn gained their EQC spot in the semifinals thanks to their respective victories over Ruhr Phoenix Bochum (90*-30) and Darmstadt Athenas (110*-50). This led to a third place game between Darmstadt and Bochum, which was possibly one of the most exciting matches of the whole weekend due to what was at stake. Both teams were desperate to win the prize of the third and final German EQC spot. Ultimately, Darmstadt Athenas were victorious, beating Ruhr Phoenix 120*-40, leaving the Bochum side in fourth place while Darmstadt advanced to their third consecutive EQC. The final itself was an even more exhilarating and entertaining match, filled with skillful and physical defending from both sides. In the end, Passau’s lack of discipline was their undoing. Three players were ejected for double yellow cards, including seeker Sami Fekkak, who received a second yellow card moments after having made what appeared to be a tournament-winning grab for the snitch. Passau consequently had to spend two minutes without a seeker on pitch and during this time, German international Christian Zimpelmann was able to make a spectacular catch to end the game 80*-40 in favour of Rheinos Bonn.
Growth in Germany
Over the past season, Germany was lucky to have an immense influx of teams.
The 2016 World Cup in Frankfurt quite obviously kicked off a whole avalanche of new teams around the country, with new teams being founded every other week.
The Deutscher Quidditchbund (DQB) website currently (as of Feb. 10, 2017) lists 21 full member teams, 11 developing members, as well as seven more teams in their early stages of development.
Ida Meyenberg, who is responsible for supporting official DQB teams, is delighted about this development: “[The number of teams in the country] tripled; what a sublime year for [working in] team support!”
With its number of teams tripling in size over the course of just one season, Germany is possibly the fastest-growing quidditch nation in Europe. The effect that the World Cup in the summer had can clearly be seen, and one hopes that other nations with big events such as this one will benefit as much as Germany still does to this day.