By Rein Anspach
The Dutch qualifier for the European Quidditch Cup (EQC) was held on Sunday, Jan. 22. This day was originally intended to be the 2017 Dutch Quidditch Cup, but upon arrival, the venue turned out to be unavailable due to the pitches being frozen. Later that morning, the pitches were cleared for play, but by then the original schedule would have been impossible to fit into the remaining hours of light. As a result, the schedule was minimised and it was decided that this tournament would only serve to decide which team would go to EQC, with a possible proper national championship being delayed until later in the season.
The four teams competing were the Dom Tower Dementors, the North Sea Nargles, the Rotterdam Ravens, and the Wageningen Werewolves. Generally, the level of play in the Netherlands is reasonably equal, with no exact predictions being possible before the event. This is partly because all of the teams use approximately the same tactics – man defense, vertically stacked beaters, creating no-bludger situations, and driving through – meaning that the team that applies those tactics the best and is the most athletic generally wins. The Dom Tower Dementors tend to be the best team, whereas the Rotterdam Ravens are the newest and most inexperienced. The North Sea Nargles and Wageningen Werewolves are quite close together in performance, and the winner usually depends on the day’s rosters and other variables.
In the new schedule, two randomly drawn semifinals were played, with the winning teams playing each other for the EQC spot. After the final, the teams that lost the semifinals played another match for the third place. To ensure the randomness of the pick, Niklas Müller, a referee from Germany who came solely to volunteer, picked teams randomly.
The first match was between the Dom Tower Dementors and the Rotterdam Ravens. The Ravens did quite well for a new team; multiple players showed promise, despite the Dementors running through their defense with ease. Both teams played according to the usual tactics of passing around the hoops and creating no-bludger situations, but due to a lack of experience and field awareness, the Ravens were less successful at this than the Dementors, bringing the final score to 160*-20 in favour of the latter. The second match was between the North Sea Nargles and the Wageningen Werewolves. This match was a lot closer, but due to an expanded beater lineup and experienced chaser Bram Vries running through multiple times, the Nargles won with 90-50* after a surprising cold catch from the Werewolves.
Thus, the final was between the Dom Tower Dementors and the North Sea Nargles. The beginning of the game was tense, but the Dementors quickly took a lead that the Nargles were unable to get back from and won the game with 130*-50 after a snitch catch by Finn den Boeft, securing their EQC spot.
After the final, a third-place match was played between the Ravens and the Werewolves, which ended 140*-90 in favour of the Werewolves.
The Dementors clearly dominated this day with their fast and physical play and excellent seekers. The Nargles may have come back from the rut they have been in for the past season by expanding their beater line-up with new recruits and training their chasers to play more physically. The Werewolves had an unlucky day, undoubtedly not helped by their consistently low amount of male players, which limits their substitution options. This was only the second competitive fixture for the Ravens, and they visibly improved since their first matchday in early December. They clearly still lack experience, but their ability to get in snitch range in the third place match shows that they learn quickly and have a lot of potential.
As national team trainings are starting soon and with approximately half of the players in the country will likely be participating in them, we can look forward to an improvement in the quality of play in the next few months. It remains to be seen how the rest of the season will play out.