EQC 2017 Group A Preview

With European Quidditch Cup (EQC) 2017 rapidly approaching, the Quidditch Post takes a look at each of the teams competing in this year’s tournament.

 Group A

Warwick Quidditch Club
By Dina Caruso and Hannah Dignum
Editor’s Note: both Dina Caruso and Hannah Dignum are affiliated with the team.

After their early exit at the 2017 British Quidditch Cup, Warwick Quidditch Club will be entering the tournament with a renewed vigour.

 Warwick are bringing a full roster of 21 to the tournament and amongst them lies some of the most talented players in the UK. In his role as keeper, Seb Waters is supported by fellow TeamUK chasers Katy Lawrence, Luke Trevett, and Ben Malpass, who will provide a talented quaffle lineup; their chemistry on pitch is exhibited in their skilled passing game and their ability to finish around the hoops. Last season, the team was criticised for their lack of depth, but this season Warwick stepped up their recruitment at the start of this season and have massively improved on this. In the past, an injury to James Burnett would have left a noticeable gap in the team’s offensive beater rotation, but the recent addition of Tayyeb Ali ― who exhibits a natural understanding of the game after only six months of playing  ― should not leave the team in such a critical condition. This recruitment, along with regular coaching, means that Jacopo Sartori and Hannah Dignum are able to take reliable beater substitutes for a tournament that is going to demand a lot of intense beater play.  

TeamUK seeker Jonathan Purvis has a suitable substitute in Malpass, allowing the team to adapt their seeker option depending on the type of snitch. Should the situation demand it, Belinda Hammond is more than capable of stepping up and providing the team with a strong defensive seeker, which is something that Warwick have often failed to produce in the past.

GreenTauros Quidditch Torino
by Dina Caruso

GreenTauros Quidditch Torino have been amongst the top tier of Italian quidditch teams since the sport made its way over to Italy; they are the current champions of their regional tournament Girone Verde and the 2015 national champions of the  Torneo Nazionale. Whilst the team’s speaking captain is Aleandro Bulcari, they also rely on their on-pitch captain, Walid Benfadel, who directs the team’s style of play whilst playing both chaser and keeper.  

Benfadel’s quaffle play will receive strong support from chasers Davide Maniscalco and Clara Vitello, alongside the aggressive beating of Michele Genovese. This will be the third European Quidditch Cup for some of the team’s most experienced players. However, the team has recently recruited new members whose ability should not be underestimated; chasers Elia Zamiri and Giulia Solia have only been playing for a short while and have already demonstrated a natural grasp of the game and strong on pitch awareness. The team is bringing a squad of 17 to EQC, and the timing of the regional championship, Girone Verde, couldn’t have been better; it took place in early March, which allowed the team to give their new players a taste of a competitive quidditch tournament. 

Their group game against Warwick Quidditch Club is not to be missed, with both teams coming first in their respective regional tournaments. This game will serve to demonstrate the similarities and differences between the top tiers of Italian and UK quidditch.

Brussels Qwaffles
By Louis Lermytte

After making the upper bracket in the last three editions of EQC, the Brussels Qwaffles find themselves in a very difficult position this year. The loss to Liège Leviathans in the Belgium Cup semifinal will taste extra bitter as that cost them a Pod 2 spot. As an unseeded team, Brussels will find themselves in a group with Warwick QC, Torino, and Dublin. Although Brussels didn’t lose any of their Belgian League (BQL) games, they weren’t very convincing in their wins. In their last BQL game, Brussels struggled to win comfortably against Antwerp B, which is something you would expect from a team that is hoping to make upper bracket.

The Qwaffles kept most of their key players from last season, including beater duo Tanghi Burlion and Florian Dion. Chayenne Van Meel, Jorge Diaz, and Lana Naudts, all part of Belgium’s 2016 World Cup squad, will also play for the Qwaffles again. The team lost Nathan Wilputte, who was arguably their best quaffle player last season, to Antwerp A, but the Qwaffles replaced him with a member of the 2016 Norwegian national team: Leandro Salemi. New chasers like Kevin Pirsoul, Savinien Massin, and Hato Busson have given the Qwaffles the extra athletic players that they needed. Busson’s and Massins potential has even been spotted by the Gryffins scouts, earning them a spot in the training squad. Belgium’s new players show inexperience at times, and aside from Burlion they have not established a reliable seeking option. In addition, a limited rotation could lead to fatigue concerns.

Dublin Draíochta Dragons
By Stefan Scheurer & Anonymous player for Queen’s University Belfast Quidditch Club
Editor’s Note: Stefan Scheurer is a player for the Dublin Draíochta Dragons.

Making their European debut this year are the Dublin Draíochta Dragons (DDD). The Dragons are a relatively new team, having been set up in August 2016 following the recent wave of quidditch expansion across Ireland. Based in Ireland’s capital city, the community team is comprised of immigrated graduates as well as students from Dublin’s many universities. Dublin are currently top dogs in Ireland after having beaten local rivals Queen’s University Belfast in their first set of competitive matches in November. The two teams were, however, able to put rivalry aside to compete alongside each other at Manchester’s Cottonopolis Cup in February where they finished in fifth place.

The Dragons have a distinctly international flavour with 11 nationalities amongst their roster of 19 players. The team boasts players with previous quidditch experience in Austria, Australia, Italy, the UK, and the US as well as experience in other team sports such as jugger, soccer, American football, lacrosse, and of course Gaelic football and rugby. Particular mention should be made of their strong quaffle players, Jake Gomrick and Bláthnaid Cluskey, who excel in their positioning, as well as beaters like Martina Brazdova and Eamon O’Keeffe, who feature good chemistry and shine in one-on-one beater battles.

Beater Martina Brazdova previously played with the London Unspeakables | Photo Credit: Sophie Chrtn, courtesy of the London Unspeakables

Although the Dragons suffer from being on an island with little immediate competition, they made up for this isolation by travelling to one of the many UK tournaments, Cottonopolis III, as well as having lots of tactical input from their players with previous quidditch experience. Dublin are looking to use EQC as a springboard to improve their squad’s experience for next season and for the forthcoming Team Ireland trials, which will see their players compete against others for the hallowed green jersey and the pride of representing Ireland at the European Games.

Conclusion

Despite a disappointing showing at British Quidditch Cup, Warwick is still favored to top this group. The UK Southern champions feature depth in all facets of the game and are a talented unit capable of a deep tournament run. A semifinal berth would be a strong accomplishment for the English side, and a quarterfinal is a very realistic outcome. GreenTauros is the strong favorite to finish second. Walid Benfadel might be the most talented player in this group and is a European player who continues to be underrated despite strong play for club and country. Meanwhile, the Qwaffles possess talented beater depth that should allow them to stay in range of most teams, but they have featured an inconsistent seeking game and are likely to place third. The edge probably rests with the Qwaffles based on the relative home-field record and a beating squad that will keep many games in range, but Torino advancing would hardly be a shock. For Dublin, the chances of a win in pool play are minimal, but they should show well as the first Irish squad competing at an EQC and could potentially take a game or two in the lower bracket.