EQC 2017 Group B 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 B

Virtute Romana
by Dina Caruso

Virtute Romana Quidditch, the current Italian national champions and champions of their regional “Girone Rosso,” are Italy’s strongest team. Under the captaincy of Giorgia Quinti, Virtute Romana Quidditch were able to steal the national title from Green Tauros at the “Torneo Nazionale” last May.

Virtute Romana win the Torneo Nazionale 2016. | Photo Credit: Gabriele Spanò

The team boasts a variety of players with their own different playing techniques, which provides Virtute Romana Quidditch with the adaptability to change their style of play depending on their opponent; they can quickly respond based upon the needs of each game they play. Whilst Quinti primarily plays as a beater, she is able to effortlessly change to chasing when needed. The depth of the team’s roster is impressive; Marco Bianchi’s physicality and skilled control of the quaffle makes Bianchi one of the team’s many quaffle players who demonstrates a strong sense of awareness on pitch, and the aggressive beating of Edoardo Rubino complements the team’s chasing. Equally, seeker Sandra Kreit has proven a reliable seeker option for Virtute Romana. Many of the team’s more experienced players have previously participated in international tournaments, both playing and training alongside Italy’s national team, and have worked hard to relay their knowledge to their less experienced teammates.

NTNUI Rumpeldunk
By Kai Shaw

After losing the deciding game of the Norwegian Quidditch League last month against OSI Vikings, and failing to make the upper bracket last year at EQC, the players from Trondheim will be more motivated than ever on their long journey down to Belgium. With a roster consisting of many new players, some of whom started playing this year, NTNUI focused on development for EQC and Norwegian Championships in their league games. They should therefore be expected to play far better in Belgium, where they will want to be the top-ranked Norwegian team after failing to take that title last year.

Lisa Tietze beating for Germany at IQA World Cup 2016. | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography

NTNUI boasts the return of Team Germany (and Team World) beater Lisa Tietze and is further augmented with Team Norway beaters Silver Chacòn and Amund Storruste, who have both proved themselves to be elite players by holding their own against the best beaters in Europe in countless games. Superior beating has been a key strategy for the team, which in defence relies heavily on keeping bludger control close to the hoops for easy beats as offenders get close to a goal. This, combined with a well-placed zone defence of tackle-happy chasers, makes it hard for players of the opposing team to get in shooting range of the hoops. This is not to say that their defence crumbles at the loss of bludger control, as the cohesive beaters have trained carefully to limit the disruptive effects of offensive beaters as their bludgerless beaters exhibit some of the most powerful tackles in Europe. NTNUI can realistically hope to top their group and make a run in the upper bracket; at the same time, there is a chance they could miss out on bracket play completely in a wide open group.

Dom Tower Dementors
By Rein Anspach

The Dom Tower Dementors are the only team competing from the Netherlands and are attending EQC for the first time as a team, though several of their members have ample international experience. The team is a mix of newcomers and veterans, with four players in their first season and multiple players with experience dating back to quidditch’s debut in the country in 2014.

Nick van Klaveren, assistant coach of the Dutch national team, serves as both coach and captain. Primarily a keeper, van Klaveren is an excellent leader on the pitch, with a good eye for where the quaffle should go and the ability to run through a defense by himself.

The Dementors’ usual beater lineup is supplemented with experienced secondary players Jerona van der Gevel and Linda Hooijschuur, who will not just improve the team’s subbing options but also bring in some more defensive prowess, as van der Gevel is very good at holding onto her bludger no matter what, and Hooijschuur is great at positioning.

The Dementors rely on a quite standard tactic of beating out the defensive beaters and then running through the defensive quaffle players in order to score. This usually works out quite well for them, since they are the most physical team in the Netherlands. However, if the opponent’s beaters stay in play, the Dementors often have trouble getting past the defense, running into bludgers because of impatience and a too solitary playing style at points. A special asset for them is seeker Finn den Boeft, whose agility has surprised more than a single snitch. All in all, even though they are the best team in the Netherlands, the Dementors don’t stand much of a chance making it out of group play because of a sheer lack in skill level and physical ability.

Dom Tower Dementors at Dutch EQC Qualifications 2017. | Photo Credit: Bruggeling Quidditch Photography

ITÜ Honeybees
By Kamil Urgun

The ITÜ Honeybees are one of the oldest and most-accomplished teams in Turkey. After finishing in 13th place at EQC 2016, they improved a lot and this year and finished third at both the Turkish Quidditch Cup and in the Turkish Quidditch League, with a 15-5 record. Nearly half of their 20 games have been in SWIM range and the Honeybees have mustered an impressive 7-2 showing in those contests.

Their gameplay heavily depends on the fast-paced passing game of their experienced chasers Berk Akyüz, Olgaç Can Öztürk, Fuat Cemiloğlu, and Arif Gülbiter, who are mostly supported offensively by İdil Ulusoy near the hoops. Honeybees’ seekers Öztürk and Gülbiter have made huge contributions to their run this season with their impressive SWIM performance. However, their star seeker and keeper, Gülbiter, broke his thumb at Team Turkey training this February and underwent surgery, so his health for the tournament is still unclear. Still, after an EQC  performance last year that saw them qualify for the Round of 16, the Honeybees will be looking to improve on last season and advance to the quarterfinals. This is a goal that is attainable if they continue their fluid gameplay and Gülbiter is at or near full-strength.

ITÜ Honeybees vs. Warwick at EQC 2016. | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography

Conclusion

Group B features three national champions in Virtute Romana, NTNUI Rumpeldunk, and the Dom Tower Dementors. Yet it might be the fourth team, the ITÜ Honeybees, who are favoured to top the group. Last year both Virtute Romana and the Honeybees advanced to the upper bracket, losing in the Round of 16, and while neither is a threat to win the tournament, both can realistically aspire to top their group. NTNUI Rumpeldunk turned in a disappointing 1-3 performance in pool play last year and will be hoping to turn their fortunes around this tournament. All three teams have realistic ambitions of topping the group, yet each is likely to get knocked out shortly in bracket play as none possess the skill to make a deep run in the tournament. The Honeybees’ clutch seeking performance makes them the slight favorite to top the group, with NTNUI’s excellent beating making it the most likely team to finish as runner-up. Given the relative isolation of Italian quidditch, little is known about Virtute Romana, and realistically they could finish anywhere from first to third in the group. The Dementors are the team most locked into their place and will very likely finish at the bottom without a win in pool play.