EQC 2017 Group D 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 D

Velociraptors Quidditch Club
By Fraser Posford

Fresh from their domination of British Quidditch Cup (BQC), the Velociraptors turn their eyes toward European glory. Earlier this month, Tom Heynes’ team convincingly won all of their matches on their way to their first BQC title, including a 180*-40 rout of rivals Werewolves of London in the semifinal, before an even bigger 260*-60 victory over the Bristol Brizzlebears in the final.

Velociraptors Quidditch Club | Photo Credit: Jen Macallum

The Raptors were impressive in many aspects at BQC, but the ability of their quaffle players to tackle and prevent goals in one-on-one situations, as well as their shot-blocking particularly stood out. Back from a long injury layoff, Jackie Woodburn showed no drop in the level of her performance while Andrew Hull somehow continues to get better and better; the TeamUK keeper dominated in the BQC final. Now with a 19-game unbeaten run leading to three tournament wins this season, the Raptors are in indestructible form and should progress to the semifinals of EQC. The Raptors are by no means without their weaknesses, though, and it is at this stage of the tournament where we are likely to see them really be tested. During a manic few minutes in the BQC final, the Brizzlebears managed to bring the game within snitch range when they upped the tempo of their attack and used some clinical passing play to break through the Raptors’ defence. The likes of Antwerp Quidditch Club and Titans Paris Quidditch have an even better passing game than the Bears and will most definitely use this to their advantage should they face the Raptors. Apart from a brief period during their quarterfinal win over Warwick Quidditch Club, the Raptors have not faced a match in snitch range for quite a while, and the inability of their seekers to make quick snitch grabs to end games could come back to bite them in the tournament’s later stages. Nevertheless, Velociraptors QC are in excellent form and are certainly one of the teams capable of denying reigning champions Titans Paris of a third consecutive EQC title.

Rheinos Bonn
By Lena Mandahus

Led by German national team coach Christian Zimpelmann, Rheinos Bonn had a successful start to the year, winning this year’s German Winter Games, narrowly beating the Three River Dragons Passau in the final to qualify for the team’s second EQC bid. In the lead-up to EQC, Rheinos Bonn have played friendly matches against Antwerp and had a training weekend together with Passau and Darmstadt Athenas Quidditch to prepare themselves as much as possible for the big event.

Rheinos Bonn playing at German Winter Games 2016 | Photo Credit: Van Klaveren Quidditch Photography

With an incredible squad depth – most of the players have played together at EQC 2016 and the German Cup 2016 – Rheinos Bonn will use their agility and strength to try to reach the upper bracket this year. Fast and physical quaffle players such as Hannah Große, Leander Troll, and German national team chaser Ewelina Wolska will show a strong and quick game, supported by an aggressive beater game from Sebastian Elster, Leon Bürgers, and Momo Matern. In their seeker department, Zimpelmann, who made the team’s winning snitch catch at the Winter Games in January, as well as Till Wagner, who showed his seeking skills in the German NRW League 2016, are the team’s stars. The team’s best advantage is their great synergy, which could potentially give them an edge over another team in a tight match.

Crookshanks Lyon Quidditch
By Grégoire Bourget

Crookshanks Lyon qualified for EQC as one of the top three teams in France. With a roster of just 12, they ended 19th at the last EQC, without being able to play their semifinal and potential final in the lower bracket. They will come in greater number this year with 16 players, and stronger from last year’s experience.

Mikel Poisse keeping for Team France at the IQA Quidditch World Cup 2016 | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography

Their gameplay is considered typically French, relying on precision passes, lightning counter-attack, and aggressive beater actions, which they displayed during the last Coupe de France (French National Cup). With only experienced players in their ranks, they are able to adapt quickly, making them a tough opponent. They are also used to international competition. Chaser/keeper Mikel Poisse and chaser Jeanne Heeren played for Team France at World Cup 2016, and Renaud ‘Run’ Mortier – considered one of the best French beaters – will obviously be the spine of this team. However, other players should not be neglected, with the strong presence of American recruit Austin Dickson from Texas. Their goal this year is to do better than last year’s EQC with fewer injuries, an achievable goal considering their larger roster, and recruits bringing fresh but experienced blood.

Bizkaia Boggarts
by Fraser Posford

The Bizkaia Boggarts will be attending their first-ever EQC, after qualifying last year but being unable to attend due to financial reasons. The team qualified by the narrowest of margins, beating Madrid Wolves 50*-40 in the semifinal of the Copa de España, before being defeated by Lumos Compostela in the tournament final.

Bizkaia Boggarts Quidditch team | Photo Credit: Bizkaia Boggarts

The Boggarts have their fair share of talent in their roster, five of whom are in the current Spanish national training squad, including Spanish selector and coach Miguel Vázquez. A chaser/keeper who has also proven himself as a beater, Vázquez will be the driving force behind this team; Vázquez along with keeper Andoni Aranguren are likely to be their biggest threats in a strong driving game. Irene Velasco is a chaser whom teams would be ill-advised to underestimate, due to her great confidence when ball-handling and tenacious defence. Spanish international Ander Carbón has regularly shown himself to be a high-quality beater and the Basque side’s best option in the black headband. With great versatility and stamina, his performance will be crucial to the Boggarts’ progress at EQC. The Boggarts’ greatest weakness is their squad depth, with only 15 players on their roster. This puts a lot of strain on their key players to play for long spells, and an injury to any of their players could prove to be very costly. Like just about any other Spanish team, the Boggarts are capable of being an effective attacking unit but they tend to struggle a lot more defensively, especially in contact situations. Although they have a capable seeker in Sandor-Aritz Augusto, staying in snitch range could be difficult for the Boggarts at such a high-level tournament. So far, Spanish sides have collectively managed just two wins at EQC (Malaka Vikings and Madrid Wolves each defeated Polish teams at EQC 2016) and adding at least another victory to this tally will be the most important goal for both Boggarts and Lumos at this year’s tournament.

Conclusion

For Velociraptors QC, the question is not whether they will top this group, but rather how far they can go. No team looks to have a better chance of defeating the twice-defending champion Titans Paris than the barely-blemished champions of Great Britain. The two teams look set for the latest clash in the UK-France quidditch rivalry that so far has been exclusively dominated by the continental side. The match between Lyon and Bonn could be an interesting and close one. Bonn is probably narrowly favored, but both teams love to run and get out on the break and that could make for an exciting match with an upper bracket spot likely on the line. Bizkaia Boggarts lack the experience to pose any real danger in the group and will look to compete well and grow from their experience.

Correction: A previous version of this article omitted the Madrid Wolves win at EQC