EQC 2017 Group F 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.

Werewolves of London
By Hannah Dignum

As the recent third-place finishers at British Quidditch Cup, the Werewolves of London find themselves with a group they can comfortably top. However, a surprisingly lacklustre passing game and lack of true cohesion between their better players was exposed against Velociraptors QC in Rugeley, and there will be plenty of European teams equally capable of exploiting it. It is possible that under the watchful eye of Simon Bidwell, the Werewolves will have ironed out these creases and should therefore demonstrate a greater ability to come together as a team rather than a group of talented individuals.

The Werewolves will undoubtedly dominate in the beater game with a strong lineup of beaters including TeamUK’s Jan Mikolajczak and TeamUK development squad’s Chris Thomas. Despite possessing a range of capable individuals, they may struggle only slightly in the beater game as Mikolajczak does not have his usual substitute, Luke Twist, to rely on, having suffered an injury that is likely to take him out of the tournament. The Werewolves do, however, have the chasers to maintain a slick performance in the quaffle game, particularly with a lineup featuring Jemma Thripp, Aaron Veale, and Tom Norton. Despite drawing a group that they should top comfortably, they must maintain confidence rather than complacency. If they do not nail the synergy needed to succeed, they may struggle to make it past the quarterfinals.

Werewolves chaser Tom Norton | Photo Credit: Rica Biasi (More Quidditch Photos)

ODTÜ Hippogriffs
By Kaan Bolat

The ODTÜ Hippogriffs are Turkey’s second-best team this year, with a 6-1 record in the second half of Turkish Quidditch League 2016 and an appearance in the Turkish Quidditch Cup 2016 finals. Turkey’s first official quidditch team has been in the national arena since day one; since they are at the same university as three-time Turkish champions METU Unicorns, they have been competing and contributing to each other’s improvement since the beginning of Turkish quidditch. However, despite having competed in the European arena by attending Barcelona Moustaches Time two times in a row, the Hippogriffs were not at EQC for the past three years. The squad is stronger than ever this year and is hoping to make a strong presence at the tournament. With four matches going in snitch range during the second half of the Turkish Quidditch League, their 3-1 record shows how dangerous a team the Hippogriffs can be in a SWIM situation.

The Hippogriffs are bringing their aggressive beater line, including smart player Olgun Oktar, rising star Nilsu Yerlikaya, and veteran beaters Ekin Berkyürek and Anıl Aydın. This line will be supporting the big quaffle player Gökay Bilici, who may currently be one of the best overall chasers in Turkish quidditch, and rookie keeper and captain Rojcan Azbay. These players, along with the newest transfer, Team Turkey seeker coach İbrahim Cüneyt Aydın, make this a competitive squad that should not be underestimated by other teams. Any team making the mistake of seeing them as easy competition might fall into their hands.

The Hippogryffs play Minicorns in the Turkish Quidditch League | Photo Credit: Unicorns Quidditch Photography

Aemona Argonauts
By Vid Rotvejn Pajič

Despite qualifying as an emerging area team, the Aemona Argonauts are far from inexperienced rookies. They are in their second year of existence and have been sharpening their claws in various international tournaments, from EQC 2016 to the 2016 River Cup. Most of the team also competed at World Cup 2016, where Slovenia claimed 15th place, beating the Netherlands, Ireland, and Brazil in the process. At Danube Cup 2016, they finished in third place but managed to defeat the subsequent winners, Vienna Vanguards, and narrowly lost to the Three River Dragons in the semifinal. With those achievements, they can aspire to qualify for Division I, although their lack of players may prove fatal for their hopes as only 12 Argonauts are embarking on the journey to Belgium.

The Argonauts also come short in the physicality department, with keeper Timotej Soklič as their only physical presence. However, they compensate by having a plethora of fast, agile chasers like Jernej Valič, Miha Breznik, Erik Leban, and Katarina Šeme. A recent arrival, Ebrar Yıldız from the METU Minicorns, is also proving to be beneficial, especially in combination with Sabina Dolar and Ana Blaž, who are renowned for their troll-in-the-dungeon escapades. Despite losing their star beater Borut Bezgovšek to the Three River Dragons, the team can rely on veteran beaters Vid Rotvejn Pajič, Tomas “Bombadil” Pleško, and Pia Marinček, who are up to the challenge. The Argonauts’ main asset is chemistry between players, combined with speed and seasoned accurate beating. However, the team does not have many players on their bench, so they have to watch out for stamina and injuries.

Aemona Argonauts at EQC 2016 | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography

Darmstadt Athenas
by Nadine Cyrannek
Editor’s note: Nadine Cyrannek plays for Darmstadt Athenas.

The well-known Darmstadt Athenas squad is suffering from many losses and injuries this season. Fortunately, they recruited a lot of new players in October to help fill the gap. With a roster filled with many newcomers and some veterans, Darmstadt played at the German Winter Games (the EQC qualifier) and managed to overcome their losses quite well. The only game they lost was in the semifinals against their archrival, the Rheinos Bonn. With a win in the third place play-off game, they nabbed the last of the three German EQC spots, where their new roster will have to prove they can endure on an international level as well.

Newcomer Tim van der Sande clearly and efficiently copies the playing style of the already well-known Simon Burgis. This year, Darmstadt will participate at EQC for the third year in a row, the only German team to do so. In the past few years, Darmstadt had problems with the amount of female players on their roster. This year, for the first time, they have almost the same amount of male and female players registered for EQC. This is not due solely to their good recruiting prior to the Winter Games. Madline Fischer and Sonja Lenhardt both profited from their matches at Winter Games and learned much during all of the friendly matches the Darmstadt Athenas organised against several other German teams, such as Rheinos Bonn, Frankfurt Mainticores, Hamburg Werewolves, Heidelberg HellHounds, and Three River Dragons Passau. Additionally, they gained some experience on an international level against Brussels Qwaffles and Titans Paris.

Darmstadt Athenas at German Winter Games | Photo Credit: Van Klaveren Quidditch Photography

Conclusion

The London squad is the heavy favourite to top this group, fresh off a third place finish at BQC. The team seems poised for a quarterfinal run and with some bracket luck or exceptionally strong performances, could realistically make the semifinals. Turkey’s national runners up similarly seem poised for a bracket run and should finish second here. A quarterfinal berth is not out of the realm of possibility with a favorable draw, but more likely the team will be one and done in the bracket. The German and Slovenian squads will battle for third, and the Athenas seem the heavy favourite to earn that distinction. They are capable of a lower bracket run, but they are likely to come away with more experience and growth. The Argonauts will likely finish at the bottom of the group and are unlikely to challenge any of the squads in this group.