EQC 2017 Group G 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.

Titans Paris
By Hugues Ribayrol and Fraser Posford

As the two-time defending champions of Europe, the Titans Paris enter as the favorites to capture their third championship. The Parisians started the season by winning their first Barcelona Moustaches title, denying the Mighty and Amazing Quercs a historic threepeat in the process. They then went on to win their second consecutive French Cup, which serves as France’s EQC qualifier, with relative ease, beating local rivals Paris Frog 200*-100 in the final.

Despite more than capable seekers led by Boris Martin and Boris “Tarzan” Mourad, the Titans’ strategy has never relied much on the snitch. Instead, they rely on a very good quaffle game, allowing them to score enough points to be past snitch range early in the match. Valentin Farese, Shadé Jaiyeola, and coach Albert Brégeault are key figures in their quaffle play and will be joined by a pair of Australian transfers, Lachlan Ward and Miki Stancic, whose fast playing style and excellent receiving abilities will fit well into the Titans’ style. Etienne Pogu and Charles Rigoudy lead a talented beater lineup, including fellow French international Flo Ruccia and newcomer Thomas Bourgoin. The Titans are on a winning streak that has lasted over nearly two seasons, and they are an almost impenetrable force. The stamina of key players like Farese and Pogu allows them to maintain a high standard and intensity of play for longer than most teams. However, as Australia showed when they beat a Titan-majority French team in last year’s IQA World Cup quarterfinal, the Titans can be beaten if a team can outpower them physically while coping with their fast-paced play. For the Titans, anything less than a title would be a disappointment, and they will need to remain focused throughout the tournament in order to continue their European domination.

Australian transfer Lachlan Ward chasing for the University of Sydney Unspeakables | Photo Credit: Courtney Buckley, via Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography

Tornadoes Quidditch Club
By Bex McLaughlin and Claudio Svaluto
Editor’s Note: Both Bex McLaughlin and Claudio Svaluto play for the Tornadoes

Tornadoes QC (TQC, formally Taxes Quidditch) qualified for EQC via the third place playoff at Northern Cup 2016. European qualification is an improvement from the lower bracket at BQC 2016 in their inaugural season, where nerves and overconfidence got the better of this veteran squad. TQC’s model of monthly training weekends has finally paid off, giving the Tornadoes consistent physicality and fluid passing. The TQC squad is comprised of alumni from over 10 different university clubs; gelling conflicting playing styles was initially a hurdle for the team’s competitive gameplay, but a little over a year together with few changes to their roster has resulted in a tactically coherent squad.

One of the main aspects that sets the Tornadoes apart from other squads is their gender diversity and utilisation of non-male players. TQC regularly fields male minority squads under the guidance of TeamUK head coach Emily Oughtibridge. Chasers Abbi Harris, Nicole Stone, and El Zukowicz, along with beater Becky Thomson, combine experience, tenacity, and strong ball handling to anchor the team. Most Tornadoes bring a high-level of versatility to their game, allowing for any gaps due to injury or fatigue to be filled with no drop off in talent. Most notably, their seeking line of Stone, Tom Jones, TeamUK seeker David Goswell, and Lee Baughan, to name just a few, means TQC are well-prepared to face most snitching styles.

While this is the club’s first foray into the European arena, in TeamUK’s Goswell, chaser-turned-beater Jonathon Cookes, Team Italy’s Claudio Svaluto, Team Mexico’s Guillermo Somuano Ballesteros, Team Ireland’s Eamonn Harrison, and Catalonia’s Bex McLaughlin, the squad has plenty of international experience, which will prove invaluable in Belgium.

Bex McLaughlin keeping for Tornadoes | Photo Credit: Claire Purslow Quidditch Photography

Barcelona Eagles
By Bex McLaughlin

One of just a handful of teams to be attending their fourth consecutive EQC, the champions of Catalonia are well-known throughout Europe. The Eagles remain unbeaten by any Iberian team, and narrowly missed the upper bracket at EQC 2016 with SWIM losses to NTNUI Rumpeldunk and Darmstadt Athenas. The Eagles also dominated Spanish champions Lumos Compostela at Mangamore Kopa in October 2016, winning 130*-20 and 80-40* in pool play and the final, respectively.

While a core of Eagles remain ― most notably captain beater and keeper Marc “Big Markus” Garganté, former Team Catalonia coach Chema Hidalgo López, team founder Alba Arrieta, and team coach Pau “Silver” Pérez Casas ― the task of making the upper bracket will be a challenge with a squad of only 13, particularly during seeker play with a lack of non-male players. However, Faby Echeverria, on study abroad from Florida International University with years of USQ experience, and seasoned basketball players Eric Armengol and Abraham Giménez, are welcome additions to the squad this season.

As ever, the Eagles suffer at the hands of Spanish geography with a lack of challenging opponents to play between events like EQC and European Games. They soundly dominated their main Catalan rival, Nightmare Grims, at the Catalan Cup III in November 2016, and with their exception of their own Barcelona Moustaches Time tournament, rarely get opportunities to perform competitively.

Marc “Big Markus” Garganté keeping for Catalonia at the IQA Quidditch World Cup 2016 | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography

Rumours that much of the Eagle ‘old guard’ will be retiring or moving elsewhere after this summer’s European Games, coupled with the impressive growth of new local competition the UAB Ashwinders, could spell the end of the Barcelona side’s EQC run. To finally see the Eagles make a divisive show into the upper bracket that has been so tantalisingly close before would be a dream ending for a team in its last iteration of its current form.

Three River Dragons Passau
By Lena Mandahus

The Three River Dragons Passau narrowly missed out on last year’s EQC spot, but after coming in second place in an exciting final at the German Winter Games (DQWS), they seemed to have an easy time securing their spot for this year’s tournament.

Passau took part in EQC 2015, and since then they have improved significantly. With their quick and agile quaffle players, such as Heiner Elser, Ida Meyenberg, and Marco Ziegaus, they are a force to be reckoned with, and have become one of Germany’s most physical teams. Their beaters are also well-coordinated as Felix Linsmeier, Sarah Fuchs, and Chris Häuser have played together for many years, which shows in their on-pitch chemistry. Passau were also lucky enough to recruit former Aemona Argonauts players Borut Bezgovsek, who was voted MVP at River Cup 2016, and Verena Deutsch, who was voted team world seeker at Word Cup 2016. The two of them bring even more experience into the already stacked team.

Borut Bezgovsek keeping for Slovenia at IQA World Cup 2016 | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography

In addition to these seasoned players, there is one newcomer to watch out for: Sami Fekkak, a French exchange student who has already shown great promise with his excellent positioning and fast drives at Danube Cup 2016 as well as at DQWS in January 2017. In the final of the latter, Fekkak also showed his strength as a brilliant seeker.

With their great teamplay, a roster full of strong, experienced players, and capable new additions to their team, Passau have the potential for a strong showing at EQC.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that Paris Titans will dominate their group. The second day of the tournament will be a lot more interesting for the Titans, especially with teams such as Velociraptors Quidditch Club and Antwerp A looking to defeat the two-time champions. Tornadoes QC are expected to make it to the upper bracket due to their experience; however, the Three River Dragons Passau will give their all to create an upset, with their stacked roster this season they stand a chance to win against the British team. The Tornadoes vs. Passau game will certainly be interesting to watch. The Barcelona Eagles will most likely come last in their group, as their small number of female players will cause difficulty for the team.