By Andy Marmer, Austin Wallace, Christopher Dewing, Alex Russell, and Carrie Soukup
Editor’s Note: The following is a quick analysis. While the Quidditch Post’s editors did their best to ensure the accuracy of all stats and information, due to our desire to provide quick and timely information, some errors may have arisen. We apologize for any mistakes and will do our best to correct any incorrect information that is pointed out to us.
The Tuesday 11 days before a major tournament means one thing: pool draws. A favorable pool can be the springboard to Day Two glory, as it allows for easy wins, high point differentials, and a top seed entering the bracket. On the other hand, a difficult pool can be a death sentence that causes tough games, lower than-expected seeding, and of course the possibility of elimination. With USQ announcing the pool draw for US Quidditch Cup 10, we break down each pool, games, and fun facts on our way to identifying the 36 teams that will advance to bracket play.
- Texas Quidditch
- Ball State Cardinals
- University of California Los Angeles
- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Quidditch
- RIT Dark Marks
Right out of the gate, we have a pool that should create a lot of excitement and drama. Texas Quidditch, a three-time champion, saw its undefeated title run ended by the beating and seeking of the Ball State Cardinals. Both teams have lost arguably their best beaters from last season in Michael Duquette (Texas) and Tyler Walker (Ball State) to Lone Star Quidditch Club. Walker and star keeper Blake Fitzgerald, key to Ball State’s semifinal run last year, have both departed, but the team still has Team USA seeker Jason Bowling, who caught the snitch that ended the Texas dynasty last year. As both Ball State and Texas know, a good seeker can make a world of difference. Neither team seems likely to be troubled by any other in this pool. The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), despite a 12-6 record, is 0-3 in SWIM range games decided by a snitch catch this season, and 5-6 against US Quidditch Cup qualifying teams. Against Texas and Ball State, two clearly superior teams, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Quidditch (UNC) squad, who will likely play them in range, this spells trouble for the Bruins. With an 18-10 record, UNC boasts an experienced squad, and with just two out of range losses has the ability to hang with any team it faces. While they may upset UCLA, the Tar Heels, only two years removed from a US Quidditch Cup quarterfinal berth, do not have the talent to hang with either Texas or Ball State. RIT, with just a 9-13 record, can be expected to go winless. Still, in the only matchup this season between teams in this pool, RIT narrowly fell to Ball State 80*-50.
Game to Watch
Is there any doubt at all? USQ couldn’t have created a more compelling game if it rigged the pool. Last year Ball State ended the Texas dynasty 90*-50 in the Round of 16. Here, the Longhorns have a chance at payback. Of course second place has to go to Texas – UCLA who last met in Kissimmee, Florida in the finals of World Cup VI. The winner went on to win two more titles; the loser hasn’t reached bracket play since a Round of 32 exit at World Cup VII.
Pool 1 boasts five collective semifinal appearances at US Quidditch Cups, the most of any pool.
- Texas Quidditch 4-0
- Ball State Cardinals 3-1
- The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Quidditch 2-2
- University of California Los Angeles 1-3
- RIT Dark Marks 0-4
- Bowling Green State University
- BosNYan Bearsharks
- Cal Quidditch
- Virginia Quidditch Club
With just one loss on the season, the Great Lakes Regional Champions will enter their pool as the heavy favorites. It has been much discussed, but the last time Bowling Green State University (BGSU) was in Kissimmee, it shocked many by reaching the semifinals of World Cup VI. This year, it won’t have the element of surprise. If seeker Sam Roitblat can channel sunshine in a bottle, a deep run is a possibility, but regardless, BGSU shouldn’t be too troubled by its pool. BosNYan has the best chance of toppling Bowling Green, with multiple veterans of last year’s championship Quidditch Club Boston team. The first year community team boasts a talented roster, but with only 16 games this year and only four since the end of October, the multi-city squad might lack the cohesion to threaten an experienced BGSU side. Both Bowling Green and BosNYan have had to battle weather in their frigid climates. This could be a factor early on as both adjust to the warm weather of Florida, but BGSU should top the group and neither should have much trouble advancing. The third place spot in the pool will likely come down to a battle between Cal Quidditch and Virginia Quidditch Club, two programs that, despite a rich history, have very little in the way of meaningful quidditch moments, save Virginia’s memorable surprise run to the Round of 16 at USQ World Cup 8. However, the two programs appear to be trending in different directions. Cal dominated the early part of the season, going 10-1 without leaving Northern California, but at the West Regional Championship, the team limped to qualification with a 4-3 performance, including a pair of out-of-range losses. Cal has beaten just one team that qualified for US Quidditch Cup; it seems to be a team whose seeding was boosted through weak opposition. Virginia started the season going 0-6, but turned it around for a 6-1 tear in the fall, including wins over UNC and Richmond and its lone loss by a snitch catch to pod one Maryland. Tribe surprised many by qualifying and is unlikely to be a factor in this pool.
Game to Watch
Cal and Virginia are two teams who seem to be perpetually on the bubble to make bracket play, and this year the two squads will very likely face off for a spot in bracket play. Given its recent momentum and questions about Cal’s resume, expect Virginia to qualify as the third placed team in Pool 2.
BosNYan Bearsharks are the highest ranked first-year team attending US Quidditch Cup.
- Bowling Green State University 4-0
- BosNYan Bearsharks 3-1
- Virginia Quidditch Club 2-2
- Cal Quidditch 1-3
- Tribe 0-4
- Florida’s Finest
- Texas A&M Quidditch
- Ohio State Quidditch
- Appalachian Apparators Quidditch
- Anteater Quidditch
Last year, Florida’s Finest shockingly failed to qualify for US Quidditch Cup 9. This year, the Flamingoes enter US Quidditch Cup without having lost a single game. Still, with just 14 games played, and with Florida’s Finest yet to take on official competition outside the South region (Finest did attend Wolf Pack Classic, which was declared unofficial after the tournament), the question is whether Florida’s Finest is significantly better than last year, or is just preying on a weak region. Texas A&M could provide a strong measuring stick of the ability of Florida’s Finest. Although 18-9, Texas A&M is just 4-5 this spring against teams that qualified for US Quidditch Cup. Although in December the team knocked off both Lone Star Quidditch Club and Texas Quidditch at the Lone Star Invitational, it has also lost twice this year to the University of Texas at San Antonio. A&M is clearly below the very top tier of the Southwest, but is nonetheless a strong program capable of a deep run and knocking off inferior competition. Ohio State, a consistently strong program, enters the tournament at 17-8 with a 5-3 record this spring. Although Ohio State is likely to advance, it is unlikely to knock off its two warm-weather foes who have played 13 and 16 games in 2017. The Appalachian Apparators and Anteater Quidditch are both unlikely to qualify for bracket play. Appalachian enters the tournament with a 12-14 record, while Anteater comes in at 10-13. The Apparators have played eight times in 2017, going 1-7 with a 0-5 record in SWIM games, so although their snitch game has let them down, they are capable of holding teams within range and could pull an upset. Anteater Quidditch likewise pulled a famous upset with its win over the Lost Boys earlier this year, but is overmatched in this pool.
Game to Watch
The Florida’s Finest match against Texas A&M is a good barometer of the status of the two regions. The South is often derided as one of the weaker regions, and if its undefeated champion cannot top a second-tier Southwest team, it will confirm that suspicion. Likewise, the Southwest is typically considered one of the top regions in quidditch and having a team outside of its top four knock off the top dog from another region will help to reinforce the Southwest’s claim.
This year, Anteater Quidditch is the only college team to qualify for its first-ever US Quidditch Cup.
- Texas A&M Quidditch 4-0
- Florida’s Finest 3-1
- Ohio State Quidditch 2-2
- Anteater Quidditch 1-3
- Appalachian Apparators Quidditch 0-4
- The Lost Boys
- Gulf Coast Gumbeaux
- District of Columbia Quidditch Club
- New York Quidditch Club
Quality beater play will be on display as some of the top community teams face off in Pool 4. Perpetual contenders the Lost Boys look favored to top the group, though these aren’t the Lost Boys your older sibling might remember. With a 17-3 record, the Lost Boys rely on defense, having surrendered more than five goals in just three matches (and going 3-3 in those contests). Gulf Coast Gumbeaux and District of Columbia Quidditch Club (DCQC) have a decent shot at knocking off the Lost Boys. Gumbeaux enters with just six losses on the season to Texas Quidditch, Lone Star Quidditch Club, Texas Cavalry, Los Angeles Gambits, and twice to Texas State University – San Marcos; these are five of the top teams in the sport (Gumbeaux has also defeated Texas State). DCQC is the third favorite to advance out of the pool, boasting a veteran squad and a 27-8 record. A formidable pod three team returning numerous players from last year’s Round of 16 squad, DCQC is a threat to both of the higher-seeded teams in this group and in the bracket. At 12-11 and 9-8, respectively, both New York Quidditch Club and inTENNsity are capable teams, but given the talent at the top of this pool, neither is likely to make much noise.
Game to Watch
At World Cup VII, Louisiana State University (LSU) famously knocked off a highly-regarded Lost Boys squad. Many of those LSU players now play for Gumbeaux, and they will be looking to again claim victory on behalf of the Southwest.
With four community teams, Pool 4 represents the most community teams in any pool.
- Gulf Coast Gumbeaux 4-0
- The Lost Boys 3-1
- District of Columbia Quidditch Club 2-2
- New York Quidditch Club 1-3
- inTENNsity 0-4
- Los Angeles Gambits
- Penn State University Nittany Lions
- Boston University Quidditch
- Central Michigan Quidditch Club
- SHSU Quidditch
After failing to capture a coveted West Regional Championship, the Los Angeles Gambits might feel they’ve received their karmic reward with a pool that should give them ample opportunity to enter the bracket as the top seed. While the Gambits’ quaffle depth is formidable, their seeker rotation of Margo Aleman, Edgar Pavlovsky, and Eric Dreggors might be one of the best ever assembled. If the Gambits want a deep bracket run, they’ll need this group often. At 15-3, Penn State has quietly turned in a solid season, including a win last weekend over pool-mate Central Michigan Quidditch Club 120*-30. A relatively weak 3-2 record in SWIM games could be dangerous in this pool with many teams a threat to bracket play. Boston University has played just two games this spring, where it split a pair of snitch-range games with the BosNYan Bearsharks. Possessing a rich heritage, the team has the talent to reach bracket play, but is unlikely to do much damage beyond there and boasts just a 3-3 record in snitch-range games. Central Michigan comes into the tournament off of an uninspiring 5-5 spring. Although program stalwarts like Ashley Calhoun and David Wilber have returned to the fold, the team doesn’t seem likely to pull off a deep bracket run, although bracket play is certainly within its grasp. SHSU Quidditch typically improves each spring from its fall performance, but that hasn’t manifested itself so far this season. A 9-9 record this spring in the Southwest is nothing to sneeze at, but a 4-9 record against fellow qualifiers indicates that this team might not have the same talent of last year’s squad that reached bracket play.
Game to Watch
Although games between the pod 1 and pod 5 teams are rarely ones to watch, the Gambits needed an overtime snitch catch to overcome SHSU last year. Although the rosters are a bit different, SHSU knows it can play with the pool favorites, and that confidence could have an impact.
Just 31 ranking spots separate the pod 2 and pod 5 teams in Pool 5.
- Los Angeles Gambits 4-0
- Penn State University Nittany Lions 3-1
- SHSU Quidditch 2-2
- Boston University Quidditch 1-3
- Central Michigan Quidditch Club 0-4
- Rochester United
- Lake Erie Elite
- Oklahoma State University
- The Long Beach Funky Quaffles
- Marquette University Quidditch
Last year’s runner up has lost just three times this year, twice to defending champions QC Boston. Largely unchanged from last year, Rochester United is the clear favorite to top the group, led by star keeper Shane Hurlbert. Second place likely belongs to Lake Erie Elite, who fell to Rochester United 130*-70 two weeks ago. This year’s Great Lakes community team du jour has turned in a 12-3 record this spring and boasts stars from many of the region’s top teams of yesteryear. Although unlikely to knock off the pool favorites, Lake Erie Elite should comfortably qualify and is capable of a bracket run if the stars align. Solidly in the Southwest’s mid-tier, Oklahoma State enters the tournament with a 14-8 record, including snitch-range losses to Texas and Texas State. Still, the record is boosted by an 8-2 fall, and perhaps is a bit inflated. The team is just 2-6 this spring against US Quidditch Cup qualifiers. The Long Beach Funky Quaffles’ (LBFQ) stunning win over the Los Angeles Gambits in November put the West on notice, but LBFQ experienced a blowout loss to those same Gambits during pool play of West Regionals and only managed to score a single goal, so their consistency is definitely in question. They have spirit and a talented dual-male beating corps, but that likely won’t be enough to help them advance to bracket play. Marquette enters US Quidditch Cup with a 13-14 record and just a 2-5 record this spring. Although talented enough to trouble teams in this pool, it is unlikely to advance to bracket play.
Game to Watch
Sometimes a good old fashioned slugfest between geographically close teams can be very entertaining. Rochester United and Lake Erie Elite feature many players who have competed for two years in the Major League Quidditch North Division and at colleges not far apart in Rochester and northern Ohio or Michigan. These players know each other well, and that should produce a good game.
Rochester United has lost to just four different teams in the past two years.
- Rochester United 4-0
- Lake Erie Elite 2-2
- Oklahoma State University 2-2
- The Long Beach Funky Quaffles 2-2
- Marquette University Quidditch 0-4
- Mizzou Quidditch
- Boise State Abraxans
- Crimson Elite
- The Southern Storm
- The Silver Phoenix
Led by standout beater David Becker, Mizzou Quidditch brings an impressive 22-2 record into US Quidditch Cup. However, with just four games played this spring, Mizzou might be bringing some rust into the tournament. Drawn into a pool with the Northwest Regional Champions, Mizzou will face a tough battle against last year’s quarterfinalist. The Boise State Abraxans enter US Quidditch Cup with just three losses on the season; though they have experienced a great deal of roster turnover; the team in Kissimmee will be much different from last year’s squad. However, the Bixler brothers and Matt McCracken ensure there is no lack of talent. Boise will see a familiar foe in Crimson Elite; the two have faced off three times this season, with each game being in snitch range and two wins going the way of Boise. Southern Storm and Silver Phoenix are unlikely to make much noise in Kissimmee. Storm has a 10-4 record but is just 3-4 against US Quidditch Cup qualifying teams, with each win over inTENNsity. Meanwhile, Silver Phoenix holds a 12-12 record but is just 3-9 against US Quidditch Cup qualifying teams this spring.
Game to Watch
The only battle of regional champions guaranteed to take place, Boise State and Mizzou should be a fun contest between the champions of much maligned regions. Both teams will be their region’s best hope at a strong performance (or in the case of Boise State, the only hope for its region) and will be looking to make an early statement.
Silver Phoenix is the only B-team to qualify for US Quidditch Cup
- Mizzou Quidditch 4-0
- Boise State Abraxans 3-1
- Crimson Elite 2-2
- Southern Storm 1-3
- The Silver Phoenix 0-4
- Arizona State University
- Lone Star Quidditch Club
- University of Miami
- Macaulay Honors College Marauders
- Richmond Ravens
At their best, Western Regional Champion Arizona State Quidditch looks like the Lost Boys of last season. The team is defined by elite snitch-on-pitch beating and a skilled seeking corps, but it also has a relatively weak quaffle offense that allows average teams to stay in range. Lone Star Quidditch Club (LSQC) was a horrible draw for the undefeated college team because it has no quaffle players who can stop Lone Star’s fast-paced offense, and its beaters are not as talented as Team USA’s Michael Duquette or Tyler Walker. Although Arizona State is the pod one team, LSQC should handily top the pool. Beyond those two, the remainder of the pool is wide open. Miami, the pod three team and a team with historic success, has yet to defeat another qualifier for US Quidditch Cup. The team enters the tournament with a 9-5 record, but an 0-4 showing against fellow qualifiers. Macaulay boasts a similar accomplishment, entering the tournament with a 12-5 record, but just a 1-5 performance against qualifiers. Both teams are undefeated against non-qualifiers. When the movable object meets the irresistible force, something has to give. The Richmond Ravens surprised many by qualifying in their first season of official play; they too hold a dismal record against qualifiers at 0-12 and are just 7-5 against non-qualifiers.
Game to Watch
Arizona State vs. Lone Star Quidditch Club is the perfect litmus test for two teams whose records may bely their talent in very different ways. Arizona State remains undefeated this year, though many still question whether it belongs among the top tier. Lone Star, on the other hand, has seen its roster bolstered throughout the season and is now as formidable as it has ever been.
Three teams in this pool are past regional champions.
- Lone Star: 4-0
- Arizona State University: 3-1
- Macaulay Honors College Marauders: 2-2
- University of Miami: 1-3
- Richmond Ravens: 0-4
- Texas State University – San Marcos
- Rutgers University Quidditch
- Utah State Quidditch Club
- University of Rochester Thestrals
- Miami University (OH) Quidditch
Texas State is a well-rounded team in every area, and MLQ veterans are found throughout the roster. It is hard to find a position where the team has a pronounced weakness; however, Rutgers has a World Cup 2016 veteran in chaser Lindsay Marella, who could prove problematic for every team in this pool. Despite multiple MLQ players on Utah State Quidditch Club (USQC) and relatively decent play, it is not up for the physicality that Texas State brings nor the cohesion that Rutgers will provide. The expensive travel to Florida will likely leave USQC shorthanded and in a tough fight for bracket qualification. The Thestrals are 11-8, but half of those losses are at one tournament alone; the record shows a dramatic improvement over last year’s 8-17 showing. Miami is currently sitting at 11-11, with many games within snitch range and an overtime win in there as well. A record of 3-9 against US Quidditch Cup qualifying teams showcases the battle it will have to remain competitive in this group. Both Rochester and Miami should not impede Texas State and Rutgers in the battle for the top spot.
Game to Watch
Texas State vs. Rutgers will be the game of the pool here. Both teams feature MLQ veterans and very few holes in their rosters for either team to exploit. Expect this game to remain in snitch range throughout.
Utah State Quidditch Club is the only team to qualify for US Quidditch Cup from a region that is not its own.
- Texas State University – San Marcos 4-0
- Rutgers University Quidditch 3-1
- Utah State Quidditch Club 2-2
- University of Rochester Thestrals 1-3
- Miami University (OH) Quidditch 0-4
- Maryland Quidditch
- RPI Quidditch
- Minnesota Quidditch
- Silicon Valley Skrewts
- Baylor University
Featuring five programs with rich traditions, Pool 10 will be a slugfest from top to bottom. Maryland Quidditch (UMD) enters as the pod one team after capturing the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship. The team has attended just one tournament this spring, but UMD performed well; it went 4-0 with two snitch-range wins, including three victories over US Quidditch Cup qualifying teams. RPI is a team led by its MLQ veterans Teddy Costa, Mario Nasta, and Sam Nielson. Although talented, and likely to qualify for brackets, RPI seems unlikely to top Maryland and thus the pool. The battle in this pool will be for the third bracket slot. Minnesota Quidditch had a strong run at the Midwest Regional Championship to qualify, but needed two OT games to do so. Minnesota’s only tournament this spring featured out-of-range losses to Kansas twice, but did include three victories over US Quidditch Cup qualifying teams. Disadvantaged because of its northern location, Minnesota might take some time to warm up to the weather and shake off some of the rust. The Silicon Valley Skrewts are attending their sixth straight US Quidditch Cup and feature a small but talented veteran roster. However, a 2-4 record against US Quidditch Cup qualifying teams leaves questions about whether they can pull out victories over quality opposition. After a year removed from US Quidditch Cup, Baylor returns to Kissimmee where it last advanced to the semifinals at World Cup VI. Although the Baylor teams of yore relied on aggressive beaters and their patented zone defense, this Baylor squad simply lacks the talent of those older teams and will not be a threat to advance.
Game to Watch
Although a bit of an antiquated reality, Minnesota and Baylor features a matchup of the two teams that pioneered the zone defense. Though the zone has spread and the two teams no longer rely as much as they used to on the defense, historians of the sport will enjoy the contest.
Three teams from pool 10 have advanced to semifinals, but none have reached the finals
- Maryland Quidditch 4-0
- RPI Quidditch 3-1
- Minnesota Quidditch 2-2
- Silicon Valley Skrewts 1-3
- Baylor University 0-4
- Texas Cavalry
- The Warriors
- Michigan Quidditch Team
- Tufts University Tufflepuffs
- Illinois State Firebirds
Led by arguably the best all-around player and leader to ever play quidditch, Augustine Monroe, Texas Cavalry enters this tournament as one of the few favorites to win it all. However, this pool does not help its chances of leaving as the top seed. Its toughest matchup is The Warriors, who have bent regional boundaries this year, from their registering in the Mid-Atlantic region to travelling to Cavalry’s home territory for Diamond Cup V. In Texas, the Warriors lost to Texas State in range, one of only two teams that Cavalry has lost to and certainly a threat to keep Cavalry in range. Michigan, as one of the best pod three teams, landed in the wrong pool. With wins against Ball State and other big-name teams on its record this season, Michigan could feel comfortable against a few pod 1 or 2 teams, but the depth and experience of both Cavalry and the Warriors ensures it will have to play at the top of its game if it hopes to secure a win against either team. Tufts University used to be a top team years ago, but the current squad is nowhere near the level of its predecessors. Its lack of play since last fall does it no favors. Despite potentially rough seeding due to an 0-5 start against tough opposition, qualifying for bracket would be a surprise given the strength of the top three teams in the pool. Illinois State Firebirds sport a 9-15 record and have recorded just one victory against a US Cup qualifying team this year. They are unlikely to be competitive.
Game to Watch
Last season, the Warriors knocked Michigan out of US Quidditch Cup, and the former Great Lakes champions will be looking for revenge.
This is the only pool to feature two sets of teams that were in the same region.
- Texas Cavalry: 4-0
- The Warriors: 3-1
- Michigan Quidditch Team: 2-2
- Tufts University Tufflepuffs: 1-3
- Illinois State Firebirds: 0-4
- Quidditch Club Boston
- Kansas Quidditch
- Carolina Heat Quidditch Club
- University of Texas at San Antonio
- Indiana University Quidditch Club
Quidditch Club Boston (QCB) enters US Quidditch Cup having lost just once in the past two years, a 70*-50 loss in January 2016 to the Lost Boys. Despite crucial defections from its title-winning team, it has to be considered the favorite until defeated. Kansas Quidditch has seemingly, finally, lost its place atop the Midwest, finishing as runner up at the Midwest Regional Championship. Community team Carolina Heat Quidditch Club, in its first season, enters with a 9-1 record this spring, with its lone defeat coming to Florida’s Finest at the South Regional Championship. Boasting players from some of the Carolinas’ top programs, Heat has emerged as a strong team in the host region and has gained ample out-of-region experience. The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) enters with a 16-10 record on the season, though just a 4-5 record against US Quidditch Cup-qualifying teams this spring. Boasting an experienced squad, vetted in the Southwest, it has a strong chance of knocking off Carolina Heat for a bracket spot. Indiana University Quidditch Club comes in with a 10-10 record this season and recently lost to its pool-mate Kansas, 110*-10 at World Cup II: Electric Boogaloo. It has three wins against US Quidditch Cup qualifiers this year, but Indiana is likely to finish at the bottom of the pool.
Game to Watch
Carolina Heat and UTSA will very likely find themselves battling for a spot in the bracket. Both teams seem likely to beat Indiana, but neither is likely to knock off QCB or Kansas.
Quidditch Club Boston is currently on the longest winning streak in the sport since Middlebury was defeated at World Cup V in 2011.
- Quidditch Club Boston 4-0
- Kansas Quidditch 3-1
- Carolina Heat Quidditch Club 2-2
- University of Texas at San Antonio 1-3
- Indiana University Quidditch Club 0-4
Continue checking the Quidditch Post in the build up to US Quidditch Cup for more on each team.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article said the Michigan Quidditch Team beat Rochester United, Illinois State Firebirds was winless against qualifying teams, Florida’s Finest did not play any out of region games, and Indiana University Quidditch Club had one win against qualifying teams. These have been corrected.