By Serena Cheong
For the first time in Quidditch Canada’s (QC) history, a West team brought home the championship. Just 10 seconds after the end of the snitch floor, Indiana Nikel gave the Edmonton Aurors their first national championship title, beating Guelph Quidditch 90*-30 in the finals.
Edmonton came out strong in the finals, especially in the chasing game, and was bolstered by its newfound aggression in beating, matching Guelph’s beaters in physicality. Nonetheless, Guelph’s beaters were more aggressive, but also tended to get caught up in the beating game, conceding multiple fastbreaks to a very quick Edmonton chaser core as a result, mostly to Edmonton captain and Team Canada coach Chris Radojewski. By the 12-minute mark, Edmonton had pulled out of snitch range with a 60-20 lead, a score that remained the same until the end of the seeker floor. This defensive effort by a Guelph team who struggled to put up much offence against the Aurors was largely due to the efforts of Denver Staines, but that was all for naught. Nikel caught the snitch quickly after Guelph potted its third goal of the game, securing the title for the Alberta squad.
The tournament was not without controversy, particularly in the semifinal match between Guelph and Valhalla Quidditch. After Guelph caught the snitch to send this game into overtime, Guelph ended up catching the snitch again in the extra session. Though the snitch catch itself was not well received by Valhalla, who protested the legality of the catch, the bigger issue was that the timekeeper neglected to release the seekers at the 30–second mark, and instead did so after one minute of overtime play. Valhalla argued that since it allegedly had bludger superiority at the 30-second mark, it was put at a disadvantage when the seekers were incorrectly released and wanted the entire overtime period to be reset. Quidditch Canada declined to rule in favor of Valhalla’s protest.
Though Guelph seemed to struggle on Day One, integrating nearly 50 percent of its roster from Royal City, Guelph found its groove on Day Two to play as more of a cohesive unit to make it to the championship match. In particular, its beaters played a smarter game, which allowed for a tighter defensive game.
The other semifinal featured Edmonton overcoming University of British Columbia Thunderbirds Sports Club (UBC), who defeated Edmonton for the West Regional Championship back in November. It was a much tighter game than the one in pool play, where UBC pulled off a dominant 140*-20 win amidst an uncharacteristically bad performance by the Aurors. In the earlier pool play game, UBC’s beaters – Janik Andreas in particular – put on a clinic in aggressive beating and rendered the Aurors’ beaters and defence useless for much of the first part of the game. This allowed UBC’s chasers to drive at will after the lanes were cleared by their beaters. In the semifinal game, Edmonton adapted and started to use its beaters more aggressively on offence. In fact, the Aurors played a much more aggressive game in general, resulting in much success against a UBC squad that had just the other day decimated them. It ultimately came down to a snitch catch, with Nikel making another game-winning catch after a disallowed grab by UBC’s Austin Wallace.
In the lower bracket, the Calgary Mavericks rebounded from their lackluster performance at the West Regional Championship to secure a fifth–place finish. With a full roster, the Mavericks showcased their signature physical play with a consistency that was lacking in previous tournaments due to low roster numbers. In their bracket play game against Guelph, they managed to keep the silver medalists within range (interestingly, they also did the same in last year’s national championship, losing to Guelph 100*-50 with a much smaller roster).
The only British Columbian team in the lower bracket to exceed expectations was the hosting University of Victoria Valkyries (UVic), who had an impressive showing that foreshadows a core with high potential for next season. Both Simon Fraser University (SFU) Quidditch and University of British Columbia Quidditch Club (UBCQC), last seen on the big stage battling it out for third place at the West Regional Championship, brought small rosters and performed disappointingly. In the end, both teams ended up playing for seventh place, a game that SFU won on a snitch catch by veteran player Danny Ly.
With 2018 National Championship likely to be held somewhere in eastern Canada, the East will look to regain its dominance on home turf.
But for now, the Edmonton Aurors celebrate winning Canadian quidditch’s greatest prize.
Nathan Ross, Austin Wallace, and Kayla Ross contributed to the reporting.