By Linh Nguyen
With Asian Quidditch Cup 2017 (AQC) taking place this weekend, we take a look at each of the teams competing.
1. Australian National University Owls (ANU)
Last year, they formed a team to travel 6,000 kilometres to Kuala Lumpur of Malaysia to compete in the first Asian Quidditch Cup. This year, a 9-hour haul and 7,000-kilometre distance could not stop them from traveling to Hanoi for the second AQC with the motivating factor being developing local quidditch.
ANU might have a tougher time defending their title this year. With a relatively thin squad of only 10 players, including three mercenaries, it will be interesting to see how their small roster handles the summer heat, which can peak at 40 degrees Celsius during the day.
“We’ll likely have the smallest roster of any team, and being able to have a break is a big advantage,” said coach James Mortensen. “I think the bigger teams have a good reason to feel confident. Additionally, their opponents are also more experienced than last year’s participants, especially some World Cup attendees from the Seoul Puffskeins.”
However, on the bright side, the ANU Owls possess players who are of a higher level than the rest of the tournament. Three World Cup champions — Mortensen, Shu Ying Lee, and Nicholas Allan are top players on the team.
“I’m sure the three of us will make a big impact, though it won’t be enough to overcome good teamwork from our opponents,” said Mortensen.
ANU Owls Roster
Keith Jones (mercenary)
Matthew Wood (mercenary)
Kwun Shing Lau (mercenary)
Shu Ying Lee
2. Damansara Dementors
As the oldest active quidditch team in Asia, before AQC 2017, they have had four years of experience in their pocket, highlighted at AQC 2016. In the situation where there is not a lot of competition, maintaining a team for four years is a remarkable achievement already and that has proved their dedication as well as strong team cohesion.
Remarkably, the Dementors have up their sleeves the overseas students who often spend their summer holidays at home and join the team for summer tournaments. Last year, it was Nadhirah Anwar, a strong beater who by then had just finished second at the British Quidditch Cup with Warwick University Quidditch Team, that joined and helped the team to finish second at the first Asian Quidditch Cup. Against the ANU Owls, featuring two champions just a week earlier in Frankfurt, the Damansara Dementors showed their skills by scoring 11 goals in four matches. This year, it will be Dalili Zahiah Zabri, who was a beater on Ohio State Quidditch and Marcus Toh, a Cambridge University Quidditch Club chaser, who will play some key roles for the team. The only disadvantage for the Damansara Dementors this year is that they will have to get used to a smaller roster, just 13 (including Patrick Gonzaga – a mercenary), compared to a full 21 last year:
“We’re aiming for top three and everyone’s very excited to play in Hanoi,” said captain Andrew Kasimir. “Even though it’s a smaller team I think if we play strategically and smartly, we might get into the final.”
Prediction: Second place
Damansara Dementors Roster
Charmaine Goh Soke Mieng
Marcus Toh Shen-Li
Muhammad Shaqib Bin Shahrilnizam
Low Yat Hong
Yap Teck Fatt
Max Goh Jian-Yong
Patrick James Lee Gonzaga (mercenary)
Andrew Mervyn Kasimir
Dalili Zahiah Zabri
3. Seoul Puffskeins
The Seoul Puffskeins did not register right away for this year’s Asian Quidditch Cup, but when they did, they surprised everyone with the number of players they’re bringing: 16, nearly a full roster, especially impressive given that the flight cost from Seoul to Hanoi is not a bargain. Although some of them are not fully ready for action due to light injuries, the Puffskeins have shown their elaborate preparation for the tournament.
The 2017 Asian Quidditch Cup will be the first official competitive club-level tournament for Seoul Puffskeins since their establishment two years ago, although two of their players appeared at the IQA Quidditch World Cup 2016. Despite finishing last at that tournament, they showed their solid character by striving the whole weekend with just seven players, catching the snitch against the eventual bronze medalists, and scoring a lot of hoops. Back to the country after an unforgettable trip, they have built up the team and attracted a bunch of new players. Aside from Sangbeom Kim, the Captain as well as a World Cup veteran, Joonsun and Yejin will add solidarity and speed to their quaffle game. Four primary and three secondary beaters will also guarantee a strong bludger game for the Puffskeins. For the seeking game, Wajdi Hairul, a Bruneian mercenary seeker, of course will play a crucial role beside their own Hongpeng Li.
Very cautiously, Sangbeom Kim doesn’t fancy their chance: “We don’t really have a specific target in ranking,” Kim said. “We’ll just see how far we can go. Having two people with World Cup experience doesn’t guarantee that we will win AQC this year.”
The team looks forward to tasting beer in the golden winning cup.
Prediction: Third place
Seoul Puffskeins Roster
Hyun Ku Kang
Hyun Seo Cho
Ji Eun Park
4. Hanoi Draco Dormiens
Revitalised in January with weekly trainings and new faces, the team showed its dedication by winning the bid to host. They were also very active in expanding quidditch in the country, masterminding the establishment of the second team in Hanoi, as well as getting closer to making their country a member NGB of the IQA.
Regarding the tournament itself, being at home secured the Hanoi Draco Dormiens a large roster comprised of 20 players. The team, which should be used to the weather and will all speak the same language, lacks tournament experience. Besides Linh Nguyen, their captain and a former Leeds Griffins chaser, no one has ever played a competitive match. Lack of experience may also lead to unwanted cards they could bump into, which might upset them in crucial moments and cost them some important players.
Their performance is an enigma with many players, but little experience.
“Competitive experience is the most valuable reward for the whole team after AQC 2017,” said Captain Nguyen. [Editor’s Note: Linh Nguyen is the author of this piece and the Quidditch Post’s Asia Junior Editor.]
Prediction: Fourth place
Hanoi Draco Dormiens Roster
5. Flame Owls
The second quidditch team in Hanoi was established just months ago, yet has defined their team as a strong and spirited group of young people. In three months, the team has overcome the hardship of setting up a new quidditch team, from gathering members and scheduling trainings to a well-run team. From the state of running amok in their first match, at the moment their quaffle play is well-organised, supported by smart and tactical beaters. Introducing a roster of 15 players, including a chaser from the Three River Dragons Passau, Felix Linsmeier, the Flame Owls are a capable team.
In their last friendly matches against the Draco Dormiens, their chasing lineup showed that the gap between the two teams was just experience. The Flame Owls possess a number of physically strong chasers, notably Vu Cao and Duc Dinh, as well as some fast-paced drivers such as Nam Pham, all of whom will guarantee a decent number of hoops for the team. As for the bludger game, Khanh Phung and Nga Tran have been known as perfect partners with highly accurate beats and a good command of tactics.
“There will be prominent individuals who perform better, but no one is actually the key player in Flame Owls,” said Vu Cao. “Everyone plays an important role in our team.”
With Asian Quidditch Cup in Hanoi this year this tournament provides the Flame Owls with a good opportunity to build up their passion with the sport in addition to gaining experience. Similar to that of Draco Dormiens, how far the team can go is up in the air. After this tournament, though, the team will remember the fun it had and everyone will enjoy each game.
Prediction: Fifth place
Flame Owls Roster