By Lisa Tubb
October is already in full swing, but that doesn’t mean that the month of September for Eastern Canada wasn’t jam-packed, kicking off the 2017-18 season with great enthusiasm. Let’s take a look back at the start of the Eastern Canadian season
Vive Le Quidditch Libre IV
On Sept. 23, under warmer than usual conditions – thirty-five degrees Celsius with humidity – the Vive Le Quidditch Libre IV tournament was held in Montreal, Quebec.
The outcome on the day’s onset was highly unpredictable, with new faces to the game, a new team, and annual field testing of referees during these opening day matches all colliding in the rare September heat. To begin with, a nod must be given to the Ottawa– and Montreal–based teams for bringing squads heavily dependent on rookies. Despite this, McGill University Quidditch and the University of Ottawa DGs all performed extremely well, especially as the day wore on. However, an also rookie-heavy Canada’s Finest Quidditch Club (CFQC), traditionally a strong middle-tier team, was dealt a difficult pool and therefore suffocating point-differentials.
Earlier this summer, it was anticipated that another community team would spring up in the Ottawa region to balance out veteran power in the north and south regions of Ontario: the North American House Hippos – Broom Riders of Ottawa (N.A.H.H., B.R.O.). However, N.A.H.H., B.R.O. seems to have faded in favor of its veterans rejoining school-based teams. On the other hand, Valfreyja, the B team of Valhalla Quidditch, appears to be around to stay. Valfreyja is a development squad for veterans of Valhalla or other community teams. Players placed on this roster are there to develop themselves into well-rounded, more versatile players who can be called upon when Valhalla requires.
The tournament did provide a few surprises. In one of the first matchups of the day, the rematch of the 2017 National Championship semifinal game resulted in a major power reversal with Valhalla performing more aggressively and cohesively to win 140*-20 over Guelph. The veteran Valhalla roster featured many of the 2017 National Championship squad, with a notable position change of Jonathan Golla from keeper to beater. Golla has managed throughout the summer to hone in on his hidden beater talent, breaking in this season with dual-threat status.
All three development or B teams in the East were present at Vive Le Quidditch Libre. By the end of this season, I believe these B squads will blow past the current expectations and the supposed disparaging B–level title given the amount of growing pains all three squads will have gone through. Royal City Quidditch showed considerable improvement from last season in matches against the DGs and Valfreyja, albeit suffering a defeat in a very physical and gritty game against McGill. While Valfreyja was participating with a limited roster this tournament, this veteran squad managed to hold its own and keep the scores relatively tight during hard-fought losses against Ottawa and McGill. The most senior B squad in the East, CFQC, was thrown into a challenging pool; in most games it was shut out from snitch catches and only managed to score 80 points throughout the day.
Although the pool play matches produced close scores, they ultimately produced remarkably predictable semifinalists that mirrored the 2016 Eastern Regional Championship results. Guelph and McGill battled on in regulation time, and a snitch catch ended overtime in favor of McGill. Meanwhile, the Valhalla and DGs game resulted in a larger score gap, with the more inexperienced DGs giving way to the veterans on Valhalla, who advanced to the finals and won 110-60* over McGill.
The Valhalla Invitational
The Eastern Canadian season continued at Valhalla’s Valhalla Invitational. With the hours dwindling down before the tournament, major schedule amendments were made to accommodate the late drops of both Ryerson Quidditch and RIT Dark Marks.
With the Toronto skyline in the distance, the first teams shuffled onto the pitches, covered in layers and preparing to play in the thick morning dew. The first game in Pool B had been drawn out into nearly an hour–long brawl, with Royal City holding up against veteran-filled Valfreyja, losing only on a snitch catch, 140*-120. Through the matchups during the day, both teams gained confidence in their teammates and increased their physicality on defense. There was hardly a rush on either side that did not result in a momentum-stopping tackle or complete take down. Valfreyja and Royal City eventually surpassed both UTSC and UTSG in their pool. Showing up with only nine players, UTSC unfortunately ran out of gas relatively early in the day, while the full-rostered UTSG appeared timid on the pitch. Both teams attempted to utilize a slow-ball offense to shake off the faster Valfreyja and Royal City squads while conserving energy. This method was successful until their opponents began to meet them high up on the pitch, pushing them back into their own keeper zone, causing turnovers and ultimately chaos.
Across the field, in one of the closest games of the day, Guelph stubbornly defeated Valhalla, bouncing back from a stunning loss in Montreal . Queen’s and Waterloo both fell in their games against Guelph and Valhalla. Both teams concession-caught their snitch against Valhalla, having been out–scored due to Valhalla’s on-point passing and blitzes downfield.
Eastern Canada looks to have produced some very competitive quidditch this season and the Regional Championships are fast approaching on Nov. 11-12.