So much to do, so much to see
By Ashara Peiris and Meredith Whiting
Editor’s Note: Ashara Peiris is a member of the London Unspeakables and Meredith Whiting is a member of Warwick Quidditch Club.
With British Quidditch Cup (BQC) 2018 just around the corner and the schedule now released, we look at which are the games to watch on Day One of the tournament and when it would be better to just hide and take a nap.
8 a.m. – Opening Ceremony
What better way to start BQC than listening to the tournament committee welcome everyone whilst you meet up with your small selection of friends and start the festivities with an early morning hug line? Alternatively, just try to chug as much coffee as your body can handle and continue to lament why you’re standing in a field in the outskirts of Oxford at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning.
9 a.m. – Portsmouth Horntail Strikers vs. Sheffield Squids
After facing off in last year’s lower–bracket third–place playoff, which Portsmouth won 160*-20, there has been rising anticipation between the two teams for a rematch. With last year’s Squids’ roster being severely depleted by the time of their game, they will be hoping that their somewhat more full squad – although still lacking big names such as Eddie Bruce, Claire Brand, and Zac Chave-Cox – will be enough to overcome a Portsmouth team that has at time struggled this season with bringing an adequate roster.
10 a.m. – Leeds Griffins vs. Liverpuddly Cannons
At 9:30, we have perennial gatekeepers Leeds Griffins facing off against the Liverpuddly Cannons. Whilst Leeds have consistently had good performances every year, the Cannons have slowly been on the rise. With Leeds boasting a weaker than average side this year – only Joe Croucher, Josh Armitage, and Matty Percival particularly stand out – and with a significantly improved Liverpool side – including standout freshers Nat Welham and Anna Rowe – the Cannons have a very real chance to pull off the upset and make the upper bracket of BQC.
Beaters Sam Senior and Aimee Donhou at Battle Royal II | Photo Credit: More Quidditch Photos
11 a.m. – Bristol Brizzlebears vs. Loughborough Longshots
The 10:30 a.m. slot is one of the best of the day with three potentially exciting games going on. We have Keele Squirrels vs. Falmouth Falcons in what will likely be the game to determine second place in their group, and Southampton Quidditch Club Seconds vs. Holyrood Hippogriffs Seconds, in what is the only game between second teams on Day One of BQC.
However, our pick is the Bristol Brizzlebears vs. Loughborough Longshots.
Loughborough, placed fifth at Northern Cup 2017, are to face off against the fourth–placed Brizzlebears, which is looking to be a closer game than many would have expected at the start of the season. Several Loughborough players have stepped up over the season to become prominent playmakers, such as Jack Kohli and Franky Kempster. Bears are showing the loss of a key player in time for BQC as Aaron Brett-Miller has taken a place on the Brizzlebees roster instead. Sam Senior has exhibited a much improved level of beating in recent tournaments, such as the final of Valentines Cup 2018, and has slotted effectively into the line-up to reduce the impact of Brett-Miller’s loss. The chaser game will be particularly key in this game to see whether Loughborough’s chasers will be enough to break the defence of the Bears.
The Holyrood Hippogriffs at Northern Cup 2017 | Photo Credit: Claire Purslow Quidditch Photography
Noon – Holyrood Hippogriffs vs. Radcliffe Chimeras
One game that may result in a second seed win over their first seed is that of the Holyrood Hippogriffs vs. the Radcliffe Chimeras. Whilst their Southern Cup 2017 performance was at times disappointing – for example in a scrappy first game against Cambridge Quidditch Club – they managed a top–six finish, only getting knocked out by the Brizzlebears in SWIM in the quarterfinals. The Chimeras boosted by Canadian transfers in the form of Jonathan Parent and Christian Favreau as well as veteran Oxford players Alice Walker and Mark Richards will put up a stiff fight against the Hippogriffs. Edinburgh will be looking to repeat their BQC 2017 success by once again topping their group, albeit this time as the top seed. With Ollie Riley and Trym Raddum Berge returning from injury, and bolstered by a strong supporting cast in all positions, the Hippogriffs should walk away with a victory over the Chimeras. However, little is assured after last year’s group in which the Hippogriffs only narrowly eked out a win against Sheffield before comfortably defeating Warwick in the upset of the tournament.
1 p.m. – Lunch – Over 45s game
The highlight of the tournament for many people is the over 45s game organised by Howard Orridge. Following on from the playing success of Orridge at Valentines Cup and Northern Cup, Orridge is aiming to replicate this success by having the first ever Masters game of quidditch. Aimed mainly at parents of quidditch players, this will surely be an enjoyable event to watch, and the perfect way to enjoy lunch.
1:30 p.m. – Warwick Quidditch Club vs. Falmouth Falcons
Whilst the 1 o’clock game between Warwick and Falmouth will likely be a one-sided win for Warwick, it is always fun watching Reuben Thompson attempt to tackle as many Warwick quaffle players as possible. This game could also provide some insight into the Keele-Warwick game in the last slot of the day based upon the results of the Falmouth-Keele game too. If you don’t fancy this game, though, this is probably a good time to nip to Sainsbury’s or have a nap underneath Kerry Aziz’s blanket.
2:30 p.m. – Swansea Swans vs. Sheffield Squids
As part of Group A, in which three teams could conceivably make the upper bracket, every game in this group is vitally important for the teams outside of Velociraptors QC. The Swans – lower bracket semifinalists from Southern Cup – are bringing a very complete squad with apt drivers in Calum Learoyd and ever–improving receivers in Tom Harvey and Jurgis Vaivods. However, they continue to show a deficiency at beater, with little significant improvement over the years. The Squids will be hoping that their squad including American import Sohum Bhatt and Spanish expat Eduardo Cebrián, both of whom can ably quaffle carry and receive can be enough to push them to the upper bracket.
3:30 p.m. – Tornadoes Quidditch Club vs. London Unspeakables
Perhaps the only game in which the seeding is expected to change is that of Tornadoes Quidditch Club against the London Unspeakables. With Unspeakables boasting a strong roster including Alex Macartney, and Spanish players Alberto García Salvador and Paula Marmolejo, alongside an out of SWIM victory at Highlander Cup V against Tornadoes, it will be a confident team that will enter the pitch. Tornadoes will be suffering the loss of Jonathon Cookes and the defection of Dave Goddin back to Velociraptors, yet are fielding a squad capable of a performance that should still end them in the upper bracket. Elliot Fisher should provide a foil to Macartney, Tom Hutton providing ample backup as a strong receiver and point chaser, and with Emily Hymers leading the beater corps, the Unspeakables cannot afford to let their guard down in this game, lest they face a loss.
4:30 p.m. – Leeds Griffins vs. Bristol Brizzlebees
As the final slot of the day, undoubtedly players will be wanting to head back and recover for the following day’s games – yet for those who stay we recommend watching the Leeds Griffins play against the Brizzlebees. Whilst both teams are liable to lose against the strong Liverpool side, the individual players within each team are what will make this game interesting. This game will be a true battle between the chasers and beaters for dominance, as the Bees’ beaters and Leeds’ chasers dominate in their respective positions. After several showings of beating in tournaments, one deciding factor could be the physicality of the beater game if Josh Armitage is to take up the black headband for the Griffins. Whilst he may not match the prowess of Brett-Miller, the change in dynamic could allow the Griffins the break to reach ahead and win the game more comfortably than SWIM.