By Kamil Urgun
Editor’s Note: Kamil Urun plays for METU Unicorns.
This is the second consecutive European Quidditch Cup (EQC) appearance for ODTÜ Hippogriffs. Last year, they finished the tournament as joint 21st. The Hippogriffs’ roster has not changed a lot in the past year, but they have improved their gameplay both individually and as a team. This year, they are travelling to Pfaffenhofen to impress everyone with their performance. It should not be a surprise to anyone to see them taking medals at the end of Day Two.
|Crookshanks Lyon Quidditch|
|Dementores A Coruña Quidditch Team|
|Dublin Draíochta Dragons|
ODTÜ Hippogriffs were crowned champions of the Turkish Quidditch Cup on Nov. 26, achieving the right to be drafted as first seed. After the group draft, they ended in Group A along with Crookshanks Lyon Quidditch, Dementores A Coruña Quidditch Team, and Dublin Draíochta Dragons. Unless any of these teams surprise us, we will see the Hippogriffs advance to the upper bracket at the top of Group A.
The Hippogriffs’ true strength comes from their physical quaffle players and successful passing game around the hoops. Rojcan Azbay, Tunahan Özdemir, Gökay Bilici, and Doğuş Özol form the core of the team’s quaffle game. All of them are hard to tackle down and are good drivers. They bring extra physicality to the Hippogriffs’ defence and it will be difficult for their opponents to get past them. In addition to a physical chaser game, beaters Olgun Oktar and Nilsu Yerlikaya will be sure to provide a smart beater game for the Hippogriffs – with several years of experience, we can expect to see fake throws, quick thinking to gain and maintain bludger control, and an overall well-read game from the pair of them. When Oktar and Yerlikaya’s beater game is at its best, the Hippogriffs become hard to stop.
This year, İdil Ulusoy (chaser), Berk Akyüz (keeper), and Cemre Avcı (beater) joined to ranks of the Hippogriffs. Ulusoy is well known for her fierce game-style and finishing passes quickly, and if you are planning to pass or to try a shot at the hoops while Akyüz is around, it is recommended to think twice as he has incredible blocking skills.
METU Unicorns are last year’s runner up and won joint third place at EQC 2016. Whilst they achieved a podium finish, they could not manage to place first. However, this time the Unicorns are coming to EQC to get that gold. Taking second place at the Turkish Quidditch Cup on Nov. 26. was the reason why the team was drafted as unseeded. Luckily, they did not find themselves in the Group of Death. Group B might not be the toughest group, but the teams the Unicorns will face in Group B are challenging. Turicum Thunderbirds are the first Swiss team to attend EQC, Ghent Gargoyles are an experienced Belgian team, and HogYork Horntails were finalists at the 2017 Northern Cup. If the Unicorns want to take first place, they must perform their best during group stage, since both HogYork and Ghent may make them pay heavily if they fumble in either the beater or quaffle game.
Some of the Unicorns’ best players, like Ali Deniz Uçar (beater) and Ahmetcan Karakadılar (chaser), won’t be able to play due to injuries. It will be tough to make up the empty spots left by them. Hakan Özçetin’s (beater), Ata Sarçın’s (chaser), and Emre Sönmez’s (chaser) performances will be crucial in that manner. Female chasers of the Unicorns are stronger than ever, and the team is expecting a lot from Sıla Yüksel (chaser), Yaren Uçar (chaser), and Cansu Bozkurt (chaser). The beater game of the Unicorns has always been one step ahead of their opponents, and they are expected to keep it that way during the tournament.
Note: Both METU Unicorns and ODTÜ Hippogriffs are from the same university, Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi (English translation: Middle East Technical University). These two teams have managed to win every Turkish Quidditch League, Turkish Quidditch Cup, and Intergalaktik Cup so far.