By Richard Turkowitsch
It is the longest–running German quidditch tournament and among the most prestigious of the country: the third German championship is coming to the city of Frankfurt am Main from June 2–3, played at the grounds of German fourth division football club FSV Frankfurt.
While originally intended as the one tournament for all teams of Germany to play in, with the introduction of the second-tier Eispokal tournament, the character of the tournament has slightly changed. Several teams have declined to go, most notably the Eispokal champions Broom Breakers Quidditch, but the tournament will still feature most of the top teams of German quidditch.
The original gameplay mode was not without controversy. Due to the uneven number of teams applying, there are five groups of three teams and three groups of four teams. In the original gameplay mode, the fourth–placed teams from the groups of four would have had no chance to contend for anything else but the bottom three spots of the overall ranking, whilst teams who were drawn into groups of three would have had a guaranteed ranking outside of the bottom three. Because the end rankings of the tournament have implications for future qualifications to other DQB tournaments, this caused an outrage among teams drawn into the groups of four, especially considering the fact that those groups are stacked with strong teams while some groups of three were not.
To the organising committee’s credit, they responded to the backlash calmly and swiftly, and switched the gameplay proceedings to a fairer version that will make the fourth–placed teams eligible for standard lower-bracket play, a move that was widely applauded by the community.
Several other German tournaments will be mentioned in this article: Deutsche Quidditchspiele (DQS), Germany’s European Quidditch Cup (EQC) qualifier featuring the country’s top 16 teams, Eispokal, the tournament for all teams who have not qualified for DQS, and Ligafinale, the tournament for the champions of Germany’s six regional leagues.Additionally, this article mentions several players as “national team players” — the full roster of the German national team has not yet been fully decided and the roster so far has only been cut down to 30 players. For simplicity’s sake, the above wording was chosen, even though not all players mentioned are guaranteed to be in the final squad of the national team.
Black Forest Bowtruckles
One of the groups that many in the community were really looking forward to after the draw is Group A, which includes reigning Northern League champions Hamburg along with the Bowtruckles of Freiburg, one of the oldest and most experienced teams of Germany, Eastern League upstarts Dresden, and Rhein-Main League newcomers Trier.
The clear favorite will be the Werewolves, who are coming off a five–game winning streak in Northern League gameplay. Despite losing their top chaser in Léonard Podetti to reigning European champions Titans Paris, Hamburg still boast a massive line-up including strong physical keeper and captain Timo Damköhler and aggressive beaters Fenja Höbling and Philipp Innecken. The second upper bracket spot will probably be determined between Freiburg and Dresden. The Bowtruckles had a rocky and injury-plagued 2017, being upstaged by Tübinger Thestrale in BaWü League gameplay, managing 11th place at that year’s DM and 10th place at DQS. Dresden surprised many in the community with a strong fourth–place finish at Eispokal 2017, and since there are not too many meaningful results in Eastern League game play yet, they will be the big unknown factor in this group. Thunderbirds Trier, who might have been able to surprise in other groups, will probably have to contend with fourth place but have a chance at going further in the lower bracket.
Looping Lux Leipzig
Another stacked group pits Eastern League champions Leipzig against Augsburg and Heidelberg, two teams that have shown impressive games at last year’s Eispokal, and Düsseldorf, a young team led by a national team player.
The group should be Leipzig’s to lose. Their roster includes national team players Michael Allgaier as beater and keeper/seeker Ruben Lampe among others, and will give them the upper edge despite heavy challenges from Augsburg and Heidelberg. The Owls will seek redemption after a disappointing fifth–place finish at Eispokal, where they fell victim to an unfavorable draw and could not manage to bring their top level performance on the field. Heidelberg, who have a similar chip on their shoulder for being seeded low in the draw despite coming second at Eispokal, will be the other favourite for the second upper bracket spot in this group. The game between the two teams will be one of the highlights of Day One with Augsburg’s massive physicality against Heidelberg’s tactically strong beater game. Düsseldorf Dementors, despite being one of the youngest teams in German league play, boast national team player Johannes Klein-Peters who alone can make a vast difference in a game, as could be seen in their close game against Bielefelder Basilisken at the NRW League. If the Dementors squad as a whole can manage to step up until the tournament, a surprise third or even second place in the group is not out of the question.
EQC surprise Munich, Northern League challengers Braunschweig, NRW League upstarts Bielefeld and Darmstadt’s second squad — Group C is a fairly wild mix of teams.
Wolpertinger, fresh off their eighth place finish at EQC 2018, will be motivated to the bone. National team players Christian Forner as keeper and seeker and Oda Schiøtz as beater will form the backbone of the squad that has proven themselves to be a much more well-rounded team at EQC and should be able to run away with the group here.
Bielefeld and Braunschweig are both contenders for the second upper bracket spot of the group, both being perennial underdogs in their strong leagues (Bielefeld being stuck behind Bonn and Bochum, Braunschweig behind Hamburg and Bremen) but able to surprise and challenge Munich with their varied chaser game and their tough beater squad, respectively. The game between the two will also be a highlight of Day One.
Darmstadt Bthenas will be a bit of an unknown entity. Darmstadt splitting their roster in two will lead to small squads for both teams and the lesser experienced players will be handicapped by that even more. None of the players are fully inexperienced, though, since all of them have played games in the Rhein-Main League where, as has to be kept in mind, Darmstadt are still undefeated. Nevertheless, both Bielefeld and Braunschweig are solid teams and should be able to outlast the Bthenas.
Ruhr Phoenix Bochum
The newly energized Phoenix will meet last year’s BaWü League champion Tübingen and the less experienced second squad of Three River Dragons Passau.
As with many of the other groups, the No. 1 seed will likely take this one. Ruhr Phoenix Bochum will be flying high after their upset win over Rheinos Bonn in this year’s NRW League leaving them top of the table after the first half of the season. With their massive tactical strength in both the chaser and the beater game only lacking the certain last bit of physicality, the group stages will be a breeze for Bochum. Tübinger Thestrale who, after the loss of some important talent are sort of a mix of last year’s squad and their B-Squad TTT, will not be able to contend for much. Dropping to fourth place in this year’s BaWü League, the Thestrale will be happy with whatever is coming for them. Challenging them for the second upper bracket spot will be the Dragonflies, the second squad of reigning champions Three River Dragons Passau. While the squad will feature a few experienced players such as keeper Ida Meyenberg and some guest players from Kelpies Bamberg Quidditch such as beater Moritz Ewerling and keeper Kristina Steinhauf, the Dragonflies will rely heavily on new talent but Passau have proven time and time again how good they are at recruiting and developing players, so a slight upset against Thestrale and a move to the upper bracket is not out of the question.
Three River Dragons Passau
Reigning champions Passau meet Frankfurt and a wild mix of players from different teams playing as Bielefeld’s second squad.
Parts of this article might read like a broken record, but frankly there’s a limited number of ways to say that the first seed of a group is the favourite to top it. And that is certainly the case in this group with Three River Dragons Passau, one of the absolute elite teams of German quidditch, extra motivated by their close miss of upper bracket play at EQC. Stacked with current and former national team talent, the Dragons will have few problems marching on to the finals.
This is not to say that Frankfurt Mainticores will be a pushover after the group stages. Their experienced squad and vast tactical knowledge will guarantee a good run on Day Two. Bielefelder Basilikum might be the biggest unknown of the entire tournament, featuring a lot of new recruits with limited playing experience as well as a few guest players from Oldenburg’s Dobbys Klatscher. The Basilikum will probably be the favourite for the wooden spoon and the classic quidditch journalist phrase: “They played to gain experience.”
Darmstadt — one of the strongest teams in Germany — Eastern League underdogs Jena, and BaWü League newcomers Mannheim face off in a group where the outcome almost seems predetermined.
What can be said about Darmstadt that hasn’t been said so many times before? An impeccable passing game, one of the most physical and athletic squads in Germany, a whooping five national team players in Jadena Bechtel, Nadine Cyrannek, Madline Fischer, Patrick van Halem and Steffen Wirsching and a slight chip on their shoulder from being outshone by Wolpertinger at this year’s EQC, the Athenas, despite having a somewhat small squad in their A-team due to the split, will be a heavy favourite for the final and the group stages will not keep them from their goal.
Jena Jobberknolls, one of the oldest teams of Eastern Germany, founded in 2015, have made noticeable improvements since their 17th place out of 18 at DQWS 2017 (the precursor to DQS), especially in their chaser game, but the Athenas will undoubtedly be too much for them. Mannheimer Greife, who have only started tournament and league play with Eispokal 2017 and the 2018 BaWü League respectively, have shown progress quickly but will probably not be able to really challenge the more experienced Jena team.
The reigning league champions from Bonn meet the experienced Bremen squad as well the the explosive upstarts from Bingen am Rhein in an all-B group.
If they weren’t a team comprised of some of the nicest and friendliest players of the German community, Rheinos Bonn would be furious. Chasing Ruhr Phoenix in the NRW League and losing to Passau in the Lower Bracket final of EQC, the current league champions have everything to prove.
Anyone standing in their way to their second German championship title will have to face their stacked squad including a whopping seven national team players (chasers Lukas Dreyer, Anneke Müller, Giulia Pugnaghi, and Leander Troll and the beating talents of Leon Bürgers, Sina Rehberg and Christian Zimpelmann — although the latter will not be playing) and their highly aggressive beater play and breakneck speed chaser offense.
Portkeys Bremen will have a tough time and despite their experienced squad probably will not be able to contend, seeing as they found no solution against the similarly offensively strong Hamburg Werewolves in Northern League gameplay. Challenging them for the upper bracket squad will be Binger Beasts from Bingen am Rhein. One of the fastest–growing teams in Germany and equipped with a full squad, the Beasts have showed massive promise in the Rhein-Main League, even upsetting Frankfurt in the process. Whoever falls down to the lower bracket in this group is certainly among the favourites to win that lower final.
Flying Foxes Karlsruhe
The newly consolidated and professionalised capital city team, the Berlin Bluecaps, will meet BaWü League favorites Karlsruhe as well as NRW League stalwarts Münster.
The Berlin Bluecaps, the oldest team in Eastern Germany, founded in 2014, have long been overshadowed in league and tournament play by their league rivals from Leipzig. However, they have high hopes for 2018, having joined SC Charlottenburg, a true multi-sports club with a long tradition in football, ice hockey, volleyball, and American football and therefore vastly improving their training capabilities. While the direct duel between Berlin and Leipzig is still to be played, the Bluecaps will seek to assert their status as the true number one of the East by finishing high at the championships, and with their stacked squad, the sky’s the limit.
They will be facing a heavy challenge from Flying Foxes Karlsruhe, though, who, despite their relative youth as a team, boast one of Germany’s top seekers in Pascal Bothe and a dangerous, swift beating squad. Karlsruhe surprised many with their glacially slow game dominating the first game day of the BaWü League. While both Heidelberger Hellhounds as well as Black Forest Bowtruckles from Freiburg have since showed how to beat Karlsruhe, the Foxes are still a very dangerous team, especially since they earned the title of champions of the 2018 BaWü league. Münster Marauders will probably not be able to challenge Karlsruhe, despite finishing 14th at DQS (and Karlsruhe only playing Eispokal). The Marauders are a solid and competent team (even boasting a national team player in Franziska Gröne) but an upset against either Berlin or Karlsruhe is unlikely.
If all the favorites can deliver their best performances and beat the probable second-placed teams — and considering there is usually a surprise team, that is a big “if” — the quarterfinals will see a big variety of rematches: Hamburg playing Munich, Passau taking on Bonn, Bochum pining for revenge against Leipzig who kicked them out of playoff contention in the group stages at last year’s DQS by a score of 70-80*, and Darmstadt facing the Berlin Bluecaps. With the elite level of quidditch in Germany being a very close affair, all of these games will be close and make for exciting viewing.
Editor’s Note: Featured Image Photo Credit: Van Klaveren Quidditch Photography