By Keith Jones
On January 25th, 2020, the second Japanese Quidditch Cup (JQC) was held in Tokyo, Japan. Originally it was supposed to be held on November 24th, 2019, but was rescheduled due to severe weather conditions. The first JQC, also held in Tokyo in 2018, saw four Japanese teams compete with each other. This time saw five teams competing against each other. The tournament was organized by the Japanese Quidditch Association, with Kohei Koyama, Yuuya Nishimura, Rikuta Mizukoshi, Kazuma Abe and Yudai lino being the main organisers in this marvelous event. The tournament followed the IQA 2018-2020 rulebook with a new rule: if a team catches the snitch and the catch is good, and the final score is tied, the team who caught the snitch would be declared the winner. This meant no overtimes or second overtimes in an effort to save time.
The one-day tournament consisted of ten matches, where each of the five participating Japanese teams would play each other once, and the team with the most wins would be crowned the national champions of Japan. The schedule consisted of eight slots. In each slot there would be one match; however, due time constraints, the first and last slots would have two matches happening simultaneously. Yuuya Nishimura, Kohei Koyama, Rikuta Mizukoshi, Stephen Lilco and Keith Jones were the Head Referees during this national tournament. The five participating teams were the Tokyo Penguins, Katayaburi Quidditch, Kaminari Monsters, Azabu Stirring and Osaka Orkinese.
The Tokyo Penguins team comprised of 12 players. The team was founded by Kohei Koyama back in December 2018. They were the champions in the first JQC. Their team is led by captain Minami Hirokawa. Their colours were blue and white.
The Katayaburi Quidditch team comprised of 15 players. The team was led by captain and founder Keisuke Mashiba. It was formed backed in 2018 before the first JQC, and has also participated in the first Edo Cup in 2019. KATAYABURI means “unconventional” in Japanese. An interesting fact about the Katayaburi players is that they also play other sports such as football, korfball, tchoukball, volleyball, Mölkky and other non-mainstream sports. Their colours were red.
The Kaminari Monsters comprised of 15 players. The team was founded back in August 2018, by Stephen Lilco and Camila Cortea. They were the runner ups in the first JQC, and winners of the first Edo Cup in 2019. Their team is led by captain Stephen Lilco. Their colours were mixture of colours – mostly black, green, and yellow.
The Azabu Stirrings comprised of 20 players. The team was led by their captain and founder Shuhei Endo. It was formed in 2019, and the second JQC was its debut appearance in a Japanese quidditch tournament. Its colours were white.
The Osaka Orkinese comprised of ten players. The team was led by their captain and founder Yuichi Kobabyashi. This team is only non-Tokyo team in the second JQC, as it was formed in Osaka in 2019. This is their first tournament appearance ever. Its colours were purple.
The tournament kicked off with two matches starting at the same time, with the Penguins playing against the Orkinese and Monsters against Katayaburi. A few times, bludgers strayed into the opposing game.
The Penguins had the advantage in terms of experience and numbers, however the Orkinese managed to catch the snitch (cold catch), but the final score was 120-50* to the Penguins. The Monsters and Katayaburi match was even matched and paced as both teams were fielded players of similar numbers and experience. Bludger control was on Monsters side. This lead to the Monsters catching the snitch, resulting in a win of 110*-90.
The next game saw Azabu play against the Penguins. The Penguins appeared to be playing defensively and cautiously with strategic short and long passes, as they were recovering from their match from the Orkinese. Azabu utilized quick drives with bludger control to attempt to score. The final score was 60-60*, with Azabu catching the snitch. Under the JQC snitch rule, Azabu was declared the winner.
Round three saw the Monsters playing against the Orkinese. The Monsters had the advantage of experienced players, better organisation and co-ordination that saw them dominating the game. But just like their game with the Penguins, the Orkinese managed to catch the snitch, resulting in a final score of 160-50*.
Next up was Azabu playing against Katayaburi. Both teams followed similar strategies, leading to a tight game. Both sides had strong, sturdy players willing to tackle to prevent a score. Despite Azabu’s number advantage, Katayaburi’s experience advantage secured its victory with better co-ordination and defense with a score of 130*-80.
Round five saw the Penguins square off against the Monsters, with this being the longest and most intense match of the tournament. Two rivals playing it out, with the winners of this game heavily determining the outcome of the Japan Cup. Both sides employed similar offensive and defensive strategies, with both sides wearing each other out. When the snitch was released, it became an even tighter match. But in the end, the Monsters caught the snitch; however, the Penguins won through points: 100-60*.
Next saw Katayaburi play against the Orkinese. Katayaburi heavily dominated the game, this was only game where the Orkinese didn’t catch the snitch. The final score was 200*-30 with total victory to Katayaburi.
Afterwards was the Monsters’ last game of the JQC with Azabu. Both teams started off with even energy, with one team cautiously moved up before driving into through the other team’s defensive positions in an attempt to score. However, Azabu’s numbers advantage led to the Monsters gradually getting tired more, thus resulting in Azabu leading in points. However, the Monsters managed to catch the snitch, thus the score was 70*-70. Under the JQC snitch rule, the Monsters were declared the winners.
Round 8 saw the last two matches happening concurrently, with Katayaburi playing against the Penguins, and Orkinese against Azabu. The Azabu versus Orkinese match saw Azabu in favour due to the number difference. The Orkinese managed to catch the snitch, but Azabu won with 140-70*. In the game between Katayaburi versus the Penguins, both sides gave it their all, sometimes resulting in reckless play with cards given to both sides. But in the end, the Penguins bested the Katayaburi by catching the snitch, score 90*-70.
The final rankings of the second JQC were:
- Tokyo Penguins
- Kaminari Monsters
- Katayaburi Quidditch
- Azabu Stirring
- Osaka Orkinese
The second ever Japanese Quidditch Cup achieved a lot of buildup in Japan, as the performances of the players would help form the first ever Team Japan for the Quidditch World Cup to be held in Richmond, Virginia. Keisuke Mashiba stated that he was satisfied with the results and aims to definitely win in the next tournament. Shuhei Endo made similar remarks: “Azabu had the highest potential. We could be number one if everyone was serious about the Japan Cup.” The Penguins’ captain said, “Compared to the first JQC, everyone is getting better. And it was definitely more difficult to dominate the game. I am very excited about how far Team Japan can go in the World Cup.”
The Osaka Orkinese vowed to practice daily to become the best team in Japan. Stephen Lilco was quoted saying, “We were really happy to come second this year, as well. It was exactly what we were aiming at. We’re happy to stay a relevant presence in the Japanese quidditch scene and want to aim to place much higher.”
The tournament showcased the warm-hearted and friendliness of the Japanese community. All the participating teams and players enjoyed the smoothly organized national tournament, as well as feeling the respectful, bliss atmosphere of Tokyo during the weekend.