Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Red is Indi-Stew-table Champions of Snow Cup V

Andy Marmer, George Williams, Chris Lock, and Kaylee Buchholtz recap Snow Cup and provide their thoughts on the tournament.

Turtles Takes Home Snow Cup Title
By Andy Marmer

General Manager Amanda Turtles poses with her trophy | Photo by Micah Haji-Sheikh

Dashing Through the Hoes (Red Team) earned the Snow Cup title, and while she wasn’t there to play, Amanda Turtles deserves a great deal of credit for the roster she assembled. Although we were highly critical of the roster she assembled on draft day, the results speak for themselves. In the championship game tournament MVP (more on that later) Stew Driflot (Boise State Abraxans [BSA]) made a clutch snitch grab to give Dashing Through the Hoes a 130*-90 victory over Evan Bell’s Hashbrowns. Others will provide more of a description of the tournament; however, the part that so often goes overlooked in analyzing a fantasy tournament is the roster itself.

This summer we saw Gray take home the West Fantasy title without acquiring a true star player (spending no more than 200 out of 1000 galleons on a single player); we also saw Blue win THE Fantasy by acquiring a few stars (spending 830 out of 1000 galleons on just three players). The key for both of those teams and any team that wants to win a fantasy tournament is not missing on early picks and finding good players with later picks. Turtles did just that.

The success of each pick is why Red won. Driflot earned himself MVP honors, but his standout performance was hardly alone. Second round pick Josh Mansfield (Tulane University) and third round pick De’Vaughn Gamlin (University of North Colorado[UNC]) also lived up to their lofty draft positions. Fifth round pick Rich Hatch (Los Angeles Gambits) and seventh round pick Lee Weinsoff (Santa Barbara Blacktips [SBB]) notably stepped up, showing that they were overlooked by rival general managers. It takes a team to win a fantasy tournament, and Dashing Through the Hoes showed they were just that by bringing back a Snow Cup trophy for Turtles.

Rocky Mountain Quidditch Players Dominate Snow Cup
By George Williams

Red Captains Stew Driflot and De'Vaughn Gamlin hail from the Rocky Mountain area and led their Snow Cup team to victory | Photo by Vicky Sanford
Coming into Snow Cup V, people had high expectations for out-of-region talent and for high profile Californian players to dominate at Utah’s most acclaimed quidditch tournament. One of the most surprising results of Snow Cup, however, was the emergence of many underrated playersespecially players hailing from the Rocky Mountain area. With only one player from the Rocky Mountain area drafted in the first round—Stew Driflot (Red Team)and only two more drafted in the second round, it’s safe to say that the top-tier talent was expected to be from farther traveling areas.
The Rocky Mountain areawhich can be considered Colorado, Utah, Idaho and Nevada for quidditch purposeshas never traditionally been home to powerhouse quidditch teams. Teams from these states have rarely been in serious contention for a regional title or in the running for a major tournament. But one thing was made clear at Snow Cup V if it wasn’t already: these teams do have players with top-tier talent.
Before Snow Cup V, I don’t think anyone could have predicted that the three players in contention for tournament MVP would be Driflot, De’Vaughn Gamlin and Edgar Pavlovsky (Brown Team, Crimson Elite [CE]). While none of these players being in contention for MVP was a particular surprise since they’re all very talented, analysts seemed to agree before Snow Cup that Driflot was picked too early, while Gamlin and Pavlovsky weren’t even picked in the first two rounds.
Despite expectations, these players led their teams deep into the tournament with their versatile talent and impressive endurance. Most impressive was that these three particular players managed to catch more than half of the total snitch catches during bracket play – despite each of them also playing full games as chasers. Between their chaser play and game-winning snitch grabs, the value of these players is now pretty obvious and indisputable.
Outside of the tournament MVPs, nearly every other team was led by athletes from the Rocky Mountain area. Ben Reuling (CE) helped create scoring opportunities for the Gray Team with his intimidating offensive beating throughout the weekend. Anchored by the impressive point defense of Casey Thompson (BSA) and Brandon Nhean (UNC), the Orange Team had one of the best chaser defenses at Snow Cup V. With Thompson and Nhean also supporting Tony Rodriguez (Los Angeles Gambits) on offense, the Orange Team never finished a game with a negative quaffle differential.
Rocky Mountain players picked later in the draft really seemed to shine. Dakota Briggs (Utah State Quidditch Club) filled a lot of holes for the Green Team as a fifth-round pick, playing keeper, chaser, and beater throughout the tournament. Despite not being picked until the fifth round, Kristin Jakus (CE) was perhaps the most valuable female chaser at the tournament, with goals scored in nearly every single Brown Team match and multiple goals in the championship. For White Girl Problems, Zach Holley and Erik Tita of Crimson Elite combined with first-round pick Andrew Murray (Los Angeles Gambits) to form a very intimidating chaser line, with impressive contributions and ball handling from eighth round pick Averianne Ward (Utah State).
Teams with solid out-of-region picks seemed to rely heavily on their Rocky Mountain area draft picks. The Black Team had decent early round picks in Tylor Mclaren (Oklahoma Baptist University [OBU]), Chandler Smith (OBU) and Austin Pitts (Kansas Quidditch). The team’s physical roster was noticeably rounded out by fifth-round pick Joshua Govenor (BSA) and seventh-round pick Emerson Evans (CE). Purple Empire picked up valuable players in Keir Rudolph (Kansas) at seeker in addition to Cy Torrey (SBB) and Sarah Kneiling as beaters. But Joel Johnson (BSA) stood out for them at Keeper as one of their only proficient ball handlers.

It makes sense for a tournament in Utah to be well-attended by surrounding areas. Was it the fact that there were so many players residing in these states? Was it the short traveling time? Or maybe the lack of need to adjust to altitude? There are several reasons why these players seemed to have such a great showing, but my personal opinion is that that they earned it with their talent and practice.

By Chris Lock and Kaylee Buchholtz

Green keeper Kelby Brooks. | Photo by Jessica (Jiamin) Lang

Roger Thompson’s Reptar on Ice (Green Team) did not have the smoothest tournament as it failed to win a single game. However, the team looked much better than one would expect. Green started its tournament with a closely contested match that featured many lead changes. The Brown Team took an early 30-10 lead thanks to a balanced passing offense while teams were still figuring themselves out, but Green stayed composed and imposed its own physicality, passing, and multiple fast breaks to tie the game. Chaser Michael Binger (University of California Los Angeles) and keeper Matt Williams (Utah State) both had strong offensive outings as Green eventually took a substantial lead over its opponents. Brown’s early lead was enough, though, to stay in snitch range when the snitch entered the game. Binger made a snitch grab attempt outside the hard boundary and appeared to come away with a win as he brought the snitch down to the ground. After a lengthy debate, the officiating crew made a controversial call that the snitch grab would be declared invalid on the grounds that the grab was made in dangerous terrain. As the game resumed, Brown’s Pavlovsky (CE) eventually caught the snitch to win the game 100*-90. While it was a loss, Green played an extremely strong quaffle game, outscoring the tournament runner-ups 90-70. In addition to Binger and Williams, utility Kelby Brooks (Los Angeles Gambits) had a huge impact throughout the tournament, first-round pick beater Samy Mousa (Kansas) brought aggression and physicality to the lineup, and Briggs filled in gaps as expected. Green went 0-4 in its pool and eventually lost to Pink in a play-in elimination match on Saturday, but Green was much better than the standard winless team.

Blue keeper Tyler Jewell. | Photo by Jessica (Jiamin) Lang

Chris Beesley’s Blue Barracudas (Blue Team) had an effective tournament in a difficult pool before enduring an exit as the first victim of Purple’s Cinderella run to the semifinals. Emily Hickmott (Tufts University Tufflepuffs) was an extremely effective physical presence at chaser, bringing down larger opponents several times and adding numerous goals. Gina Allyn (CE) paired well with Hickmott as their rotation allowed Blue to always have one of the better female chasers in the tournament on the pitch at all times. Keeper and chaser Anthony Hawkins (The Long Beach Funky Quaffles [LBFQ]) also made significant offensive contributions with a bevy of goal-shaking dunks. Tyler Jewell (Texas Tech Quidditch) was a consistent shot blocker as keeper, and he brought Blue its lone win when he grabbed the snitch in a tied game against Green to win 120*-90 in pool play. That victory settled Blue at 1-3 and granted it the fourth seed in its pool; this matched the team up, however, against Purple in the play-in game. Blue used its passing game to overcome a beater disadvantage against Purplea disadvantage that was exacerbated by an injury to star beater Duston Mazzella (Los Angeles Gambits). The game, however, was essentially a back-and-forth close affair, and that spelled disaster against seeker Rudolph. Rudolph caught the snitch to give Purple its first victory of the tournament and prematurely eliminated Blue.

Pink keeper Tye Rush . | Photo by Jessica (Jiamin) Lang

Pink Team’s biggest strength was undoubtedly its two main ball carriers: the noble chaser Tye Rush (Riverside Quidditch) and the star-spangled Craig Garrison (Lone Star Quidditch Club [LSQC]). The two were assisted by Alessandra Pisaño (LBFQ), who had a great run of her own, and Daniel Shapiro (University of Missouri), who added a solid physical presence to the pitch, which promised that Pink’s starting chaser lineup would be a hard fight on the field. Unfortunately, this lineup seemed to be its only chaser lineup. While Rush and Garrison are formidable opponents, even the greats get tired, and general manager Alex Scheer would have fared better by drafting a suitable sub for his first two round picks rather than relying on them to carry the team throughout the entirety of the tournament. Depth was this team’s downfall despite solid beating from players like Alexia Barnes (LBFQ) and David Becker (Missouri), who offered strong support for their overworked teammates.

Black keeper Dan Marovich. | Photo by Jessica (Jiamin) Lang

The Night Furies(Black Team), Vanessa Goh’s plaything composed of human puppets, suffered an early loss when female chaser Erika Manning refused to be a cog in Goh’s machine. Still, Black found an unexpected but satisfactory replacement in Long Beach Funky Quaffles’ rookie Katie Garnett (her potential relation to NBA phenom Kevin Garnett has yet to be disputed.) Black was a physical team anchored in scoring and hard hits from the freckled and red-haired Weasley twins first-round pick Tylor Mclaren-Weasley and third-round pick Austin Pitts-Weasley. Dan Marovich (San Jose State University Spartans) and Govenor also added significant defensive support, and Marovich continued to flourish in his rookie season throughout the tournament. Black had the support of a very stable beater line; veteran Smith was always a threat on the pitch with a bludger due to his aggressive yet composed playing style. Smith’s rotation mate, Paxton Casey (LSQC), used his physical advantages over opposing beaters to consistently regain and retain bludger control. Black had no weakness with its female beater line either. Kaylee Buchholtz (Arizona State University [ASU]) served as the team's bludger maiden, mixing a conservative playing style with well-timed instances where she became an aggressive tackler. Sally Matlock (BSA) provided aggressive and dependable play as well, rounding out the beater squad. Overall, Black was a formidable team with no clear quaffle play weaknesses that could stay in range with most opponents, but it ultimately lacked a dependable seeker. Black lost numerous snitch-range games, including a heartbreaker against the eventual pool champion, White, where Black caught the snitch to force overtime but ended up losing 140^-100* to Dastardly Dan Hanson (CE). Still, Black did manage to win a snitch-range game over Purple and finish 2-2 in a three-way tie for second in its pool and the corresponding No. 3 seed. Black played a very close game against the eventual runner-up, Brown, in the quarterfinals by countering Brown’s dual male beater line with an extremely aggressive quaffle-handling lineup. Eventually Black’s seeking disadvantage bit it again as Brown’s Pavlovsky caught the snitch to eliminate Black by a score of 100*-60.

White chaser Andrew Murray | Photo by Jessica (Jiamin) Lang

White Girl Problems (White Team), drafted by Hanson, started off the tournament as fan favorites going undefeated in pool play only to be knocked out of the tournament by Purple, a team that entered bracket play without a win to its name. Much of White’s initial success is owed to chaser Murray, a strong long-distance shooter and top-notch defender, and keeper Holley, whose hard hits in the keeper zone and offensive drives were a staple of White team’s offensive strategy. Tita served as another standout player and played a key role in White team’s pool play success. White’s strong chasing game was supplemented by seeker Alex Richardson (Los Angeles Gambits) who caught all but one of the snitches during pool play, making up for an initial lost grab by catching the snitch to win an overtime victory against Black in one of the first matches of the tournament. Unfortunately, White faced its biggest problem in its match against Purple, knocking it out of the tournament.

Gray chaser Hai Nguyen and beater Ben Reuling. | Photo by Jessica (Jiamin) Lang

The Gray Team named itself after general manager Grant Daigle’s ruthless strategy of getting drafting advice from Briggs and subsequently leaving the hometown fan-favorite off of the Gray roster. As such, Gray For Dakota was born. Star chaser Hai Nguyen wasted no time declaring the team would play “Kansas-style” and led the clock-siphoning based offense which he concluded many times by scoring with his trademark spin move. George Williams (Utah State) provided gritty Utah-style physical defense at keeper and assisted Nguyen with offensive contributions. The main beater trio of Reuling, Doug Whiston and Julia Thomas (University of Southern California) helped keep many games close. In fact, all three of Gray’s losses were snitch range games including a 160^-140* close defeat against Pink. Of the trio, though, Reuling ruled the pitch and stood out to spectators with his large frame, physicality, and hard throws. Gray eventually became Red’s first victim; Gray matched Red in quaffle points but lost 100*-70 in its first bracket play match.

Purple beater Joel Johnson and keeper Toby March| Photo by Jessica (Jiamin) Lang

There’s really not much that can be said about Purple’s underperformance on the first day of the tournament. The difference between the Purple team on Friday and Saturday is like night and day. Rudolph, a first-round draft pick seeker, went 0-4 on snitch grabs in pool play; although, in fairness to Rudolph, three out of four of those games were out of snitch range. The one snitch-range loss occurred during Purple’s game against Black. Going into the second day of the tournament, no one expected much from this team, making it sweeter for it when Purple knocked out Blue in the first round of bracket play. It may have taken a few games, but Purple found its rhythm in bracket play with chaser Johnson serving as their main ball handler. Purple combined a strong passing game with solid beating from players like Kneiling to keep Purple within snitch range, allowing Rudolph to do what he does best. This was most clearly seen in the Purple and White match in what was arguably the biggest upset of the tournament. Having previously played Purple the day before, White was caught off guard by Purple’s newfound chemistry, earning Purple an initial 20-point lead. White’s chaser physicality, however, overpowered Purple’s passing game only for Rudolph to come out of nowhere to catch the snitch, closing the 30-point gap and sending the match into overtime where he caught the snitch again, stealing the win for his team. Unfortunately, Purple’s Cinderella run was cut short in its semifinal match against the Brown team where Brown’s beater game focused on eliminating Purple’s beaters from play while Brown’s chasers sought to exploit the hole in Purple’s defense.

Orange keeper Tony Rodriguez and chaser Casey Thompson

The Rhyme Slayers, named in honor of the color orange’s immunity to conventions of the English language, had a very successful tournament. Chris Seto’s squad cruised through pool play with a 4-0 record and the corresponding No. 1 seed. Orange’s only close contest came against Red when Orange took command early only to see Red pull back into snitch range. Seeker Justin Fernandez (SBB) eventually ended the Red team’s chances with a quick snitch grab, giving Orange a 140*-100 victory over the eventual tournament champions. Keeper Rodriguez led his team, consistently dominating the opposition with a mixture of long shots and his trademark peacock-flair dunks. Nhean and Thompson made a spectacular rotation as point chasers, leaving a hard-hitting defender on the pitch at all times. Nhean in particular utilized his speed to provide himself with a plethora of scoring opportunities and brooms-up goals. In addition to a strong physical defense, Orange benefited from an outstanding beater team. Eric Bilanoski (Clone Star Quidditch Club) flat out dominated the pitch against most of his opponents and, at worst, matched up adequately against his most physical opponents. Overall, Bilanoski combined aggressiveness, effective tactics, and unrelenting physicality for his size to give Orange a huge beating advantage throughout Snow Cup V. Bilanoski’s partner, Julea Shaw (ASU), also shined in gameplay. She was the perfect beater for Orange as she excelled in her role of sniping options, slowing down drivers, and providing competent protection for Rodriguez. Additionally, Shaw’s throwing accuracy in pool play established that she was the ruler of her side of the pitch. Overall, the team really had no weak links and functioned as one cohesive unit. Nonetheless, Orange exited the tournament much earlier than anticipated. After blowing out Pink 180*-80 to advance to the semifinals, Orange found themselves in a rematch against Red. This time, though, Gamlin and the Red team were on the right side of the snitch grab as the team eliminated Orange 100*-70 in an even quaffle point game. Still, Seto and Orange left Snow Cup V with third place and the best record in the tournament at 5-1.

The Hashbrowns (Evan Bell’s Brown Team) and Dashing Through the Hoes (Amanda Turtles’ Red Team) demonstrated that to reach the championship in modern quidditch, depth is the most useful trait. Both teams had one or two “star players” at best, but each squad boasted its own form of a surplus of role players.

Snow Cup V runners-up Hashbrowns | Photo by Jessica (Jiamin) Lang

Evan Bell demonstrated a specific drafting strategy and managed to draft a team with great chemistry whose sum was greater than its parts. Brown had a successful rotation of aggressive male beaters with Tyler Bryce (Los Angeles Gambits), Michael Aguilera (LBFQ), and Johnson Huynh (UNC), as well as standout female beater Alyssa Burton (Los Angeles Gambits), who impressed throughout the entire tournament, and an effective conservative rotation-mate with Allison Froh (CE). Flanking the quaffle line was a consistent set of scorers including a trio of Crimson Elite: Pavlovsky, who powered through any number of chasers when beaters lost track of him; Jakus, who impressed as one of the best female chasers in the tournament by averaging three goals a game in bracket play; and Andrew Tita, who turned scoring as an off-ball option into an art form. Keeper Chris Lock (Silicon Valley Skrewts) acted as the team’s trusty steed by being the primary ball carrier and drawing a lot of defensive attention due to his large stature, and Brown received further chaser support from its reserve quaffle players including impassioned performances by secondary draft pickups Cameron VomBaur (Utah State) and Landon Blackburn. Brown found itself in numerous snitch range games, but Pavlovsky salvaged the game for his teammates on most of those occasions, finishing the tournament with a 4-5 SWIM record. Brown finished Day One with a 3-1 pool play record but lost Tita to a concussion early in its match against Orange after which it fell apart completely and lost 140*-30. With the loss of Tita, Brown had no business considering a title run, but every other player managed to step up in the scrappy chaser’s absence. Brown put together a Cinderella run of its own to the finals, outlasting Black 100*-60 and keeping out of snitch range against Rudolph with a 130*-40 victory over Purple in the semifinals.

Snow Cup V Champions Dashing Through the Hoes | Photo by Vicky Sanford

Red was labeled as a high risk, yet high reward, team and it proved to be the highest award imaginable. Driflot, Gamlin, and Hatch ran a superb passing-oriented offensive that demonstrated immense chemistry. Even more impressive was the Red beater unit, which was arguably the best or most well-rounded of the tournament (though Brown and Orange could both make a similar argument). Mansfield had complete control of the pitch whenever he stepped on the field. Ryan McGonagle and Vicky Sanford, a pair of rookie beaters from Arizona State University, shined on the pitch and looked like they had the experience of a veteran pair. Weinsoff rounded out the beater line with consistent and timely beats. Red had an unorthodox championship journey; the team lost two snitch-range games in pool play to finish 2-2 going into bracket play. Red won two snitch range games, however, against Gray and Orange both with a score of 100*-70 to advance to the championship round against Brown.

With a local camera crew etching the entire match into Salt Lake City history, Brown and Red faced off in a pool play rematch that Brown had won the day before. Driflot opened the game by resisting hits from Pavlovsky and Lock on brooms up to score a goal on the opening drive. Gamlin took advantage of a subsequent turnover to score a fast break goal and ignite the crowd. Lock, however, took advantage of a beater-down power play and finished a full-pitch drive with a dunk over Driflot on the small hoop. Pavlovsky made the most of Brown’s next possession by breaking through a headlock from Driflot and dunking over two more chasers to tie the game, drawing Driflot into a yellow card and spurring the Brown supporters into cheers. Brown went on a 6-2 goal run after Red’s opening scores to give the team a 60-40 advantage late in the game. However, Red didn’t stay far behind and took advantage of two turnovers to tie the game at 60 on a fancy fast break Gamlin dunk. Red scored two more goals, bringing its streak to four consecutive goals and giving it an 80-60 lead as the snitch entered the pitch. Brown had an advantage in the quaffle game when the Red beaters were distracted by the snitch, and Brown tied the game at 80. Red scored again to take another ten-point lead, but Brown immediately responded with full-pitch drive-and-score to tie the game. Red then took advantage of Brown’s dwindling stamina when Devon Anderson (Utah State) drove straight to the hoops for a virtually uncontested dunk over Lock and a 100-90 lead. Shortly thereafter Driflot proved his worth as a first-round pick by diving to catch the snitch and seal a 130*-90 championship victory for Red and his own MVP award. Driflot was greeted by jubilant teammates and a shirtless Hatch at the spot of the grab, and unbridled celebration ensued to close 2015’s Snow Cup V.
Notes: Three of the four semifinalists were the top three teams from the same pool. Every single one of Red’s bracket play games were snitch-range games.

Tournament MVP Stew Driflot | Photo by Jessica (Jiamin) Lang

All Tournament Team
Selection Process: Captains/Present general managers were asked to fill out an all-tournament list of three teams with a recommended distribution of players from each team. Seventy percent of the teams responded, and those votes were used to determine the all-tournament teams. Players received three points for each first team vote, two points for each second team vote, and one vote for each third team vote.

First team
C/S Stew Driflot* (Red)
C Emily Hickmott (Blue)
C Alessandra Pisaño (Pink)
B Alyssa Burton (Brown)
B Eric Bilanoski (Orange)
K Tony Rodriguez (Orange)
S/C Edgar Pavlovsky (Brown)

Second Team
C Andrew Murray (White)
C Craig Garrison (Pink)
C Kristin Jakus (Brown)
B Michael Aguilera (Brown)
B Sally Matlock (Black)
K – De’Vaughn Gamlin (Red)
S/U – Keir Rudolph (Purple)

Third Team
C Tye Rush (Pink)
C Hai Nguyen (Gray)
C Gina Allyn (Blue)
B Joshua Mansfield (Red)
B Sarah Kneiling (Purple)
K – Chris Lock (Brown)
S/C – Justin Fernandez (Orange)


Honorable Mention: Brandon Nhean (Chaser, Orange); Casey Thompson (Chaser, Orange); Alex Richardson (Seeker, White); George Williams (Keeper/Chaser, Gray); Zach Holley (Keeper, White); Kelby Brooks (Utility, Green); Rich Hatch (Chaser, Red), Kaylee Buchholtz (Beater, Black); Lee Weinsoff (Beater, Red)

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