Friday, January 2, 2015

Snow Cup Preview

By: Kaylee Buchholtz, Chris Lock, Andy Marmer, and Austin Pitts

Friday Jan. 2 marks the first day of Snow Cup and without a moment to spare our team of writers is here to help preview the action for you. Our own Chris Lock has helpfully named the pools, so read below for our analysis of Utah’s largest fantasy tournament.

Colors of the Rainbow Plus Poop Pool


Blue
GM: Chris Beesley
General Manager Chris Beesley has assembled an interesting team. The offense will likely be anchored by Long Beach Funky Quaffles keeper Anthony Hawkins, who provides a physical presence but may have been picked too early. However, the success of this team will really turn on its out-of-region players. Tufts University chaser Emily Hickmott has been one of the breakout players in the Northeast this year, enabling the Northeast Regional Champions to deploy a two-male beater set. Hickmott is a physical presence who is a more than capable finisher but is often overshadowed at Tufts by her Team USA teammate Hannah DaBaets. Beyond Hawkins and Hickmott, Beesley will rely on a pair of out-of-region stars in Tyler Jewell and Brendon Frisella. Jewell helped guide Texas Tech University to a World Cup appearance last season and has proven capable at handling the Southwest’s physicality. He was also a key cog in Tech’s passing offense. Frisella, who first made his name at the University of Southern Mississippi, is an excellent seeker and solid chaser. Team Blue features one of the deepest teams with Beesley doing very well with his late-round picks and also boasts plenty of versatility with Hawkins, Jewell, Frisella, and Nelson Regan all being skilled at multiple spots. Gina Allyn, of Crimson Elite, playing with or behind Hickmott further continues this theme; however, the question mark for this team is whether any of its players are skilled enough to score or stop the numerous talented offenses. A beater line led by Duston Mazzella and Erin McDonald should be talented enough with Blues depth backing it up. However, I really can’t see this team generating enough offense across the board to be a true threat in the tournament.


Super Smash Bros Character: Mario
There’s nothing really spectacular about this team, but it should do the little things right; however, at the end of the day the lack of a go-to-move will be its downfall.


Brown
GM: Evan Bell
Chris Lock looks to lead Evan Bell’s team to a successful tournament, undoubtedly a familiar refrain for the West as the former Santa Barbara men team up to run the Brown team. Lock, now of the Silicon Valley Skrewts, will rely on Crimson Elite’s Edgar Pavlovsky and Kristin Jakus as his main running mates. While the team boasts a number of solid quaffle options, the drop of Bell’s sixth and seventh round picks has greatly hindered this team. Los Angeles Gambits beater pair Tyler Bryce and Alyssa Burton will likely lead the beater line. While both are more than capable at chaser, they should make for a solid if unspectacular pairing with Michael Aguilera of the Long Beach Funky Quaffles filling in as a capable third beater. However, this team’s biggest flaw appears to be its depth, or lack thereof. Crimson Elite rookie Andrew Tita will be an important chaser likely coming off the bench, but it’s tough to see this team thriving with the possible depth issues it faces. Brown also faces some possible weaknesses in the seeker game, as its unclear who will be its go-to-player at the 18-minute mark. The departure of any of its key players could spell disaster in the quaffle game, and Brown does not boast a skilled dedicated seeker.


Super Smash Bros Character: Link
This team has some deadly moves but simply not enough of them to make for a true threat.


Green
GM: Roger Thompson
Roger Thompsons’ squad has an intriguing composition. The lineup is filled with physical players, including first round pick beater Samy Mousa as well as chasers Michael Binger, Kelby Brooks, and Dan Daniels. Dakota Briggs will bring a huge utility advantage to the table as he can play any four of the positions. Los Angeles Gambits Chaser Caylen McDonald will be looking to recreate her unexpected yet brilliant bracket play performance from Snow Cup VI known colloquially as “Where Caylen Happens.” Coincidentally, McDonald’s best performance last year was when she scored three goals against the Green Team, her current color this year. The secondary draft gave Green a huge boost when it solved its problem of not having a true keeper in the lineup by adding West Fantasy standout Matt Williams from Utah State who brings height and power dunks to the squad. However, in gaining Williams, Green lost its starting female beater, Silicon Valley’s McLaren Cundiff, leaving Long Beach’s Amanda Meeks as the only true female beater. There are a couple of ways Green could handle this issue: either McDonald can play a utility role as a beater, but she’s not as effective in that role as she is as a pure chaser, or Mousa could elect to play gender neutral. In Mousa doing so, he could pair with Briggs at beater and Green suddenly has an imposing starting lineup. However, Mousa has not been known to play gender neutral when it will give his team a distinct competitive advantage, so it’s unclear if the Kansas beater will be willing to do so at the tournament. This team is hard to predict because it’ll either be a contender if Mousa plays non-binary or it’ll have a gaping roster hole if he doesn’t. Regardless of that, though, spectators should expect Mousa to mix physicality with conservative beating on the pitch and for WIlliams and Binger to offensively and defensively shine.


Super Smash Bros. Character: Luigi
Both Luigi and this team wear green.


Orange
GM: Chris Seto
Chris Seto craftily assembled one of the pool’s front runners. He started the draft by making the obvious pick, Tony Rodriguez, and then assembled a team that will complement Rodriguez’s strengths. With his second and third picks, Seto found another fearless quaffle player with strong driving ability in Casey Thompson and gave Rodriguez beneficial beater support with Eric Bilanoski from the Southwest Region. As if the chaser line wasn’t already stacked enough, Seto ensured Orange will boast an intimidating starting lineup by adding Univeristy of Northern Colorado (UNC) chaser/seeker Brandon Nhean, who is one of the two major UNC offensive threats. Nhean is accustomed to playing with De'Vaughn Gamlin, UNC’s quick, hard-hitting keeper who plays a similar style to Rodriguez, so Nhean should find chemistry with the all-American keeper pretty early in the tournament. Defensively, Rodriguez and Thompson are both tall and physical players, while Nhean delivers strong hits for his size. Crimson Elite’s starting female chaser, Sydney Lancaster, will add more balance to the starting quaffle line. Seto waited until later rounds (8/9) to fill out his female beating portion of the roster, but he still walked away with two solid players. Julea Shaw is a fast and experienced veteran beater who started on Arizona State University’s World Cup VI team, and Samanda Sweet is a competent rookie who has experience from high school quidditch. Both players should provide solid minutes for Orange, leaving the team without any glaring holes roster-wise. Seto made a couple other noticeable depth picks: Santa Barbara Blacktips’ Justin Fernandez, who has improved tremendously since his rookie season last year, was picked in the sixth round and will add speed as well as seeking and chasing depth. Seth Segura is a role player who won’t be a weakness when he subs in as he is used to physical play and can fill in a chaser role, and that is a pretty good deal when it comes in the thirteenth round. The team looks to be more balanced than Rodriguez’s more recent fantasy teams, which could spell trouble for opponents, but the star keeper is playing with an injured ankle. Rodriguez has been known to play more than effectively through injuries, but this is a weakness that could build over time and the physical toll of the injury could become more of a burden by bracket play.


Super Smash Bros Character: Kirby
Orange will play very well, make a few hard hits, and suck the life out of opponents, but Rodriguez’s hurt ankle will make it susceptible to just one well-placed hard hit like Kirby being launched through the air.


Red
GM: Amanda Turtles
Amanda Turtles’ squad can be summed up in one phrase: “high risk, high reward.” Turtles started her draft with the highly debated No. 3 pick of Boise State captain Stew Driflot. Driflot is a talented chaser/seeker/keeper who has a physically imposing presence as he is tall, muscular, and his face is oddly reminiscent of the Janitor from Scrubs. Driflot is a skilled player who was a key piece of the Western Fantasy Brown team’s run to the finals. However, Driflot has thrived in situations where he was a supporting player to star teammates. Whether or not Driflot is as effective in a role as the leader of the team is still unclear; he could provide just as much or more output, or he could be noticeably less effective (even Driflot’s time captaining Boise State doesn’t clear things up; the team just hasn’t been competitive long enough to draw any conclusions).  It’s too early to say whether Driflot was a bad, good, or exceptional pick, but he certainly has the potential to be a top player in the tournament. Hence high risk vs. high reward. Further, three of Red’s 5-8 picks are Arizona State University freshmen. This is inherently risky since they all have only two tournaments of experience, but they individually seem to be promising and athletic prospects. The players in question, beaters Ryan McGonagle and Vicky Sanford and chaser Caleb Ragatz, could end up being great additions (especially McGonagle, who demonstrated major promise at the Riverside Rumble), or their inexperience could lead to costly mistakes. Again, high risk vs. high reward.The female beater portion is less risky since veteran Lee Weinsoff can either be a scrappy rotation partner or plug the holes in the unlikely event Sanford proves to be ineffective. Notable UNC star De’Vaughnn Gamlin will be playing keeper for Red, and he’ll provide both a bevy of offense and determined, if sometimes illegal, tackles and hits. Los Angeles Gambit Rich Hatch is also a talented offensive player, but the chaser hasn’t played since West Fantasy and may be rusty. The offense features some strong individuals, but many of them try to often create their own scoring opportunities, so this either causes a “too many cooks in the kitchen” situation that stagnates the offense, or they could develop enough chemistry to compete with other strong chaser lines such as Orange and White. One last time, high risk vs. high reward. Lastly, it’s interesting to note that Turtles didn’t draft any female chasers in the first nine rounds. This could either be a genius strategy in a draft that lacked numerous female ballcarriers if she recognizes her scorers are lone wolves who wouldn’t effectively use an extra passing option, or it could hurt her team in the long run if it doesn’t have a passing centric offense that needs female depth.


Super Smash Bros. Character: Ness
If one truly knew and utilized all of their strengths, they could have one of the best teams available. Otherwise, the team could backfire from using all the wrong tactics at the wrong time like a player trying to make Ness use thunder to boost himself back on a ledge and failing miserably.


Depressing or Scented Colors Pool


Black
GM: Vanessa Goh
Vanessa Goh made selections from three different regions before picking her first West player. The lineup will be anchored by a pair of Oklahoma Baptist University veterans as Tylor Mclaren will lead the chaser line, while Chandler Smith will front the beater corps. Mclaren is a physical defender, capable as both a driver and distributor. He will have a number of physical weapons at his disposal in University of Kansas chaser Austin Pitts and Boise State Abraxan’s Joshua Govenor. Behind these two, Crimson Elite’s Emerson Evans and San Jose State University’s Dan Marovich both have the potential to be the breakout player of the tournament, as each has displayed tremendous talent this season without getting their deserved recognition. However, the drop of Erika Manning will prove costly for Goh’s Black Team. Goh, herself one of the top female players in the game, may struggle with the gender rule as she has just one female pick who will be attending from her first nine selections. Kaylee Buchholtz will partner Smith on the beater line, and while Black has tremendous talent in its quaffle players, it won’t be able to play them all at once. Overall, this team has tremendous talent but may not be able to put it all together due to lineup difficulties.


Super Smash Bros character: Captain Falcon
This team has tremendous talent and is incredibly strong, but it might not be easy to assemble all of the pieces into a fully capable squad


Gray
GM: Grant Daigle
Gray team is a team coming out of the draft with less recognizable star power but consisting of solid, experienced players. Grant Daigle’s first round pick of Hai Nguyen brings a fast, talented scorer, while players like George Williams add physicality to Gray’s defense.  Between Nguyen and Williams, the Gray Team has a good driving presence on the pitch while beaters Doug Whiston, Ben Reuling, and Julia Thomas add depth and experience to the beater line. Although these players are more strategic than physical, this will balance out the physicality of the chaser line. Gray’s seekers primarily consist of Crimson Elite’s Dan Howland and UNC’s Brandon Vela, who also serves as a decent support utility chaser. The strength of this team will come from the leadership abilities of more experienced players like Nguyen and Williams, especially considering that some of its players are less experienced in a tournament environment. It is difficult to say how this team will perform within pool play as it lacks the intimidation factor of multiple phenoms. However, its balance of talents make this team competitive.

Super Smash Bros. Character: Donkey Kong
This team appears large, muscular, and very physical. Furthermore, I imagine Williams is talented at playing bongo drums.


Pink
GM: Alex Scheer
As discussed in the draft article, Alex Scheer’s picks began well but dropped off after round three or four. Riverside’s Tye Rush, Scheer’s first round pick, is a decent defender but is more valuable on offense where his speed will win him most if not all brooms up. He is a good team player who easily charges through an opposing team’s defense and is not afraid to pass the ball to his teammates. Scheer’s second round pick is Lone Star’s Craig Garrison, who plays a strong defensive game and is an above-average driver. In the past he has been known more as a player who shoots first and passes second; however, if he and Rush are able to find chemistry together, Garrison’s driving ability and Rush’s ability to be open at hoops can make for a formidable offense for the Pink Team. Other notable chasers include Alex PisaƄo, valuable for her abilities at advancing the quaffle, and Daniel Shapiro, whose big body makes him an above-average defender who concentrates on hitting rather than tackling. Scheer picked up lesser known out-of-region beater veterans Nicole Denney and Alexia Barnes in the latter part of the draft, which could add greater depth to Pink’s defense. Pink’s pool will make a fight to the championship difficult; however, if Rush and Garrison perform well together, this team could be a contender.


Super Smash Bros. Character: Peach because no one rocks pink better.


Purple
GM: Ren Bettendorf
The GM for the purple team is Ren Bettendorf, star of the Gambits and Chris Lock’s better half.  Purple team’s greatest strengths lie in their beating and seeking.  Their beater line mainly consists of veteran players from previous years with a few exceptions.  Keir Rudolph, Bettendorf’s first round pick, in addition to sharing a name with Santa’s most beloved reindeer, is an adequate quaffle player and above average beater. His position as an All-American seeker, however, is what earned him the place as a first round pick within the draft.  The latter ability earning him the MVP title at Snow Cup IV.  Andy Hopkins formerly of the Utah Crimson Fliers and Cy Torrey add further depth to their male beater line.  Their female beaters consist mainly of Sarah Kneiling and Ruthie Stahl, Kneiling making up for Stahl’s lack of effective physicality with a well-documented ability of distracting opposing beaters and general physicality.  However Stahl’s experience playing with Torrey and her more strategic throws might make them an effective beating pair, although this might mean that Bettendorf’s second or third round picks won’t be starting.  In regards to quaffle play, Joel Johnson will aid the purple team with his keeping abilities, although offensively, they will not be able to rely on him alone.  Chaser Sofia De La Vega, despite never playing in an official tournament, is a promising addition to chaser play.  Purple team’s probable strategy will be to keep games within snitch range so that Keir Rudolph can make a snitch grab, while their defense will primarily depend on their beaters and keepers blocking long shots.


Super Smash Bros. Character: Fox
Purple has the best final smash in the tournament, and his name is Keir Rudolph.


White
GM: Dan Hanson
Everyone is familiar with this tune: the team GMed by Dan Hanson is an early favorite and contender. Three rounds into the draft, Hanson had already assembled one of the best and most physical defenses. Anchored by first round pick Andrew Murray, opponents can expect ruthless point defense. Murray will also add his trademark touch of turning defensive stops into fast break, lightly contested, or uncontested goals. With his second pick, Hanson added Texas Tech beater Josh Carroll (late addition: it is unclear if Carroll will be playing in this event) and, with his third pick, physical keeper Zach Holley who isn’t afraid to make contact in the keeper zone to stop a goal. Holley, the hometown keeper, is a great value pick for Hanson and essentially gives White’s opponents a stone wall to try to drive through consisting of Murray up front and Holley in the back end. Adding to the depth will be defensive specialist  Alex Richardson and Utah scorer Erik Tita. Josh Vinson, who had a very successful Snow Cup VI, will be rotating with Carroll at beater and will bring timely high-velocity beats to the pitch. White has not one but two talented seekers in Richardson and Forrest Stone. Stone, who has a perfect SWIM record with the Silicon Valley Skrewts this season, will also be an asset at chaser as his defensive play style is in unison with the rest of the tackle-centric White unit. Stone played for Hanson at West Fantasy and is probably the best value pick of the whole draft; Stone easily is a fifth round or higher player. The fact that Stone went as low as round 10 is ridiculous, and as tempting as it is to congratulate Hanson on that pick, one must remember the happy-go-lucky GM needed nine rounds to come to his senses. Another Skrewt, Ra Hopkins, added more depth and value as Hanson’s 13th round pick. At that stage in the draft, players are usually unknown, ineffective, or something worse, but Hanson emerged with a seasoned veteran who can play multiple positions. Though this team seems to sparkle like the glimmer of rubies engraved in the hilt of a mystical sword made of glass gifted to a prolific warrior king from neighboring whimsical elves, there are flaws in all craftsmanship. Murray is still recovering from a hand injury, the quaffle line will be lacking in height compared to other teams, and, due to a late drop, the White squad will only have 14 players, which could make a huge difference in the Utah climate. As an aside, the team has three Crimson Fliers. This in itself isn’t an issue, but it would appear many of the favored teams such as White, Brown, and Gray have a disproportionate amount of hometown players. This could be a situation where either Utah really could have become a center of quidditch development, or it could indicate that some GMs became swept up in the local reputations of players during the draft and some of the teams with a more diverse composition could slip in and make it to the finals. Only time will tell, but regardless White should expect to have a very competitive Snow Cup.


Super Smash Bros Character: Lucario
Because of its insane depth, White only gets (relatively) stronger as the game goes on.


Out of Region Players to Watch For
They Don’t Even Go Here
Snow Cup is known for its activities outside of the quidditch tournament, from the opportunities to snowboard to Snow Ball. As such, out-of-region players, especially from the Midwest and Southwest, will make the trek to Utah. These two regions make up a fair portion of the talent, and various GM’s were able to capitalize on some names that might not be familiar to those in the West and Northwest but are poised to make a splash at this tournament.


Starting with the pink team, GM Alex Scheer spent most of the first half of his draft on-out-of region players, nabbing Craig Garrison and Shelby Rose from the Southwest, along with Daniel Shapiro, Nicole Denney, and David Becker from the Midwest. Garrison (LSQC) is an athletic quaffle player who will most likely keep for this team. A solid scorer, Garrison will attack the hoops and look to score off of drives while also playing physical defense on the other end of the pitch. His Southwest counterpart Rose (University of Texas at San Antonio) is a smart beater who has a surprisingly strong arm for her size. Along with Rose, Nicole Denney (formerly Kansas University) is another beater who, although out of the game for a couple years, has plenty of experience at beater and was a part of the Kansas team that made the Elite Eight run at WC VI. Scheer was also able to pick up a pair of players from the University of Missouri in Daniel Shapiro and David Becker. Shapiro is a jack of all trades and can play any position competently but typically focuses on quaffle play. He’s a big body who can score through driving and is a fair distributor on top of that. David Becker is new to quidditch but burst onto the scene in a big way at Midwest Regionals. Becker was a huge reason for Missouri’s run to the Final Four, anchoring its beater line in front of two veteran beaters. Becker isn’t huge but plays a very physical game, and he already has a good head for the game, knowing when to make throws and being smart about getting control back. Look for Becker to utilize the 1.5 strategy often to clear up driving lanes for Garrison.


Vanessa Goh’s Black Team started off with two out-of-region picks in teammates Tylor Mclaren and Chandler Smith (OBU). Mclaren is a physical chaser with a live arm that can score from anywhere on the opponents side of the pitch. Known as a “hero baller,” his background as a quarterback allows him to distribute easily to open teammates. Smith, the Southwest regional director, typically plays beater but is also a viable threat in the quaffle game. He uses the athleticism that allows him to play chaser to get in great position for beats, and his field awareness is excellent from his experience. Sticking with the Southwest, Goh was also picked up Paxton Casey (LSQC) to help anchor the beater line along with Smith. Casey is also a utility player but specializes in beater. Casey is able to tackle well, and will use his size to offset the more speedy game that Smith plays. Finally, Goh was able to pick up David Mora (Crimson Warhawks) in the eleventh round, which may end up being one of the bigger steals of the tournament. Mora, a marine, keeper and seeker for the Warhawks Crimson Warhawks. Extremely fast and quick, he likes to lead his offenses on fast breaks and create easy alley oops for teammates. As a seeker, hand-to-hand combat skills definitely come in handy (pun… somewhat intended), as he is able to use those along with his quickness to come away with many quick pulls.


Speaking of KU and seeking, Keir Rudolph was selected second overall to Ren Bettendorf’s Purple Team. Rudolph is a slightly better beater than he is a keeper; he doesn’t have the strongest arm, but he is able to get into position to make beats. While he has trouble retaining control, he is also fairly adept at getting control back. As a keeper, Keir focuses mainly on distributing and is not a great standalone scorer. However, he is able to create good looks for his teammates. Also, he plays seeker as well, in which he uses his freakishly long arms and extremely quick hands to come away with pull after pull, as shown by him being the MVP of Snow Cup last year.


The second of three KU affiliated first round picks was Hai Nguyen, a former chaser at KU who went to Grant Daigle’s Grey Team. Nguyen is one of the fastest quidditch players I’ve seen, and it shows. He is routinely able to outrun point defenders and score from mid-range. While his passing isn’t spectacular, he can distribute when needed and draws enough attention that his passes can result in easy buckets. Daigle was also able to pick up Doug Whiston, a beater who played with Nguyen on the Kansas squad that made the Elite Eight. Whiston has been around the game a long time and has a plethora of experience at beating. While not great at running the 1.5 strategy, he is able to retain control well and rarely makes a bad throw.


Finally, Samy Mousa (KU) was selected in the first round to Roger Thompson’s Green Team. Mousa, a Team Canada player, will look to anchor Green Team’s beater line. He is known for his physicality, and delivers hits on both offense and defense. As such, he is well-equipped to running the 1.5 strategy, as well as defend against it. While Mousa isn’t huge, his physicality makes up for a small lack of size, if there is any. He doesn’t have the strongest arm, but he is more than quick enough to be in position to make all the beats needed and does have the strength to snipe across the pitch in fast break situations.


Predictions


Andy:
CRPP Pool 
1. Brown
2. Orange
3. Green
4. Blue
5. Red

DSC Pool
1. Black
2. White
3. Pink
4. Gray
5. Purple

Finals: Black vs. Gray
Champion: Black


Comments: I actually think that White has the best team, but the best team doesn’t always win. I also think that the CRPP pool is substantially stronger than the DSC pool, but such is fate that most of the top teams face off in pool play.


Austin:


CRPP Pool
1. Red
2. Orange
3. Brown
4. Green
5. Blue

DSC Pool
1. White
2. Gray
3. Pink
4. Black
5. Purple


Finals: Brown Vs. White


Champion: White
Comments: N/A


Chris:


CRPP Pool
1. Orange
2. Red
3. Brown
4. Green
5. Blue

DSC Pool
1. White
2. Black
3. Pink
4. Gray
5. Purple


Finals: White Vs. Black
Champion: White

Comments: Black, Gray, and Pink all have a claim at second place in my humble opinion (dropping Purple to five by default more than anything else).

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