Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Tournoi de la Violette Preview

By Abby Whiteley

Editor's Note: The pools have been updated in this article to reflected changes by the tournament organizers. The predictions reflect those made by the author prior to the change and while not possible should nonetheless be informative for our readers.

The Tournoi International de la Violette, which will be held in Toulouse, France this weekend, is one of the most interesting events to be held in Europe this season. Despite the fact that Toulouse has never hosted a tournament before, it will see 17 teams compete over the weekend—an enormous size for a European competition at the moment. Several nations will be represented by a mixture of club and mercenary teams. The prospect of seeing this many countries together, with so many unknown teams participating, is a very exciting one. 

This tournament is symptomatic of European quidditch right now. With most regional tournaments still too small to be very satisfying, many teams find themselves playing their neighbours over and over again. European players are looking for more opportunities to play new teams, and they are willing to travel significant distances to do so. Additionally, there are many teams that did not qualify for the European Quidditch Championship (EQC) in April. The Tournoi International de la Violette is acting as a proxy EQC for those that did not manage to qualify and as a practice run for those who did, giving teams a chance to see how they stack up against those from other nations.

What should we expect, then? Well, first of all, it’s going to be frenzied. The clash of different play styles is always chaotic; with isolated teams making their début internationally, as well as five merc teams in the mix, we can anticipate lots of scrappy, unusual quidditch. I believe the early stages in particular—as teams find their feet and weaker sides are still deeply involved—will be manic. While I expect the calibre will not be as impressive as that of EQC, I think the competitive spirit will be high; this is the only international competitive tournament quite a few teams will attend this season, and they will be looking to make an impression. Even if at first glance this seems like a glorified friendly, an excuse to meets lots of quidditch players, or a chance to stretch legs in an ever-expanding pool of teams, there are plenty of lineups with something to prove. Even the United Kingdom mercenary teams—ostensibly just there as an excuse to play some quidditch in a new place—are filled with big personalities and could belie their relaxed presentation with very competitive play. I expect the referees are going to have a job on their hands, with so many new or near-new teams and with enthusiasm running so high.


Belgian Blackbeards – Belgium’s quidditch scene has been an excellent example of the maxim that size is no indication of power, being one of the loudest and most recognisable presences in international quidditch. I expect great things—and a great deal of noise—from this mercenary team. Given that the Blackbeards are taking Gorik Verbeken, a big name in Belgian quidditch and an experienced captain, alongside Nicolas Hainault, a very talented seeker, and Pauline Schena, the captain of the Umonsters in Mons, the Blackbeards should prove a team that will bring good games to those in their group.

(Les) Nains de Nîmes – Noted as having the muscle behind them but not yet having the tactical finesse to convert this into victories, the Nains will be a team whose development will be exciting to watch. I expect to see the Nains developing rapidly throughout the tournament, as is so common in newer teams, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the team was one of the stronger new teams here.

Nightmare Grims – The Catalonian-based Nightmare Grims have been active since 2013 but have yet to make it to any international tournaments, as the Grims sadly were unable to attend EQC 2. They do, however, seem very active; playing lots of friendlies against the Catalonian Cuttlefishes and Barcelona Eagles. Hopefully the Grims will be able to offer some Catalonian competition to Barcelona on an international front.

Toulouse – Captained by the irrepressible Sandra Kreit (who is also the Tournament Director), the host team Toulouse will have a home advantage, being able to call upon ts full roster over the weekend. This may give it the edge over teams that have traditionally been its closest competitors, such as Lyon. I would be shocked to see it surprise a Frog-enhanced Lille squad, but the team should still bring a good showing.


Cassoulets Volants – The French mercenary team, named after a Toulousien dish (a kind of meat casserole, in case you were wondering), remains an obscure squad. That said, we can presume that the roster will consist of players from French teams who are not coming in their entirety, and this means Frog players. I imagine we will see some Frogs forming the core of this team, with Rennes, Essonne and maybe Tours players constituting the rest. This team could have some great potential, but it depends heavily on who the team managed to scoop up.

Crookshanks Lyon – Having finished third at La Coupe de France, I expect to see Lyon put in a solid performance. The teams in its pool should not overlook Lyon, as one of its big names is Renaud Mortier, a Team France player and brilliant beater, along with a Team France chaser, Yves Ferraris. Their experience should help to guide this team.

METU Dragons – With sparse information on which to base any predictions for the team’s on-pitch accomplishments, but a very recognisable presence on social media, the sole Turkish representatives are a team everyone will be very excited to play. The Dragons’s style may have quirks in it which could throw a curveball for more established teams, or they could fit a mould typical of new teams, showing great emphasis on quaffle driving with a more unreliable defence, and basic bludger play. Those in their group are surely very keen to find out what this new country has to offer, and hopefully Turkey will make their mark ready for some wins at EQC.

Rouen Skrewts – Having only narrowly missed out on EQC qualification, Rouen is one of the stronger mid-tier teams at this tournament, and it has the potential to impress. I would definitely expect it to beat Nîmes in the group, but whether it manages to make a mark in the later stages of the tournament depends on the quality of the Turkish team and who it faces after pool play.


Lille Black Snitches – Despite having a very small squad, Lille impressed everyone at EQC 2 with its tenacity and bravery when facing a pool including Paris Phénix, Paris Frog, and the Radcliffe Chimeras. I would expect to see more of this during this tournament. I have also heard that the Lillie Black Snitches will be bolstered with some Paris Frog players, which will significantly increase their capacity to threaten teams in their group.

Madrid Lynx – Madrid is a Spain-based team that has been active since 2012 but has not yet ventured outside of Spain. This season is the first where we are seeing teams from Spain other than Barcelona broaching the quidditch scene, and so I do not know what to expect from Madrid. However, Madrid is taking a squad of impressive size, and I expect it will be keen to move out from Barcelona’s shadow as the main representation of quidditch from the Iberian peninsula.

Nantes Quidditch – Taking a respectable fourth place at La Coupe de France in December and earning it a spot for EQC, Nantes Quidditch was the first quidditch team in France but has not yet managed to take home any major titles. It was beaten by Barcelona at the last EQC, but that was nearly a year ago, so it could find itself more evenly matched this time around. This is a fairly balanced group, and I think the rankings here could go almost any way. I think Nantes has a chance at second place within this pool.

Norwegian Ridgebacks – I expect this team to perform quite well, not least because most of the players have trained through the Norwegian winter. The team roster is predominantly consisted of NTNUI players—although with a couple of Oslo members too – so their synergy should be comparable to that of the club teams, and with Kai Shaw at the helm the Ridgebacks should be able to get some wins under their belts.

(The) Quercs – Fresh from their win at Barcelona Moustaches Time, but taking only 10 players, the Quercs (aka ‘The Mighty and Amazing Quercs’) will once more be looking to claim a trophy. Filled to the teeth with big UK names, including Luke Twist and Jan Mikolajczak (captain and president of the Radcliffe Chimeras, respectively), Ben Morton (Team UK coach), and several Team UK players alongside big names who only just missed out on selection, the Quercs are not to be underestimated. If the numbers don’t let them down, they could easily be contenders for a podium finish.

Barcelona Eagles – Having finished fifth at their own tournament in September, I am hoping to see that Catalonia’s most prominent team, the Barcelona Eagles, have capitalised on the past few months to improve their synergy. I think that the Eagles could rise above a lot of the middle-tier teams in this tournament if they have done so. From what I have seen of the Eagles, they are not lacking in talent but do not act decisively enough either in their drives or defence, and I would hope to see that this has evolved.

Paris Titans – Risen from the ashes of Paris Phénix, the Titans are a team I would expect to see finish at the top of their group. Their performance can be erratic; the Titans bombed out of Barcelona Moustaches Time after a loss to the Quercs, losing to Lunatica, and leaving Los Conquidstadores, a team they soundly defeated in pool play, the chance for third place. That said, current Titans constituted the bulk of Team France at Global Games and took second place at La Coupe de France, so, with no Paris Frogs to get in their way, the Titans should perform highly.

Pau Muggle Quidditch – One of the newest French teams, Pau Muggle Quidditch will probably be here for experience, looking to win a game or two in pool play to improve its overall game. It’s exciting to see so many French teams cropping up as they notoriously suffer from isolation; France is rather big. I think that Pau Muggle Quidditch will see a great improvement in its play after this tournament, especially given its absence at La Coupe de France.

(The) Spartans – Formed for the purpose of this tournament, in a similar fashion to Los Conquidstadores at Barcelona, the Spartans are the UK players who were not inclined to join the Quercs. Although with fewer big names, the fact that their captain is Bex Alley (Team Canada coach), and the Spartans are also taking Team UK-qualified Lee Baughan and a star seeker in Fiona Howat (London Unspeakables), means that they should not be dismissed by the other teams in this group.


Editors Note: The above pools have been updated since the original article was published. We have left the author's predictions as they originally appeared. Of course these can no longer come true but should be informative for our readers nonetheless.

I will not do a full-ranked prediction here, as there are so many unknown teams and so many different ways the early stages could play out, but I have made some predictions as to the group stages of the tournament. I expect the semifinalists to come from this pool of teams (although I would note that I could see the Spartans, Belgian Blackbeards, or Norwegian Ridgebacks also claiming a semifinal spot).

Top of pool play:
Group 1 – Lille Black Snitches
Group 2 – Crookshanks Lyon
Group 3 – Paris Titans
Group 4 – Barcelona Eagles
Group 5 – The Quercs

Given its reinforcements and that it placed above Toulouse in La Coupe de France, I expect Lille to maintain the edge over its rivals. Lyon and the Eagles will face close matches in their respective groups (I expect the Spartans/Eagles game to hover around snitch range for the bulk of play), but their superior synergy over their mercenary opponents should give them an advantage. The wealth of experience in the Titans should mean they can take their pool matches with confidence. The Quercs benefit from a core of players coming from the same team (the Radcliffe Chimeras) and this will serve them well.


Although the lineup is certainly a mixed bag, this tournament should be an excellent opportunity to scope out the quidditch scenes on several underreported nations – even France has been hiding many secluded teams who will be of great interest to anyone curious about wider European affairs – and to give many new and mid-level teams some much-needed tournament experience. I think that the later stages of the tournament should show some genuinely competitive play, and every team present will take something valuable away from this experience. At this stage of European quidditch, every opportunity to elaborate our knowledge on existing teams is incredibly valuable as we attempt to put together cohesive maps and league tables, and the Tournoi de la Violette will be a great source of information here, as well as being an opportunity to play some very fun quidditch.

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