Saturday, February 28, 2015

80 in 80: Los Angeles Gambits

As part of our efforts to preview all 80 teams competing in USQ World Cup 8, the Quidditch Post is chatting with representatives from each team. Today we spoke with Steve DiCarlo, captain/coach of the Los Angeles Gambits.
Photo by Sofia de la Vega Photography

Quidditch Post: What did it mean for the Gambits to win the regional championship in their first season?
Steve: Winning the regional championship  in our first season meant the world to everyone on the Gambits. We took a group of friends who truly respect each other on the pitch and off, traveled to a number of tournaments to grow as a team, and finally took down one of the most impressive teams the West has ever seen. Rivalry aside, that finals game meant a lot of things to a lot of people on our team. We have people who cried over merely qualifying for World Cup last year, and they finally all got a chance to see what Tony Rodriguez and I saw in them when we added them to our roster. Throughout the tournament, everyone had a great play or great game that we can attribute our success to. It was a true team effort, and that's what made it such an amazing victory.

QP: You brought up Tony, and I think few will argue he's one of the key players for the Gambits. Can you talk about what he brings to the pitch?
Steve: Contrary to the comedic analysis that some may have seen on Twitter, the Gambits aren't the Tony long-shot show. All tournament, Tony demonstrated that he should be considered one of the best passers in the game. Our ball movement this weekend was the best it's ever been, and Tony is a huge part of that. 

QP: On top of Tony, I think it's fair to say that the Gambits have some of the best chasers in the world with recent breakout stars such as Ren Bettendorf and Andrew Murray. How have you seen those players grow recently, and are there other players who you don't think get the attention they deserve?
Steve: Ren Bettendorf and Tony are finally becoming the offensive pairing that people anticipated them being this season, and Peter Reynebeau is a definite star on both sides of the ball. Caylen McDonald blocked so many goals this weekend, and somehow we still have a number of great quaffle players who have managed to stay under the radar that people will just have to see for themselves at World Cup. That all being said, I feel like this weekend our beaters proved everyone who has ever questioned their talent this season very, very wrong. We went against top beater pairs like Willis Miles IV  and Kyrie Timbrook from the Silicon Valley Skrewts and Chris Seto and Peter Lee from the Lost Boys, and never once were we scrambling in the bludger game. Our beaters prioritized scoring on offense and preventing goals on defense, control be damned, and it worked each game exactly as we practiced.

QP: Now that you have a West Regional Championship under your belt, what are your goals?
Steve: We used all our practices between LA Open and the regional championship to prepare for the Lost Boys exclusively, and our hard work and team talks paid off. We did the same sort of prep for the University of Texas at Austin (UT) before Lone Star Cup and played it to a snitch-range game. When we plan for a team and stick to our plan, we do great. So now we've just got to start dedicating the next two months to making a game plan for the top competitors at World Cup. Our goal is to win, and now were all confident that that's within our grasp.

QP: It seems that game-planning is one of the team's strengths. Do you think the new Swiss Style will adversely impact the Gambits?
Steve: The Swiss format is definitely not something that helps us. But we used pool play during the regional championship to try out a bunch of different offenses and defenses, and I think our roster gives us the freedom to adjust to teams mid-game pretty well. We'll plan for the teams we can realistically plan for and be open to mid-game gameplan changes for the teams that we can't.

QP: As you mentioned, you traveled to the Southwest earlier this season for a tournament, and the teams in that region are widely considered the favorites. How do you think that exposure will help the Gambits at World Cup?
Steve: Traveling to the Southwest helped everyone get over their fear of physical teams. It was several of our players' first experience with truly hard-hitting teams, and we came out of it fine. Between our solid performance against Southwest physicality and our win over a team known for featuring two of the top beaters in the game this weekend, I don't think anyone will go into any game at World Cup with pessimism, and that'll help a lot.

QP: Are there any teams in particular you hope to play at World Cup?
Steve: I think everyone who played at Lone Star is itching for a rematch against UT, especially since we didn't have either of our seekers at that tournament for the snitch-range game. We also want to play against the Tufts University Tufflepuffs because we're ranked below them, and I personally think we outclass them in every aspect of the game.

QP: What will it take for the Gambits to win World Cup?
Steve: Sacrifice. We need everyone to practice harder, eat healthier, train smarter, watch more footage, and keep the "team over self" mindset that just won us a regional championship.

QP: You mentioned adaptability, but would you say that the Gambits have a signature style?
Steve: Actually, no. We've been trying to perfect all of the sport's most historic offenses and defenses, and our style keeps changing as we find famous strategies that work with our personnel.

QP: Thanks, Steve; we appreciate your time.
Steve: Anytime.

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