Thursday, February 5, 2015

Komrade Kup Preview

The Northwest Region’s second official tournament as a region is happening on Saturday Feb. 7, as the the Moscow Manticores at the University of Idaho host the six other Northwest teams and the Alberta Clippers, recent champions of Canada’s Western Region, for Komrade Kup. To preview the tournament, we asked members of each team to profile one of their rivals.

Boise State Abraxans (BSA)
By Mitchell Stuart Hatfield, Western Washington University Wyverns (WWUW)

The Abraxans are one of the most developed teams in the Northwest Region, founded in Oct. 2012. However, no team is infallible as was seen at Clash in the Cascades last November where the team unexpectedly did not make it out of pool play. A major weakness I saw at Clash that could be damaging to their play at Komrade Kup, is a general sense of discord or confusion as to who is leading the team at any given time. It seemed that the team looked to a few key people and if those people disagreed, it led to confusion and eventually to a loss. Another component of the Abraxans dynamic that could use work is their inability to adapt to new strategies. Their defense and offense work well until they go up against an opponent who runs a strategy that the Abraxans haven’t directly planned for. It takes this team too long to adapt to the fast pace of a match and that could cost them in the long run.

As a result of BSA’s experience playing outside the region, standout players Stew Driflot, Casey Thompson, Sally Matlock, and Bryan Bixler have a good handle on what this team will need to do to come out on top. Driflot is one to watch especially for his situational awareness and versatility in each role. Matlock leads a formidable beater team and with Bixler and Thompson leading this chaser team, there is no end to the scoring opportunities for the Abraxans. Unfortunately Thompson, who had a great showing at Clash, will be entering this tournament injured and that could slow the Abraxans offensive pace. That being said, one player does not make or break a team and I see no reason the Abraxans can't come out on top of this tournament if they can rally together and correct their mistakes from Clash.

Portland Augureys
By Taylor Attrill, British Columbia Quidditch Club (BCQC)

The Portland Augureys… what is there to say about this team? Well, in all honesty, not too much. That is because they are a new team that has only been around for a few months. They made their official debut at the Clash in the Cascades tournament in Bellingham, Washington back in November, where they showed off their hard work over their short life.

The team’s poor performance can be attributed to low roster turnout and numerous injuries suffered throughout the day. Despite this, they had one thing going for them: heart. Portland showed that they are a dedicated team that plays for the love of sport and their chemistry is undeniable. For a beginner team, they have a decent offense; however, their defense needs a lot of workagain, largely due to their injuries and lack of numbers. They did manage to put up a good fight and even catch the snitch in one of their games against WWUW. Portland has a long way to go, and although they may be short on size, based on their first showing in Bellingham, Portland should be able to showcase itself as a stronger team.

Western Washington University Wyverns
By Austin Wallace, University of British Columbia Quidditch (UBC)

Among the Northwest’s big-three (WWUW, BSA and UBC) the Western Washington University Wyverns have had the most recent success and could easily be considered the favorites at this tournament. While they bowed out in the semifinal of the year’s only official tournament so far, they have had a very strong season on the whole. After a 110*-50 loss to UBC at Clash in the Cascades  that knocked them out, they came back and went undefeated at the First Annual Dobby Cup Quidditch Tournament, beating that same UBC team by a snitch catch, 80*-60.

All year, the team has stood upon the pillars of dominant offensive beating, star chasing and effective seeking. Ross Schram von Haupt is their massive, intelligent, sniper of a keeper who is frustratingly patient. He makes long shots and strips with equal ease. Jake “the Earthquake” Ronhaar is a quick shifty player and is magic by the hoops. 

All of this is facilitated by the incredible offensive beating of Alexander Ramsey and his team of beaters. Ramsey has a bullet from mid-court that makes MLB pitchers seem inaccurate and opposing chasers move out of the way. Their offensive beating is stellar, and their patient attack dissolves without it.

In the seeker game, they’ve got the impressive Sam Seid, who I would call the Andrew Luck of seekers. Luck is an NFL quarterback who congratulates opponents when he gets hit, is overwhelmingly kind and compassionate in the face of intensity, and applies back-breaking pressure. He has a propensity for late-game heroics even when the rest of the day hasn’t gone so well. 

While they do not play the Abraxans or UBC, it will be interesting to watch how their game has evolved as they have been preparing for the regional championship.

Moscow Manticores
By Kym Couch, Boise State Abraxans

The Moscow Manticores were founded in 2011, making them the second oldest USQ official team in the region after UBC (2010). However, their location in a college town where very few people live between semesters combined with the fact that they had to develop their team in isolation from the rest of the country, has set them back in their competitive nature.

That being said, this year they are more competitive and serious than they have ever been. They are playing with 15 players at Komrade, seven of whom did not attend Clash in the Cascades in November.

Although it is unlikely that they have improved their strategy enough to win their tournament, the added players are definitely going to shake up their playing style enough that this is likely to be our first real experience of what they have to offer.

At Clash it felt that every time they had momentum going, they would either get tackled or someone would fumble a pass and be unable to recover it. They have been working on their passing and tackling, so it'll be exciting to see how their practicing will line up with WWUW, the Boise State Thestrals, and the Alberta Clippers, none of whom they have faced before. I predict they will be fairly matched with the Boise State Thestrals, but they will lose by significant margins to WWUW and Alberta.

British Columbia Quidditch Club (BCQC)
By Harrison Baucom, Boise State Thestrals

British Columbia Quidditch Club is the University of British Columbia’s B team. It came in second place at Clash in the Cascades, losing to UBC in the finals; however, during this tournament, it did not play against Western Washington University or the Boise State Abraxans, two of the strongest teams in the region.

Although many of BCQC’s wins at Clash were by large margins, including a 200*-30 win over the Moscow Manticores and a 150*-20 win over Portland at Dobby Cup, it was matched against some stronger teams and lost to both UBC and Western Washington.

According to captain Taylor Attrill, BCQC plans to bring 12-13 total players to Komrade Kup, significantly less than the 17 who were present at Clash. This could potentially affect its energy levels as the tournament progresses. Nine of the players coming to Komrade participated in Clash in the Cascades as well, so it has quite a few players with previous experience and good synergy returning to the pitch. 

This team should have a great chance of taking on teams such as Moscow, Portland, and the Boise State Thestrals. It has already proven itself against the two former teams, and the latter team has seen very little experience. It will likely stand less of a chance against the three teams in the region that are currently vying for power: UBC, WWUW, and BSA.

Boise State Thestrals
By Benji B’Shalom, Portland Augureys

Of all the USQ-official teams in the Northwest region, the Thestrals are the team we know the least about. They’ve only been to one tournament so far, the Top of Utah Classic, which was rained out after two games. With a small sample size and a 12-player roster, it’s hard to say what this team’s strengths and weaknesses are.

“We have 12 players for Komrade, so that's four more than we had for Top of Utah,” said captain Harrison Baucom. “But we're definitely lacking in the experience and synergy departments.”

While this team may not have established its identity yet, it features some new additions from Boise State’s varsity squad, the Abraxans. The additions notably include Ezra Johnson, who has impressed many in past tournaments with the Abraxans.

When it comes down to it, the Thestrals are an unknown, even this late in the season, which means they can’t be overlooked by anyone playing them, but the sense is that the team mostly looks forward to gaining experience and developing at this tournament.

“I mean, we'll try our best, but I certainly won't be disappointed as long as we have our play requirements met,” said Baucom. “At this point, our strategy is to attempt to score.”

University of British Columbia Quidditch
By Chris Radojewski, Alberta Clippers

While most Canadian teams haven’t seen UBC Quidditch in action, it is well known in the United States. Although it is in USQ, considering the weak presence of Western Canadian teams, Canadians wish they could be playing a team of this caliber. Not only has the team constantly improved and developed over the past few years, it has star players, and that is not just limited to the three who played for Team Canada this past July at the Global Games.

Just as its skills have developed, so has its club. This year is the first time UBC has been able to field two teams—one of three Canadian clubs that are able to do so. At Clash in the Cascades, of a slate of nine teams, UBC and BCQC finished first and second, so it seems that UBC has the competitive edge. However the clubs that have two teams always have one gunning for the other.

Although there is a fairly balanced slate of teams going to the Komrade Cup, I see UBC as a big threat to other teams. By no means does that mean it will run away with the tournament, but other teams will have to step up and stop a very skilled team; it will be nice to see this team perform.  

Alberta Clippers
By Timothy Martin, Moscow Manticores

The Alberta Clippers are a young team from Alberta, Canada. They started less than a year ago, but they haven’t let that slow them down and have been doing very well. While being geographically isolated from the majority of their region, they have still attended two tournaments including the Western Canada Regional Championship this past weekend. They will be attending Komrade Cup as a merc team with 15 players, but at home they have 21 very committed players whose teamwork has helped them grow as team, despite the difficulties of living far apart. They have a fairly even gender ratio on the team, allowing for all members to step up and shine.

“I think one of the best strengths of the Clippers is the cohesion,” said Chris Radojewski, the Clippers’ captain. Most of these players live across Alberta and it’s not often the team can practice. I think this year there has been a total of four practices. However, when the team comes together [we] know what to do and [we] do it well.” 

I expect they will be a great challenge for the teams at this tournament, bringing new ideas and many talents to the games.

Simon Fraser University (SFU)
By Calvin Ng

The Simon Fraser University Marauders are a recent newcomer to the Pacific Northwest, having celebrated their one-year anniversary in Sept. 2014. Christine Konrad, currently playing for Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, started the team in 2012 but due to club registration deadlines with the university, however, the team only started practicing in Sept. 2013.

Whatever lessons they learned from their sandbox year, they've shown to have garnered an identity that screams “we're friendly but we'll still put up a tough fight.” Promising to establish a presence in the Northwest in the 2014-15 season, they began the year with a dominating performance at Clash in the Cascades, going 3-2, only losing to BCQC in the semifinal.

They have a potent offense and tenacious beater group, and despite their inexperience compared to cross-town rival school, UBC, they are known to be able to quickly put up points against their opponents. Like all good things, it was evident in the later games of Clash and throughout Dobby Cup (0-3 in round robin) that such talents have down times.

Going into Komrade, SFU will be seeing its fair share of familiar faces and also its first taste of action against the Boise State Abraxans. As footage in the Northwest is minimal to non-existent, it will be interesting to see how both teams play one another, each having only spectated the other team at Clash. You can be sure that by the time seeker floor is up, however, that each team would be putting up a fair challenge for the other.

In a nutshell, SFU can be described as 'tenacious'. They're a hardworking, challenging team to play against. If I were you, I wouldn't ponder too much about their unsuccessful stint on home turf at Dobby Cup, being their only blemish on their promising first year as a Quidditch Canada official team. Since then, they've gone 2-0 in games against the University of Victoria. SFU is a tough team that sets out to prove itself against every team it plays.

1 comment:

  1. Taylor Attrill is from BCQC, not the Manticores. We also have SFU coming to the tournament.