Thursday, February 5, 2015

Quidditch Players Flock to Oxford for Valentines Cup II

By Ashara Peiris

On the weekend of Feb. 7, Valentines Cup II: Revenge of the Quove will take place in Oxford, England. Valentines Cup II will continue the tradition of mercenary tournaments in the United Kingdom and follows on from Christmas Cup, Mercian Cup I and II, and the first Valentines Cup among others. This will be largest fantasy tournament that the world has ever seen, with a total of 20 teams and a staggering 340 players, from across the UK, Europe, and North America.

Jan Mikolajczak and Luke Twist, were the Tournament Director’s of Valentine’s Cup I. 

“When we first came up with the idea of a fantasy tournament at an Oxford University Quidditch Club exec meeting in late 2013 [just after the Radcliffe Chimeras, Jan and Luke’s team went on to win at the British Quidditch Cup], we joked about making the biggest ever mercenary tournament,” said Twist. “As it was the first ever tournament we’d ever organised though we decided to keep it a lot smaller. We came up with the idea to fundraise to travel to World Cup VII and it grew from there really.”

“Originally the plan was to have it be for around 80 players; however, after the European Quidditch Cup II (which the Chimeras also won) we invited a number of players from across the continent and it grew to almost double that size,” Mikolajczak said. “Now this year for the 340 places to have sold out within two hours is incredible.”

Like other fantasy tournaments, players are drafted onto each captain’s team using an auction format. What makes Valentines Cup unique from other fantasy tournaments is that players are drafted in pairs.

“Although other tournaments are now following the idea of drafting in pairs (North America Fantasy being the most notable example), not only were we the first to do it, we also have this great theme of Valentine’s Day and spreading quove, which I think the other tournaments don’t really have”, Mikolajczak said.

Having to draft players in pairs inevitably adds an extra level of strategy to the drafting process, as captains need to consider pair synergy as one of the many variables when deciding who to draft. 

“Normally when you draft for a fantasy tournament, if you want a specific player or one with a specific play style, you can just choose them, but here you have to consider how they play with their partner and whether you need a player of this type for your team,” Twist said. It definitely adds an extra level of strategy.”

Furthermore, the draft order was random and unknown, meaning that captains needed to be prudent when bidding for players as they had to ensure that they did not overspend on players early on. This was especially important because each captain only had a total of 200 points each to spend. Lastly each of the captains had been assigned a bid value that varied with their playing ability and experience, that was deducted from their total pool of money. By doing this they hoped to ensure an even playing field for all captains.

At the first Valentines Cup, Steffan Danino’s Simultaneous Scoregasms became the inaugural champion after winning games against seven of the eight opposing teams. They did this by bringing the smallest squad of the tournament (only 13 players), with a large amount of synergyfive of the players played for the Radcliffe Chimeras or Oxford Quidlingsand talent both from across the UK (three Team UK players) and Europe. 

“Steffan was actually a last minute addition to the draft, he was only added as a captain about four days before the draft,” said Twist. “By bidding early and consistently, he was able to get a number of bargains on some very talented players.”

Now that Valentines Cup II has assembled the largest group of players for a mercenary tournament, it is unlikely that there is much space for significant growth in terms of size. 

“I think the way for growth now is encouraging more international players to come join and [particularly] more captains from Europe, America and around the world would be really good,” said Mikolajczak.

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