Monday, March 23, 2015

Major League Quidditch to Provide Summer Alternative

By Andy Marmer and Lindsay Garten, Quidditch Post CEOs

While the summer is typically known as a fantasy season in quidditch—a time to play with new teammates, try out new positions, and go back to the sport’s roots in a more casual environment—this year a new alternative is springing up in the United States: Major League Quidditch (MLQ).
The league, a brainchild of former IQA Gameplay Coordinator Ethan Sturm, will feature eight teams in two divisions. The Eastern Division features Boston, New York City, Ottawa, and Washington, D.C., while the Northern Division contains teams in Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, and Rochester, New York. Teams will play three games against each of their divisional opponents throughout June and July, with a playoff scheduled for August.

Sturm was inspired to create the league—which is not affiliated with USQ—by his growing frustration with fantasy tournaments.

“They definitely serve a purpose—they are fantastic community builders and skill developers,” Sturm said. “But they're played at a more casual level, and things like last-minute drops and unbalanced wait lists sap them of their competitive identity. At the same time, we were in the prime of a lack of video, and thus a complete lack of stats. And I just started thinking, ‘What would it take to make a league that accomplished all of this and gave summer a truly competitive slate of events?’”

The initial host cities were chosen based on a number of factors: existing quidditch community, leadership, and places that were rife for the creation of a quidditch team. While the league would have liked to go national, Sturm acknowledged the necessity of starting small, in an area he in which he was more comfortable.

“Ideally, we would have just gone national right off the bat, but logistically, it was a lot more feasible to start small in something of a trial season before expanding too much,” he said.

Entry in the league will cost teams $600; that money will go exclusively into the league, with any leftover funds going toward players’ travel expenses. A full balance sheet of the league’s expenses will be provided to those who are interested. Although Sturm acknowledged that this is a steep cost, he believes that high-quality refereeing—which will be provided by the International Referee Development Program (IRDP)—is very important for the league’s success.

The eight teams will be organized by managers who will be key in the logistical planning. Boston will be headed by Northeast Regional Director and Q.C. Boston: the Massacre player Kara Levis, New York by the Warriors Captain Amanda Dallas, Ottawa by Quidditch Canada Marketing Director Clare Hutchinson, and Washington by Capital Madness Coach James Hicks. Each of these cities has an existing community team, and rosters can be expected to draw heavily from the Massacre, the Warriors, North Star (based in Ottawa), and Capital Madness. The Northern teams are headed by those with heavy involvement in the quidditch community. Cleveland is led by former Bowling Green State University captain and current Blue Mountain Quidditch Club Captain Katie Milligan, Detroit by Midwest Regional Director Alex Scheer, Indianapolis by Erin Moreno, who has a leadership role in the Ball State Quidditch League—this team will also draw players from Chicago—and Rochester by Patrick Callanan, who played at the University of Rochester and is involved in the founding of the city’s first community team, Rochester United.

Those wishing to compete this summer will have the opportunity to earn their roster spot throughout the month of April and May. Tryout information will be released in early April, but each team will be required to have a tryout event and take video submissions for those not in the area; rosters will be selected in early May. A schedule will be announced toward the end of May, with competition happening during June and July. A postseason tournament will be scheduled for August. Each city will have a 30-person roster and take 21 players to tournaments.

Sturm is optimistic for the league’s first season.

“We understand that no matter how much work we put in on the back end, the league will only be successful if the player base buys in,” he said. “We've worked hard to create an environment that is as player-friendly and as financially-friendly as possible...all of our managers are well-ingrained into the areas they'll be recruiting in. When it comes to quidditch, nothing is a guarantee, but we feel we've set ourselves up as well as we could to succeed.”

Outside of Sturm and Dallas serving as Chairs of the Board, MLQ will be led by individuals with strong quidditch experience. Scheer will serve as Events Director, Mike Iadevaia as Social Media Director, and Martin Pyne as Head of Statistics. IRDP will also appoint a representative.

Ultimately, the success of MLQ may not be immediately apparent, but ultimately depend on the league’s legacy. MLQ plans to work with Savage to reduce the cost of jerseys and cities to reduce the cost of events. Organized outside of any national governing body, this is perhaps the most serious attempt made at an independent, professional quidditch. Regardless of the long-term implications, Sturm’s focus is short-term.

“To me, the goals are pretty simple,” he said. “Successful recruiting for all eight teams. No cancellations for roster shortages so that each team plays all nine of its scheduled games. Filming and statistically analyzing them all, and then a successful championship.”

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