Thursday, March 19, 2015

Onward to Oxford: Vienna Vanguards

As part of our efforts to preview all 32 teams competing in the European Quidditch Cup (EQC), the Quidditch Post is chatting with representatives from each team. Today we spoke with Chris Gassner, captain of the Vienna Vanguards.

Quidditch Post: Austria is a bit of a newcomer to the world of quidditch. Can you tell me a bit about the sport in Vienna?
Chris: Well yes, it took quite a while for quidditch to reach Austria. It all started in October 2014; a couple of motivated people got together and played quidditch for the first time in Vienna. It was a large success. More and more people began to hear about our practicing via social media and started coming out to practices, and eventually a community was born. Within this community, people wanted to play competitively and voilà - we had the Vienna Vanguards, training usually at least two times a week.

Quidditch as a sport is still very unknown in Austria. Once people walking by asked if we were pathfinders because they thought the hoops were animal traps. While our immediate goal is to continue to have fun, we also want to make quidditch more popular here.

QP: Have you played against any other teams yet?
Chris: Haha...good question! Short answer: No. Long answer: Unfortunately we don’t have any other teams in Austria we can compete with; however, we are in touch with the Passau Three River Dragons. This is currently the closest team in our region, and we look forward to a friendly match before the EQC in Oxford. We are chafing at the bit to compete with other teams to see whether our tactics help us to rise like Conchita Wurst's Phoenix or if we’ll end up just a simple Wiener Schnitzel lunch.

QP: How many players do you intend to bring to EQC?
Chris: We are going to compete in Oxford with a full roster of 21 players.

QP: Do you have any particular goals for EQC?
Chris: Our goal is to overcome the pool play phase. Furthermore, we want to gain as much experience as possible by playing and analyzing other teams. And of course we aim to socialize with the European quidditch community and have heaps of fun. Yet, as mentioned before...surviving the pool play phase would really make us feel like the Hobbits at  Aragorn's coronation.

QP: What will it take for the team to make it to bracket play?
Chris: Key elements to make it into bracket play will be sustaining an assertive and confident gameplay, a fast adaptation to the style of the opposing teams, and maintaining good communication and overview on pitch. Of course the draw of our pool and the moment of surprise regarding our playing style will affect our chances to reach bracket play.

QP: Outside of hopefully making bracket play, what do you hope your team takes away from the experience?
Chris: I hope our participation at the EQC 2015 will result in new input for our training, new strategies to incorporate in our play, and the general encouragement of sustained team spirit and longevity. Further, I hope we make new quidfriends from all over Europe, that we represent Austria well at this exciting and magical international event, and maybe even gain attention for quidditch back home in the country of Mozart, bad soccer, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

QP: Are there any players who you think will be key to the team's success?
Chris: No, we don't exactly have specific key players...we are all natural Viktor Krums: vigilant, fast, and bold.

QP: Is there a particular team you'd like to face?
Chris: Not really, however it would certainly be a very special experience to encounter the three incumbent European quidditch champions: the Oxford Chimeras, Paris Phénix, and the Brussels Qwaffles.

QP: How would you describe the team's style of play?
Chris: Playful and pleasing at the beginning of each match, followed up by a smart and passionate mid-play resulting in an expressive and convincing finish.  Maybe accompanied by a slight hint of naivety.

QP: Do you think that slight hint of naivety is a weakness or a strength?
Chris: I consider this slight greenness helpful for the team, as it supports us to play to our style, to try out our moves, and to not fear other (maybe more experienced) teams.

QP: Thanks Chris; we appreciate your time.
Chris: Thank you, it was a pleasure talking to you.

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