Thursday, April 30, 2015

EQC Division 1 Team Reviews

On the 18 and 19 April, the 2015 European Quidditch Cup (EQC) was held in Oxford, UK. With 32 teams from 11 regions, it was the biggest quidditch tournament held outside North America to date. Now that the dust has settled, our writers review how each team performed, starting with the 16 teams who made it into Division 1.

Titans Paris 
By Alex Harrison and Sasha Burgoyne

Throughout the weekend, the Paris Titans were clearly the best team, matching scintillating quaffle play with an aggressive yet disciplined beater game. The Titans certainly redressed their defeat in the final of La Coupe de France where, like the Radcliffe Chimeras, they had lost their national title on the snitch catch despite being ahead on quaffle points. No team had better overall balance than the Titans, and only one team—the flamboyant METU Unicorns—held them within snitch range for a long time during their 130*-50 group match (also the only game in which the Titans scored fewer than 12 goals). The Titans' 170*-60 victory over Southampton Quidditch Club 1 in pool play was hugely impressive, and their play was superb to watch; Durhamstrang, UiO Quidditch, and the Nottingham Nightmares all fell to the Titans in bracket play with a combined quaffle score of 430-140. Their final victory over the Radcliffe Chimeras was an exciting, open game which saw both sides trading slick team goals, with the Titans' brilliant quaffle interplay eventually proving too much for the reigning champions. Players like Albert Bregeault, Valentin Farese, and Denis Plog could be highlighted as key players, as could seeker Mourad Ghazi (the Titans caught all seven snitches they faced), but that would be doing a disservice to the team. The Titans played as a tight-knit unit, one of very few teams whose level didn't noticeably drop after certain substitutions, and I don't think anyone will have any complaints that they were crowned champions of European quidditch. Simply put, the best team won.

Radcliffe Chimeras 
By Alex Harrison

The Radcliffe Chimeras had a point to prove coming into the EQC, and I think it is safe to say that they proved it. Solid if unspectacular group stage victories over the London Unspeakables, North Sea Nargles, and Green-Tauros Quidditch Torino saw the Chimeras safely through to the knockout rounds, where they dispatched the Lille Black Snitches 140*-10 before scraping past Deurne Dodo, who put up a tremendous fight to lose only 100*-40 and keep the Chimeras within snitch range. The grudge match against Southampton in the semifinal was eagerly awaited, and the Chimeras delivered a tactical masterclass. In a break from the Chimeras' usual dominant quaffle play, Southampton had the lion's share of possession but their offence was effectively shut down, with only a handful of real chances. The Chimeras, meanwhile, efficiently ran their score up after a long goalless period before David Goswell's impressive snitch catch sealed the win. Particularly important was the offensive beating of Jan Mikolajczak and Matty Panda, who respectively embodied athleticism and guile; Mikolajczak's rapid and aggressive play disrupted Southampton's excellent beating game, while Panda's slower and subtler game frequently won back bludger control before anyone realised what had happened. The Chimeras were obviously ecstatic to defeat Southampton and played an enjoyably open game against the Paris Titans in the final, reverting to their usual attacking play in a narrow 150*-80 defeat which saw them hover on the edge of snitch range for most of the game. Defeat to the exceptional Titans team is hardly a disaster, and the Chimeras will be very happy to have defeated Southampton and reclaimed their status as the best team in UK quidditch—though their aura of invincibility may never return.

Southampton Quidditch Club 1 (SQC1) 
By Alex Harrison

Southampton Quidditch Club came into the EQC as the British champions and were considered one of a few teams that could win the tournament—if it could survive its group of death. After a routine 150*-0 victory over Three River Dragons Passau of Germany, SQC1 took on the METU Unicorns of Turkey in an exciting 180*-70 victory before losing 160*-70 to the eventual tournament winners, the Paris Titans. Having qualified second in its group, SQC went on to defeat French champions Paris Frog in the Round of 16 and beat Keele Squirrels in the quarterfinals to set up a semifinal with the Radcliffe Chimeras—a rematch of the British Quidditch Cup final, and a match that almost drew more interest than the final. SQC had lost both of its primary keepers Ollie Craig and Vincent Fouré to injuries, but its comprehensive 90*-0 defeat to a well-drilled Chimeras team—who were one disallowed snitch catch from retaining their British Quidditch Cup title in March—seems to re-establish the Chimeras as the greatest force in British quidditch. With two defeats from six games, SQC will be disappointed with this tournament; joint-third is hardly a bad result (the Nottingham Nightmares, who would have contested the third-place playoff with Southampton, agreed to cancel the match and share third place rather than risk further injuries), but SQC will be deeply wounded by that shutout defeat to the Chimeras. Had SQC won that match but lost the final, I suspect it would have been happy with the tournament result, but exiting at the hands of the Chimeras is probably the most painful way it could have lost. Stay tuned for next year's British Quidditch Cup, because I predict one hell of a showdown…

Nottingham Nightmares 
By Fraser Posford

The Nightmares could not have asked for a better tournament in a season of rapid development which has seen them go from last place at East Midlands Cup in October to joint third in Europe with none other than the British champions, Southampton Quidditch Club 1. Under the leadership of Lucy Quidditch, arguably one of the most aggressive beaters in the UK, Nottingham has created a high standard of beaters across its roster which allowed it to remain within snitch range against UiO and Paris Titans (up until the snitch entered the pitch), the team’s only losses of the tournament. Gone are the days when Nottingham relied on hopeful long shots for goals, as a dynamic quaffle-driving game anchored by keepers Mikey Ansell and Andrew Price allowed for the likes of chasers Adam Jasko, Evelyn Goodall, and Kat Jack to thrive in attack. Comfortable wins against Lunatica Quidditch Club (150-70*) and the Wageningen Werewolves (160*-20) in pool play coupled with SWIM victories over Coupe de France bronze medallists Crookshanks Lyon (140*-90) and the Norwegian bronze medallists NTNUI (80*-60) made for a very successful weekend. This was capped off by an excellent gesture of friendship to share third place with SQC rather than play the playoff match. The Nottingham Nightmares announced themselves on the biggest stage possible and most certainly will not be underestimated by their UK and European opponents next season.

UiO Quidditch 
By Sasha Burgoyne

UiO entered the weekend as one of the more unknown teams but it soon made a name for itself winning its group by beating the Wageningen Werewolves 140*-20 and Lunatica 180-90* with relative ease. The Nottingham Nightmares put up an excellent fight and kept UiO to within snitch range but the match finally ended 90*-40 to UiO.

On Day Two, UiO drew Falmouth Falcons in the first Round of 16 and this is where it really began to prove itself, under the guidance of captain Kai Shaw, whose inspirational keeper runs at Falmouth's hoops were backed up by strong solid beating allowing it to keep just out of snitch range and eventually finish, with a particularly good snitch catch against defensive seeking, 180*-90. This progressed it to the quarterfinals where UiO went up against the eventual champions, the Paris Titans. However, for the first few minutes UiO looked like it could really challenge the Titans. Its very tight beating, combined with Shaw and Jakob Lenz, kept it in contention for some time but the Titans consistently good beating and chasing eventually came through. The match ended 150*-40 but the scoreline does a disservice to UiO that put in an excellent performance and is definitely a team to watch in future European tournaments; if it improves any more, it will be a very serious contender for the championship.

Deurne Dodo
By Ben Pooley

Being one of the youngest, yet most promising teams at this tournament, it was unknown how far Deurne Dodo would get in the competition. Put in a group with Paris Frog, the Oxford Quidlings, and Quidditch Hussars, it was always going to a tough group for Dodo. Its first game ended in an unfortunate loss to Paris Frog, with Deurne having sent the game to overtime, only for Frog to score 20 points in overtime before the clock ran out to give Dodo's opposition a 100-80* (OT) win.

Next up was the Quidlings, a team Deurne Dodo was tipped to narrowly edge. The score ended up being a comfortable looking 180*-30 win for Deurne, with it picking up the pace and using its fast and agile chasing options to outplay the Quidlings in the later stages of the games. With that result it needed a win against Hussars to almost certainly clinch a spot in the Division 1 bracket, and it duly delivered with a crushing win of 190-30* against the Polish side. While the opposition wasn't as tough as it was in previous matches, it kept up the skill level and took no risks, clinically scoring almost every time it went up the pitch.

Deurne Dodo qualified for the Division 1 bracket and had a tough Round of 16 game against Loughborough awaiting it. Deurne started off slow but with the help of players like Louis and Charles Lermytte, and captain Willem Ardui, it managed to play well with some wonderfully worked goals against a tight Loughborough defence. Deurne’s progress slowed a little at about the 10 minute mark and Loughborough regained some ground and some points with Deurne looking tired and shaky, but within no time the team had turned it around and by the time the snitch came on pitch, it was leading by 40 points, meaning it could rack up more and more quaffle points while Loughborough defended the snitch. The score ended with a slightly flattering 140*-40 win for Deurne Dodo.

The quarterfinals left Deurne Dodo with a match against the reigning champions, the Radcliffe Chimeras. While Deurne had been lauded as a team to watch, most people wrote it off against the Chimeras, but Deurne proved everyone wrong with a wonderful display keeping in snitch range and were 30 points down when Oxford caught the snitch, with Dodo losing 100*-40. The fact that Deurne’s games were so close meant that it managed to rank in sixth place overall. 

A lot of players could be mentioned, with obvious one's being the massively influential Seppe De Wit, a young player who is unbelievably athletic, putting us mere mortals to shame. Then there's Elisabeth Reyniers, an equally impressive player in a different way. With an average age of under 18, Deurne Dodo has a very bright future ahead of it, and should use this EQC as another brick in building one of the best teams in Europe.

NTNUI Rumpeldunk
By Abby Whiteley

After coming third at the Norwegian national tournament, NTNUI was looking to prove itself at this event, and it did so in spectacular fashion. Although it did not bear the burden of some nations’ teams in that it was not the sole representative of Norway (UiO, from Oslo, also made an appearance), NTNUI still faced a pressure to prove that Norway can compete on an international level with the better-established British and French teams. NTNUI performed excellently in face of this challenge, and proved that it can be considered as much of a competitive threat as its compatriots, UiO.

It is common knowledge that captain Elisabeth Jørstad is one of the fiercest chasers in Europe, she performed to an exceptionally high level here, but she was far from being the only offensive threat in the NTNUI quaffle lineup. Sylvain Hochedé is a brilliant keeper, demonstrating athleticism and power in his play which many teams struggled to counteract. The passing throughout NTNUI’s quaffle lineup was incredibly slick and efficient, which was gratifying to see in a region where sloppy passing is still far too common. Jørgen Helgeland Stenløkk is an indispensable utility player for NTNUI, one of the few actual Norwegians on the squad and a truly exemplary seeker as well as a quaffle player. Martin Kleine—who also made a name for himself as a snitch this weekend—was also hugely helpful as a beater. NTNUI’s loss to the Nottingham Nightmares came at the end of a desperately close game, and on another day NTNUI could certainly have taken that win.

At the end of Day One, Norway was one of only three nations represented amongst the winners of each group (the UK and France being the other two), and both Norwegian teams made it into the quarterfinals. Norway has demonstrated a very impressive talent pool this EQC, and, with more quidditch teams popping up throughout Norway, this is only set to improve. Watch out for Norway at European Games, because we could find ourselves with Norwegian champions and have no idea how it happened.

Keele Squirrels
By Abby Whiteley

Coming off a high from their third-place ranking at the British Quidditch Cup, the Keele Squirrels were one of the most intimidating UK teams going into EQC. Keele kicked off its tournament experience with a comfortable win against Unisport-Zentrum Darmstadt, followed by a tight game against the Brussels Qwaffles. This match between the Belgian champions and British bronze medallists went into overtime, with Keele winning by scoring two goals before the five minutes were up. Although that was one of the closest matches Keele faced at the tournament, it was the quarterfinal against Southampton Quidditch Club 1 in which Keele best demonstrated its talent and grit. Toward the start of the match, Keele struggled to match its opponents, but, with an incredible show of determination, the Keele players fought tooth and nail to take the scoreline back into SWIM range. The skill and perseverance it took to take the British Champions back into snitch range long after it seemed the scoreline was decided, was amazing to witness and demonstrates just why Keele is such a force to be reckoned with.

The beater lineup spearheaded by TeamUK beaters Alice Faux-Nightingale and Captain Tom Norton was formidable, as these beaters simply have the speed to outpace the opposition. Bex McLaughlin has been recognised as one of the greatest beater talents in the UK for a long time, but they excelled as a keeper when asked to step up; they demonstrated confidence in dealing with point chasers, being fit enough to outmanoeuvre the defence, and they made some fantastic saves. Chris Scholes-Lawrence and Tom Tugulu proved why they have been Keele’s most lauded freshers this year, playing a fierce but clean game as they utilised impressive physicality on the defence even against some of the most imposing players in Europe. Jen McCallum and Hannah Watts are underutilised, but their positioning was fantastic and they often went unnoticed by enemy teams; Keele could step up its game by using these players more intelligently.

During this tournament, the Squirrels once more exhibited their collective talent, determination, and love for the sport. With many of the squad’s key players remaining in Keele next year, it is possible that this team will grow even stronger next season.

Bracket stages
Crookshanks Lyon
By Abby Whiteley

Lyon can sometimes get left out of conversations about French quidditch, if only because the two Parisian teams are so well-established and recognisable. However, this is not a fair representation of a French side which is eminently strong. After taking third place at the Coupe de France and fourth at the Tournoi International de la Violette, Lyon was in a comfortable position preceding EQC, and it will be pleased to have taken 10th place here. A loss within snitch range to the joint third-place winners the Nottingham Nightmares shut Lyon out of the quarterfinals, and this will have undoubtedly been a frustrating defeat, but it is not a shameful one.

An injury early in the tournament put keeper Yves Ferraris-Bouchez out of action, which made it difficult for this team since he is an excellent player, but the team bore the loss well, and the other keepers in Lyon’s lineup were capable of taking up the mantle. Captain Thibaud Chaize made some absolutely stellar saves against the Falmouth Falcons, and made drives with confidence and intuition. Yohan Riquet is a very powerful chaser, who along with Jérémy Blasco were exceptional on the defence. It is thanks to Geoffroy Deschamps-Segura, Lyon’s fearless seeker, that Lyon managed to go 3-0 on its first day despite a nail-bitingly close game against Falmouth. Renaud Mortier remains one of the best beaters in France, with astonishing energy and accuracy in his beats which so often gives Lyon the edge in the beater game. Lyon has also not fallen into the trap of sidelining its female players; Marine Delobel and Jeanne Heeren were two fantastic chasers whose decisiveness on the attack helped Lyon to convert many opportunities into goals.

Although most people are probably expecting the majority of Team France to constitute of players from the Parisian squads, it is very likely indeed that some members of Lyon will make an appearance. Lyon has not yet managed to crack the top two places in French quidditch, but the ability is certainly there, and next season we may see this eastern city challenging the Parisians for the top two spots.

By Jack Lennard

After a BQC that ended with a disappointing defeat to Leicester at the start of the second day, EQC took on a new importance to Durhamstrang, offering a chance to seize the glory that it expected this season. To some extent then, the tournament gave Durham the closure it needed after BQC. Drawn into a difficult group that Durham risked underestimating due to its relative lack of players with international knowledge, there were other problematic areas that quickly became apparent. Primarily among these was a lack of cohesion—hit hard by the spring university holiday, the Durham players had not seen each other for around five weeks, and this was clear by the lack of synergy in play and the lack of communication between the quaffle and bludger games. This was most obvious in the team’s 110*-30 defeat to NTNUI Rumpledunk, as Durham showed little structure in defence with an inability to prevent the two NTNUI players sent behind the Durham hoops from linking up and scoring repeatedly. Meanwhile, Durham’s usual potent offence showed sparse creativity in dealing with NTNUI’s tactic of keeping two bludgers close to the hoops, forcing it into inaccurate and ineffective long shots.

The comfortable 130*-20 victory over the Ghent Gargoyles later that day helped calm the nerves of Durham, however, and its chasers looked noticeably more comfortable passing around the hoops and deployed a far more structured defence. Max Gill, on his competitive debut, was a key part of this, and this match was the start of an impressive and lucrative series of games for him, as he became a prolific scorer. Peter Hobson found his mark as keeper, utilising a strong throwing arm to effectively distribute the ball behind the opposition hoops.

The physicality of the team was tested in its final group match, a 120*-80 victory over a ferocious Milano Meneghins. A strong defence helped prevent the intimidating force of the Milan chasers from pushing through and scoring. Although the beating game was prone to chaos at points, leading to a few easy points for Milan, it was aggressive enough to make sure that it kept control and that the Milan plays were disrupted impressively, with Marcus Buechel most prominently standing out. However, although Durham had improved, its defeat to NTNUI left it second in its group, and a low QPD left it facing the eventual champions, Paris Titans, in the Round of 16.

Although outmatched, the team displayed impressive passing in this game, especially around the hoops, leading to a few goals as it fell to a 220*-40 defeat. This will be encouraging after a poor passing display at BQC compared to previous performances this season, and shows the team can still live up to the hype that has been built around it, with the beating game especially impressive in this final match, despite the pressure of facing such an imposing team.

However, one area in which Durham may need to consolidate, is that of gender balance in the chasing game. Durham currently boasts several elite non-male players, such as Jade Strange, who used her speed to be a significant presence in all areas of the pitch, Becca Lowe, whose physicality was particularly vital in the Milan game and has impressed all season, and Jackie Woodburn, who utilises lightening speed and flawless catching and passing to provide plenty of goals and assists. With Lowe leaving for Germany for a year abroad, the team will want to build up players who can replace her physicality on the squad. This process has clearly already begun, with Charlotte Michael and Livia Higgins throwing significant tackles for the first time this weekend—although both will need more pitch time in future to build on their potential. Meanwhile, beater Amy Chan is a brilliant option for the Durham beater game which could allow the team some flexibility with another strong display after her excellent debut at Winter Classic, as does fellow beater Sarah Mercer. If new Captain Woodburn can continue this progress then there is every reason for the expectations of Durham to be as high going into next season as they were going into the one that has just ended.

Green-Tauros Quidditch Torino
By Abby Whiteley

It is certainly safe to say that Torino surprised at this tournament. Facing modest expectations of Italian quidditch in general, and being an unknown quantity on the European stage, Torino had been quietly dismissed both in its group and in the wider context of the tournament. For this team to have come ninth, then, above big names such as Paris Frog, was an extraordinary achievement, and proves that Italian quidditch can compete on an international stage. The Tauros missed out on a place in the quarterfinals by a hair’s breadth, when Keele grabbed the snitch to finish that match 90*-70. Although this was undoubtedly disappointing, Torino’s positive QPD from this match and its Day One games were its saving grace and gave it a fantastic ranking to take home.

The primary characteristic of Torino was its athleticism. The vast majority of the players were fast and powerful, managing to outpace full complements of 21 with only a mid-sized squad. Walid Benfadel stood out as a keeper and chaser, comparable to some of the best keepers in the UK with his combination of speedy drives and sharp distribution; he was backed up by two exceptional chasers in Davide Maniscalco and Aleandro Bulcari, both devilishly difficult to mark and excellent at capitalising on space on the attack. Michele Genovese and Francesco La Malfa showed fantastic initiative and speed as beaters, whilst Francesca Secco kept the defence strong with cautious beating. Salvatore Zollino and Nicolò Terranova are incredible seekers, completely relentless in their attack of the snitch and superb at defending it.

The Green Tauros have certainly made their presence known on the European scene, and it is likely that they will constitute a large part of the Italian national team in the summer. To enter with an international début at ninth in Europe is an incredible accomplishment and, if the team retains its athletic core, it will be a huge threat at next year’s EQC as it will only improve with experience.

Loughborough Longshots
By Abby Whiteley and Ben Pooley

After a very strong showing at their first BQC, the Longshots will have come into EQC with the intention of consolidating their position as one of the strongest UK teams, especially after they only missed bronze medals by the skin of their teeth in the third-place playoff. They were missing a couple of key players, which made EQC much more difficult for them, but they still performed admirably in the face of this, managing to secure a final ranking of 13th. This is especially notable given that Loughborough found itself in the closest group of the eight; whilst in Groups A to G no first seed finished Day One with less than 180 QPD, Loughborough in Group H managed to take first seed with only 10.

Overall, Loughborough played well, with every player being on the same page regarding tactics, resulting in solid team performances. It seems to have developed a style of play that suits everyone, but, when a team counters this style well, it starts to struggle. In their match against the Dodos in the Round of 16, the Longshots started off strong, matching the Belgian side in quaffle points. However, Deurne cottoned on to what Loughborough was doing, which was invariably long but accurate passes with a chaser behind the hoops, interspersed with occasional drives. Once Deurne realised what was happening, Loughborough lost its edge, and that is when the Dodos got out of snitch range; once the Longshots started defending the snitch, the goals just kept going in against them. Loughborough has individual talent in abundance, and can play well when on familiar ground, but it crumbles when faced with new tactics; it is likely that with experience, especially on the international front, Loughborough will get better at adapting to these curveballs. It is easy to forget that Loughborough is barely more than a year old, because it has so easily entered the canon of impressive UK teams, and defeats such as its loss to Deurne Dodo should not be disheartening.

The core of Loughborough’s beater lineup constitutes of Holly Kerslake, who impressed with her ability to get involved in beater battles when needed while being ready to stop any opposition attacks, and TeamUK’s Bill Orridge, who performed predictably well as a beater but also played seeker with aplomb. Alex Gill was very impressive with his off ball runs and quick, instinctive passing. Daniel Mitchell stepped up massively with the loss of Jonathan Cookes, with Mitchell's distribution and communication being the aspects he has majorly improved upon since previous tournaments. Franky Kempster was, as always, a solid all-round chaser, tireless when on pitch and very determined.

Falmouth Falcons
By Sasha Burgoyne

On Day One of EQC, Falmouth won its first match of the tournament against the Black Forest Bowtruckles 170*-0. Many teams would have dismissed this as an easy win, but not Falmouth; instead it had only good things to say about its opponents, remarking on their turn of pace and stating that they were definitely ones to watch in the future.

Its next match against the Vienna Vanguards, was similar, with the final score of 170-40* to Falmouth. This does a bit of a disservice to Vienna which put in a few good attacks but was left stranded by Falmouth's excellent beating. Alicia Ackroyd was particularly impressive as she proved to be a very intelligent beater, especially when it came to making vital beats and maintaining bludger control. It is also worth mentioning that this was one of the cleanest games of the tournament with almost no stoppage.

However, I think that in the end having two relatively easy other matches in its group was detrimental to Falmouth's performance against Crookshanks Lyon. Falmouth was lacking a little of that perfect team cohesion which normally makes them so strong on pitch. Having said that, the final score was 90-70* to Lyon after an excellent snitch catch.

Falmouth was unfortunate to draw UiO as its opposition in the Round of 16 on Day Two, and the match proved that both teams were pretty evenly matched when UiO captain, Kai Shaw was not on the pitch; however, Falmouth struggled to keep the goals down when Shaw was on pitch and after putting up a great fight to get the score back within snitch range a few times, the match ended 180*- 90 to UiO.

Falmouth has a lot of positives to take from the tournament; the cohesion which makes it so great to watch was just as strong and it is cultivating a number of really great players. Special mentions go to Conor Watson, Katt Jeffery and Oscar Lozada, who all put in great performances across the weekend.

Brussels Qwaffles
By Abby Whiteley

The Brussels Qwaffles, the hosts of last year’s EQC, is a team full of big personalities and big dreams. After winning the Benelux Cup against the Deurne Dodos, a victory which even some of the Qwaffles players admitted to having taken them by surprise, the Qwaffles suddenly found themselves in the position of being the Benelux champions and carrying that weight of expectation with them. They carried this weight lightly, however, bringing with them an entire suitcase of waffles and a fantastic attitude, and they showed EQC some brilliant games. As predicted, the Qwaffles’ game against the Keele Squirrels was an incredibly tight one. The Qwaffles caught the snitch to take the game into overtime, and some exceptional plays from Keele put the Squirrels at 20 points ahead on-pitch before the five minutes expired, but the Qwaffles fought every step of the way.

Marc Bourgeois, after an injury earlier in the year, played exceptionally well as keeper, capable of making the terrifying drives which some teams sorely struggle to find an answer to. Jana Meers has improved hugely over this season, and she, along with Nathan Wilputte, were excellent in the wings providing dependable passing options to pull apart defences. Tanghi Burlion used his speed and agility to great effect, both as a behind-the-hoops chaser and as a seeker, using his significant expertise as a snitch to inform his seeking. The Qwaffles' beater lineup was depleted with the lack of the Mailleux sisters, but Damien Leclaire is one of the best beaters in Belgium, and demonstrated fantastic initiative when faced with both an overwhelming quaffle lineup and opposing beaters.

Unfortunately, when faced with an NTNUI squad filled with battle rage and a hunger for a place in the quarterfinals, the Qwaffles' EQC journey ended, but the Belgian team did themselves proud against the international squads they faced.

Lille Black Snitches
By Abby Whiteley and Vincent Bedier

After a difficult EQC last year, due to being drawn in the Group of Death with Paris Phénix, Paris Frog, and the Radcliffe Chimeras, the Lille Black Snitches came to EQC facing a much less damning draw, and with high hopes of success. Despite low predictions from commentators due to Lille's previous track record and a fifth-place finish at La Coupe de France, Lille performed incredibly well. Facing a very tight group against the Barcelona Eagles, the Loughborough Longshots, and the Leicester Thestrals, Lille surpassed all expectations and was one of two teams (the other being Loughborough) to go 2-1 in that pool. Lille took second place in its pool, a result which very few people foresaw, and certainly made its mark on EQC. Unfortunately, in a repeat of last year's EQC, Lille drew the Radcliffe Chimeras for its first match on Day Two. The Black Snitches put up a good fight but could not keep the Chimeras in snitch range; however, they refused to stop defending the snitch to the very end, and have clearly come a long way since their exit to the Chimeras on Day Two last year.

Lille's strong Day One performance was largely thanks to its incredible seeker, Vincent Bedier. He caught three of Lille's four snitches, including a cold catch to preserve the team's QPD, and this is where Lille had the edge over teams such as the Barcelona Eagles, who struggled throughout the tournament to make close matches their own. Bedier's substitute, Mehdi Lounassi, was also very strong, and it was thanks to him that Lille got another shot at Leicester in overtime. Clément Hasbroucq and Jérôme Vinckier were great keepers, very good at coordinating their team on-pitch and organising the defence. Some of Lille's best beaters were Rudy Delobel, who showed a physicality which many beaters in Europe lack, and Rachel Duel, a good defensive beater.

The pride that the Black Snitches felt in their performance can be summarised in a statement from Vincent Bedier: “When we went to Oxford, with all the trainings of these last months in our legs, we were very confident about our capacities. So we gave 300 percent and the result is here, with three snitches caught and our statement, we're very proud of ourselves. We spent the best weekend of our team's history and we really want to thank all the committee for their really good work and their commitment”.

Paris Frog
By Claire Evans

Paris Frog came into EQC as the national champion following the Coupe de France de Quidditch in December, and as such was tipped to do well in not only the group stage but also during the knock-out rounds on Day Two, with some naming it as potential medallists. Paris Frog’s main strength lies in its fast but physical quaffle game, although this was certainly challenged in its first game of Day One, against the Deurne Dodos, who held Frog to overtime, with the French champions just taking the lead to win the match.

Following this, Frog showed its experience with a comfortable victory over the much younger Polish team, Quidditch Hussars, and in its final game of the day, Frog defeated the Oxford Quidlings, putting it firmly in first place in the pool.

After a successful first day, Paris Frog was faced with a tough match in the Round of 16 against British champions Southampton, which it lost 120*-30 after struggling to successfully deal with Southampton’s confident and effective beating.

Although this meant that Frog was knocked out of the competition earlier than it might have hoped, losing out to a very strong team who were eventual joint bronze-medallists is not something to be ashamed of. Looking into next season I expect Frog will be hoping to improve its beating in order to shut down opposition attacks more successfully. With near-neighbours the Paris Titans now European champions, Frog will need to step up its game and also attempt to have a cleaner game in order to avoid players being carded during tournaments, and reestablish itself as a highly competitive force both within France and on the wider European stage.


  1. One thing about the Qwaffles... it should be "the Mailleux sisters", Laura's and Caroline's last name is Mailleux, not Dubois ^^

    1. Thank you for pointing this out and for reading the article. We have made the above correction, we regret this error.