Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Hyder's White Team Captures Perth Easter Fantasy

By James Hyder

Editor's Note: The author was the general manager of the White Team.

Saturday April 11, 2015 saw the second iteration of Australia’s first fantasy tournament—Perth Easter Fantasy. Twenty-four players ranging from those with years of experience to some who hadn’t played a game in years signed up and were drafted by General Managers James Hyder (White Team), Michael Cheese Palmisano (Blue Team) and Benjamin Palladino (Red Team) using a classic snake draft method.

The tournament consisted of a few modified rules, and due to a low number of female signups, the minimum gender rule was reduced to one player rather than two, and off-pitch seeking was removed to add an extra player to all teams’ possible substitutions until the snitch entered play. 

The drafting process saw every team prioritise different positions at various stages throughout the draft. The randomly selected drafting order saw the White Team with first pick, followed by the Blue Team and then the Red Team

The White Team was able to secure a well-rounded team consisting of big chasers and keepers with Jarrod Atwell, Adam Phillips, and Mezza Mario Eve. Tobyn Fitch and Jeremy Ciccarelli, who starred at the last Easter Fantasy tournament, led the team’s offense as chasers, with Nicola Gertler and Christy Stubbs picked as continual scoring options around the hoops and Kane Anamwong supporting Hyder at beater. Its biggest weakness was the all-around lack of experience with the majority of members having started this semester, and no designated seeker. 

The Blue Team built its squad around the fact that it had one of Australia’s premier seekers as its captain. Cheese confirmed this by picking up strong Perth Phoenix keeper William Grainger, Murdoch University chasers Ben Chatfield, Aled Lewis, and Karan Sethi, and experienced Phoenix chaser Samantha Holt. His beater line consisted of utility player Kieran Housley and up-and-comer Liz Burton. The loss of Chris Todorovski before the tournament was a setback, but the team’s strength still lied in its ability to win snitch range games. A question mark hovered over its chaser defence and whether it could hold up on a wet day where beater support would be less accurate.

The Red Team was able to grab arguably three of the best and experienced beaters in the draft with Shane Young, Luke Stampalia, and Katelyn Stubberfield. Palladino added an ECU Centaurs flavour to his offense in the form of keeper James Brooks and chasers Veronica Lowe and Alex Giglia. Ash D’Alonzo increased the Phoenix player count on the Red Team to five, and her and Murdoch Mandrakes starting beater Alex Edwards made sure that the Red Team was the most experienced team coming into the tournament. Its emphasis on beaters meant several players were going to have to play out of position, and whether it was worth it instead of picking up natural chasers would be seen during the weekend.

The first match of the day took off at 9:30 a.m. with Hyder’s White Team taking on Palladino’s Red Team. As rain loomed overhead, it was clear the size and strength of the White Team’s chasers were going to make the difference over the beater-stacked Red Team. The White Team pulled ahead early with Ciccarelli’s two-year absence from the game hardly showing as he, Fitch and Phillips combined for the first four goals for the White Team. Goals to Palladino and Young saw the Red Team bring the score within snitch range, but an injury to Stampalia saw him out early for the majority of the day. This put a spanner in the works for the Red Team, but ultimately saw the Global Games beater couple of Shubberfield (Young + Stubberfield) takeover as the beaters for their team. As rain started to come down heavier and heavier, it was the White Team that pulled ahead, and a Young snitch catch ended the game 100-50*.

The Blue team was next to face the White Team. The White team once again shot out to an early lead, showing that playing the game before was anything but a detriment. This time it was the females who snuck under the radar of the Blue Team’s defence as Stubbs and Gertler finished off well-directed passes from the White Team’s chasers. The Blue Team struggled to find avenues to the hoops through the White Team’s bludger control, which led to Ciccarelli scoring on defensive-less rebound runs, adding more insult to injury for the Blue Team. Once again the heavens opened during the middle of the game, resulting in an ending similar to the first with the White Team pulling out to a comfortable lead. Cheese kept his incredible snitch catch record intact for the Blue Team with the final score 100-40*.

With the Red Team and the Blue Team yet to rack up a win, their game was a key match for both. From the outset it looked like if the Blue Team kept the game within snitch range, then the superior seeking power of Cheese would be its saviour. But the Red Team was out to make sure the snitch catch would not be the deciding factor. The experienced heads of Palladino and Young at chaser led the way for the Red Team, with both of them sinking signature running long shots. But the Blue Team tied the score with goals from keepers Grainger and Lewis. As bludger control fluctuated between the beater pairs of Housley/Burton and Stubberfield/Edwards, neither team was going to run away with the game. As snitch Ciccarelli entered the field at the 18-minute mark, it was going to come down to whether Cheese could keep his game winning reputation or Young could continue his 100 percent snitch catch rate for the day. As the beaters shifted their attention to the seekers, both teams’ keepers of Brooks and Grainger kept creating scoring opportunities for their teams with each side adding a further goal to the scoreboard. Cheese was eventually able to capitalise on his beaters bludger control as he once again caught the snitch and guided the Blue Team to its first win 70*-40.

The second round of games saw each team oppose each other again with all following similar patterns to the previous games. The White Team was able to slowly but surely push out of range against the Red Team, before Young caught the snitch again in a losing catch to end it at 50-30*, registering his teams only points for the game.

The White Team continued its winning streak with another dominant win over the Blue Team with Atwell catching the White Team’s first snitch of the day to see it move through to the final with a score of 100*-30. And so it came down to the final game between the Red Team and the Blue Team to decide who would face the White Team in the final. As the Red Team was down another player with Brooks suffering an injury in the previous game, Palladino was forced into keeper which tested the team’s chaser depth even more. This became evident as the Red Team struggled to score from the outset as the Blue Team wrestled all the early momentum, but Palladino’s long shots were on point, with him scoring two crucial goals to keep the game within snitch range. As Young and Cheese rested themselves for what would inevitably be a game deciding snitch catch, Stubberfield and Stampalia, who had recovered from his injury earlier in the day, were able to get bludger control back for the Red Team. A solo run from Grainger saw him push his teams lead up to 20, but it wasn’t enough as Young caught the snitch to win it 70*-60 for the Red Team and challenge Cheese for the role of starting seeker for the Perth Phoenixes. But it was Grainger’s last minute goal that was the deciding factor as the Blue Team went through to the final on a point differential of only one goal!

Anticipation for the final game of the tournament was high, but secretly everyone wanted to go home and have a hot shower. Both teams had simple game plans to win: for the Blue Team it was to keep the game within snitch range like it aimed for all day, and the opposite for the White Team. The game started off quickly for both teams with early goals apiece, before the White Team asserted control with both the chaser and beater games. With Hyder and Anamwong using a 1.5 beater strategy on offense, keeper Fitch and the White Team’s chasers were able to capitalise on a number of no bludger opportunities. The Blue team’s offensive pushes brought the quaffle well into its attacking half; the team, however, was unable to convert at the last hurdle. With the White Team out of snitch range, not even a goal to Lewis set up by a great pass from Housley after taking three consecutive tackles from defenders could bring it back for the Blue Team. A blue card to the White Team’s seeker Phillips saw him re-enter the field a minute later on a mission and the snitch double handicapped. It was fitting that the player who scored the opening goal of the tournament ended it with the winning snitch catch and saw the White Team triumph 110*-30.

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