Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Beachside Brawl Recap(s)

Beachside Brawl Recap, A "Just Adequate" Tournament:

By Lee Jordan

A tournament for the history books occurred this weekend in beautiful Santa Barbara, California. The Green Team, drafted by George Williams, trash talked its way to the championship, posting an impressive 5-0 record and defeating every other team at the event. With playing almost as strong as pre-game insults like "Blue? More like bleh!" Green Team was certainly fun to watch.

Tournament MVP: Tie. The cloudy sky, and the beautiful grassy playing field. Perfect weather and cloud cover led to wonderful playing conditions, and the grass field stayed pristine all day, leading to a beautiful setting for a adequate tournament.

Team Breakdowns:

Pink Team: There were no real standout stars from the University of California Los Angeles Bruins, just a real top-to-bottom team effort that netted a somewhat anticlimactic semi-finals run. Chasers Jarrod Bailey and Badal Chandra brought some good offensive production, and strong beating from Nicole Finegan kept opponents from scoring. Perhaps if the Pink Team had a stronger ball carrier it could have made a deeper bracket run.

Blue Team: This team was extremely interesting as it had few recognizable names outside of, perhaps, Kelby Brooks of the Los Angeles Gambits. While Brooks did everything he could to rally his team to victory, the team struggled against stronger teams due to its inexperience. I think if this team had a few more collective years of experience under its belt then it could have been a strong contender. It posted entertaining matches such as its overtime loss to Green and Pink.

Orange Team: The Fire Ferrets brought a classic fantasy play style to fantasy tournaments: the all star keeper hero ball. This team was all about beating out a path for keeper Chris Seto (of the Lost Boys) to drive through the opposition and dunk, collecting style points all the way through. This strategy, as well as a fair amount of defensive seeking from the relatively unknown Mitch Cavender, of Lone Star Quidditch Club, INSERT NICE GUY COMMENTS, led the Orange Team on a run to the semifinals.

Teal Team: The Portuguese Men and Women of War certainly took home the title for not only the best team name, but also some of the biggest let down performances of the tournament. Star chaser Austin Goodheart (of the Santa Barbara Blacktips) got lazy halfway through the day and simply decided to stop playing. For a team that looked star studded on paper, the Teal Team's performance was certainly peculiar.

White Team: White made a solid finals run on the back of their chasing dominance, but couldn't close out due to male beater depth. The trio of chasers from Arizona State University, Michael Bernstein, Tyler Ortiz, and Tori Kaiser, showed up and played just as they did for their school all year, with dominant chasing that their opponents just could not match. If the team’s beaters, especially males, had been stronger, perhaps it could have claimed the title.

Green Team: Possibly the most interesting case of any victorious fantasy team is that of the Trash Talkers. A team that was good at almost nothing somehow won the championship, beating all five other teams in a row. Some believe the opponent teams were bribed into simply giving up, particularly in the case of the Pink Team, who kind of just stopped playing after going up 80-20 against Green. This team had nothing spectacular, no dominant beating or chasing, fairly weak seeking, and a truly slow and boring style of play. I would point out some key contributions from players on this team, but there aren't any that are noteworthy.

Editors note: Choose who you would rather believe, esteemed Quidditch journalist and announcer Lee Jordan or quidditch writer Steve DiCarlo

Beachside Brawl Recap by Steve DiCarlo

Last weekend, several of the West’s top players gathered for Beachside Brawl 2015, the Santa Barbara Blacktips’ annual tournament that was restructured to become one of the summer’s first fantasy events. For five of the six drafted teams, everything went exactly as expected, with the big “marquee” players carrying their teams and the region’s supporting cast putting on their usual performances. The event was made slightly noteworthy when General Manager George Williams’ Green Team took down every other team in the tournament, despite its underdog status and extreme lack of big names.

There is nothing more boring than a quidditch article which does nothing but praise the usual standout players, but the all-too-familiar list of names who received MVP nods after the tournament was proof that this tournament stayed pretty close to the status quo.

Janos Barbero’s Blue Team had one of the tournament’s most intimidating starting lines, but it suffered from predictable chemistry issues and a lack of capable ball carriers. When Los Angeles Gambits beater Matthew Ziff and Arizona Quidditch Club (AZQC) co-captain Amanda Turtles struggled to mesh, Gambits chaser Kelby Brooks was forced to don a black headband, putting a massive amount of pressure on University of California Los Angeles’ (UCLA) Grant Rose and Gambits’ Michael Richardson to carry the quaffle. With AZQC’s Margo Aleman still suffering from a World Cup injury, this team just wasn’t able to pull out a win. Elizabeth Barcelos’ Teal Team also went winless in Santa Barbara, but its lack of success was due more to injuries than chemistry issues. Barcelos cleverly drafted a team filled with Blacktips and Long Beach Funky Quaffles players to ensure they’d have chemistry on the pitch, but they couldn’t seem to catch a break and seemingly lost a player each game.

Michael Binger’s Pink Team was unsurprisingly carried by tournament MVP Tony Rodriguez and his elite ball handling. Binger placed the Los Angeles Gambits co-captain on a team filled almost entirely with UCLA and Wizards of Westwood players, a strategy which worked poorly during last year’s West Fantasy 2014 and worked almost as poorly at Beachside Brawl. Rodriguez found himself without adequate receivers and without a seeker, resulting in the number of snitch range losses Rodriguez faced on his primarily-UCLA fantasy team last year. Lauren Mosley’s Orange Team performed above expectations despite a seeming lack of standout quaffle players, thanks in no small part to Los Angeles Gambits’ seeker Alex Richardson’s return to his old elite forwm.

Chris Lock’s White Team was predicted to make a finals run on the back of its deep male beater rotation and variety of top-tier wing players, and it did exactly that. Captain Steve DiCarlo was able to avenge his West Fantasy 2013 finals loss against Rodriguez by catching the snitch against Pink Team when his Gambits co-captain was up by 20 in quaffle points, winning an $8 bet in the process. White went on to win its next four games out of range, thanks to excellent drives and passing by the three-headed-monster of Arizona State University’s (ASU) Michael Bernstein, Blacktips’ Ben Harding and UCLA’s Corey Osto.

That leaves us with Williams’ enigmatic Green Team. Beachside Brawl was home to the first known official recording of Dumb Play (DP) stats, and Green Team’s DP stats were off the charts, with ASU utility player Caleb Ragatz often tallying more DPs than the opposing team combined. Going into the tournament, there weren’t any names on the Green roster that would have made them a frontrunner, and throughout the tournament, there weren’t any individual Green performances that made spectators go “Oh, okay, now I get why they keep winning.” Chemistry is often noted as one of the most important factors in a fantasy tournament, and despite not benefitting from lines made up of players from the same regular season team, Green just seemed to click.

“For me, the biggest reasons for our success were a very well balanced roster with no true holes in it. Our lower round picks all contributed in big ways." said Brett Ambrose. “We had a relatively selfless team and everybody on the team wanted to see others succeed.”

“Our chaser defense was particularly relentless, which was especially huge when the snitch was on pitch. All four of our snitch-range wins were comebacks, most notably the final three games against Orange, Pink and White, which had a lot to do with how our defense gelled and everyone on the team kept a cool confident head on their shoulders,” added Dan Hanson, who quietly played the best he’s played in years at Beachside, plowing his way through entire teams to score on a number of occasions.

Green was able to throw White off its game as White’s ball carriers repeatedly passed during bludgerless drive opportunities and made passes directly to Ambrose’s hands. The White Team was unable to improve on its lead enough to take the game out of snitch range, and University of British Columbia seeker Austin Wallace ended the game with a surprisingly quick catch of Beachside Brawl Best Snitch winner Anthony Hawkins.

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