Friday, June 5, 2015

Midwest Fantasy: Let's Make a Steal

By Chris LeCompte The final Midwest fantasy tournament is just days away, and with over 200 players representing almost every region in USQ, it is going to be one for the record books. As these players descend on Chicago for one of the largest fantasy tournaments ever run, let’s take a moment to point out the highlights of the draft.
I would like to first point out that there are 250 players, spread out across 16 teams. I would be remiss to attempt a team-by-team preview because I do not know the skill levels of everyone in USQ. I will instead point out the best steals, best teams, and biggest disappointments of the draft.
Best Steals N0. 3: Ian “Ian Hoops” Hoopingarner, chaser from Michigan State University Spartan Quidditch (MSU) Alex Leitch, beater from Blue Mountain Quidditch Club (BMQC) John Gaffigan, keeper from Blue Mountain Quidditch Club

John Gaffigan, keeper from BMQC Photo Credit: Jessica Jiamin Lang Photography
These three were among the final round of players. Due to a miscommunication regarding which players were and were not eligible for picks, several players were not picked in the original draft, but were randomly assigned afterwards. They are considered steals since they were not factored into the original draft, and thus not strategically chosen by GMs. Ian Hoops was the coach for MSU in the 2014-15 season, leading them to success at USQ World Cup 8 with a victory over No. 19 Emerson College in the first round of bracket play. Alex Leitch was selected as a Team USA alternate, even after he broke his leg and he along with Gaffigan brought BMQC on an Elite Eight run, losing only to the eventual champions. Ian Hoops was put on Kody Marshall’s team; Augustine Monroe received Alex Lietch, and Dylan Schepers got John Gaffigan. No. 2: Owen Brennan, chaser from the Wooster Scottish Nationals Owen Brennan is an agile, tough, and intelligent quaffle-handler who can paint the corners. He is a first year player who picked up the game quickly and helped bring Wooster to a victory at USQ World Cup 8, despite the team’s 109th place rank. Due to a miscommunication, Brennan was marked as ineligible for most of the draft. The mistake was fixed in the final round, when Ryan Sparks rounded off her Midwest team with a solid, but unknown pick. Despite getting picked in the 15th round, Brennan should have been an eighth round pick, due to his current obscurity in the community. No. 1: Tyler Walker, utility from Ball State Cardinals
The only one on this list to be stolen fair and square, Tyler Walker was picked in the third round (and later traded for Jeff Moorhead, a tenth round pick).* Walker has excelled at beater and chaser for Ball State, showcasing extensive offensive capabilities. At past fantasy tournaments and with other mercenary teams, he has shown an expansive capacity to adapt to other players with changing his own style. He has quick reaction times and can get open for passes. He should have been picked in the fifth or sixth round. Games to Watch Ryan Sparks vs. Kody Marshall
While Ryan Sparks built a monster of a Midwest team, Kody Marshall quietly acquired some serious talent, securing Zane Kaiser, Michael Mrowiec, and the No. 1 overall steal Tyler Walker. While none of them are especially big names in quidditch, they are players who have shown promise; Kaiser leading TC Frost to a 2-3 record at USQ World Cup 8, and Mrowiec working with Illinois State University Firebirds to bring themselves a 2-3 record, despite receiving a late bid. Tyler Walker is solid chaser and beater and can work with others styles. Under the leadership of Kody Marshall, they should be able to put up Ryan Sparks’ biggest fight in pool play.
GM to watch: Kody Marshall Photo Credit: Isabella Gong Kody Marshall vs. Dylan Schepers
Dylan Schepers started building his team with former Ball State Cardinals beater, Trevor Campbell. He then grabbed Matthew Oppenlander and Chris Bowman, two decent chasers. Schepers’ team was built around scoring fast and scoring often, at least in the first line. Schepers’ real threat came after the draft when he received John Gaffigan. Gaffigan is considered one of the most intelligent keepers in the Midwest, if not the sport, and his strategy brought BMQC to the Elite Eight. Combining his strategy with Campbell’s beating, Oppenlander’s skill, and Bowman’s support is dangerous and deadly and is sure to give Marshall a fight and a loss. Biggest Disappointments Personally, the biggest disappointment was that fact that Matt Dwyer is not on the same team as Matthew Dwyer, nor will they play each other in pool play. The lack of guarantee of a Matt Dwyer showdown is a big let down. This draft did not go without players being drafted earlier than expected. Hannah Mueller went in the beginning of the fourth round; Katie Milligan, while a solid leader, was drafted ahead of Rebecca Sampson and Sara DeLongchamp, who are better handlers. Benjamin Ackland, a keeper for BMQC, was drafted early in the second round. Not to drag on a whole team, but Victor Randazzo from Eastern Michigan Quidditch Club was drafted 30th overall. While there might be hidden talent at small schools, it is probably not second-round talent if no one has heard of him before. Who’s going to win? The purple team. Ryan Sparks picked a Midwest powerhouse of players with big names like Jeremy Boettner and Blake Fitzgerald to show off the team’s abilities. That aura of skill is backed up by lesser-known players such as Nick Sorrentino, Rebecca Sampson, Colin Richards, and the previously-mentioned Owen Brennan. Hailing from the same region, these players have played together before either against or with each other, and sometimes both. Most regions tend to have a somewhat similar playing style across the area, whether it is a noticeable uptick in physicality in the Southwest or all-male beater sets in the Northeast. The Midwest players will not have to bend too much to work together and be successful. This banding will create a sense of regional pride as they play at their own summer fantasy tournament. Hopefully, the Midwest team can bring home a trophy from the final midwest summer fantasy tournament. For the final Midwest fantasy tournament before the Great Lakes divide, it is going to be a good one. Two hundred and fifty players across 16 teams will duke it out on the shores of Lake Michigan to determine who is the best. Ryan Sparks contributed to the valuation of players in the Best Steals and Biggest Disappointments sections of this piece. The valuation that Ryan’s team will win was reached independently. *This correction was made after the original post date.

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