by Ashara Peiris, Alex Harrison, and Ben Pooley
Our writers take a look back at the 2015 inaugural Summer Cup in Durham, looking through each team to spot the players who impressed at the tournament, and from whom we can hope to see much more of in the future.
The Chester Chasers have flown under the radar this season, especially after their misfortune at the British Quidditch Cup, but the summer merc tournaments have seen a number of their players make something of a name for themselves. Connor Climo performed admirably for the Pimms Parade; Jack Lennard, who had seen him play before, bid 17 with the nearest rival bid being eight). He acted as one of the Pimms Parade’s major goal threats with some speedy and tenacious chasing while displaying some quality seeker play – catching the winning snitch against the Bone Breakers – and even starting as a beater in some games. With only one season's experience, look for him to impress next year.
Durhamstrang's absurd depth was on full display at the Summer Cup, and Jonathan Rees was one of the most noticeable players. SQC3 had relatively little offensive penetration despite coming third, instead building their success on excellent beater and seeker games. However, Rees stood out alongside primary goal threat Cory Faniel as a quick yet strong chaser whom teams struggled to shut down. At a mere six, he was one of the bargains of the tournament, and I would expect him to make a splash next season in Durham's first team.
Another Chester Chaser who impressed was Anna Marlen of the Dog's Bollocks. On a team packed with inexpensive, little-known beaters, she quickly established herself as the starting female beater, saving numerous goals with keen-eyed defensive beating. Some beaters seem to have the natural ability to pick their moment to make the beat, arguably the most important defensive instinct. Marlen is one of these, and clearly understood how to draw opposing chasers into positions where they could more easily be beat, when to beat, and, crucially, when not to beat. Beaters like Marlen are critical to any team's defence, and it was not long before the Dog's Bollocks were relying on her to get them out of a lot of defensive scrapes.
Leeds Griffin and former Chester Chaser Josh Armitage really made a name for himself at Summer Cup. As one of Passionisms QC’s leading goal scorers, Armitage brings power, speed and an incredible agility belying his size. It was this agility that allowed him to spin out of numerous tackles and avoid beats on his way to score goals. Furthermore, on defence he was able to continually stop the opposing offence, before charging back up the pitch. In the final he continued admirably, until an unfortunate injury meant that he could not play the rest of the game. It was only really after this that A Midsummer Night’s Team were able to open the gap in quaffle points, showing how vital his role had been. Next season he will be hoping to lead Leeds onto more great performances.
Going into this tournament, it was apparent Fraser Posford had a well-rounded team capable of fighting for a podium place, if not the title. One of the bargains of the draft was Fiona Staub, a player who has really shone for Chester in the latter half of the season. Despite this she is still wholly underrated and kept up her amazing form at Summer Cup. Being one of the feistiest beaters I have encountered, Staub has the ability to adapt to her opposition and her teammates. This was shown when Passionisms brought on Phil Brown or Lee Baughan as beaters with Staub. Most would expect Staub to sit back and defend (something she is more than competent at), but instead she was the one bringing the fight to the opposition, often sitting beyond her team’s half on point, with or without a bludger. While it was obvious her team did not underestimate her, her opponents certainly did, with several occasions where she performed some cracking plays to the apparent surprise of the other team. Even when her rivals caught on, it just made her up her game even further, being even more scathing, more timely and more precise with her beats. Overall, Staub has capped off a wonderful season with a terrific performance the whole weekend in Durham.
Joanna Tsyitee of the Holyrood Hippogriffs has burst onto the quidditch scene with aplomb. After an impressive performance at the Third Annual Mercian Cup, Tsyitee followed this up with an even better one, where she represented Carpe Jugulum. Tsyitee exhibits excellent positioning, great physicality (particularly when fending off opposing markers), and superb finishing ability. Throughout the tournament she racked up an impressive goal tally, scoring at least six goals in the infamous 44 minute double overtime game against the Bone Breakers. During the tournament she showed a great awareness of opposing players, when to shoot, and importantly when to pass or reset the quaffle. Sadly she will be shortly leaving the UK to return to the US, where she intends to set up her own team based in New Mexico. The experience she has gained here will allow her to set up a team that will undoubtedly flourish.
Having recently been picked by Team Ireland to play at the European Games (EG) in Sarteano, Mee may not seem like an underrated player, but by Jove she is. Normally playing for the Bristol Brizzlepuffs exclusively as a beater, Mee is the anchor of any team’s bludger defence due to her ability to retain control, provide accurate and stinging beats, and most importantly prioritise who needs beating and when. Summer Cup was a chance for Mee to prove herself as someone who can work well with any player, something she will need at EG. Not only did Mee gel well with her team, but she adjusted her style of play ever so slightly to get the best possible results for Hannah Watts’ team. In the second overtime game against Carpe Jugulum, with lots of yellow cards being handed out to beaters on both teams, Mee not only kept a level head but took massive advantage of playing against a depleted team, as well as playing wonderfully as a solo beater when her teammates were in the penalty box. Overall, Mee has come such a long way since her first few tournaments for Bristol, and with her experience in Italy happening soon, next season she will definitely be someone to watch for.
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S TEAM
It is hard to pick an underrated player from Seb Water’s team, purely because there were so many good players. While most of them are obviously very well known (Tom Heynes went to Canada apparently?), there are a few that have snuck under the radar. The main one for me is Caitlin Hamilton from the St Andrews Snidgets. First off, seriously Scotland, where are you hiding all these great players? A lot of the players in this article are players who have perhaps been mentioned briefly before, whereas Hamilton has seemingly appeared out of nowhere. Primarily a chaser, but also a seeker, Hamilton manages to fill whatever role is needed. Whether that be point chasing, trolling, marking trolls or occasionally helping drive the ball up pitch; whatever you need doing, she is able to do it. Catching with ease and pinpoint passing, she was of great use to Water’s team at this tournament. Seeking is where she really impressed this weekend, with several snitch catches, and despite some being disallowed for various reasons, she persevered and kept fighting for every catch. It is not just this tournament where her seeking prowess has been seen; at the Clan Warfare tournament in Scotland she caught four snitches in four games. Next season, cover your snitch socks as Hamilton will be coming to catch them!
THE NAPOLEON DYNAMITES
Kunal Ramchurn (with Luke Stevens as an honourable mention)
Kunal Ramchurn has been a striking figure on the pitch over the last season. Playing with the Leeds Griffins, and learning from such talents as Armitage, he has always had a significant impact on pitch. However, Ramchurn has previously lacked the confidence he displayed this weekend to throw the big hits and make the drives when the opportunity presented itself. He can therefore be very satisfied with how he ended his season, displaying a confidence and comfort on pitch that really elevated his on-pitch ability. An incredibly successful tournament of snitching may have helped him in this psychological area, and will continue to serve him well going forward. His his role within the Napoleon Dynamites was not limited to using his physicality more effectively than ever before, however–he also took the role of on-pitch commander admirably, and will be a better keeper option for Leeds than ever when the new season begins. If he can continue to build his confidence, whilst still learning from the veteran players that often play with or against him, Ramchurn could take his talents to the next level.