Wednesday, August 19, 2015

An American Perspective on European Games 2015

by Amy L. Sullivan

This article is part of a Quidditch Post series about an outsiders perspective on the European Games. In this series, players from Australia, Canada, and the US who went to the games in Sarteano, Italy, give their impressions and perspectives on the tournament and compare gameplay to their home country’s. We hope this will give readers outside of Europe a more tangible perspective on the European Games.

Although I am a little out of touch with American quidditch, I can safely say that I, an American player, was impressed with many of the countries represented at the European Games. The countries with newer quidditch programs performed as expected, with Ireland and Poland finishing last in their respective pools, although it should be noted that each team had less than 10 players. Spain and the Netherlands were next in the standings, with Spain taking a considerably more decisive win over Poland than the Netherlands’ SWIM record to beat Ireland.

At this point, however, the quality of the quidditch while enthusiastic with a lot of potential was not especially impressive. Germany and Catalonia were seeded No. 7 and No. 8, respectively, in bracket play, and each had their moments. For example, Germany kept Italy in snitch range for much of the game with an impressive defense, and Catalonia beat Turkey in quaffle points. Yet in the end, both Germany and Catalonia looked hopelessly outmatched against the top-ranked teams. The No. 5 and No. 6 teams, Italy and Turkey, really showed some color, however. Turkey actually reminded me of some US South Region teams, as it played a strong physical game with lots of aggression by both beaters and chasers, enabling Turkey to power through weaker opponents. However, this approach was not enough against passing-heavy teams such as Belgium and France.

Team Belgium | Photo credit: Ondrej Hujnak

Considering the teams from fourth place on, I believe that the US should expect a distinct lack of blowout matches at next year’s Global Games, especially after these teams have another year to develop. Belgium, in fourth, shone brightest in the semifinals against the United Kingdom. Were it not for a lack of bludger control at the release of the snitch and the impossibly long arms of Ollie Craig it could have taken itself to the finals. Belgium came incredibly close due to its chasers’ passing, which was a thing of beauty. Back and forth around the bludgers they went, right up to the hoops, supported by smart though not very big beaters. Norway also did well, albeit not in snitch range, against the eventual champions. The team’s excellent use of female players was an asset, especially when combined with Norway’s height and speed, allowing the team to stay in snitch range against the UK and soundly beat the rest of its pool. The United Kingdom was stellar on every level, showcasing clean passing with an emphasis on smart passes behind the hoops and aggressive beating with or without control, to take its pool and move all the way to a snitch-range final. France, however, truly excelled over the weekend. France put up the highest numbers of the tournament, such as its 360*-10 victory over Poland. Along with having only one SWIM game the final – as well as its effective passes, strong beating, and hard hits showcased a team that worked beautifully together.

As an outsider, admittedly one who has spent the past five months playing in Europe, I saw a tournament with a large range of talent from top to bottom, with the top countries being highly talented and the bottom still developing. However, they are developing in a supportive and effective environment, so each country has the potential to improve quickly. I saw consistent and strong refereeing across the board, which was also impressive. I saw the European quidditch community that has accepted me accept each other, and I watched as the entire tournament clapped for Poland’s goal. I saw jersey switching between teams that had just eliminated each other from contention. But most of all, I saw a thirst to take this sport to the top level. It was not enough for these teams to beat each other; they want to play quidditch at the highest level possible. They are gunning for the US. And though I still believe the US has about a year to a year and a half of development over the top four European nations, that gap is slowly closing.

About Amy L. Sullivan
Amy is from Elverson, Pennsylvania and started playing quidditch in Orlando, Florida for Rollins College (now RCQC) in the fall of 2012. She primarily plays as a chaser and seeker. Last semester, she was on exchange in Germany where she played for Three River Dragons Passau. She went to the European Games as a referee.

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