Thursday, October 8, 2015

Oslo Open Preview

Written by Elisabeth Ingeberg Jørstad

This weekend, the Norwegian club teams will finally get their first opportunity of the season to face off against each other, as the Oslo Open takes place in Oslo, Norway. Approximately six teams will be attending the tournament, where one of the main focuses will be to provide new players with tournament experience. 

The teams in attendance will be NTNUI Rumpeldunk (NTNUI), OSI Quidditch (OSI), Katta Rumpeldunk, Schnigard Quidditch Club, WestTown International Quidditch Crew (WIQC), and NMBU Rumpeldunk (NMBU). While most people who have been following quidditch in Norway will probably have heard of NTNUI and OSI (formerly UiO), Katta, Schnigard, WIQC, and NBMU are lesser known teams, although they participated in the Norwegian Championship (Norgesmesterskapet, NM) in April 2015.

It is extremely hard to predict anything at all for a tournament where all of the teams will have a lot of new players and where one of the main goals is to give these players time on the pitch. It does not become any easier when few individuals have seen more than one of these teams play this season. However, it should come as a surprise to no one if NTNUI or OSI end up victorious.

NTNUI is the oldest Norwegian team, and despite only coming third at the Norwegian Championship, they placed fifth out of 32 teams at EQC. Since then, many players have left, mostly due to being exchange students returning home. In fact, only seven of the 19 NTNUI players who will attend the Oslo Open had played quidditch before this August, and only four of them played at EQC. Two of the four are the team’s coaches, Jørgen Helgeland Stenløkk and Amund Kulsrud Storruste, both experienced and valuable players who can play any position. Their aim for the tournament is to give all of their new players valuable experience, and they promise that all of their teammates will get their fair playing time. Bringing 19 players might make that difficult, but it can be done. With so many brand-new players on the roster, it is hard to gauge their talent. However, Stenløkk and Storruste describe their group as mixed, with some very talented players. If NTNUI’s talented coaches balance their less experienced players well enough, they could easily contest for the first place this tournament, and their strongest lineup should definitely be an impressive one.

The other university-based team, OSI Quidditch, is bringing around 16 players. OSI might not have managed to recruit as many new members as NTNUI this season, but the team has far more returning players. Many of these players were also present when OSI made it to the quarterfinals of EQC, and throughout the entire tournament only lost to the Titans Paris. The most standout player on the team is without doubt their captain, Kai Haugen Shaw. Shaw is not only Norway’s most experienced player, but also a great keeper who can carry a team. Besides Shaw, Jakob Lenz is also likely to impact quaffle game. On the beater front, however, OSI has lost most of their beaters from EQC. The most notable losses will be Storruste, who now plays for NTNUI, and Norwegian national team player Stein Elgethun, who will represent Katta. However, new players Mette Sundal and Philipp Stolz have picked up beating well, and while they might be inexperienced, they should manage well against most teams.

Amund and Kai at NM Final.jpg
Photo courtesy of: CF Salicath
Both NTNUI and OSI are planning on giving all of their members a lot of playing time in the group stages, even if it comes at the expense of victory. However, both captains have said that they probably will focus more on winning once the tournament reaches the semifinals. Given their experience, number of good players, and number of subs, it is likely that these two teams will meet in the final.

Another attending team that has been around for awhile is the high school (age 16-18) based team Katta. The school has a big quidditch tournament every year for new students, and usually holds a house cup throughout the year. Despite the popularity of these tournaments, most of the students do not seem interested in competing outside of them. Since NM in 2014, Katta has performed rather disappointingly. It is hard to predict if that will change this time, as it will depend heavily on their new players and their interest in playing outside of the school tournament. However, Katta’s roster will be bolstered by the experience of Elgethun and chaser Vincent Mainardi, both of whom practice with OSI. These additions will definitely help, but the two of them will not be able to carry the entire team alone.

Schnigard (wordplay on the Norwegian word for slytherin) is a team that first came into existence shortly before NM 2015. However, they failed to qualify for the quarterfinals, leaving them in ninth place. They struggled both with the rules – being new to the game and getting many unnecessary cards – and at some points with maintaining enough non-male players. This time around, captain John Haugen is far more optimistic, saying that their four newly-signed players will be a big advantage, and they have been scouting the other teams since NM. According to Haugen, their star players are Herman Hagelid, Fredrik Eich, Kibreab Robiel, and Haugen himself. The team may not have practiced since NM, but Haugen says that this is because they are confident that they are good enough already. Haugen also states that he does not consider the high number of cards that they have incurred in the past a problem, as long as they benefit the team. Despite this confidence, it is hard to consider Schnigard one of the favourites because of the lack of experience and practice. However, as long as they do not get too many cards that hamper the team, it is likely that they will win a couple of games.

WestTown International Quidditch Crew was one of the biggest surprises at NM last season, finishing fourth after giving both OSI and NTNUI some tough competition. They were also a new team created just before NM and consisted of 15 to 17-year-olds. They boast a number of athletic players, including Hans-Kristian Taje, who made an impression in Barcelona with the Norwegian Ridgebacks. It is unknown how many WIQC players will actually be able to attend the tournament, but if the team manages to get only half of their good players, it will be a force to be reckoned with.

Photo Courtesy of: CF Salicath
The last team in attendance will be NMBU Rumpeldunk. Despite more or less existing for the past year and participating in NM, the team was not very active before this season and does not boast a number of experienced players. The exceptions are Even Stokke, who played a year for NTNUI, and Guro Aanerød, who was on the national team this summer. However, the lack of any other experienced players makes it quite unlikely that this team will make it to the podium.

Being a low-key tournament, things are not yet set in stone. WIQC and NMBU may not have enough players each to participate, and might join forces. The result of this would be extremely interesting, and together the two groups should form a solid team.

The other factor that might change the number of teams is Katta, who might end up sending two teams rather than one. This is not very likely, but will be decided once their school tournament is over later this week.

In addition to this, both NTNUI and OSI have more players than some of the lesser known teams, some who are struggling to get enough players to attend. Because of this, some players from the bigger teams might merc for some of the smaller teams, in addition to playing for their own team. This will only be for a game or two per player, for the purpose of fulfilling the tournament’s goal: providing tournament experience to as many as possible.

Chaotic as this all might seem, it will be a fun tournament for all participants, and some great quidditch will take place.

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