Friday, October 23, 2015

Turkish Quidditch Cup Soars into Istanbul

by Can Kaytaz

The second Turkish Quidditch Cup (TQC) will now be held Oct. 24-25, after the teams decided it’s better to have more time to prepare for the trip to the EQC. The venue will be FMV Işık University in Şile, İstanbul, home to the Işık Deluminators. The METU Unicorns, ODTÜ Hippogriffs, İTÜ Honeybees, Hacettepe Phoenix, BOUN Centaurs, Uludağ Aragog’s and METU Minicorns will be joining the host Işık Deluminators in the battle for both the Turkish Cup and precious EQC spots. While last season’s TQC was a scene for amazing match-ups and doubled the team variety by introducing two competitive teams into the Turkish quidditch arena, the number of teams doubled yet again for this season’s TQC, which is going to be even more exciting than the first one, showing that quidditch in Turkey is growing exponentially both in terms of quantity and quality.

Due to last year’s success, the tournament has expanded  | Photo Credit: Samet Seymen

Here is a little analysis of the participating teams, starting with the defending champions.

METU Unicorns (UNI)

The Unicorns were undefeated in the previous TQC and showed great potential in the EQC, and although an unlucky draw resulting in matches against Paris Titans and Southampton Quidditch Club 1 left them in the lower bracket, they managed to reach the finals and lost to Leicester Thestrals in snitch range. Seven Unicorns were in the Team Turkey squad that placed sixth at the European Games. The Unicorns have suffered a defeat in the Turkish Quidditch League so far this season, against the ODTÜ Hippogriffs, but they are still the favorites for the TQC.

The Unicorns haven’t changed their squad much, and with only three new players joining before the upcoming tournament, they will have great synergy. After their star beater Fatih Aykurt decided to move to keeping, co-captain Kamil Urgun replaced him successfully. With beater coach Ruşen Sarı returning from a long-term injury to join his partner Melike Balkan, the Unicorns’ beater line seems pretty adequate.

The Unicorns have the best female chaser line-up in Turkey. Team Turkey star Sıla Yüksel will be a major scoring threat for the Unicorns near the hoops and her substitutes are on a very similar level. The Unicorns quaffle game is based around timely drives and direct passing to create scoring chances. Their all-around strong chasers are more than capable of punishing opposing defences under the leadership of coach Kaan Bolat.

The Unicorns’ biggest weakness is their seeking, as evidenced by how during their seven games in the EQC, they only caught one snitch. This puts a burden on the rest of the team, especially in close games. Despite that, the METU Unicorns are the favorites of the TQC, and they will have a relaxed first day in their group with games against İTÜ Honeybees, Işık Deluminators, and Uludağ Aragog’s and go into the quarterfinals with a rather fresh team.

ODTÜ Hippogriffs (HPO)

The Hippogriffs are on the same level as the Unicorns, despite the fact that the Unicorns defeated them at the first TQC. Even though financial problems prevented them from participating in EQC 2015, the Hippogriffs never stopped working hard, and they proved their quality by coming first in the Turkish Quidditch League undefeated. They sent four players to the European Games on Team Turkey’s squad, and they placed sixth in Barcelona Moustaches Time 2, defeating the Mighty and Amazing Quercs and Norwegian Ridgebacks along the way.

While the core of the team has not changed much, they were joined by a few newcomers, which increased their strength for the upcoming TQC. A leader, captain, beater, and seeker of the team, Ekin Berkyürek, is looking forward to carrying his team to first place this time around. Having led both the Dragons and Team Turkey, the killer-beating veteran has chaser Onur Özer, who also coached Team Turkey in the European Games, at his side as the coach. Ekin’s beater partner will be none other than Anıl Aydın who has improved tremendously over the last season. Strong players like Hüseyin Evci, Mert Bekar, Alper Erişen, and the extremely fast Mehmet Ali Açıkbaş make up the Hippogriffs’ deadly chaser line-up. Having widened their female chaser line with the transfer of Öykü Çetin from the İTÜ Honeybees, the Hippogriffs have a strong group of quaffle players.

With their deadly beater game, it still seems that the Hippogriffs are the biggest challengers against the defending METU Unicorns. They will have a rather tough Day One against Hacettepe Phoenix, BOUN Centaurs, and the newly formed METU Minicorns, which might tire them out for Day Two, when those energy reserves matter the most.

Hacettepe Phoenix (PHX)

Formed as METU Phoenix, the third Ankara team recently decided to move to the nearby Hacettepe University. Coming to the first TQC, Phoenix was a newly formed team whose captains, Okan Akdoğan and Sertaç Alptekin, still played for the Unicorns. With a lack of on-pitch leading and cohesive gameplay, the best it could place in that tournament was fourth after a close game against the İTÜ Honeybees. After uniting with the captains, it was expected to become a formidable force and showed some great quaffle plays in Turkish Quidditch League games, but its bludger game was always one step behind.

The team will be relying heavily on its intimidating keeper Okan Akdoğan as the main scoring threat. Sertaç Alptekin is also one of the best chasers in Turkey, but is forced to play beater as the team’s best option at that position, which takes a lot away from the team’s quaffle play.

The talented utility player Halil Can Sezgi won’t be playing at the TQC, giving the Phoenix even fewer options in terms of rotation.

Hacettepe Phoenix is a team with great potential, but they will not be able to solve all their problems in time to win at the TQC. They are strong candidates for third place, as long as they do not have any injury or suspension problems, especially since they have a tough first day playing against the Hippogriffs, Centaurs, and Minicorns.

BOUN Centaurs (BNC)

The BOUN Centaurs were the second team formed in İstanbul and a very ambitious one as well. Only a month after they were founded, they took part in the Turkish Quidditch League and played every other team in it at least once. They could not manage to grab even a single victory in the league, but after the İTÜ Honeybees failed to complete their registration forms on time, they had to retroactively forfeit all their previous matches, putting the Centaurs to third place in front of Hacettepe Phoenix. Despite losing every game, the Centaurs played really close games against Honeybees and Phoenix, and they will be looking to win against them during the TQC.

The Centaurs have come a long way since their first game, when they fielded a mere seven players; they will be 20 strong at the TQC. Players to keep an eye on are former Honeybees and also former Unicorns Melih Yaşa and Bedriye Ecem Satıcı. These two will bring a lot of international experience, in addition to the co-captains, Team Turkey utility player Arman Aktürk and chaser Tuğçe Bağçıvan, who played for the ODTÜ Hippogriffs during BMT2.

Quick and agile İsmail Şahin will be in the keeper rotation for the Centaurs. Disciplined Tahir Demircan will be bringing a lot of intelligence to the beating game of the Centaurs and the former Honeybees beater Yusuf İzzet Demircan will be helping him.

BOUN Centaurs will be facing ODTÜ Hippogriffs, Hacettepe Phoenix, and METU Minicorns during the group stage. After having a pretty tough Day One, the Centaurs will be aiming to place in the Top 3 to grab themselves a ticket to EQC. They will also try to break the dominance of the Ankara teams, being the only İstanbul team in a group full of Ankara teams. 

ITÜ Honeybees (HNB)

İTÜ Honeybees were the most interesting team at the last Turkish Quidditch Cup, as all the Ankara teams knew each other; having new faces from İstanbul in the Turkish quidditch scene was a great change. The Honeybees managed to finish TQC 2014 in third place, and received an invitation to EQC after the Hippogriffs couldn’t make it. Unfortunately, the Honeybees had to decline the invitation, as their captains Bedriye Ecem Satıcı and Melih Yaşa left the team and joined the METU Unicorns. The Honeybees were pretty inactive for a while and were unimpressive in their matches, only grabbing two victories against the newly formed BOUN Centaurs, who had a small squad for both games. But even those results didn’t help the team in the end, as all of its games were later canceled as it failed to officially register all of its players on time. In the end, the Honeybees had a fifth place finish in the the Turkish Quidditch League, and their energetic beater Yusuf İzzet Ulucan decided to leave for BOUN Centaurs and Team Turkey’s Öykü Çetin moved to Ankara, joining ODTÜ Hippogriffs to top it all off.

Going to the TQC, captains Cemre Avcı and Ali Gülüm will be trying to fill in for whatever’s missing in the team. The Honeybees have a physically strong set of chasers, but those chasers are severely lacking tactical depth and rules knowledge, which results in the Honeybees getting a lot of easily avoidable cards. The Honeybees will be relying on their utility player Ali Gülüm and seeker Gazi Yavuz to snatch some snitches, who missed only one snitch catch in the Turkish Quidditch League this season.

The Honeybees have lost a lot of the core players who earned them their third place finish at TQC 2014 – and they will still pose a challenge to all who oppose them but unless they fix their discipline problems, they won’t be in the Top 4 this time around.

FMV Işık Deluminators (IDL)

The hosts of the second Turkish Quidditch Cup are mint fresh to quidditch. No one has seen the Deluminators play a full match yet. The team will have the home field advantage – which might actually be a disadvantage in quidditch with the added organizational duties in its first run at competitive quidditch.

The Deluminators’ captains Furkan Oktay Sevimli and Mehmet Yangel will be leading a set of mostly newcomers who joined the team only one week before the TQC.

The Deluminators should come to the TQC seeing it as a learning experience. The team will be trying to get a victory over the other dark horse in its group, Uludağ Aragog’s, but anything beyond that will be a total surprise for everyone.

Uludağ Aragog’s (ARG)

Another total unknown for the Turkish quidditch community, Uludağ Aragog’s will also make its debut at the TQC. The team has been training irregularly since May 2015. Everyone will just have to wait to see how the team performs.

Similar to the Deluminators, Aragog’s will come to the TQC to learn more from its more experienced opponents and try to earn its first ever victory.

METU Minicorns (MNI)

This newly formed METU Unicorns B Team is the third team to join the Turkish quidditch scene for the TQC. The Minicorns didn’t have much time to practice, but they have been training non-stop since the beginning of the season to go toe-to-toe with their opponents.

The fabulous Minicorns are captained by the former METU Unicorn Ebrar Yıldız and “almost rower” Emre Sönmez. Fielding a talented and aggressive beater squad including Göktuğ “Çağlayan” Harmancı and Umut Yeşilkaya, the Minicorns will look to maintain bludger control and stay in snitch range. They will be relying heavily on the efforts of their soon-to-be star keeper Emin Ün to keep the margin close against stronger opponents like ODTÜ Hippogriffs, Hacettepe Phoenix, and BOUN Centaurs. The Minicorns will also count on their elastic seekers Ömer Çavdar and Hakan Üyümaz to defy the odds and grab their first quidditch victory in a tough group.

The Minicorns will have the support of their fellow Unicorns, and they are the most likely of the three new teams to pull off an upset.


This tournament shows that quidditch in Turkey is rapidly growing. Expect a high level of play as teams fight for the dual goal of a TQC championship and EQC qualification.

Kaan Bolat, Cemre Avcı, Ekin Berkyürek,  Arman Aktürk, and Göksenin Ülker contributed to reporting.

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