Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Spectator's Guide to QUAFL 2015

By Minh Diep

The Australian national quidditch tournament, QUAFL, is coming! For the first time ever, QUAFL will be hosted in Melbourne, Australia, with an unprecedented 19 teams from six different states playing. Since there will be three pools playing all at once and a whopping 66 matches, it can be difficult for new spectators to know which matches to watch. To help you out, the Quidditch Post has prepared a handy spectator guide for the best matches to watch!


9 a.m.
Field 1: QUT Lycans (QUT) vs. University of Technology Opaleyes (UTS)                
Field 2: Macquarie Marauders (MAC) vs. Adelaide Augureys (AUG)                    
Field 3: UNSW Snapes on a Plane (UNSW) vs. Wrackspurts Quidditch Club (WRA)

The tournament begins with two fresh teams who have never played a ranked game before: the QUT Lycans and the Adelaide Augureys. Each will play a team from New South Wales (NSW): the UTS Opaleyes and Macquarie Marauders, respectively. Spectators will be keen to watch these two games, excited to see how two completely new teams play. However, the game on field 3 is a great matchup, featuring a clash of two great teams straight off the bat: UNSW and the Wrackspurts, the latter being the first local team to play. UNSW as two-time national champions are one of the teams hotly tipped to make another deep run at QUAFL, coming off a strong season with only a handful of losses and retaining first in the New South Wales rankings. The Wrackspurts had an immense season, placing third at Victoria Cup, and will be hungry to get their tournament run off to a good start. Both teams have strong and fast chasers, but the Wrackspurts have more experienced beaters, which may be all they need to keep toe-to-toe with UNSW, who suffered from the loss of several beaters this season.

9:40 a.m.
Field 1: Blackburn Basilisks (BAS) vs. University of Sydney Unspeakables (USYD)
Field 2: Wollongong Warriors (WOL) vs. USC Dementors (USC)                       
Field 3: University of Western Sydney Thestrals (WSQC) vs. South Melbourne Centaurs Quidditch Club(CEN)

In the next round of matches, the teams from Pool B beginning their weekend. WSQC will meet the Centaurs, and the Wollongong Warriors will play the freshly-ranked USC Dementors, the latter coming off their first national outing at Uni-Battle in May 2015. Field 1, meanwhile, features a huge rematch between the Blackburn Basilisks and the Sydney Unspeakables. Both teams faced each other at QUAFL last year in the quarterfinal, resulting in the longest match of the tournament – a game most certainly not short on quality, ending in a crucial snitch catch for the Basilisks, who progressed to the semifinals. As both teams come off strong endings to their seasons, spectators can most certainly expect a classic rematch to kick off the pool. The Unspeakables have an edge in the beater game; their national team member Luke Derrick will be leading their charge with pinpoint accuracy and an unrivalled work rate. The Basilisks, however, have an edge in their chaser game, with top goalscorer and Victoria Cup MVP James Thorpe undoubtedly ready to open his tally and score plenty of goals.

Blackburn Basilisks at Melbourne Mudbash 2015 | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey

10:20 a.m.
Field 1: Perth Phoenixes (PER) vs. La Trobe Trolls (LAT)
Field 2: Newcastle Fireballs (NEW) vs. Melbourne Manticores (MAN)                        
Field 3: Australian National Nargles (NAR) vs. Melbourne Unicorns (UNI)

In this timeslot, the first Pool C matches begin, which has a lot of heavy hitters. The QUAFL 2013 champions Perth Phoenixes take on the local La Trobe Trolls, while the Australian National Nargles (ANU) take on the Melbourne Unicorns. Most eyes will be on the battle taking place on field 2 between NSW Midwinter champions, the Newcastle Fireballs, and the defending QUAFL champions, the Melbourne Manticores. Both teams feature big players who pride themselves in their ability to take other players to ground; however, while the chaser game will be akin to watching a Newton cradle constructed of boulders, the game will ultimately be decided by how beaters perform. Both teams have been bolstered this year with key transfers of top beaters, and it will be thrilling to watch whether Newcastle’s additions of Emmanuel Berkowicz and Nicholas Allan will be enough to avenge its 2014 loss to Melbourne or if the team will be outclassed by Melbourne’s new coach Dean Rodhouse and last year’s QUAFL MVP Deni Tasman. Newcastle has an uphill battle to face, though, as its star chaser and national player Dameon Osborn will be missing while he serves a ban for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Newcastle at Midwinter 2015 | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey
11 a.m.
Field 1:  MAC vs. UNSW                 
Field 2: Monash Muggles (MUG) vs. AUG                        
Field 3: UTS vs. WRA

Pool A resumes at 11 a.m., with field 3 hosting UTS and the Wrackspurts in a game that will undoubtedly set the tone for the rest of the pool, with the winner getting a good springboard for second or possibly even first place in the pool. UTS will relish a chance to continue its meteoric rise throughout 2015 with a win. The Wrackspurts must be careful to ensure that they won’t be toppled by the threatening Opaleyes. UTS plays a strong beater lineup, with rapidly-improving beaters such as Daniel Dupouy and Kieran Ponnusamy showing they can compete with some of the best NSW has to offer. It will be up to beaters such as Wrackspurts’ Captain Umberto Bucalossi to shut them down.

11:40 a.m.
Field 1: WOL vs. WSQC                   
Field 2:  BAS vs. USC                     
Field 3: USYD vs. CEN

Pool B’s second round has the Blackburn Basilisks pitted against the USC Dementors. A lot of intrigue surrounds this match to see whether the Dementors, as the new kids on the block, can repeat some of its stellar Uni-Battle form against one of Australia’s top sides. The Dementors boast a load of natural athleticism, but the tactical experience and gameplan of the Basilisks will be a huge challenge for the Dementors to overcome. The Dementors proved themselves to be quick learners at Uni-Battle, and having had a lot more matches to watch and learn from since then, they could prove deadly against the other Melburnians. Whether the Dementors win or lose, they will assuredly have a lot to gain from this match and future opponents will have much to be wary of when it is time to face them.

Also playing this round on field 1 is Wollongong against WSQC. Wollongong has a small squad and will definitely struggle against WSQC, which has a sizeable level of endurance.  Expect a dominating performance from WSQC. On field 3, USYD plays the Centaurs. USYD’s players pack a lot of firepower, and the Centaurs will need to perform well in this match if they hope to progress out of the pool.

12:20 a.m.
Field 1: NEW vs. NAR                    
Field 2: PER vs. MAN                         
Field 3: LAT vs. UNI

The last matches before lunch will be the second round for Pool C. Two heavyweight matches will take place, but spectators are advised to divert attention from the favourites and instead to the La Trobe Trolls and the Melbourne Unicorns. Both teams will be fighting hard for a win here. The victor will be in a supreme spot to sneak into the finals, only needing one more triumph after this game. The Unicorns will be the favourites to win this match, although the edge will be slight when such a reward is on the line.

La Trobe at its first tournament, Melbourne Mudbash 2015 | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey
Newcastle vs. ANU will be a continuation of a rivalry, as it will see ANU Coach James Mortensen playing against his old team once more. The newly-announced Australian National Team Captain Mortensen will try to maintain calm on his side to stay ahead of Newcastle’s fiery aggression. Perth will play the Manticores on field 2; a repeat of the close game between these teams at QUAFL last year is almost inevitable. Both teams will be fighting with the hope that a win here will catapult them to the top of Pool C.

2 p.m.
Field 1: AUG vs. UNSW                    
Field 2: QUT vs. WRA                      
Field 3: MAC vs. MUG

The first matches after lunch will be the third round for Pool A. The pick for this round is  QUT vs. Wrackspurts. The QUT Lycans will come off of a bye round and will no doubt be eager to rush back in and give a strong showing against the Victorian team. With several additions to QUT from the Australian Catholic University team, who could not muster enough numbers to compete this year, the Queensland team could be formidable if it learns as quickly as its state compatriots in Pool B. It will be down to the more experienced Wrackspurts chasers such as Bodie Nash and Neil Kemister to lead the greener of the blue sides.

2:40 p.m.
Field 1: USC vs. WSQC                
Field 2: BAS vs. CEN                        
Field 3: WOL vs. USYD

In the third round of Pool B, the match between USC and WSQC will be the one to watch. The two sides meet each other again after playing a heap of times at Uni-Battle back in May. The biggest difference is that WSQC will be sending its full squad this time, and it remains to be seen whether the Dementors will have what it takes to stand up to the might of Western Sydney. Accomplished players such as Daniel Ormshaw and Corey Ingold-Dawes who were at Uni-Battle and have firsthand knowledge on who to focus on may be enough to shut USC out of the game, but it will be newer players like Miles Sneddon who will be key in securing the team’s victory. USC will need to rely on players such as Captain Simon Spann, who has previously represented his state in sprinting at a national athletics competition, to pick up new skills and hopefully trade goals with the structured WSQC defence.

Daniel Ormshaw at Midwinter 2015 | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey
3:20 p.m.
Field 1: MAN vs. NAR                      
Field 2: PER vs. UNI                        
Field 3: NEW vs. LAT
The third round of Pool B sees the Manticores playing against the Nargles in what should be a thrilling, physical encounter. The Manticores thoroughly beat ANU last year in the quarterfinals in what was due to injuries one of the longest games in the tournament. The Nargles will seek to avenge their defeat and bring an accomplished squad lead by ex-Newcastle keeper James Mortensen, who has been successful in bringing ANU to new heights. Manticore keeper and Captain Callum Mayling will be striving to shut Mortensen out of his own game and put some goals on the board himself. The beater game will be a huge factor here, and it will be down to ANU’s  Shu Ying Lee and Oscar Cozens to compete against Deni Tasman and Rodhouse.

James Mortensen takes on the Manticores at Melbourne Mudbash 2015 | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey
4 p.m.
Field 1: UNSW vs. QUT                   
Field 2: AUG vs. UTS                     
Field 3: WRA vs. MUG

The late afternoon brings us the fourth round of matches. In Pool A, a Melburnian derby match will be taking place, showcasing the rivalry between the Wrackspurts and the Monash Muggles. The teams have traded wins and losses against each other, and it will be hard for punters to pick a winner here. Several of the Muggles players left and joined the Wrackspurts, and they will be facing their former comrades once again in this match. We will see a high class of chaser play in this match, and a snitch-range game is likely. Muggle Nathan Morton and Wrackspurt Kemister will be likely competitors for the final 30 points.

5:40 p.m.
Field 1: WSQC vs. BAS                   
Field 2:  USC vs. USYD                   
Field 3: CEN vs. WOL

In the fourth round of Pool B, the Melbourne Centaurs take on the Wollongong Warriors.  Wollongong, at the foot of the national rankings, will be looking for redemption for its less than stellar season, whilst the Centaurs will be looking to dispose of the bottom team and launch themselves into a confident start in their next game against USC. Wollongong will be hoping its chasers pack a big enough punch to compete in points, and a lot of that responsibility will fall to ex-Newcastle player Joshua Naismith to score. The Centaurs, however, do have a lot of quality in that department, and captain Michael Braham will endeavour to keep a clean sheet. There is potential for an upset to happen here, but expect the Centaurs to have control of the game.

The Centaurs upset the Wrackspurts at Melbourne Mudbash 2015 | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey
6:20 p.m.
Field 1: NAR vs. PER                   
Field 2:  MAN vs. LAT                     
Field 3: UNI vs. NEW

Round four of Pool C sees ANU take on Perth in a true battle of wills as the sun begins to set on the first day. The Phoenixes bring a big squad, a far cry from their showings the past three years. The Phoenixes will be pushing for a win in this game, which could seal their place in the knockout bracket. The Nargles will be standing their ground, hoping to secure their place and rest early on Sunday. It will be a big match for the newer players, as late in the day,  veterans of the game will be tired and starting to focus on big matches on Sunday. William Grainger will be hoping to score for Perth as he did for mercenary ANewPerth at the Mudbash tournament earlier this year, whilst William Palmer, who also played on ANewPerth, will hope to recreate some of the form he has been consistently finding for ANU all year. Expect a scrappy – but nonetheless exhilarating – match for the end of the day.

7 p.m.
Field 1: MUG vs. UTS                   
Field 2:  QUT vs. MAC                     
Field 3: WRA vs. AUG

The final matches of Saturday will see QUT play Macquarie. The Marauders will be determined not to lose to the newcomer teams, and they will need to see off QUT to stand a chance of making the finals. However, Macquarie is the lowest-ranked team in this pool, and the Lycans may see this game as a golden opportunity to leapfrog the pool table and sneak into a knockout berth. Experienced players for Macquarie such as Dan Phipps and Harry Mahoney will be a huge factor here in making sure Macquarie stays ahead of its interstate competitors. This match will be a great chance for the QUT Lycans to step up and show their chops.

Dan Phipps at May Triwizard Tournament 2015 | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey

9 a.m.
Field 1: QUT vs. MUG                   
Field 2:  UTS vs. UNSW                     
Field 3: MAC vs. WRA

On the first match of Sunday, Macquarie will play against the Wrackspurts in what may very well be a middle of the table clash for a finals spot. Although the Marauders have been struggling in NSW all year, Macquarie has a habit of finding its best form in the national tournament, coming third in 2012 and second in 2013 and despite having a hard time in 2014 coming very close to progressing past the pool of death. A close game could be in the cards here, depending on how both teams have done in the leadup to this match. It will be up to new players such as Geoffrey Talbott for the Marauders to show the advantage they have. The Wrackspurts will be looking to avenge their close loss to the Marauders and come out on top here and finishing off a hopefully successful pool stage for themselves. Again, newcomers for the Wrackspurts will get a chance to shine, as key players may be resting for harder games ahead in the final.

9:40 a.m.
Field 1: WSQC vs. USYD                   
Field 2:  BAS vs. WOL                     
Field 3: CEN vs. USC

Sunday’s Pool B match sees the Centaurs take on USC in what is expected to be the battle for fourth place in the tournament. Both teams will be tired, and even with huge squad sizes and a new day, that may be a big factor in who will be the victor here. The team that wins in this match faces an uphill battle in the finals bracket, and it will be interesting to see how deep either of these teams go.

10:20 a.m.
Field 1: NAR vs. LAT                   
Field 2:  PER vs. NEW                     
Field 3: UNI vs. MAN

Perth takes on Newcastle in the final match of Pool C. Last year’s match between these teams sent the Fireballs to languish at the bottom of the table with little hope of progressing. This year will undoubtedly feature a different story, but just how surprising it will be remains to be seen. Depending on the results of the previous day, spectators may see this match be a battle for second place and the tantalising fourth place tournament seed into the quarterfinals, or it may be a final battle for fourth place and a place in the bracket at all. Expect big hits and great goals in this game.  
11 a.m.
Field 1: QUT vs. AUG                   
Field 2:  UTS vs. MAC                     
Field 3: UNSW vs. MUG

The final games of pool play is a bit of a “choose your own adventure,” as analysts honestly have no clue which will be the marquee match of this round. With the two debut QUAFL teams, QUT and Adelaide, taking on each other, great results for these teams could mean they are playing for fourth place, but the same might also be said for NSW rivals UTS and Macquarie. As the two favourites of the pool, UNSW and the Muggles may be playing for first or even second place. All three matches will feature chances of redemption, glimpses of glory, and tremendous quidditch.

Final Thoughts for Spectators
This marks the end of pool play. From here, the top four seeds of the tournament will go through to the quarterfinals, where they await matches against the winners of a single round of elimination matches between seeds 5-12. What will happen? Which team will outcompete the others and why? Whose quaffle play is here to stay? Which beaters will be the defeaters? We hope you are as excited to see these questions answered as we are. We hope you have wonderful time both competing in and watching games at QUAFL 2015!

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