Thursday, December 31, 2015

There's No Such Thing as Luck: A preview of the Kryptonians’ Assured Snow Cup VI Victory

by Chris Lock

Note: The Snow Cup VI draft was a snake draft format with an additional round where ten players were able to pick their own teams, distinct from one another, rather than being picked by general managers (GMs).

First and foremost, a definition is in order. The definition of bold,according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is as follows: “Showing or requiring a fearless or daring spirit.” Bold is also used as a euphemism to politely imply that a given strategic move appears to be a blatant error to most rational observers.

Now, it is possible to present what everyone is anticipating: a premature discussion of the nine delusional teams attending Snow Cup VI and the undeniable favorite.

Basic Colors Pool (Black, Brown, Dark Blue, Light Blue, White)

Light Blue aka Manchester Shitty Quidditch Club (GM: David Burtch)
General Manager Burtch (Wizards of Westwood) boldly did not pick Tony Rodriguez (Los Angeles Gambits [LAG]) with the second pick of the draft. Burtch gets a pass on judgement, though, because picking the reigning Snow Cup MVP, Stew Driflot (Boise State Abraxans [BSA]), is a justifiable alternative. Still, Rodriguez is arguably one of the best keepers in the nation, and Burtch passed him up.

Reigning Snow Cup MVP Stew Driflot will look to lead Light Blue. | Photo Credit: Lang Truong
Behind Driflot, a sturdy offensive line awaits. Offensive juggernaut Alex Pisaño (The Fighting Farmers of America [FFA]) is not afraid to charge to the hoops, handle the quaffle, or fight for scoring position. Tylor Mclaren (of the now-inactive Oklahoma Baptist University [OBU] team) mixes fearless offensive onslaughts with deceptive speed. Defensively, Julia Thomas (University of Southern California) provides veteran leadership at beater while her partner, Lang Truong (BSA), has built a favorable reputation in his short career though he favors bone crushing face beats over strategy perhaps too often. Expect Ezra Johnson (Boise State Thestrals [BST]) to provide some stunning uniforms and Brad Thatcher (also of the late OBU) to surprise people on the pitch.

White, aka the White Russians (GM: Harrison Baucom)
Baucom’s (BST) squad might be the slight favorites over Light Blue to pull the first seed out of the pool, and it may well be thanks to the overwhelming girl power present on the squad. Watching chaser Vanessa Goh (FFA) play quidditch is like witnessing NBA superstar LeBron James single-handedly decimate the Los Angeles Lakers. Aside from Goh gracing the White Russians in the “player’s choice” round with her leadership and skill, regular season teammates Justine Heisley-Taylor and Caylen McDonald (LAG) add athleticism and reliability to the squad. McDonald has a history of strong Snow Cup performances, and it will be interesting to see how much these three will contribute to White’s success. Mammoth keeper/chaser Erik Tita (Crimson Elite[CE]) will provide driving power, Duston Mazzella (LAG) will make silky smooth beats, and stud seeker Dan Howland (CE) will give the Russians a boost in close matches.

Snow Cup VI will be Caylen McDonald’s first appearance of this season. | Photo Credit: Sofia de la Vega Photography
Brown, aka the Wookiees (GM: Andy Marmer)
As one can expect from experienced GM Marmer, his team was drafted as a well-balanced squad that has evenly dispersed talents across all positions with a couple of sleepers in the mix. However, the Wookiees may be too depressed to play to maximum potential after the loss of superstar beater David Becker (Mizzou Quidditch) to injury. However, in return, reigning champion De’Vaughn Gamlin (lately of the University of Northern Colorado [UNC]) joined the squad. Seeker Justin Fernandez (Lost Boys) will try to get the Wookiees out of tight spots, Anthony Hawkins (Long Beach Funky Quaffles [LBFQ]) will be a physical presence throughout the tournament, and Johnson Huynh (UNC) will hope to create opportunities for his offense through aggressive beating tactics. Gina Allyn (CE) has been improving with every tournament she’s chased in and has become a star. Spectators should expect her to continue growing in 2016. Chaser Matt Williams (unaffiliated) is a player of lore that some may have forgotten but will be forcefully reminded of when he exhibits his power dunks. Overall, the team’s success is unpredictable as it is not clearly outmatched against or outclassing opponents, so it will likely be reliant on the success of its seeking. One thing is certain, though the loss of Becker dramatically shifts the team’s primary strength in beating to a question mark.

Fernandez will be relied upon to chase and seek for his team. | Photo Credit: Sofia de la Vega Photography
Dark Blue, aka Blue Steel (GM: Sequoia Thomas)
Blue Steel may be summarized as the youth of Utah. Players with high ceilings such as Devon Anderson (Utah State Quidditch Club [USQC]), Andrew Tita (CE), Jackson Berg (Provo Quidditch), Jensen Morgan (CE), and Alli Bouwman (USQC) epitomize Thomas’s (Crimson Fliers) Blue Steel, and each of these future stars are in their first or second years of quidditch. No one on the team, though, represents the high-risk, high-reward aspect of collecting young promising talent such as surprise first rounder and fifth overall pick of the draft keeper Cameron VomBaur (USQC). VomBaur had a successful performance last year at Snow Cup V when he was still an unknown commodity. In his second season, VomBaur was picked much higher than a player of his reputation in a draft that was short on keeper talent. Yet, VomBaur has demonstrated immense potential especially defensively in his first two seasons, so no one should be too surprised if he lives up to the hype of a first round selection. Tori Kaiser (Arizona State University [ASU]) is having a breakout season, and the young chaser may find her way into the Team USA discussion if she plays the remainder of the season to her full potential. Veterans Casey Thompson (BSA) and Chris Lock (FFA) will support the young talent. Thompson was drafted as late as the third round after the other GMs boldly passed up the first-round talent multiple times and will certainly play to a higher standard offensively and defensively. Lock will surprise opponents with a breakout god-like performance at Snow Cup VI, and those that look directly upon the 6’6” Adonis will be blinded by the golden aura of victory that shall shroud him. (Editor’s Note: The Quidditch Post is committed to unbiased journalism and you should take the words of the author Chris Lock about the player Chris Lock to be the unassailable truth). Ultimately, Blue Steel is probably too inexperienced to make a deep run at the tournament, but the youthful squad has the potential to dethrone some of the more favored teams.

Cameron VomBaur has built up his reputation as one of Utah State’s star players. | Photo Credit: Danielle Christensen Photography
Black, aka the Empire Strikes Black (GM: Joren Adams)
Nothing shall be more thrilling or meaningful in this pool than the matchup between Adams’s (Santa Barbara Blacktips) team and Marmer’s Wookiees. In contrast to its celestial opponents, the Empire Strikes Black will be composed of a strong beating corps: Cy Torrey (FFA) and Ruthie Stahl (FFA) have formed a truly astounding beater pair since the 2014-15 season, which is when Stahl transitioned to the position. Torrey is faster than Sonic the Hedgehog, and Stahl is a tenacious bear that mauls her opponents on the pitch.  Andrew Burger (LBFQ) will also dazzle at beater. Chewy Shaw (Silicon Valley Skrewts) will likely be Black’s primary ball carrier: the aggressive chaser runs hard, and defenders will feel like they are trying to stop a choo-choo train. Joshua Ishizaki’s (LBFQ) speed makes him a player to watch for, and Blayde Loving’s (LAG) offseason work will eventually culminate in an unexpected breakout performance; Snow Cup VI might be the right time for it.

Joshua Ishizaki stands out as a player to watch this tournament after playing this season with Long Beach Funky Quaffles. | Photo Credits: Sebastian Lam
The Skittles Pool (Red, Green, Pink, Purple, Grey)

Red (GM: Savio Vu)
Vu (of the now-defunct Arizona Quidditch Club) opened the Snow Cup draft by making the bold decision to not choose Tony Rodriguez with the very first pick of the draft. It’s not all bad news for Red, though: the first pick of the draft was Amanda Turtles (Lost Boys), who is a great beater with plenty of experience. So at least Vu picked a top player at an entirely different position when passing Rodriguez. Vu also got a solid keeper from Kansas, as well as the keeper’s sister. Due to their blood relation, Adam and Rachel Heald (KU) should be Heald and shoulders above everyone else when it comes to chemistry.

Nagy, formerly of Arizona Quidditch Club, returned to the Lost Boys this season in the same spirit she has returned to Snow Cup as a player this year: to win. | Photo Credit: Monica Wheeler Photography
If people haven’t realized it yet, Jarrod Bailey (ASU) is a bonafide quidditch stud. You may know him as the guy who caught not one but two snitches to upset the Gambits in overtime at the 2015 Lumberjack Invitational. His teammate Caleb Ragatz (ASU) will be demonstrating some of the best refereeing between games and will bring consistent and reliable beating to Red’s cause. Austin Pitts (KU) will give a huge defensive boost, and Mohammadreza Faraji (USQC) is a dark horse chaser waiting in the shadows to shock Salt Lake City on January 2. Red would probably have a great chance of winning its pool if it weren’t in the same pool as the Green team, which coincidentally features Tony Rodriguez.

Grey, aka Night Chat (GM: Alex Holmes)
Holmes (Crimson Warhawks) boldly did not select Tony Rodriguez with the third overall pick. It’s very unclear which is more dumbfounding: that Rodriguez was still available at third overall or that Holmes didn’t pick him. On the bright side, keeper George Williams (CE) is still an outstanding player, and he is more or less the face of quidditch in Utah. Williams is the great mix of hustle, poise, leadership, and results that will still give Grey a great chance of being competitive. Brandon Handy (USQC), Alex Scheer (Lake Effect Tempest), and Dakota Briggs (CE) will provide consistent and reliable support. In fact, that best summarizes Grey: a team with no apparent weaknesses that will have a consistent performance throughout each game. This said, Abbie Simons (CE) is a wildcard beater that has the potential to change the entire tournament with one well-timed breakout performance.
Alex Scheer will be a key cog in Grey’s line-up. | Photo Credit: Jessica Jiamin Lang Photography
Pink, aka Hotline Bling (GM: Marcus Toomey)
This team boldly decided not to name itself Looney Tooms, and that can only barely be forgiven. Dan Hanson (CE) was picked in the first round for the first time in his storied career, and it’s not a huge surprise either given his recent off-season success dating back to Beachside Brawl in May. Hanson’s smarts, sneaky tactics, and fast break knowledge allow him to put up an unexpected amount of goals. Veteran Sarah Kneiling (Gulf Coast Gumbeaux) will have an awe-inspiring performance at beater if she can manage to stand up on the pitch without her walker. Joshua Govenor (BSA) has extremely underrated defense and is another quality selection for Hotline Bling. Also, Tye Rush (FFA) will undoubtedly crush opponents as the stellar chaser is no stranger to MVP votes at tournaments and comparisons to professional athletes. There’s no telling how this team will perform, but it could only benefit from sleeper-pick Nick Worthington (ASU) cementing himself in the quidditch scene via a surprise high-output performance at Snow Cup VI.

A finger up for first round pick. | Photo Credit: Lang Truong
Purple (GM: Liz Barcelos)
Barcelos (San Jose State University Spartans) boldly used her first pick on a player who has not played officially all season long. Luckily her pick, Dan Marovich – so far unaffiliated this season due to injury has immense size and talent to match it. If Marovich is healthy and can play at 100 percent, Purple should perform just fine. If Marovich succumbs to injury, the high-risk aspect of the pick will show through.

Still, Purple is more than just Marovich. Sean Pretti (FFA) is also coming off of an injury, but Pretti should still have a fantastic tournament at beater because he is a consistently strong and reliable player. Pretti’s aggressive style disrupts defenses, clutters offense, and sometimes burns the rubber of his cleats. Aside from the Second Coming of beating in Pretti, Purple will also benefit from the services of Kaylee Buchholtz (FFA). Buchholtz is a historically underrated player, yet the fifth year veteran is arguably, no definitely, one of the top beaters in the West. Allaina Honda (ASU), Cody Fairchild (Moscow Manticores at the University of Idaho), and Grant Daigle (Crimson Warhawks) are three players to keep an eye on when watching Purple: all are physically aggressive defenders, and any of them could put forth surprise weekends that may propel Purple further than expected in the tournament.

Sean Pretti should be key to Purple's beating game | Photo Credit: Sofia de la Vega Photography
Green, aka the Kryptonians (GM: Janos Barbero)
The only team attending really worth discussing has an extreme surplus of talent. Barbero (Skyfighters Quidditch Club) correctly selected Tony Rodriguez with the fourth overall pick of the draft. Yet, the GM-turned-vandal did not stop there: Barbero loaded up on talent with Romie Lof (Texas State University - San Marcos), Ryan McGonagle (ASU), Rich Hatch (Gambits/unaffiliated), and Vicky Sanford (ASU). These fives names alone should not have been on the same team in this draft pool, but the rich continued to get richer. Courtney Chediak (KU) filled one of Green’s holes at chaser during the player choice round, and after a botched secondary draft, the Kryptonians were joined by star chaser Mostafa Attia (Silicon Valley Vipers) and strong seeker Austin Wallace (University of British Columbia).  However, Attia dropped due to flight complications. Though it may be fate’s method of balancing the playfield, his absence likely won’t be noticed due to the surplus of Green talent remaining. Some may be interested to know that Wallace filled the only noticeable hole in Green’s starting lineup, and he did so replacing a 13th round pick.

As it stands now, Green has only one real weakness: the team only has three total girls. Nonetheless, this team is clearly the best on paper.

Tony Rodriguez somehow fell to the fourth pick in the draft. | Photo Credit: Phoebe VanGelder
With players traveling large distances, multiple GMs seemed to decide that inept strategies took priority over a balanced event.

As for players to watch for, keeper Tony Rodriguez should have a breakout tournament.

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