Saturday, December 12, 2015

Valentines Cup III: What's Hot and What's Not

by Abby Whiteley

Hello fashion fans! Yes, it’s that time again - but this time we’re back with a seasonal special! This has nothing to do with the winter’s festivities, as it’s actually a little peek at the most romantic event of the season: the third Valentines Cup! Whether you’re a captain, a player, or just a spectator, make sure you don’t embarrass yourself by not knowing the hottest trends and the biggest fails that the captains will be hoping to navigate at the draft this Saturday, 12 December starting at 19:00 GMT.

What’s Hot
Phew! It might be December, but the temperature is scorching in here. Let’s take a look at the steamiest styles in this Valentines draft!

Utility players
We all know one. We see them, strutting around the pitches with their wrists sexily endowed with four different colours, just waiting to be ripped off and… put on their foreheads. If the sex appeal of utility players is usually too high for mere mortals to handle, they might be getting a call from Zeus come the time of the draft; he’s a man who could certainly appreciate their bang for your buck. In a tournament where you’re bought in pairs, captains will only seal the deal on about five to nine couples, so they have to make every stroke (of the keyboard) count - and what better way to do it than getting three or four positions for the price of one? Beware, though: these femmes fatales can be as devious as they are seductively flexible. Many utility players are significantly more useful in one position than their others, and if you depend on too many utilities in one position, you might find yourselves stretched a little thin.

The old guard are getting crumblier by the day and, as the tabloids like to remind us, once you’re over 30, you’re over the hill! (Only if you’re a woman, of course; lads, carry on enjoying your healthy sexuality well into your 50s!) This is even more true in quidditch; anyone over graduation age is practically moribund, and let’s not even mention the fossils above the age of 24. New blood is arriving, and with regional championships and Christmas Cup behind us, we’ve now seen the freshers strutting their stuff all over the place. One of the major components of getting a successful merc team is getting hot new talent on the cheap, and some of the freshers we’ve got this year will be as cheap and tasty as the McDonald’s saver menu. We won’t reveal the big first-year players available this year, but you might want to cast your eyes towards the teams who swanned in at Southern or hogged the limelight at Northern.

Making your own kit
Although mass-produced fashion has been a staple of merc tournaments for a while now, some budding fashion designers are going back to the basics and making their own cute designs! From the dinner jackets at Christmas Cup II to the jacket potatoes at Mercian III, we almost always see two or three neat little creations from grassroots designers to liven up our lineups. Although Aaen’s spring line has once more impressed with this year’s official Valentines design, we are also very excited to see which captains turn their hands to artistic pursuits this year and whether their statement pieces pop or flop. If you find yourself on a team going their own way, don’t resist it. Be proud of your hipster style before falling back into the daily grind and same old uniform of the regular season. After all, isn’t fun what fashion is all about?

The Valentines Cup III logo | Design by Ellie Aaen

What’s Not
Oh dear! If you see any of these deadly faux pas at the draft, delicately avert your eyes as you would for a nip slip until the fashion disaster has been rectified.

Three-day drafts
It’s one thing to go all night; it’s quite another to go 15 hours of pretty much the same dang thing. Although there was some dubious badge of honour earned from having sat through the whole saga of the second Valentines draft - during which time, by the way, you could have instead watched all three extended Lord of the Rings films and debated whether or not The Hobbit is actually good for a further three and a half hours - we’ve all got better things to do nowadays! Drafts this season are shorter than last summer’s hemlines, with the TDs promising a single sub-six-hour bout of bidding. Ever since Fifty Shades popularised all things “vanilla with a twist”, blindfolds have made an enduring comeback in the bedroom and the TDs are now bringing this hot new trend into the draft proceedings. A short and sweet introduction of just a few seconds, followed by 20 seconds of steamy blindfolded action where no captain knows what the others are going to do, is all that will go into the process of each sale. If there’s a draw, the bidding continues in the same way until one captain eventually takes the lucky couple home. We’ll definitely be hitting up the kinky stand in Ann Summers if blindfolds succeed at giving us this sultry single evening of passionate bidding!

Power couples
Some captains like to flash the cash, but this always comes around to bite them where it hurts later on. Although Twistolajczak-gate of Spring ‘15 is the infamous case, many captains have been punished for overindulging on an irresistible buy on the night. Luckily I’m here to give you a couple of top tips! Captains: stay your hand! In a blind auction, it’s more about guessing what other captains will do than blowing the bank to secure that one must-have pair. There is such a thing as paying too much - $120 for a plain white t-shirt endorsed by Kanye jumps to mind - and, no matter how sexy the hoops or how skilful the ball-handling, don’t let any part of your body rule your brain. Take a stand and know that no couple is worth half of your entire budget. As for players: although it’s now a bit late if you’ve already shacked up with a big name, just pray that the captains don’t let your dazzling talent get the better of them - you can always frantically change your submitted picture for a nice shot of you dropping something if you’re particularly desperate!

Male chasers
Sorry, lads! Male chasers are the plain Doritos of the draft: plentiful, near-interchangeable, and only exciting with something spicy to accompany them. We’re just kidding, but some of you are lightly salted and there might even be a couple of extra-hots in there! The general feeling in the room is that we can expect to see lots of middling prices for the double male chaser sets.
That’s not to say they’re not valuable (after all, where would we be without them), but more that there are other player types, especially female chaser and aggressive beater, for which the demand is equally high and the options much more limited. Don’t be disheartened; it takes all flavours to make a team, and you just happen to be one of the most accessible types. It actually makes your life easier if you go for a nice low price, as that enables your captain to invest elsewhere. Remember my number one fashion tip and personal aesthetic: there is no shame in being cheap!

And with that I have to love you and leave you, fashion fans! Best of luck to all the savvy captains and sexy couples, and we look forward to all the drama and gossip we’re bound to get after this evening!

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