By Chris Lock and George Williams Throughout Snow Cup VI, several people approached me and disagreed with my opinion in an earlier article that Tony Rodriguez (Los Angeles Gambits) should have been the first pick in the recent fantasy tournament’s draft. One point people made was that some general managers value attitude over the athletic talent and ability Rodriguez shows. While some would struggle to reach a consensus on whether Rodriguez has a detrimental attitude, it became a moot point when other attitudes at the tournament quickly soured with the bitter taste of defeat.
Plenty of players showcased their talents in Salt Lake City for Snow Cup VI. Some teams scraped together more wins than expected, and many athletes were triumphant in finding victories with strong performances on pitch. Some teams even made the Green team’s path to the championship more difficult than expected. The Red team played a close match against Green in pool play, and the Grey team even managed to beat Green in pool play via snitch grab when the Kryptonians (Green) rested some of their starters, such as star beater Ryan McGonagle (Arizona State University [ASU]), the entire game. At the end of the tournament, though, all that mattered was that I was correct in predicting Rodriguez would lead the Kryptonians to Snow Cup glory and earn his first fantasy championship since the FireMercs Invitational 2 in 2013.
Photo Credit: Sofia de la Vega PhotographyI think we are all a little bored of the same, stale style that includes a paragraph of team summaries with a laundry list of names. If not, go ahead and read the preview again! In the spirit of trying something new, I will cover the bracket play games in depth instead.
Night Chat (Holmes) vs. White Russians (Baucom) – Semifinal
By the first round of bracket play, Harrison Baucom’s (Boise State Thestrals) White Russians were already suffering from several big injuries, and, as a result, tired out their starters as they compensated for new roster holes. Key early draft picks such as Paul Chaus (Crimson Elite [CE]) and Justin Bogart (the Lost Boys) were unable to play by the time their fifth game of the day came around, and first-round draft pick Dan Howland (CE) also went out late in the game with injury. Despite dwindling numbers, the White Russians were still able to bring back this match into snitch range with the snitch on pitch with the heroic efforts and goal scoring of Erik Tita (CE) and Vanessa Goh (Fighting Farmers of America [FFA]). Although Alex Holmes’s Night Chat was unable to consistently keep the game out of snitch range, its superior snitch-on-pitch beating lineup of Dakota Briggs (CE), Paul Davis (Utah State Quidditch Club [USQC]), and Brandon Handy (Utah State Quidditch Club [USQC]) kept Howland and his seeker substitutions from having a chance at the snitch, forcing overtime. Compared to the White Russians, Night Chat looked fresh and rested, and the team showed off its depth and diverse scoring abilities with goals from nearly every quaffle player in its lineup. Night Chat eventually ended the game with another game-winning snitch grab from Trent Anderson (Provo Quidditch [Provo]), carrying its momentum to the finals with a 150*-90 victory.Blue Steel (Thomas) vs. Kryptonians (Barbero) – Semifinal
After an uneventful start of the game, Blue Steel broke the scoreless tie when its beater duo of Andrew Tita (CE) and Jackson Berg (Provo) neutralized the Kryptonians’ beaters. This allowed the Blue team’s keeper, Chris Lock (FFA), to drive behind the hoops, evade Rodriguez’s tackle attempt, and put a chip shot into the small hoop just before a beat from Vicky Sanford (ASU). After Rodriguez overthrew a pass to Courtney Chediak (Kansas Quidditch [KU]), the Blue team struck again; chaser Jensen Morgan (CE) continued his outstanding tournament performance by driving into a no-bludger situation with no hesitation and dunking on the medium hoop. Of course, Rodriguez could only be kept off the scoreboard for so long. As if waking up from a dream, Rodriguez created a fast break on an ensuing possession and finished with a stupefying, floating mid-range goal through the medium hoop. After this, Rodriguez became a scoring machine, putting up goals on seemingly every other possession with scoring help from Romie Lof (Texas State University - San Marcos) and aggressive beating support from McGonagle. Blue Steel’s Devon Anderson (USQC), Cameron VomBaur (USQC), and Casey Thompson (Boise State Abraxans) all made powerful drives and took advantage of misplaced beaters to keep the score even. As the Kryptonians were catching up – Blue Steel led 30-20 – Devon Anderson caught a pass mid-pitch from Lock before making a highlight dunk over two defending chasers to push the score to 40-20. Rodriguez immediately responded, though, with his own fast break and gravity-defying slam dunk to pull back within 10 points. Both teams exchanged goals back and forth for the remainder of the game, and enjoyed fleeting leads at different points. Finally, when the snitch was on pitch, Blue Steel seemed to pull ahead after Devon Anderson and VomBaur made back-to-back fast break dunks to give the Blue team an 80-60 lead, but Rodriguez responded with another fast break dunk. Just after Rodriguez scored, the game ended in dramatic fashion. Seeker Austin Wallace (University of British Columbia), who replaced the Kryptonians’ replacement for its 13th round pick after the secondary player draft had passed, dove from the side of the snitch and made an impressive snitch grab. Appearing to cartwheel in midair, Wallace made the game winning play and sent the Kryptonians to the final with a 100*-80 victory.
Night Chat vs. Kryptonians – Final Match
The biggest story of the tournament was the Green team versus Grey team matchup – Holmes’s Night Chat, led by “un-captains” Briggs and George Williams, against Janos Barberos's Kryptonians, led by captains Rodriguez and Jessica Ward (the Long Beach Funky Quaffles). Although the two teams had met in pool play, this rematch proved to be entirely different in the level of urgency – so much, in fact, that Kryptonian starting beater McGonagle decided to play in the second match. The Green team jumped out to an early lead of 40-10 with a few long shots from Rodriguez and drives by Lof, and it was able to capitalize on several early mistakes by the Grey team. Overall, the Kryptonians led a shot-based offense but also often connected with strong female chasers Ward and Chediak behind the hoops for quick scores. Despite the Kryptonians’ early lead and high-powered offense, Night Chat was able to keep the game in snitch range with goals from a wide array of chasers like Briggs, Abbie Simons (CE), Alex Scheer (Lake Effect Tempest), Tucker Borel (KU), and Garrett Elmy (USQC) with frequent assists from keepers Williams and David Mora. The Grey team lead a mostly drive-and-dunk based offense but was also able to connect several surprise long passes for quick goals, including a highlight reel alley-oop from Williams to Briggs, eerily reminiscent of the NBA’s John Stockton and Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz circa 1996. With the game close in range as the snitch came on pitch, gameplay style completely shifted to a snitch-oriented beater matchup. Williams and Rodriguez were repeatedly left with bludgerless defenses to drive on and score, trading goal after goal and keeping the game in range, as the beaters never left the snitch unattended. Night Chat’s trifecta of Utah beaters – Briggs, Handy, and Davis – faced off against the ASU beater duo of McGonagle and Sanford. Although Night Chat came out with a slight edge in the beater matchup for the majority of the snitch on pitch game, neither team was able to seal the win until the second snitch handicap. After an impressive snitching performance by Tye Rush (FFA) left him with only one hand to defend against the seekers, the Kryptonians held the bludger advantage as Rodriguez subbed in at seeker and ended the match with a quick catch, crowning the Kryptonians as the Snow Cup VI champions.