Thursday, January 14, 2016

Polish Championship Preview

By Kinga Robutka

Poland is getting ready for its first competitive tournament of the season – the Polish Championship. On Jan. 16 in Warsaw, Poland the three yes, three officially registered Polish teams will compete to win both the title of the best Polish team and the chance to go to Gallipoli, Italy, this spring. Polska Liga Quidditcha (PLQ), the official national governing body for quidditch in Poland, was awarded two places at the European Quidditch Cup (EQC). Two of the teams competing this Saturday, Quidditch Hussars and Warsaw Mermaids, are reasonably well-known and, until last season, were the only Polish teams. However, this year a new team has joined the game – the Kraków Dragons. Although the Polish Championship will not be incredibly competitive, it is still a reason for excitement. Last year’s championship was just a single game between the Warsaw Mermaids and Quidditch Hussars. Adding one new team to the pool of competing teams may not seem like much, but for PLQ it is the first tangible result of its efforts to promote the sport throughout the last year. Several other nuclei of teams are also scattered around the country, showing that quidditch’s popularity in Poland is growing slowly but steadily.

Quidditch Hussars and Warsaw Mermaids were the only two teams in Poland until last season. | By Kinga Robutka
Kraków Dragons
The team that most spectators in Poland will be anxious to see in action are the country’s newest – Kraków Dragons. The Dragons have not played against any other team so far this season, and most of their players are completely new to quidditch. However, the team is probably the best organised out of the three competing. Despite the cold weather, the Dragons continue to have regular practices and will certainly be excited to show off their skills against the Warsaw teams. This additional motivation may prove crucial in the tournament.

“Kraków Dragons [are] a brand new quidditch team,” said Olga Krzywicka, the team’s captain. We have been playing for about two months, throughout which our roster has changed a lot. We also had to gather all the necessary equipment.

“When it comes to the championship, we are mostly excited and curious,” said Krzywicka. “As a new team, we expect a tough start. Those will be our first matches against other teams and on foreign ground. Nevertheless, we are very happy to have a chance to compete in this tournament. In the end, it’s all about having fun!”

Warsaw Mermaids
Warsaw Mermaids’ biggest strength lies in their numbers. The Mermaids managed to gain several new players this season, and since they will be competing in their hometown, they will surely be able to benefit from frequent substitution. The team practices often, has several good players who took part in tournaments abroad in the past, and has the title to defend the team won the 2015 Poland Championship last spring. The Mermaids seem to have the best balance of experienced players some of whom played for Team Poland in Sarteano, Italy’s European Games (EG) 2015 and fresh blood, which could be a deadly combination against both the inexperienced Dragons and somehow stagnant Hussars.  The Mermaids are captained by Marian Dziubiak.

“First of all, we are hoping to have good fun and play great games,” said Joanna Cielecka, Warsaw Mermaids’ spokesperson. “Of course, we will do everything to win. But the most exciting thing for us is to finally be able to compete with the other teams in Poland and meet the new players.”

Quidditch Hussars
Quidditch Hussars are undeniably the most experienced team at the tournament. Several of the team’s players have taken part in a number of international tournaments, and the team’s captain is the one and only Jagoda Sadecka, probably the best quidditch player in Poland. Hussars managed to increase the number of practices this season, but their open practices were not very successful and gained them only a few new players. Additionally, even though Quidditch Hussars claim to be a Warsaw-based team, they still have players coming to the championship from outside the capital. Thus, the team has not practiced much as a whole and may not be close-knit enough to play effective quidditch.

“This is definitely going to be a very interesting and close-fought tournament,” Sadecka said. “It’s hard to say who will win the Hussars vs. Mermaids clash, and we don’t know almost anything about the Dragons. I suppose that the beaters’ play will be crucial in determining the winner.”

Frankly, it is almost impossible to predict the results of this tournament. Teams play against each other rarely, and players are often unwilling to participate in tournaments abroad, so little can be said about teams’ development and tactics. However, the undisputable beneficiary of the event will be PLQ itself. PLQ’s social media engagement has yet again proved to be effective in reaching out to new people, and perhaps new teams will be created in the wake of the Polish Championship, especially if a more general media buzz about the event can be created. Follow Polska Liga Quidditcha on Facebook for updates on the tournament.

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