Friday, February 26, 2016

Benelux Preview

By Chula Bruggeling and Joke Daems

Editor’s Note: Chula Bruggeling is a member of the Wageningen Werewolves, and Joke Daems is a member of the Ghent Gargoyles.

On Sunday, Feb. 28, Haarlem, the Netherlands will be the site of the second annual Benelux Cup. Despite its name, for the second year in a row this international tournament will only feature teams from Belgium and the Netherlands, as Luxembourg currently does not have any official teams.

For the Dutch teams participating Dom Tower Dementors, North Sea Nargles, and Wageningen Werewolves this tournament will also be the official qualifier for the European Quidditch Cup (EQC) later this year, rather than the Dutch national championship back in Nov. 2015. This choice was made to give the Dom Tower Dementors, who were just recently founded, time to get their team going, and to give the Wageningen Werewolves time to get players who joined at the start of the new school year incorporated into the team.

Dom Tower Dementors at 2015 Dutch National Championship. | Photo Credit: GC Bruggeling
Due to a combination of travel time and a rather late official announcement of the date of the tournament, aside from the three Dutch teams hoping to qualify for EQC, only three Belgian teams will be making the trip to Haarlem: Deurne Dodo A, Ghent Gargoyles, and Hasselt Horntails.

With a perfect split of three Dutch and three Belgian teams, pool play will consist of a Dutch pool and a Belgian pool. The Dutch qualification for EQC will be based only on the rankings at the end of the first half of the tournament, in order to give the most accurate and fair representation of the Dutch teams in regards to one another. While this might mean less international games than some players might have hoped for teams are only guaranteed at least one international game through bracket play most Dutch players seem to agree it is the fairest way to determine qualification for EQC.

In a somewhat controversial decision, the tournament will be played according to Rulebook 8 instead of the updated Rulebook 9, by which EQC will be played later this year, and to which most national governing bodies (NGB) have recently transitioned. Belgium will officially transition to Rulebook 9 in March, a decision made when getting certified according to Rulebook 9 was not yet possible for most of Europe. Currently, however, getting certified as a referee according to Rulebook 8 rules is no longer possible, and multiple referees are now certified according to Rulebook 9 rules, partially due to their participation as referees at German Cup last month. As such, the organising committee eventually decided that referees certified by either Rulebook 8 or Rulebook 9 rules will be accepted as volunteers, as long as the games will be played and officiated according to Rulebook 8 rules. It remains to be seen how strongly this decision will affect gameplay and referees’ decisions. 

Belgian Teams
Deurne Dodo A
“Win,” said coach Louis Lermytte when asked about Deurne Dodo A's goals for this tournament. As the current Belgian Champion and leaders in the Belgian Quidditch League (BQL), this is hardly an arrogant claim to make. Deurne Dodo A have been performing consistently well, on both a Belgian and European level. The team will miss a few key players at Benelux Cup, most notably beaters Faust Eeckhout and Elisabeth Reyniers, and chaser Charlotte Buelens. Still, Deurne Dodo A will bring a squad of 14 players, five of whom play for Deurne Dodo B as their primary team. Both teams practice together, so Lermytte is not worried about the players’ chemistry.

Photo Credit: Jelmer Lokman
“The Dodo B players we’re bringing have proven that they’re ready to play on a Belgian level,” Lermytte said.

Ghent Gargoyles
“Give it our all and win,” is the somewhat more carefully-voiced desire to win from Coach Ellen Vander Heyden. The Gargoyles have a strong squad this season, a mixture of more experienced players and talented new blood, but the team they are bringing to Benelux Cup is a rather small one of 13 players. It remains to be seen how this will affect the team’s gameplay, as they tend to rely on frequent subs and larger numbers. Key player Micah Unruh will not attend Benelux Cup, and it will be interesting to see how this absence affects the players’ dynamics. Luckily, the Gargoyles can count on two other experienced keepers, captain and trainer Brian Verbeure, and hard-to-tackle “tank” player Eli Van den Bulcke.

Photo Credit: Cindy Callens
Hasselt Horntails
“We’re secretly hoping for a podium,” co-Coach Inke Gieghase said. Although they fight fiercely with a small number of players, the Horntails are known as one of the weaker teams in Belgium. Things may be looking up for the Horntails, however, as they recently welcomed no less than eight new players into their ranks. They’ll be bringing a squad of 17 players, effectively making them the best-represented team at Benelux Cup. It is hard to estimate how this new team will perform against the other attending teams. Gieghase said the team has been working on new tactics and has shown a steady improvement over the past few months. Coach Jana Meers is sad she will not be able to play herself, but she is looking forward to watching the other players, especially beaters Sacha Huynen and Nathan Maertens, who will be playing their first tournament as beaters.

Photo Credit:
Dutch Teams

Dom Tower Dementors
The Dom Tower Dementors will be attending Benelux Cup with a total of 10 players, a smaller team than the one that attended the national championship back in November. Captain Nick van Klaveren believes that the smaller roster will give his team difficulties when facing a minimum of four games in a day, especially with this being the first international tournament for about half of his players. He clearly does not intend to let the small roster stop him and his team though, as he expects his team “will again profit from a strong chaser game.”

Photo Credit: GC Bruggeling
“Between the Dutch teams I feel it will be pretty equal,” Van Klaveren said, “At last year’s Benelux Cup Belgium was clearly on top of the Netherlands in terms of level of play, and I expect that will be visible in this year’s ranking as well.”  

North Sea Nargles
The North Sea Nargles will be attending Benelux Cup with a total of 13 players. Seeing as the Nargles are the current Dutch champions, expectations for the team’s performance are high. While it is difficult to say how the Nargles will compare to the Belgian teams, and as such how they will do in the overall tournament, they are generally assumed to qualify for one of the two Dutch EQC spots.

“We look forward to see how much both we and the other Dutch teams have grown since QuidDutch,” captain Rein Anspach said. “And we hope to learn a lot from the Belgians and qualify for EQC.”

Photo Credit: North Sea Nargles Quidditch Team Facebook
Wageningen Werewolves
The Wageningen Werewolves will be attending Benelux Cup with a total of 12 players, an amount they are rather used to working with at tournaments. One big change in regards to the team that played back in November is the return of chaser and co-Captain Juliane Schillinger, who was abroad these past few months. Asked about their feelings about the tournament, co-captains Clio Plowman and Schillinger replied: “We’ve seen steady improvement in the team over the course of the season so far, both from our freshers who have found their places within the team and from last year’s veterans who are taking on a great deal of responsibility on and off pitch.”
Photo Credit: GC Bruggeling
“We as a team are beyond the point where we go to tournaments solely for the experience,” Plowman and Schillinger said. “We’re going to Benelux Cup to win games.” Clearly, the Werewolves feel ready to prove themselves on the pitch.

Unless the difference in number between Horntails players and Gargoyles players will be enough to overthrow the Gargoyles, the rankings of the Belgian pool are pretty much set in stone. Building on Belgian Cup results and the Belgian League performance, we can expect Deurne Dodo A to win the pool, with Ghent Gargoyles taking second place. The rankings could, however, still be upset, as the Gargoyles will be playing an important League game against Dodo A the day before, and players might need time to recover or they could get injured before Benelux Cup. 

Predictions for the rankings between the three Dutch teams, and thus the qualification for EQC, are more difficult to make. North Sea Nargles are expected to perform quite well and will probably end up taking first place among the Dutch teams. What will happen between the Dom Tower Dementors and Wageningen Werewolves, however, is difficult to predict. The Dementors placed higher during Dutch National Quidditch Cup last November, but they will have to play this tournament with a rather small roster of 10 players (partially due to injuries), while the Werewolves have gotten back chaser Juliane Schillinger, an important part of their chaser lineup. The only prediction we feel comfortable making regarding these two teams is that it will most likely be a very interesting and hard-fought game.

All in all, the Dodos are pretty much guaranteed to win the tournament and will likely have little to no trouble during their games. Expecting Ghent Gargoyles to take second place will also be a safe bet, unless their small squad size and the exhaustion from the League game on Saturday take their toll. What happens to the remaining four spots, though, is much more difficult to predict, due to the limited (official) international contact between Dutch and Belgian teams. The North Sea Nargles and Hasselt Horntails might be evenly matched, especially with the Horntails’ influx of new players, so this possible matchup is definitely one to watch out for this tournament. 

In general, much more is at stake for the Dutch teams, as this tournament is their qualifier for EQC. The Dutch teams can be expected to give the tournament their all, whereas the Belgian teams will mostly look at it as an opportunity to gain some additional experience. In the end, it is quite unlikely that Deurne Dodo A will miss the chance to claim another title.

No comments:

Post a Comment