Friday, February 26, 2016

Western Canadian Teams Converge on Abbotsford

For the first time, almost all (the Winnipeg Whomping Willows will not be attending) of Western Canada’s quidditch teams will fight for the second-ever regional championship on Feb. 27 and 28. This year’s championship will be held in Abbotsford, British Columbia, making it more accessible to the majority of the Western Canadian teams; last year’s tournament was held in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and only two teams participated. A total of five teams will be competing for the regional title: the Alberta Clippers (AC), Calgary Mudbloods (CM), Simon Fraser University Quidditch (SFU), University of Victoria Valkyries (UVIC), and Vancouver Vipertooths (VV).

To provide the most comprehensive and detailed pre-tournament analysis, Quidditch Post writers Nathan Ross (SFU), Alex Lamoureux (CM), Misha Whittingham (UVIC), and guest contributor Alicia Mills (unaffiliated) give us their two cents regarding what we can expect from each team this weekend.

Alberta Clippers (AC)
By Alex Lamoureux

The Alberta Clippers, last years winners of the Western Canada Regional Championship, are strong contenders to take the title once again. The team wields great veterans and has recruited many strong rookies since its province grew to have two league teams. This season they have a 5-1 record against other teams in the Western Canada region and will bring a strong roster to the Championship.

The Clippers, led by Team Canada Coach Chris Radojewski, win games with well-rehearsed strategy and communication. Their chaser play combines driving power with playmaking, with the quaffle often carried up by fast sprinters Radojewski and rookie star Indiana Nikel. The Clippers beating style emphasizes defense and retaining bludger control and also has a strong endgame led by seeker Fraser Duff. Their coordination between the different positions adds up to create a winning team.

Seeker Fraser Duff will be crucial to the Clippers end-game efforts. | Photo Credit: Danny Ly
At last year's National Championship, the Clippers won convincingly against UVIC but lost 70*-30 to the Vancouver Vipertooths and 50*-30 to SFU. The Clippers evolved over the summer and grew after losing half their players to the newly formed Calgary Mudbloods. They have since defeated the Mudbloods four times, with varied results. As for the British Columbia teams, Alberta has won a decisive victory over UVic, and had one narrow loss to the Vipertooths. SFU has yet to play the Clippers this season, and it will surely be a matchup to watch, as SFU’s aggressive beaters will put pressure on the Clippersconservative play.

Calgary Mudbloods (CM)
By Alicia Mills

The Mudbloods head into this weekend as one of the newer teams in the region, having split from the Alberta Clippers at the beginning of the season to form their own team. As of now, they have yet to beat their former teammates, although the two teams have played some close matches. 

The Mudbloods play a physical brand of quidditch, which they hope will be to their advantage this tournament. They look to be more than a one-player offense, despite boasting an abundance of hero-ballers such as Jack Harding, Michael Wanless, and Riley Trueman. The Mudbloods’ beaters also have a talent for regaining and maintaining bludger control, as evident in their experienced beaters such as Lauren Yee and Allan Chan. To show that it is a force to be reckoned with, Calgary will need to focus on its passing play, as well as encourage communication between its beaters and chasers.
Riley Trueman is one of the Mudbloods talented hero-ballers | Photo Credit Lara Hiles
Simon Fraser University Quidditch (SFU)
By Nathan Ross

Editor’s Note: Nathan is a player for SFU.

SFU, which has been fueled by the influx of rookies it received, is still riding the high of its third-place finish at the Subdued Excitement Showdown in Bellingham, Washington. It is looking to use Western Regionals as a statement to show that it is a team that should be taken seriously.

SFU’s success revolves around its beaters, relying on a top four core to retain bludger control and use that to spark its quaffle play. The one to keep your eye on is Raymond Ly, who is a sparkplug for the beaters with his bull-in-a-chinashop play. The pressure is also on SFU’s chasers to prove that they are not a one-player offense, with team captain James Champion recognized as the team’s main driving force. That will be tough to do, however, since this week at practice, rookie Karim Moodad who leads all SFU chasers in goals tore a ligament in his foot and will be out for the weekend. Despite this, an increased focus on team depth will look to see SFU’s rookies step up and provide a balanced attack.

The big question mark facing SFU heading in will be its seeking, with Grifyn McErlean’s status being questionable for the weekend due to injury. If that is the case, it will be up to Rhyss Gardiva and rookie Russell Copley. Look for this team to push hard before the 18-minute mark as a result.

The other potential weakness that could befell the team is etiquette, both on the pitch and on the sidelines. The team will need to contain the amount of penalties it is taking, especially ones arising from flippant comments and substitution violations. The benefits of boisterous rookies on the team can be negated by their oversights of the technicalities in quidditch, and the team needs to avoid penalty trouble if it hopes to be able to play its style.
Hyper-aggressive beater Raymond Ly is a linchpin for SFU | Photo Credit: Danny Ly
University of Victoria Valkyries (UVIC)
By Nathan Ross

UVIC is still looking for its first win of the season, and that elusive victory is currently at the top of its list. The reputation surrounding the oldest quidditch team in British Columbia highlights its team spirit and incredible attitude, but the team wants to prove that it is also a tenacious unit that should not be underestimated.

The Valkyries are hoping to capitalize on their speed and rely on some key players to step it up. One of those players will be David Warburton, who primarily plays as a chaser but is able to play any position. As the team is on the smaller size physically, Warburton is one of the few dominant physical forces the team has, and UVIC will look to him to set the tone. As far as beaters go, look for five-year veteran Laura Lavallee to provide an impact in regard to defensive coverage. Since Hayley Charnock, the team’s seeker from last year’s national championship, is studying abroad in France, the pressure has fallen to rookie Gordon Favelle to step up. He is looked upon as the x-factor who could push UVIC over the edge for that first win.

While UVIC’s aforementioned spirit is a strength, it also serves as a double-edged sword. There is a fear that the priority to have fun and shrug off losses has made the team content with their winless record. To counter that, team captain Misha Whittingham has been hard at work trying to develop new strategies and reorganizing the team in hopes of building a new identity.
Rookie Gordon Favelle will try to capture UVIC’s first win of the season | Photo Credit: Danny Ly
Vancouver Vipertooths
By Misha Whittingham

Boasting the most experienced, but smallest, roster in British Columbia, the Vancouver Vipertooths have in the past shown flashes of brilliance. They started this season well, storming to an undefeated record at the Highland Trials in the wake of their third-place finish at last year’s national championship. Since then, the team has cooled off, evidenced by underwhelming results at both the Rocky Mountain Rumble and 6ix Oh Four Classic. With a roster that rarely tops 13 players and a rash of injuries to key members, including coach Scott Muxlow, over the past couple tournaments, it is easy to pinpoint the factors in this decline.

But if Vancouver manages to stay healthy, and its newer players mesh well with the old squad, we could be reminded of why the Vipertooths did so well. Vancouver uses a highly aggressive forecheck and relies primarily on its skilled beater corps to cover most defensive situations. Pair that with the skills of veteran seeker David St. Germain, and it is not hard to see what propelled the Vipertooths so far early in the season. That being said, the lack of significant depth behind their oft-injured veterans leaves Vancouver in a poor position to keep up its fast game pace throughout a tournament. If recent history repeats, do not expect more than two or three wins, especially in the later stages of the tournament. However, if the Vipertooths somehow miraculously manage to finish the tournament with their full roster, do not be surprised if you see them back near the top of the West.
The Vipertooths will count on their experienced players, including seeker David St. Germain | Photo Credit Danny Ly
Final Thoughts
By Serena Cheong

Due to the geography of Canada, this will potentially be the showcase tournament for most of Western Canadian quidditch, as most teams from this area are not making the trek to Kingston, Ontario for the Quidditch Canada National Championship. The balance of power in the West has shifted since last season, as both Alberta and Vancouver look to regain their dominance of the region, and the rise of SFU and Calgary will give the aforementioned teams a run for their money. The Alberta Clippers, winners of last year’s regional title, are one of the favourites to win it all again, but they will most likely have to contend with SFU, a team on a meteoric rise from last season.

Editor's Note: This article previously misstated the name of the Calgary Mudbloods as the University of Calgary Mudbloods and Simon Fraser University Quidditch as the Simon Fraser University Marauders.

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