Friday, March 11, 2016

Norwegian Quidditch Championship 2016 Preview

By Kai Haugen Shaw

Editor’s Note: Kai Haugen Shaw is the captain of OSI Vikings and was previously captain of NTNUI Rumpeldunk.

On the weekend of 12-13 March, 12 teams will participate in the fourth annual Norwegian Quidditch Championship (NM). So far, no team has ever won the championship twice, and with a lot of strong new teams that trend might continue.

The tournament format is as follows: There are four groups (A-D) of three teams each. The top two teams from each group will qualify for the quarterfinals of the upper bracket, where the first place from Group A will meet the second place of Group D, and the second place from Group A will meet the first place from Group D, and so on for Groups B and C

The teams that do not qualify for the quarterfinals and the teams that lose the quarterfinals and semifinals of the upper bracket, will move on to the middle bracket where they will have the chance to win the bronze medal. Teams that lose the first round of the middle bracket move on to you guessed it the lower bracket.

The groups and bracket play can be found here. Scores will be uploaded on the day of the tournament at that link as well.

Group A:
Vålerenga Trolls 2-0
Westtown International Quidditch Crew (WIQC) 1-1
NMBU Rumpeldunk 0-2

There is a lot of anticipation to see how the Vålerenga Trolls will do at the tournament. They are the oldest Norwegian American Football team, and have won the Norwegian Championship a handful of times in their respective sports. For their first ever quidditch tournament, players from both the mens and womens team have joined together to form what we can only expect to be one of the hardest-hitting teams in the tournament. It is yet to be seen, however, how well they will adapt to the rules and tactics of quidditch; their opening game will therefore be crucial. In the opening round, the Trolls will meet NMBU Rumpeldunk who have a few experienced players, such as Norwegian national team player Guro Stenhammer Aanerød and former NTNUI player Even August Bremnes Stokke, who will be trying to make the most of their tactical advantage. That said, as NMBU has been struggling with recruiting the past season, they will most likely get worn down by what is expected to be quite an athletic team. WIQC, however, will not be an easy opponent; the team can also boast players with international experience, with Nicolai Nossum, who played for the Norway at the European Games in Italy last summer, and Hans-Kristian Undlien Taje, who played in Barcelona Moustaches Time with the Norwegian Ridgebacks. WIQC did quite well last year, making it all the way to the semifinals, getting by on raw athleticism and general sports knowledge, as the team was formed by a  school with an athletics program. However, as the players have disbanded since last year, it is uncertain if they can bring a team that is just as good this year, and with their first game being against Trolls, they will have to recapture the synergy of last year early on if they hope to win the group. They should, however, have an easy match against NMBU.

Group B:
OSI Vikings 2-0
Schnigard Quidditch Club 1-1
Galtvortskolen RD 0-2

In Group B, the clear favorites are the reigning quidditch champions OSI Vikings (who played as UiO Quidditch last year). That said, the team does not look as strong as they did last year. They have lost two national team players: Amund Kulsrud Storruste transferred to NTNUI and Nico Kaarstad Kuijlen is no longer playing. On top of this, two of their best beaters Mette Sundal and Philipp Stolz have moved abroad, captain Kai Haugen Shaw has been struggling with injury, and coach Jakob Frühling  will not be playing during the first day as he will be attending the lacrosse championship. The team still has three national team players, as well as a few others with international experience and should win the group fairly easily; however, as they move up the brackets, the loss of a few key players might prevent them from being the first team to defend the title. Their group game against Schnigard QC will still be one to watch out for. While Schnigard came in ast place during Oslo Open in Octoberl, they still played a lot of close games against the top teams. The team has a really good athletic base in the quaffle game, and their beater game has its moments, and the team managed at times to play exceptionally well. However, Schnigard struggle to keep up the level, and gets easily frustrated when things do not go their way. Their biggest drawback at Oslo Open was their poor knowledge of the rules mixed with a bad attitude, but if they can pick up on the rules, gain some discipline, and form a coherent playstyle, they might be a contender for one of the trophies.

Unlike at last year’s NM, OSI Vikings may need to look to other teammates to make plays as Captain Kai Haugen Shaw deals with his injury. | Photo Credit: CF Salicath

This leaves Galtvortskolen RD, a Harry Potter society that has not attended a quidditch tournament before. They are expected to know the general basis of the rules, as one of their players played briefly with OSI. However, with two athletic teams with past tournament experience in their group, they do not have have much of a chance against either team, and they might have more fun when they meet teams closer to their level in bracket play.

Group C:
Katta Rumpeldunk 2-0
Gollum Gladiators 1-1
COKT Quidditch 0-2

Group C looks to be the easiest group on the schedule. The only team that stands out in this group is Katta Rumpeldunk, one of the oldest Norwegian quidditch teams. Aside from NTNUI, they are the only ones who will have participated in all four Norwegian Championships. The team is led by Stein Elgethun, a Team Norway beater with plenty of experience from playing tournaments abroad, he is the backbone of the team and brings with him a lot of tactical insights. While they have a fairly young roster, Katta have managed to impress before, achieving second place at Oslo Open. The team relies heavily on Stein Elgethun’s beating, especially on defense, but they also have an impressive chaser lineup with plenty of fast players, most notably keeper Simon Bratland Husstad and chasers Ulrik Olsen and Martinius Enzell Tangen. Katta should have an easy time in this group, and go 2-0, as both COKT Quidditch and the Gollum Gladiators are new teams formed for the championship. That said, as we know nothing about them, and they might surprise us on the day of the tournament. It will be interesting to see which of the teams in the group gets second place and manages to qualify for the quarterfinals. As I have to make a prediction, I will say Gollum Gladiators, simply because they have the best name of the two.

Group D:
NTNUI Rumpeldunk 2-0
St. Olav VGS 1-1
Team Cedric 0-2

Group D is the definite Group of Death, as it has two semifinalists from last year NTNUI and St. Olavs as well as Team Cedric, a team consisting of a few players from last years UiO Comets, which should end up ranking among the top half at the end of the tournament. The biggest favorites in the group is NTNUI, who won Oslo Open 2015, and have a deep roster with plenty of experienced players, most notably team Norway players Amund Kulsrud Storruste, Jørgen Helgeland Stenløkk, and Maja Ørsleie.

NTNUI Rumpeldunk player Jørgen Helgeland Stenløkk after catching the snitch during one of last year’s NM matches. | Photo Credit: CF Salicath

NTNUI had a disappointing NM last year, when they placed third after being beaten in the semifinal by St. Olavs, who went on to place second despite NM 2015 being their first tournament. St. Olavs VGS is a team from a high school with an athletics program, and their team has done really well due to a high level of athleticism, as well as an ability to quickly adapt to the sport without much practice. NTNUI and St. Olavs met in last years semifinal, while NTNUI managed to get a 20 point lead in the quaffle game and was the clear favorite to win the tournament, St. Olavs managed to catch the snitch to make a surprising upset. St. Olavs have not played since, and it is going to be interesting to see how the team does this year and how the rivalry against NTNUI will develop. In the much-anticipated rematch, NTNUI should be the favorites, as they received beater Amund Storruste, who last year tore up the St. Olav defence during the final against OSI. As it is the first game of the tournament for both teams, St. Olav will not have a chance to get a warm up game and get back into quidditch mode quickly enough. However, for their game against Team Cedric, St. Olav should be plenty warm and eager to win, and they should secure second place in the group without a problem.

For Team Cedric, the draw was very unfortunate, and they will struggle to stand up against two of the favorites to win the championship. If they are wise they will focus less on moving onto the upper bracket and more on learning from the other teams play so they are prepared to climb the middle bracket.

With 12 teams participating, tensions are high as the highlight of the Norwegian quidditch season draws closer. No team has ever won the championship twice, and we could see the first repeat winner this year, as both the OSI Vikings and NTNUI Rumpeldunk are amongst the favorites to win. Still, St. Olavs VGS made an impressive run last year and might manage to build on that to go all the way to the top this time around. Newcomers Vålerenga Trolls might also make an upset, as it is difficult to predict how teams who are not used to too much tackling and mostly rely on beaters on defence, will be able to cope against the defence that the Trolls will bring. 

No matter who wins, it is going to be an exciting weekend with lots of good games.

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