Friday, April 1, 2016

2016 Canada Nationals Preview Part 3

For our preview of the Quidditch Canada National Championships held in Kingston, Ontario on April 2 and 3, Quidditch Post has put together a roundtable discussion of all three pools. Participants: Serena Cheong (Simon Fraser University Quidditch [SFU]), Jamie Lafrance (unaffiliated), Alex Lamoureux (Calgary Mudbloods), Mathew Mcveigh (University of Ottawa Gee-Gees), Cody Mulholland (UTSC Quidditch), Austin Wallace (UBC Quidditch), and Misha Whittingham (University of Victoria Quidditch). The final installment in the series is Pool Three, which includes the following teams: Université de Montréal (UdeM), Alberta Clippers Quidditch Team, Guelph Quidditch, Canada’s Finest Quidditch Club (CFQC), and UTSC Quidditch.

Université de Montréal
Chaser Dac-Toan Do faking out the keeper. | Photo Credit: Ben Holland Photography
Mathew: The thing about UdeM is that it has big chasers but also very speedy wings. Félix Tremblay and Rithy Min are some of the fastest chasers we have in the East, and Felix doubles as a clutch seeker. This team has very strong experienced beaters in Ema Shiroma-Chao and Cynthia Loutfi. Both Ema and Cynthia direct Montreal’s beaters into achieving bludger superiority, and the team’s chasers will be able to run through. Serena: How is their beater corps apart from Cynthia and Ema? Cody: I’m not sure how UdeM’s beaters are, but its chasers play an aggressive, fast-paced game. There’s no break playing against this team, and if you slip up it will punish you for it with some quick goals followed by its “JOHN CENA!” chant. Alberta Clippers Quidditch Team
Chaser Chris Radojewski’s mid-air bludger dodge. | Photo Credit: Mills Photography
Alex: Alberta Clippers are coached by Chris Radojewski, who is also the head coach of Team Canada 2016. Their team consists of one-third veterans and two-thirds rookies. They have done very well in Western Canada, and have learned to pick up strategy quickly. They are heavy on the passing game: on offence they will take the quaffle up and move it in different directions, therefore forcing the defence to commit and then score in a different direction. Austin: More horizontal passing than the rest of the West. Alex: In terms of beater play, they play a conservative strategy. Their goal is to maintain bludger superiority; therefore, when you see the Clippers score goals, it is without their beaters because they prefer to stay back. If they lose bludger superiority they have effective plays that they use to get it back. Their seeker, Fraser Duff, is very good, as they specifically train him as a seeker. He has a lot of reach, and does a lot of diving between the legs catches. Serena: I think the reason they did so well against the teams in the West is because the West is still very much into hero balling, so you have your one or two ball carriers driving up the field. With the Clippers, as Alex said, they like to stretch out the defence with a lot of passing, something I think is worth implementing for some other Western teams, but they haven’t adapted to it yet, so it leaves the defence confused whether or not to commit. As a result, they do not need to rely on their beaters, defence or offence wise. Their chaser defence is also pretty strong. Mathew: So they would be considered a running team? Serena: Oh yes, they have probably three or four strong runners on that team. Austin: They are a very strong team. I think that a big part of it is that they are strategically farther along than many teams in the West, and that will be nullified once they come to Nationals. I also think they are a strong team though, so they will do well, but have not nearly as easy of a time as when they played at Western Regionals. Their only losses this season are to UBC and…. Alex: They lost to the Rain City Raptors and UBC. Mathew: How do you think they will play the teams in the East? Alex: They are a team that does better when they know their opponents. For example, they played SFU twice at Regionals, and they had a lot of trouble in the first game. They might get down 60 points, then Chris Radojewski will round the team up, and the Clippers will come back and win. But when they play in the East, they will be playing all the teams for the first time. Serena: They do have Chris. Though his knowledge of the East may be a little outdated, he knows the East better than any Western player, so that could work to their advantage. Mathew: Do they take a lot of cards? Serena: No, not at all. Pretty clean. Austin: They are very vocal though; they are one degree away from five or six unsportsmanlike type penalties. Mathew: Eastern referees do not take a lot of abuse they will card the Clippers for that. Cody: Yeah, quite a few referees in the East will give cards out for minor offenses. Ittaana Krow from Valhalla Quidditch got carded for saying “damn it,” so the Clippers will need to watch any borderline plays or they could suffer from being carded a lot. How do you think they’ll place against the East teams? Austin: If I had to guess, I think they will be a second-tier team. Not quite a blowout against teams like the Ottawa Gee-Gees, but definitely in that second tier. Mathew: I agree with Serena; Chris knows us well, but I think we have developed past what he knows. The East plays a lot more of a physical game while maintaining speed, so I am curious how the Clippers will adapt to that. Especially with the beaters; beaters in the East are physical and aggressive. Serena: As far as I can tell, contact is lighter in the West. Especially with beating. Mathew: Most beaters here will sacrifice bludger superiority for goals. Serena: At Regionals, the Clippers’ beaters were way too conservative, and way too focused on keeping bludger superiority. Mathew: Bludger superiority is great when the snitch comes on, but there’s 18 minutes before that happens, and the team will have a rough time if the beaters do not help out. For example, Carleton Quidditch has a lot of large chasers who will want to plow right through you and Valhalla as well. They will not wait for you to set up your passing. They are going to run right toward you, and you need beaters to help minimize that. I think if Alberta wants to do well, its beaters are going to have to get a little more aggressive. Austin: They have two really good seekers: one they train as a seeker and the other is a natural freak athlete. Mathew: I am glad they have two good seekers. In the East, teams have two or three seekers who will play one or two shifts and then seek the rest of the game. Do the Western beaters seeker beat? How are the Clippers at seeker beating? Austin: I remember having a lot of time against Alberta (Editor’s Note: Austin is a UBC seeker). Serena: From what I have seen, they bring that conservative beater game over to seeker beating as well. We do not see them as much of a threat when they are seeker beating. Austin: That could be one of their weaknesses. Mathew: Do they have fast beaters? Alex: Depends. Adam Gulyas has some speed and Brian Gallaway is a slow, but big and physical beater. They don’t fit one mould. Something to note though: they have Chris start as beater because he’s faster than any of their beaters, and they use him to try to get bludger superiority. Guelph Quidditch
Wesley Burbidge blowing past other chasers. | Photo Credit: Ben Holland Photography
Mathew: Guelph, in my opinion, is not as good as some of the other university A teams. It is a physical team, but one that needs to develop a little more strategy. It seems to hero ball most of the time. Cody: Guelph is a… rough team, and it likes to face beat, or else I just have bad luck. Its beaters still play relatively defensive, preferring to hang near the hoops for the most part, while its chasers are rather bulky and will run through the other team. Guelph did well at Regionals, placing fourth, which surprised me. In pool play, it managed to pull an upset over UdeM with a snitch catch. Not sure how, but good for Guelph. This positioned it to face Carleton in first round bracket play, who it won against, and then moved on for a rematch with UdeM who creamed them, forcing a concession catch. I’m not sure how it’ll place in Nationals because its Regionals ranking was such a surprise, but I don’t think it’ll get higher than seventh. Or, I could be wrong and Guelph could do amazing. Canada’s Finest Quidditch Club
Alexander Friesen faking out Royal City’s chaser. | Photo Credit: Ben Holland Photography
Jamie: I think Canada’s Finest a lot better than it’s done at every tournament, and probably one of the more athletic B teams (editor’s note: Canada’s Finest is McGill’s B team). I think it is better than most schools’ A teams. It just has this unfortunate problem with going to every tournament with McGill. McGill really focuses on its A team, so Canada’s Finest ends up against the Gee-Gees, the Waterloo Ridgebacks… all these really strong teams in these smaller tournaments, and it has a harder time keeping up. Canada’s Finests’ ranking doesn’t reflect how good of a team it is. Mathew: It’s a B team, but it’s not a team you want to sleep on, because it will take advantage of that. Some of their players play on the B team by choice. A player who stands out on Canada’s Finest for me is Stephen Camozzi. He’s been beating for six or seven years, and he’s the team’s beater captain. Jamie: I don’t think there’s a team it can’t beat. It’s going to come down to a snitch catch. Serena: How is its seeking game then? Jamie: It’s pretty good. It’s one of the only teams that has dedicated seekers and snitches in its program. The team practices its seeking game a lot from what I understand. Mathew: The thing about McGill is that it’s really good at developing its players. Those seekers learned off of the A team seekers. The team’s seekers get better and better everytime I see them. Canada’s Finest is one of the higher level B teams; I think the team is going to do fine at Nationals. I’m interested to see when it plays the Calgary Mudbloods, because they’re more of a passing team. I remember when it played the Gee-Gees, who beat Canada’s Finest beat them because they couldn’t deal with our physicality, so I’m wondering if that will be this team’s downfall. Canada’s Finests’ beaters also hang back like the West, and don’t really come up. This team holds bludger superiority, or it tries to hold bludger superiority, and it plays back close to the hoops. Jamie: I wouldn’t put Canada’s Finest in the group that has a big chance of winning Nationals, but I say it’s one of the teams that could ruin someone’s chances of winning Nationals. UTSC Quidditch
Cole Reynolds looking to score on Canada’s Finest keeper. | Photo Credit: Ben Holland Photography
Cody: UTSC Phoenix is my own team and another team that comes from the Greater Toronto Area small teams crew. We went to last year’s Regionals with seven players (two of whom had barely/never played before), but still pushed hard and showed heart. Luckily at this year’s Regionals we had 12 players, and at Nationals we should have a few more. UTSC puts up a strong beater and seeker line, although its offensive presence is lacking, with only 20 quaffle points per game. Seeker Tim Lee pulled through on every game though, going for a perfect snitch catch record at Regionals. Communication and passing were an issue though. On the positive side, our short passing was relatively effective, as well as our ability to adapt and change strategies throughout the game. That concludes our three-part roundtable discussion of the Quidditch Canada National Championships. Good luck to everyone playing this weekend, and keep an eye out for our review in the coming weeks!

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