Saturday, April 9, 2016

A Non-Europeans Guide to EQC

By Andy Marmer

When you’re surrounded by oceans and have taken medals at the last Global Games, it’s easy to lose track of the growth of quidditch outside your continent. Many people from North America, South America, Australia, Asia, and even Africa may have seen information on social media or even this very site about the upcoming European Quidditch Cup (EQC). For all of the non-Europeans out there, we have put together a helpful guide for Europe’s premier event.

What is EQC?
EQC 2016 is a club tournament featuring 40 teams from 13 National Governing Bodies (NGBs), the largest and most international tournament ever hosted on European soil. This year’s tournament will be held in Gallipoli, Italy on April 16 and 17.

Wait, April 16 and 17, the same weekend as USQ Cup?
Believe us, we know, but yes, it’s the same weekend. 

So, 40 teams; did they just take every team that was interested?
Not at all. EQC bids were allocated to NGBs based on team density in their region and performance at last year's EQC. Most NGBs allocated their bids through a national tournament; however, some used regional qualifiers and others were the only team from their region.

NGB? Is there a difference between an NGB and a country?
Great question! Yes, there is. For the sake of quidditch, Catalonia and Spain are separate entities with their own governance structure and governing bodies. As such, teams from Catalonia and Spain have different qualifying procedures. The two Spanish teams and one Catalan team earned their bids at Spanish Cup and Catalan Cup, respectively. 

Thirteen NGBs; are any of them newcomers?
Please welcome Slovenia to the European stage! While I’m willing to bet that most non-Europeans are unable to locate Slovenia, the country is now on the map in quidditch terms. While the Aemona Argonauts have competed informally in the past, this is their first time attending a major tournament. The team earned a bid through one of the developing nation spots (areas without a formally established NGB) that EQC reserved for such teams.

How many EQCs have there been?
This is the fourth tournament and Italy is the fourth country to host the event. The inaugural tournament in the fall of 2012 was a six team affair in Lesparre-Médoc in southwest France and featured the Milano Meneghins from Italy and five French teams. Paris Phénix emerged victorious and took up their bid for World Cup VI in Kissimmee, Florida.

Paris Phénix representing their country at IQA World Cup VI. | Photo Credit: Isabella Gong Photography

Belgium hosted the second tournament, a 12 team event with seven NGBs represented, which saw the Radcliffe Chimeras best the defending champions in the finals. Last year, Titans Paris, the successor to the Phénix, got their revenge in a 32-team tournament hosted in Oxford, United Kingdom (the Chimeras home turf).  Only three teams: Paris Frog, Milano Meneghins, and Nantes Quidditch have competed at each EQC, including the upcoming tournament. 

So the Chimeras and Titans/Phénix have earned five of the six finals spots? Are they going to meet in yet another final?
They surely have, and that’s a very real possibility. In late March, the Chimeras captured the British Quidditch Cup (BQC) with an out-of-range win over Warwick Quidditch Club. In February the Titans took home the Coupe de France with a 180*-50 win over Paris Frog. France and the UK finished first and second, respectively, at last summer’s European Games (a national team tournament); these two teams are their respective national champions, and have all year proven to be their NGB’s best. As a result, they enter as the tournament favourites, but there are other factors at play.

Other factors? Like what?
Well, travel, for one thing. Gallipoli is on the heel of the Italian boot and is about an hour’s drive from Brindisi, the closest airport, which itself is not a particularly large city. For more context, Gallipoli is about a four-hour drive from Naples, six hours from Rome, and nine and a half hours from Milan, and that doesn’t cover any of the international teams. Basically, Gallipoli is a Southern Italy resort that is inconvenient for pretty much every team; it’s the South Carolina of Europe. Practically speaking, each team is flying to a relatively small airport at great expense. Additionally, many of Europe’s top players are hoping to make their respective national teams, or have already made those teams and thus are also saving for World Cup this coming summer on top of travelling to their national championships. These high costs and other factors, such as proximity to exams for British students, may result in many teams, particularly those traveling from farther away, bringing less than their best roster.

On the topic of travel, teams from some NGBs declined bids in part due to logistical concerns.

What about teams besides the Chimeras and Titans?
Looking for a dark horse? Look no further than the other seeded teams. Four of the eight top seeds are British, with the top four teams from BQC earning those distinctions. Beyond those teams and the Titans, the top two Norwegian teams, OSI Vikings and NTNUI Rumpeldunk, and Belgian Quidditch Cup champions Deurne Dodo A are strong teams who could challenge for the title if the bracket falls right for them. On top of these eight, Turkish Champions METU Unicorns and Catalan Champions the Barcelona Eagles, both unseeded in the draw, feature deep, talented rosters.

NTNUI Rumpeldunk at Oslo Open. | Photo Credit: Céline Gacon
I’ve covered this in just one, short paragraph; if you want more information, you’ll have to check back for our detailed previews of each pool.

What’s the format of this tournament?
EQC is a 40-team tournament with eight pools of five. The top two teams from each pool enter the Division I bracket, and the bottom three enter the Division II bracket. Pool play is on Saturday, bracket play is on Sunday.

Wow, this tournament sounds interesting. How can I find out more?
In the build-up to the tournament, the Quidditch Post will be releasing previews for all 40 teams, two pools at a time. The first of these previews has already been published, and the remaining three will follow in the next couple of days.

A previous version of this article stated that NGBs were given bids based on team density in their region.

No comments:

Post a Comment