In just over two weeks time, 60 of the best quidditch teams from around the United States will be gathering in Columbia, South Carolina, for one of the biggest tournaments of the year: the US Quidditch Cup 9.
With the event just over two weeks away, some shifts in power may still occur due to last-minute drops and other unanticipated events. Nevertheless, it’s not too soon to predict the 10 teams most likely to hold the USQ Cup aloft by the end of the day on April 17.
1. Texas Quidditch (UT)
When the burnt orange wins the championship three times in a row, why predict change? Despite losing over a half dozen star players to graduation and failing to secure the USQ Southwest Championship, UT is a perennial contender with a sky’s-the-limit pedigree and should be the favorite to light the tower again.
|Texas Quidditch is the favorite entering USQ Cup 9 | Photo Courtesy Texas Quidditch|
2. Lone Star Quidditch Club
The biggest threat to UT’s dominance is once again coming from its constant rival, Lone Star. The reigning Southwest Regional Champions are hungry for the prize, having only been a snitch grab away last year, and will most likely be in the final dance again. Mollie Lensing, their star beater, was seen running in a practice recently, suggesting her ACL recovery could be complete, and if she does play and plays as well as her teammates have all year, Lone Star is a threat to claim the title they have long coveted.
3. Texas Cavalry
Texas Cavalry, founded by the aforementioned UT graduates and captained by Augustine Monroe, has the best chance outside the two favorites to claim the title. Cavalry has put on a strong showing all year, winning the Wolf Pack Classic tournament and falling to Lone Star at Diamond Cup despite an exceptionally thin female roster at both tournaments. With the addition of new female talent, including Lindsay Fox and Krysla Gillmore, Cavalry is finally ready to reach its full potential. Is that potential a championship? We will soon find out!
|Texas Cavalry | Photo Credit: Jessica Jiamin Lang Photography|
4. Texas A&M Quidditch
The Aggies have a historically strong quidditch program and will be fighting hard to reclaim their honor after going down to UT and Texas Cavalry in the last two tournaments they did not win. Hoping to build on their championship run at Brooms on the Brazos, the maroon fighters will be playing as hard as anyone. They have a secret weapon as well: Quidditch By Will. The popular quidditch photographer recently unveiled his exhibition of Muggles Play Quidditch and will be following Clay Enderlin through this year’s championship, boosting the Aggies star power. First Von Miller as Super Bowl MVP, and now Clay Enderlin as USQ MVP? It could happen!
5. Texas Tech Quidditch
The Red Raiders made several stunning upsets at Southwest Regional Championships, putting a stamp on their Nationals ticket after defeating the backsliding Texas State. Now they have the drive and hunger for even more upsets ahead! After losing to Lone Star in bracket play, might they now have their number at a rematch?
6: Texas State University - San Marcos
Texas State San Marcos has fielded many strong quidditch teams over the years, but despite the star power of Jackson Johnson, Tyrell Williams, and Eric Reyes, the team showed some weaknesses at Southwest Regional Championships, falling to the now-surging Texas Tech team. Their defeat of Lone Star in the finals of Diamond Cup is a distant memory now, one they will have to work hard to revive if they’re to survive the furious onslaught of quality teams at Nationals.
|Texas State | Photo Courtesy Texas State Quidditch|
7. SHSU Quidditch
A surprising upset of UT by SHSU at regionals was a stunning turn of events for the Bearkats, and if that had happened during bracket play, SHSU would be ranked dead even with fellow upset-machine Texas Tech. Alas, the rematch fell as expected, but SHSU put themselves on the map and are still expected to make an elite eight run at the national level.
8. Oklahoma State University (OKSU)
OKSU’s sleek uniforms, crisp and aggressive beater game, and star power from seeker Tyler Troppman seem to portend a run to the Elite Eight at USQ Cup 9, though they will have stiff competition from the last two teams on this list to make it that far.
9. Gulf Coast Gumbeaux
Formed with a lot of hype at the beginning of the season, Gumbeaux often fizzled at tournaments throughout the fall and winter, dropping key games at multiple tournaments and looking anything but competitive at Bat City Showcase. However, everything seemed to click at the Southwest Regional Championships and the return of Brad Armentor heralds a changing of fortunes. Could this team make a run to the championship? It’s possible, but at this point we expect it to go down to a Texas team in the Elite Eight or Final Four.
|Gulf Coast Gumbeaux | Photo Credit: Jessica Jiamin Lang Photography|
10. Baylor University
Never count out the Baylor Bears! Historically the World Cup tournaments often had teams drop with little warning, often paving the way for another team able to organize at the last minute to attend. We believe there is a 50/50 chance of this happening, and if a team does drop at this stage, only a team with a strong pedigree could possibly assemble for the tournament in time. We believe that team would be none other than Baylor University, with its storied history of World Cup success. Despite even failing to qualify for bracket play at Southwest Regional Championships, Baylor could become the ultimate cinderella team at the National Championships. This scenario would require many events to all happen at once, especially star keeper Jacob Bruner’s triumphant return to the green and white, but if things break just right, we could be looking at a stunning National Champion who was counted out just a month ago! Go Bears!
Honorable Mention: QC Boston, LA Gambits, Lost Boys, University of Miami, Rochester United