Sunday, October 23, 2016

Five Lessons From Southampton's Battle Royale

By Ashara Peiris

Following on from the success of last year’s “Battle of Four Armies,” Southampton Quidditch Club (SQC) decided to take the reins in running a tournament, inviting some of the best teams in the UK and wider Europe to compete in SQC: Battle Royale. Whilst some last minute dropouts meant that the event couldn’t be as ambitious as originally planned, it was still a highly successful tournament. 

In the end, Antwerp Quidditch Club faced off against Velociraptors QC in the final. The game seemed pretty equal for quite some time, with Velociraptors eventually pulling ahead. But Antwerp were able to fight back and catch the snitch to send the game into overtime, where Louis Lermytte caught to win the tournament for Antwerp with a score of 140*^-100.

So, what did we learn?

Antwerp QC celebrate their finals win at Battle Royale | Photo Credit: Rica Biasi

1: The biggest winner may well have been Warwick Quidditch Club

Warwick Quidditch Club were originally meant to be one of the teams attending the tournament until an unfortunate travel snafu the evening before meant that they were unable to attend. Why, then, are they the team that may have benefitted the most? Some of their players, including quaffle coach Seb Waters, were still able to attend and play at the tournament with the Orange team (originally Tornadoes Quidditch Club were meant to play but they were replaced by a merc team made up of Tornadoes, Warwick, Portsmouth Horntail Strikers, HogYork Horntails and London Unspeakables dubbed ‘the Orange team’). The Orange team were almost single-handedly able to contain the Werewolves of London – only losing on a snitch grab whilst in overtime range – and contested a very close game with Antwerp. Meanwhile, they were able to learn a lot about the other teams, all whilst not tipping their own hand and revealing too much of their own play style.

2: There is parity at the top… but a mid tier team could make waves

The Werewolves of London, Antwerp Quidditch Club, and Velociraptors QC finished the round robin stage with four wins and a single loss to one of the other two teams – Antwerp losing to Velociraptors, Werewolves losing to Antwerp, and Velociraptors losing to Werewolves – showing how tight the teams at the top really are. With the exception of the Antwerp vs. Werewolves game, each of the games between these three teams were within SWIM range, with the final ending on a grab in overtime.

This shows how close these teams were, but it was telling that in games against Southampton and the Orange team, Werewolves and Antwerp struggled to put them away. If these teams are unable to fully gel with each other, they may find that their season is harder than they expected.

3: Pace control is king and seekers are more important than ever 

Over the past year teams have realised the importance of pace control. This was in clear effect this weekend, with every team other than the Bristol Brizzlebears using it to great effect, allowing teams to remain in range for much longer.

In the final between Antwerp and the Velociraptors, as well as in the Werewolves vs. Velociraptors game, it became clear that neither team would let the other pick up any momentum, leading to long periods in which control of the quaffle didn't change. This meant that when the snitch came on-pitch, seekers had to make that vital catch and it often became clear that even when seekers had significant time alone with the snitch, they still struggled to make the catch. If the top teams want to ensure that they can win these crucial games, dedicated seeker training will become pivotal.

Lucy Q beating for Velociraptors QC at Battle Royale | Photo Credit: Rica Biasi

4: A bad game for a beater could be the difference between a championship and an early exit 

Both the Werewolves and Raptors have excellent beaters but they each have significant reliance on a single beater to be their main playmaker: Jan Mikolajczak and Lucy Q, respectively. This meant that when these beaters played well they were able to control the game effectively, such as Mikolajczak in the game against Raptors. However, when they couldn't seize control of the game as effectively, it lead to easy turnovers and being punished on offence. 

If teams can't develop sufficient depth in their beaters to allow them to play this crucial role, then they may find their championship hopes slipping away. 

5: Any of these teams can challenge Titans Paris

Titans Paris, two-time defending European champions, will enter the season with a lot of confidence, having never even played a SWIM range game at EQC. However, it is very possible that a number of teams could challenge them. With France’s disappointing World Cup performance – a poor draw meant that they had to face eventual champions, Australia in the quarterfinals – it feels like the other teams have finally caught up with them.

If the other European teams can control the game sufficiently, then the Titans’ dreams of a threepeat could come crashing down. 

Final results

  1. Antwerp Quidditch
  2. Velociraptors QC
  3. Werewolves of London
  4. Southampton Quidditch Club
  5. Orange team
  6. Bristol Brizzlebears

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