By Kai Haugen Shaw
Editor’s Note: Kai Haugen Shaw is a current player for OSI Vikings 1. He is a co-founder of the team, is captaining for the third year running and has previously been the club vice president and president. He also formerly captained NTNUI Rumpeldunk for two years, and was the club president and vice president.
As the only tournament hosted in Norway, aside from the Norwegian Championship (NM) in spring, Oslo Open represents the highlight of the autumn season in Norway. This year, Norway also has a league, which means Oslo Open will not be the only chance for teams to meet each other, but as a European Quidditch Championship (EQC) qualifier and a long-standing tournament, Oslo Open is still a highly-anticipated event. This year will be the third iteration of the tournament; the reigning champions NTNUI Rumpeldunk won the two previous years. Katta Rampeldank has traditionally exceeded expectations, twice earning second place, while OSI Vikings have twice been left with a disappointing third, after losing only a total of three games in the two previous tournaments, all of them in SWIM-range.
So, will NTNUI manage to remain the top team in the country? Will OSI finally succeed at winning the tournament they created? Will the infamous Katta slowball from last year’s final finally pay off and take them all the way to the top? Or will one of the five other teams rise to the occasion and claim the title of Norway’s best team?
OSI Vikings 1
Schnigard Quidditch Club
Galtvortskolen (GS) Grizzlies
Group A consists entirely of teams who have played in previous tournaments this season. The favourites to win are OSI Vikings 1, the silver medalists in NM last March, and were the only Norwegian team to make it to the upper bracket of EQC in April. The Vikings are led by National Team Captain Kai Haugen Shaw, and supplemented with an additional seven national team players; amongst them is one of Europe's premiere beaters Mette Sundal and former Katta Captain Stein Elgethun. The team is a favorite to win the tournament, and any group game in snitch range will be viewed as a surprising upset, though the possibility cannot be ruled out.
|Players from both OSI Vikings 1 and 2 after their first league game | Photo Credit: OSI Quidditch|
The team with the best chance of delivering said upset is Schnigard Quidditch Club. Hailing from the neighbouring city Bærum, the team has always been associated with its devil-may-care attitude. Despite the fact that the team does not practice regularly, Schnigard has achieved great results due to standout players both from the chaser and beater lines. The team played NTNUI in the league on Oct. 8, and managed to stay within snitch range against the reigning champions in one of the three games; Schnigard even beat NTNUI while in SWIM range in the group stage of last year’s Oslo Open. We expect Schnigard to take second place in the group, but could this be the year to make it all the way to the podium?
Predicted third in the group is the Galtvortskolen Grizzlies, who made their debut at NM in March. The team is associated with a Harry Potter society and has quickly become an integral part of the Norwegian quidditch community due to the players’ friendly personalities and great sportsmanship. The Grizzlies’ results at NM and so far in the league have not been as positive as their demeanor, but this has not affected their motivation and the team is continuously improving; at this rate, they could soon be a contender to be reckoned with. Third place in the group is well within reach for them, but they will not achieve this without a fight.
|GS Grizzlies with their mascot | Photo Credit: GS Grizzlies|
The team that will be fighting the Grizzlies for third place is DementÅs. Formerly playing as NMBUI, the team from Ås recently changed its name to a pun on the dementors from Harry Potter and their city. Playing as Østlandet in a joint team with NM third-place winners Westtown International Quidditch Crew at last year’s Oslo Open, they managed to be ranked second after the round robin group stage, but failed to proceed from the semifinals against Katta and lost out of snitch range to OSI in the bronze finals. The team is not participating in the league, but recently played in the first game between a Swedish and Norwegian team as they traveled to Gothenburg to play the Göteborg Griffins. The DementÅs lost to the Swedes in overtime and will face a hard time in the tournament; the team will only bring a small squad, but will do its best to regain honour in the eyes of its peers.
OSI Vikings 2
NTNUI, led by national team coach and perhaps Europe's best beater, Amund Kulsrud Storruste, will be doing what it can to keep the title in Trondheim and achieve the threepeat. With veteran national team players like Elisabeth Jørstad and Jørgen Stenløkk, NTNUI should have what it takes to make it to the final. However, the team is not looking as solid this year, having been kept in snitch range in two of its three league games against Katta on Oct. 9. The team still won all three games though, because of national team seeker Jorge Ebett “Silver” Chacòn catching the snitch in both SWIM games. The team did, however, lose out of snitch range (180* - 70) in a scrimmage against OSI the day before. While its roster for Oslo Open will be different from that of the league games and that scrimmage, that result proves that NTNUI will have to step up its game if the team wants to win the tournament for the third time in a row.
|NTNUI after winning NM 2016 | Photo credit: CF Salicath|
After two SWIM-range games to NTNUI in the league and a snitch range game in the final last year, the high school team from Oslo Katedralskole (Katta) will be determined to finally come out on top. Having managed to cold catch against NTNUI after only 40 seconds in the only non-SWIM league game, Katta knows it has the ability to pull an upset. Despite losing long-time captain Stein Elgethun to OSI, the team seems to have improved as several second-year pupils have built on the foundation laid by Elgethun. Captain Ulrik Olsen, keeper Simon Bratland Husstad, and beater Iris Marie Evdahl have proved that they won't be threatened by the established university teams, and will have to be reckoned as a contender for the gold. However, after three straight losses in the league and fourth place at NM, Katta is still predicted to place second in its group.
While two clubs appeared with multiple teams at the first NM in 2013, OSI Vikings is the first team to field a second team in Norway since then. OSI Vikings 2 will have many of the team's new players, many of whom are exchange students staying for only one semester. Still, Vikings 2 should not be underestimated, as they have shown to be quick learners, and the team is filled with motivated and competitive players, many of whom will be eager to show that they should be on Vikings 1. However, as Group B might be viewed as the “group of death,” with two of the three top contenders, the team will most likely only win to newcomers BSI Rumpeldunk. That said, an upset is not unthinkable.
BSI Rumpeldunk was established in August 2015, but have not been able to participate in a tournament yet due to its remote location in Bergen; the team is a seven-hour car ride from its closest competition. Very little is known about the team, as BSI haven't played a single game yet; therefore, it is assumed it will struggle against the established teams. This will, however, be a great learning opportunity for the players and give them valuable experience to prepare them for NM 2017. That said, being unknown, BSI might surprise and win a game or two, maybe even the tournament?
|BSI Rumpeldunk post-practice picture | Photo credit: BSI Rumpeldunk|
Oslo Open has always attracted fewer teams than NM, as the winner will not be able to boast being the official Norwegian champion. Still, the tournament has continued to grow and now has eight teams competing, even after a few last minute drop-outs. Of these, the highly-anticipated inclusion of a Swedish team was a sore loss.
Becoming an EQC qualifier has given the tournament more relevance and status, but as only NTNUI and OSI have said they will be competing for spots (and Norway only has two spots for EQC), there's nothing but honour at stake. However, there is plenty of honour to be fought for as NTNUI will be fight for its threepeat, and OSI will fight equally as hard to finally make it to the final. Katta has a strong reputation to keep and possibly a rivalry game against Schnigard, against whom they have played many tough games. With plenty of rivalries and several contenders for first place, the tournament is as the name implies: open. Update: Since no other teams are interested in competing against NTNUI or OSI for an EQC spot, NRF officially gave both spots to these two teams, and declared Oslo Open to no longer be an EQC qualifier.