Friday, October 21, 2016

Queen’s Reign Supreme at Fall Classic

By Arjun Patel

UTSC Quidditch hosted its yearly Fall Classic tournament at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus on Saturday, Oct. 8. Participating teams were: UTSC Phoenix, McMaster Marauders, Lionel-Groulx (LG), University of Toronto (UofT) Centaurs, Queen’s Quidditch, and Ryerson Quidditch. Apart from Lionel-Groulx, this was the first tournament of the season for all the teams. This tournament also marked the official comeback of McMaster Quidditch after a year-long hiatus, and marked the first time Lionel-Groulx played against any of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) teams.

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Figure 1: Fall classic first half tournament format.


Fall Classic followed a unique format: in the first half, each team played against two other randomly-chosen teams (as shown in Figure 1). The second half followed an elimination format to determine the final rankings based on the win:loss ratios and score differentials from the first half of the tournament. The final scores of every match can be found below in Table 1.

Unfortunately, due to a lack of certified referees this early in the season, the tournament was declared unofficial at the last minute.

Games
Team 1
Score
Score
Team 2
1
McMaster Marauders
60*
30
UofT Centaurs
2
UTSC Phoenix
50
110*
Lionel-Groulx
3
Ryerson Quidditch
0
150*
Queen's Quidditch
4
McMaster Marauders
50
130*
Lionel-Groulx
5
Ryerson Quidditch
10
150*
UTSC Phoenix
6
UofT Centaurs
0
140*
Queen's Quidditch
6th vs 3rd
Ryerson Quidditch
30
180*
UTSC Phoenix
4th vs 5th
UofT Centaurs
120
60*
McMaster Marauders
3rd vs 2nd
UTSC Phoenix
60
80*
Lionel-Groulx
4th vs 1st
UofT Centaurs
40*
110
Queen's Quidditch
2nd vs 1st
Lionel-Groulx
30
150*
Queen's Quidditch
Table 1: Matches played and final scores at Fall Classic 2016.

Ryerson Quidditch

Ryerson Quidditch attended Fall Classic with eight players. Ryerson’s beater lines were considerably weaker than last year and unable to hold beater superiority for majority of time in all their games. In addition, Ryerson seemed to be missing some of its veteran chasers on Saturday, which considerably nullified their offense; however, throughout the day, as Ryerson’s teamwork and communication improved, the team’s offense became sharper. Unfortunately, due to a lack of beater support offense, and a lack of substitutes, Ryerson lost its final match against UTSC Phoenix by a margin of 150 points. Despite being able to hold their own for a while, due to a lack of substitutes, fatigue set in early for Ryerson players, leaving the team at the last place in the tournament.

If Ryerson wants to advance on the competitive scene this year, it will need to improve on the basics, something that does not go unnoticed by Co-captain Amina Bejtić, who said, “[Ryerson’s] plans are to focus more on stamina and cardio so [the players] can last through a game and be able to meet the level the other teams are playing at.

Despite losing its games, Co-captain Ben Légere believes that Ryerson has a solid foundation, and believes that he has “a really good idea on what to work on moving forward so [Ryerson] can do even better at regionals.

McMaster Marauders

Fall Classic marked the McMaster Marauders return to the competitive scene after a year-long hiatus. Despite speculation that the Marauders would not perform well after their hiatus, the team exceeded everyone’s expectations. Their chasers, led by Captain Karan Chowdhry, played a cautious game, going toe-to-toe with UofT Centaurs in their first game; they kept the score tied until winning by a snitch catch for a final score of 60*-30. The beaters, led by Toma Chicerman, managed to hold the upper hand over LG; unfortunately, as LG found its rhythm and started making bolder and faster plays throughout the match, McMaster was unable to stop its opponents, losing the game 130*- 50.

In the second half of the tournament, McMaster played UofT Centaurs again for the fourth place. The Centaurs’ offense was improved this time, and a lack of enough substitutes took its toll on McMasters; the Centaurs eventually won 120-60*.

Despite having issues with numbers, being unable to run a full scrimmage before the tournament, and having a roster mainly composed of rookies, the Marauders made quite a comeback at Fall Classic. Chowdhry believes the tournament to be a “great start” for McMaster. Going forward, improving the roster size will be a key if the Marauders want to be able to break into the middle of the pack. “Moving forward, we hope to solidify [critical] roles to ensure our team is operating at its fullest potential,” said Chowdhry.

When asked about the Eastern regional championship, Chowdhry confidently replied: “I expect our team to make it out of group stage, and even wouldn't be surprised if we win a knockout game or two.”

UofT Centaurs

UofT Centaurs entered Fall Classic with majority of  roster filled with rookies. The Centaurs had a slow start, scoring 30 points against McMaster before losing by a snitch catch, followed by another loss against Queen’s by a margin of 140 points. There was a clear disparity between the rookie and veteran beater lines, and a lack of synergy between the beater and chaser line was evident. Furthermore, physicality was lacking, and the Centaurs’ classic offensive drives were missing.

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UofT Centaurs | Photo Credit: Yasmine Shelton, courtesy of Zakia Fahmida Taj

However, throughout the day, Centaurs’ teamwork and offensive drives improved, leading to a marked improvement in their rematches against these two teams. The beaters, led by Hannah Mazurek, improved their communication and game sense, and were able to provide more support to their chaser lines on offense. In their rematch, Centaurs paid back McMaster with an out-of-SWIM-range win. In the rematch against Queens, Centaurs fared a little better, keeping their game tighter and stopping more rushes. However, Queen’s strong offense overwhelmed Centaurs, and they lost via a cold catch.

Centaurs new beater lines definitely need more work. With veteran beater Sarah Basciano graduating and leaving the team for Valhalla this year, the Centaurs defense has taken a hit. The team has always been known for their strong chaser game; however, its physical conditioning and defense can be improved further. Captain Garnet Lollar said,the biggest things [Centaurs] need to work on are improving our contact/defensive game, and…be a little more consistent with our scoring.” Going forward, Lollar plans to improve team’s communication, positioning on offense, and incorporating advance plays.

UTSC Phoenix

UTSC Phoenix seems to have sorted out its roster size issues from last season. Bringing a full 21-player team with two reserves, Phoenix played a more offensive game this tournament, a marked departure from its previous playstyle. The potent combination of veteran and talented rookie beater lines allowed Phoenix to hold beater superiority most of the time. Displaying more communication and synergy, Phoenix’s beaters were able to directly contribute to offensive drives. The chaser lines, like last year, relied mostly on improvisation during offense; however, greater use of physical contact and communication allowed them to break through their opponents’ defense. Seeker lines performed reasonably, catching the snitch against Ryerson Quidditch twice, but failing to catch both snitches against LG.

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UTSC Phoenix | Photo credit: Ethan Cha

Phoenix lost its first game of the day against Lionel-Groulx within SWIM range, thanks to a lack of familiarity of the post-seeker floor game; however, Phoenix won the Ryerson match by a large margin of 150*-10. Phoenix’s offensive game continued to improve throughout the day as the team chemistry continued to build, leading to its second victory against Ryerson by 180*-30. Its final match was, once again, with Lionel-Groulx. As the chaser and beater lines improved on their communication and physical contact, Phoenix was able to hold the upper hand until the final moments of the match, leading by 10 points, but lost by a snitch catch.

Overall, Captain Tim Lee is “quite pleased” with Phoenix’s performance, especially with how well the team improved throughout the day. Going forward, Lee hopes to work on more advanced plays and improving teamwork between chasers and beaters. For the regional championship, Lee hopes to aim for the upper-middle tier.

Lionel-Groulx

LG entered Fall Classic with a team mostly made of rookies, with a couple of ex-Université de Montréal(UdeM) players. LG was one of the most-watched teams at Fall Classic, as this was its second tournament overall, and the team’s first time playing with any of the attending teams. After winning their first game against UTSC Phoenix, in its second game against McMaster, LG relied on its strong chaser lines to secure the early lead. Overall, however, LG’s beater lines were considerably weaker in comparison, often failing to hold bludger superiority for the majority of the game, and unable to fully support their team on offense and defense.

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Lionel-Groulx | Photo Credit: Philippe Lévesque

Early in the day, LG seemed to have trouble with physical contact rules, leading to a total of 10 cards in its first two games. This is partially due to a misinterpretation of the rulebook thanks to the team’s past experience at the CEGEP level, which is only semi-contact. However, after some clarification, this issue seemed to be resolved, with LG only getting carded twice in its penultimate game, and not at all in its final game against Queens.

LG seemed to embrace its physicality and speed over the course of the day, making more use of explosive breaks, turnovers, and taking more risks to widen the score gap. LG’s rematch against UTSC Phoenix was close, with Phoenix leading by 10 points, but LG’s seeker line managed to snatch a victory in the final moments. In its final game against Queen’s, the difference of experience clearly showed, with Queen’s chasers’ excellent positioning and passing overwhelming LG’s defense; in addition, a few injuries led to LG’s first and final loss, earning the team second place in the Fall Classic tournament.

Overall, LG performed well, considering this was only its second official tournament. A lack of a full roster definitely stopped the team from realizing its full potential. Captain Julien Bernier is happy with the team’s performance, and believes that his team is filled with “amazing talent.” Bernier stated that one of LG’s primary goals is to “make a good impression on every other team this season” something for which the team laid good groundwork at Fall Classic.

Going forward, if LG wishes to utilize its full potential, it needs to make full use of its beaters, and improve communication among beaters and chasers. Bernier hopes to break into the “middle of the pack” by the Eastern Regional Championship, but believes that the team will need at least a year of experience before it can hope to challenge the top-tier teams.

Queen’s Quidditch

Queen’s Quidditch was, without question, the strongest team at Fall Classic. Queen’s won each game by an average of 120 points, and caught the snitch in three out of four games. Queen’s beaters were consistently able to hold the upper hand, maintaining beater superiority for most of the time while assisting their chasers on offense. Its chasers demonstrated fantastic teamwork, relying on their excellent positioning and quick mid-range passes around the hoops to score. On defense, Queen’s remained impregnable for the first two games, shutting down opponents completely. Competing against LG for the first position, Queen’s experience shined as its beaters shut down LG’s fast paced and physical offense.

Queens demonstrated solid and consistent chasing and beating throughout the tournament. Despite needing a little ironing out of the veteran-rookie chemistry, according to Captain Kyle Ross, this year’s rookies are “some of the best” he has seen. Going forward, Ross hopes to work on “offensive and defensive formations” he will be implementing this year.

Furthermore, Ross believes that this year will be one of the team’s best showings at the regional championship. If Queen’s can bring out their Fall Classic roster for the Eastern Regional Championship, Ross is confident that his team “can be one of the best teams in the East.” How well the chemistry between rookies and veterans develop will directly determine whether Queens can stand up against top teams like University of Ottawa GeeGees, McGill University Quidditch, and Valhalla Quidditch.

Rank
Name
Matches Played
Matches Won
Average point differential per win
Average point differential per loss
Snitch Catch
1
Queen's Quidditch
4
4
120
N/A
75%
2
Lionel-Groulx
4
3
53.33
-120
75%
3
UTSC Phoenix
4
2
145
-40
50%
4
UofT Centaurs
4
1
60
-80
25%
5
McMasters Quidditch
3
1
30
-70
66.6%
6
Ryerson Quidditch
3
0
N/A
-146.67
0%
Table 2: Final rankings and relevant statistics of the tournament.

As most of the teams that attended the Fall Classic also hope to be at the Royal City Invitational on Oct. 22, this will not be the last chance we have to see these teams in action before the regional championships. This was, however, the first real glimpse into what we can expect from these teams this season.

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