Tuesday, March 21, 2017

EQC 2017 Group C Preview

With European Quidditch Cup (EQC) 2017 rapidly approaching, the Quidditch Post takes a look at each of the teams competing in this year’s tournament.

Group C
METU Unicorns
By Can Kaytaz
Editor’s Note: Can Kaytaz is a player and former captain of the METU Unicorns.

This is the third consecutive EQC appearance for METU Unicorns, who impressed by finishing joint third last year with the Nottingham Nightmares. The Unicorns won both the Turkish Quidditch Cup and Turkish Quidditch League in 2016, with a record of 18-2 in the two competitions.

The Unicorns have kept their core of players, but have also made some crucial additions. Ruşen Sarı transferred from the METU Minicorns to further improve the already impressive bludger game of the METU Unicorns. Ege Berk Tuna and Ata Sarçın are two other Minicorns who were promoted. Tuna is a talented keeper with an accurate shot and incredible agility, while Sarçın is a strong point chaser who can tackle whoever comes his way. Ali Deniz Uçar made a very successful transition to beater, and chasers Cansu Bozkurt and Yaren Uçar have improved dramatically, adding to the scoring threats of the Unicorns.

METU Unicorns defeat ODTÜ Hippogriffs to win the TQL Final in February. | Photo Credit: Unicorns Quidditch Photography
The Unicorns have all kinds of offensive threats and a solid zonal defence, and they’re ready for EQC. In addition to their usual strong drives and a decisive passing game to open up tight defences, they’ve also improved substantially at mid-range shots and also have some flashy moves up their sleeve. The Unicorns are stronger than ever and will try for gold this year; with a formidable beater line and a strong set of quaffle players, they actually have a real chance.

OSI Vikings
By Kai Shaw
Editor’s Note: The author is a co-founder and former captain of the OSI Vikings.

With former captain and co-founder Kai Haugen Shaw out with a shoulder injury, the mantle therefore has been passed to the new, redheaded captain, Mette Sundal. Sundal has long been regarded as one of the best beaters in Norway, but after winning Valentine’s Cup in February, she has truly established herself as a game-changing beater who can wreak havoc against any team. Joined by Team Norway veterans Stein Elgethun and Heidi Åmot, the Vikings’ beater squad is looking stronger than ever.

OSI’s chaser game is also looking strong, with Elisabeth Annie Helle hungry to establish herself as one of Europe’s top chasers and Jakob Lenz at the peak of his career after continuously breaking through NTNUI Rumpeldunk’s defence in the Norwegian Quidditch League in February. The Vikings won the first two of three games, making them the first and only Norwegian Quidditch League champions. The games, however, left OSI’s keeper Martin Beyer with an arm injury, causing him to join fellow keeper Shaw on the sidelines for EQC and leaving OSI with John Andree Seem as the only primary keeper, meaning they will have to take away from their chaser lineup. They will look to Team Germany’s Alexander Heinrich, or the Japanese wonder Natsuki Maruyama, who has established himself as an integral part of the team after he started playing last fall.

Lumos Compostela
By Yeray Espinosa Cuevas and Fraser Posford

Lumos Compostela is the team with perhaps the most significant growth in the last year in Spain. After coming in last at the first Copa de España in February 2016, they won the second edition last November, defeating the Bizkaia Boggarts in the final.

A speedy and technical team, they will be playing at the European Quidditch Cup for the first time. The Galician team may be raw, but they possess some star quality in their ranks. Beater duo Jorge Rodríguez and Pablo Rey are a nightmare to deal with due to their speed and chaotic beating style, and they are very adept at forcing quaffle turnovers. Captain and former handball player Pedro Muiños is the team’s main attacking threat. As keeper, he is capable of spraying pinpoint-accurate passes around the pitch to receivers such as the tall Manu Lago, and he can also score bullet longshots if given the opportunity. Chasers Raqui Martenis Gonzalus and Ali Muiños are also excellent attacking options who can punish teams around the hoops with their poaching abilities. However, with no players having ever played an international game, Lumos will likely struggle with the pace of European play. Besides their inexperience and relatively small roster, Lumos’ main weakness is a lack of a recognised seeking option who can secure wins for them. Lumos should stand a chance of competing well with group rivals Milano Meneghins and OSI Vikings up until the seeker floor, but this is where it could all unravel for the Spanish champions.

Lumos Compostela Quidditch Team. | Photo Credit: Lumos Compostela Quidditch Team
Milano Meneghins
by Dina Caruso

Milano Meneghins Quidditch are Italy’s oldest team, and under the strong captaincy of Michele Clabassi, finished third at their national tournament last year. The Milano Meneghins recently took part in the regional tournament “Girone Verde,” finishing in third place, but more importantly, this tournament provided the Milano Meneghins with the competitive environment to practice in before EQC.

The team is bringing a roster of 12 players – which, out of their five times playing at EQC, is the second-biggest roster they’ve brought. Their squad is a mix of both experienced and new players. Whilst the past couple of months have been, on the whole, more active than usual for the team with several new players joining, they have struggled to keep enough active players, and many of their players are unable to travel to the event. That said, Francesco Ermini’s athleticism and positioning on pitch makes him a strong keeper who is supported by chasers Noemi Sgarlata and Valeria Baroni. As the team has matured, they have moved away from a style of play focused on driving, they also do not have one main quaffle carrier. Gianluca Tenzone has demonstrated both agility and a strong tactical understanding of the game, which will be useful for the team’s chaser lineup. His agility also makes him a valuable seeker option for the team. Aggressive beating usually revolves around long-time player Nicola Beverari. Clabassi has proven himself to be a strong utility player and is able to fill any role when needed. Milano Meneghins are one of Europe’s oldest standing quidditch teams, but with a roster of 12 players, they may struggle to advance to the upper bracket if faced with any injuries.

Meneghins’ captain Michele Clabassi at EQC 2016 | Photo Credit: Ajantha Abey Quidditch Photography
There is little mystery in how this pool will play out. The METU Unicorns will top the group and the OSI Vikings will finish second. The more experienced group from Milan are likely to edge the Spanish champions, but it is possible that Lumos Compostela could take third if they adjust well to European play. The bigger question is how far the teams from this group go. The Vikings seem likely to fall in their first bracket game. METU is coming off of a season where they reached the semifinals of EQC2016, and there is little reason to think they will regress coming off an impressive 18-2 season with more experience and talented players under their belts. While a certain amount of their success will depend on the draw, they have the ability to compete with the best in Europe and are one of a handful of teams that has realistic championship ambitions. Still, with strong teams like Titans Paris, Velociraptors QC, and Antwerp A in the mix, a quarterfinal appearance is the most likely outcome, with a second trip to the semifinals being a result they should be very pleased with. The competition in Belgium will be fiercer than in Italy with English squads bringing stronger rosters than last year, and the Unicorns will have to overcome very talented teams to repeat last year’s feats.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this article misstated the name of  OSI's Jakob Lenz and the role of Kai Haugen Shaw with the team

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