Friday, November 8, 2013

Upset Alert from Tallahassee to Toronto

Renegade Cup, Kitty Cup and Canada Cup will bring together a total of 42 quidditch teams from Tallahassee to Toronto this weekend for a quality weekend of competition. While Renegade and Kitty are scattered with mercenary and unofficial teams, Canada Cup will be the second regional championship of this year, with 4 spots available for World Cup VII. Favorites have been picked to win each tournament, but I'm predicting that we will have a very surprising weekend full of upsets east of the Mississippi.

Renegade Cup
The third Florida Quidditch Conference meet of the season, Renegade Cup, hosted by Florida State, has a field of twelve teams, some from outside of the Sunshine State. Florida's Finest, finalists in both previous FQC meets, are the favorites to take the Renegade Cup title. However, the Flamingoes will be without keeper Austin Clooney and chaser Christina De Nicola, as well as their second string players at those positions on the depth chart. Clooney and De Nicola have put in valuable minutes and scored quite a few goals this season, so they will be missed. Florida's Finest shouldn't worry about personnel too much though, as they will have a full, 21 person roster headlined by Sean Pagaoda and Sean Snipes.

The potential troubles on the pitch for Florida's Finest will begin in pool play. The Flamingoes have a difficult pool with Florida State and the College of Charleston. FSU traveled to the Wolf Pack Classic and got a taste of the Southwest last month. The Seminoles were able to keep the score respectable against LSU, but fell 60*-10. Now, after a month to adjust and correct, Florida State could pose a threat to Florida's Finest. College of Charleston is coming off a tournament victory as the South Carolina team recently won the Gold Rush Cup. Although there were no major teams in attendance, Charleston came out on top of a 12 team field. Now, playing against more teams from their own region, Charleston will face more tests. Back to Florida's Finest. While I expect Florida's Finest to win all three pool play games, FSU and Charleston will keep the scores close possibly preventing Florida's Finest from securing the number one seed. Look for UF or USF to start bracket play on top.
Photo by Isabella Gong/IQA Staff
While other teams can keep scores close, at the end of the day, Florida is the only team that has a chance to beat the Flamingoes. In the finals of Titan's Fury on September 22nd, Florida's Finest defeated UF 80*-30. The Gators showed that they can stay in snitch range of Flamingoes and after a trip to New Orleans, UF could have changed some strategy. There's a completed pass on every possession for UF as chaser Dre Clements likes to pass the quaffle back and forth with another chaser as the Gators cross the half pitch line. Developing a rhythm, it's sometimes difficult to defend this dual point guard system, especially with the speedy and clever Clements. I like the Gators to spring an upset on Florida's Finest in the finals and become the third tournament winner in three FQC tournaments this season.

My Prediction
Semifinals Florida's Finest def. South Florida, Florida def. Florida State
Finals Florida def. Florida's Finest

Kitty Cup
In Blacksburg, we have another case of a community team being undermanned for a tournament that otherwise would be an easy victory. The NYDC Capitalists, were only going to be able to send 13 players to Kitty Cup after several players sustained injuries at Turtle Cup III on October 26th. Merging with three players from the upstart team at George Mason, the thirteen Capitalists and three Patriots (that is the mascot for George Mason, obviously! haha) will play under the name of the DYNC Communists this weekend. While the Communists have been labeled as the favorites due to the presence of keepers James Hicks and John Gaffigan, it is not going to be an easy tournament victory for the Communists.
Photo by Isabella Gong/IQA Staff
Into the spotlight steps Richmond and UNC. Richmond and UNC play with very different styles, but are rising through the ranks in the Mid Atlantic and are both dark horse picks to make a surprising semifinals or finals appearance at the regional championship in two weeks. Richmond plays slower on offense, with good ball movement, control and positioning while UNC pushes into the fast break sometimes going out of control. The Tar Heels rely heavily on their star chasers and keepers to be playmakers while the Spiders get many of their chasers on the scoresheet in an offense run by keeper Jeremy Day. Richmond's beating strategy is patient and smart, while depending on personnel, UNC's can be incredibly aggressive and fearless.

Richmond should be able to get by Virginia and Appalachian State pretty easily could secure the number one bracket play spot. With a tournament field that, barring teams coming out of nowhere, looks like it is lacking in the depth category, a #1 seed is going to advance to the finals with maybe one or two minor challenges. UNC has a tougher road, as they will play the DYNC Communists and VCU in pool play. With Ed Bartels returning to the Tar Heels lineup this weekend, I think Carolina is poised to meet DYNC twice at Kitty Cup. And, I think they can win one of the games. Whether UNC gets their first signature win in pool play, or the later rounds of bracket play, the UNC hypetrain will gain momentum.

Other teams to watch include QC Carolinas, who will play their first major tournament without Max Miceli and Steve Minnich, who are currently turning heads for UNC and the Capitalists. QC Carolinas will face a test against the hosts Virginia Tech, who are coming off a somewhat disappointing season in 2012-13. Depending on the Hokies' recruitment, they could steal a World Cup spot in two weeks. Finally, VCU, who was blown out by UNC almost two months ago at Minerva Cup, will be ready to avenge that loss. That Minerva Cup finals was so early in the season and VCU has probably improved greatly since then.

My Prediction
Semifinals Richmond def. QC Carolinas, UNC def. Communists
Finals Richmond def. UNC

Canada Cup
Eastern Canada's regional championship is thought to be a contest between McGill, Carleton, and UOttawa's Gee Gees Quidditch. With those three teams likely to clinch a spot to World Cup VII, there will be one spot up for grabs between teams like Queen's, UOttawa's Maple Rush, Fleming and Valhalla. Eastern Canada isn't as weak as we Americans tend to think. American teams were lucky not to see McGill and Carleton at World Cup VI, as the two Canadian teams would've been challenging opponents. The Gee-Gees went to overtime with the nationally ranked NYDC Capitalists at Trial by Fire, and McGill defeated Tufts 100*-70 back at the MQC/SNEQC Invitational.

This weekend, McGill will be looking to become the first team ever to win three regional championships. McGill has been very successful in the seeking game, defeating Maple Rush, Carleton and Tufts this year due to snatches (McGill beat Tufts 100*-70 in an overtime game with no overtime snitch catch. Strange huh?). The tandem of quaffle players Andrew Asejibutu and Patrick Qi Wang create the perfect combination of speed, passing and bulldozing to complete the three peat for McGill. The supporting cast for McGill is questionable and being behind Maple Rush and Carleton at Trial by Fire in quaffle points isn't a great sign.

UOttawa was a a Round of 32 team at World Cup VI, but with a few notable players like keeper Jamie Lafrance now on Maple Rush, Gee-Gees Quidditch is a different team. Adam Robilliard is still really good as both a chaser and a seeker. The question is whether some of the newer pieces have gelled together yet. It has been more than a month since Trial by Fire, but the Gee-Gees haven't faced great competition since then. A 130*-30 victory over Guelph two weeks ago is reassuring, but I think the Gee-Gees are a little unpredictable this weekend. They will qualify for World Cup VII pretty easily, but the Gee-Gees aren't clear favorites for Canada Cup 2013 like most of America seems to think.

Carleton went away quietly at Trial by Fire losing on a snatch to McGill in the semifinals. However, Carleton might have been the most impressive Canadian team at Trial by Fire. With an experienced group of players who have playing together for a long time, Carleton's players are extremely comfortable with each other's strengths and weaknesses which is important in high pressure, tight games. The beating duo of Alex Bourassa and Andrea Hill play very systematic defense and work well with the chasers and keepers. Matt Stone and Bill Whyte are Carleton's two top scorers, but can distribute well and get other chasers involved too.

My Prediction
Quarterfinals Carleton def. Canada's Finest, Queen's def. Maple Rush, McGill def. Valhalla, Gee-Gees def. Fleming
Semifinals Carleton def. Queen's, Gee-Gees def. McGill (World Cup VII qualifiers)
Finals Carleton def. Gee-Gees

No comments:

Post a Comment