On Nov. 9, 14 teams will head out to Blacksburg, Va. to compete in the newly named Kitty Cup.
This Mid-Atlantic tournament will look to test many of the middle-tier teams and give a good preview of which teams have a chance of grabbing some of those final spots for World Cup VII when they compete at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship in a few weeks.
Kitty Cup will consist of both pool play and bracket play. Four pools were created; two of these pools contain four teams and the other two contain three teams. The teams in Pool One and Pool Two will play all the teams in their pool while the teams in Pool Three and Pool Four will play all the teams in their pool and a randomly selected team from the other pool. Then the top two teams in each pool will move onto single elimination bracket play where they will fight it out to see who will be the Kitty Cup champion. The pools were originally created to maximize the number of official games being played but due to last minute team dropouts and changing of official status, the pools became are now as follows:
DYNC Communists (unofficial)
The College of William and Mary (unofficial)
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC)
Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)
This pool features two teams who look to have a dominate chance to win; however, determining the winner of the pool will depend on a few key factors. Firstly, which UNC team will show up? UNC went and dominated the competition down in North Carolina early in the season, giving it a lot of early-season hype. However, two weekends ago when UNC competed in Turtle Cup III, it fell hard to the more elite teams in the Mid-Atlantic region and the Northeast. Granted, the team did not bring its full roster. This tournament, UNC hopes to prove that it can not only hang with the middle-tier teams but come out a champion among them. Look for chasers Amit Katyayan and Max Miceli to work well together and lead the team, using the other chasers as support. With Edward Bartels returning as keeper this tournament, look for the three of them to push the ball using their speed.
The other team in this pool to take notice of is the DYNC Communists. Playing off the name of the official team the NYDC Capitalists, this is an unofficial team that consists of players from NYDC and the developing George Mason University (GMU) team. Although the team is missing big names such as keeper Michael Parada, chaser Tony Greco, beater Amanda Dallas and seeker Billy Greco, look for the leadership and skill of keepers James Hicks and John Gaffigan and chasers Steve Minnich and Alex Linde to shine through and lead this team to victory. However, with this limited roster, the team is only bringing 16 players, three of which are from the GMU team and have no official tournament experience. How this team does will be determined by how well the GMU players mesh with the team and how well the Communists can do without some of their Capitalist teammates.
VCU was a team that made bracket play last year at World Cup VI. However, the start of this year has been tragic for it. With the loss of starting keeper Darren Creary to injury and chaser Katryna Fernandez to graduation and NYDC, this team has been looking for a new identity. It has been blown out by both NYDC and UNC before in scrimmages and tournaments and looks to this tournament for a rebound. Scott Behler, the usual referee at many east coast tournaments, will be a noticeable addition to the VCU roster this weekend. Watch for Tommy McPhail to try to breathe life into VCU whether he dons a chaser or seeker headband. However, being in the pool with two teams that have previously beaten it this season, I do not expect this team to make it out of pool play.
Rounding out this pool is the unofficial William and Mary. It has been around for a few years but has never had the depth to make the leap to an official team. Only bringing 17 players, this team will most likely fatigue early and often and will end up falling to all three teams in this pool. Although it always comes in good spirits, this team does not have the competitive edge to compete.
William and Mary 0-3
Christopher Newport University (CNU) (unofficial)
University of Richmond
University of Virginia (UVA)
This pool is more mysterious than the first. It only contains one unofficial team (CNU), but it also contains UVA and Appalachian Quidditch, neither of which have been to many tournaments this semester. This pool appears at first glance to be Richmond’s to lose, but there may be some surprises lurking underneath the obvious.
For the past year, Richmond has been considered a middle-tier team, always falling to the typical Mid-Atlantic powerhouses of University of Maryland and Villanova University. However, this year at Turtle Cup III, Richmond wanted to show the quidditch community that this was no longer the case. When playing Villanova in pool play, it kept the game tied 30-30 and ended up losing on a Villanova snitch grab. But being tied when the snitch was caught speaks wonders for what the team could be. Its chasing game is led by Paco Darcey and Jeremy Day. Both have the skills and experience to keep the team in any game and keep the offense moving. On the defensive side, beater Derek Roetzel is now in his third year playing and is an intimidating presence on pitch. With him leading the beaters while Jules Baer is abroad, Richmond has not lost a step. Richmond should surely dominate this pool and move onto bracket play unless a surprise from UVA sneaks up.
When thinking of UVA versus Richmond, the game I go back to is the 2012 Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship where they played in a best of three set to see who would get the last WCVI bid. With the series tied 1-1, Richmond pulled the snitch in game three to secure its victory and the berth. UVA did not make WCVI but at that time was the best of the rest in the Mid-Atlantic. This year, Erik Morlock is back leading the team in the chasing corps. He looks to prove to the Mid-Atlantic that UVA is a middle-tier team that can rise to the top of the pack and can qualify for WCVII. I do not see UVA competing with the top-tier teams yet, but it can definitely make a case for itself at this tournament.
Appalachian Quidditch is headed to Blacksburg for its first real test this season. In two prior unofficial tournaments, it has had quality outings, falling just short of greatness. It will be down to seeker Ancrum Ballenger to secure good snitch grabs this tournament in order for it to have any chance of winning in this strong pool.
Rounding out Pool Two is the unofficial CNU team. Only bringing 14 players, this team will definitely tire faster, especially against the larger rosters of UVA and Richmond. Although it brings some experience (the team has been around for a few years), that experience is just not competitive enough to keep it in games against these teams.
Appalachian Quidditch 1-2
Appalachian Quidditch B-Team (unofficial)
James Madison University (JMU) (unofficial)
Virginia Tech University (VT)
This pool only features one official team and that is the host, VT. Last year was definitely a rebuilding year for the team, which failed to qualify for WCVI. This year, look for it to attempt to reclaim its spot at the top of the rankings of the Virginia quidditch teams. However, I think its lack of experience in official matches might hurt it later on in the tournament. Along with playing the two unofficial teams in its pool, it will also be playing Quidditch Club of the Carolinas (QCC), an official team and WCVI qualifier. With a few players with significant match experience playing for QCC, that might give it the edge over VT. However, VT should still come out on top of this pool.
Appalachian Quidditch B is definitely at the disadvantage in this pool and in the tournament as a whole. Bringing only 11 players, this team will get winded very quickly. Playing the two teams in its pool along with the mercenary team, Kitty’s Army, Appalachian Quidditch B will be exhausted and not have the subs necessary to be successful throughout the day.
JMU is another Virginia team that has been around for a few years but has not made the jump to being an official IQA team. However, it is bringing a full 21-man roster. This will definitely give it an edge over the other unofficial teams attending. Also, its third scheduled game is against Charlottesville Quidditch. Although JMU is also unofficial, its years of playing against the Virginia teams should give it the edge in that game.
App State B 0-3
Charlottesville Quidditch (unofficial)
Kitty’s Army (unofficial)
The final pool of the tournament features the return of QC Carolinas (QCC), a team that was formed last year off of the concept of a mercenary team but came together to become official and qualified for WCVI. This is its 2013 tournament debut, since a few of its players spent the early season playing with their unofficial teams. The big question at this tournament will be how will QCC replace its now-missing chaser depth? Chasers Max Miceli and Steve Minnich have left to play with their new teams. They were both solid playmakers for the team last year, and QCC will definitely need to find people to step up to fill those roles. However, with Nathan Love returning as a physical presence, the addition of Tim Suddeth as a chaser and seeker and the additions of Haley Moffitt and Edderic Ugaddan as a potentially solid beating pair, the team could reach its potential. This tournament will definitely show if QCC can meet the standard it set last year.
The mercenary team called Kitty’s Army was formed at the last minute due to team dropouts and features players from UNC, VT, VCU, Charlottesville and University of North Carolina, Greensboro. With such an assortment of players, it will be interesting to see if it can actually come together and work cohesively. It will have a full 21 roster, so subs should not be an issue, but it will not matter how tired or rested players are if they cannot develop chemistry fast.
The final team in the pool is the unofficial Charlottesville Quidditch. As an unofficial team with very little experience, this tournament will be a good testing point of where the team could be and what potential it has. I do not expect it to be as competitive as other teams, but it will be able to give itself a good measuring stick of where it needs to improve to in the coming months in order to be able to compete with the middle tier teams.
Kitty’s Army 2-1
Both Richmond and DYNC should come out on top of their pools granting them the one and two seeds; I expect them to run through the brackets where they will meet in the finals. Then it will come down to if DYNC has formed enough cohesion to win and has not exhausted its players or if Richmond’s chemistry and exploitation of the missing Capitalists is enough to take it down. In the end, I see Hicks and Gaffigan being able to use their skills to their advantage and bring home a win for DYNC.