Cocoa Cup Comes to Connecticut

Winter is here and players will be flocking north on January 20 to participate in a Game of Thrones-themed fantasy tournament.

Editor's note: The author of this article is the captain of House Lannister.

The taking place in Connecticut this January seems like the only showcase of Northeast talent to be had this winter. The biggest fantasy element of this tournament is that the teams bear the names of “Game of Thrones” houses, as the teams were primarily auto-drafted, with a few trades to be had after the initial selection.

As far as the drafting goes, I can only compare it to going through a new pack of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards and getting something you either did not know or did not want until finally pulling a holographic rare card out and jumping for joy.  If the players from smaller teams can prove to be competitive against the big names coming to the tournament, then they could have a chance to get their names out there regardless of how their teams usually do. The trades went, as many would expect, with the general managers (GM) trading often to get players they know on their teams to ensure some level of familiarity with the talent they have to work with. The resulting teams have shaped up to have fairly solid lines, though the depth of many is in question. Fortunately, with pool play followed by a double-elimination bracket, there will be plenty of games for everyone to get familiar with the teammates they do not already know.

Pool One
House Arryn

Captain: David Fox
Completely the opposite of the breastfeeding little boy that heads this house in the books, the leader of Team Arryn is considered one of the most unstoppable forces in the sport. This centerpiece to the Emerson College offense and defense will likely reprise that role on this team. Fox got lucky picking up several talented ladies, particularly fellow Bostonians Rebecca Contreras (QC Boston: the Massacre) and Nora Mueller (Tufts University) at beater, and chasers Rowan Baluta (New York University) and Meredith Taylor (Bowling Green State University [BGSU]). Having drafted another decent beater in the form of David Bernstein (Tufts University) and trading for his Emerson teammate Aaron Wohl, Fox has arguably the deepest beater corps in the tournament. However, with nearly the balance of his team coming from non-world cup qualifying teams, House Arryn will likely struggle offensively when the big keeper is not in. Games with House Arryn will likely be low-scoring affairs, and Fox will likely have to pull double duty as seeker to end the games.

House Baratheon
Captain: Benny Nadeau
In contrast to House Arryn, the royal house has a much more offensive line with Nadeau (Massacre) and his floaty passes, his teammate Jayke Archibald (Massacre), Matt Angelico of University of Maryland, and Casey Sabal of the NYDC Capitalists. The beating on this team has some holes in it with Griffin Conlogue (Massacre) and Kara Levis (Massacre) likely being the strongest in that position. Without a strong keeper and a thin beating corps, this team is going to be weak on the defensive side and the chasers will likely need to play a very physical defense to make up for it. Nadeau is an experienced GM with a wide range of knowledge that he will need to use to find a way to make this team work together. That being said, it likely would not be too hard a job with the pre-existing friendships of people on this team, and House Baratheon will likely have some of the best chemistry in the tournament.

House Tyrell
Captain: Ethan Sturm
Like the wise matriarch of House Tyrell, Sturm (Tufts) prides himself on knowing the game of quidditch, as evinced by his website, the Eighthman. Coming off a poor showing at Northeast Fantasy, Sturm has managed to put together a strong team with some strategic trades. There is a good balance on this team with Daniel Daugherty (BGSU) and Josh Marks (Maryland) providing some offensive clout and Michael Sanders (Tufts) likely to give a great beating game. BJ Mestnik has come in clutch seeking for Tufts several times this year and will probably have to do so in this tournament as well if Sturm reuses his slow approach to the game that won him the first Northeast fantasy. How well he performs will depend largely on how chemistry comes together, but he has the talent to make a run at the championship.

House Stark
Captain: Desiree Jerome
Much like the young Robb Stark, Jerome (Clark University) seems to be the most inexperienced of this tournament and will be seeking to avoid taking loses like crossbow bolts. There is decent offensive power when you factor in Maryland chasers Steven Sleasman and Erin Mallory with Emerson players Jackson Maher and Tyler Trudeau. Possibly the best beater on this team is NYDC chaser Alex Linde, who won the Mid-Atlantic beater all-star challenge (in the biggest joke this side of the War of the Worlds broadcast). The thing to keep in mind is that there is talent on this team, but unless it is utilized well it will not be effective. Unless Jerome proves herself to be a better leader than her experience would indicate or another player steps up to play Catelyn Stark, then this team’s day is going to be the Red Wedding all over again.

Match to watch: Arryn vs Baratheon
This will be the most interesting match in this pool, with a lot of Boston players who know each other’s playing style and strengths. Arryn will certainly take the edge with beaters and Baratheon will likely take the edge with chasers. As a result, the captain strategy will likely be the determining factor. Though I think Baratheon will take it in the end, that is only because I called heads, so this is one of the most competitive toss-ups of the day.

Pool Play Predictions
Tyrell 3-0
Baratheon 2-1
Arryn 1-2
Stark 0-3

Pool Two
House Frey
Captain: Jake Vuolo
House Frey is potentially the weakest team in this tournament in terms of skill, with Vuolo (Syracuse University) trading away several players of greater experience in favor of getting more familiar people on his team.  Syracuse teammates like Ben Stonish and Joey DiStefano will need to come up big to make their trades worth it. Leanne Dillmann of Emerson will have to deal with the frustration of having few familiar players who might throw off her playing, however good she normally is. Regardless, this team will be the underdog in most of its matches unless existing teammates who have played together bring both chemistry and luck.

House Lannister
Captain: Ricky Nelson
Having gone through 12 rounds before getting a familiar name in the draft, this team was shaping up to be one of the weaker ones but with a quick succession of drafts of players from NYDC, NYU, BGSU and Maryland, Captain Rick Nelson (Maryland) lucked out. The Maryland players on the team have some of the highest scoring potential of anyone on the squad, with Bryan Barrows (who is returning from abroad), Harry Greenhouse and Chris LeCompte (who had a hand in half of Maryland’s goals in its regional finals). With Zack Hewitt (BGSU) providing a powerful anchor at keeper, the team will likely have some of the best quaffle offense and defense. The beater end of the spectrum is less optimistic: although Nelson is an accomplished beater, he did not seek to bolster his squad through trades (probably out of arrogance true to House Lannister), so he will have to hope the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) players he got can hold their ground. Still, failing everything else, there are three solid utility seekers, giving a lot of fresh options.

House Greyjoy
Captain: Thomas Walsh (University of Massachusetts Amherst [UMass])
House Greyjoy looks to be competitive with House Frey in this pool but unable to challenge the other two. The greatest scoring potential is in Wesley Weiss (Emerson). His beater line will be dependent on UMass teammate Robert Vortherms, known to be decent but prone to throwing harder than necessary, leading to many a wild throw. Katie Milligan (BGSU) and Sam Medney (Maryland) will make maintaining the gender rule easy enough on the chaser line, as each knows what they are doing down by the opponent’s hoops. Still, the team will be hard-pressed to match either the defensive or offensive capabilities of Lannister and Targaryen.

House Targaryen
Captain: Jeffrey Sherman (RIT)
Like House Lannister, House Targaryen has an extremely strong quaffle squad. Devin Sandon (University of Rochester), Hannah DeBeats (Tufts) and Jason Rosenberg (Penn State University) all come from quality teams and are big name players on their respective squads, with each earning that reputation. Sandon will likely be first to the ball in most of his games, giving a first scoring opportunity that could be important. Victor Viega (Massacre) gives a big, physical keeper game to stop drives that will be crucial with the lack of notable beaters. There are decent ones, but one game-changing move can reverse momentum of the game. As a result, unless they have a big lead, even a great seeker like Andrew Zagelbaum (Macaulay Honors College) will have a lot of pressure when going for the snitch.

Match to watch: Lannister vs Targaryen
These two are far and away the strongest in the pool. Although matched in similar areas, the edge in each goes to Lannister. There are quality chasers on both but more team chemistry for those on Lannister, and it has a better beating corps. Even with Zagelbaum’s positive record of catching over Greenhouse, he will have to run a lot and will not have the subs Greenhouse will. The match will likely be a slow but steady pull away by Lannister. Lannister may put Targaryen out of range with the 20-minute snitch floor but with all the talent here there will be some great plays by both teams.

Pool Play Predictions
Lannister 3-0
Targaryen 2-1
Greyjoy 1-2
Frey 0-3