The Favourites: Quidditch Canada Eastern Regional Preview
by Ittaana Krow and Yara Kodershah
Tomorrow, fourteen teams from across Ontario and Quebec will meet at the Civic Recreation Centre in Oshawa, Ontario, to prove which of them deserve to walk away with the Eastern Regional Championship title. Our Communications and Gameplay departments are providing you with one last look at the teams set to meet this weekend as part of our daily four-part preview series leading up to #QCER17.
Closing off our preview series, we bring you some insights into the history, strategy, and makeup of this season’s top tier teams. These three teams have established themselves as the teams to beat heading into the weekend. What can be said about this season’s favourites so far?
McGill University Quidditch (Win-Loss: 5-2)
McGill University Quidditch Club will be celebrating its tenth anniversary next season, making it the oldest quidditch program in Canada. Over the past three seasons, this team has taken to the podium at each Major Event it has attended – taking silver at the National Championships in 2015 and 2016, and bronze at last year’s Eastern Regional Championship. This season, they’ve made two tournament appearances, besting every opponent with the exception of Valhalla Quidditch, whom they have faced twice this season. Given that McGill and Valhalla find themselves in the same pool at the start of the weekend, and in fact are scheduled to face in the first game of the day, they will have an opportunity to get that evasive win.
McGill is a team that runs set offensive plays, distinguishing them from their opponents, who have a tendency towards a more free flowing offense. Led by 2016 Team Canada Chaser (and current Standing National Team member) Robyn Fortune, as well as skilled chaser Philippe Burns, their quaffle game heavily utilizes picks and handoffs to engineer goals. Stacked up against the likes of the Guelph Gryphons and Valhalla Quidditch, McGill rosters a relatively smaller sized set of players, requiring them to play a faster brand of quidditch then they are accustomed to in order to win it all this weekend.
Players to watch: Philippe Burns (#23) and Robyn Fortune (#14)
University of Guelph Gryphons (Win-Loss: 10-3)
The University of Guelph’s quidditch program has, for much of its existence, been a threat to higher tier teams due to their tendency to play to the competition, and end their opponents’ bracket runs sooner than one might expect, while never taking to the podium themselves. This streak was broken last season, when the Gryphons took silver at the 2016 -17 Eastern Regional Championship, as well as at that same season’s National Championship in Victoria, B.C. The Gryphons deploy a hard hitting style of both offense and defense that other teams are not accustomed to, willing themselves to victory through sheer physicality, and keeping their games to a low-scoring affair.
Standing National Team member and the Gryphons coach Denver Staines is their strongest offensive player and the emotional leader on the pitch. Either assisting or scoring each time he takes to the pitch, Staines is the primary reason for their successful half court offensive plays. The beating core of Mathew Mcveigh (Team Canada Assistant Captain) and Zac Macdonald (another Standing National Team member) provides Guelph with the fastest and hardest hitting unit across Canada; they are the insurance that allows their chasers to be more physical. And as if a strong chasing and beating game weren’t enough, the Gryphons complete the set with a dominant seeker – Riley Andrews-Dwyer – who puts the fear in all snitches.
This is a team that thrives on contact. Watch for the bench to erupt the first time a big hit is made, and see the momentum of the game shift as a result.
Players to watch: Denver Staines (#1) and Alicia Cortes (#8)
Valhalla Quidditch (Win-Loss: 15-1)
In its fifth rendition, Valhalla Quidditch has finally put together a strong opening act to the season, winning three of its four tournament appearances in the past two months. As a team that has historically underperformed at previous Eastern Regionals Championships, the pressure is there for Valhalla to make it to the championship game. Deploying a deep roster, Valhalla doesn’t depend on the skill of a single player to be the difference-maker on the pitch. Each line contributes significantly to the offense, so much so that Valhalla has scored an average of 120 quaffle points a game this season, effectively overwhelming their opponents offensively.
What has differed this season from seasons past is the stifling defense that Valhalla brings to the pitch, allowing only an average of 30 quaffle points against them this season across 16 games. Former- keeper-now-beater Jonathan Golla – a member of this year’s Standing National Team – has seamlessly made the transition to a new position, influencing the game and disrupting opponents’ offensive flow, thereby positioning himself as one of the top beaters in the country.
The road to the top of the rankings hasn’t been a smooth one. Meeting six times last season, Guelph and Valhalla split their games, winning three each. So far in the current season, Valhalla is 2-1 against the Gryphons. This brewing rivalry is sure to bring the best out of both teams this weekend.
Players to watch: Michael Beda (#88) and Katie Brown (#17)
Follow this weekend’s tournament on the livestream, courtesy of SportsCanada.Tv
Ittaana Krow is the Gameplay Director at Quidditch Canada and Head Coach of Valhalla Community Quidditch, and Yara Kodershah is the Communications Director and Head Manager of Valhalla Community Quidditch. The opinions in this piece are of the writers, and not of Quidditch Canada. The Eastern Regional Championship is coming to Oshawa, Ontario, this weekend on November 11-12. RSVP to the Facebook Event here.