The Eighth Man

Southwest Fantasy Preview

 

Twelve teams will compete for the second Southwest Fantasy title, joining Beto Natera's Blue Team from last year. Credit: Lauren Carter

Twelve teams will compete for the second Southwest Fantasy title, joining Beto Natera’s Blue Team from last year. Credit: Lauren Carter

 

How do you win a championship? I think we can all agree that it requires some magical combination of chemistry, talent and practice. But how do you win a FANTASY championship? While talent is abundant, practice is nearly impossible and team chemistry has to be created on the fly. Not to mention teams are smaller, Texas summer is hotter, and the mosquitos are carrying more West Nile.

 

 

 

Welcome to THE Fantasy Tournament.

 

 

 

The original fantasy tournament will once again be hosted at Zilker Park in the heart of Austin, Texas, where 12 teams will battle it out in a two-day tournament. Every general manager that drafted a team for THE Fantasy Tournament thinks that they have created that championship winning team, but only one will prove to be masters of the pitch.

 

BLUE TEAM

The Baylor, I mean, Blue Team general manager, Monty Turner-Little said he drafted his team “with the intention of having people who could defend the ‘best’ players in the tournament, but these people had to have the ability to pass and score as well.” No surprise that Turner-Little went with what he knew and drafted enough Baylor players for an entire line, and supplemented that with other players who he is hoping will work well together. The Baylor players will have obvious chemistry and talent, and he was able to pick up other solid players like Beto Natera, last year’s champion general manager, and Becca DuPont, and might get some strategic help courtesy of Mitch “The Visor” Cavender. However, some last minute drop-outs and injuries have plagued the Blue team, making their journey to the finals a lot more difficult. But those drops also provided Turner-Little the opportunity to join the team and fight for the championship himself.

 

 

 

RED TEAM

Another team that will have some previous chemistry is the Red Team, with half of the team hailing from The University of Texas quidditch system. General manager Becky Schmader said she wanted a team with “a strong male chaser line up” and “players that had played together.” This is definitely the case with the chaser/keeper crew on this team: Kenny Chilton, Aryan Ghoddossy and Cody Tadlock are all strong chasers offensively and defensively and will no doubt lead the team in scoring with the help of another UT player, Eric Diener, at keeper. The beaters, on the other hand, face the challenge of being from all over the place. While this lack of complimentary beating partnerships is potentially problematic, Schmader feels that this will result in beaters with insight on how to defend against players from every region, which could serve as an advantage.

 

GREEN TEAM

The Forest Green team’s strategy, according to general manager Samy Mousa, is to “run and out last the opponent.” Easier said than done, but this team may be able to do it. They have University of Kansas chemistry and can boast other strong players from around the Southwest. Forest Green will definitely have a strong offense, and other teams will not be able to count on taking many long shots on keepers Augustine Monroe and Connor Drake. Mousa also says that he “picked utility players instead of beaters because versatility wins games.” So while their beater play may not be the strongest at the tournament, they will be able to make changes in their roster depending on the different teams they face. On the other hand, they may find themselves out-matched defensively by teams with players who claim beater as their primary position.

 

ORANGE TEAM

Curtis Taylor “picked based off of players from different teams to give everyone the chance at new friends and fun.” Honestly, what is more fun than winning? And this team has a pretty good chance of racking up a few wins. This is definitely more of a Fantasy-like combination of players than the previous three teams, which could prove a challenge when it comes to creating chemistry. But with strong players that all bring something different to the table, like Texas’ Simon Arends with brawn, QC Boston’s Kedzie Teller with speed and UTSA’s Craig Garrison with some of the longest limbs in the game, their variability could be the exact thing that melds them into a championship team. But win or lose, Taylor wants his Orange Team to know that “the main thing is to have fun!” Oh and something about “Val aan als leeuwen!” …whatever that means.

 

WHITE TEAM

If we know anything about Alex Clark, we know that he loves statistics. So it’s not surprising that before the draft, Alex Clark and Browne worked to develop “a range of statistics that got [them] a galleon value for every player that [they] decided [they] would not exceed.” With Mollie Lensing coaching, the White Team will run one female chaser and one female beater which is the “most effective line-up in fantasy style tournaments,” according to Alex’s statistics, of course. With strategy in place, all that is left is for the players to show up and perform. The White team will be counting on strong quaffle play from Sean Fry, Sam Adlis, Keri Callegari and Ronell Sharp. Not to mention big defensive plays from Zach Houston and the beaters. The tournament will be toughest for the ladies on the white team; with three uninjured girls and two spots to maintain, they won’t be getting a lot of rest.

 

BLACK TEAM

Statistics be damned! The Black Team is going with a two male beater lineup – a scary two male beater lineup at that. Texas A&M veterans Mathieu Gregoire and Reed Duncan have both proven themselves as some of the top beaters in the game. And when those two need a break, Sam Houston State’s Carlos Elarba and Southern Mississippi’s Kyle Carpenter will be able to step in without missing a beat, pun intended. “As I always do, I focused on beating and seeking with my draft,” says Black Team general manager, Ethan Sturm. So to finish off his drafting strategy, Sturm picked up one of the first big names of seeking: Texas A&M’s Isaac Salazar. Assuming all goes well, the Black Team plans on maintaining bludger control on defense and being able to snatch the snitch with ease, meaning the chasers only need to keep games within snitch range to win. If the girl chasers are able to step up and not be out-matched by their male counterparts, players like Loyola’s Etefia Umana and the Skrewts’ Kevin Oelze will be able to make that happen.

 

BURGANDY TEAM

“I was extremely nervous picking, since I had less than an hour to Facebook creep to get ready, but from the strategy talks so far I truly believe the team will mesh well and give everyone a run for their money,” Burgandy general manager Caroline Villa said.  The team took a big hit losing Texas A&M chaser Kifer Gregoire to mono, but there are plenty of players that will be ready to take his place. Led by the chemistry and eternal love of Drew Wasikowski and Nichole Galle, there is no doubt the team will still pose a threat in the tournament. While Caroline claims she had only ever seen the Aggies and new Southwest Regional Director Chandler Smith play before she picked her team, she lucked out by getting some solid players. The challenge for the Burgandy team will be having these other players step up into that more predominant role on the pitch they may not have had to be on previous teams.

 

TEAL TEAM

The Teal Team has Texas’ Chris Morris, utility player extraordinaire, and A&M’s Dirk Hryekewicz, an unarguable force of seeking. But I think general manager David Guitierrez’s own words best describe the challenges this team will face: “Well the first and only obstacle that has plagued my team is deciding between the difference of teal and aqua. While other teams are concerned with fitness and strategy, we truly understand the key to quidditch: Representation. You see, it would look ridiculous if we had aqua chasers with teal beaters. People be watching us going ‘what duh …’ as a teal blur passes to an aqua flash. ‘It juz dun muk senz’ they would be saying. Sure we’d win, but who cares if no one understands the color we are trying to represent. The seven seas would be ashamed of us if we do not get this correct. You can bet though, should Aqua team figure this puzzle out, we will be the true champions of Fantasy 2013.”

 

PURPLE TEAM

Zach D’Amico, as eloquent as ever, had this to say about the Purple Team: “I feel as though every single player on the team is better than what I paid for them, and I thought they were a steal when I drafted them.” He sought out University of Maryland’s Harry Greenhouse for his ability to seek and chase in order to get a two-for-one bargain, giving him more galleons to create a solid chaser lineup. Some notable chasers inclde Baylor Brother Mark Williard, UCLA’s Vanessa Goh and Arizona State’s Alex Makk, who I believe is still functioning post-stitches from Firemercs. Zach said he “drafted beaters who, while their names aren’t huge (especially in the Southwest), are aggressive, smart, and highly effective at what they do.” It will be interesting to see if these beaters will be able to make a name for themselves at this tournament, and if Zach’s “unparalleled” strategy will be able to take the Purple Team to the finals.

 

LIME GREEN TEAM

Dan Hanson called this team the “all-Facebook team” while watching on draft night. Lime Green does feature a lot of players with an online presence in the community, but is that a good thing or a bad thing? Most of the players have been playing the game for a while, and experience is an invaluable asset. They can talk the talk, but this tournament may be an opportunity for these players to prove they can walk the walk. General manager Alan Black’s strategy wasn’t social media driven, however, and was based on depth and defense. As far as depth goes, 17 players is as close to a full squad as any fantasy team. Black believes that since these players are used to seeing a lot of playing time on their respective teams, they will be able to handle the additional time on the pitch at this tournament. As far as defense goes, when Black says that “There’s also a lot of physicality on this roster, and they know how to hit,” he’s obviously talking about Texas’ Hank “HardEarlyOften” Dugie, who will definitely be a force on defense, along with their beaters and other physical chasers.

 

PINK TEAM

While general manager Evan Bell was unavailable for comment, Kody Marshall was more than happy to step up and provide some thoughts: “Lots of cohesion… and they’re strong… and good… and probably going to win.” There is no denying the Pink Team is strong and probably early favorites for tournament champions. Strong chasers, both male and female, will be accompanied by solid keeping. And should their beating ever need a quick pick-me-up, chaser Colin Capello may be compello-ed to pick up a bludger once more. However, the pink team has faced some recent drops from their roster that could result in players being in for extended amounts of time in the Texas heat. That’s not good.

 

GREY TEAM

As a completely objective third party observer with no personal interest in the matter I have to say, the Grey Team is pretty solid. With one of the strongest female beaters teaming up with strong male counterparts, and lots of utility players to run the quaffle, seeking may be this teams’ biggest obstacle, having no self-proclaimed seekers on the roster. However, general manager Jacob Adlis isn’t called “The Professor” for his lack of strategic planning. When asked, Jacob had this to say about his team: “No. No comment. I’m not gonna reveal my strategy, are you crazy?”

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