Unpopular Opinion: USQ Cup 12


The summer fantasy tournament season culminates tomorrow with the biggest of them all, located at the home of World Cup V, Randall’s Island. The tournament features over 250 players on 15 teams, including stars from every United States region, as well as Canada. With one last chance to make a name for themselves before the regular season begins, you can bet every player will be bringing all they’ve got.

The format for the Northeast Fantasy tournament is harsh: only six of the 15 teams, two from each pool, will make it to bracket play. And with so many players and so many variables, it can be hard to take it all in. So, to make it easier, we’re presenting the five biggest questions to watch throughout the day, which will most likely determine who has a chance at the final fantasy title. Even one hiccup can cost you, so let’s take a look at who is least likely to make them.

Pool 1 (Zach D’Amico, Samy Mousa, Ethan Sturm, John Glynn, Patrick Sheehy)

Will the real Max Havlin please stand up?

Max Havlin is one of the most underrated good guys in quidditch. He’s a solid referee, a strong captain, and an adept passing chaser. What he wasn’t, at least before this summer, was a beater. But D’Amico paid an incredible 340 galleons for him to throw bludgers, and no one who plays with them weekly at Boston summer quidditch seems to have any doubts about the pick. If Havlin has truly already become an elite beater, D’Amico could run away with this pool, using bludger control to allow him and Devin Sandon to dominate. But if Havlin’s beating abilities have been over-exaggerated due to the misanalysis that often comes out of summer quidditch practices, which often end up self-fulfilling in talking up players, then his price, mixed with what I’d consider an overpay for Amanda Dallas in a strong female field, could be 490 galleons wasted and an early exit for Team D’Amico.

Did Sturm make a second straight successful trip to the bargain bin?

Sturm is defending a Northeast Fantasy title largely due to the strong and intelligent cheap picks he made last season. But this year, after once again taking his trademark elite beaters – in this case Heather Knoch and Michael Sanders – and seekers – Billy Greco for a second straight year – he ran into a tougher situation with better-informed general managers intent on grabbing up all the obvious sleepers. With few galleons to spare, Sturm still managed to do some work, picking up size in Sean Rogan, Joel Johnston and Brandon McKenzie and athleticism in Joel Johnston and Kyle Polacco. And with himself and John Gaffigan both capable of running an offense, Sturm really just needs people who can play their roles. Whether they’ll put it all together remains to be seen.

Is Kara Levis prepared to carry a beater line?

No one would doubt the ability of UCLA’s Levis, who has been part of the strongest beater lines in the sport for years. But, on Mousa’s team, Levis won’t have the comfort of elite male beaters like she does with the Bruins. Boston Riot’s Todd Mitchell and Mousa himself are both solid options, but it will be Levis who will need to carry things much of the way. And not only will she be dealing with the mental struggles of leadership, but the continued difficulties of recovering for an injury. If Levis fails, he team will as well. But if she succeeds, Daniel Daugherty and Meredith Taylor could run rampant.

Can anyone in this pool seek with Billy Greco?

Greco led Sturm’s fantasy team last year to a title with a perfect grab record, taking advantage of a tournament that lacked strong seeking. And while strong seekers like Maryland’s Harry Greenhouse and Penn State’s Collin Leese-Thompson could give him a run for his money, none are in this pool. If Greco is allowed to run wild, Sturm’s team will only need to keep every game close to walk off with a high seed. That being said, D’Amico has an underrated seeker in ex-UMass player Chris Chan, and many pool play snitches may be susceptible to even a weaker seeker. Not to mention that Greco himself continues to talk down his own fitness.

Could prior chemistry finally matter in a fantasy tournament?

Over and over again this summer, it’s been proven that drafting a large number of players from one team doesn’t create any kind of Backyard Sports-esque advantage. But Glynn tried it here, drafting largely from the Rochester teams for his squad, including Brian Herzog, Harry Clarke, Sandi Westover, Max Desmond, Aaron Pinzer and Glynn himself. But the team lacks truly elite players, and even if the chasing game clicks, there are serious holes in the beating game, with Clarke putting in an incredibly poor performance for a beater of his caliber at Champagne Cup. I fear there are too many issues here to disprove the resounding idea that chemistry is overrated.

 

Pool 2 (Ricky Nelson, Benny Nadeau, Shenuque Tissera, Dante Close, Clay Dockery)

How did one pool end up so weak?

Well, some of it was bad drafting, and some of it was bad luck. Tissera and Nelson have already taken major hits with the losses of Jason Rosenberg and Tyler Trudeau, respectively, two of the best quaffle players in the pool, as well as University of Ottawa beater Clare Hutchinson. But on top of them, draft choices plagued this pool. Close tried to evenly distribute his money, but when he did spend, he didn’t make good use of it, overpaying on Mo Haggag and Matthew Zeltzer. Nadeau forgot he needed male players for a while, while Dockery paid a bit too much for depth at times. Add in that none of the top six general managers in terms of on-pitch skill are in this pool, and you have to wonder if a couple of these teams were very lucky with their placement.

Did Nelson pull off the perfect draft?

What Nelson did in this draft and how it has been perceived since is incredibly underrated. After a questionable reach on Macaulay’s Andonio Mourdoukoutas, perhaps the one mistake that could keep him from a title, he grabbed Harry Greenhouse, not only a great chaser but one of the few strong seekers in the player pool, and then he sat on his money until it allowed him to get an incredible amount of value when he was sitting on the biggest pot. First he got Robby May, who proved impressive at Champagne Cup. Then he added Maryland’s Matt Angelico and Matthew Paesch for a fraction of what chasers their level were going at the day before. He continued to dominate the draft right up to the end, and if this team doesn’t walk away with this pool, I’d be shocked.

Did Nadeau somehow save his draft?

Somehow, Nadeau spent an incredible 710 galleons on five female players before ever buying a single male. While his purchases, especially Erin Mallory, were strong, it’s unlikely that he’ll ever be playing more than two of the five at a time, and he only had 290 galleons to fill out his male picks. But he played it smart, grabbing Wesley Weiss and Pablo Santiago for well below their worth, getting an incredible price on Emerson starter CJ Junior, and then picking up Howie Levine and Thomas Walsh as well. Add in Benny, and the team didn’t shape up all that badly. Still, male depth could plague them as early as pool play, putting the team in early jeopardy.

Whose female beater will reign supreme?

There are an awful lot of big name female beaters in this pool: Sarah Kneiling, Nora Mueller and Alexandra Baasa, just to name a few. But many of them have struggled, either with injuries or on the field, over the summer, and some may have even been overspends. In my opinion, the best female beater in this pool actually went for just 12 galleons. Nelson’s Julia Baer is probably the best female beater in the Mid-Atlantic, and he has plenty of male talent, including himself, to pair up with her. On top of that, she’s an experienced leader who shouldn’t have trouble learning to work with her new teammates. While others paid for names, Ricky’s shrewd pickup may have been the best of them all.

Who got the best male beater steal?

Jeffrey Hunt, in one of the best beating performances I’ve ever seen, almost single-handedly won the 2012 Mid-Atlantic fantasy. Kyle Jeon played just one game at beater at Champagne Cup – his previously 0-3 team kept bludger control from Alex Leitch and upset the No. 2 seed. Either one of them, if they can replicate their performances at previous fantasy tournament, could change the fortunes of their team, and Dockery and Close should feel lucky to have them, but we’ll see whether they can draw the best out of them.

Pool 3 (Jamie Lafrance, Sean Beloff, Augustine Monroe, Michael Parada, Jayke Archibald)

How did Aryan Ghoddosy go for 70 galleons?

This is the singular question that will likely decide this tournament. Ghoddosy is a University of Texas star and now the Southwest Fantasy tournament MVP. How he went for 70 to the strongest playing general manager who didn’t have the funds to win a bidding war with other general managers still sitting at 200 or 300 galleons is truly unexplainable. With the pick, Monroe was able to team Ghoddosy up with a pair of First Team All-Americans in Kody Marshall and himself, and along with Jacob Adlis this team could waltz its way to the title. Only an injury to Marshall, suffered at Southwest Fantasy, could slow this squad down.







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