The Eighth Man

A Not-So-Quiyk Draft Recap: Round One

Much like summer, winter is a time in which competitive quidditch slows down, as schools go on break.  Luckily for us, our friends at Quiyk have decided to entertain everyone by helping us answer the question: how would you build a team if the entire league was your player pool?  With eight general managers taking turns drafting against each other, and each team picking sixteen players, there are tons of ways this draft can go, and as fun as it is to just allow it to proceed, it’s even more entertaining to break it down and argue about what we would have done.  So, let’s get to it!

With the first round in the books, we have the opportunity to examine the draft and see how it’s going.  Because the first round picks have not been particularly surprising, I’ll probably use this opportunity to discuss the draft, but also drafting strategy in general (much of which will be derived from a lifetime of fantasy football).

 

Round 1, Pick 1 (GM: Alex Wilson) – Sarah Holub, Chaser, Lone Star QC

While I say the picks weren’t that surprising overall, this one created quite a bit of controversy.  With his choice of players in the draft, Alex Wilson decided he would take the best female chaser on his board.  Obviously, the controversy revolved around not Holub’s merits as a player, but whether the first pick of the draft should go to a female chaser.  Given her proclivity for playing off-ball, there were many concerns, including those of Mitch Cavender, who felt you “have to wonder if you’ll be able to snag a solid distributor who can allow her to play her game.”

Similarly, Lone Star chaser Kody Marshall added that he “would not have picked a quaffle handler until late in the first round. If I had a first round pick one through four I would pick up a male beater.”  None of the reactions to the pick centered around how talented of a player Holub is.  Rather, they were arguing that perhaps picking Holub was not the best value for that spot.

This introduces an important concept that I will refer back to constantly over the course of discussing this draft: marginal value.  Essentially, you want to be drafting not one the single best player with each pick, but the player who provides the most value over the alternative. I’ll spare you the math justifying it, but think of it like this: if there were 50 Kody Marshalls in the draft, even if they were all great players, the value of picking him would be substantially diminished, because you could easily draft him later on.

Ultimately, good general managers are those that find the maximum marginal value in their draft picks.  Very few drafts are won in the first round, because the players everyone is drafting are so good that most picks are giving value, but we’ll see this much more in the coming rounds.

So, getting back to this pick, the question becomes: if you accept that Sarah Holub is the best female chaser in the world (I happen to–I think the top two are easily her and Vanessa Goh, although there are many very strong ones), is the difference between her and a female chaser that Wilson would be able to get in round 2 greater than it would be for the best player at any other position?

Personally, I don’t think I agree — I think there are a large number of chasers in that second tier who will be around for later picks, but that’s my own personal valuation of the personnel available. It isn’t  a clearly bad pick, and it could pay great dividends if Wilson can still piece together the rest of his team without having a top-of-the-world chaser or keeper.  So, ultimately, more than most, this pick will be judged by who’s still on the board for picks 16 and 17.

 

Round 1, Pick 2 (GM: Amanda Dallas) – Tony Rodriguez, Keeper, Lost Boys QC

From one of the riskiest picks in the draft, we move to arguably the safest.  Rodriguez was a rookie sensation last year, is someone that can safely be the absolute center of a team, and almost as importantly in a popularity contest, he is a complete fan favorite.  He burst onto the scene last year, ultimately ending up as an Eighth Man Second Team All-American by the Eighth Man after leading the Lost Boys to their appearance in the quarterfinals of World Cup VI.

Rodriguez defensively checks off every box you would want in the centerpiece of your team: He is tall and lanky, giving him huge coverage of the hoops, he has fantastic reaction time, making passing or shooting past him incredibly difficult to do,  and he has the ability to lay vicious hits.

But as solid as his defense is  — and as a fellow keeper, I think it’s by far the best aspect of his game — Rodriguez is probably best known for his offense.  Rodriguez has an impressive arm which he uses to make very accurate long shots.  He is fast, strong, and tall with a killer spin move, which makes him extremely difficult to stop.  He’s also a decent passer, though if he does have a weakness, I would say it’s definitely in the distribution area.

Arguably his best overall aspect is his intensity: Rodriguez plays like winning is life or death for him, and his attitude affects the rest of his team.  The only potential fear I see is that, since the voting for these will extend past World Cup, there is a tiny risk in that Rodriguez has never played against any of the elite Texas teams — or any Southwestern teams for that matter. Still, given that Rodriguez was able to handle the very strong UCLA defense last year, I wouldn’t be overly concerned by this.  While I personally have him third on my keeper list — we’ll get to my top two soon — I still think this is a very smart, safe pick.

Drew Wasikowki's versatility makes him a very smart first round pick. Credit: Lauren Carter

Drew Wasikowki’s versatility makes him a very smart first round pick. Credit: Lauren Carter

Round 1, Pick 3 (GM: Dan Hanson) – Drew Wasikowski, Chaser, Texas A&M

“Versatility is going to be one of my biggest priorities in this draft, and no quaffle player threatens in multiple areas of the game than Drew Wasikowski.”

That’s Hanson himself talking about the pick, and I have to agree with this assessment.  Wasikowski really is the complete package as a chaser: he can defend the point, he can defend off ball, and he can play the hoops defensively.  Offensively, he works best on the ball, but he has flourished in a very passing-oriented Texas A&M system.

Wasikowski’s versatility gives Hanson a lot of versatility, allowing him to wait to see what falls to him in the future before committing to a plan for his team.  Wasikowski is the beating heart of the top-ranked team in the world, and he brings plus potential in every facet of the game, while also giving Hanson the freedom to take the best player on the board in the future.

 

Round 1, Pick 4 (GM: Evan Bell) – Brittany Ripperger, Beater, Baylor

Our first beater comes off the board with the fourth pick of the draft, and in Baylor’s Brittany Ripperger, Bell grabs last season’s consensus best female beater in the game.  Ripperger brings everything you would want as a beater to the table.  She combines a strong arm with great field instincts.  Ripperger could serve as the solid foundation for someone who wants to run a two-female beater line, or simply pair up with an elite male beater to make the tournament’s most formidable beating pair, allowing Bell to win every bludger argument he comes across.

This all being said, I have several issues with this pick.  First, Ripperger has been injured for an entire semester, and while word is that she is healthy enough to return, we don’t know whether she’ll be everything she was before getting hurt.  That question mark makes this pick an awfully high risk to take this early in the draft.  Secondly, I personally feel like the female beater position is surprisingly deep in this draft.  While Ripperger is a great player, Lone Star’s Mollie Lensing and Hope Machala, Boston University’s Katrina Bossotti, or even Miami’s Shannon Moorhead offer similar value and are likely to be around when Bell picks again, thus offering better marginal value.

Finally — and this is a much smaller quibble — we have very little information about how well Ripperger would fare outside Baylor’s defensive system.  I personally feel like she would be fine, and that her skills would shine all the same, but I could also see voters penalizing Bell’s team for that.

 

Round 1, Pick 5 (GM: Beto Natera) – Stephen Bell, Keeper, Lone Star QC

My personal top keeper — and top player overall, for that matter — finally comes off the board with the fifth pick.  Bell is absolutely the complete package on defensive side of the ball.  He brings plus-plus athleticism to the position, famously having jumped feet-first through the second-tallest hoop.  You could basically repeat the sections I wrote for Tony Rodriguez here for Stephen, although I do believe Rodriguez is a slightly better tackler, while Bell is a better athlete.  Offensively, the two differ because, while I feel Rodriguez has tended to be a scorer first, Bell makes his living as a distributor.

 

While he’s certainly capable of shooting and driving, Bell has the best touch-game of almost any offensive player I’ve ever seen.  Unlike players who will throw every shot and pass with as much force as they can muster, Bell excels in touch shooting situations, weaving shots into small gaps from almost impossible angles and throwing pinpoint, easy-to-catch passes to his teammates. Let me take a break from my fawning for a second, as I believe both this pick and the next one have very similar reasoning behind them.

Andrew Canto might have gotten the pick of the round when Monroe fell to him at sixth. Credit: Becky Schmader

Andrew Canto might have gotten the pick of the round when Monroe fell to him at sixth. Credit: Becky Schmader

Round 1, Pick 6 (GM: Andrew Canto) – Augustine Monroe, Keeper, Texas

Both Canto and Natera ended up in very similar situations: top of the board players fell to them, and rather than second-guessing themselves, they both wisely snapped them up.

Monroe was my second-highest ranked keeper.  Both of these players give very similar skill-sets, and while I think Monroe is better known than Bell,  I feel that Bell’s short-range game is better than Monroe’s. Still,Monroe is far slipperier in the open field, and has all of the validation that you could want: first-team All American honors from the Eighth Man, a member of Team USA, and captain of the World Cup Champion University of Texas team.  His driving is probably more lethal than Bell’s, although he suffers somewhat defensively due to being just 6-foot-2. Still, he still remains a plus-plus defender.

Both of these general managers did an excellent job of identifying players who had probably fallen below where they had been expected to be taken and getting solid value for them.  The trade-off, of course, is that they picked players who may be less versatile than a player like Wasikowski.  This pick to some extent, will define the direction Canto must go from here.  Still, I personally feel these were the best two selections of the round.

 

Round 1, Pick 7 (GM: Zach D’Amico) – Vanessa Goh, Chaser, Lost Boys QC

When discussing the Holub pick, I mentioned that I thought there were clearly two female chasers that were a step above the rest right now.  With this pick, the latter of those two comes off the board.  When discussing why he drafted her, D’Amico wrote: “I’m choosing Vanessa because she is the best chaser left in the draft, regardless of gender.” If this is true, D’Amico did a fantastic job of obtaining marginal value.  If two players are equally skilled, it naturally follows that the player who plays in a more scarce position is going to get be more valuable.

That being said, I disagree with him.  I think Goh is a fantastic player and can play just about any position necessary for the team, but because of a lack of size, she is going to have trouble dealing with a lot of the larger, stronger males as a point player.  Because of that, I do not think that she was the best chaser available, regardless of gender.  That being said, I don’t think it matters.  When creating a draft board, it is very useful to lump players into tiers, with all players of similar skill on one tier and a dropoff in skill to the next. If I were making a female chaser tier list, I would have Holub and Goh in the first tier by themselves.

Grabbing the last player available in a tier list generally should be considered a victory for a general manager — for reference, my keeper tier one would have been Bell, Rodriguez, and Monroe, so getting two of those late were huge victories for those general managers, and consequently, I feel like D’Amico made a very strong pick here.  Goh has plenty of accolades, including a World Cup runner up appearance and a second-team All American from the Eighth Man.  But the real success of this pick is the value that D’Amico was able to get out of it.

 

Round 1, Pick 8 (GM: Hank Dugie) – Simon Arends, Chaser, Lone Star QC

With the last pick in the round, Dugie was able to take a fourth member of the defending champions from World Cup VI.  In Arends, Dugie got a player who quite literally burst onto the scene — at least on a national scale — for Texas at the game’s highest level.

Arends, as a chaser, is the whole package.  While not particularly tall, Arends has incredible muscle mass which makes him hit like a truck — and makes him just as hard to bring down.  He is comfortable playing on-or-off ball, which is a hallmark of the Texas team that was able to so effectively distribute the role of handling the quaffle. This all adds up to an incredibly solid value pick by Dugie, who can use this and the first pick of the second round to really shape his team. Whether he wants to go for the best keeper available, keep enhancing his chaser core, or start by taking the first male beater in the draft, Dugie is in fantastic shape going forward.

 

Closing Thoughts

My final takeaway would be my surprise that not a single male beater was taken in the first eight picks.  This does not necessarily mean that the general managers feel that beaters are less important than chasers when constructing an elite team — as the presence of two of the best beater cores in the country in the finals last year is a strong counter for this argument.

Rather, they probably feel — as I do — that the beater field is generally fairly large this year, and there are many very solid beaters who could be had in later rounds who can compete well with some of the better known beaters.  In addition, remember that only two beaters play at a time, compared to four quaffle players, and the position tends to not tire as quickly.  Still, I’d expect the beater drought to come to an end in Round 2, and would be very surprised if Lone Star’s Mollie Lensing and the Lost Boys duo of Chris Seto and Peter Lee don’t come off the board by the end of the next round.

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