The Eighth Man

University of South Carolina Got a World Cup Bid, and You Should be Pissed About It

Credit: USC Club Quidditch

Credit: USC Club Quidditch

World, meet the University of South Carolina.

The Gamecocks are part of the South Region, a member of the Carolinas Quidditch Conference and the de facto home team of World Cup VII. What they are not, is a World Cup-quality team.

This is in no way an insult to South Carolina. They are a young team – this is only their second competitive season – growing in an under-developed part of the country in terms of quidditch. There’s no expectation that they should be a World Cup level team. And yet here we are.

I’m going to be blunt: The Gamecocks have a single win in an official IQA game this season. Their overall record is 1-11, good for a win percentage of .083 that ranks 142nd amongst official teams, according to Quidditch Reference.

There are the blowout losses to the likes of Miami, South Florida and Florida’s Finest, which are excusable, but there is also the 180-110* beatdown at the hands of East Florida State College. The high point of the season was a 120*^-100 overtime to the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. In total, South Carolina was in snitch range for 6-of-12 games, outscored their opponents in 3-of-12 games, and won just one.

Luckily for the Gamecocks, that one victory was worth the World. After an 0-3 pool play record on Saturday of South Regionals that would have eliminated them from some regionals right then and there, they were put in a bracket play-in game against a familiar foe, the College of Charleston, who they had lost to twice already this season, including the previous day. This time, South Carolina got the better of them, winning 120*-40, but then suffered back-to-back-to-back blowout losses that eliminated them from World Cup contention.

Well, eliminated them briefly, at least. A few weeks later, South Carolina was awarded a bid, the result of the gigantic 80-team World Cup field and a host of dropouts. The Gamecocks, off an 0-5 regular season and a 1-6 regionals tournament, would be headed to Myrtle Beach.

I don’t resent South Carolina. Nor do I blame them. They got a bid within the system in place, and that bid means they have every right to be playing quidditch on the first weekend of April, and honestly, I hope they perform well and show me up. But that bid, based on their performance so far this season, makes a mockery of the both the tournament itself and the teams who worked so hard just to try to make it.

Last season, 60 teams qualified for World Cup VI. It was the same sized field as World Cup V, and the biggest field ever used for a World Cup before this season. Even with a field 20 teams smaller than it will be this year, much of Day One lacked competitive or entertaining games. Here are the negative quaffle point margins of Pot Four and Five teams from World Cup VI in games, broken down by what percent of games had that margin or greater :

40+ 70+ 100+
Pot Four 56% 33% 14%
Pot Five 75% 63% 52%

 

To clarify, what this chart is saying is that pot five teams couldn’t stay in snitch range in 75 percent of their games, and couldn’t even stay within 100 point in more than half. Pot four teams, meanwhile, could generally avoid absolute blowouts, but still only managed to be in snitch range of higher pot teams 44 percent of the time.

What’s perhaps scariest to think about is that the World Cup V and VI Pot Four and Pot Five were made up of the teams ranked 37-48 and 49-60 in the field, respectively. This year, Pots Four and Five are the teams ranked 49-64 and 65-80. Last year’s Pot Five is this year’s Pot Four.

What this leaves us is diluted gameplay. We all live to see games like last year’s quarterfinal between Bowling Green and the Lost Boys, but the glory of games like those are blocking our memory of the endless trog of the previous day. Games had to go to all hours of the night Saturday just to get pool play in. Both referee and snitch staff were stretched thin, leading to a drop in quality that wasn’t rectified until the best of each could be consolidated onto three or four pitches at the end of Sunday.

And for what? So that teams whose chances of winning the Cup were lower than a meteor landing on Austin-Tindall Park that weekend could be blown out for four straight games? I can’t imagine a world in which that’s worth it, other than one based on padding the bottom line.

There are numerous possible fixes to this system. The size of the tournament can simply be reduced, either by adding an intermediate tournament – think college baseball’s “Superregionals” – or simply by cutting down on how many teams qualify from Regionals, which will actually give Regionals some relevance back.

The division-based system could be brought back, but that would involve more teams committing to playing in Div. II of World Cup to avoid a repeat of last year, in which Div. II was largely just made up of local and semi-local competitors. Alternatively, the tournament itself could switch to a format that is in some way tiered so that we can have more games between elite teams without punishing them for having to play the more difficult games.

It obviously took a lot for South Carolina to end up in the World Cup, including a large number of international dropouts, another pressing issue but not one I’m qualified to debate in a coherent manner. But just the fact that there was a scenario in which a 1-11 team could not just enter but actually qualify for our sport’s championship is a slap in the face to the competitive side of quidditch.

 

22 Comments

  1. Star Trek Snitch

    March 12, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    As the seeker/snitch I am actually very upset that they received a bid for world cup. They are not deserving of such an opportunity as other teams (such as College of Charleston). I would like to see this rectified in following years so a team that is not 1-11 can have an opportunity to actually achieve something at world cup.

  2. Jacqui

    March 12, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    Hi, former co-captain and founding member of USC Quidditch here. You are right in certain aspects, like that USC is a young team in a region generally less supported and fairly new to the IQA. But first of all, I would like to point out that this is not USC’s first time at Regionals, nor will it be their first time at World Cup. Also, I think it’s incredibly unfair to say that anyone “should be pissed” that USC (who did not qualify for World originally) is going to World. USC went to Regionals and they outperformed at least 2 teams, earning them a right to that deferred bid. They have had some rough games, largely a factor of their newness, but they showed up and performed well enough at Regionals to earn what they earned and I don’t see any reason why that shouldn’t be respected just as much as any other team that received a deferred bid. I don’t see any reason to pick on USC over any other team receiving a deferred bid, especially since every region this year received a deferred bid.

  3. SWMember

    March 12, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    It is pretty classless that instead of writing an article about the issues you are upset with, you wrote an entire article about a team and how undeserving they were. Just because you write “This is no way an insult to South Carolina”…ITS AN ENTIRE ARTICLE ABOUT HOW SOUTH CAROLINA ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH TO HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY THEY HAVE. HOW IS THIS NOT INSULTING???

    I could have written an entire article that high lights why there is a problem with the system and what could be done to fix it without mentioning South Carolina once.

    Its because of idiots like you that this sport is dying with new teams dropping off everywhere. It is a competitive sport that still needs new teams and growth to survive, now more than ever. IT WOULD HELP IF YOU DIDN’T POST ARTICLES ABOUT EVERY NEGATIVE EMOTION THAT YOU FEEL ABOUT OTHER QUIDDITCH TEAMS.

    FFS, why don’t you cite the University of Houston, the team that after not qualifying at regionals, received an automatic bid because of drop outs, and then was found to use 12 illegal players and still be allowed to play at the World Cup?? A team that has alumni from other programs on it to guide it through the system even!!! God bless South Carolina for doing what they can with how the system is without trying to abuse it. .

    This article is why this sport is becoming stupid. Just play it, if you don’t like what is happening, be an athlete, train harder and play harder. That’s how the sport becomes more legitimate. Not by you making angsty annoying poorly thought out articles.

    Also, eigthman used to be a respectable site for quidditch news. Bad times though, huh guys? Gotta resort to passing trash like this now to stay relevant? You’re a joke…GTFO.

    • SupportSW

      March 12, 2014 at 11:33 pm

      You should write both articles
      1) anger with UH
      – cheating, intentional or not, should not be justified or excused in the IQA
      2)problems with system without mentioning South Carolina

      Good luck south carolina

    • meg

      March 12, 2014 at 11:41 pm

      I <3 you.

    • Peter Johannigman

      March 13, 2014 at 2:01 am

      My response to all of the claims that he’s being really insulting to South Carolina… grow up. This is a sport. Some teams win, some teams lose, most teams do plenty of both. Ethan never insulted the character or personal worth of anyone on the team. He never said they had a 1-11 record because they didn’t try hard enough. He said that THIS SEASON, they haven’t proven that they’re capable of competing at a top level. The same could be said about lots of other teams who ended up with spots at this World Cup, but using South Carolina as an example made for a better article. It’s hard to argue against a 1-11 record.

      In the latter half of the article, he explains that many teams in last year’s significantly smaller tournament showed that they couldn’t compete at a top level either.

      “It is a competitive sport that still needs new teams and growth to survive, now more than ever.” — Having been on the losing end of blowout games before, I’m confident in saying that they aren’t going to help the sport grow. There were lots of them at World Cup last year, and it looks like there will be even more this year, since the pool has expanded.

      The best way to learn and grow is by having as many close, competitive games as possible, and splitting into separate divisions is the best way to do that. I’m not saying it’s a simple solution, but I think it’s the best one.

  4. fma

    March 12, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    Ethan Sturm is an asshole who would target a developing team just to get page views. This is not in any way an insult to Ethan Sturm, but he should be ashamed.

  5. Friendly

    March 13, 2014 at 12:55 am

    Good luck at World Cup, USC!

  6. Daniel Daugherty

    March 13, 2014 at 12:57 am

    I want all of you to understand that this is journalism. Everyone wants journalism and then nobody can handle it. What Ethan did here is use South Carolina as a hook. He gave the biggest example of his point to make people read it and relate to it. If he writes this article without using a single team’s name then it becomes just words and not as real to us. And if he wanted to write about all of the suspensions then he probably would have talked about Houston but he didn’t want to write about the suspensions, he wanted to write about the World Cup system as a whole essentially. I get you all want South Carolina to be able to grow and become a better program and I am not saying I agree or disagree with Ethan. All I am saying is understand why he did it. He is not being an asshole because he based his argument at South Carolina’s expense.

  7. Will Hack

    March 13, 2014 at 1:37 am

    What we should all be talking about here is the sentence, “What they are not, is a World Cup-quality team.”

    Grammatically, what on Earth is going on here? What is that comma? A comma splice? A typo? I don’t have the faintest clue, but what it isn’t is proper English. World-renowned quidditch afficionado Ethan Sturm should be ashamed of this shoddy journalism.

    • TheBeardedOne

      March 13, 2014 at 1:00 pm

      Will, this made me laugh out loud.

  8. Hank Dugie

    March 13, 2014 at 2:25 am

    For clarification purposes, Cougar Quidditch is technically only losing six players and our captain (pending appeals that as of now have been refused to be heard). Six players dropped from the team at different points before regionals, so new players were added to fill their spots and give other young players the opportunity to grow in the sport. We were excited to see our hard work pay off at regionals with several wins and even more excited to find out we got the alternate SW bid. As a brand new team with a first year captain and all but one first year players, we were able to teach the sport to more than 40 unique individuals and showcase the sport at a large university where of it was previously unheard.

    Furthermore, I stand by the statement I made earlier in an #iqaforums thread in my support for Kelby Brooks (our captain) and the fact that suspensions in this case were made rashly and extreme. And although my company attorneys informed me the IQA policies would not hold up to a challenge in court, it is not my or any other Cougar Quidditch player’s intent to rectify them in this way. If officials wish to use this as an opportunity to beat on their chests and show “authority” then by all means, please proceed. If they want to improve the sport and association as do we all, I am willing to participate in open and respectful dialogue with them. I only hope that if one of the other three teams follow through with legal action, that the rest of ours membership dues do not go up. It seems to me that since we’ve started paying for membership, services and quality of experience have gone down.

    I look forward to seeing a lot of you at World Cup VII and wish you the best of luck in your goals, whatever they are: competing at WC; providing high quality refereeing, snitching, cheering and supporting one another; or trolling and tearing other teams down.

    The only way OUR sport will grow is if individuals continue to break through the increasing bureaucracy and hurdles placed in front of them to teach new players the game.

    Much love.

  9. Brit Snitch

    March 13, 2014 at 5:29 am

    I am a Gamecock Fan. I was also on the lowest ranked US team going into WCVI – yet our first pool play game was 30-30 when the snitch came back. So I have hopes for them.

    What I DO agree with in the over stretched snitching. As a snitch we throw our all into that game – whether it’s the UT / A&M match up or the UT / who-the-heck-are-they-team – which does lead to injuries, exhaustion, and general fatigue. I agree with Ethan here on many points.

    Edgy journalism too – why the heck not?

    (COME ON GAMECOCKS!)

  10. Graham Walsh

    March 13, 2014 at 10:20 am

    Quidditch isnt a sport. Its make believe flying wizard game literally taken from a children’s fantasy novel. Get over yourselves and stop being a bully, you arent that important.

    • Hanna

      April 2, 2014 at 10:34 pm

      Obviously you’ve never truly played a game against a real team, otherwise you’d realize it is a real sport. If you don’t have respect for something those of us who play take pride in, then your opinion is not “that important.” So please refer to a separate page.

  11. ryan bowers

    March 13, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    As Dan said, the use of South Carolina made the argument in the article more clear. What will grab your attention more as you scan the website for something to read? 1. The IQA bidding process needs to change.
    2. South Carolina got a bid and you should be pissed.
    He used the team because it was a clear example of what he believes is a process that should be fixed.
    As Dan said, this is journalism, sure other teams could have been used but South Carolina was the best example to point out what Ethan sees as a serious flaw in the bidding process.

  12. Duncan Ferguson

    March 13, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    To the General Community

    Largely, I agree with Ethan. I would imagine that a deferred bid in a region would go to the next best, essentially. There are many teams in each region; I don’t know the South region very well, but I can’t imagine that the next best team that did not qualify at Regionals was a team that is 1-11.

    LSU is drastically better than that, but we had to fight tooth and nail to get that last win at Regionals — we didn’t play any easy teams. I’m not even sure if LSU would have gotten a deferred bid (mainly because I have no idea how the IQA comes up with who). World Cup is supposed to be the best of the best. The best of each region and then use World Cup to decide who the real best is.

    I will say that teams do take a surprising turn at WC; notably, there was a considerable amount of people that thought Miami would knock out BGSU at WCVI, and that didn’t happen. So maybe the Gamecocks will show up with better game. . . But that’s incredibly unlikely, in my opinion.

    Also, the Gamecocks shouldn’t really be insulted. Ethan pointed out that the system is flawed due to a team with an unimpressive record still qualified. If he didn’t mention any team, people would either A) Not believe him because he didn’t mention any team, B) Look up stats and qualified teams themselves and figure it out, or C) Ask him what team he may or may not be referring to. — Basically, you can’t try to prove a point without an example, and Ethan’s example was Gamecocks. It had to be somebody.

    tl;dr The system sucks and if the Gamecocks are upset over the article it’s because the truth hurts.

    • Jacqui

      March 13, 2014 at 7:19 pm

      The next best team to go to Regionals was USC. Regardless of your problems with the IQA metric, USC was the next best team according to that metric so writing a whole article about how they don’t deserve to go is rude and unfair to USC. They deserve to go just the way that any other team that received a deferred bid deserves to go because they performed next best at the qualifying tournament, for better or for worse. They did well by the system IQA has put in place and now everyone wants to demonize them for it.
      By the way, I don’t consider it very professional for the IQA to put certain regulations and rules into place and then have their regional representatives going out of their way to demean a team that qualified for World based on those rules.

  13. TheBeardedOne

    March 13, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    I will simply comment on the fact I was there. I was snitching the first USC-CofC game and it was a very even match, both teams were holding their own very well. They had something to fight for.

    The rematch was heartbreaking, because everyone thought that CofC would qualify easily given their quality play throughout the year. But one game matters.
    The fact that in the elimination round that the underdog stepped up and won the game, there is nothing wrong with that.
    Would we be excited for March Madness if the underdog couldn’t upset Kansas, Duke, UNC, Arizona? Of course not. Without the George Mason’s, VCU’s, and Wichita State’s in the tournament it wouldn’t be worth watching. This is why regionals is exciting, a small team (Like QCC last year) can step up and surprise everyone. Does that make them undeserving of a bid in the current system? No.

    Were we to change the system to rankings and quality of season in order to get the chance to qualify perhaps there would be a better argument here.

    Even if they crash out, the excitement at regionals was worth it to me for them to get this consolation “someone else dropped” bid.

  14. ralph

    March 13, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Ethan is my regional. Rep. For the global cup..so i have to take his back. I Dont think that a team who went 1-11 should be able to get in the world cup. And because they are means something is wrong

    • Kyle Sanson

      March 14, 2014 at 2:28 pm

      Ralphed.

  15. Brad Armentor

    March 14, 2014 at 7:39 am

    1. the people who are commenting and being pissed but do it anonymously: lol really?

    2. if you’re mad about this article you do not understand sports journalism

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