Antwerp QC, Much of Belgian Core, Leaves Competitive Quidditch

Everyone likes a controversial opinion, and here at The Eighth Man, we are committed to giving you them. With just days left before a World Cup Champion will be crowned, Luke Changet, Kevin Oelze and I sat down to give some of our more interesting predictions.

The Second Tier of the Southwest Will Make Waves

Two teams that I’m eager to see at World Cup are Arkansas and LSU.  This year for the Tigers has been a disappointment, but it’s also been the revival of Brad “Phenom” Armentor.  LSU, out of pot 3, drew into a winnable pool, as they’ll have two likely dogfights with Tufts and Gee-Gees Quidditch.  Look for Armentor to do what he does best: Put the team on his back with support from an extremely underrated set of beaters.

Meanwhile, in the Natural State, Arkansas looks to be locked up in a two-team race to win their pool with the Michigan State Fighting Heppes.  If Arkansas can win this, they will likely enter the bracket with a reasonably high seed, giving them a chance to go far.  Their underwhelming results at Southwest Regionals make Arkansas look a little less hot than they did recently, but I wouldn’t sleep on this team.

-Kevin Oelze

The Midwest Will Fail to Reach the Final Four for the First Time in Three Years

As of right now, there are probably two teams with the ability to put up enough points to make a deep run: Ohio State and Central Michigan. Unfortunately, neither has a good SWIM record, with Central being an underwhelming 3-6 in SWIM situations, while Ohio State sits at 5-5. In order to make deep runs at World Cup, a team has to be able to come through in the seeking game, and neither of these teams has been even the least bit consistent in that regard this season.
There are other contenders, however. Bowling Green has a great beating game and a top-notch seeker who made an incredible run at World Cup last year, but their chaser game has faltered. I no longer feel the Falcons have the chasers necessary to keep games in range against top competition. Their passing game is average at best, and defensively, they don’t have any real threates aside from Zak Hewitt.

Kansas has always had a top chaser game, but the loss of Colby Soden is big, and the loss of Keir Rudolph is even bigger. Before Rudolph’s emergence last season, Kansas was notorious for their lack of a seeking game, and it caused two upset losses to Purdue at the 2012 Midwest Regionals. Michigan and Ball State have both fallen flat this semester, and barring a miracle, I don’t expect either of them in the Sweet 16, much less beyond it. Minnesota was impressive this semester, but that has largely been attributed to their defense working favorably in poor playing conditions. Their athleticism is sub-par compared to the top teams around, and it showed when they were getting beat soundly in the first few minutes of their Ohio State and Central Michigan games at B1G v MAC.

Rounding out the top teams is Michigan State, which is currently operating as a collection of athletes rather than a team. There is talent there, but without a solid passing attack or defensive communication, there’s no way this team makes it past the Sweet 16.
-Luke Changet


Without Harry Greenhouse and Matt Angelico, Maryland could be in for another bracket play nightmare. Credit: Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff

Without Harry Greenhouse and Matt Angelico, Maryland could be in for another bracket play nightmare. Credit: Michael E. Mason/IQA Staff

 Maryland is Out After The Sweet 16

I originally had Maryland as one of my teams that could go really far in World Cup. They had immensely talented chaser and beater lines that could hold just about any team in range, and Harry Greenhouse is a seeker you’d never bet against.  However, with Greenhouse out for World Cup after surgery to heal a dislocated thumb, suddenly, that element goes away, and they look vulnerable enough to possibly not even win their pool – although I still have them as heavy favorites.  At some point early in the bracket, they’re going to run into a team that can stay with them, as they’re likely to face either a pool winner or a highly ranked second seed in the Round of 16, and I don’t think they’ll be able to get out of snitch range, something they’ve been consistently unable to accomplish against solid teams, and that team will almost definitely have the edge at seeker. Without their closer, Maryland’s going to have to be that much better.  I’m not sure they can be.

-Kevin Oelze


With seekers like Miami's David Moyer and Florida Finest's' Tyler Macy, the South has multiple teams equipped for deep tournament runs. Credit: Anna Hotard

With seekers like Miami’s David Moyer and Florida Finest’s’ Tyler Macy, the South has multiple teams equipped for deep tournament runs. Credit: Anna Hotard

The South Will Put One, If Not Two, Teams in the Elite Eight

This might seem a little bit crazy, considering the South put a grand total of zero teams into the Sweet 16 last season, but it’s important to remember that Miami was a controversial no-grab call away from beating Bowling Green and likely making their run to the Final Four last season. This year, Miami is just as capable of doing that again, and Florida’s Finest might join them.

When we’re looking at teams that can make unexpected bracket runs, we want strong beating that can keep a team in a game, and great seeking that can win few close games in a row. Shannon Morehead will be healthy and anchoring the Miami defense, while Sean Pagoada will be just about everywhere for the Finest, and getting past either won’t be easy. And in Sean Snipes of Florida’s Finest and Sean Beloff of Miami, each has a player capable of putting some points on the board. Then we get to seeker, and you realize that before disappearing into the analytic abyss that is Florida, David Moyer was regarded as one of the game’s top seekers, and Tyler Macy made Team USA while playing with Ball State. Both are seekers you don’t want to see across the pitch from you, and both are capable of getting hot at the right time.

I expect both to top their pools, and from there, a win over a lesser team and a close game won on snitch grab against a fellow elite squad will get them to the final eight.

-Ethan Sturm


The NYDC Capitalists Could Miss Bracket Play Entirely

I don’t think this is going to happen, but of all the teams I can see making a deep World Cup run, the Capitalists are the team with the best chance to falter in pool play.  Their beaters are not a strength, and while they have greatly improved, they still are by no means world beaters. Which means that, in a pool with tough, physical defenses, there’s a chance that they could be held in snitch range multiple times by teams, even with their fantastic chaser corps.  With some poor snitch play or bad seeking luck, we could see NYDC unfairly pack their bags after the first day.  My money is still on Austin Quidditch to undeservedly go home out of the pool of death, but I wouldn’t be stunned to see any of the top four teams in the pool end up bowing out.

-Kevin Oelze


There Will be Less Regional Disparity After this Cup

I said the same thing last year and was so very wrong, but now, after having a year to regroup – and after having seen what it takes to make a champion – I expect the elite programs of each region to prove to be more or less on par with each other. I do still think Texas A&M and Lost Boys are the best two teams out there, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if every game from the Elite Eight on was in snitch range.

There are too many elite programs with a chip on their shoulder – Boston University, Miami and Maryland, to name a few – and too many new hopeful elite teams – Emerson, NYDC, LSQC, Florida’s Finest, Ohio State and Central Michigan –  to allow for disparity to last much longer, and all of these teams know what it takes to become title contenders. The Southwest still has the most elite teams, but they’ll have more of a fight in front of them this year.
These newcomers have never been lauded as on the same level as the Southwest, but their results within their regions are impressive. All of them have recorded blowout wins over what is considered to be middle-tier. No, I don’t think any of these teams are good enough to beat A&M or Lost Boys head-to-head on a regular basis, but any team can have a great game, and with all the potential the above teams have, it’s not out of the question that some major upsets could be in the cards

-Luke Changet


The All-Tournament Seeker Will Not Be a Household Name

Last year, Porter Marsh came out of nowhere and stole the seeker show, catching every snitch in sight and carrying Northern Arizona all the way to the Elite Eight. Marsh had the opportunity to do so because his team wasn’t amongst the elite, so he had a lot of relevant catches to make. On the other end of the spectrum, a seeker like Lost Boys’ Steve DiCarlo hasn’t had a single SWIM situation all season because they have been so dominant in the West.

On top of that, the title of best seeker is wide open, with many of the elite faltering of late. Sam Roitblat of Bowling Green couldn’t come through against Rochester at Glass City, Marsh lost to UCLA at Gold Medal, Greenhouse is injured, and Billy Greco lost a SWIM situation to Tufts in regulation at Beantown. Could one of them go on a run, carry their team all the way to the Final Four, and reclaim the top spot? Of course, but, with so many elite teams carrying lesser known seekers, I think it’s far more likely that one of them goes on a snitch grab-supported deep tournament run, thrusting their seeker into the national spotlight.

-Ethan Sturm


None of the Pot Five Teams Will Make Bracket Play

The competition in quidditch has grown too quickly, and Pot Five teams are in Pot Five because they couldn’t keep up. The top three tiers are mostly comprised of teams that have put in the effort to stay competitive. In a competitive sport, that’s what you need to not get crushed every game. In all honesty, Pot Five shouldn’t even exist. It’s an extra game that is almost always out of snitch range that only serves to tire out players more on one of the toughest weekends of their lives.

World Cup is a competition to find the best quidditch team in the world. Pot five teams, by definition, cannot be ranked higher than 65th. The actual highest ranked is 72nd, while the lowest is 123rd. 11-out-of-16 of these teams are ranked in the bottom half of all quidditch teams. Do we really think they have a shot at the title? Maybe in 10 years when all quidditch teams put in the kind of work the top teams do, but at this point, these teams don’t deserve to set foot on the pitch with the likes of Texas A&M, Lone Star, Lost Boys, or even Richmond or Missouri.

This is all without mentioning the injury risk associated with putting top-notch athletes in a competition with players who likely barely work out. It’s not fair to either team, it’s not fair to the spectators, and it’s not fair to the paramedics who have to now deal with injuries that never needed to happen.

-Luke Changet

With Tony on the roster, the Lost Boys are well-equipped to hang with and beat the best of the Southwest. Credit: Kat Ignatova

With Tony on the roster, the Lost Boys are well-equipped to hang with and beat the best of the Southwest. Credit: Kat Ignatova

The Lost Boys Will Win World Cup VII

This isn’t the opinion I feel the most confident about, but just about everyone is picking Texas A&M or Lone Star to walk away with the title, but in my opinion, the Lost Boys have every bit of the same chance. This is a team that was up 30 quaffle points on Baylor in regulation down a handful of key players, including Tony Rodriguez. They also finished their game against the Aggies just out of range. There are easy arguments to be made that at full strength, the Lost Boys win both of those games, and the competition isn’t going to get any more difficult than that.

When it comes down to it, you could make arguments – and I’m not saying these are facts, but that the argument can be made – that The Lost Boys have the game’s best keeper, the game’s two best female chasers, the game’s two best male beaters, and the game’s best seeker. No other team can say that, and I truly believe that Peter Lee and Chris Seto will wreak havoc on the Southwest beaters. Last year, we saw Colin Capello and Jacob Adlis adjust after seeing UCLA at WxSW, but the Aggies never adjusted to what the West is capable of. There is plenty of reason to believe they’ll struggle to do so again this year, and both Lone Star and A&M itself are composed largely of Aggies or ex-Aggies in the beating game.

It’s not an easy call, and it could very well end up being bracket draw dependent, but of the true contenders, the Lost Boys have the best beaters and the best seeker, and I think that’s what’s going to count on Sunday afternoon.

-Ethan Sturm

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