Antwerp QC, Much of Belgian Core, Leaves Competitive Quidditch

Open Space is a series of articles focused on the developing tactics in our ever-growing sport. In the second edition, we look at how to us the 1.5 bludger strategy and how to properly defend against it.

In quidditch, it seems like new strategies are popping up every day. One particular play, developed sometime around World Cup V, gives the team employing it an overpowering offensive edge that is extremely difficult to counter. That play is the 1.5 bludger strategy.

It is hard to pinpoint exactly where the strategy developed, and just about every region—well, except the Northeast—takes credit for it to some degree. Because of its varied origins, it also has many names. The South calls it Bull Rush, because it was first implemented there by Sean Pagoada at the University of South Florida, the Bulls. The West calls it Napalm and many other names exist as well. But for this article, I will refer to it as the 1.5 bludger strategy. In short, the plan is, when a team has bludger control and is on offense, one of their beaters leaves their bludger behind and goes up with the offense to eliminate the sole defensive beater, giving the offense a “no-bludger opportunity.”

Every beater runs the 1.5 bludger strategy differently and defends against it differently. This article will outline how to run it so that your team can add it to its repertoire, and how to defend against it so your team is prepared to counter the play.

1.5 Offense
As the offensive beater running the 1.5 bludger strategy, you have one goal: take the defense’s bludger out of play. There are multiple ways to do this. Many beaters go straight for the tackle, while others will just scare the defensive beater into throwing their bludger at them, creating a no-bludger opportunity as the defensive beater runs after their ricocheted bludger. However you go about it, remember that you need to give the chasers as much time against no bludgers as possible. For that reason, I like to go for the tackle.

By taking the defensive beater to the ground and attempting to strip their bludger, they cannot possibly make a play on the quaffle. While on the ground, on top of the other team’s beater, you have the opportunity to watch the play and be fairly aware of what is going on around the rest of the pitch. After the ploy has been enacted, you have to be aware of how the play develops. By the time the other team gets back on offense, you should already be returning to your defensive.

See how at 7:20, the Texas State University beater initiates the 1.5 strategy against the Emerson College beater. The Emerson beater makes the beat on the Texas State beater, giving the Texas State offense a no-bludger opportunity.

Defending Against 1.5
There are multiple ways a team can defend against 1.5, some riskier than others. But when choosing how you will defend against it, remember that the opposing beater’s goal is not just to tackle you, but simply to take your bludger out of the play. Any defensive strategy that keeps you from being tackled, but also costs you your bludger, is not worthwhile. That includes just about any strategy that involves a beat that is not on the quaffle carrier

When dealing with 1.5 bludgers, many beaters are seduced by the loose bludger left by the offensive team’s hoops and will try to retrieve it. While this can work, especially if the beater guarding the bludger is a weaker player, it leaves your defensive beater with no protection from the attacking offensive beater. So, unless your defensive beater is talented enough to not get held up at all by the offensive beater, this strategy tends to be inefficient: a low-percentage attempt at getting back bludger control that heavily increases your opponents chances of scoring.

At 6:34, you will see the University of Texas beater make an attempt to 1.5, and the Texas State beater will respond by going to make a play for bludger control, leaving his beating partner defenseless against the Texas beater. Even though the Texas State beater with a bludger does her best to stay in the play, the Texas beater kept her occupied long enough for the Texas offense to score.

Probably the most basic and useful method of defense against the 1.5 bludger strategy is to have the bludger-less defensive beater act as a shield for the defensive beater that has the bludger. The offensive beater cannot charge through the human shield by rule, so, as long as the defensive beater can stay in front of the offensive beater and keep them at bay with a stiff arm, the 1.5 bludger strategy will fail. Even if the offensive beater gets past the blocker, they can be pushed to one side, allowing the beater with the bludger to step up around the other side and pressure the quaffle carrier.

Watch at 5:40 how the Lone Star Quidditch Club beater defends his beating partner from the offensive Texas beater so that she is able to play on the quaffle and help prevent a goal.

The third way to defend against the 1.5 bludger strategy is one that takes the most communication and teamwork between the two defensive beaters. Once the offensive beater makes contact with the defensive beater with a bludger, they pass their bludger to the other defensive beater, who can now make a play on the quaffle. While some teams will use this method by itself, you will see other teams use this method only as a last resort, if the second method of defense, mentioned above, fails.

In this clip, you can see how the defensive beater passes the bludger to his teammate right as the offensive beater commits to him, which allows his beating partner to make a great play on the quaffle.

At 15:35, note that after the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill beater breaks the defensive wall of the top University of Maryland beater, the second Maryland beater—the one with the bludger—makes the pass to the top Maryland beater so that he can continue to play on the quaffle.

The final strategy is the simplest, but also the one that requires agility and other specific skills. Many offensive beaters will charge into their tackle, giving an aware, quick beater the opportunity to sidestep the tackle. They will then step up to attack the quaffle carrier as the other beater is recovering from behind. This also gets into a more basic issue with many beaters: they are flat-footed in the middle of the defense. Just like a quaffle carrier about to be tackled will be on their toes ready to try to get around it, a beater being attacked by the 1.5 strategy should be doing the exact same thing.

The 1.5-strategy has become so prolific in our sport not because it is unstoppable, but because so many teams do an inefficient job of defending against it. These defenses are not flawless, but they are effective enough to make teams think twice about running the strategy as their primary offense. Maryland’s starting beater Jeremy Dehn is a perfect example: after having success against Maryland with the 1.5 strategy earlier in the season, UNC went 0-for-5 when using it against Dehn in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship final. If more teams learn to defend the strategy in effective ways, quidditch teams will be forced to find the next offensive innovation and the 1.5-strategy will simply become another strategy, as opposed to the all-encompassing game plan it has been this season.

While these are the most commonly used methods of 1.5 bludger offense and defense, the sport is young and new strategies are being thought up every day.  Feel free to comment below or contact The Eighth Man staff with your specific strategy!

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