Antwerp QC, Much of Belgian Core, Leaves Competitive Quidditch

Credit: Seabass Photography

In addition to our preseason rankings, The Eighth Man staff will be releasing a series of articles focusing on the top 10 club teams and top 10 collegiate teams. Each article will be written by two members of the staff, one who believes the team will live up to or exceed expectations and one who thinks they will come up short. 

The Field for the Win
By Kevin Oelze, Technical Director

By all accounts, last year was a huge success for The Warriors. They rode a largely-uncontested Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship to a pot-one placement at USQ Cup 11, taking second in their pool—only dropping a game to finalist Lone Star Q.C. They were knocked out of the bracket in the quarterfinals by the Bosnyan Bearsharks in a 310*-220 game that was much closer before a prolonged snitch on pitch allowed the victors to eventually pull away.

All of this is an extremely long way of saying: are you guys insane? For The Warriors to meet expectations this year, they would need to improve on what was already their best season. The three teams in front of them in the rankings—Texas Cavalry, Texas Hill Country Heat and Bosnyan—are all teams that seem to be clearly better than they are, which gives The Warriors literally no margin for error to hold up to their No. 4 ranking. Below them, however, are teams that could easily push them: Q.C. Boston, the Los Angeles Gambits and Nomads are all teams that could easily push over The Warriors if things turn out well for them. Rochester Hailstorm is a program emerging that has competed with The Warriors for years on relatively equal footing. Now tell me, if you had a gun to your head—if you had to pick a team for the fourth slot—would you pick The Warriors or the field? I don’t think it’s a remotely close choice.

This, of course, ignores any flaws they have on the pitch. While their male beater core will get a boost with Tyler Walker in Gotham, this doesn’t really help address any of their weaknesses. In the beater game, their biggest hole comes in their non-male beater depth, with the team mostly being anchored by Rachel Ayella-Silver and Amanda Dallas, an injury to either one—as we witnessed when Dallas was unable to play in the Bosnyan USQ Cup game—takes their depth down to absolutely nothing. Also, with Frank Minson heading back to NYU, their seeking rotation consists of effectively only Mo Haggag. Lastly—and perhaps most importantly—while their chaser line is stocked with athletic players of multiple genders, there is no real standout who can carry the scoring load in a prolonged match in the way other top teams have. As an enthusiast of team quidditch, I love the idea of a team not built around stars but instead built around chemistry and athleticism. However, for better or for worse, superstars are how you be a truly elite team in quidditch, and The Warriors don’t really have any. They have great individual players, but nobody who has really ascended to the level of superstar in the quaffle game.

Could The Warriors make the semifinals of a national tournament? Of course. But if I were a gambling man, would I bet on it? Not on your life.

Credit: Mike Iadevaia

It’s #WARtime
By David Hoops, Correspondent

The Warriors find themselves starting the 2018-19 season with the highest pre-season ranking in team history, but one well-earned after a successful past season. Last year, The Warriors dominated the Mid-Atlantic and looked like a Final Four-caliber talent during their marathon quarterfinal loss to the Bosnyan Bearsharks. A No. 4 ranking to start after losing no relevant talent from the year before feels accurate.

In my opinion, the question for The Warriors is not whether they will live up to being a top-5 squad in the club scene. After a summer leading the USNT back to the promised land, the real question for coaches Michael “Yada” Parada and Amanda Dallas is: are The Warriors ready to compete for their own gold medal?

Some key new additions, one in each facet of the game, may breathe life into a team that has struggled to get over the final hump. Joining the quaffle line after a standout summer with MLQ’s New York Titans is keeper J.C. Arencibia, from last season’s Bosnyan Bearsharks. Arencibia and returning keeper Shawn Hazlett were the Titans’ most consistent offensive threats, with Arencibia’s shooting providing some much needed outside threat to stretch the opposing defense. A starting quaffle line of Arencibia, Parada, Lindsay Marella and Taylor Crawford should be able to score from all over the pitch and will subtly provide some of the most physical defense outside of the state of Texas.

Joining Arencibia is one of the biggest names in today’s beating hierarchy: Lake Erie Elite and Indianapolis Intensity standout Tyler Walker. The driving force behind Intensity’s 2017 run to the MLQ championship final, Walker’s elite athleticism gives an air of unpredictability to The Warriors’s beating corps that has long been defined by consistent play. Whether Walker brings The Warriors’s beaters out of an occasionally vanilla gameplan or not, the sheer talent he offers provides unprecedented depth at a position where you can never have too much. Walker’s ability in the snitch game, especially, has been proven time and time again to be at the top of the class.

A pessimist may say that these two new additions aren’t enough to push them over the hump; that Arencibia will struggle to adjust to his new teammates and that Walker needs more time to acclimate to a different beating landscape in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Even if those critics end up right, this is still the core—and almost all of the depth, minus yours truly—that went blow-for-blow with a two-time Final Four Bearshark squad. A top-5 finish isn’t what The Warriors are fighting for this season. The Warriors are out to play.

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