Antwerp QC, Much of Belgian Core, Leaves Competitive Quidditch

This Sunday, millions of eyes will be glued to their screens, watching with bated breath to learn… who will be crowned the USQ Southwest Regional Champion. 

Roughly 1,800 miles down Interstate 10, in the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, the Oscar for Best Picture (“The Southwest Regional Champion of Movie Awards” as it has been known to be called) will also be awarded. Meanwhile, a bunch of other teams will win bids and a bunch of other movies will win awards like Best Mixing and the pundits who care about each will watch those awards roll in throughout the rest of Sunday.

For those who may have some casual familiarity with both events, but too little time to read a preview on both, do not fear! This article seeks to give you a baseline primer on both events, so you can spend the extra time you would have spent reading two articles instead scrolling Instagram while you procrastinate putting away your laundry.

There are 10 teams competing for the Southwest Regional title and nine movies plus a couple snubs that are in the running for Best Picture, and symmetry like that just cannot be ignored. As such, I will be comparing each team to a film nominated for the Oscars, and hopefully giving you a full breakdown of where each event stands at the moment.

1) University of Texas/1917

There are not a lot of surprises with what you’ll get here. Both are heavy favorites to win it all, with Elo giving the University of Texas a 73 percent chance of winning regionals and Vegas giving 1917 -250 odds to win Best Picture. Both are pretty quintessential versions of either a Texas team or a war movie, with the exception that both execute at the highest level of technical performance we’ve seen from either genre. While you might not necessarily be a big fan of either, it is very hard to deny that either of these is very good at what they do.
Watch Out: 

While his name draws the spotlight, USNT’s Tate Kay isn’t the only force on the Texas beaters corps. The depth of this lineup features Kasye Bevers, Richmond Keeling, Purvi Mujumdar and Jack Wang, and among the five of them feature the scariest all around beater corps in the country.
1917’s director Sam Mendes and director of cinematography Roger Deacons painstakingly shot and edited the movie to appear as a one-shot film, bringing the viewer along on a two-hour excursion into one day of one of the most cinematographically overlooked wars of the 20th century.

2) Texas State University/The Joker

You can’t write either of these out of the conversation this weekend. Both are a lock to be in the thick of it–Texas State University holds the Southwest collegiate record for regional championship finals appearances (three), and The Joker leads the way in Oscar nominations (11). Ultimately, though, finals appearances don’t always lead to wins and nominations don’t always lead to Oscars, and if either ends up winning the whole thing, it would certainly be an upset over the heavy favorite. Despite that, both have a ride-or-die fanbase that would fight anyone who claimed that this wasn’t the best team/movie of the year, and it’s precisely the grit each brings to their craft that makes them so special.

Watch Out: Frankly, The Joker is the one film in the running I haven’t seen this year, and Texas State is the one college team in the running I’ve seen the least of, so it works out. That said, I’ve heard Joaquin Phoenix’s performance is gritty, talented and intense, and if any three words describe Texas State, it’s gritty, talented and intense.

3) UTSA/Parasite

Roughly 10 months ago, UTSA limped out of a USQ Cup in their own backyard with a handful of players in an out of range loss to University of Missouri. With multiple key players graduating, many had written off UTSA before this season even started, seeing their Sunday performance at USQ Cup 12 as a sign of things to come. Similarly, when Parasite debuted in early October, few people had even heard of this film, and even fewer saw it–it grossed less than $400k in its opening weekend. A strong recruiting class by UTSA and a powerful word-of-mouth campaign for Parasite has quickly turned both from being written off as “also-rans” to top contenders to win it all this weekend. With both bringing an unconventional style to the field, if an upset does occur this weekend, don’t be surprised if it’s at the hands of UTSA or Parasite.

Watch Out: Parasite is a thrill ride, and the less you know going in, the more exciting it is. That said, look for veteran director Bong Joon-Ho (Snowpiercer [2013], Okja [2017]) and veteran beater Daniel Williams to play a similar role in directing whatever comes out of these productions–I guarantee you both are worth watching.

4) Texas A&M University/Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

While longtime fans might equate Texas A&M University and Quentin Tarantino with their more *ahem* violent histories, it is clear that as we enter their third and fifth active decades, respectively, that both have mellowed that tendency to focus on their love of their craft. That being said, both still keep flickers of that hot streak for which we know them, whether it be Tarantino’s quick flashes to gory violence and long solipsistic scenes that highlight an actor’s performance, or Texas A&M’s punishingly strong chaser line that makes no point against them come easy. Vegas gives Hollywood the third-best chance of unseating 1917 for best picture, and when parsing through this season’s games, you’ll find that A&M is the only college team to hold Texas within 60 quaffle points–a feat they’ve accomplished twice. If A&M can walk away with a win over Texas, it will likely come in a scrappy, physical game with a drawn out finish. What better homage to Tarantino’s ninth movie could you ask for?

Watch Out: While it is no surprise that Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio’s acting talent is cranked up to 11 in the crucible that is this Tarantino film, it is Margot Robbie’s brief but poignant acting that steals the scene every time she’s on camera.
While his playtime might outnumber that of Robbie’s, watch out for keeper and USNTDA athlete Connor McIntyre to do just as much scene stealing for A&M. While this is generally a defensively-minded team, expect McIntyre’s leadership to light up their offense when he’s on pitch.

5) SHSU/Jojo Rabbit

Defining Jojo Rabbit’s genre is a hard, if not impossible, task. Is it a war movie? A coming of age film? A drama? A dark comedy? In the same way, it’s hard to immediately qualify SHSU. They are one part veteran beater corps, one part upstart young talent, one part heavy hitters and one part shooting finesse. It’s hard to know exactly which SHSU team you’re going to see, making them a difficult team for which to plan. While they may not have the veteran depth to challenge Texas for a title, this team certainly has the talent to make games interesting for any of the teams in the middle-tier, and should provide for some immensely entertaining quidditch as they give UTSA, Texas State and A&M a run for their money. Neither Jojo Rabbit nor SHSU need to be defined to be appreciated–both promise an immensely entertaining watch that any spectator this weekend would be loath to miss out on.

Watch Out: Taika Waititi has quickly become one of the best emerging comedic directors of the past decade, and his ability to build chemistry on a range of projects peaked with Jojo Rabbit, his most enjoyable film to date. Likewise, beater pair Baldemar Nunez and Katherine Hayworth bring the best beater chemistry in the region to the pitch. SHSU’s performance depends on their ability to take over games, and if they can do so in the big minutes needed throughout their nine-game schedule, it will be hard to count SHSU out of a high finish this weekend.

6) LSU/Marriage Story

With only a limited theatrical release and only two small tournaments under their belt, it’s possible that both Marriage Story and LSU, respectively, have flown far under even moderate fans’ radars in the leadup to this weekend. Both rely on fairly small casts to accomplish what they need to, with much of the allure coming from the standout performance of powerful duos. In Marriage Story, that duo is played by Adam Driver and Scarlet Johannsen, a married couple coming to terms with how their codependent relationship is tested by divorce. For LSU, that duo is their primary beater pairing, Freddy Zarazua and Stefan Matthews–the most aggressive dual-male beater pair consistently seen in the region. While Marriage Story’s small scope may hold it back from winning any bigger prizes, expect Driver, Johansson and a supporting Laura Dern to fight tooth and nail in the acting categories. Similarly, while LSU’s depth–or lack thereof–may hold them back from medaling in a nine-game slog, expect their beating to keep them in games if their developing quaffle talent can keep pace.

Watch Out: Marriage Story is primarily set in Los Angeles, and if there’s one thing Oscar voters love, it’s stories set in the City of Angels; it’s essentially a home-field advantage. Meanwhile, LSU will be playing this tournament on their campus, giving them a much-needed home field advantage of their own. If LSU can come away with one of the six bids this weekend, their expanded local player and fan base might just be the reason why.

7) Texas Tech University/Little Women

Similarly to LSU, Texas Tech University will be bringing a short roster to the Southwest Regional Championship. While both Little Women and Tech are longshots at winning the whole thing, both are expected to be tough fighters within their particular categories. For Little Women, that means its superstar cast scrapping it out in the acting and costume categories, with both Saoirse Ronan and Florence Pugh nominated for their performances. For Texas Tech, that means scrapping it out for one of the six bids to nationals. USQ rankings put them in seventh, one slot short of a bid, while The Eighth Man’s Elo ratings have them sixth, just in the running. No matter how things end up falling, both the movie and the team provide a fresh look at a classic novel and a classic Southwest quidditch program, something fans of both can cheer on throughout the weekend as they work to adapt those identities into the new decade.

8) Baylor University/The Irishman

At 200 minutes and some change, The Irishman is one of the longest movies to find its way into the Best Picture category in Oscar history. While it is unlikely that Baylor University plays any games that long, their presence at this tournament brings with it Gabe Garcez, meaning that another team slogging through a game of that length isn’t out of the question. Both the film and the team are powerfully strung together by a huge performer. In The Irishman’s case, it’s Robert De Niro playing the titular Frank Sheeran, a Philadelphia-based mob adjacent and ultimate henchman for Jimmy Hoffa. For Baylor, it’s keeper Ian Quincy, whose time on MLQ’s Austin Outlaws has made him a veritable wall on defense and a truck on a fastbreak. Both Martin Scorsese’s and Baylor’s heydays may be somewhat behind them, but a casual fan watching either the film or the team play would be forgiven for not knowing it. Both come out ready to hit hard and not be subtle about it, and when all else fails, turn the reins over to Quincy and De Niro and let them do what they do best.

9) Austin Quidditch/Knives Out

Knives Out technically isn’t nominated for Best Picture (though it still earned a nomination for Best Original Screenplay, which, if you ask me, is the second best thing). But Austin Quidditch theoretically does have a chance at upsetting Texas, their program’s upper team, making this comparison slightly unfair. However, the chances of either ending up with the hardware may ultimately be one and the same. Knives Out doesn’t need your “Best Picture” awards, though, simply because it’s a perfectly fun movie all on its own. While many of the films listed here are dramatic and serious, Knives Out comes in to have a good time, and a dubious Southern accent from Daniel Craig aside, does exactly that. Austin Quidditch is coming out to Baton Rouge this weekend to fight for their bid to nationals. Whether they walk away with one or not, I can guarantee you they’ll have as much fun as Jamie Lee Curtis, Craig, Chris Evans and company clearly had filming Knives Out.

10) Silver Phoenix/Ford vs. Ferrari

I’ll be frank, I haven’t seen Silver Phoenix nor Ford vs. Ferrari this season, but despite that, there are a couple of extrapolations I am very ready to make here. Ford vs. Ferrari puts Matt Damon and Christian Bale into two very fast cars and lets them (I would assume) race one another very quickly. Meanwhile, Silver Phoenix has always been a team that has done two things very effectively: develop a strong core of players, and recruit really really fast people. I can’t imagine a world in which Silver Phoenix doesn’t have at least three of the top 10 fastest players at regionals, and for that reason alone, I think they’re a perfect fit for Ford vs. Ferrari.

11) (Honorable Mention) Bobcat Quidditch/Hustlers

Due to logistical issues, Bobcat Quidditch is, unfortunately, unable to attend regionals for the  first time in program history. At the same time, the Jennifer Lopez/Constance Wu smash hit, Hustlers, was completely snubbed from the Oscar nominations. I can only assume it was less than logistical issues. Both events are worse off without them, and their presence will be missed, but to the Bobcats and the Jennifer Lopezes of the world, I say:

Keep hustlin’.

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