Antwerp QC, Much of Belgian Core, Leaves Competitive Quidditch

Credit: Miguel Esparza

The Season Opener

The Detroit Innovators and Indianapolis Intensity kick off the 2018 MLQ season tomorrow with a series that has been very lopsided in the past. Sitting at 9-0 all time, this series should add three to Indianapolis’ winning streak.

Coming off their best season, record-wise, and putting forth the most-complete Innovators roster in MLQ history spells an upward trend for Detroit. It is unfortunate this series takes place on on the dates that it does. Detroit’s biggest losses come at beater and point chaser. Missing 2-time US National Team athlete Ashley Calhoun is tough, but losing Evan Hoopingarner makes it tougher for Detroit. The squad cannot comfortably switch to a dual-male set without him, and the lack of Calhoun suggests that is the best move. Along with the beating duo, the Innovators lack two of their best defenders: Jacob Russell and Brock Lowery. However, without these two, Detroit may opt to play a faster-paced game behind speedy chasers like Mae Overholt, Tawfik Abbas or JD Hopton. The faster the pace Detroit can put on the pitch, the more luck the team should see. That being said, a diminished beating core and a lack of point defenders, still spells an Indianapolis win.

Though Intensity should come out on top, it will not be playing its only home series of the season with a complete roster. According to Thursday’s roster announcement, Intensity will be missing a pair of their players most likely to exploit Detroit’s lack of talent: Nathan Digmann and Matthew Fiebig. This duo would have been helpful taking advantage of a diminished Detroit defense. Look to US National Team chaser Andrew Axtell to pick up the slack by plowing through the Innovators on their end of the field.

This series has been trending toward Detroit as of late. Both sides became much more familiar last USQ season with each roster containing six members from Lake Erie Elite. In quidditch, familiarity breeds close games, and while Indianapolis should take the series, we shouldn’t expect it to be handed to them.

Credit: Kimberly Megan Morente Cheng

Of the Hive Mind

The Salt Lake City Hive and San Francisco Argonauts kick off the West Division regular season again this year in Salt Lake City.

Whereas for the past two seasons these teams have been playing for second place in the division, with the addition of a small but strong Boise Grays squad, these teams are now fighting for the critical third spot in the division.

Last season, the Argonauts were led by a dominant beater corps that opened up plenty of opportunities for their ball carriers. However, what they have pieced together this summer to replace names like Perry Wang, David Saltzman, Jacob Metevia and Willis Andrew Miles IV doesn’t come close. The Argonauts were able to rely on consistently solid beating to carry them to a 4-5 West record but, to compete this year, they will have to change their approach and be more physical than the relatively smaller-in-stature Hive squad.

Returning San Francisco keeper Sean Booker will do his best to carry his team and will likely lead the Argonauts in goals by the end of the series. But, with the series in Salt Lake this weekend, travel will take its toll on San Francisco as two of their top beaters in Jorge Bugarin-Tello and Duran Allison will not be making the trip. Driving lanes will be much harder to come by for Booker, so expect more draws and dishes to wing chasers like Madeline Timm and Anton Uglev. However, the rest of San Francisco’s underwhelming chaser squad will need to step up in a big way to prevent the Hive from exclusively focusing on Booker. Names such as Ramare Hopkins, Shirley Lu, Alex Patel, Forrest Stone and John Truong don’t inspire much confidence and will find it hard to match up against Salt Lake’s chasers. However, if San Francisco can remain in-range and get equal time at snitch, they should have the advantage as Hugo Quiroz has the right amount of lank and quickness to be a great seeker. If he can remain healthy through the seriesunlike last year thanks to a huge drive by Connor Kaegihe could be a difference maker with snitch on pitch.

Salt Lake City, led by head coach Cameron VomBaur and assistant coach Michael Vong, will look to take advantage of Argonauts’s lack of depth on both sides of the ball. San Francisco is missing important quaffle players, so they should be outmatched by the talent and cohesion of VomBaur, Paul Marygold and Eric Williams. With San Francisco also missing key beaters, Salt Lake should maintain bludger control for as long as Vong can manage to stay on pitch. Just like in previous seasons, it looks like this series will be close and in-range. If Vong can play while snitch is on pitch, expect him to carry and give Hive plenty of opportunities to pull. Vong has shined this year for Crimson Elite and brings a level of physicality to the beater game that the Argonauts should find difficult to counter. For this reason, Hive has a slight advantage going into the series and should come out with a 2-1 win on home turf.

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