Antwerp QC, Much of Belgian Core, Leaves Competitive Quidditch

Credit: Seabass Photography

By TJ Goaley and Tad Walters
Southwest Correspondents

Will Texas continue its redemption tour? Before the USQ champion title returned to the state of Texas at USQ Cup 10, Boston dominated for a little over a year, accruing three championships in two leagues. The Austin versus Boston rivalry has given the world arguably the best quidditch ever played. Whether it is the Night Riders versus the Outlaws or Quidditch Club Boston versus Lone Star Quidditch Club, the dynamic between the two cities and their programs is extremely competitive. Quidditch Club Boston dashed championship dreams for Lone Star in the USQ Cup 9 semifinal, then the Night Riders swept the Outlaws at the 2016 MLQ Championship. The BosNYan Bearsharks followed suit by upsetting Lone Star out-of-range at USQ Cup 10 before Texas State University and Texas Cavalry ended up in the finals.

This is a storyline that will last for several years. An Outlaws and Night Riders final for the 2017 MLQ Championship is almost inevitable, barring a spectacular upset from any team, and Austin is ready to skim the regular season. Boasting eight players from the well-conditioned Texas State system, many of these athletes will be fighting for a championship to replace the one that slipped through their fingers. The Cavalry players will be attempting to recreate Boston’s monopoly on championships, and the Lone Star players will be trying, yet again, for that forlorn win over Boston.

The League City Legends match against the New Orleans Curse is our series to watch. With the new half-court rules in place, chaser defense will be much more important to a team’s survival this season. This is a facet where—compared to last year’s squad—League City seems worse off, but New Orleans is improved. After losing most of the Texas Tech players from last season, League City will be struggling to find players to fill the holes left on defense by the departures of Zack New and Sean Townsend. Top to bottom, New Orleans was not a very physical team last season, and it’s hard to say whether or not the story will be the same this summer. However, with the beater matchups favoring New Orleans, this series could see three snitch-ranges games. And depending how each team plays Kansas City, the League City and New Orleans match-up could decide if League City gets to play at the championship tournament their hometown is hosting, or if New Orleans will have to feel what it’s like to have consequences for losing their division.

Going 5-4 last summer, placing second in the South division and then losing back-to-back games at the 2016 championship was not how the Kansas City Stampede wanted their summer to go. This year they’re coming back stronger than ever and with a vengeance. Losing Hayden Applebee will be a huge hit to their physicality, but with new pieces from the University of Kansas and University of Missouri, Stampede will be looking like one of the deepest teams in the league. The new university players, coming into summer hot off a Sweet Sixteen and Final Four run, respectively, will offer plenty of talent for veteran players Adam Heald and David Becker to play off of. Stampede also had the luxury of seeing beaters Rachel England and Sam Urban develop tremendously over the past USQ season, which will add a profound amount of depth to a line anchored by Becker. Kansas City is primed to qualify for the championship and do well, but until they actually get those wins in League City come August, they won’t be exceeding anyone’s expectations.

Credit: Jessica Jiamin Lang

Joshua Mansfield has been an up-and-coming player in the Southwest for several seasons, and in the past year he’s truly become a force to be reckoned with on the pitch. After helping lead Curse to two wins at last year’s championship, he then went on to lead the Gulf Coast Gumbeaux beater corps in carrying their team to a Sweet Sixteen bid at USQ Cup 10. Mansfield’s combination of speed, accuracy with a bludger and extremely high game IQ make him a dominating player on the field, especially with snitch on pitch. Look out for him making big plays on both sides of the ball for Curse this season.

There are only a handful of four-time national quidditch champions, and Augustine Monroe is one of them. Monroe has not only been an essential physical asset to every team he’s been on, he’s also a fantastic on pitch leader and captain. While many players in the sport have stagnated or simply gotten worse, Monroe has only gotten better. He’s even gone so far as to learn how to beat, and even was a Team USA alternate as a beater. Given the talent he’s surrounded with this season, the perfect mix of older club players and young collegiate players, Monroe is going to continue to be a playmaker on the field and will help lead Austin to its second division title.

Anyone that’s betting against the Austin Outlaws to win the division are either gambling and really desperate to hit it big or have never seen quidditch before. Austin is primed to not only take the division, but come away with the championship trophy in August. They’ll first have to claw their way through the deepest division in the country, before taking some of the best teams from the other three divisions. They will most definitely have several snitch range games this season, and it’s those situations there that will make or break their season.

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