Antwerp QC, Much of Belgian Core, Leaves Competitive Quidditch

This weekend marks the start of the season for the Midwest. Tournament of the Stars II, the first tournament in the Midwest to feature some of the upper tier of the region, takes place tomorrow at Ohio State University.

There is a plethora of storylines regarding the teams slated for Tournament of the Stars. Here, we will address those storylines and make some brief predictions on how they might play out, leaving you to draw the final conclusion.

We begin with the unanimous and unquestioned favorite to take the Midwest Regional Championship: Ohio State.

Can Ohio State live up to the hype?
There is no question about Ohio State’s status as the most talented team in the Midwest right now. They went the furthest at World Cup last season and did not lose any of their talent but instead utilized their massive pool of potential and added a slew of new recruits, each more eager than the next to earn their spot on the pitch.

However, this also puts Ohio State into uncharted territory. Never before has Ohio State dealt with this much attention heading into a season. It is up to their leadership, namely senior and third-year captain David Hoops, to ensure that the team stays focused in order to help them live up to their potential. It is a common theme throughout sports: the highly-touted team failing to live up to expectations. And quidditch is no different.

A lot of questions will be answered this weekend about the Buckeyes at their Tournament of the Stars, as the majority of the top Midwest teams will be in attendance.

What is left of Bowling Green State University?
Bowling Green has kept its core intact. Veteran playmakers chaser Daniel Daugherty, beater Chad Brown, chaser Meredith Taylor and seeker Sam Roitblat will all return to the pitch this season. Two big questions surround this team though: Will these leaders be able to carry this team to some victories without former head captain Katie Milligan? Have they had enough time to develop this young roster into a Tournament of the Stars finalist?

Beyond the core of this team, I believe they are missing just about everything else. They lost a fair bit of off-ball talent. They lost a prominent leader. They lost an experienced female beater. And the list goes on.

This will be our first true look at a Bowling Green and it will certainly be a sight to see.

Credit: Tim Adkins

Credit: Tim Adkins

Will Central Michigan fill the gaping holes at beater?
Central Michigan retained most of their players, but the ones they lost may have hurt them the most.

The Centaurs seem to have lost their entire beater corps in a region where this position tends to dominate games. Their most talked about graduate, former captain and Team USA beater Ashley Calhoun, is joined by their two best male beaters, Tom O’Neil and Andrew Derry. It will be interesting to find out if any of the new recruits can fill the massive void left behind by their predecessors.

All that being said, Central Michigan does tout one of the best offenses in the region—arguably better than that of Ohio State. But will this offense be enough to carry them against teams with infinitely more beater experience?

How will Blue Mountain Quidditch Club fare in their first tournament?
This tournament will show what we can expect from Blue Mountain this season—sans Calhoun. Their first match will be against a Miami University team, which is always a tough out, and be followed up with a match against Bowling Green, a true test of skill for this roster. This team has drawn a significant amount of attention on social media as the first, premiere community team in the Midwest. The players hope to exceed expectations, but the road to World Cup will not be smooth for a roster scattered across the region.

The absence of Calhoun and the entire male beating lineup except for one will really put the depth of this squad to the test, not to mention the chaser defense.

By the end of the day, we should know how Blue Mountain stacks up to the best of the Midwest.

With the late loss of Tyler Walker, can Trevor Campbell become more than just the emotional leader for Ball State University?
Make no mistake: Devon McCoy was the most talked about player for Ball State, but Tyler Walker was the heart and soul of the team. Walker was the man behind the strategies of this squad. His departure puts a ton of pressure on the relatively young Campbell to step up as head coach and apply his knowledge of the region to the game.

It is true that Campbell has always played a big part in the emotional leadership of Ball State, but this will be like nothing he has ever experienced before. Will he be able to keep his emotional levels high but separate from team management? Will he be able to make the in-game adjustments to his squad that may be necessary to beat out the top teams?

Can a new team join the crowded top of the Midwest?
Two teams interest me very much heading into this tournament: Grand Valley and Miami. Both have been second tier for some time, but both look poised to take the next step this season. Grand Valley surprised everyone by making a day-two appearance at World Cup. As the last team to qualify at the Midwest Regional Championship, nobody expected too much from Grand Valley. However, they stepped up their training and were a totally different team when April rolled around.

Miami has had this said about them before, and the answer has always turned out to be “no.” The loss of star beater Jeremy Ferlic hurts, but they still have Tina Kinstedt, a star in her own right, anchoring the beater game. Add to this emerging star keeper Matt Mignery; the rejuvenated Matt Dwyer, who impressed beyond belief at Midwest Fantasy; and another year of experience to an already talented chaser corps, and this Miami team could be the one to take that next step.

Both of these teams face two very tough opponents (Grand Valley vs. Ohio State, Miami vs. Blue Mountain) to start their seasons. By the end of pool play, we should be able to tell if both, neither, or one of these two has what it takes to compete with the Midwest giants.

Daniel Daugherty contributed reporting to this article.

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