September 29th marked the start of the season for four teams from Colorado and Utah, as the Denver Dementors, Colorado State University Boggarts, University of Northern Colorado Golden Griffins, and Utah Crimson Fliers met in Denver on Saturday for the Denver 2012 Quidpocalypse Tournament. Each team played every other team once in pool play in order to determine seeding for the bracket, which consisted of two semi-final games and a championship game. Below are the results for pool play (* indicates snitch grab).
Game 1: Utah 100- Northern Colorado 70*
Game 2: Northern Colorado 120*- Colorado State 60
Game 3: Denver 50*- Colorado State 10
Game 4: Denver 100*- Utah 80
Game 5: Utah 140*- Colorado State 40
Game 6: Northern Colorado 100*- Denver 80
After pool play, Denver, Utah, and Northern Colorado were all 2-1, while Colorado State was 0-3. Utah received the #1 seed for bracket play due to having the best point differential, resulting in semifinals that pitted Utah against Colorado State and Northern Colorado against Denver.
In the first semifinal, Utah defeated Colorado State 120*-40. The Crimson Fliers pulled out of snitch range early in the game and used the point cushion to rest most of their starters for a good portion of the game, while allowing almost everyone on the bench to get playing time and valuable experience.
The second semifinal was hardly as simple an affair as the first. Northern Colorado jumped out to an early lead, but Denver came back and eventually took the lead. The game then went back and forth with the lead switching hands several times. After a rather long and grueling while, Northern Colorado got the snitch grab, giving them a 110*-100 victory over Denver and setting up a championship match between Northern Colorado and Utah.
In the finals, it appeared that Utah would have a huge advantage due to the fact that they had an easier path to the championship game and were much more rested than Northern Colorado. However, the Golden Griffins came out firing and the lead went back and forth for a while.
At one point the Crimson Fliers were up 20 when Northern Colorado's seeker got the snitch grab and appeared to give the Golden Griffins a 10 point victory, only to see it called off because he had been beat before making the grab. Play resumed, and eventually the Crimson Fliers managed to narrowly pull out of snitch range and then quickly got the snitch grab, giving Utah a 130*-60 victory and the tournament championship.
Below is a brief summary of each team's performance at the tournament.
Colorado State Boggarts
The Boggarts had the odds stacked against them from the beginning, as they were only able to bring a roster of eight players to the tournament. leaving them with almost no subs and very little depth. They just weren't able to keep up with teams who could sub in and out at will, and the fatigue was noticeable.
A few players did put on impressive performances though. Keeper/chaser Skyler Maclean provided most of the scoring for CSU while also standing as the main defensive force. Chaser/keeper/seeker Zane Watson provided the rest of the scoring, and was a solid seeker who used seek blocking effectively to try to buy his team time to get back in snitch range in most games.
The Dementors pulled off the biggest upset of the day when they knocked off heavy favorites Utah in pool play, and lost only to Northern Colorado in this tournament (twice). Denver utilized their traditional ultra-defensive strategy that focused on beater play that didn't allow opposing offenses to get close to the hoops and then created most of their scoring opportunities on fast breaks resulting from turnovers.
This strategy kept them in snitch range in all of their games, but also hurt them against Northern Colorado when they were ahead and unable to pull out of snitch range in both losses. The standout star for Denver was beater Tovio Gandahar, who was almost single-handedly responsible for shutting down the Dementors' entire defensive half of the pitch.
Even when Denver lacked bludger control, Gandahar still usually managed to prevent opposing offenses from getting close enough to score. Chaser Sven Ceelen provided the majority of the scoring for Denver, as his speed and size on fast breaks proved nearly impossible for opposing keepers to stop.
Northern Colorado Golden Griffins
The Griffs were the scrappiest team in the entire tournament, continuing to perform at a high level even when exhausted. Several veterans on the team have grown into formidable players, while a couple key newcomers also helped to spark Northern Colorado to a second-place finish.
The notable standout was keeper De'Vaughn Gamlin, who was an absolute force at this tournament. He was the point man for both the offense and defense, and was a superb field general while on-pitch. Gamlin provided the large majority of the Griffins' scoring, and usually provided the assist on those goals that he himself didn't score. On defense, he used his long arms to consistently block shots, even from close range.
Beater Faith Jessup was a force with a bludger, as she constantly ran around the entire pitch making plays on both offense on defense, and often returned bludger control to her team when they had lost it. Newcomer Winston Steidley provided Northern Colorado with a clutch seeker, as he came through with four snitch grabs in the tournament and is the obvious solution to the Griffins' past woes at the seeker position.
Utah Crimson Fliers
Despite returning a couple elite players, the Crimson Fliers were largely a new and untested team. Only three of the Fliers were returners from last year's top-20 World Cup team, and only six players total had any sort of previous quidditch experience.
The growing pains were obvious, as several mistakes led to the loss to Denver and the near-loss to Northern Colorado in the championship game, despite the Crimson Fliers having easily the most formidable team at first glance. However, Utah still managed to come out as tournament champions.
Veteran chasers and co-captains Brady Groves and Matt Williams carried this team through most of their struggles, as the two accounted for the vast majority of Utah's points at the tournament. Groves was also the most formidable defensive chaser at the tournament, which comes as no surprise, as he is renowned for his defensive chasing abilities. Williams did his part on defense by switching over to beater several times in order to help out the beating game when it struggled.
Newcomer Andy Hopkins proved to be one of the most formidable players at the tournament, starting at beater for the Fliers and then switching over to seeker when the snitch got back to the pitch in each game. His speed, endurance, tenacity, and strength made him formidable at both positions, but especially at seeker. Hopkins got three snitch grabs throughout the day, including a diving catch in the finals that gave Utah the championship.
Author's Note: For those unfamiliar with quidditch, an introduction to the sport can be found here.