The International Quidditch Association is hosting the 6th quidditch World Cup this Saturday and Sunday, in Kissimmee, Fla. Sixty teams in Division I and 18 teams in Division II will converge upon Kissimmee (just outside Orlando) for an event expected to attract tens of thousands of spectators.
From its humble beginnings on the campus of Middlebury College in Vermont in 2005, real-life quidditch (usually just called quidditch, as the fictional Harry Potter version is capitalized as Quidditch) has grown to include hundreds of teams spread throughout 10 different regions (similar to conferences) and multiple countries, including the US, Canada, Mexico, France, England, Italy and Australia, among others.
The game is a full-contact co-ed sport, with teams able to bring a roster of up to 21 players to any given tournament in order to field a team of seven players on the pitch. A guide to the rules and regulations of the sport can be found here.
Games this Saturday will be pool play, with the top three teams from each pool moving on to Sunday's bracket play. The pool play schedule can be found here.
Here is a brief pool-by-pool breakdown.
Baylor University (Waco, Texas), Kansas University (Lawrence, Kan.), University of California- Berkeley (Berkeley, Calif.), Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, Va.), Qwertyrians Tijuana (Tijuana, Mexico)
Baylor is the prohibitive favorite here, as they won the Southwestern Regional. Kansas is also expected to move on to bracket play, while the remaining three teams will fight for that final bracket berth.
Silicon Valley Skrewts (Mountain View, Calif.), Penn State University (State College, Pa.), Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, N.Y.), University of Florida (Gainesville, Fla.), Loyola University Chicago (Chicago, Ill.)
The competition for the top spot in this pool is a tight one between the Skrewts and Penn State, both of whom having reached the semifinals of their respective regionals. Florida is a bit of a wild card, as they were the runners-up at World Cup V, but have been somewhat inconsistent this season.
Texas A&M University (College Station, Texas), University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, Mich.), Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Md.), New York University (New York, N.Y.), Fleming College (Peterborough, Canada)
Texas A&M is one of the favorites to win the whole tournament, making them the odds-on favorites for this pool. Michigan is expected to take second, while Johns Hopkins and NYU are predicted to be battling it out for third.
Emerson College (Boston, Mass.), University of Southern California (Los Angeles, Calif.), University of South Florida (Tampa, Fla.), University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, Minn.), University of Texas-San Antonio (San Antonio, Texas)
While Emerson is the favorite in this group, USC, USF and Minnesota have all fielded formidable squads in the past, making this a brutal group.
University of California-Los Angeles (Los Angeles, Calif.), Bowling Green State University (Bowling Green, Ohio), University of Rochester (Rochester, N.Y.), Oklahoma State University (Stillwater, Okla.), Paris Phenix (Paris, France)
UCLA is another favorite to win the tournament, but they have a tough matchup against Midwest runners-up BGSU in pool play, which could be intriguing. Paris Phenix contains many of the players that led France to a surprise second-place finish at the IQA Summer Games last summer. Seeing how they fare in pool play should be interesting.
Marquette University (Milwaukee, Wis.), University of Ottawa (Ottawa, Canada), Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff, Ariz.), Florida State University (Tallahassee, Fla.), Boston Riot (Boston, Mass.)
Marquette is the heavy favorite here; however, there isn't much separation between the other four teams, which should make for a good competition for the other two bracket-play spots.
Texas State University-San Marcos (San Marcos, Texas), Michigan State University (East Lansing, Mich.), University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, Pa.), State University of New York at Geneseo (Geneseo, N.Y.), University of Toronto (Toronto, Canada)
There is no major favorite in this group, as Texas State, Pittsburgh and Michigan State are all expected to contend with one another for first place in the pool. There is also the possibility that SUNY Geneseo could score an upset or two and snatch the third bracket berth from this pool.
Boston University (Boston, Mass.), Villanova University (Philadelphia, Pa.), Central Michigan University (Mt. Pleasant, Mich.), Austin Quidditch (Austin, Texas), Tec Quidditch (Monterrey, Mexico)
This features the most intense contest for first place of any of the pools, as Northeast Region champs BU face off against Mid-Atlantic Region champs Villanova. Behind them, there should be another intense battle for third place between Austin and Central Michigan.
Hofstra University (Hempstead, N.Y.), Ball State University (Muncie, Ind.), Tennessee Technological University (Cookeville, Tenn.), QC Carolinas (Winston-Salem, N.C.), Silver Phoenixes (College Station, Texas)
Hofstra and Ball State reached the semifinals of their respective regionals, leading to a good matchup here. Tennessee Tech made a surprising run to the finals of the South regionals, but hadn't done much before that, so they are a definite wild card in this group. The battle for third will also be one to watch, as opinions are pretty split over who will take that spot.
University of Texas (Austin, Texas), Tufts University (Medford/Somerville, Mass.), Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio), University of Richmond (Richmond, Va.), University of Southern Mississippi (Hattiesburg, Miss.)
Texas is another favorite to win the whole thing, and are expected to run away with first place in this pool. The real battle here is a three-way fight for second and third place between Tufts, Ohio State and Richmond.
University of Maryland (College Park, Md.), Lost Boys (Los Angeles, Calif.), University of Arkansas (Fayetteville, Ark.), Macaulay Honors College (New York, N.Y.), Illinois State University (Normal, Ill.)
This pool features two different teams who came in second at their regionals: Maryland from the Mid-Atlantic and Lost Boys from L.A. Although Maryland is slightly favored, Lost Boys are expected to challenge them for first. Arkansas is predicted to take third, although Macaulay or Illinois State could pull some upsets and take the third berth.
University of Miami (Coral Gables, Fla.), Arizona State University (Tempe, Ariz.), Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, La.), Purdue University (West Lafayette, Ind.), University of Massachusetts Amherst (Amherst, Mass.)
Five teams with extremely physical playing styles meet in this pool, making it one of the most intense pools top-to-bottom in the tournament. While Miami is one of the favorites to win the World Cup, it wouldn't come as a complete shock if the veteran squads from ASU or LSU were able to upset them.
Rice University (Houston, Texas), New York Badassilisks (New York, N.Y.), Florida Atlantic University (Boca Raton, Fla.), Winthrop University (Rock Hill, S.C.)
Green Mountain College (Poultney, Vt.), Stanford University (Palo Alto, Calif.), University of Central Florida (Orlando, Fla.), Brevard Community College (Titusville, Fla.), University of South Carolina (Columbia, S.C.)
CAMPS (Bridgewater, Mass.), Sam Houston State University (Huntsville, Texas), Syracuse University (Syracuse, N.Y.), University of Toledo (Toledo, Ohio)
Ringling College (Sarasota, Fla.), Miami University (Oxford, Ohio), Loyola University New Orleans (New Orleans, La.), College of Charleston (Charleston, S.C.), University of South Alabama (Mobile, Ala.)