Strikers’ first team, the Horntail Strikers, competed at the British Quidditch Cup 2018 on March 24-25th in Oxford.
Hosted by QuidditchUK, the tournament saw 32 teams from across the UK compete for the cup. The Strikers qualified for BQC after a commendable performance at the regional Southern Cup 2017 where Portsmouth placed 8th, successfully securing a second seeded spot for BQC.
Day one of the tournament saw predetermined groups compete in a round robin format, with the top two teams from each group continuing into the upper bracket on day two. Portsmouth’s group included overall tournament winners Velociraptors QC, the Sheffield Squids and the Swansea Swans.
With a modest squad of 14 and suffering from the unexpected loss of both of the team’s designated keepers in the week before the tournament, the Strikers entered their first match against the Sheffield Squids with determination. After beating the Squids 160*-20 for 3rd place in the Consolation bracket of BQC 2017, the Strikers were excited to put their new tactics to the test in the repeat. Both teams demonstrated their heavy training over the last season with gameplay and tactics improving drastically since the previous year. After some excellent plays from both sides the score remained in SWIM range at the release of the snitch. The release of the seekers saw the game change suddenly to a messy style of play, with Sheffield scoring a final goal in the chaos. This success was quickly followed by a catch for the Squids, who secured their first win of the day at 80*-30.
Portsmouth entered their second match of the day against team friends the Swansea Swans. After one victory apiece at their two-match Southwest League fixture in January, the teams were excited for the rematch. Swansea played spectacularly, pulling away from Portsmouth in the early game and quickly catching the snitch to secure a 60*-10 win. Despite the final score, strong individual performances were seen across the Strikers squad including outstanding play from Assistant Chaser Coach Ellie “Luna” Marvin, whose confidence in heavy contact during the match was particularly remarkable.
Strikers’ final game of the day was against previous BQC champions Velociraptors QC. Experienced utility player Ryan Ellwood scored twice against the tournament favourites, doubling Portsmouth’s record against the formidable team from their match one year earlier. Chaser Lydia Stead performed spectacularly throughout the game, keeping a cool head in high pressure situations in her debut season. Beater pair Jaelithe Swan and Jack Latoy showed some tenacious play on Raptor’s hoops, successfully turning over bludgers on more than one occasion deep inside their opponent’s half. Ex-vice-captain Ryan went on to catch the snitch in the late game. Despite the catch and incredible personal performances from many team members, Portsmouth predictably fell second to Raptor’s experience and physicality and concluded their first day with a 160-50* loss.
The team entered day two with high hopes, set to play the Chester Centurions. After a tight, well-played game, the score remained in overtime range at the release of the snitch. Thwarted by Chester’s snitch catch, which launched the team into a 110*-50 win, Portsmouth were ultimately knocked out of the tournament. Special mentions for the match include Strikers’ keeper Jonathon Burstow. Unable to attend the Saturday of BQC, Jon had an immeasurable impact on the game and was able to inject vital pace and decision-making confidence into the keeper role which was lacking in the team’s day 1 performance. Chester went on to win the lower bracket.
As well as some challenging games, the tournament saw the debut of many Portsmouth referees. Strikers’ captain Jack Latoy snitched various games throughout the tournament and concluded the weekend by snitching the BQC final between Velociraptors and Warwick QC.
Despite the disappointing end to their QUK season the Strikers are excited to compete at Whitenights VI later this month, hosted by the Reading Knights, and are looking forward to next year and the chance to consolidate their training before regionals.
Strikers Quidditch would like to thank everyone involved in the tournament, particularly the BQC organising committee and the dedicated individuals who refereed our matches.
Photo credit: Claire Purslow Quidditch Photography
Cover photo credit: Chaz Hopkins Art