Editor’s note: What follows is the second installment in Ryan’s regular column, Cape Diem. I am posting for him because he is at his big-kid job like a responsible adult.
by Ryan Smythe
Allow me to gloat for a few moments for being dead-on with my Howland/Pavlovsky prediction.
Mmmmmmmmm…. photo credit: Ryan’s mom.
Okay, I’m done now.
The San Francisco Argonauts played one hell of a series, beating the Salt Lake City Hive in quaffle points two out of the three games. I fully expect their games against the Phoenix Sol on June 25th to be some of the closest in the West Division.
The Hive did a fantastic job exposing the Argonauts’ weakness, though, and in the process, it raised a very important question: can San Fran close out games well enough to hang with the top teams in MLQ? The Hive, the Boston Night Riders, and the LA Guardians arguably have the best seekers this year. San Francisco’s games against Salt Lake showed that without that lockdown seeker, the only way to consistently beat these teams is to blow them out.
That’s exactly what the Austin Outlaws did to the Kansas City Stampede. While the Stampede are by no means a bad team, with depth and experience covering up for its newer players, the Texas quaffle squad did what San Francisco couldn’t: it treated the scoreboard like a carnival game and focused all of its collective efforts into getting enough points so it could cash in for a sweet, 7-foot-tall teddy bear. Mmm, cuddly.
I missed out on watching the Livestream by spending my Saturday jumping off a bridge, so my knowledge of the matchup comes primarily from Billy Quach’s spectacular highlight video. I came away with a few key impressions, so here we go:
1. Mollie Lensing is back in a huge way. I’m honestly more excited about her inevitable matchup against Boston’s tiny titan Lulu Xu than I am for Tyler Trudeau vs. Stephen Bell. (No offense to the rest of Boston and the Texas keepers, but that’s the green band heavyweight title bout in this matchup.) Xu and Lensing even combined may be smaller than Trudeau, but the black band lightweight title bout is guaranteed to feature elite positioning, decision-making, and aggression.
2. Augie Monroe may be the best utility player in quidditch. While his transition to beating isn’t quite at the level of Max Havlin’s from a few years ago, remaining ready to step in as keeper when his team needs it gives the Outlaws a dangerous chess piece that other teams will be hard pressed to match.
3. It doesn’t matter who you leave open when playing Austin; the quaffle carrier will find them, and they will score. This is a team full of superstar-level players, and yet they still play so unselfishly that the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs could learn a thing or two by watching them.
4. Just…do not throw bludgers at Michael Duquette. It doesn’t work. Someone should probably check his hands for superglue.
5. If the Stampede really does need more time to gel as a team, then when it finally does, it’s gonna be frightening. Despite two blowout losses, game two’s 100*-110 final score should put the rest of the league on notice. The New York Titans were manhandled by Boston during last year’s season, but they stepped up in a huge way once the finals rolled around. It’s going to take an astronomical amount of work to get to the level they need to be on to even sniff the trophy, but it’s not out of the question.
6. Becca DuPont looks better in sunglasses than I ever could. She’s already a better chaser than I was on Emerson, and I’m worried that she would trash me if she ever tried beating too. I swear to god, Becca, if you start growing a beard I’ll have nothing left to hold on to.
7. I need to start looking at more film of Jacob Boshears. His pull in the highlight reel may not have been flashy, but with KC pulling two out of the three snitches, the Stampede could end up being a tricky team to play within range.
MLQ is where the sport’s top athletes are supposed to come together and put on a show for the rest of us plebs who aren’t playing for the summer. A one-series win or loss, even if it’s a sweep, won’t mean a damn thing if teams don’t keep fighting to improve through the Championship weekend.
Salt Lake and Austin deserve to celebrate for a moment after opening their inaugural seasons with a bang, but not for a second longer. The Hive needs to square off against the LA Guardians and World Cup VII champion seeker Margo Aleman in less than two weeks. The Outlaws—already outclassed by the New Orleans Curse’s socks—need to keep their composure if they hope to continue their undefeated run.
Honestly, we should just start throwing these instead of Mardi Gras beads
KC gets another crack at Texas when it faces the Championship weekend home team, the League City Legends. The Stampede has nearly a month to train and for its players to come together as a unit; I’d advise it doesn’t let it go to waste. San Fran needs to win some games off Phoenix on the 25th, otherwise it’s risking a 0-9 season. After getting swept by the crafty hands of Howland and Pavlovsky, it should be prepared for the same outcome when it faces Aleman and the Guardians.
The Phoenix Sol are coming to LA next weekend, and I’m gearing up to get drunk and heckle the fuck out of my USQ season teammates and friends. If you’re planning on showing up and have a problem with my analyses, I’m always happy to get down and dirty with a little quidditch arguing. Who knows, you may even sway my opinion. More than likely you’ll just reinforce the idea that I’m just another asshole quidditch analyst who doesn’t really know what he’s talking about.
Either way, I’ll be drunk.