By Ryan Smythe and Elizabeth Barcelos
To quote Grammy Award-winning artist Chancellor Johnathan Bennett, “And we back/And we back, and we back, and we back, and we back, and we/And we back, and we back, na, na, na”
Opening up this season’s USQ season out west is Crimson Cup IV, hosted by one of the many red and black-clad squads in the region, Crimson Elite. (And hey, the other red and black teams will be there, too!) Ten teams are making the trek to Salt Lake City to see who can claim the title of “Best Team in the West”, at least until the Golden Bear Invitational in October. Or until someone raises a stink that their team still hasn’t played in a tournament *pointedly side-eyes the Gambits* (watch yourself, Smythe) and we can’t really say who’s on top because let’s face it, a lot can happen between now and March/April, teams still need to gel, new players need to be trained up, not everyone wants to/can make the trek to Utah in September because it’s not like we’re rushing to get games before regionals like some places, etc.
No one bring up that we’re ignoring the Chandra College Cup. It’s unofficial and only for the Youths. *Liz kicks down the door* Wait, I’m bringing it up! *tears off Skrewts jersey to reveal SJSU coach polo underneath* Let’s go Spartans! Send me film! (And Go Bears, I guess. Cal gets ornery when I forget them.)
The teams competing at Crimson Cup IV will be broken down into two pools of five teams. Following pool play, the bottom seed will be eliminated, and the winner of Pool A will play the fourth seed of Pool B, the runner-up of Pool A will play the third seed of Pool B, and vice versa. The winner of 1A/4B will play the winner of 2B/3A and the winner of 1B/4A will play the winner of 2A/3B in the semi-finals. After that, the winners of those matches will compete for the title. The teams are:
Pool A Breakdown (Barcelos)
There are a lot of new faces on the Crimson squad who need to step up in order to keep the trophy at home in Utah. Photo Credit: Michael Vong
As the only community team in Utah (unless Lakeside Quidditch becomes a reality), Crimson Elite is the USQ West team that ends up reaping most of the benefits of an MLQ season as players transition to the USQ season. However, the Hive’s breakout star – I’m sorry, fourth string – beater, Michael Vong, will be out of town for his team’s home opener. But don’t sleep on the Elite; with a full roster stacked with players like coach Ray Taylor, captain Gina Allyn, and the largest gathering of Williamses the West has ever seen, they’re ready to defend their home turf.
Nomads (the Boise dudes)
New jerseys, same Bixlers. This team may is looking to make a quick impact and secure the #1 Nomads spot. Photo Credit: Lang Truong
Though the Nomads are technically a new team, you might as well take Boise State’s old roster, put some new jerseys on them, and call it a day. The Bixlers and Matthew McCracken are incredibly physical threats who will pose matchup problems against any team in this tournament, so every other team in Pool A, as well as anyone they face off against in a likely bracket run needs to get ready to spend a lot of time on the ground. Will this collection of wanderers and vagabonds be able to carry on the legacy of the school that spawned them? Let’s hope so, because after leaving their school program in ruins, the Nomads’ existence better be worth it.
This team ended last season with a heartbreak, but they’re looking to reclaim a spot at Nationals. Photo Credit: Jeremy Taylor and Phoebe Van Gleder
The last time we saw NAU, they narrowly missed out on qualifying for US Quidditch Cup 10 after being eliminated by the West’s sweethearts, Anteater Quidditch. This year they look likely to return to the national stage with a wider field of college bids ripe for the taking, but they’ll need to find some people to step up and fill the hole left by Cooper Davis’ departure. Led by head coach Adam Beller, NAU looks to start the season by making a big impact.
Silicon Valley Skrewts
Will the new (old?) jerseys be enough to make up for the names not on the roster? Photo Credit: Shirley Lu
How the Skrewts perform on Saturday is their first attempt at answering a vital question: what are they gonna do without Miles? With their star beater sidelined as he recovers from knee surgery, the Skrewts are going to have to lean harder on their quaffle players than ever before. An injection of youth provided by Anteater Quidditch grads Luke Raus and Jacob Ellis, and Maddie Timm from the University of Kansas, might be just what the oldest – both in age of players and years of existence – community team out of NorCal needs to stay out of the retirement home.
University of Northern Colorado
Their heels may be clean, but they’re looking to get their jerseys nice and dirty this weekend in Salt Lake City. Photo Credit: Traci Carlson
Almost every squad attending Crimson Cup is dealing with a significant loss, and the University of Northern Colorado is no different. De’Vaughn Gamlin, one of the squad’s top chasing threats, now plays for the Farmers, so it’s time for someone else to step up and fill his role as a threat with and without the ball. While a bracket run from this team would be exciting, it’s going to be difficult to pull off against the other teams in this pool. On the flip side, captains Kaleb Adams and Connor Touchton will have the chance to pit their players against some of the most experienced names in quidditch and get their team into Nationals-contending shape.
Pool B Breakdown (Smythe)
Utah Raptors Quidditch
Any logo with a raptor is automatically amazing. Photo Credit: Sandra Sato
The old Crimson Fliers can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, ‘cause they’re rebranded as the Utah Raptors. This team has a great new logo to kickstart their new life as a team named after my favorite dinosaur from 1999-2001, but are stuck in a pool filled with a few other teams with something to prove. Captain Chris LeVezu, a member of MLQ’s Salt Lake City Hive, will hopefully bring a level of experience this team needs to break through and secure a spot in the College Cup this spring, but expectations should remain lukewarm as the team gets its legs underneath it this early in the season.
Utah State Quidditch Club
This team took 2nd place at Crimson Cup III. Let’s see what they can do this year. Photo Credit: USU Quidditch
USQC took one hell of a hit between the ‘16-’17 season and now. Losing Paul Davis, Brandon Handy, and Cameron VomBaur hurts. VomBaur is listed on the team’s roster as the coach, but it would take one hell of a miracle to get him back on the pitch at 100% this early in the season. This team will likely be playing the long game and working hard to get ready to fight for a spot at Nationals in March, but that will require their new male beaters to step up and fill the massive hole left by David and Handy. As the other college team in Pool B, the matchup to watch will be against the Raptors – early wins may not mean as much as a win later in the season, but it can give younger players the confidence boost they need to break through and reach their potential.
Chris Lock faces off against Silicon Valley Skrewt Sam Harris. Photo Credit: Papa Goh
We found Paul Davis! He joins a talented squad led by coach Belmina Mehmedagic and captain Tommy Brown that, while light on numbers for Crimson Cup, is looking to make up for it in years of experience. Unfortunately, Davis is hurt (again), putting even more pressure on the beating crew of Brown, Shayla Zink, and Madi Douglass. They will need to work hard to give their chasers open lanes to score and anchor the defense without tiring themselves out – anything less than a great showing means this team is at risk of gassing itself before bracket play. If everything goes well and the Farmers find themselves within snitch range, it’ll be interesting to see who steps into the seeker rotation with Davis out.
Nobody expects the Dan-ish Inquisition!
Who…who are these people? No roster submitted to USQ less than 48 hours before the tournament starts? Must be a bunch of disorganized scrubs.
*muffled trumpets begin to play from the hilltops*
What? Who’s making that racket?
*a horde of bagpipers drop from the skies, waiting until the last moment to pull their parachutes*
This is madness!
*100 duck-sized horses charge down the hills, making their way to the pitch in heroic fashion*
Oh my god, it’s the old people!
Dan Hanson found yet another crew of ragtag quidditch players to lace up and run headfirst into a tournament. While some of the names on this roster may not ring a bell for the newer players attending Crimson Cup, this team has a legitimate chance to upset more than one of the other squads in Pool B. Any snitch-range game against God Squad and former (current?) hotshot seeker with hair to die for Dan Howland is going to be stressful enough to give a competitor ulcers.
Don’t forget to hydrate! Photo Credit: Isabella Gong
Another year, another roster shakeup. This time around, the Lost Boys had to say goodbye to Brooke Lydon, one of the team’s top scorers for the past three seasons, and Kevin Hayes, one of the team’s best utility options for the past two who put in meaningful minutes at chaser, beater, and seeker. Without them and fellow off-ball chasing studs Justin Bogart and Stephanie Breen in the lineup, it’s the perfect time for new additions like former Anteaters Connie Henderson and Princeton Nguyen to step up and show off the skills they honed over the summer on the Los Angeles Guardians. While losing Amanda Turtles from this tournament’s beater rotation undoubtedly hurts, new addition Jamie Luby is poised to fill in her role and anchor the squad alongside Kelsey Allen, Chris Seto, Frank Gao, and *flips hair ever so gently* me.