By Ryan Smythe
The Salt Lake City Hive and San Francisco Argonauts series has marked the start of the MLQ season ever since the league expanded to include 16 teams, and every year that first day has come one day earlier (June 4 in 2016, June 3 in 2017, now June 2). Some of you may say that’s just how calendars work, but it also might be Ethan and Dallas’ plot to slowly take over the USQ season by moving the start date of their league up day by day until it starts at the beginning of April and cuts into everyone’s Nationals interest in *checks watch* about 60 years. Too early to know for sure.
It’s also way too early to know just how this San Francisco roster will match up against the tried and true Salt Lake City squad whose core has been together since the 2016 MLQ expansion. As we discussed in the MLQ West season preview podcast, the Argonauts needed to replace the top end of their beater corps with Jacob Metevia and Willis Andrew Miles IV not playing this season, and with USQ Champion Perry Wang now playing for the Rochester Whiteout.
These are no small shoes to fill, especially not in the West division that has a history of flooding the market with high-caliber beaters every new season. The Hive squad, led by Fourth String Beater and Assistant Coach Michael Vong, should look to take advantage of their comparatively newer opponents early and often to prevent them from getting comfortable on the pitch. The home team’s ability to keep bludger control and dictate the pace of play could very well be the deciding factor in this game given their roster construction – unless some chasers end up switching headbands, the Hive will be running out a double male beater set more often that not. While this isn’t necessarily a handicap, any lack of flexibility can quickly turn into a major problem at the end of a close game when both teams are scrambling to find any advantage they can.
On the other side, the Argonauts roster is built to allow every possible beater set to flourish. SJSU made the most successful run in school history this year, partially on the back of their double female beater set that helped take eventual collegiate champions Cal Quidditch to double overtime at Regionals. Two of those beaters, Elsa Lem and Maxine Gutierrez, will look to continue their USQ season success alongside fellow SJSU beater Hugo Quiroz, whose biggest impact may end up coming once the snitch is released.
Odds are all three games end in snitch range, which definitely won’t give Argonauts manager Liz Barcelos any new gray hairs. Photo credit: Shirley Lu Photography
Over the past two seasons, the Hive and the Argonauts have played exactly one game out of range against each other. With both teams’ offenses featuring top-tier driving threats like Cameron VomBaur and Sean Booker, as well as key secondary playmakers like Matthew Williams and Madeline Timm, it’s very likely that even if one team is out of range before the snitch comes on pitch, the other will be able to rack up enough points to put their seekers back in play.
This is the one position where the Argonauts have the clear edge. Quiroz is one of the few seekers to catch Gabe Garcez last year, and he will be subbing back and forth with Forrest Stone who, even on a bad day, will at least wear down the snitch through his aggressive play. The Hive’s beaters will have their work cut out for them giving their seekers the best shot to win the series on their home turf, but that can be difficult to focus on when Booker is running full-speed down the field for a fast break goal at the same time.