Nationals is Heading West (Virginia)

*update* USQ’s breakdown of its reasoning for choosing the winning bids is included in the initial announcement. There will be a traditional press release on Monday.

By Ryan Smythe

Ryan Smythe

We’re going to Charleston, West Virginia for Nationals this year.

On one hand, it’s somewhere we’ve never been to before. Compared to just how brutal South Carolina was for some players (namely people of color), it could be an improvement.

On the other hand, the closest major airport to the capital of West Virginia is in Cincinnati (approximately 200 miles away), followed by Pittsburgh (approximately 230 miles away). It’s not exactly a secret that teams in the west and northwest regions – for all intents and purposes a single super region at this point – shouldered a considerably higher financial burden than almost every, if not every other team in the nation over the past decade or so.

Cavalry vs LA Gambits US Cup 12
The reigning champs don’t get to defend their title on home turf anymore. Photo credit: Arjun Palat

Nationals 2020 is going to be rough for western teams. The past tournaments, as far as they have been, were reasonably close to major airports that made purchasing direct or reasonable flights possible.

Now, assuming a similar turnout to US Cup 12, a dozen or so teams from out west will need to find their way to West Virginia without the option for a single direct flight into the state. We won’t know about the price and availability for flights into Charleston until airlines start to schedule their trips, but the current price of a round trip ticket from Los Angeles to Charleston six or so weeks out is listed at anywhere from $361 (with a 10+ hour layover in Charlotte, North Carolina) to the high $500s to low $600s with an hour and a half layover.

Flight to West Virginia
Affordability comes at a steep cost. Photo credit: Google Flights

The likely best option for teams flying in will be to land in either Pittsburgh or Cincinnati and rent a car or van for the rest of the way. It’s not ideal, but at the very least it’s going to be a one-year problem to deal with.

F**k Me Up, Joseph Smith

Utah State vs SJSU West Regionals 2019
There are going to be first-time home teams at Nationals in 2020 and 2021. Photo credit: Michael Vong “Photography”

I believe that you and me will be traveling to the land where evil doesn’t exist in 2021. The dream of the third Nationals option, Salt Lake City, Utah, will take players the farthest west in the tournament’s history, as well as the farthest up – Salt Lake City is approximately 4,226 feet above sea level, a solid 3,500 feet higher than Charleston, and another 200 feet or so higher still than Round Rock, Texas.

It will be the first time in quidditch history that the region’s players would have the opportunity to buy reasonable plane tickets, and for some people, take an honest to goodness road trip to get to the end of year tournament. Teams across the rest of the nation know just how much money you can save renting a bus or some vans and driving through the night rather than shepherding players through security checkpoints that may confiscate possessions including headphones, jerseys, toiletries, and more.

West Virginia is far from ideal for the upcoming season, but Salt Lake City could be worth the price.

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