Chances are that if you’re reading this, you’ve probably attended a tournament I’ve directed or you’re going to later this summer at West Fantasy. If that’s the case, please don’t panic about the clickbait title. Keep calm even as I repeat myself:
Fantasy quidditch is dead.
Okay, let me rephrase. Large scale fantasy quidditch is dead. We’re talking major events like West Fantasy and THE Fantasy that drew in players from all across the region and beyond. There’s not one smoking gun and I’m not here to point fingers. What I am going to do is break down how I think fantasy quidditch got here. (Spoiler alert: fantasy quidditch is only mostly dead and I plan on channeling my inner Miracle Max in a blog post to come.)
- Quidditch has grown.
As I look back on the three years of quidditch I’ve been a part of and prepare for a fourth, I think I can safely say that my time has seen quidditch shift from its idealistic infancy to its terrible teens. Yes, quidditch may have just turned ten, but it has far more in common with the growing pains of puberty. Our growth is uncomfortable, uneven, and awkward right now. You have a developing region like the Northwest in the same league as the perpetual powerhouses of the Northeast and Southwest. All those regions emerged at different times and along different trajectories, which makes for awkwardness when we look at quidditch as a whole. Incoming self-deprecating humor: It’s like when I shot up to my adult height in the summer between sixth and seventh grade but didn’t really need a bra until I was a senior in high school. Eventually, all that growth evened out and I became a fully developed adult, but not without coping with a stretch of awkward years.
There are also just more people playing quidditch, period. When I first started playing in NorCal for SJSU, it was 2013 and the Skrewts had just spawned the Skyfighters as a B-team. Now it’s 2016, they’re separate squads, and there are 5-6 community teams in NorCal (depending on how you count). SJSU was the first NorCal team period, founded back in 2010. The 2015-2016 NorCal Quidditch Conference featured eleven teams. I’m not saying that NorCal is typical (far from it), but it is a snapshot of how quidditch has grown just in one part of the country.
All that growth changes the nature of fantasy tournaments. You can’t go to one and see all your quidditch friends anymore because there are so many more quidditch friends to have! Fantasy tried keeping up with massive two-day tournaments like West Fantasy used to be, but that growth led to other things, too.
- Major League Quidditch
Like I said, I’m not here to point fingers. However, as the TD of this year’s West Fantasy, I can’t avoid the subject of Major League Quidditch. It certainly was the first thing on my mind when dates for the tournament were being considered. Northeast Fantasy didn’t even happen last year, and I didn’t want to be the regional coordinator that saw that happen to West Fantasy.
But even before the LA/PHX series was moved, MLQ was already impacting fantasy quidditch. In 2015, there was no MLQ west of the Mississippi. West Fantasy and THE Fantasy had enough player demand for two days of quidditch featuring twelve and fourteen teams. Meanwhile, Northeast Fantasy didn’t happen. MLQ filled the need for high-level summer quidditch.
In 2016, West Fantasy has become a one-day tournament of eight teams. Now, before you cry that it was moved to NorCal, THE Fantasy hasn’t moved from Austin and it also is shrinking down to eight teams playing over the course of one day. There once was a time when people would travel for fantasy quidditch because it was the highest quality quidditch of the summer. Now, the best players (or the real West talent, as Quidsecrets would say) go to MLQ.
As a fantasy tournament director, all I can do is try and avoid scheduling conflicts because there are only so many referees. Not everyone will make an MLQ team, so there will always be some demand for fantasy.
- Being a tournament director is the worst.
I must be a masochist because I love tournament directing. However, that doesn’t make the above bullet any less true. I was at a Stanley Cup Finals game watching the Sharks lose when I found out that the MLQ series had moved… because MLQ players were asking for refunds. I was already upset about what I was watching on the ice, so I’ll let you imagine how I blew my stack when I figured out what had happened. Luckily, I gave myself a day to calm down and figure out how to run West Fantasy on a smaller scale. Everyone has been nothing but understanding about it and I can’t thank you all enough for understanding that I like being a tournament director but that I also have some semblance of a life.
I’m not here for sympathy for me. (I’m not that self-involved.) Instead, Paxton Casey (THE Fantasy) and Serena Cheong (Vancouver Fantasy) have had to deal with players behaving badly and you should be pissed about it.
Why? Because I said so. I mean, who will step up to be the tournament directors of the future if this kind of behavior is considered acceptable?
As THE Fantasy shrank, someone posted a scathing comment in the event page telling Paxton (who has been a champ in coping with the changes to THE Fantasy, just putting that out there) to “get your shit together in order for this to be somewhat successful.” That person has since deleted their comment and I don’t feel vindictive enough to out them and post the screenshot I have.
Then you have the whole Vancouver Fantasy explosion over Quidditch Canada testing rule changes at the event. I’m going to be spending my next post talking about why experimenting at fantasy tournaments is actually a good idea, but that’s not the point I want to make here. The point I want to make is that prominent Northwest players decided that getting on their soapbox and going on about how two-armed tackling and new hard boundaries are going to be the death of us all on Father’s Day. Serena probably spent the day worrying about it instead of focusing on her family and her life. It’s what I would have done because no one signs up to be a tournament director unless you want to contribute to making the sport better.
If you had any respect for the thankless work a tournament director does, you’d message them saying you don’t want to referee anymore and save your thoughts for a blog post or an article (which eventually did happen). Event pages are for event information, not blowing up your tournament director’s phone while playing Soapbox Sadie.
Okay, time to come down from my bully pulpit. If there’s one thing that drives me up the wall, it’s people who complain about quidditch (or anything else in life) but don’t have solutions. I’m saving those for part two: The Second Life of Fantasy Quidditch.
(Featured image: Snow Cup VI Team Aussie, because they’re the only reason I’m not winless as a fantasy GM. You guys were great!)