Le roi est mort, vive le roi. The king is dead, long live the king. I came to bury fantasy quidditch, now I come to praise it. Have I beaten you over the head enough with my literature degree? Yeah? Okay.
If I really believed fantasy was dead, I wouldn’t have signed up to TD two fantasy tournaments this summer. I knew that MLQ was going to replace fantasy as the source of competitive summer quidditch because I was paying attention last summer. Even as fantasy shifts to smaller scale events, my philosophy as a TD this summer is that fantasy needs to focus on fulfilling the needs of the quidditch community that MLQ doesn’t. So, here’s what fantasy quidditch can do for you:
- New friends!
Remember your first fantasy team? I do! Shoutout to Chris Beesley’s Snow Cup V Blue Barracudas for being my introduction to the world of fantasy quidditch. It was my first time playing quidditch without any NorCal players, period. I vaguely knew Anthony Hawkins and Hannah (from YouTube! so talented!) Moroz because SJSU seems to *always* play LBFQ when they’re at the same tournament but otherwise these people were complete strangers to me.
No longer. Bees and I bonded over being involved with quidditch in our late twenties and eventually got me invited to Ref Haus, a quidditch community that I cherish. Anthony went from being that vaguely intimidating guy with resting bitch face (sorry Ant, but you do) to one of my favorite quidditch people because he is so damn kind. Erin and Nelson from SHSU are the reason that the Bearcats are my favorite Southwest team. She’s a hard working team president (something I appreciated and understood) and his snaps are delightful. Steve and I are two English/history/geek culture nerds in a pod; I never leave Utah without at least saying hi and giving him a hug because tweeting at each other isn’t enough. Speaking of tweeting, Tyler is one of the rare Ducks fans I can tolerate on Twitter. Emily intimidated me a little when SJSU played Tufts at World Cup 7 so it was really cool to see her ball out on my team and then play games at the Snow Ball afterparty. I may have teared up a little when Duston hugged me extra hard after I put his hard earned West Regional medal on this year. Gina is a perfect human; talented yet humble on the pitch and off. Daniel’s a really good ref that I’m always happy to see, Justin flew all the way from Hawaii, Micah is my secret #fitspo Instagram goals, and I am gripped with guilt because I barely remember Kellie except that she was really nice.
You didn’t come here to read about me gushing about my teammates (unless you’re one of them, hi guys!) but there is a point to my fangirling: I bet you have those kinda feels about your first fantasy team, too. Why would you deprive the quidditch players of the future of that joy? That community building and bonding are why I started Hella Fantasy. NorCal quidditch has a not undeserved reputation for drama and I understood fantasy’s power to bring people together. I think it worked. At least a little. Fantasy tournaments, like lowercase-q quidditch, aren’t magic.
Afterparties are ~*magical*~ though. At this point, even Snow Cup, the gold standard for fantasy tournaments, is an excuse to go to Snow Ball… and the Snow Ball afterparties. The social value of fantasy tournaments is more important than ever now that the sport has grown beyond the point when you can know everyone in quidditch. This is why planning the West Fantasy afterparty stresses me out far more than running the tournament itself.
- Player development
Yes, I put a social benefit before this. There was a time when scrubs like me could play on the same team as all-star players but the advent of MLQ has put a dent in that. That being said, it’s not completely behind us. West Fantasy managed to draw some big names, Funky Fiesta definitely did. Also, since fantasy teams are smaller, players see more game time than they otherwise would on a 21-player roster.
I’d write more about this… but I’ll always be at best a surprisingly spry for her age role player and at worst an ancient bench riding scrub. Liz the Player is the only quidditch version of me (versus Liz the RC, Liz the TD, Liz the ref, Liz the team manager, etc) that just shuts up and lets other people tell her what to do. There are plenty of other people who know better than me on this topic; go read their stuff.
- Referee development
I would not have passed my field test last October if I hadn’t refereed at unofficial events, including Hella Fantasy and Northwest Fantasy. It’s not just about knowing the rules; it’s about taking command of a pitch. For someone like me, who is extroverted but really just wants to be everyone’s mom/cheerleader/fangirl, burying that instinct and learning how to put on my ref brain took time and practice. Fantasies offer the feeling of a real game (because who doesn’t like winning, amirite?) without the consequences of screwing up an official game.
This was my one of my biggest reason to make sure that West Fantasy happened this summer and the #2 reason I’m going to Funky Fiesta as a non-playing volunteer. (The #1 reason is partying, obviously.) I know I need to brush off the cobwebs of summer and practice using Rulebook 10.
I’m also virtually certain I’m not a Tier 1 referee, so I’m going to need to field test. I’m far from being the only one, either. The consequences of not having field testing early and often at the beginning of the season lead ref shortages in the middle of the season that end with me taking an overnight Greyhound to SoCal to referee nine games in a row. I mean, I love SoCal (yes, really!) and getting paid, so it worked out. That doesn’t mean I want to repeat that ordeal.
As important as referees are, I’ve found that it’s harder to schedule snitches lately. With snitch certification on the horizon, I know that some of the West’s best snitches don’t have game film focused on them. So, in an effort to get more snitch volunteers and get the best snitches paid this coming season for their priceless contributions to the game, I decided to offer snitch film to snitches that volunteer for West Fantasy. Sure, snitches still have to pass written tests. That’s on them. All I can do as a TD that wants the best snitches she can get is to offer them film so that I can offer them money later.
- Testing other ideas
You’d think I would have learned my lesson after my last mention of Vancouver Fantasy got me not one, but two salty Quidsecrets. Let’s not pretend any of us are above reading Quidsecrets, either. It’s a trainwreck but one that no one can look away from. <sarcasm font> Especially not me, the West’s fearless leader galloping in on her high horse. Gotta know what the angry peasants are thinking. </sarcasm font>
Anyway, you would be wrong. I did mention I was a masochist, didn’t I? I actually think the tackling tweaks at Vancouver Fantasy are a good idea for the same reasons that fantasy tournaments are good for fledging referees: they replicate the feel of a real game without actually being a real game. Quidditch Canada didn’t just come up with finishing tackles with two arms on a whim. I have seen plenty of terrifying one-armed tackles.
I’ll provide this example:
Illegal? Oh, absolutely. Dan Marovich is a big dude but he’s not a vicious dude. He’s a teddy bear, really. He’s also a fierce competitor and finishes his hits, which is why I drafted him. However, it’s hard for a big guy to finish a tackle and not make illegal contact with an opponent. If Dan had the option to completely wrap his opponent, would he have taken a penalty that led to gray getting ahead of purple and eventually ending my hopes of finally making bracket play at a fantasy tournament? Maybe not. I think there’s an argument that completing a tackle with both arms is potentially safer. Why wouldn’t Quidditch Canada’s gameplay department collaborate with a fantasy tournament to test the idea before deciding to include it in the regular season?
Rules aren’t the only thing fantasies can test. Ethan Sturm’s article on gameplay formats got my attention because yes, I have become complacent in my use of formats. Pool play to bracket play is relatively easy to schedule. So, I commit here and now to use a different format at West Fantasy this year. I may or may not have a large scale event in mind for next season (no promises but coughLAOpen2.0cough) and I need to see how other formats feel for me as a TD.
Thanks for reading, everyone. I don’t always write about quidditch but when I do, my blog gets way more hits. So, come back and read my other stuff! I’ll probably even write about quidditch again before the summer is over. (Conferences. They’re good for you.) See you at fantasies and MLQ matches coming to the West Region near you.