#BarcelosSnows: Snow Cup VII Photos

Indoor lighting + sports photography: 1.
Barcelos: 0.

I still have a lot to learn. Here are some of my faves. Link to the album here.

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Check out these babes I drafted.

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Imagine how much cooler this would be if I could shoot in this bad lighting.

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Caught Kym mid-ponytail bounce.

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Brooms up is always my favorite moment to capture.

#BarcelosSnows: Why I Didn’t Win Snow Cup

50shadesofshame

If there was a best jersey prize, we would have won.

Last week when I wrote that I was going to win Snow Cup, it was a win/win proposition for me. Since one of my New Year’s resolutions is to post to my blog twice a week, I was going to have one last piece of #BarcelosSnows content to start the year off at a running start. You learn more from losing than winning, so while a tournament win still eludes me, I’m not hurting for content.

Let’s break down last week’s bold predictions and see just how wrong I was.

Hero ball:

I still stand by this one. If Dan Marovich can get enough of an open lane, he can charge down the field and score faster than you think someone his size could.

Im-the-Juggernaut-bitch.gif

Hero ball worked more often than not. In no game was that more apparent than our last game against Pink, when Dan and #1 overall pick/Team USA’s Stew Driflot exchanged several hero ball goals. When Dan wasn’t in, Nate Western (my first pick) made a few heroic charges of his own.

Non-male player:

I was right about this one, too. The finals featured two of the elite non-male players I mentioned: White’s Alyssa Burton and Red’s Mollie Lensing. The third Team USA beater was my second pick, Sarah Kneiling… who had to drop with about 24 hours notice. An injury at the end of day one saw Abbie Simons make the right choice in not playing on day two because concussions are nothing to mess around with.

That being said, the team stepped up and valiantly filled those gaps. Jake and Sam were absolute savages at beater. Jensen, Katie, Kym, and Abigail dealt with my precarious juggling to maintain the appropriate amount of non-male players on the pitch, but that also meant that other male players had fewer minutes compared to them. Not a single of them complained… even if they had the right to.

Two-day team:

Yeah, I was totally right about this, too. In spite of going 1-2 on day one and 0-2 on day two, we played so much better on the second day. We had all the benefits of a second day’s worth of chemistry and cohesion and none of the New Year’s Eve induced hangover.

Seeking:

This was ultimately our downfall. All of our losses but one were in range, including an overtime loss. (I can’t tell you the last time I won a game in overtime. In fact, I’m pretty sure I never have.) My favorite seeking demon had an uncharacteristically poor performance, but in spite of what I wrote last week, I wasn’t depending on him to carry the weight of the yellow headband alone. I drafted several players for their seeking skills, but ultimately the tail didn’t fall in our favor.

Still waiting for my time:

Would it have been a great narrative for me to finally win a tournament after rage quitting? Oh, absolutely. But I’m clearly not ready to leave this community yet, so I still have time. Every time I’m a GM, I learn a little more about putting together a good team. #50ShadesofShame was no exception. Whether I’ve known them for years or just met them this weekend, whether they had to play ALL THE MINUTES or listened when I had to sub them out, I am proud of each and every one of these players.

Thanks for putting up with my blogging shenanigans; I’m so glad I drafted you all.

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After this picture was taken, we all left to go win Snow Ball.

Final thoughts:

Fantasy quidditch is a crapshoot. The best-laid plans go awry when key players drop. Officiating can be all over the place at unofficial tournaments. There’s a certain amount of luck you need to win a fantasy tournament, and I just didn’t have it this time around.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Excuses, excuses, Barcelos. But thanks for reading them. Comment/tweet/holler at me for my hubris and inability to retire; the Spirit of St. Quidditch knows that I probably deserve it.

#BarcelosSnows: Why I’m Going to Win Snow Cup

Snow Cup VII logo by Dan Howland
Snow Cup VII logo by Dan Howland

Snow Cup is my favorite quidditch event of the year. Quidditch may still be going through it’s puberty identity crisis (is it a serious sport? a social activity? everyone’s answer is different) but Snow Cup doesn’t have that problem. If you take Snow Cup seriously, you’re doing it wrong. Snow Cup is pure fun.

That being said, winning is fun. I like winning. And if it takes hanging up my cleats and calling myself retired for the Spirit of St. Quidditch to smile upon me and finally give me a tournament win, then so be it.

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Is this a bad time to mention that I liked Swiss?

I’m kicking off my Snow Cup blogging (shoutout to Chris Beesley for coming up with the #BarcelosSnows hashtag!) with some friendly smack talk for clicks and giggles. Will this come back to bite me later this weekend? Maybe, but shame is fleeting and glory is forever. Here’s why I think me and the 50 Shades of Shame are gonna win it all.

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We’re gonna hero ball so hard.

Hero ball may be dead in competitive quidditch, but this is fantasy. You can only strategize so much when you’re putting together a team for just a weekend. Blunt force can get you pretty far, and I have quidditch blunt force incarnate: Dan Marovich. The only player I’ve ever seen tackle Dan when he’s going full steam ahead unfortunately had to drop, so I’m feeling pretty good about his chances to go full Juggernaut on the pitch this weekend.

EEK!

Just don’t get dumb cards and break your teammate’s hand, Dan.

We’re stacked at non-male player.

Okay, maybe someone comes along that can tackle the Mountain That Rides (a Broom). He’s got passing options like Abbie Simons and Jensen Morgan. Alyssa Burton and Mollie Lensing are amazing beaters, but Sarah Kneiling is an OG Team USA beater. She’s also the high prophetess of the Spirit of St. Quidditch, and she wants you all to follow your hearts. When you do, you’ll know this to be true: this is our tournament to win.

My team is a two-day team. 

While I prefer one-day tournaments, Snow Cup is two days. Not only that, but the night between is New Year’s Eve. People go to Snow Cup to party more than they do to play, so the day two aches are inevitably going to be coupled with hangovers.

Enter: The Long Beach Funky Quaffles. This is a team that knows how to party, how to play, and how to do both at the same time. LBFQ’s Joshua Ishizaki, Jake Malloy, and Ryan Park, along with special guests Nate Western and Dan Marovich, are going to be so ready for day two.

My seeker is a goddamn demon.

You’ve probably seen him if you have any familiarity with the NorCal quidditch scene. Red horns on his head, 666 on his back, callous disregard for pain or exhaustion? Forrest Stone was an absolute steal in the 11th round. In a Snow Cup bereft of the presence of Dan Howland, you may think there’s no dominant seeker to be found. I’m looking forward to watching Forrest prove you all wrong.

forrest-seeking

Oh, and he’s a pretty good seeker blocker, too.

Have I mentioned that it’s FINALLY MY TIME?!

2015 marked my first two attempts at being a GM: Beachside and West Fantasy. I got swept both times. I was plagued by drops, I spent way too much money on players in an auction draft (which I hate), and I just didn’t know the player pool as well as other GMs.

I learned.

In 2016, I went 2-2 at Snow Cup, including a snitch range loss (I still maintain that we were robbed) to the gray team that wound up in the final. That summer, my teal team took second at Northwest Fantasy. I learned to avoid players that were drop risks. I have no drops going into this tournament. I learned that building a fantasy team isn’t the same as a regular season team.

I’m on an upward trajectory and I’m aiming for the top.

The Second Life of Fantasy Quidditch

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.

Since it’s #ScheerkWeek, I’ll provide this example:

 

EEK!

photo credit: Paxton Quade Casey — edit: Apparently this isn’t Scheer, but why let the truth get the way of a good hashtag?

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 Scheer, 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.

Fantasy Quidditch is Dead

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!)