MuggleNet SnitchCenter Recaps This Past Weekend at the Quidditch World Cup
by Keith Hawk · Published · Updated
Those of you who were lucky enough to be able to attend Quidditch World Cup VI in Kissimmee, Florida, this past weekend, are no doubt still talking about how amazing the whole event was. For those unable to attend, this event report will only be able to touch on a few of the moments, so we just hope to encourage you to attend Quidditch World Cup VII wherever it may be held next April.
- All 80 teams marched onto the Championship Field and listened to the international teams (Canada, France, and Mexico) sing their national anthems, followed by the national anthem of America.
- After welcome speeches from Alex Benepe, the Mayor of Kissimmee, and a few select IQA senior members, Alex Benepe broke out into the Harlem Shake.
The games were officially underway, and there was nearly nonstop quidditch action until 11:00 p.m., with 160 games played on nine fields. During Saturday’s matches, MuggleNet also had the chance to sit down with a variety of IQA members.
Alex Benepe, CEO and Cofounder of the International Quidditch Association
Transcribed by Ryan McCormick
Keith Hawk: MuggleNet Snitch Center is here in our Snitch Center tent. We are joined by the CEO [and] co-founder of the International Quidditch Association, Alex Benepe. Alex, how [are] you doing today?
Alex Benepe: Hey, Keith! I'm fantastic! Today is a beautiful day out here in Kissimmee, Florida. The teams are all playing great today [and] everything's running smoothly. I'm glad you guys could be here with us.
Keith: We're glad to be here too! You are dressed in the best white outfit I have ever seen. I'm used to the black tux, but you brought out the white, you're going all bling today. Now, tell me about the opening ceremonies. What did you do with the opening ceremonies that was a lot of fun?
Alex: Well, we did a Harlem shake at the opening ceremonies. The first round was a little bit of a dud because the speakers weren't turned up loud enough, so we had to reset. I hope it turned out okay. We’re going to see what the videos look like. The main reason we wanted to do it is just to have fun with the teams and keep things light-hearted. That's the goal sometimes. It's great the sport has become super competitive and I'm glad for that, but you need to mix in some fun to keep things on an even keel.
Keith: Well, normally with the opening ceremonies all the teams would come in - which they did - but then additionally we had the foreign teams sing their national anthems, which was really cool. And then we had somebody singing the national anthem for America, and then we did the Harlem Shake after a really nice rousing speech by Alex. But today, Alex, I want to get into the pool play because that's what we're here for, we're here for the Quidditch World Cup and the actual competition. This Quidditch World Cup is the most intense that you've ever had. The reason for it is they had to qualify through regular play to get into the Quidditch World Cup. So we have 60 Division I teams and 20 Division II teams, and Division I is really shaping up nicely. So far there's been a couple of upsets, have you heard anything [about that]?
Alex: The biggest upset I've heard of so far was FSU beating Marquette. I believe they went into overtime and then FSU managed to pull the snitch.
Keith: What happened is that the snitch was grabbed by FSU [when]they were down by 30 points. They grabbed the snitch, took it in overtime, and there was no score in overtime, it was an immediate snitch catch to end the game. Marquette was devastated by that. They are the number one seed in the pool of six and [were] upset by FSU.
Alex: They were also the Midwest Regional Champions this year. They were the best team in the midwest at our Regional Championship, so it's definitely a shock to them to lose in a pool game like that.
Keith: Well, in my opinion, the best region here at this Quidditch World Cup is the Southwest Region. Would you agree with that?
Alex: I can't pick favorites here. I will tell you that the southwest definitely believes it's the best region.
Keith: Well, they have Texas A&M, they have the University of Texas at Austin, who else is in it… Baylor?
Alex: Baylor's the surprise act this year, although the southwest will tell you they're not a surprise act because Baylor won the Southwest Regionals this year and all the southwest teams are like, “Well, we're not surprised. They've been playing great!” They took out Texas A&M and the University of Texas in the semi-finals and finals. They were playing great; they had the best day ever. I'm curious to see how they play in the World Cup [and] if they can continue riding that wave.
Keith: Right now Baylor is in the same poll as number one with the University of Kansas, the University of California Berkeley, and VCU. Do you see anybody challenging them in that division? Kansas might be the only team that has a shot at it. But do you see them really upsetting Baylor at all?
Alex: A Kansas-Baylor game is definitely on my list of games to watch. I'm also very excited to see Boston University vs Villanova. Those are coming up later this afternoon on the championship pitch.
Keith: Baylor versus Kansas is actually game number 99 on the championship field at five o'clock. That is a game that we will not be missing because that is going to be some hard-hitting, fierce action. There has been a lot of great competition on the championship field. LSU and ASU matched up earlier today, where LSU took it. But I’ve got to tell you, that was some hard-hitting quidditch. We’re going to show some video clips in this segment and they're serious knock-down, drag-out [plays]. It’s getting to be even rougher than rugby. What do you feel about the hitting this year?
Alex: I will say that both ASU and LSU are teams that know how to hit each other well, and hit safely. There is definitely a way to tackle correctly and safely so that you can give a big hit and take someone down without hurting them.
Keith: Speaking of hurting them, there are ambulances here, [and] there is medical staff here. At the last Quidditch World Cup, we had a bunch of concussions [and] a couple of broken bones. How about this year? Have you heard of any major injuries so far?
Alex: I haven't had a chance to check in with the medics yet for a report, but our logistics team is doing that on a regular basis. Whenever there's any kind of ambulance transport needed, our logistics team is over there. We're recording all the injuries and any of the ambulance trips. I think so far it's been a lot better than last year. To my knowledge, there have only been two ambulance transports so far, and that's great. We have ambulances here on standby, we have concussion specialists, we have dozens of athletic trainers [and] we have one position[ed] to each field. Safety is a big priority for us. Also - and I would say the single biggest thing that has made the game safer this year - [we have] the introduction of the referee certification program. So all the refs not only know the rules inside and out, but they learn how to be much more assertive and controlling of the field, and can keep games safe and under control.
Keith: Over on the championship field there is a bunch of bleachers that surround the field and if any play gets even close to the line, they're blowing the whistle and saying ‘Hey, let's bring it back into place so everybody does stay safe, especially the fans.” [If] these guys go running full speed [and] they run into some 60-year-old lady [who]'s there to watch a game, it's not going to be a pretty sight, and we definitely don't want any of that today.
Alex: What we did this year that's new is, you'll notice all the fields - in addition to the white line on the outside of the field - there is an additional yellow line five meters out from the circumference and that's the zone [in] which fans aren't allowed to stand. That way when the ball goes out of bounds, if there are any fans in that area, the referee will immediately stop play.
Keith: That's right. Let’s change gears a little bit. I want to get into the future of quidditch. [The] Quidditch World Cup launched a campaign this past year to get the Quidditch World Cup down here in Kissimmee. Cities were bidding to [host] the Quidditch World Cup, and Kissimmee won. The future is bright! I think it could go to Texas, it could go to Chicago, it could go out to California, and that's 50 future years. But here's the big question for you: Harry Potter is the soul of this game, [and] the books are English. We just had the Summer Olympics over there last year where five teams - including the UK - competed over in England for the torch ceremony in Oxford. Do you see the Quidditch World Cup over in England anywhere in the near future?
Alex: I think that the Quidditch World Cup will remain in America for the foreseeable future, but what we are going to organize in the summer of 2014 is an event that we're going to call the Global Games, and that will be an event - much like our demo match in Oxford last summer - in which each country in the IQA will send one team to it. We are looking at cities in Canada for that right now, and OAN is helping us look at those cities. That’s an event that perhaps the following summer could be held somewhere on another continent.
Keith: So is it almost like an X Games that you're going to be doing?
Alex: I guess you could say it's like X Games. [laughs]
Keith: Different venues, bringing in different all-star teams, and everything else. It’s not an Olympic thing.
Alex: It’s almost more like the Olympics, actually, because you have the teams as national teams wearing their country's colors. We recently published our four-year plan and we're hoping by 2017 to make a shift - that will be the 10th World Cup, World Cup X - and we're going to have that world cup be the first world cup that only national teams are at. We're hoping to have 16 Nations there. And when that happens this event, which is mostly - let's face it - an American collegiate event, will become something like the US Cup. It'll still be a huge quidditch event. It'll probably be the same size if not bigger. The bigger the league gets, we’ll need to make the World Cup gradually bigger while keeping a cap on the teams, [and] converting the World Cup into an event where you have top teams from every country in the world coming over. Right now this event is very team-centric. It's really fun and I hope that in every country you can have an event like this. The Australian Cup, the US Cup, the English Cup, but then the World Cup should be an event where you just really have the best of the best of the best and tons of spectators to watch.
Keith: So you going to be following the paths of soccer?
Alex: More or less.
Keith: Sounds great! One final question for you. With the future of the IQA [in mind, there are] a lot of issues going on with the male-to-female ratios on the team. There is some controversy in there. We can't make any bones about it, it's there for a reason and I think it's the right reason. The issue, though, that I see, is in situations of all-girls colleges. They feel that they are discriminated against because they are in an all-girls college and they can't have male interaction. How are you planning on fixing issues of that? Is there going to be any kind of allowance for teams like that to be entering the US Cup or the Canadian Cup?
Alex: We're pretty strict about the two-minimum rule in the league, which is that whenever you are playing, two of your seven players on the field [must be of a different gender]. Actually, it's two of the six that must count on the field, because the seeker [is] off the field. Two of the six must be [of] a different gender than the other players. It’s a rule of the game and we can't let one team wave a rule of the game [while] the other teams have to follow it. So, unfortunately, it's a rule that we enforce without exception. How exactly teams that are all-girls schools will have to deal with that, that's something we'll work out and try to find some way. But as of now it just doesn't work to let those teams in the league. Those teams are more than welcome to recruit male players and add them to their teams, but I want to be clear about it. I've seen some dialogue regarding [it] and they're saying, “[IQA is] saying we have to have boys on your team.” Well, no, we're not saying you have to have boys on your team. What we're saying is you have to follow the two-minimum rule that all the other teams follow. If you are an all-boys team we'd be telling you that you have to have girls on your team. I know it's definitely challenging if you're a single-gender school to try and recruit people to join your team who are maybe not part of your school. But unfortunately, it's not fair to the rest of the teams in the league to let one team just get an exception like that.
Keith: No, I totally understand and I’m with you on that. We'll see what happens with that and hopefully, they can grab two players from the community and still be called St. Catherine's College or something like that.
Alex: It's a frustrating situation, and I could understand why Smith's quidditch team is frustrated. It's not good for them but unfortunately, we have a lot of teams to work with here, and you can't always make everyone happy.
Keith: Alright, let's get back into one more question for you and that's [about] the bracket play tomorrow. There are 12 pools and three winners from each pool are going to be pulled into these 36 teams, going into a 32-man bracket. The beginning is probably going to have a couple of games, like entry games, is that correct?
Alex: There's going to be four play-in games. A total of eight teams competing for four spots, to get into the 32 [places].
Keith: Is that going to be based on the statistics of their pool play here, including the swim method and all that stuff?
Alex: To be honest, I'm not a brackets expert, which is why I have amazingly smart and talented people who do this for me. It's just not what I'm passionate about, but I respect the people [who] are immensely. The top three teams from each pool will advance to D1. So there are 12 pools, [and the] top three in each go to the 36. You go by win-loss record first, and then you move on to a very complicated system of points differentials that's different from regular points differentials because it has all these quidditch things to factor in like the snitch, when it matters, and quaffle points and other details. You can find the algorithms for our ranking systems online if you're really into reading algorithms.
Keith: I am, I love it! [laughs] Alright, we're looking forward [to it] and we'll see it at the brackets tomorrow. Best of luck the rest of the way, it's been a great event so far.
Meaghan Prenda, IQA Social Media Director
Transcribed by Marissa Osman
Keith Hawk: We are here at the marketing table with Meaghan Prenda. Meaghan has been a social media guru for the IQA (International Quidditch Association). Meaghen, how is it going today?
Meaghan Prenda: It's going really well. It's really exciting to be here; I'm excited to bring the world cup experience online. I've been working with a lot of great volunteers, and it's just been a really good time covering the World Cup.
Keith: What are you doing here in the marketing [area]? Are you Tweeting and Facebooking?
Meaghan: Yes, we are currently tweeting @QuidWorldCup which is basically everything you could ever want to know about the Quidditch World Cup. I'm sending out volunteers to experience the World Cup and, at the same time, share that experience with the world itself so that no matter where you are you can feel like you're part of [the] World Cup. Right now we're scheduling tweets @QuidWorldCup [and] @MuggleQuidditch which is our main handle. [We are] doing Facebook posts on both our main IQA Facebook page as well as our Quidditch World Cup Facebook page. [We're posting on] Instagram as well, and that's @MuggleQuidditch.
Keith: Great! Are you doing scores as well, or is this strictly just promotion?
Meaghan: We had planned on doing scores, but volunteers just weren't there. So instead of doing a small portion of scores, we've compiled those scores into a Google Doc that you can access via the World Cup webpage. It's also [on] the IQA's main webpage. You go there and there will be links that will bring you to a Google score sheet. It's being updated throughout the day.
Keith: We're using that as well when we're not actually at the event watching it live and Tweeting from it. Let me ask you a question, Meaghan. No holds barred. Who [are] you rooting for?
Meaghan: Oh God, I'd have to say... I don't know. I can't say. There [are] so many teams out today that it's just so great to have them here.
Keith: Alright, she's not going to give it in! I'm trying to get her cornered but she won't do it. Thank you very much for your time, and good luck for the rest of the way.
Alex Terry, IQA Board Member
Transcribed by Marissa Osman
Keith Hawk: MuggleNet SnitchCenter is here on the championship field. We're getting ready to watch Emmerson versus The University of South Florida. I am with Alex Terry who is a member of the board of directors for the International Quidditch Association. Alex, how is the tournament going so far?
Alex Terry: It's going great! It's way beyond our expectations. It was a big jump to move it from New York all the way down here to Florida, but ticket sales are up, everything is going well, the facility is just amazing, and I think - bar none - we're very pleased overall as an organization with this move and how the crowd is responding to it.
Keith: One of the biggest things that they had a problem with last year at [the] Randall's Island Quidditch World Cup 5 was the lack of facilities, the lack of food vendors, and basically [the lack of] food and drinks for people. They were out of food and you were standing in lines for an hour waiting. Here, there's no line! I just had lunch a little bit ago - I had a nice sausage sandwich over here - and I'll tell you what: I went in, got my stuff, and I was out in about a minute. The bathrooms are lined up for people [here]. There are no lines or anything; it's obviously taken care of. Let's talk about the future of the IQA. What are some of the plans in place right now for what's going on next year?
Alex: Ah, next year. Every World Cup we try and squeeze in a board meeting to do a post recap of the World Cup as well as to talk about the future. We've obviously figured out a little bit [about] how to move the World Cup. This being the first year, we think it's quite successful. We're looking into plans [for] where we're going to take it next. [There have] been talks of Dallas. [There have] been talks of Chicago. Everyone wants to see this thing grow and in order to do that, we might have to move it from place to place. But as I said, we really love Kissimmee; they've been a great host to us so far, so we might just continue to stay here for the following World Cups. Overall, I think - as an organization - we're trying to expand more globally and internationally [to] try and have a much larger World Cup, perhaps overseas in about ten years or so.
Keith: One of the things that I've noticed is that the UK is the founder of Harry Potter. It's where Harry Potter belongs. They have a good showing for quidditch now. They did a great job at the Olympic Games last summer. Is it possible that sometime in the next three, four, [or] five years, we could be having the Quidditch World Cup in England?
Alex: I agree. The Olympic Games [were] the genesis of that. It was truly our first footprint overseas. I think it's something we're going to see continue to grow in the future. I'm definitely looking forward to creating an event in the UK [where] all these quidditch fans can finally go and see the original home place of quidditch.
Keith: Let's get Luna commentating over there!
Alex: Yes, I agree! Luna, if you're watching, please come commentate [on] the Quidditch World Cup. It would be wonderful to have you.
Keith: Evanna Lynch did try to do it over at LeakyCon. She did a great job. She was scared, she was nervous, and she didn't really know the rules of the game or the teams playing, but she did a great job. That would be fun to give her more experience over there. Now, one other question before this game starts because we're going to be getting run over soon. [A] big controversy that I see is the [women to men] ratio being set in stone. What do you do for an all-women's college?
Alex: We've been battling this back and forth in the board meetings. It's a scenario where we [believe] it encourages recruitment. [It encourages teams] to try and go find other people to play with. Technically we're playing with percentages right now. Does it have to be 75% of the actual college? It's a tough, tricky one to ask. I can't personally say that I have the final say on that, but we're still discussing [it] as a board and we'll see where it goes. We're going to try and be as equal as possible.
Keith: [That] sounds great. You heard it right here: We're going to have [equality] throughout the world. Right now, let's watch Emmerson versus USF. Brooms are almost up. Come on over.
We also chatted with some of the key sponsors and partners of the IQA:
- Marie Sperling, owner of All About Group Travel
- Dave Wedzik, owner of Alivan’s Master Wandmakers
- Brian, of the IQA Pro Shop
On Sunday morning, the top three winners from all the pools were able to advance to the tournament’s bracket play. For Division I, this meant the top 28 teams automatically advanced while the next 8 had to play their way into the bracket to round out the top 32 teams.
On Sunday, MuggleNet had the chance to catch up with some of the teams as well as provide a preview of the day’s events with predictions and a look back on Saturday’s pool play.
- Keith Hawk and Allison Gilette preview the tournament brackets
- Bowling Green State University
- Emerson College
- Miami University
- Paris Phénix
MuggleNet’s Noah Fried also had the chance to catch up with Harry and the Potters (Snitchwich makers) and Team StarKid for a lighter side of the weekend. There was also a quick look at the luxurious side of the Quidditch World Cup with a tour of the VIP tent.
Once again, a special thanks to the IQA for putting on an amazing weekend of Muggle quidditch.