France Receives the Prettiest Trophy in Quidditch
France has been rewarded for its daring effort over the weekend to become the Champion nation of European Quidditch. The trophy, awarded at the Sarteano Castle closing ceremony and designed by local artist Mauro Fastelli, began a long celebration for all 12 teams to celebrate a fantastic tournament.
It is hard to believe that only three of the twelve teams had played a competitive international match before this tournament, while Spain and Ireland even had no club team presence at the recent European Quidditch Cup. Organizers were sympathetic to the relative inexperience of the teams and allowed a half-time break in some matches to provide adequate hydration and exposure reduction for lesser adept teams. The Sarteano weather provided a lot of heat and humidity, as well as an actual storm that delayed play for about an hour on the first day.
Expected forces France and the United Kingdom easily pushed the competition around on Day 1. In Group I (Belgium, Catalonia, France, Poland, Spain, and Turkey) France’s closest competitor was Belgium, who, they played in the Games’ first match, which ended in a 150* – 50 victory. Turkey set itself up for an important Day 2 clash with Belgium after beating Catalonia, Poland, and Spain. Poland struggled to put points on the board but showed great improvement as the team played stronger competitors later in the day. Spain had trouble keeping up but remained in sight of a quarter final position, and Catalonia almost caught Turkey by surprise in its first match, losing to a Snitch grab 100* – 80.
In Group II (Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, and the UK), only Norway found itself in snitch range against the UK in a 100*–40 loss. Norway had otherwise convincing victories. Ireland and the Netherlands averaged only a goal a game, but the Netherlands had two Snitch catches, one of which gained the team a victory over Ireland 60* – 30. Germany put in performances when it mattered, but hosts Italy came away with the win 100* – 30 in its match to secure a quarter final berth on the first day.
— IQA European Games (@IQAEuroGames) July 25, 2015
Due to the storm delay evening matches were re-scheduled to the Sunday morning, which continued at a similar pace to the previous day. The match of the morning was a Catalonia – Spain rivalry to claim the last quarter final slot. It saw some tremendous beating performances from both teams, while tensions were high with five cards and numerous back to goal penalties called. When the Seekers were released, Spain found itself in Snitch range, but Catalonia immediately stepped up its Quaffle game. The team scored five more times, while Spain only managed another two, also failing to prevent Catalonia capturing the Snitch.
The 160* – 70 result was also Catalonia’s last points of the tournament. A rampant UK team kept Catalonia scoreless in a 190*–0 quarterfinal victory. France had a similar match against Group II’s fourth-placed German team, winning 160 – 30*. Belgium comfortably beat hosts Italy 90 – 30*, while Norway disposed of Turkey with a 160* – 0 victory. Belgium pushed the UK right to the edge in the first semifinal, but the UK emerged with an 80*–40 victory. France beat Norway 110* – 40 in the second semi final that would set up the final match everyone was expecting. Norway appeared to be cruising to a podium finish as they led 110 – 40 just before the Snitch was released. They would only score one more goal, while Belgium scored four to be just outside Snitch range. The Norway Seeker made the game-ending catch to the relief of the Rumpledunk supporters before Belgium could gain any more momentum, winning 150* – 80 to claim third place.
The Anglo-French war, or Gold Medal Match
“They’re gonna be killing each other later but they’re all hugs and kisses now.” – Commentators — IQA European Games (@IQAEuroGames) July 26, 2015
Starting with a strong drive by the UK chasers only to be denied at the goals by a beater, they opened the scoring a couple of minutes into the game before a French resurgence saw them concede four unanswered. The UK had a goal declared no good before scoring on a fast break with its next possession. France replied to keep the UK on the edge of snitch range 50–20. Play slowed down as the UK struggled to attain points even with bludger control but pulled back three goals to level the scores over the final eight minutes before the snitch was released. France scored again just before the Seekers were released and within a minute had captured the Snitch to win the match.
It was a tribute match to the continuing rivalry between these now mature Quidditch nations. The takeaway from the tournament is that there are now ten other nations eager to stamp their place in the Quidditch world. The only question now is if Europe can continue this momentum onto a global stage.