As spectators crossed the East River over the weekend they were greeted by vendors selling all things magical, the smell of turkey legs, and teams from five countries playing a muggle-version of a wizard and witch game of pop culture legend.
The Quidditch World Cup was hosted on Randall’s Island in Manhattan over November 12 and 13. This world cup, being the fifth of its kind, hosted over 108 teams from five countries—the U.S., Canada, Finland, Argentina, and New Zealand.
The Stony Brook quidditch team was eliminated in the preliminary round, winning one game out of the three played on the 12th and losing their final game the next day.
Stony Brook’s first match, at 10 a.m. last Saturday, was against Michigan State, ranked 15th overall and 3rd in the Midwest Region. Stony Brook, significantly outranked by Michigan State at 46th overall, held up well during the beginning of the game, but quickly lost their tenacity. Michigan caught the snitch, a 30-point boost to a team’s score, to win the game 140-70.
During their second match at 3 p.m. against Villanova, ranked 10th overall, Stony Brook faired slightly better. While the game reminded the audience that quidditch is classified as a full contact sport, Stony Brook’s planned strategy fell apart.
Gameplay was fairly unorganized with players on both sides remaining unguarded. Several penalties were called against Stony Brook throughout the game, one of which was never explained by the referee. The game stood at 50-30 until Villanova caught the snitch to make the final score 80-30.
“They wouldn’t let us play,” said Co-Captain Daniel Ahmadizadeh after the game in reference to the penalties.
For the final match of day one, Stony Brook faced off against Virginia Tech at 7 p.m. Livid after the loss of their first two games, Stony Brook took the game by storm. It began with the snitch, a neutral player who does not belong to either team for fairness reasons, team mooning Stony Brook’s seeker, Jason Caballes.
The match was by far the most physical of all the Stony Brook matches at the cup, with gameplay stopping at least twice for injuries. In one instance, a Virginia Tech chaser, wearing shiny gold spandex shorts, was brought to the ground in pain after being accidently hit in the chest by the blunt end of a broom.
Stony Brook remained ahead for the majority of the game. The score stood 130-30, in favor of Stony Brook, before Virginia Tech caught the snitch in a self-sacrificial move; they caught the snitch knowing they would lose because that would be a better outcome than potentially getting scored on further and suffering a loss in rankings. Stony Brook won the game with 130 points to Virginia Tech’s 60.
With their record at 1-2 by the morning of day two, Stony Brook entered their final match with the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, ranked 81st overall. The match determined which team would continue to the next stage of competition.
The game between the two was based much more on evasion and sprinting, opposed to the physicality of the first three. It also lacked the edge of humor that most quidditch games carry, having a much more intense atmosphere from both sides due to the weight of potential elimination, the caveat to this being the snitch who decided to put a banana peal on the quaffle, the ball used for scoring.
The snitch catch was executed by Minnesota to end the game. The final score was called at 50-40 in favor of Minnesota, who continued on to the next round.
According to Ahmadizadeh, Stony Brook expected to beat Minnesota, but still believed them to be a very good team. He mentioned his offense not pulling through as one of the largest contributing factors to their loss.
The World Cup was won by Middlebury College, where muggle quidditch began. They continue to be ranked number one in the world and have only lost one game ever in their history.
Stony Brook quidditch will continue to train through the winter for other upcoming tournaments.
“There’s no off-season in quidditch,” Ahmadizadeh said while smiling after their last game.