Mudbash 2014 Preview
Just over 11 months ago, 6 teams and 74 players gathered on the field at Monash University for the first annual Melbourne MudBash quidditch tournament. The Melbourne Manticores took home gold medals while the Basilisks slithered away with silver. Both teams are returning with a bang to defend the MudBash title and fight for glory. However this weekend we see our team list grow to include the two youngest Victorian teams and three teams of travelling interstate players, while the tournament will lose the local Orions. MudBash 2014 has double the players and double the play time of MudBash 2013 and we are set to hit the pitch at Alma Park East on both June 28 and 29.
With so many teams and so little time, Melbourne MudBash 2014 will be the first Victorian tournament to have two pitches and two pools of play.
In Pool A (otherwise known as the Pool of Ultimate Destruction) we will see the reigning champions (Melbourne Manticores…not that you need a reminder, they are always reminding you) face off against the newly crowned victors of the Victoria Cup, the Monash Muggles. The two powerhouses will meet with the Northern Direwolves and the Australian National Nargles all of whom will be fighting it out against a surprisingly impressive mercenary squad.
The Melbourne Manticores are coming at you with a larger squad than ever before. Some of our oldest players will be retiring after MudBash 2014 and many of our rookies are using MudBash as the diving board for their jump into the quidditch world. They are ready to shake things up against the Victoria Cup champions, the Monash Muggles, and relish in the defeat of the Welsh Green mercenaries, many of whom come from the Manticores’ longstanding frenemy team the Newcastle Fireballs.
The Manticores were flying high on a winning streak after Winter League and only barely missed out on a medal during the Victoria Cup, they will be fighting their hardest to get back on top, instilling fear into their enemies with the mightiest of roars.
Who better to temper the sheer size of the Manticores than the ever-enigmatic and persistent Northern Direwolves. If there was ever a team that truly exemplified the idea of underdogs, it’s the Northern Direwolves. Coming dead last in the Victoria Cup, with a grand total of zero victories, they appear utterly underwhelming on paper. But out on the pitch, it’s a whole different story. Out there, their passion and heart shine through, refusing to give up even when they have no subs, or when facing teams three times their size. A team known for casually strolling to the halfway line before either charging head first through the defenders or hurling a half-pitch Hail Mary, Direwolf strategies are either genius or non-existent. Few sides manage to match the spectacle these red riders produce, resulting in a uproarious cheering from the crowds with every successful play, although whether this is in support of newbies or out of fear of their ginger giant known only as “Baberaham” is still up for debate…Ready yourselves, because this MudBash, Winter is most definitely coming.
At the other end of the table we have the Victoria Cup winners, the Monash Muggles. Coming out of Vic Cup as the inaugural champions, the season saw the Muggles in top form, dropping only one game by a snitch catch. The Victoria Cup has seen the Muggles, led by Captain Georgia Tredrea and Coach Nicola Gertler, transform from a team of hopefuls to a team of victors.
MudBash, however, will be a test to the Muggles ability to hold their own and endure over a series of games, rather than just give it their all in a single match. The Muggles usual squad of 12 will be extended to 18, including debuts of new players and the return of some more experienced players who were unable to attend season matches. An extended sub-line will benefit the team in the scheme of the whole tournament and allow for injuries unlike the 10 man squad of 2013. The addition of new Muggles Grace Levens, Erin Pratt, Tom Dortmans and Neil Kemister shall add to the Muggles depth of squad and physicality.
The Muggles strength as a contender for the title of MudBash Champions of 2014 shall lie in their ability to retain their strong defensive line-up that emerged as a key feature of the team’s strategy during the Vic Cup. Overall the Muggles look set to take MudBash as a time to test out new strategy against both Victorian and interstate teams as well as breaching the gap between new and experienced players.
Australian National Nargles
Don’t let their story fool you, the Muggles will definitely be fighting hard for victory while they try out their new tactics against local teams and travellers. One such team that many of you in NSW have seen around the block a few times that hasn’t really had a presence in Victoria is, of course, the Australian National Nargles. The Nargles have been nestled in the mistletoe of Canberra, hidden away for a while, only emerging to the open world of Sydney for Triwizards. Now they will emerge for the first time in the great city of Melbourne to meet and compete against the many teams of the VQA.
The team will be led by the ever tough Captain Laura Smith and new Vice Captain Danny Fox. They will be supported by the founding players and strong veteran beaters of Morgyn Benstead and Andy Cruwys, and all-rounder Matthew Armstrong, will be followed by chasers including Merryn Christian, Nathan Askey-Doran and Beater/Chaser Nic Radoll; as well as debut year chaser of Merryn Roe, beater Oscar Cozens and finally all-rounder Gary Hague. Plus special introduction of Perth Phoenixes’ Adam Jasko This all new line-up will test the limits of all the Victorian and NSW teams with the experience of years and international skills. They pride themselves on not only smashing teams, but enjoying quidditch with their emblem referencing “Be a Man” from Mulan, and travelling down in the “Narglebus”.
Rounding out the Pool of Ultimate Destruction we have the effervescent mercenaries, many of whom are coming the to visit the shiny shores of the VQA for the first time. Last year they were team Amazeballs, this year we meet the Welsh Greens. The true exciting exotic flavour on offer at MudBash 2014 comes courtesy of the Welsh Greens, mighty mercenaries who have come together from near and far to put up a genuine challenge for glory.
This team has risen from the ashes of 2013’s gallant Team Amazeballs, whose legacy is carried on into the Welsh Greens by their un-substituted hero Brodie Smart, and captain James Hosford. There is a rumour that we will also be seeing the return of dominant keeper and playmaker Daniel Ormshaw.
The core of the team around our returning mercs has been formed from great NSW rivals Newcastle and Wollongong, who each bring a key set of their crucial superstars to the party. The Warrior road trip comprises their former and current captains, with the vast experience of Morgan Legg and the calm leadership of Jacob Fleming aptly anchoring the team. Josh Nielsen provides key depth in both chasing and in particular beating, in support of Wollongong’s bludging master Aman Nalli. For the Fireball contingent, veterans Matt Ingram and Tom Russell are joined by fellow established beater star Joel Murphy and the strong bustling defensive force of Ryan Hanwright.
The already impressive line-up is completed by the addition of Alex Langdon, Vanya Geelings and Madeline Coleman-Bock, who provide crucial squad depth and even more vital inside knowledge of local teams, players and conditions. It is the experience and depth of their formidable beater line-up which will surely be the key to Welsh Green success.
While the Pool of Ultimate Destruction battles it out for glory on one pitch, our spectators will be required under penalty of unfettered poking to wander over to the other pitch and watch an equally impressive battle to the death in Pool B (or as we here at MudBash HQ like to call them, the Pool of Frenzied Extermination).
The Pool of Frenzied Extermination is headed by the reigning silver medallists the Blackburn Basilisks. These fine warriors slithered into existence in early 2013, and quickly climbed the Victorian ranks. With an incredibly strong chaser side and an ever increasing squad size, the Basilisks earned the title of the most offensive team in the most recent Victorian competition.
Yet to have secured anything but silver around their scaly necks, (2nd place MudBash 2013, 2nd place Winter League 2013, 2nd place Victoria Cup 2013-14) they are keen to continue fighting their way up to the top, tooth and fang. With a complete change of Coaches and Captains, will this be the tournament that they finally claim the elusive gold? You’ll have to wait and see who comes out of the mud victorious!
Another team who always seems to score the same result, always just outside the top three we have the Wrackspurts Quidditch Club trying to claw their way to a medal. The Wrackspurts are constructed from a bunch of misfits and deviants and some say Monsters that get in your head. Coming 4th in the Victorian cup after losing to Manticores, Wrackspurts have been training harder and are determined to make a stronger appearance at MudBash.
In the hopes of showing up the rest of NSW, and on the back of their recent trip to the IQA World Cup in South Carolina, USA we have another team who is putting in the time and effort to travel to southern land of Victoria. The University of Sydney Unspeakables are a relatively new team in relation to the others existent in NSW. With a 3rd place finish at QUAFL 2013, they have proven themselves to be tough competition for anybody, a team that nobody can just ignore. With a solid beater and chaser game there is opportunity they have a solid line up which lets certain players shine. Their main strength lies in their player quality, with strong players a plenty in their usual squad.
Their main disadvantage going into Melbourne MudBash will be their minimized roster, though their 2 national players will both be present. How crippling this will be to their chances is unconfirmed but it will definitely make it difficult for them to remain competitive over the two days. Realistically it will be tough for the Unspeakables to win MudBash, though we all believe it is uncertain to all how long it will take them to be knocked out.
The final Victorian team in our MudBash line up comes in the form of a team new to the MudBash scene, some of their players joined us last year, but many are MudBashing for the first time ever. The Melbourne Unicorns have been preparing for the MudBash tournament since they were founded in the wake of the last tournament. After a strong Vic Cup season of growth and development, the Unicorns are ready to take the field with force. Despite the challenge of being a young team, their enthusiasm, commitment and team spirit will complement their extensive training. The Unicorns are looking forward to taking on the established teams and the interstate visitors and coming out with a win.
Friends of Stephen…
And of course the Pool of Frenzied Extermination is rounded out by a team clothed in mystery, Stephen And Friends, who have only this to say “We are Stephen…with some friends…you need know no more!”
So who will take home the MudBash title? Will there be enough Mantiscores for the returning champions to keep their title? Will the Basilisks finally snag themselves a gold medal? Are the Muggles ready for some more shiny metal? Or will our previous medallists all be upset by two of the seven other talented teams hitting the pitches at Alma Park East? You’ll need to come down on June 28 and 29 to find out! We’ll see you there, bring on the mud!