The top 16 teams in Britain and Ireland have qualified to compete in the cup, with Oxford being the only Quidditch Club to have 2 teams qualify: The Radcliffe Chimeras and the Oxford Quidlings. The top teams in the competition will qualify to compete in the European Regionals, with the chance to win a place in the world cup in April next year.
The game, made famous by the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, has been especially adapted for ‘muggles’, who have to run around with a broom between their legs at all times.
As Matthew Weston, of the Oxford University Quidditch Club explained, “It’s actually a very important handicap, comparable to only using your feet in football or having to dribble the ball in basketball. It means you can’t run as fast and have to throw and catch with one arm.”
The quaffle is made by a slightly-deflated volleyball which allows it to be caught in one hand, and bludgers are dodgeballs thrown at players.
The snitch, in contrast, is not a ball at all, but a person in a yellow jersey with a tennis ball in a sock down the back of their shorts, who has all of a predetermined area to run and hide in. The human snitch can have their own tactics when it comes to hiding from the Seekers, including what are known as ‘snitch spectacles’, which might even include the use of decoy snitches. Catching the snitch and retrieving the ball only gets thirty points rather than the 150 in the books.
“It’s going to be a really big event, with scouts from QUK (Quidditch UK) and the IQA (International Quidditch Association) there to look for players to form part of the UK team to compete in the international cup early next year,” said Ashley Cooper from The Oxford Quidditch Team.
There has also been suggestions that the Oxford University Sports Federation should award Quidditch players half-blues for playing for the university, particularly as the sport does have a governing body in the form of the International Quidditch Association.
“I don’t think they should be awarded half-blues,” said one fresher from Exeter College. “You only get a half-blue for playing ice-hockey and it would devalue the whole thing. I don’t think that quidditch should be seen as more of a sport than ice-hockey”.
However, in their defence Western said, “this isn’t just some kind of immersive Hogwarts reenactment, people are being drawn to the unique tactics and culture of the sport. Furthermore, not only is Quidditch a mixed-gender sport, but we judge gender in terms of identity rather than biology, making it probably the most progressive sport in the world in terms of welcoming gender identities.”
At the tournament there will also be sessions for spectators to have a go at playing quidditch for themselves, for both adults and kids.