Several weeks of training had turned the Oxford Quidlings from a team who had struggled at Whiteknights into a large, skilled squad; truly proteges of the Chimeras, eagerly anticipating the first national tournament. Nobody quite predicted just how much they were to take the competition by storm, but OUQC knew full well from the beginning of the tournament that being Oxford’s second team was nothing but a badge of honour for this team, and their success began on the first day, with a place in the elimination stages firmly within their grasp.
Group Game 1: Oxford Quidlings 50 – 110* Leicester Lovegoods
The Quidlings first game was against Leicester, who had faced Avada Keeledavra in the first ever game of Quidditch in the UK, but had maintained a relatively low profile since. The Quidlings, well on their way to learning to roar just as load as the Chimeras, hit the ground running, pushing to ensure dominance of the first ten minutes and taking an early, if narrow lead. Dynamic beater pair Emily Hayes and Calin Mocanu presented an almost impenetrable field in the first few minutes, and Leicester were visibly taken aback by the team they were up against.
Unfortunately for the Quidlings, Leicester are an experienced team, and were not inclined to panic at being put on the back foot. Their experience saw them gradually exert control over a game that was always tight, and although the on pitch score was always close, Leicester ultimately caught the snitch, leaving the Quidlings pleased with a performance that had stunned QUK, but nevertheless downcast to have lost their first game.
Group Game 2: Oxford Quidlings 90* – 10 Norwich Nifflers
True to OUQC form, no defeat was going to stop the Quidlings from dominating the rest of their day. After all, hadn’t the Chimeras themselves lost their opening match of Whiteknights before going on to win everything else? Perhaps the Quidlings dreams were a little less lofty, but nevertheless they showed no lack of belief or fervour when they took to the field against Norwich, a team who, by this stage, it looked as if they were competing with for qualification from the group.
A decidedly close game was the outcome in the early stages, with scoring kept low: the Quidlings’ steadfast defence, a mark of the Oxford playing style, remaining firm but their opponents not allowing themselves to be caught off guard as Leicester had been. Still, the Quidlings pressure was maintained, and their persistence and diligence paid off as a few breaches in the Nifflers line saw their defence falter entirely, with the Quidlings eventually establishing a comfortable lead before a snitch grab secured a solid victory.
Group Game 3: Oxford Quidlings 220* – 20 Chester Chasers
When the Quidlings came to play their third game, their reputation had been inflated so quickly throughout the course of the day that they could only be seen as favourites. With it looking, as though quaffle point differential would have a large role in determining who qualified from this group, the Quidlings sought to give spectators an impressive scoreline with which to end their first day’s play. Nobody was disappointed.
In this game, more so than in ither of the others, the Quidlings were on top throughout. Chester won two hard-earned hoops through persistence and dedication, but the Quidlings used their greater squad depth and skilled beaters to shut out the less experienced team, and managed to rack up the largest points score for a single team in the whole competition. As it turned out, Norwich would go on to defeat Leicester, meaning that the Quidlings’ massive scoreline in this game was integral to their qualification. The Quidlings advanced alongside Leicester to the Quarter-Finals, made the Chimeras incredibly proud, and ensured that whatever happened on Day 2, OUQC would occupy one-quarter of the top eight teams in the UK.
Quarter-Final: Oxford Quidlings 0 – 100* Southampton Pirates
The Quidlings were rightly proud with themselves for stunning the Quidditch community and proving the pedigree of Oxford Quidditch by qualifying for Day 2, but nobody was under any delusions that the calibre of teams they would be facing would be a step up from their group stages. The Southampton Pirates had placed third at Whiteknights, running the Chimeras hard and seeming only to have improved since, having dominated the “group of death” with three victories over the Reading Rocs, St Andrews Snidgets, and Leeds Griffins.
The Quidlings’ effort against the Pirates was, in every sense of the word, heroic. Aggressive chasers Jake Sullivan and Steven Lilico made impressive displays of individual tenacity to drive at Southampton’s hoops, whilst the defence struggled to keep out an assault by a team larger and more physical than they’d ever experienced before. In the end, the Quidlings were outplayed by a team which would go on to finish fourth in the competition. Still, they remained unbowed to the end, and could have nothing to be ashamed of as they exited the tournament with respect and grace.
A Reputation Well-Earned
On November 8th 2013, three teams were thinking of the Oxford Quidlings as the easy win in their qualifying group at the BQC. By November 10th, questions were being asked as to how OUQC was able to field two such formidable teams, and laments being composed about how the Chimeras had such skilled recruits to choose from in years to come. The Quidlings exceeded expectations at the BQC, and the process saw what might have been established as a Chimeras reserves pool solidify into a unified, dedicated team, every bit as strong and vibrant as their more experienced friends and practice-mates. The Chimeras, perhaps, enjoyed the limelight and glory after the BQC, but the Quidlings hold OUQC’s true victory from the BQC.