Marquette University (Milwaukee, WI,) shown in this file photo at the start of a World Cup V match, is one of many teams who will be honing their skills this spring en route to Kissimmee.Northeast The Northeast region always poses a major threat at World Cup and this year will be no exception. Already settled in November, 11 teams hailing from the area will attend the World Cup, including Boston University (Boston, MA,) which is currently ranked #3 in the IQA and placed first in the Northeast Regional Championship. Other tough contenders include Emerson College (Boston, MA,) Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY,) and Tufts University (Medford, MA.) On January 26, the Third Annual Ives Pond Invitational Tournament will be held in Buffalo, NY, showcasing many of the region's teams. Four of the attending teams will also compete at World Cup VI: SUNY Geneseo (Geneseo, NY,) University of Rochester (Rochester, NY,) Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY,) and #19 QC Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA,) which played in the quarterfinals last year at World Cup V. These are not the only teams to keep an eye on at the tournament, though. Carleton University (Ottawa, ON,) currently ranked #12 by the IQA and a Canadian World Cup competitor, will also be attending. Mid-Atlantic The Mid-Atlantic region also held their regional championship in November, in Roanoke, VA. Villanova University (Philadelphia, PA,) ranked #7, took home the gold and will prove to be fierce competition in the upcoming games in Florida as they have only lost one game so far since the start of the season. Villanova also beat #2-ranked University of Maryland (College Park, MD,) another team that will undoubtedly go far in the World Cup. University of Maryland went undefeated in both September's Sirius Blacksburg Brawl and their own Turtle Cup in mid-October.
Nathan Love of QC Carolinas led a team that consisted of players from three different states to a top eight Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship finish and a spot at the World Cup. Photo courtesy of Deanna Edmunds.South Just weeks before the Southern Regionals, Tennessee Tech University (Cookeville, TN) will host the Rocky Top Rumble tournament, which will feature many teams who will be fighting for a spot at the World Cup. On February 16th, the officially ranked competition will feature new teams including Middle Tennessee State University (Murfreesboro, TN) and the University of Southern Mississippi (Hattiesburg, MS,) both founded in 2011. The host team and Florida Gulf Coast University (Fort Myers, FL,) ranked #36, will be the teams to watch. On March 2 and 3, the Southern Regional Championship will take place at Riverview Park in North Augusta, South Carolina. With only six spots open for the World Cup in this region, competition will be fierce among more than twenty teams participating. The top region's top five teams currently stand as the University of Miami (Miami, FL,) University of South Florida (Tampa, FL,) Florida Gulf Coast University, Tennessee Tech University, and Ringling College (Sarasota, FL.) While Miami is currently ranked #10 by the IQA, the region ranks significantly lower on average than the five others, so it will be interesting to see the competition headed to the World Cup, held on their own turf. Midwest Midwestern teams already know their World Cup fates, as the Midwestern Regionals were held in mid-November. The top five teams in the region, University of Kansas (Lawrence, KS,) University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI,) Ball State University (Muncie, IN,) Marquette University (Milwaukee, WI,) and Bowling Green State University (Bowling Green, OH,) are all headed to Kissimmee in April along with five others. Kansas leads the region in rankings, currently standing at sixth place within the IQA. Of their seventeen ranked games since September, they've only lost to BGSU and twice to Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN,) another World Cup contender. Overall, the region's top teams average the highest ranking in the United States. These are ten teams that should not be missed heading into the World Cup. The Glass City Quidditch Classic will foreshadow what's to come in April. On February 2, the University of Toledo (Toledo, OH) will host a pantheon of teams including all the World Cup competitors from the region besides Illinois State University (Normal, Il,) Kansas, and the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN). With a total of 17 teams attending, this will undoubtedly be an intense tournament in one of the country's most competitive regions. Southwest The Southwest Regional Championship will take place on February 23 and 24 in College Station, TX. Its host, Texas A&M (College Station, TX,) has held tight to its first place ranking for some time and will prove to be one of the biggest threats at World Cup. Last year, they placed third after being defeated by Middlebury College (Middlebury, VT.) Since then, they have placed third in last year's Mardi Gras Cup, first in the Third Annual Texas A&M Classic, and second in the Lone Star Cup. Also hailing from the Southwest is the University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX,) currently ranked in fifth place. The team took the top spot at both the Lone Star Cup and the Mardi Gras Cup, and placed second at the Texas A&M Classic. These two teams alone prove how threatening the region will be at World Cup, never mind the other top teams in the region, Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, LA,) University of Arkansas (Fayetteville, AR,) and Baylor University (Waco, TX.) Just three weeks before regionals, Louisiana State University will host Mardi Gras Cup II, a predecessor to regionals that proved to be very competitive last year. Surprisingly absent from this year's tournament is Texas A&M. The University of Texas Austin will attend, however, and will be the team to watch along with the hosting team. West All eyes in the Western region are focused on Western Cup IV, a long-running tournament that this year is also the official regional championship. The tournament will take place on February 16th and 17th at Maidu Park in Roseville, California. The top five teams in the area are University of California at Berkeley (Berkeley, CA,) University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA,) Silicon Valley Skrewts (Mountain View, CA,) Utah Crimson Flyers (Salt Lake City, UT), and University of California Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA.) These teams, including an emergent Skrewts squad who took first at this past weekend's Sunshine Bowl, will fight for spots at the World Cup VI alongside 14 other teams. The Santa Barbara Blacktips (Santa Barbara, CA) is a new team that is already ranked #44 after starting this fall and finishing 2-2 at the Sunshine Bowl. As they won and scored more than two hundred points in their first 2 games, this is one team that will definitely go far. Another team to keep an eye out for is the Northern Arizona University Narwhals (Flagstaff, AZ,) which placed sixth in last year's Western Cup and placed first at the 2011 Summit Showdown.
The UC Berkeley team, pictured in navy, will be looking to continue their early-season success as they compete in Western Cup IV. Photo courtesy of April Gonzales.International The fates of many international teams have already been decided when it comes to World Cup VI. Paris Phénix (Paris, France) received a Cup bid after placing first at the European Cup in Lesparre Medoc, France. Three spots were open to the 13 teams that competed at the Canadian Cup: McGill University (Montreal, Quebec,) University of Ottawa (Ottawa, ON,) and Carleton University received bids. The University of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia) will have the opportunity to represent Australia in the April games. Another four spots will be held for additional international teams. The World Cup may be on the horizon, but there's plenty of quidditch action between then and now. With old teams emerging from obscurity, and new teams defending their thrones, the road to Kissimmee will be full of excitement.