Southern Regional Preview
The winners of the last six Division I spots for W...
The winners of the last six Division I spots for World Cup VI will be decided this weekend at the Southern Regional Championship held in North Augusta, South Carolina. As the last qualifying tournament for the Florida games next month, it will be a heated competition with more representatives from across the region than ever before.
Photo by Kat Ignatova
“I'd say that this year is the first year it truly feels like a Regional Championship since there are more than half of the states in our region being represented,” Sean Pagoada, gameplay director for the Southern Regional Tournament, said. “This is also the first one that we'll need to compete for a World Cup spot, so the tensions will be higher than ever.”
According to Pagoada, thirteen teams will represent four states in the Southern Region making this both the largest tournament, but also the one with teams travelling from the greatest distance.
Going into the tournament, one of the favorites to win is No. 10 University of Miami (Coral Gables, FL). The team hasn't lost since the Hollywood Bowl in late October, when they fell to No. 20 University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA). Since then, they have blown away all competition, including a finish in the top spot at the Florida Quidditch Conference hosted by Brevard Community College (Titusville, FL) in early February.
“We expect to win regionals and to play into the late rounds of World Cup and hopefully win,” Matt Ziff of the University of Miami said. “I think we benefit from having a tournament so close to World Cup. We usually try to have a tournament every 3 weeks, so this will be good, to keep on our schedule.”
Ziff also said that his team's biggest competition would be the No. 29 University of Southern Florida (Tampa, FL) and the No. 116 University of Florida (Gainesville, FL). USF will almost surely gain a spot at the nearby World Cup, as they recently placed second at the Florida Quidditch Conference, and, in official games, have not lost to the University of Miami since November 2011.
Pagoada, former USF captain and now Southern Regional Gameplay Director, said that what sets apart the Southern teams from others throughout the US is their “focus [on] all facets of the game.”
“We focus our strategies from the time ‘Brooms Up!' is called, up to when the snitch is caught,” Pagoada said. “I think University of Florida displayed that well last World Cup when they made it all the way to the finals in their first World Cup run. Also, we pride ourselves [on] our speed. With the weather we have all year around, we're able to run in great weather and push ourselves constantly.”
Pagoada also said that the Augusta Sports Council and Lindsay Fussell, their dedicated regional director, were essential to planning what will be one of last crucial tournaments before the World Cup.
“The fact that it is so close to World Cup has been a little stressful,” Pagoada said. “But I think having the Regional Championship as the last tournament we'll be competing in before World Cup is very beneficial. Teams will already be in that World Cup mindset once they've earned a spot, and can ride their momentum going into the biggest tournament of the year.”