To anybody who thought GMs, eager to hold onto as many precious votes as possible, would make safe and boring picks toward the top of the draft, Alex Wilson proved them wrong with a gutsy pick of Lone Star Quidditch Club (LSQC) chaser Sarah Holub in the first slot of the entire draft. Wilson, who was particularly impressed with the former Texas star at the 2013 Southwest Regional Championship, outlined Holub’s ability to “torch” defenses with bad marking. Normally, this would be A+ reasoning, but I think extra scrutiny should be applied to Wilson in this situation—considering he had the choice of any active player in the sport of quidditch. In my opinion, the number one pick of a draft like this should be extremely dominant at whatever he or she does. Is Sarah Holub really the best off-ball chaser in quidditch? To play devil’s advocate to Wilson’s reasoning, every off-ball chaser taken in this draft should have the ability to exploit “weak man coverage.”
One also has to consider that the Quiyk Draft rosters will follow the IQA policy commonly referred to as the “gender rule.” Like Bird and Magic in the NBA, Holub and Lost Boys chaser Vanessa Goh always seem to be jockeying for the title of the best female chaser in quidditch. There are vocal members of both “Team Holub” and of “Team Goh” during online discussions. My best guess would be that voters are split 50-50 on Holub versus Goh. In addition to Goh, I see a strong second tier in the female chaser category with University of Texas’ (UT) Audrey Wright and Texas A&M’s Becca DuPont and an extremely deep field of female chasers after that. Wilson’s pick was courageous, yes, and he will be building his team around a world champion, but will his pick lose value due to Holub’s perceived similarity (in terms of overall skill not style) to Goh and a deep female chaser field?
Either way, Wilson bypassed the security of having a point player or a dominant beater and will be heading into uncharted territory by trying to build his team around an off-ball chaser. Wilson will not pick again until the 16th overall pick at the end of the second round.
With the second pick in the draft, Amanda Dallas selected offensive powerhouse Tony Rodriguez of the Lost Boys Quidditch Club. Seeing Rodriguez’s immense offensive value supported by stats from yours truly, Dallas even received an (unofficial) endorsement from the Eighth Man on her pick. Once the GMs specified that they really wanted to focus on the current quidditch season in the draft, and therefore knocked retired players off the big boards, Rodriguez became the favorite for the number one pick. Dallas probably could not have believed her luck when the Lost Boys keeper fell to her. The only concern I have is that Rodriguez is not as strong of a defender as some of the other keepers likely to go high in this draft. Dallas should look to draft a chaser with a reputations as a defensive stud in one of her next slots—the 15th and 18th overall picks.
I don’t think I’ve ever agreed with 100% of something someone wrote about quidditch, but Dan Hanson’s argument for drafting Texas A&M chaser Drew Wasikowski was pretty close to perfect. Highlighting Wasikowski’s versatility and leadership—two traits that were not mentioned by Wilson or Dallas in their explanations—quidditch’s favorite savant killed it. That being said, a perfect explanation does not equal a perfect pick. While shifting the focus of the draft to the 2013 - 2014 season points to Wasikowski going higher, I would have a hard time passing up on any of the trio of Augustine Monroe (UT), Stephen Bell (LSQC) and Chris Morris (LSQC). During my mock draft, I had more difficulty assembling a team around Wasikowski than the trio of world champions because I had to find a keeper that I thought he could mesh with on offense. A first round pick is obviously intended to be a huge part of the offense and Hanson will have to avoid decreasing the value of his face of the team. Hanson’s keeper selection could make or break his team and it will be interesting to see when he takes that keeper.
Taking Baylor University beater Brittany Ripperger with the fourth overall pick in the draft, Evan Bell became the first player to select a beater. Bell went against the trend of picking the 2013 - 2014 season’s most successful players by picking Ripperger, who has spent much of this season injured. Bell argued that Ripperger is “well above the rest” in the female beater field. This might have sold me back in Kissimmee, but that was before Mollie Lensing’s stellar return with Lone Star QC. Like Goh and Holub, I believe Lensing and Ripperger are pretty close to equals and that might decrease the value of Bell’s selection.
The remainder of Bell’s explanation was spot-on. Ripperger’s confident and dominating defensive presence in the back provides the perfect anchor for a fantasy team. Look for Bell to draft chasers capable of playing “Baylor defense” considering Ripperger has excelled in that system. In my opinion, her value greatly increases if she’s beating with a quaffle player guarding each hoop. As we reach the middle of the order, long spells without picks become less of a problem as Bell will pick next in the 13th slot. With some luck, an elite keeper will still be on the board for Bell to build his offense around.
Looking ahead, Andrew Canto, Snow Cup champion GM Beto Natera, Zach D’Amico and Hank Dugie will close out the first round with picks on Wednesday and Thursday. Then, the second round will begin in the reverse order (Dugie, D’Amico, Natera, Canto, etc.). As analyst Mitch Cavender put it, “the bottom half GMs are sitting very pretty right now with double picks on the way.”
With none of the Texas 2012 - 2013 chasing/keeping fab-five of Monroe, Bell, Morris, Kody Marshall and Simon Arends taken, and Lost Boys beaters Peter Lee and Chris Seto also still on the board, the four remaining GMs have plenty of terrific options to build their team around.