Here's what to expect from MLQ's 2022 season
Major League Quidditch's 2022 season is officially underway, and to mark the occasion, we're checking in with the league's Jack McGovern. We're talking standout players, events, and teams, plus an update on the Quidditch name change. Be sure to order all of your official MLQ gear exclusively through VII Apparel Co.!
VII: What's new with the MLQ this season?
Jack McGovern: Our two Canadian franchises are back! The Ottawa Black Bears and the Toronto Raiders are playing their first games since 2019 due to border restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The entire league was suspended for the 2020 season of course, but cross-border play remained shut down for the 2021 season, so only the American teams got to return to the pitch. We are really excited to have the Black Bears and the Raiders back and looking forward to seeing what they can do. Toronto opened their season with a three-game sweep over Cleveland last weekend, so the year has started well for them!
VII: What are the teams to look out for in 2022?
JM: The Austin Outlaws and the New York Titans are the returning finalists from 2021. Austin won their third Benepe Cup and enter the season as the heavy favorites, having just added a large contingent of players from the college national champion squad at the University of Texas. New York comes into 2022 with a new coaching staff and was not originally predicted by many analysts to win the East Division, but they just absolutely showed out in their season opener last weekend against the Washington Admirals, who were labeled as the team to beat heading into the year, and won two out of three games. The Minneapolis Monarchs, an expansion team in 2019, are also looking to defend their North Division title in 2021, which was only their second season in existence! They are hoping to string together a couple division titles in a row like the three-peat that the Indianapolis Intensity last achieved from 2015-2017.
VII: Who are some standout players to keep an eye out for?
JM: Thirteen new players were just added to Team USA and nine are playing in cities with an MLQ team this summer! They are pretty spread out too so chances are there is a national team player on a team near you. Here is the complete list: Rachel Ayella-Silver (New York Titans), Justin Cole (Washington Admirals), Taylor Crawford and Ian Scura (Boston Forge), Ryan Davis (Charlotte Aviators), Miguel Esparza and Daniel Williams (San Antonio Soldados), Erin McBride (Austin Outlaws), and Darian Murcek-Ellis (Kansas City Stampede).
There are also a number of returning Team USA players from the Austin Outlaws, Boston Forge, New York Titans, and Washington Admirals. Team USA is preparing to host the International Quidditch Association World Cup in Richmond, Virginia next year, so this summer is a key season for players with hopes of representing their country on home soil to prove themselves on the pitch.
VII: What are some of the big events fans should put on their calendars?
JM: We are staging our first-ever North Division Championship in South Bend, Indiana on June 23-24. With the return of the Canadian teams and the Rochester Whiteout shifting over from the East Division, the North Division now has six teams as opposed to five members like the other two divisions. In response, the league decided to split the North Division into two halves of three teams for the regular season and then host a playoff-style tournament to determine the divisional qualification spots for the league-wide MLQ Championship in Howard County, Maryland on August 20-21. The North Division Championship gives the league a chance to put on another marquee event in a great city and shine a spotlight on the often overlooked franchises in the middle of the country.
In the same vein, the two Canadian teams, who usually compete in separate divisions, will play against each other for the first time and contest a three-game series in Toronto on July 30. The Scavenger Showdown, named for the beloved mascots of each franchise (which are a raccoon for the Raiders and a black bear for the Black Bears), will determine bragging rights at the highest possible level north of the border.
VII: What's up with the name change — any progress with that?
JM: Yes! As you might have heard, Major League Quidditch and US Quidditch, the governing body for the sport in the United States, are in the middle of a process to change the name of the sport. We have conducted surveys of players, staff, and fans and are currently analyzing the data and seeking feedback from legal teams. We feel it is an extremely important decision for the sport to be able to continue to grow, so we want to make sure to get it right. Sorry that I can't provide more information, but you will hopefully be hearing from us soon!
VII: Anything else noteworthy you'd like to add?