Who says Quidditch is stupid?


Who says Quidditch is stupid?

Quidditch is awesome! Quidditch is exciting! Quidditch is the best sport in the world! Those Bludgers flying around, trying to smash into people! The Keepers hanging from their brooms to block a 10-point shot! The Seeker making a spectacular diving catch of the Golden Snitch and scoring 150 points!

Wait, what? The Seeker scores 150 points in one go? Compared to only ten points for a goal? That’s crazy. It doesn’t make sense.

I’ve read the argument any number of times: the number of points gained from a Snitch capture is WAY too large for the game to be fair. Your Chasers can play their hearts out for hours, scoring goal after goal, and then some punk Seeker, who has been just floating overhead taking a nap the whole time, suddenly grabs that little golden ball and boom, all your goals are meaningless. You lose.

In fact, you barely need your Chasers at all. Just get yourself a really good Seeker and a couple of Beaters to protect him or her, then sit back and build up the wins. As one blogger put it, it’s like a soccer match where there’s a little chocolate bunny hidden somewhere on the field which will give you 15 points and end the game. Wouldn’t you just forget about the ball and turn the whole thing into a big bunny hunt?

Okay, so maybe it’s not a perfect game. But it’s not quite as crazy as you might think. After all, the scores do carry over from match to match. Ah, there’s the detail many people miss. The scores carry over! It’s not just wins and losses. It’s total points. That makes a lot of difference. And at Hogwarts, those points appear to be added to the House Points as well!

So hold on a minute … Harry, as a winning Seeker, has earned literally hundreds of points for Gryffindor! Maybe that explains why McGonagall took so many point away for the relatively simple infraction of being out of bed! She has to take a lot in order to make any difference, considering how many he earns.

Sorry, got off track there. The point is that all those goals do count, even if you don’t win the match. At Hogwarts, when the House point totals are only around three or four hundred for the whole year, ten points is definitely a Big Deal.

And what about the professional league?

Okay, let’s take a look at these tables from the Daily Prophet newsletters. It’s easy to see how all the points count toward League standings, not just Snitch captures, and that the points are actually pretty close:



1. Tutshill Tornados 750
2. Montrose Magpies 730
3. Appleby Arrows 660
4. Kenmare Kestrels 620
5. Puddlemere United 610
6. Caerphilly Catapults 590
7. Ballycastle Bats 550
8. Pride of Portree 520
9. Wigtown Wanderers 470
10. Holyhead Harpies 410
11. Falmouth Falcons 340
12. Wimbourne Wasps 290
13. Chudley Cannons 230

Forthcoming Matches
Saturday: Wigtown Wanderers versus Puddlemere United, midnight, Yorkshire Moors, DO NOT CHEER TOO LOUDLY, Muggles came looking for source of noise last time.
Monday: Falmouth Falcons versus Pride of Portree, eleven o’clock, Exmoor. An Invisibility Charm has been put upon new stadium. Please collect Re-Visibility Spectacles from ticket office or you will not be able to find the pitch. (DP1)



Compare that with this, which appears a few weeks later. The Cannons have played one match to a draw and won another. The score from the draw helped build up their total, even though they didn’t win. In that same time, the poor Falcons have only gained a measly twenty points. So who’s worst now?



Quidditch League Table & Match Information

1. Ballycastle Bats 820
2. Puddlemere United 790
3. Montrose Magpies 780
4. Tutshill Tornados 770
5. Kenmare Kestrels 720
7. Pride of Portree 700
8. Appleby Arrows 680
9. Caerphilly Catapults 650
8. Holyhead Harpies 620
10. Wimbourne Wasps 530
12. Chudley Cannons 490
11. Wigtown Wanderers 480
dp-quidditch-jkr.jpg13. Falmouth Falcons 360

Forthcoming Matches

Friday: Tutshill Tornados vs. Wigtown Wanderers, Bodmin Moor

Saturday: Ballycastle Bats vs. Caerphilly Catapults, venue to be decided (Muggles camping on Ellis Moor. Contact Dept. of Magical Games and Sports, Ministry of Magic for details).

Monday: Kenmare Kestrels vs. Wigtown Wanderers (DP4)


So does this help make Quidditch a bit less lopsided? Is the sport’s design a little less crazy than some people would want us to believe? Do you even care as long as you can watch Bludgers crash into some poor Chaser’s head, marvel that the Cannons aren’t bottom of the list, laugh when Gwenog Jones threatens to turn the opposing team’s manager into a frog by mistake, or cheer as your rival team’s Seeker hits the ground in a poorly-executed Wronski Feint?

Yeah, that would be me.



Pensieve (Comments)

  • I saw only a few issues with Quidditch. The first is that it is VERY violent and the penalties for nearly killing someone is pretty mild. It seems you can only be rewarded kicks at the most and nobody can actually get kicked out of the game. You would think they would have replacement players waiting to come on with all the injuries. Heck they don’t even have the school nurse there for the games.

    This scoring system also brings out the worst sportsmen. Normally in sports if one team gets enough ahead they start rotating through their less played players to give them experience. This keeps you from getting run-a-way scores, gives your bench warmers a chance to play, and does not embarrass the other team as much. But now you have no other players and points carry over so grind them into dust and let the game last as long as you can and rack up those points.

    The last thing I do not like is you can not “defend your title”. Your game is over and you have a good lead, but two other teams need to play and it is possible that both teams could beat you and you turn out in third… and there is nothing you can do. This also means the last teams to play have a big advantage as they know how many points they need to score in the game to win the cup and can take the risk of not letting the Snitch get caught to get your score up high enough. And taking this a step farther… what if the last 2 teams playing at the end of a league do a side deal to let each other score 500 points each… trading back and forth… before they start really playing to make sure they are the first and second place teams in the league no matter who wins? Would that be cheat?

  • Roland

    The idea of the final standings in the league determined by overall points instead of wins is not very good. Especially when there is no time limit to the game.

    Think about for examble the matches in the last round of the league. Why would any team try to catch the Snitch? Every team would just keep the game going for years to get more points.

    Even the team in the lead would be taking a HUGE risk by catching the snitch in the last game, as all the other teams would just keep playing theirs until the end of time.

    The whole game with its league and point scoring mechanics is quite clearly devised by someone who has no understanding of sport tactics.

    • Yeah points carrying over between games doesn’t make a lot of sense. Win points and tournament style eliminations make a lot more sense.

    • James Tucker

      Nope, it’s devised by someone who actually went out of her way to annoy men. And damn, it worked. Here’s the quote:

      J. K. Rowling first developed Quidditch after a fight with her boyfriend at the time in a small hotel in Manchester. Some of the game’s elements, such as the Golden Snitch being worth a disporportionate amount of points, were due to her state of mind at the time, as she felt these elements would be frustrating to men.

      It comes from her annotations on “The Philosophers Stone”. I guess you could see it as petty but, it did work. I was really annoyed about how stupid it was until I read this.. actually I’m still annoyed, but at myself for getting annoyed which is exactly what she wanted. Touche, JK.

  • Russell Stinson

    I think I have the answer to everybody’s questions. I think the way the points work as far as league standings are concerned is that for every game, the winner is awarded a number of points equal to their margin of victory (i.e. their score minus the loser’s score) while the loser gets nothing. For instance, in Harry’s first Quidditch match, Gryffindor beats Slytherin 170 to 60, so Gryffindor would get 110 points in the tournament standings for winning that match, while Slytherin would get 0. This would mean that it would be just as important for a team to win by a large margin as to win at all (making the chasers as important as the seeker), but it would also mean that runaway matches where both teams scored 500 points or something wouldn’t skew the overall tournament rankings, because only the winning team’s margin over their opponents would count in the tournament scoring (so even if a final score were, say, 1000 to 900, the winner would only get 100 points in the tournament).

    To me, this seems to solve all of the problems people have mentioned with the scoring system. It also fits with all the talk in PoA about margins of victory (“Hufflepuff would have to lose by at least 200 points” and so on). It also doesn’t contradict the Daily Prophet articles (although I’m not sure those are technically canon) because the leader board could be talking about the “tournament” points I mentioned above rather than total points scored across all games (which would probably be much higher than the reported scores).

    I know this sounds a bit complicated, but it seems like the best practical answer, and considering PoA, probably the one Jo must have had in mind as well.

    Please let me know if you have any questions or comments about this.