Of all the things I've wished I could do in real life concerning the Harry Potter universe, playing Quidditch was not one of them. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to fly, but it's the enchanted balls zooming towards me with an intent to injure (bludgers) that I could do without.
Thanks to the insane love (some would say obsession) of Harry Potter fans, this fictional sport has made its way into the real world. People from around the world can actually compete in international Quidditch tournaments, where the rules have been modified because, well, humans can't fly on brooms like they did in the Harry Potter films.
We're introduced to Quidditch early in the first Harry Potter book. As Harry discovers he's part of a secret wizarding world, he also discovers that wizards are pretty into a team sport called Quidditch.
In a nutshell, Quidditch is a game played with two teams of seven players each, all flying on broomsticks. There are chasers, who try to throw the Quaffle through one of their opponent's three hoops to score their team ten points. Then there are beaters, who focus on that lovely enchanted ball the Bludger, whose sole purpose is to throw opponents off course and make gameplay more challenging. Finally, there's the seeker, who ends play the moment they catch the Golden Snitch, giving their team an additional 150 points. The team with the most points when the snitch is caught wins.
In muggle Quidditch, things are a little different. There are still seven players to a team, but rather than fly on broomsticks, all players need to run with a cumbersome broom between their legs. The chasers play with volleyballs, throwing them through their opponent's hoops for ten points. The beaters play with dodgeballs, throwing them at other opponents during gameplay. And because our balls are not magically enchanted to fly on their own, muggle Quidditch needs someone called a "snitch runner" (who is not a member of either team, hence not on a broom) and their job is to run around with a tennis ball, aka the snitch, tucked into a sock in the back of their shorts. They need to avoid being caught by the seeker, because when the tennis ball snitch is caught, the team that claimed it earns 30 points and the game ends.
So if you're wondering why people do this, I can't answer that. If you're wondering where you can play Quidditch, that I can help with!
Even though the books were first published decades ago, and the films wrapped up in 2011, the popularity of Quidditch has been growing and growing in recent years. The International Quidditch Association held their first tournament in 2012; the first ever IQA World Cup, and only five countries participated. By 2018, there are 29 countries registered to play Quidditch in the international competition. Let's see who they are!
20 The United Kingdom, the first World Cup hosts
It's no surprise that the United Kingdom is where Quidditch kicked off. The first Quidditch World Cup was held in July 2012, in Oxford, just as the Olympic torch was being passed through the city.
The international UK Quidditch team has consistently placed in the top five, but they've never won the World Cup. Rather, the UK is the country with the most local teams, national leagues and side tournaments. And to get to the World Cup or even the European Cup, you need to beat out other local teams. Above we see the West Midlands Revolution win the 2017 UK Quidditch champions.
With the UK the birthplace of all things Harry Potter, it's no surprise that the UK has embraced this real life HP sport in universities and towns across England, Scotland and beyond!
19 The USA, the defending champs, and host of the first ever Quidditch match
If there's anyone more passionate about Quidditch than the UK, it would be the United States. With hundreds of millions of people living across the 50 states, leagues and teams have popped up from East to West, all over America! Plus, the first ever game of muggle (non-magic) Quidditch took place in Vermont back in 2005.
America does everything full force, so if they're going to fly to Europe to participate in a Quidditch World Cup, you better believe they often go home the winners! The U.S. team can call themselves champions for three out of four tournaments, and they took second place in 2016 when they lost.
Quidditch is already in so many states and universities, that the question "where can you play Quidditch" is almost impossible to answer. Just google your city name with Quidditch, and you may be surprised to find your town has a team as well!
18 Australia, former world champions and current Asian Quidditch Cup champions
In 2016, the popular Australian Quidditch team, the Dropbears, took home the World Cup, beating the U.S. champions. Normally, Quidditch teams have Harry Potter inspired names, but this team decided to name themselves after a little Australian inside joke. Everyone knows there are koala bears down under, so locals tease tourists saying there's a type of koala bear hiding in trees ready to drop down on you and attack. Hence, dropbear.
It's so Australia to take something cute and turn it vicious, and that's just how these Aussie Harry Potter fans won their titles!
At an amateur level, the ANU Owls from Australia National University (in the country's capital, Canberra) took home the Asian Quidditch Cup in both 2016 and 2017, winning all their games in the 2017 season. Go Owls!
17 Canada, the 2014 hosts and co-founder of Major League Quidditch
Canada is sometimes like the younger cousin to the United States. We see them doing something and want to repeat it. With Quidditch so intense in many US universities, it only made sense that Canada quickly jumped on the bandwagon.
The second World Cup was hosted in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. It was also Canada's best Quidditch season ever. The team placed third, after USA and Australia, thanks to the pressure to succeed on home soil.
Together with the United States, the two countries have formed Major League Quidditch. Yet, there's only one team from Canada, the Ottawa Black Bears.
16 France, one of the first five and host to the European Quidditch Cup
France was one of the original five countries to compete in the first ever Quidditch World Cup, and they actually came in second place in 2012.
Since then the team has focused more on the European Quidditch Cup, which takes place every year and not every two years like the World Cup.
The EQC started in France in Lesparre-Médoc in October 2012, just months after the first World Cup in the UK. However, not many teams attended because Quidditch wasn't too popular at that time. Within five years, by 2017, The European Quidditch Cup hosted 32 teams from 15 different countries across Europe. Not bad France, not bad!
15 Germany, the 2016 hosts
Germany may have been later than France to adopt Quidditch, but by 2016, Germany was ready to compete for the first time, and host the Quidditch World Cup, where 21 countries competed. Uganda was hoping to be one of those teams, and even set up a crowdfunding campaign to help them raise funds. In the end, the team wasn't able to get visas in time and had to withdraw. Sorry Uganda, your day will come!
Today, Germany has 50 different Quidditch teams across the country, from the Black Forest Bowtruckles from Freiburg to the Berlin Bludgers. There's no shortage of Quidditch in Germany for amateurs hoping to hop on a broom and play.
14 Belgium, the runner-up and European hosts
Belgium was another early adopter of Quidditch, and they have been competing internationally since 2014. 2014 was their first year in the Quidditch World Cup, where they placed seventh, and it was the same year the Brussels Qwaffles hosted the second European Quidditch Cup.
By 2017, Belgium was ready to host the European Cup again, this time in the Belgian city of Mechelen. And by 2018, Belgium has risen in the ranks, and went all the way to the World Cup finals against the USA, where they took home second place medals instead of the cup.
13 Turkey, bronze medalists
Now is as good a time as any to tell you what it actually takes to compete internationally. You can't just show up and play. Quidditch, as odd and quirky as it is, functions like any other competitive team sport. You have try outs, you have eliminations, and only select teams make it to international competitions.
Turkey joined the World Cup series in 2016. But Turkey hosts its own Turkish Quidditch Cup to determine the best Turkish team to move on to the European Quidditch Cup, just like the UK and all the other participating teams.
If there are Turkish Quidditch Cups up for grabs, that means the country is filled with Quidditch leagues and teams from university to university and town to town. After many games, and many wins, the Turkish team took home bronze in the 2018 World Cup.
12 Italy, the 2018 hosts
The latest edition of the World Cup was hosted in Florence, Italy. It was the biggest Quidditch competition yet. More than 800 athletes competed in 102 games and Italy hosted Quidditch players from all six major continents.
Italy may not be one of the best teams in the competition, placing 13th in 2016 and 8th in 2018, when they hosted, but they put on a great Cup.
11 Spain, host to their own league
Better late than never! Spain came to the Quidditch pitch in 2016 and hit the ground running. They set up a Spanish Quidditch Cup, much like the other participants, to determine which of their eight teams will move on to international competition.
For the last two years, the national champions are Lumos Compostela, a team from Santiago de Compostela. They beat out the Madrid Wolves who held the title from the first Spanish Cup.
10 Mexico, three time international participant
Who would have thought Mexico would be one of the early adopters of Quidditch?! Well, they are! The team representing Mexico at the Quidditch World Cup has been participating since 2014, the second edition of the event. Mexico placed 5th, 8th, and 13th in 2014, 2016 and 2018 respectively.
The first Quidditch team was formed in Mexico in 2012, but around 2014 Quidditch hit Mexico city and teams started popping up everywhere. There are more than 200 people playing Quidditch in Mexico and seven different competitive teams, all representing different communities with the exception of one University team.
9 Malaysia, host to the Asian Quidditch Cup
The first Asian Quidditch Cup was hosted in 2016 in Malaysia. The first Asian tournament was held between only two countries, Australia and Malaysia. The host country had two teams, the Damansara Dementors and the Subang Chimaeras. The Aussies participated as the ANU Owls and won the tournament.
The following year, Malaysia participated in the tournament again, this time hosted in Vietnam. Five teams and four countries attended: Malaysia, Vietnam, South Korea and Australia (two teams for the host country) and Australia was the victor again, after winning all their matches.
It wasn't until 2018 that the Malaysian team entered the Quidditch World Cup, placing 18th.
8 Ireland, fictional and real-world champions
In the books, Ireland won the 1994 Quidditch World Cup, which was hosted in England. Harry and the gang all had tickets to the match, between Ireland and Bulgaria. Ireland won even though Bulgarian seeker, Victor Krum, caught the snitch and claimed 150 points for his team, making the final score 170-160.
In real life, Ireland may not have won any World Cups and they don't participate in the European Quidditch Cup, but they have played and won many local competitive games, and the sport is continuing to grow on local soil.
7 Norway, host of the European Games
Norway has been playing Quidditch for the last five years, and with all the Quidditch competitions taking place locally and internationally, why not add one more to the mix?
Norway hosted the 2017 European Games in Oslo, and head coach, Amund Kulsrud Storruste, shared with Quidditch Post that he was looking forward to playing against Turkey and their team, the Unicorns, as there's a little competitive spirit between the two teams.
Norway may not have many titles under their belt, but they're on the rise. Norway's team, the Rumpeldunks, placed fourth place at European Quidditch Cup in 2017 and took bronze at the European Games 2015.
6 South Korea, runner-up of the Asian Quidditch Cup
One of my favourite things about the South Korean competitive Quidditch team is their name, the Seoul Puffskeins.
While Puffskeins may not have been heavily featured in the films, according to the books they're soft round fluffy creatures that make perfect pets in the wizarding world. Ginny had a type of Puffskein in the later films, called a Pygmy Puff, which was actually bred by the Weasley twins as a miniature version of the original.
But, back to Quidditch! The team from South Korea actually came second in their first time at the Asian Quidditch Cup, and they have participated in the last two Quidditch World Cup tournaments.
5 The Netherlands, working to grow Quidditch popularity
The Netherlands may blend into the crowd on an international scale, but they are making sure Quidditch is taken seriously in the world of sports, both locally and abroad.
The Netherland's Quidditch League is active all year long, hosting events, participating in tournaments and travelling to sports shows to promote Quidditch. They also participate with the International Quidditch Association and Quidditch Europe to expand the sport.
Every year they host the Dutch Quidditch Cup and the Open Dutch Summer Cup, and are now introducing the Dutch Quidditch League for more competition. Along with Belgian, Netherlands organizes the Benelux Cup every year between Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
4 The Czech Republic, from big leagues to local tournaments
Czech Republic' steam, Occamy Olomouc, play both locally and internationally alongside players from Prague and Brno. In 2017, they participated in the first ever Czech Quidditch Championship, the St. Marin’s Tournament.
In 2018 before the Quidditch World Cup, the team from Czech Republic participated in Olomouc Quidditch Camp over the summer months before attending the European Quidditch Cup in Germany. Finally, to round off the 2018 season, the team went to the World Cup in Florence where they tied for 15th place with Vietnam.
3 Poland, two time international participant and local champs
To get to the international stage, you need to make a name for yourself locally. In some cases, there aren't many Quidditch teams to compete with at a local level, and you move on by default. In Poland that's not the case. The nation's champions, the Warsaw Mermaids, got the title by beating out other teams, and earning the right to represent Poland at the European Quidditch Cup.
Not only are they competitive on the field, The Mermaids are working to grow appreciation and acceptance of quidditch as a sport both locally and abroad. The team helped form the Polish Quidditch League, and have played in all the national championships since 2015.
Team Poland competed at the World Cup in both Germany and Florence, placing 19th and 13th.
2 Hong Kong, first time players in 2018
Quidditch is extending its reach across the globe. What started with just five countries: UK, USA, Canada, France and Australia, now includes countries (or colonies) as small as Hong Kong.
The first ever competitive Quidditch match played in Hong Kong took place in January 2018. The University of Hong Kong, with the uncreative or Harry Potter-esque name of Team HKU, played against the South Korea Seoul Puffskeins.
Hong Kong has a few UK exchange students to thank for bringing the game to their city, but we're sure Quidditch is here to stay.
1 Iceland, just happy to be there
Sometimes it's not about results or winning, it's just about having fun. With Quidditch, more than any other competitive sports, that's the truth. How serious can you take yourself when you're waddling down a court with a broom between your legs?
Iceland came in last place at the World Cup, but they're nothing but smiles. They were just happy to participate and share a unique experience with other Harry Potter fans. Because ultimately, that's what the game is about. Yes, there's an athletic component, but primarily it's a place for fans to come together and try to live out the magic they fell in love with in the books.
References: quidditchpost, wikipedia, facebook