Bracket Blitz Breakdown

May 2015 Prof. Scarlet Leslie
"Let's run a contest together."
"Okay, what do you like?"
(I should have seen that coming from Quidditch enthusiast Cody Lewis.)

And Bracket Blitz was born! Well, it took a little more brainstorming than that.

Cody and I spent the majority of a week doing random quizzes on Sporcle together. We got one that was called "G Blitz." There were different categories - elements, countries, Presidents - and we had to fill them in with things that started with the letter G in a given amount of time. It was so fun that we did "H Blitz" then "I Blitz" then "J Blitz." We fell asleep somewhere around "V Blitz" (inspiration for the Vultures task), but we finished all the way through "F Blitz" the next day.

Eventually, one of us said, "Let's do something with a bracket. We can call it Bracket Blitz!" It sounded really good. For a while, we only had the name. Then, the pieces started coming together. We thought it should coincide with the March Madness NCAA basketball tournament, so it should be some type of Quidditch tournament. Since the Quidditch World Cup was held last summer, Cody suggested the European Cup.

After deciding that four tasks a week for four weeks was doable, we had to choose sixteen European teams. All eight teams that we know of outside of Britain and Ireland made the cut. The rest were a mix of personal preferences - Cody and his beloved Montrose Magpies - and teams for which we could easily come up with task ideas. When we made the first draft of the bracket and put in the flags, we noticed that we had too many English flags. We swapped out the Cannons for the Kestrels. "Why did we not pick the Kestrels in the first place? St. Patrick's Day is in March!" and "I'm afraid the Cannons might make it far in the tournament because they'll get the sympathy vote." were our main arguments.

Sporcle served as inspiration for a few tasks. After completing a chain on Sporcle, we started putting together name chains with HOL members, originally slated for the Tornados task. Later, we decided that anagrams made more sense for a tornado, but I borrowed the name chain idea for a HOLLERS challenge. Way before team selection, I was determined to make a logic puzzle with famous witches for a Harpies task. A link to "Harry Potter Logic Puzzle" showed up on Sporcle. It took several minutes of persuasion, but I finally got Cody to click on the "Harry Potter Logic Puzzle." Even Cody admitted that it was fun and it served as my template for the Harpies logic puzzle. It was the first task I made for Bracket Blitz and still my favorite.

A close second was the Quafflepunchers task. The final product was the result of a huge argument. I really liked the idea of using different languages, but Cody thought the task would be too easy. He did not want people to just stick the words into Google translate. So, I added in some fictional languages and the matching component. It was actually nice to include a splash of pink to an otherwise colorless task.

That debate leads to one of the best stories of Bracket Blitz planning - the Harriers task. Before I went to sleep one night, I told Cody that I picked out ten birds in movies or TV shows for Harriers. He responded with "Oh, fun!" The next morning, I got a "I finished birds" message. I checked the spreadsheet and there were now twenty birds. I was about to tell him good job when he sent me a link to the twenty bird images. Apparently Cody had downloaded ALL the movies and went through each one to screenshot an ungoogleable image for each bird while I was sleeping! (Because of his efforts, we watched Valiant later that week.)

The other task that Cody was very proud of is Gargoyles. He made a numberlink with bombs, but I found a nonogram for Bombers and asked him to change the bombs in his puzzle to gargoyles. For Arrows, we had written down "stupid archery game" until we decided the arrows in Flash Flash Revolution would work. I'm sure some groups would still call it "stupid" though. Cody thought it would be neat to have Goblins have something to do with Gringotts and money. We expanded that to math problems, adding in chapter numbers after doing some botting together and also realizing that our birthdays are the same months as Ron's and Hermione's birthdays.

I believe I was writing Drabbles or an article for the January/Feburary issue of Alte and Cody asked what I was doing. When I told him that he should write something, he replied that he only writes Quidditch things. "Then write something for Bracket Blitz!" And so, we decided to write a little about each of the qualifying teams and post them during sign-ups.

We had all the tasks done so early that we forgot how much fun they were. Once Bracket Blitz started, it was so exciting for me to see all the teams tackle Harpies first. Cody was always amused when a group had mistaken Blu for Jewel or simply complained about the Harriers task. Some of the Kestrels limericks and Magpies stories were hilarious. We absolutely loved the inclusion of scarlet bats with the Bats submissions! I also enjoyed stalking Cody on the spreadsheet, waiting to color in the tasks and to find out which teams won each round. And, believe it or not, it actually took until about midweek for Cody to jump on the Welsh hype train.

I had filled out my individual bracket with the Tornados as the winner (over Cody's Magpies, of course). Other than the fact that the Tornados have pretty sky blue robes, it started out as a joke. I mean... A Ravenclaw seeker supporting the Tornados? How ridiculous is that? I didn't think the Tornados would be able to beat out the Vultures or the Quafflepunchers. But as the weeks went on and the Tornados continued to survive in later rounds of Bracket Blitz, I found myself cheering for the Tornados more and more. What finally sealed the deal was Ryan Granger's formal complaint about our Tornados task, which included a beautifully written rant about the power of a tornado. Thanks to Bracket Blitz (and Ryan), I am now proud to admit that I am a Tornados fan. The Tornados had a great showing in the tournament this year and have definitely set themselves up to win the Cup in three years!