|Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Major Event|
|Quidditch World Cup Final|
|Location||specially-built coliseum in an undisclosed location in England|
|Time Period||Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, before school starts (August)|
|Important Characters||Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Winky, Bulgaria and Ireland national teams|
The 422nd Quidditch World Cup Final takes place in August immediately before Harry's fourth school year, in the opening chapters of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. An international competition, this attracts wizards from all over the world to witness the match between Ireland and Bulgaria. At the end of the match, a riot breaks out, and there is indication that we are seeing a resurgence of Dark wizardry with the reappearance of the Dark Mark, Lord Voldemort's signal, after a thirteen-year absence.
In order to avoid having a huge number of wizards descend upon the scene at the same time, arrivals at the site of the Quidditch World Championships are staggered, with wizards in the cheap seats, some of them, having to arrive as much as a week ahead of time and camp in fields surrounding the game site both before and after the event. This is an attempt to prevent the surrounding Muggles from getting suspicious, but it is almost completely ineffective; Ministry wizards are perpetually employing memory charms on the local Muggles to keep them unaware of the strange things going on.
The event itself is exciting, as sporting events always are; in this case, although Bulgaria's seeker, Viktor Krum, catches the Snitch, Ireland still manages to win the match. However, it is the riot that occurs in the evening which is the core of the event relative to the story arc.
When the Weasleys, Harry, and Hermione leave their tents to see what the commotion is, they see a group of wizards wearing masked robes, who are parading through the campsite, destroying tents, and suspending the Muggle owners of the campground in the air. Ministry wizards, including Mr. Weasley and Percy, plus Bill and Charlie, wade into the thick of things to try and rescue the Muggles, while Fred, George, Ginny, Harry, Ron, and Hermione head for the safety of the forest. The twins and Ginny get separated from the Trio when Harry trips over a tree root. While the Trio are in the forest, they hear someone cast the Morsmordre spell, and the Dark Mark appears in the sky. This prompts a number of Ministry wizards to appear and try to Stun everyone in the vicinity, which in this case turns out to be Harry, Ron, and Hermione (who avoid being stunned by falling flat) and Winky the house-elf, part of Barty Crouch Sr.'s household. Winky is found with Harry's wand, which is determined to be the one that had cast the Dark Mark spell. To the amazement of the gathered wizards, Barty Crouch tells Winky that "this means clothes!" thus dismissing her from service. Hermione feels that this is very unjust treatment of the elf; everyone else there seems to feel that this is a very harsh punishment for a relatively minor infraction.
- Ludo Bagman, who is quite the sportsman, is taking bets on the outcome of the match. Unfortunately he is not much good at determining odds, and does not "lay off" his bets, so when Ireland wins, he ends up owing more money than he has. Much of what happens around him later in the book, and all of his interaction with the Weasley twins, has to do with his trying to recover from that particular bad bet.
- After the match, Ludo seems quite scared and unaware of what is going on around him. It's entirely possible that this is because he is preoccupied with his own financial ruin and scheming to avoid it.
- The twins' bet with Ludo was entirely paid off with Leprechaun gold, with the result that the twins have lost their life savings. They are seen multiple times in the book composing letters to try and get their money out of Ludo, or figuring out ways to corner him.
- Ludo has short-changed the Goblins that he bet with, possibly by slipping them some Leprechaun gold; in order to make good on that bet, Ludo makes another bet, this time betting on Harry to win the Triwizard Tournament.
- To ensure that he is able to win this last bet, Ludo on multiple occasions attempts to assist Harry with preparation for the various tasks. Ultimately, Harry does not accept any of Ludo's assistance.
- When Ludo loses the bet he placed on Harry (by what could be considered a technicality), he goes into hiding; it seems that he again does not have money to pay his gambling debts.
- Ron is aghast that Harry buys Omnioculars for him, as they are so much more expensive than anything he could afford himself. When the Leprechauns shower the stands in Galleons, Ron gathers up a handful and gives them to Harry as payment. As these are Leprechaun gold, they shortly vanish, and Ron is doubly dismayed when he discovers, first that the gold he had given Harry in good faith did not actually exist, and second that Harry did not even notice it vanishing.
- The events on the night after the Cup inform us that there are still active Death Eaters in the Wizarding population, and suggest that Voldemort is once again gaining strength. Draco's comments to Hermione in the forest reinforce our belief that Voldemort's exclusionary views are gaining strength, as well. We are also here introduced to the term "Death Eaters."
- We are allowed our first glimpse of Winky, whose actions will have such great repercussions throughout this book.
- We are also introduced properly to Amos Diggory, and learn how much of his self-image is built on his son Cedric.
- First mention is made here of Wizarding schools other than Hogwarts. Like Harry, we had not stopped to think that there might be Wizarding schools in other countries. The students that we meet while escaping the riots are apparently from Beauxbatons in France.
- The news story describing this event that appears in the Daily Prophet introduces us to Rita Skeeter's writing style, and the Prophet's habit of shading the truth into whatever direction is the most sensational. Until this book, we have seen the Prophet as a straight newspaper; we here start to see, by direct comparison of events as we know they happened and how they were reported, that the Prophet is as sensationalist as many of the more lurid Muggle papers.
Quidditch, we are told, is the most important sport in the Wizarding world, so clearly there will be a periodic World Championship. The need for the wizards to conceal their existence from the Muggles will likely make it a less-than-annual occurrence, possibly either every four years like our Olympics, or every five years like the Triwizard Tournament. Arthur Weasley being able to receive tickets for this event is something of a coup for him; usually, someone as poorly-off financially as Arthur is would be doomed to the cheap seats and a week camping before and after the event, as Luna Lovegood and her family apparently are. Yet, somehow Arthur has managed to get seats in the top box for ten: himself, his six sons and one daughter, Harry, and Hermione.
At the event, Harry sees professional Quidditch for the first time, and begins to understand the difference between the way he is playing, and the way it can be played. While no mention of this is made later, it is possible that Harry's eventual departure from the world of Quidditch is made less bitter by the belief that he cannot play to the standard he has seen. He does learn several Quidditch moves by watching the teams playing, including the Wronski feint, a particular way of convincing the opposing team's Seeker to fly at high speed into the ground.
In recent years, to the outside observer, it has seemed that a necessary part of any major Muggle sporting event is the riot at the end of it. The audience, having had their spirits whipped up by the match, end up rioting either in jubilation at their team's victory, or frustration at its defeat. It seems that England is the hotbed of this sort of behaviour, with many European countries taking steps to limit the visits of "football yobs". Given this background, it is not surprising that a riot would break out among wizards at a World Cup match in England. It is a little odd that the main rioters are wearing the sort of robe and mask associated with Death Eaters, as that group will have been trying to remain out of sight for the past thirteen years, since the disappearance of Voldemort, but it is possible that this is the only form of concealment that they have. It is interesting to note that the Death Eaters apparently scatter when the Dark Mark appears in the sky, though as Arthur Weasley later comments, many of them will now be scared of meeting with Voldemort again, as over the past thirteen years they have so thoroughly repudiated all he stood for.
Over the course of the event we see a number of situations where the Crouch house-elf, Winky, is apparently being forced to do things against her will; at one point, she runs across Harry's path, having some sort of difficulty in doing so. In retrospect, we can see that Barty Crouch Jr., under an Invisibility Cloak, is actually pushing or pulling her. Winky, "holding a seat" for Mr. Crouch in the Top Box, is actually concealing the fact that Barty Crouch, in his Invisibility Cloak, is occupying that seat. It is of course while Harry is distracted by events on the pitch that Barty steals his wand out of his pocket.
This is the point at which it becomes obvious that Barty Crouch Jr. has completely slipped out of the bonds of magical control that his father has had on him for the past decade or more. Bartemius Crouch Sr. had tasked his house-elf, Winky, with the job of keeping Barty under control, as a safeguard on his use of the Imperius curse (which was fading); and he knows immediately, when the Dark Mark appears and Winky is found Stunned at that location, that Barty has slipped the leash. This is why he dismisses Winky ("This... means... clothes!") for what seems to the gathered wizards to be a minor offence. Barty has not entirely escaped; knowing what he is looking for, Bartemius has managed to find Barty, Stunned and under his Invisibility Cloak, and has returned him to the Crouch home.
While we know that Voldemort is now re-embodied, and living in his ancestral home with Peter Pettigrew and Nagini, it is uncertain how he learns of the events at the Quidditch World Cup. He has already learned of Barty Crouch Jr.'s freedom from the late Bertha Jorkins, but while we can see that Winky's dismissal has made Pettigrew's task, of putting Bartemius Crouch under the Imperius curse, a great deal easier, we don't know if Voldemort knows this. We can guess that he did somehow find out, because if he had expected Pettigrew to face both Crouch and his house elf, his elation at having the job complete without Pettigrew having to defeat Winky would likely have triggered a response in Harry's scar, a response which does not seem to have happened. Of course, we already know that Voldemort dismisses House-elf magic as being insignificant, so he may simply have ignored Winky as a force to be concerned with.
Learning more of Amos Diggory's personality, as we do in the early part of this chapter, makes it easier for us to accept his reaction to Cedric Diggory's death in the final chapters of this book. While it seems counter-intuitive that Amos would refuse a share in the Triwizard winnings following Cedric's death, it is certainly true that no amount of money would compensate for the loss of Amos' son. But it is, on examination, the fact that Amos cannot care about Harry that prevents him accepting the funds. Harry sees the winnings as being associated with Cedric's death and is unwilling to keep them. Amos is unable to see that by offering the winnings, Harry is attempting to ease his conscience at least somewhat of the perceived responsibility for Cedric's death. Having a large amount of funds that he doesn't want, Harry gives them to the Twins to replace their losses from betting with Ludo; this sets the Twins up in their own joke shop, producing magical artifacts which will prove useful to the Trio in their adventures in the final books.
We note that the Omnioculars, so very valuable in deciphering the action of the game, never reappear in the book or the series, though the figurine of Krum that Ron buys at the same time does — or at least its arm does: Harry finds an arm that looks like it was broken off the Krum figurine after an episode in which Ron gets jealous of Krum's attentions to Hermione. We can only surmise that the Omnioculars are too powerful, that their magic would make it possible for Harry to discover things too easily, so the author must carefully prevent the reader from remembering them and asking why they weren't used, for instance when Harry was being taken to Headquarters in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, to scan for potential attackers.
While the byplay with Ludo and his betting may seem minor at the time, it appears in later volumes that Ludo defaulting on (or more literally running out on) his gambling debt will greatly increase the friction between Wizards and Goblins. It seems that Ludo's bet was actually with the chief of the Goblins; because of this insult to their chief, the Goblins feel that Ludo's actions somehow reflect badly on all Wizardkind, and their charitable feelings towards Wizards have taken rather a large beating. This would be quite likely to have some effect on whether the Goblins join into the Wizarding War, and on which side they choose to join. It will turn out, in a later book, that Voldemort squanders this potential advantage by meddling in the affairs of Gringotts Bank.