World Games 2022: Predictions

The World Games starts in a matter of minutes, and you can watch the games here. The games will feature the eight best ultimate-playing nations in the world according to the WFDF rankings, split into two pools of four. There’s plenty of coverage around where you can see the rosters and hear what the teams have to say, and we’ll be starting our World Games journeys series shortly so you can hear from some of the players on the GB team and the wider squad. This article, though, is in keeping with the greatest tradition we have at the ShowGame: I make predictions that will invariably be wrong and then everyone can tell me how stupid they were when I see them at a tournament.

Pool A

Let’s start with the pool that we care about the most. GB are in a very tough group, with the USA, Canada and Germany their opponents on the first three days of competition in order. Having the USA feels like the best outcome to me; all three other teams in the pool are unlikely to beat the four-time reigning champions such is the weight of talent on their roster. You could take the three best players of each gender, cut them and then find six new players to replace them and that team would very likely still win gold. So the first game is a free hit for GB, a game that they’re not expected to win that can help them get up to speed for the next two.

Canada and Germany are undoubtedly both excellent teams. But Germany are without talismanic cutter Holger Beuttenmuller after he suffered a knee injury, and Canada feel like they lack some of the star power of previous editions where they have won consecutive bronzes. Both games will still be extremely tough, neither team will be a pushover and both feature some world-class players, but if GB want to reach the semi-finals for the first time they’ll have to beat both. The GB team has the potential to do just that, but it’s a tall order. The female matching players on the German roster look particularly troublesome, with Levke Walczak continuing to grow into one of the most dominant female players in the world.

Pool B

This pool feels very open at the top. Colombia and Australia won the last two silvers between them and both could be excellent again, while the Japanese team can never be discounted such is their skill in their singular style of play. France are the fourth team here and, in their first appearance at the World Games, will likely struggle to pick up a win despite having a talented squad including star YAKA handler Aline ‘Rasta’ Mondiot.

The Colombians return six of the seven women who won silver in Poland in 2017, missing Laura Ospina only due to injury. That includes the Cardenas sisters, Yina Cartagena and potentially the best female player in the world at the moment, Elizabeth Mosquera, and her massive, booming pulls. The Australians have players like the Phillips sisters, Tom Tullett and Alex Ladomatos who have played prominent roles in teams that have been in the biggest games in the sport and won at the highest level. Japan welcomes back Buzz Bullets stars Taiyo Arakawa and the ageless Masahiro Matsuno as well as a depth of players who have represented Japan and mastered the short space, quick-hitting style that has served them so well. All three could be contenders, but one will miss out on the semis.

Predictions

Starting with pool B since I think it’ll be a bit simpler, I see Colombia and Australia advancing. Japan will be great and the games should be tight, but the athleticism of the two southern hemisphere nations will likely be too much to overcome, particularly among the women. You could argue that the strength of both teams lies on that side of the roster, but I’d back the Australian men against their Colombian counterparts. The game between them will be a cracker and will happen later today, first pull at 10pm. I’ll shade towards the Colombians because of the strength of their women but neither outcome would be a huge shock.

Pool A is tougher, maybe because of the emotional connection of having a GB team in there. The Americans will top the pool, but I think you could make an argument for any of the other three nations that could convince me. The GB/Canada game tomorrow will be massive, especially if Canada loses first off to the Germans shortly. GB have the talent to run with and beat both, but Canada have some battle-hardened veterans that have won games at this level, whereas GB have always struggled to put a whole game together. As much as I’d like to say GB will win, I’m going to put my (hypothetical) money on Canada.

Once we get to semis, I think we’ll see the winners of both pools advance relatively comfortably. So, I am predicting a rerun of the 2017 final with Colombia facing the USA, new money vs old in ultimate terms. While the Colombian women are absolutely good enough to win their match ups against the Americans, I don’t think Colombia are well-rounded enough to beat the whole American roster. I would be relatively surprised if anyone came within four points of the USA throughout the tournament, even with the variance that comes in a short tournament with such small squads. Talent wins, and the USA has an embarrassment of riches in that area.

I think GB will be facing Japan for fifth. A win there would be the first win against a significant, non-European ultimate-playing nation at the World Games (they beat Taiwan twice in 2009 and in this scenario will have beaten Germany). This team is good enough to clear that hurdle, so I’ll say they’ll do it. I hope very much that I’ve underestimated them and will be delighted for that to be the case.

Final predictions:

  1. USA
  2. Colombia
  3. Australia
  4. Canada
  5. GB
  6. Japan
  7. Germany
  8. France

World Games journeys: Marius Hutcheson

At the outset of the World Games trial process, Marius Hutcheson had no expectations. He’s had a career unlike all of the other players on the World Games training squad, so why would there be any expectations?

Marius has been around UK ultimate for a long time, playing well on good teams but never featuring on a team considered one of the top teams in the division (despite winning a mixed national title with Birmingham in 2014) until recently. That lack of visibility and access to the top of the sport has meant that he’s one of two players not to have played for a senior GB team in this squad, with the other (Molly Wedge) only moving to the UK recently. So how did such an experienced, and simultaneously relatively inexperienced, player reach the level of training with the top team in the country?

Starting out at Birmingham university

Marius first heard of ultimate when at high school but the version that he and his classmates played was a long way from how the sport actually works. He sought out the ultimate club at university as soon as he arrived in Birmingham to play a more social sport than swimming, which had been his main focus until then. At Birmingham the team developed during his time there, with the mainstays of the team that would go on to become arguably the best university team in UK history all starting during his time there (including World Games squad-mate Ben Burak).

He played for EMO for one season but largely played with Leamington Lemmings until Birmingham Ultimate started in 2012.

“I had labs on Wednesday afternoons, and EMO trainings in Leicester were on that day. After one season with EMO 2 I didn’t really have time to travel so that’s probably why I started playing with Lemmings, until there was a Birmingham shift.”

The Birmingham shift

The shift that Marius mentions is the founding of Birmingham Ultimate, a club team in the second city. It meant that the best players from the city and the surrounding areas had another option instead of travelling longer distances to other teams. The team became competitive quickly. However, it was a tough grind to get to where they thought they should be:

“We felt pretty hard done by coming up the ranks. We saw teams that were formed only for a year or two jump into A Tour and just be given a higher ranking. We felt that we were always pushed down because we didn’t have bigger names on the squad. It was quite a graft but we got to the point where we, after a Saturday, were the top seeds of A Tour. We went to Euros in 2014 after winning mixed nationals, albeit in a down year because some of the big teams didn’t play. That was our peak year.”

After moving to London, Marius stayed with Birmingham because his friends were still on the team. The next season he played open with Ka-Pow! but continued to play mixed with Birmingham. In 2020, though, he moved to Deep Space.

“I had a lot of untapped potential in terms of how far I can go in the sport despite being relatively old compared to some other people coming onto the scene. I wanted to play very competitive Frisbee for a team that was close and I could train regularly and be active within the club.

“But the other thing was that I was holding some development back at Birmingham. If I continued to pick up for them at tournaments, I was taking the roster spot of someone who had been developing and coming up through the ranks. At that one tournament, we might do better with me than someone else, but having someone who’s ingrained in the club, the training and the culture will be better in the long run. I felt like I was holding them back.”

Marius playing for Deep Space at Nationals 2021. Photo by Sam Mouat

Elite mixed teams in the south

The move to Deep Space meant that Marius was now on one of the best teams in London, a team with more visibility in the city with the most ultimate players in the country and where a lot of top players live. After one season with Deep Space, and a nationals final appearance, Marius moved west and is playing with Reading this season. So what was the change in moving to these teams and getting more recognition, was it a renewed dedication to training or extra fitness work?

“I think part of it is that visibility. When I first applied for under-23s (in Toronto, 2013) I wasn’t even given a trial because I didn’t play for a club in the top five. I’ve never had a Clapham trial, although that’s probably a different story, and the first trial I was ever given for a GB team was in 2018 for the 2019 cycle. That was after I moved to London, so I think just being in the London community and going to goalty with people who are in management set-ups, being known a bit more by people who have seen my face around, was the biggest advantage.

“In Birmingham and in some other regions you’re at a disadvantage because you don’t have some of the exposure that you do in the London community.”

World Games process

As mentioned above, Marius had no expectations going into the first trial.

“I wasn’t too bothered with seeing what happened because I was going in to learn. I obviously wasn’t going to make the team or even the training squad so I wasn’t even planning on filling out the form, I filled it in with two days to go because someone said what’s the point of not filling it in and missing out on a good training session if that’s all it is.

“Because I had no expectation on my shoulders I played really comfortably and did myself justice. I came out of the session thinking I had shown I could play and I had learned some things, bad positioning or a throwaway that gets punished much more at that level, but I came away thinking I could hold my head high. When I got an email inviting me to the closed trial I was pretty confused, to be fair!”

Only around 40 people were invited to the closed trial, about 20 male and 20 female-matching players. At that point, the odds of someone making the team are much, much better.

“That was eye-opening, and I thought I may as well give it a go. I did a lot of work over the next three months. Tom Abrams was really useful, we went and did a lot of throwing sessions and just talking to him was valuable. I find at club trainings you talk a lot about minutiae that don’t matter and he’s very keyed into what matters, so that was useful.”

The closed trial in Edinburgh took place while there was a storm going on, so it was all held indoors. Marius believes that was an advantage for him. His mentality also helped at that session:

“I think some of the Clapham boys, especially, are better in tough conditions. They have an advantage, because of the amount they train and the graft they put in, when it gets windy and rainy. And then I still had no expectations, now I could just go and ball out. If I learned stuff, great. If I proved to myself that I might have a shot at the 2023 Euros season with GB then great, and it was visibility again. After the session I thought I played pretty well. I had a couple of regrets but the rest of it I was pretty pleased with. I threw five deep shots for goals and four were to Rachel Naden, so I think she got me on the training squad!”

On the training squad

Once the squad was decided, the emails went out. Marius’s email was not the one that everyone was dreaming about, he wasn’t going to be heading to Alabama to represent GB, but he was asked to be part of the training squad. So how did it feel receiving that email?

“I felt proud. I have some screenshots on my phone of when that email came through and when I was added to the World Games squad WhatsApp group and I was like this is unreal. I felt very proud of myself, it was some validation that I hadn’t necessarily been looking for. I don’t need other people to validate the fact that I think I can throw Frisbees well, but it was a really good feeling knowing that people think you can hang at the top level of the sport. There was some element of thinking I didn’t respect the fact that I had a shot at the team, I was closer to the top level of competition than I thought I was.

“On defence I struggled, I was run ragged at times. Against the USA and Canada I would have struggled, but on offence I actually held by own quite well. I’ve learned some things about myself physically that I will be working on over the summer, going to sprint training and stuff to try and rectify at least a small part of that. But I look at some people and think if I had worked like they have over the last five years, to the extent that some of the Clapham guys like Brooksy [Alex Lakes] have, I would have had a good shot at making the squad.”

The process has been such a quick one, with the team having a very short time to work on tactics, cohesion and execution. Marius decided to take on a specific role to help the team be as good as it could be:

“I wasn’t there thinking if someone gets injured I might go, I wasn’t there hoping to go to Alabama. I was there in my position to whatever I could to help this team succeed. My best way to do that is to be competition and push at trainings as much as possible. Sometimes I failed at that, but I think over the course of the process I got better and I learned a lot. One of the most important things about the cycle was how quickly the team had to adapt to certain situations. We would discuss a new zone at the beginning of a session, walk through it with cones, do five pull and then that’s it, moving on to something else. Being in that environment where learning is quicker and a lot is assumed meant it was picking up experience really quickly.”

So now the process has come to an end, and the team is in the other Birmingham. How will Marius feel when his teammates step onto the field?

“I am a little bit nervous but I am confident that they will represent really well. There are people on that squad that I didn’t know when this process started and now I’m friends with most, if not all of them. Everyone has their personalities and understanding that, feeling what they feel and empathising with them makes the viewing experience better. I think I have a unique opportunity to feel what they feel through the screen. I’m going to be proud of them watching and I’m really hoping they do well.”

 Now with the rest of the season on the horizon, Marius reflects on the experience as a whole:

“It comes with pros and cons, my body is a bit more damaged now than it would be if I hadn’t done some of the GB stuff. But the cons of not letting my body heal between Reading and GB sessions are massively outweighed by the pros of what I’ve learned and been able to garner throughout the cycle. It’s been a really positive experience and will help for WUCC and Nationals this season and then next season, when I think I’ll be having a push at the next GB cycle.”

World Games journeys: Will Rowledge

Will Rowledge has been one of the best players in the UK for several seasons, a standout defender who has added to his offensive skillset in recent years to become a well-rounded threat. At the start of the World Games process, when people were incredibly keen to talk to me about who might make it onto the team, Will was one of the names that was most prominent. His making the team wasn’t much of a surprise for anyone. However, just a few weeks before the tournament he suffered a freak recurrence of a shoulder injury and will now be travelling to Alabama to support his teammates, but not to play.

Always under a spotlight

Will first played frisbee as a scout before university, when he was taught only the very basics on an indoor-sized pitch before going on to a final against a much more experienced team on a full-sized outdoor pitch. As though that wasn’t a difficult enough situation in which to have a first competitive game, there was also a crowd of around 1,000 people. Needless to say, it went poorly and his team lost heavily.

Will’s combination of height and athleticism marked him out very early on, though, as someone to watch once he started playing the real version of the sport.

“At my first warm up tournament at university, one of the senior players walked me over to Matt Parslow and said ‘this kid’s the next you,’” says Will. Parslow, of course, was a former World Games player himself.

The World Under-23 Championships in London in 2015 was the first indication that the comparisons might be onto something. As a relative unknown, just a year removed from under-20s, he was a standout player on a very strong team that just missed out on a medal.

“That was an incredibly cool experience. I didn’t really know what was going on, I was just doing what Jools [Murray, the coach] told me to do and trying my best. I think when you don’t know what’s going on and you know less, you remember less of it but I remember it being an incredibly fun experience and Jools really helped me, gave me loads of confidence.”

In the first game of the tournament, Great Britain played the heavily favoured Americans. Will had a great game and was one of the players that looked like they could run with the USA.

“I think I went into it with a different attitude. I think everyone gives them a bit too much respect if I’m honest, they are just like you and me. They get more experience in the top-level games but we are just as skilled as any of them, just as athletic, so their only advantage is the experience. If you go in with loads of confidence I think you can surprise them and I think that’s what I did in that first game.”

Returning to university

Will properly got into Frisbee at Portsmouth university. The team, Sublime, had previously been one of the best in the country, completing an unbeaten open outdoor season and winning nationals with Matt Parslow as captain before Will arrived. Many of the players from that dominant team played for Fire of London, and invited Will and his university teammate Ross Nugent to play with them on a ‘Rising Star’ scheme that helped fund travel.

“They were just trying to get us involved as much as possible. We’d travel up once a week for training in 2016, my first season with Fire. Being not based in London it was quite difficult and Fire tried to make it as convenient as possible.”

Will was continuing to play with his university team, often playing whole tournaments without taking any points off and going to fun tournaments whenever possible, as well as training and playing with Fire.

“I think playing in games where there’s a lot of depth at the top level really makes you better at reading the game, so playing with Fire really helped that. At university there’s a couple of big players and it’s easier to read but it’s much harder when you have to take more into account.”

Move to Clapham

After two seasons with Fire, he moved to Clapham to play at WUCC in Cincinnati.

“WUCC was great but only having been involved in the team for about six months beforehand meant I was less emotionally invested in the team compared to some guys who had been there for years and years. I still gave it my all but it was definitely different. Clapham has changed a lot since then, but I’m really excited to be competing at WUCC again with them again.

“There’s a huge sense of responsibility with my role on the team now. Back when I started one of the captains told me I wasn’t allowed to throw any hucks but now I have permission to do what I want and cause chaos on defence. The main difference really is flexibility on offence.”

The flexibility highlights the main change in Will’s game since he joined Clapham; his throwing. Defensive ability has always been his calling card – he was voted European defensive player of the year in 2018 – but now that he’s able to make the kind of throws that playing at the top level requires he’s able to exert more influence after the turn.

“I love throwing, and I’ve really developed my ability to throw aggressively upfield with more reps at a high level. You build up that confidence over the years and Clapham has really made a difference with that. I’m one of three hybrid players that are called onto the O line if we get broken along with Connor McHale and Josh Awcock. At training, with a smaller O line there’s times where we go a whole training weekend just playing offence.”

Playing mixed at World Games

While Will has focused on open for most of his competitive career to this point, he has played a lot of mixed. Not only was he part of the GB mixed team that won European bronze at beach euros in 2019, he’s been part of Mighty Hucks for a while now.

“I’ve loved playing mixed. It’s a slightly slower game than I’ve been used to with Clapham and I think the options you have are much greater. That’s definitely the case offensively but defensively there are lots of opportunities to create more turnovers as well.”

The World Games was an opportunity to play a game that Will enjoys, but the real draw was that he’s seen it as the peak of the sport for most of his career, since the introduction to Parslow at a beginner’s tournament.

“Seven players of each gender get picked so the high level, the challenge of competing against all these other great players was definitely a reason. I’ve loved mixed every time I’ve played it as well, and then there were the tales about Matt Parslow who’s been an inspiration for me. Since that moment making the World Games team was a goal of mine. When I made it, I felt like I had achieved that.”

The trial process saw him travel to Edinburgh for both sessions, and he’s full of praise for the way the whole thing was run both for players who made it all the way through and those who took part in only some bits of it. Once it was finished and he received his email, how did it feel knowing he was in the team?

“It was such a heartwarming email to read. It was really a special moment and knowing all the effort I had put in had come to this big moment and I got in, it was huge for me.”

Disappointment post Windmill

After working so hard to get into the team, Will was ruled out after injury at Windmill.

“It was the semi-final against Iznogood. We were up at the time and I was marking some of their big players, I did a small layout onto my left side but used my right arm to catch myself. I had thrown myself about in much worse scenarios throughout the tournament but it must have been the perfect combination of the angle and fatigue, and the right shoulder came out.

“I couldn’t even look at my teammates. I felt like I had disappointed [the World Games team], the Clapham lot. Whenever I saw a World Games player at Windmill I was in tears. I felt like I had let down loads of people, even though I had put in loads of effort to get better, make myself as prepared as possible. It was obviously a very tough one.”

Will’s Clapham teammate Ollie Gordon had already been named as the travelling reserve so, after realising what the injury meant for his participation, Will spoke to Ollie.

“I gave him a huge congratulations. I think if I had wanted anyone in UK ultimate to take my spot it would probably be Ollie. He’s been a huge inspiration to me, we have had similar roles throughout our careers and he was playing seniors a long time before I was and has always been an inspiration to my style. I’m really glad he’s going now. He was very apologetic, but I suppose it would have been pretty nasty if he had rubbed it in at that point!”

Part of Will’s disappointment was his perception of the role he had played on a squad that featured a number of people who had never played together before, and in some cases knew each other only in passing.

“I’ve tried to be a very social member on this team, helping bring people out of their shells and bringing the team together, making it fun. I’ve also been able to calm us down in some bigger moments, so I think I’ve had a real impact on the team which is why I was so disappointed. I’ve been so excited to play with some people on this team, messaging people after training about how much you’re looking forward to playing with them. I’m not even sure how to describe the feeling really, but letting people down is probably the closest I can think of.”

Despite that blow, Will is travelling to Alabama. Part of his decision-making process was speaking to Ollie about why he had wanted to go as a travelling reserve, knowing he might not play and having already gone to Cali in 2013.

“I’ve built up some relationships on this team and I am emotionally invested in it. I spoke to Lucy, I spoke to Ollie about his reasoning for going out and they just said the whole experience of the World Games is an amazing one. GB hasn’t qualified for every version of this tournament so this might be my only chance to go, and those off-the-field traits mean I can still help out the team.

“It’s been really hard turning my mind to the off-the-field stuff, but I think it’ll be easier once we’re there and I know what the team needs from me. The hardest thing was at the last training when we were all saying our goodbyes, I had to walk away and be by myself and cry for a while. That was tough.”

This has clearly been a rollercoaster for Will, but he’ll look back on the process fondly.

“This has been so enjoyable. The new friendships I’ve made have been incredible and I think people have viewed me in a different light as well. It’s been really great.”

And there’s always next time, right?

“I think I’ll be a hot contender for the next World Games team. I’m pretty sure about that.”

The World Games 2022: what’s coming from tSG

If you ask most players what they see as the pinnacle of ultimate is, they’ll say the World Games. It’s a multi-sport event, it’s quadrennial, there’s a very limited number of teams invited and even then, the rosters are hugely down on what you’d usually expect from an international team; it’s got the Olympic sheen on rarity of both occurrence and opportunity.

Great Britain has played in the World Games twice before, in 2009 and 2013. The last edition in 2017 did not feature a British team as GB was ranked below the top five teams – the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia and Colombia – and the host nation always gets the last spot, which in that case was Poland. Getting a spot in this tournament isn’t a given, although the expansion to eight teams has boosted the chances a bit, so even sending a team is incredibly special.

So, this is about as big as it gets. Being in the running for the World Games squad is a badge of honour and something that people involved in all three squads can be immensely proud of, including those who were part of the training squad and those who travelled as reserves. With that in mind, and ahead of the World Games starting on Tuesday next week, I spoke to some of the players involved in this year’s squad.

Some of the players I talked to will be playing in Alabama and trying to secure GB’s best-ever finish (fifth in ’09 and sixth in ’13, both before the field was expanded to eight). Some will be travelling but not playing. Some will be watching with everyone else at home but with an added investment in the outcome, and added anxiety watching their teammates compete in such high-pressure games.

The interviews will be published over the next few days, and on Tuesday I’ll be taking a closer look at what I think might happen in the tournament as a whole. When the games start I’ll be posting on our social media channels and we’ll have reactions coming as well. Follow the ShowGame on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to join in the discussion and follow along on the hype!

In the meantime, you can listen to the podcast I did with GB coach Sam Vile below.

Tournament roundup: and the winners are…

The games have now finished at WMUCC and the winners have all been decided. As we’ve seen a number of times, the winners all came from the USA along with several of the runners-up.

The finals that happened yesterday saw Surly win a double in the great grandmaster and grandmaster open divisions but fall short of a treble as the grandmaster mixed team lost 15-13 to compatriots Molasses Disaster. The mixed final was an extremely clean game with only one break, Molasses snatching the momentum going into half up 8-6.

In the grandmaster open division Surly won 15-3, a dominant win over Canadians FIGJAM to seal an incredibly impressive title. Surly finished with 10 games played, 149 points score and only 52 conceded, with no-one scoring in double digits against them. The great grandmasters won 15-12 against top seeds Relics in a game that saw several big lead swings; Relics scored three in a row to go up 9-10 but then conceded three Surly points in a row as the Minnesotans went up 13-10 and maintained the lead to win.

Today, the three finals were in the masters mixed, open and women’s divisions. The mixed final was more of a procession than spectators would have wished. Descent, the team from Washington DC, has seemed like the strongest team in the division all week and proved to be so with a dominant 15-6 win over Canadians Epoq, more of a surprise finalist. The Americans took half 8-1 after going up 6-0, effectively ending the contest early. Descent’s stars, like Kelly Hyland, Caleb Denecour and Brian Shoenrock, were just too much for Epoq and everyone else this week – they scored 135 points in nine games (hitting cap in every game) and conceded only 38, with no-one scoring more than eight against them.

The open final was somewhat more competitive as Boneyard defeated Volton 2020 15-10. The team from North Carolina broke on its first defensive possession but gave it right back on the next offensive possession. Boneyard went back up 6-4 and from there seemed to be able to bother Voltron’s a lot more than the team from Seattle could trouble theirs. Voltron brought it back to 6-6 but were broken going into half and then back out of it as well, going down 9-6 and never came back within sight.

The closest game of the day was in the women’s final between Reboot Squad, from Boston, and Canadians StellO. The Canadians took a shock lead early on, going up 2-5 after breaking on the first point of the game. Reboot gathered themselves from there, though, and climbed back into the lead with a four-point run to go back on serve at 6-5. Reboot was able to get another break after a StellO overthrow to go into half 8-6. StellO showed admirable mental strength though and were able to have another roll just after half, scoring two breaks and taking a 10-11 lead after a long, turn-filled point. The game was very tight at this point, with every throw contested and some great plays coming from both sides. A simple StellO drop was followed by a brilliant around backhand to put Reboot up 12-11 after they held on the previous point, and the Americans never relinquished the advantage after getting their noses in front. StellO held to take the scores to 13-13 after another long point with opportunities for both teams squandered, but Reboot held their nerve, held their serve and then broke to win the title.

Looking at UK, Irish and European results, Iznogood had the most impressive result in the three masters divisions in finishing fourth. They lost out on a medal after a 15-7 loss to Johnny Encore but making semis is an excellent achievement. Magic Toast finished seventh in the open division, making two European teams in that bracket. LMU and Masterclass both made quarters in the women’s division and met for seventh place, where Masterclass came out on top 15-12. The only European team in the top eight in mixed was Italians Beefire who finished eighth. Reading were the highest-placed UK team in 13th.

In the other divisions there were fewer teams overall but Big Fish, Little Fish finished ninth and as the highest-placed European team (Woodies from Germany finished 11th and otherwise the division was all North American teams) in grandmasters mixed. Zimmer overcame Americans Shadows in the fifth-place game in the grandmasters open division, winning 15-14 after coming from 10-3 down and winning the game on a four-point roll. Flash finished eighth in the ten-team great grandmasters division with JETS from France defeating them to take the best-in-Europe crown.

Zimmer miss out on the semis

The British grand master open team, Zimmer, had a successful run of games in Pool B. They lost only two matches and won their other five to put them third in the pool and qualify them for the quarter finals. Yesterday their hopes of making into the semi-finals, however, were ended after they lost the American team, and original top seeds, Johnny Walker.

The game started well for Zimmer. They came out on defence and, although they were unable to turn Johnny Walker in the first point, they very quickly equalised thanks to a bid from David Sealy. The next few points were quite quick, with the two teams trading until 2-2. 

Zimmer’s James Cooper managed to intercept an attempted inside forehand break, giving them an opportunity to break. A deep shot went up, with Dan Berry chasing after it and getting the score to put Zimmer ahead for the first time 2-3.

Several more points passed with both teams holding their offense points. Zimmer were disciplined in their horizontal stack, while Johnny Walker stuck to match defence. At 5-6 up, Zimmer got another opportunity to break when a Johnny Walker player dropped the pull. Zimmer’s defence line then called a timeout, which allowed them to set up an endzone play when they came back in. They isolated Dave Barnard, who received the disc from Lewis Glover to give them their second break and put them up 5-7.

Still on defence, Zimmer decided to play a zone which was unsuccessful at slowing down Johnny Walker’s offence, who put in two points with back-to-back scores from Brian Carroll, levelling the score again at 7-7. Zimmer put in the next score to take half at 7-8.

After half, Zimmer scored the next one thanks to an impressive toe-in from Thaysen, re-establishing the two-point lead at 7-9. After this, however, the tide really started to turn against Zimmer. Their zone defence seemed to be leaving too much free space in the middle and the Johnny Walker players cut through it easily to score the next three points, putting Zimmer behind, 10-9, for the first time since the first couple of points.

Zimmer had only 18 on their roster compared to the 24 Johnny Walker had brought and at this point in the tournament many were nursing injuries. This showed as it seemed the Zimmer players were running out of energy. They only scored two more points in the rest of the match, which was closed out after several more breaks, with a catch from Mitch Schminke to leave the final score 15-11 to Johnny Walker.

This left Zimmer in the 5-8 bracket, while Johnny Walker progressed to play in the semis yesterday against Surly GM.

Daily roundup: A few upsets in the day of quarters and semis

Yesterday was the first day that none of the teams had to deal with rain and this showed as several teams barely put a foot wrong. The women’s, open and mixed masters division all had their quarter finals, semi-finals were played in the grand master mixed and open divisions and the round-robin finished in the great grand master open division.

Women’s masters

The European teams still involved in bracket play, Masterclass and LMU, both lost, ending European hopes of placing a team in the top four. LMU fell to Reboot Squad, who look extremely difficult to stop, while the Irish team lost to Soar! *soar later in the day. The quarter between Canadians lowercase and Ripe from North Carolina was a nail-biter, ending 15-14 to the Canadians after a five-point run in the second half. Fellow Canadians StellO beat Denver’s Molly Grey 15-8 in something of an upset that was never that close. That means we have a Canadian and an American team in each semi-final, raising the possibility of a non-American winner. Reboot may have some words to say on that, though.

Open masters

Magic Toast lost their quarter to Denver-based Johnny Encore 15-6 in a tough game that featured several extremely physical plays and a couple of Toast injuries. However there was good news for European ultimate as Iznogood notched a huge (and unexpected) 15-7 victory over previously undefeated Americans Royal Stag. Voltron beat Still 15-11 and appear to be in great shape heading into the semis, where they will meet the French team. Still were the last Canadian team still in the draw and Boneyard, who beat compatriots King Louie, make three American teams in the final four.

QOLD cause upset in the mixed master’s quarter final

The most surpsing result yesterday in this division was Canadian QOLD beating US team Old #7. The two teams had previously played each other in the pools, where Old #7 had won 6-15. This first half was close; Old #7 were two breaks up 8-6 at half, and two of the points lasted more than 15 minutes. QOLD then turned it up a notch and Old #7 became rattled as QOLD put two points in quickly after half to level. After that, there wasn’t much stopping the Canadians who stormed to victory 12-9.

QOLD will face the other Canadian team from the quarters, Epoq, who beat Beefire yesterday 15-8. This was a big improvement for Beefire, who previously lost to Epoq 15-1 in the pool stages.

On the other half of the bracket there were four US teams. Descent, who have been looking strong throughout the tournament, had a comfortable win 15-8 over Members Only. The other quarter final was much closer. SOS and Slower were tied 14-14 after 95 minutes, with Slower on offence. SOS managed to hold their nerve and won the game with a break 15-14. This means we are set for a Canadian vs. US final tomorrow, regardless of what happens in the Semis today.

Surly GMX can’t be caught in the grand master mixed semis

Happy Campers made a good attempt at a comeback yesterday, almost levelling at 13-12 after going down 9-5 against Surly GMX. The lead was too big, however, and Surly hung on to their lead, winning 14-12.

The other semi-final was won by Molasses Disaster, who also had a triumphant first half. They went 7-0 up and took half at 8-1, making HiJinx’s task near impossible. They did turn up the intensity in the second half, but it was too late, and Molasses Disaster won 15-8.

European hopes end in the grand master open quarter final

The two European teams to make it through to the quarters, Zimmer and Silence, both lost yesterday. Zimmer put up a good fight against Johnny Walker, but the Americans stepped it up in the second half and finished the game 15-11. Surly GM beat Tombstone, meaning they went on to play Johnny Walker later that day in the semis, where they were victorious again, 15-7.

FIGJAM beat Shadows to put them through to play Black Cans and Highlands, who won against Silence, in the semis. These two teams previously had a close and heated game in the pool stages, which was won by Black Cans. It was a different story yesterday, though, with FIGJAM capitalising on every Black Cans mistake, closing out the game 15-12.

An end to the great grand master round-robin

All the expected results fell into place in the grand master division yesterday. Top seeds and expected winners, Surly GGM, beat German Alltime Ultimate Lovers. Relics beat SOUP, while TOAST beat Torontosaurus Rex, and No Country beat JETS. The only British team in the division also lost yesterday, 7-15 to Recycled. Both the semi-finals, which will be played by the four US teams, and the finals of the great grand master open division will be played today. My guess is that it will be Relics facing Surly GGM and that Surly GGM will win.