UXIN Division 1 Preview 2018

Indoors, Mixed, University

Nic Edwards gives us the lowdown on Division 1 at UXIN (University Mixed Indoor Nationals).

University Mixed Indoor Nationals is down in Essex this year and is set to be an exciting event. A massive three quarters of the teams played Division 1 last year, with University College London, Kings College London, Surrey, Bangor and St Andrews breaking through to join the elite teams returning to the top level. With Glasgow taking the title on 3G last year, will this year’s hardcourt venue be the detriment of them and their 3G-loving Scottish cohort? Who will be the breakthrough stories, the wildcards, and the rags-to-riches stories at this year’s UXIN? Let’s take a quick look at what is different this year, and who you should watch out for.

Two regions have suffered the loss of a Division 1 space – Yorkshire & East Midlands, and West Midlands & Wales – which has only paved the way further for the Scots. Scotland dominated both Divisions 1 and 2 Nationals last year and so now, even though they only have eight universities in their region, they have the most Division 1 qualifying spots (5). Three of the four Scottish teams finished in the top four at Division 1 this time last year and St Andrew’s annihilated Division 2, so it was only fair. The question is, is it simply inherent Scottish dominance? The top teams qualifying for Nationals through the Scottish region all had relatively close games against each other, so in theory Nationals could go either way or… do they just play a higher standard of Ultimate? And therefore, will Nationals finish this year as it did last year – with Scottish dominance?

 

How did regionals go?

Above the border, Aberdeen gave an impressive performance, and having Eleanor Taylor (Black Eagles) and Dan McEldrey only boosted their confidence to seize the Scottish Regional title. Every game was fierce, their closest by far being the final, which they won on universe against last year’s National champions, Glasgow. Glasgow had some spicy performances – their nail-biting final against Aberdeen aside – and made a good case for their strength this year too with a two-point semi-final win over local rivals Strathclyde.

In the North, Manchester fell to Durham (who didn’t end up qualifying for Division 1 Nationals) in pool play, but when Sunday came around and with the addition of Chevron’s Steve Dixon, Manchester won every game convincingly. In the West, Bangor’s toughest game was against Birmingham in the final, which they won on universe and rumour has it, even with Natalie Knight and Dom Knight, Bangor wasn’t at full capacity at Regionals.

Yorks and East Mids saw Loughborough defeat Huddersfield in their Regional final by a substantial margin, but also lose to Sheffield in pool play. Huddersfield, on the other hand, won every game with ease up until the final and maybe only having three women, as strong as they may be, is what caused such a big loss. South-Western Bath seemed to win their region without any upsets, and South-Eastern Reading took a very scenic route to their Regional title, losing to a Brighton team in pool play that failed to get the results to join them in Essex this weekend. UCL look to have a strong team this year since it appeared to be UCL and then everyone else in the East and London region; they won every game by a significant margin.

Hayley Dalmon making sure at last years Women’s Nationals. Photo by Sam Mouat.

What does that mean?

Looking at Regional results and not believing in this myth that the Scottish are just better players, I reckon the national title is definitely up for grabs for any team. That being said, the Scots will still have a strong showing at UXIN and should never be underestimated, whether they are seeded first or eighteenth. Other things to take note of is where other Regional winners are seeded, for example Reading and UCL are seeded out of the top eight but I suspect they are going to cause some nasty upsets in pool play.

You don’t have to wait until the knockouts on Sunday to find things worth watching, though. Bangor v Glasgow will be a pool game worth a look; they play very differently but how that game plays out could shine a light on the way Nationals will finish. Other pool games that should be competitive match-ups and good fun to watch are Loughborough v Birmingham, Reading v Bath and UCL v Manchester. Birmingham have a big pick up this year in the name of GeeGee Morrison (Reading WUCC and GBU24 Mixed). If they have developed connections with her then some serious damage can be done against Regionals champs Loughborough. Reading have a lot of experienced players such as Charlotte Marriott and Sam Benians (both Reading) who bring reliable and proven skillsets to the table against a good bath team. UCL v Manchester should in theory be a tight game; Manchester are a fierce team, especially their women (Bella Tait, Black Eagles) and will be looking to capitalise on their third place finish last year but UCL have started the year playing very well and look set to feature pick-ups Axel Ahmala (GBU24 Open and Glasgow WUCC) and former AUDL player CJ Colicchio.

 

Predictions

  1. Glasgow
  2. Bangor
  3. Strathclyde
  4. Aberdeen
  5. Manchester
  6. Birmingham
  7. Huddersfield
  8. UCL

 

Potential Wildcards:

Bath, Loughborough, Oxford, St Andrews, Reading, Edinburgh

 

Group of Death:

Group C (Manchester, Huddersfield, UCL, St. Andrew’s, Oxford)

 

And that’s a wrap! Before you go to Nationals this weekend please take an extra moment to think about Ultimate and how we define ourselves:

“Spirit of the Game… highly competitive play is encouraged but never at the expense of mutual respect among competitors… or the basic joy of play.”

-USA Ultimate.

Spirit of the Game day has passed recently and it is imperative that all players representing their university at Nationals this weekend put an emphasis on spirit. It is what makes Ultimate so different to any other sport. Share constructive criticism, play hard and represent the sport well with mutual respect for all.

Thanks, and good luck!

Feature photo by Alberto Rossi

EYPOTY 2018 Results

EYPOTY, Mixed, Open, Womens

The votes are in and the 2018 European Young Players of the Year are SMOG’s Rachel Turton and Clapham’s Conrad Wilson. The pair both represented Great Britain at the World Under-24 Championships in Perth earlier this year – Rachel in the Mixed division and Conrad in the Men’s division – and represented their clubs at the World Ultimate Club Championships in Cincinnati.

UKU Nationals preview: Mixed division

Mixed, UKU Nationals

Sean Colfer has done a bumper preview on all three divisions. They’ll all be coming this evening as he gets (most of) his picks on record for everyone to criticise once they’re proved wrong. Here’s his view on the Mixed division.

Nationals is the culmination of the domestic season, the final act on a long slog that started in Cardiff what seems like a hundred years ago. After hosting the first iteration of the new format last season, Birmingham will again welcome the best 32 Open, Women’s and Mixed teams in the country to find out who’s best (even though we probably know) and who’s going to Poland to play Europe’s best.

Let’s get to the division-specific predictions.

UKU Nationals preview: Women’s division

UKU Nationals, Women's

Sean Colfer has done a bumper preview on all three divisions. They’ll all be coming this evening as he gets (most of) his picks on record for everyone to criticise once they’re proved wrong. Here’s his view on the Women’s division.

Nationals is the culmination of the domestic season, the final act on a long slog that started in Cardiff what seems like a hundred years ago. After hosting the first iteration of the new format last season, Birmingham will again welcome the best 32 Open, Women’s and Mixed teams in the country to find out who’s best (even though we probably know) and who’s going to Poland to play Europe’s best.

Let’s get to the division-specific predictions.

UKU Nationals preview: Open division

Open, UKU Nationals

Sean Colfer has done a bumper preview on all three divisions. They’ll all be coming this evening as he gets (most of) his picks on record for everyone to criticise once they’re proved wrong. Here’s his view on the Open division.

Nationals is the culmination of the domestic season, the final act on a long slog that started in Cardiff what seems like a hundred years ago. After hosting the first iteration of the new format last season, Birmingham will again welcome the best 32 open, women’s and mixed teams in the country to find out who’s best (even though we probably know) and who’s going to Poland to play Europe’s best.
Let’s get to the division-specific predictions.

Release the Spanish! Luci and Isa join the Eurostars tour

Eurostars, Previews

 Charlie Blair continues her previews of the upcoming Eurostars additions…

Thanks to Luci and Isa, Spain is the only nation to have more than one new player represented on Eurostars this year. This is a hugely significant achievement when you consider that the Spanish national teams do not sit with the usual European powerhouses such as Russia, France, Great Britain or Germany. Neither of these players headed out to Cincinatti for WUCC this year. However, this has allowed them the time to prioritise their training and more importantly, their on field connection for Eurostars having made a conscious effort to play together as much as possible this year since the roster was revealed. 

Ready to shine in America: Lasma Kublicka 

Eurostars

Charlie Blair introduces us to another Eurostar…

The second of my interviews with the new players joining the Eurostars tour this year was with Latvia’s Lasma Kublicka. And oh my days, what a pleasure it was! Anyone who has the fortune to chat with Lasma will have a spring in their step for the rest of the day because this lady’s enthusiasm is utterly infectious. Huddled in an echoey corridor as she takes half an hour to slip away from her office desk, we discuss her Ultimate journey and utter shock at being selected for the Eurostars roster.

Even though I’ve yet to have a chat with the rest of the squad, I’m already doubtful I will find a member of the team more excited to be part of this summer’s tour than Lasma. She explains that she only made the application on the day of the deadline, with only five hours left to put together her case for a place on the team. It was all thanks to Estonian frisbee player and friend of 15 years, Kristjan Loorits, who messaged her on Facebook with the link telling her simply “if you’re interested then send your application and see what happens.” While Lasma may have been completely shocked at her making the roster, it seems all those around her were not. After seeing the success of the Russian national team last year at WCBU and also Alisa Tizik making the Eurostars team, many of her teammates where asking why she wasn’t there too.