UKU Open Nationals 2013

Birmingham, Chevron, Clapham, Devon, Fire of London, Flump, Glasgow Ultimate, Open, Previews, Release, UKU Nationals

Josh Coxon Kelly previews the 2013 UK Open Nationals.

This weekend the 2013 UKU National Championships take place in Southampton and the tournament is more hyped than ever before. Even with the various controversies surrounding the Mixed and Women’s divisions, the culmination of a tumultuous domestic Open season is looking to be ripe for drama. The return of national players at this point in the season is a sure-fire way to add excitement to start. This year sees both World Games and u23 squad players bringing invaluable international experience to their clubs, who having grown in their absence will be further boosted by their superstar homecomings.


Reigning champions Clapham come into the tournament after a formidable performance against some of USA ultimate’s best at the Chesapeake Invite. With the World Club Championships around the corner the pressure to retain both National and European titles will be sky high, and central players from both World Games and u23 will need to keep their focus in a busy season to retain the title.


However with the rise of EMO and the fall of Fire 1 at open tour, and numerous unexpected results from the UKU regional series Nationals has truly been blown wide open compared to the relatively predictable tournaments of the past. Manchester will feel hard done by with their route after clinching a shocker upset against Chevron in the northern region, and will be looking to get a W against opening matchup Fire 2 to give themselves another shot at the Ron. With the wound of last season’s semi-final loss at the hands of Fire 1 still fresh, Chevron will be looking to show that they can rise all the way to the top amidst a fierce club scene.


Also lined up on this side of the draw is a potential quarter final matchup between midlands geoowerhouse EMO and Fire 1. Fire have historic experience at this level but despite having had a less than smooth season will still be favourites against a promising but still-fresh Glasgow team. Unless Release can snag a considerable giant killing, Fire will face a hungry young EMO squad that relishes in the strength of their (so-far!) ‘unknown’ players who have been making big plays on the complacent from any club all year. With some hot tempers on each side, and larger implications of European and Worlds qualifications overhanging victory this could be one of the games of the tournament.
Defending Champions Clapham at last years Nationals. Photo Courtesy of Andrew Moss.


In the top half of the draw Kapow! and Brighton are en-route to a quarter final clash, although it is difficult to see either team stand in the way of Clapham’s route to the final. However – the knockout structure of Nationals is perfect for upsets, and the clarity of the structure will favour the underdogs, as the ever-elusive ‘scalping’ suddenly has huge implications. The continued shift of importance onto Nationals over tour as a priority for UK Open clubs combines with the exposed structure to create a tournament brimming with excitement and competition. With streaming, live scores, an ever vibrant twitter presence and even a wonderfully simple fantasy competition Open nationals 2013 is set to be a stormer across the board.

The ShowGame got in touch with each of the team captains for a few of their own words approaching the tournament – maybe time for a few last changes to that fantasy 7?…

1. Clapham Ultimate Marc Guilbert:

Describe your team philosophy and playing style:  

Make Clapham practice the best game in Europe.

What finishing place are you aiming for?  
We aim to win nationals and retain the title.

Who makes the big plays on your team?  
Everyone contributes to our plays. We don’t try to build our club around superstars, we rather have depth and build victories together. That said, our captains Justin Foord and Richard Harris continue to be huge playmakers for us.



2. Manchester Dale Walker:
Describe your team philosophy and playing style:

Our philosophy is to enjoy playing. A few of us had come from teams where fun was neglected for performance, or performance was neglected for fun. We’ve struck a good balance between combining the competitive elements of our squad without losing the joy of something that is essentially a really expensive hobby.
Our playing style is quite loose. We have a few structures and set plays with some heavy Chevron influences (our squad trains closely with Chevron players and has a few Chevron alumni) but we also incorporate our own ideas from the experiences of some of our senior statesmen. You may see some EMO, Chevron & LLL ideas from years gone amalgamate into one.
What finishing place are you aiming for?
We set our goal this season of making top 8. We came ever so close in Tour with 2 sudden death losses at T3 to KaPow! & Ranelagh, and we have a great opportunity to do so at Nationals. We’d love to make xEUCF, but we’re not hung up on it – if we play well and stay in every game we’ll be happy with our weekend, if we make Europeans we’ll be ecstatic.


Who makes the big plays on your team?

We’ve got a great balance between playmakers and solid contributors. Expect to see big things from Santiago Zuluaga, Nick Smith & Adam Irving on offence, with Ewen Buckling & Ben Brierley keeping our D line in the mix. We’ve found all year that our lesser known guys are becoming our main bread winners – an unintended element of surprise but it’s worked to our favour.


3. EMOJoe Wynder:
Describe your team philosophy and playing style: 

Our playing style is aggressive and athletic! Team philosophy is believing in ourselves and working for your teammates.

Who makes the big plays on your team?
Offence play makers would likely be myself, Galey and Tom Fox.
Defence play makers would likely be Rollo Sax-Dixon (Birmingham University) and Liam Cockerill. Our D line works really well together as a unit. Pretty much everyone contributes and offers skills in different areas.


4. Brighton CityFelix Shardlow:
Describe your team philosophy and playing style: 
Brighton City play a newly developed offence which is fluid, balanced and organic, using the space on the field in a different and unique way compared to other offences. On defence we bring variety to the table, playing man-to-man and tight junk zone and anything and everything in between.

What finishing place are you aiming for?
We know we are capable of finishing in the top 3 this weekend, but there will be some tough battles along the way, in particular the quarter against KaPow! will be huge as that game means so much for both teams.

Who makes the big plays on your team?

Keep an eye out for running machine Roach making a return for the end of the season, Robbie Haines getting multiple crucial layout D’s, and Hayden Slaughter 3000 continuing to surprise everybody all over the field.



5. KaPow!David Pichler:
Describe your team philosophy and playing style: 

Philosophy is to strive to improve as players in everything we do and to push our boundaries at training. This creates quite a loose and free playing style. We’ve worked a lot on cleaning it up when we get bogged down.
What finishing place are you aiming for?
We don’t focus on results but on our performance. If we perform the way we want then the results will follow
Who makes the big plays on your team?
Fred Shone and Will Martin are playing very well on Offense. Defensively Jake Warren is capable of big plays, and our Portuguese connection of Pedro Vargas and David Pimenta is always fun to watch. Also, watch out for Simon Dathan on our D line. He can lock down the very best cutters and handlers any team has



6. Fire 1Alex Cragg:

Describe your team philosophy and playing style:
Going into Nationals it’s all about having no mercy and not giving the opposition a chance at the disc. It’s going to be all guns blazing on D, and considered and concise on O.

What are you aiming for in terms of finishing place?
A spot in the final.

Who makes the big plays on your team?
We try to encourage people not to feel like they need to make big plays. It’s more about the team scoring or getting a block than any individual brilliance. I’m sure the Fantasy Ultimate world wants to see Parslow rack up some stats though..



7. FlumpHam Roushanzamir:

Describe your team philosophy and playing style:

Flump is all about having fun and developing as an ultimate player. Each player is a big part of the club and everyone is always improving no matter what their experience. Unlike other clubs who focus on drills and running track to improve, we predominantly use board games to increase our team’s confidence and boost team strategy. You should see how much a player’s character builds after winning a game of Resistance. The lessons learnt are priceless.

What are you aiming for in terms of finishing place?
At Tour 1 we were seeded 42nd (middle of C Tour), we have risen all season and are entering Nationals seeded 7th.

If we continue at the current rate of improvement then it’s looking like we will finish 1st at Nationals.


Who makes the big plays on your team?
Joe Minns


8. DevonSamuel Luxa

Still awaiting answers… get in touch or comment below!



9. ReadingGraham Byford

Describe your team philosophy and playing style:
Our philosophy/style is to keep it simple and make the right decisions.

What are you aiming for in terms of finishing place?
We are aiming for top 12 – anything more than that would be a great success for us.


Who makes the big plays on your team?
I wouldn’t like to single out anyone as a big play maker, we have a number of players capable of big things!



10. ChevronJames Jackson:

Describe your team philosophy and playing style:

As I’m sure most people are aware, Chevron’s philosophy has always been to play at the top level with friends and like-minded people, rather than just cherry-picking based on ability. This translates into our playing style which is designed to allow creativity and freedom on offence – we try not to put strict patterns in place, but play by certain principles that allow us greater freedom. 
At times this does have drawbacks, when the team isn’t firing we can’t just fall back on basic, strict cutting patterns, but on the other hand when things click it is unstoppable and you see some amazing things coming out of it.

What are you aiming for in terms of finishing place?
In terms of finishing place, we are always aiming to win. In recent seasons this has been an objective target for the season, however we have found that focusing on the end result of a tournament can distract attention from playing the team that is in front of you earlier on. This year we made our main target just playing and training together as a team more. It is going well so far despite the result at Northern Regionals, and we hope the results will come naturally out of this, rather than the finishing position being the target itself.

Who makes the big plays on your team?

The team is full of players who make huge plays on a consistent basis. On offence, Richard Coward has become a huge asset, who has added great assisting throws to his deep game making him a danger in both directions. Sam Bowen has moved over to offence this year, he is capable of doing some amazing things and now just needs to prove his consistency. We’re also looking forward to Ollie Gordon coming back from his World Games preparations. On defence, Matt Beavan seems to have regressed (or progressed) back to his former teenage-self and has been getting huge fly-by blocks all season, and blasting pitch-length hucks from his own endzone. Our younger D players are a lot more experienced now than a couple of years ago, so guys like Tom Cartwright and Jake Aspin are becoming much more dangerous with the disc after getting the turns.
Though the team is full of individuals who can do some unbelievable things, the biggest strength is definitely in the team as a whole, our sideline will always have injured players on because they don’t want to stay at home.



11. GlasgowPhillip Webb:

Describe your team philosophy and playing style:
Offence possession, Defence aggression.

What are you aiming for in terms of finishing place?
We set out this year to establish another competitive team in Scotland and encourage participation at tour. Everything beyond that has been a bonus but we don’t see the point in stopping yet. xEUCF qualification is a step too far for now but outside of that we back ourselves against anyone on the day, we’ve surprised a few teams this year with our inability to know when we’re beaten.

Who makes the big plays on your team?
We’re a small squad so everyone know’s there are no passengers on the team and that’s the way we like to play. Everyone gives their all and we win or lose as a team.


12. EMO 2Joe Wynder:

Describe your team philosophy and playing style:
Playing style is Calm and Collected on offence, with battling and graft on Defence
Team Philosophy is working together and hard graft.

Who makes the big plays on your team?
Offence will be run by Veterans Ian Scotland and Matt Stead
Defence Phil Brunson and Nelson Chan both have the ability to make athletic plays.
Just like the first team all of them contribute and work hard for each other, especially as they have such a small squad size.



13.  BirminghamBen Kings:
Describe your team philosophy and playing style:

We are a relatively new club and this is our first season so I’m not sure if we have a team philosophy yet. We are just happy to get a chance to have a pop at the big guns.

We like to play quite a fast flowing game, and are happy to throw the disc around until we can get a big ol’huck off. 

Who makes the big plays on your team?
I think we will be pretty happy if we can get into the top 12, but satisfied if we can hold seed.


Who makes the big plays on your team?
Main plays are likely to come from Marius Hutcheson throwing to anyone of our cutters. Though you can expect Carl Bullingham to get on the score sheet often and some big layout D’s from Matt Seabrook.



14. ReleaseBrendan Thorne:
Describe your team philosophy and playing style:

Our philosophy this year has been to go out and enjoy each tour and develop our younger players, this lack of pressure has allowed us to improve as a team and culminated in a great result at Regionals to make it to Nationals. We are currently using a combination of the playing style the Release has used for the last few years and the tactics and experience many of us gained from Brummie whilst playing with Wessex last year. We’re a team that always looks to take long shots when they’re on (and often when they’re not).
What are you aiming for in terms of finishing place?
I think a realistic aim for us would be to win out in the round robin to take 13th, whilst playing hard to cause an upset and make to top 12 if the right opportunity presents itself. We are going in as the lowest ranked team based on the tour rankings so hopefully this lack of pressure combined with home advantage will make us a potentially awkward match-up.
Who makes the big plays on your team?
Our star cutter this year has been Peter ‘Special’ Wigfield who has made a great comeback from injury, his combination of speed and positioning makes him very dangerous up pitch. On the disc the main threats are the Wessex returnees Simon ‘Tugs’ Yorath, who is always chilly on the disc and very effective against zones, and Alex Lusby-Taylor, who is known for his flair throws and coming up with the unexpected.

15. Fire 2Tim Burton:
Describe your team philosophy and playing style:
Team philosophy is play hard, have fun. We maintain an individual style from our first team, but still work hard on being quick and aggressive on our man defence, and a calm, quick offence.

What are you aiming for in terms of finishing place?
We want to make the semi’s at the very least, we have the capability to get there. Top 4 is the aim.


Who makes the big plays on your team?
Stephan Lewis makes the big grabs in the end zone, Tom Summerbee holding the team together with his breaks, and David Pryce in the middle linking them all up.


16. Burro ElectricoJames Burbidge
Describe your team philosophy and playing style:
Burro plays from a fairly structured horizontal stack and likes to break the mark on offense. Defensively we rely on a solid man offense with a variety of zone looks thrown in to spice things up.
What are you aiming for in terms of finishing place?
Given our late and fortuitous entry to Nationals Burro has lost a few players to other activities (family, holidays etc) and those we have left haven’t been training. We’ve managed to reload the squad to a decent size, but expect a certain amount of gelling to have to take place over the weekend. We don’t have an eye on any particular finishing place, but we play our best ultimate when the pressure’s off. Whoever we’ve got first up should watch out.
Who makes the big plays on your team?
If it’s big players you’re looking for they don’t come much taller than ex-ABH mixed player Spoon (Matt Thomas) whose 6’7″ or something thereabouts. Gary Hall has deadly breaks and Dan Ryan combines height, speed, Black-Tide-aggression and a UK discgolf championship in one nasty package.

Time to see what you got! Comment, follow, share as usual! JCK @ tSG.

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