James Burbidge looks back at 2013 from the Open division perspective.
Another year another national championship for Clapham, followed up by another European title. With their sights firmly set on Worlds, and a two-year plan in place, Clapham were a dominant force, even by their own standards. Aside from their obvious additions to the trophy shelf, one of the highlights of the year must have been a strong performance at the Chesapeake Invite where they narrowly missed out on a spot in the final, facing up all weekend against some of the toughest US club teams. You can read more about that weekend here.
|Clapham take the European title for the second year running. Photo courtesy of Get Horizontal.
Beyond the obvious however, Open ultimate in the UK was in a state of flux. With split Euro and World qualifications, Tour took on a significance perhaps greater than Nationals, and was made all the more complicated with the inclusion of the non-Tour-point-scoring GBu23s.
The result? Whilst Clapham and Chevy qualified for both Euros and Worlds, the remaining Worlds spot went to EMO – a team who failed to qualify for Euros behind Brighton, Devon, Fire and Ka-Pow. EMO’s strong performance at Tour (up 8 spots on 2012) comes despite internal fluctuation as their GB players (including captain Joe Wynder) rotated in and out of the squad. There is no doubt that a Worlds spot in the bank eased the sting of failing to qualify for Euros and that they’ve plenty to look forward to in 2014.
On the opposite side of the see-saw, Fire (1 at least) went through a difficult transition year, losing 9 experienced first team players, with new captains recruiting from far and wide. Whilst they finished a disappointing 7th at Tour, a Euro-qualifying 5th at Nationals and a strong performance at Euros (9th) will give them hope for the 2014 season.
Elsewhere, it seems promising that strong bubbles of Ultimate are forming away from London (and telephone teams). Manchester Ultimate had a strong season, capped perhaps by taking the Regional title over Chevron. Devon finally broke through as they have been promising to do for years, and a Euros spot is only going to encourage them. Meanwhile, despite rebranding, Brighton have quietly continued to go about their business, consistently producing upper-level ultimate (and players to be snapped up).
Further down, the bottom half of A-tour was in a more normal state of flux, and received opinion is that the top half of B-tour has become significantly stronger with a roughly equal bracket of 8 stretching between the two divisions. Flump’s charge up the rankings from C to A-tour (and Nationals) provided some seeding headaches for the competitions committee and it will be interesting to see where their season goes next year.
So whilst the top of the table remained stable, it seems that in 2013 anything beyond that was up for grabs – will this trend continue in 2014? Stay tuned, we’ll be taking a look shortly.
Watch out for James’ preview for 2014, here on theShowGame.