Sean Colfer and Jordan Brown take on the Mixed Tour 3 preview.
This preview has been split into two parts in an attempt to be more egalitarian and cover as much of the Tour as possible. Sean will be covering the top eight, and what might happen there, while Jordan will be looking at the levels below.
SEAN: MT2 somewhat salvaged my reputation as a prognosticator. JR won the event (thankfully, given our coverage in the last preview), and five of my predicted top eight finished in that bracket, while the other three were 9th, 10th and 12th (and the team I would have predicted 9th finished 11th). The three teams that crashed the party were the again under-seeded Sublumni, who will not be at MT3 but completed their season with an impressive leap up the Tour from 28th to 7th, and MT1 absentees Devon and HEX, who have been rewarded for their fine debut showings with 4th and 6th seeds in Cheltenham respectively.
The top eight does not hold a great deal of intrigue in terms of final Tour standings this weekend. JR have almost certainly won the overall Tour title, unless they tumble outside of the top five. Black Eagles will not attend and so cannot snatch second place from Brighton, while Mighty Hucks are pretty entrenched behind them in fourth. Fifth place is up for grabs, though, with Herd holding a narrow lead on both SMOG and Reading, who are level sixth.
JR will face Mighty Hucks, HEX and SMOG in their pool, with the top two going straight to semi-finals. In the other top eight pool, Brighton are facing Devon, Reading and Thundering Herd. Hucks will have their biggest squad of the season but if SMOG get their full squad back together they could prove a tough foe. Between the two teams, HEX and SMOG have most of the GB under-23 Mixed team, so both have a lot of talented athletes. Hucks will be relying on their strong long game, led by ex-EMO, now-Chevron receiver Rollo Sax Dixon, to take both teams and JR down. Devon are young, athletic and tall and will fancy themselves to build on a strong MT2, but Reading played well in Salford and will be itching to return to the semis after an uneven season. Herd will again go through some changes with their squad but will bring a lot of bodies and a disciplined approach to try and counter the strong long games of the other teams in the pool.
I predict little movement in and out of the top eight at this Tour, but there could be some changes in the order:
4. Mighty Hucks
6. Thundering Herd
JORDAN: After JR cashed the cheque written in the MT2 preview, they’ve now all but won the Mixed Tour title and with it the greatest sporting triumph the city of Leicester* has ever known. While the first team are basking in the glory of winning in Salford, their seconds finished MT2 by climbing into the top 20 and will be looking to capitalise on that momentum to usurp Thundering Herd 2 as the best second team in the country, should they get the chance.
The 9-16 bracket features a few teams that are no strangers to the top eight – namely Glasgow, Cambridge 1 and BAM!, all of whom have performed well this season. It’s definitely going to be a scrappy affair to finish at the top of the bracket, and while any of these teams are easily good enough to compete at the top, the one to watch is Schweffes. Captained by Chevron stalwart Josh Kyme, the Bristol-based team bulldozed their way through MT2 and went undefeated, so they’ll be a force to be reckoned with as they aim to climb even higher in Bishop’s Cleeve. Special mention has to go to ABH Alpha, who have clearly put in the effort at training throughout the year. The London team climbed into the top 16 in Salford, before taking down Herd 2 in sudden-death in their final game. Birmingham might have been expected to enter two teams into their most local Mixed Tour event, however the absence of a second team could mean Brum have a weaker side for the final leg. Still, as long as they have regulars such as Marius Hutcheson and Ben Kings on board, they’ll remain a threat to anyone else in the 9-16 bracket.
In the the 17-32 section, you’d expect to see Guildford 1 play well (after they performed well at MT1 and stayed afloat in Salford, dispatching both Bristol and Manchester), and it’ll be interesting to see how they get on. Speaking of Bristol, they didn’t have a particularly fantastic weekend up North as they lost every game to finish 20th – their weaker squad this season is undoubtedly down to the formation of TBC. With the new team featuring many of Bristol Mixed’s former first-teamers (including Rich Coward, Mark Davin, Jen Hart and Bridget Brown to name a few), they’ll be looking strong in the 9-16 while Bristol Mixed could have a rough time ahead.
Also in this bracket, it’s worth noting that the strong performances of Black Sheep 1 and PAF & City at MT2 saw those teams finish way above their seedings, so they’re going to want to capitalise on that momentum as they go in to MT3 at 20th and 21st respectively.
Shakedown dropped to 24th seed after a less-than-stellar showing at MT2, but with a good record in Cheltenham, they’ll aim to push up. Brighton Hurricanes, Mustard and Flyght Club should also enter strong squads and are fairly likely candidates to finish above their seeding. The newly-formed South Wales Storm will return after missing MT2. Under the tutelage of Dave Tyler, the club are going to be more than capable of causing a few upsets and are undoubtedly one to watch over the coming years.
Lower down the table, it’s likely to be the battle of the second teams but there are a number of first teams and newer clubs scrapping their way through. Reading University have entered the event in addition to the two Reading Ultimate squads in attendance. Sheffield Steal and The Brown will surely keep things interesting in their bracket too. With bags of experience at Mixed Tour, both clubs are more than capable of taking down opponents that underestimate them.
Plymouth University’s Pic ‘n’ Mix also return after an absence at MT2. Featuring a strong squad that have played together years including Lauren Yeo, Ben Black and Sophie Cadwgan, they caused a fair few upsets back in Cardiff and will surely aim to turn a few more heads this weekend.
While it’s tough to predict where teams are going to finish, I think the teams most likely to be pushing up the table are Schweffes, Glasgow, TBC, Shakedown (slightly biased, I know), Mustard and Storm. However, with tons of great teams looking to make a mockery of my predictions this weekend, I’m sure I’ll have to wipe some egg off my face at some point.
*ED: we have been informed that JR does not originate from Leicester although many of their player did go to the university but they also attract players from all over the midlands and UK.
Featured image by Serena de Nahlik for the ShowGame.