Sean Colfer presents his insight (with potential bias) and predictions going into the final weekend for the regular Mixed season.
Mixed Tour will come to a close for another year on Sunday evening, again in the sunny(ish) climes of Bishop’s Cleeve. As we prepare for the final event of the regular Mixed season, here’s a brisk look at what might happen.
Only the top eight can win this event given the slightly different seeding. Black Eagles maintain their split squads and are seeded a ludicrous-when-you-stop-and-think-about-it first and second. They have been the best teams so far and have brought both titles back north of the Wall. SMOG have finished second and third so far, so will be looking to add that elusive first title but face a tough group with Glasgow, who have already beaten one of the Black Eagles teams this season, and what appears to be the Canadian-infused phoenix of Royal Goaltimate Society, risen from the post-WUCC 2014 ashes. They’re the wild card here – it’s tough to know what to expect given that RGS went through two almost totally different iterations. Still, one qualified for Worlds and was stopped only by the historic run of Bear Cavalry and the other were a solid top 10 team who performed admirably in Lecco. Whoever they’ve got, they’ll be a challenge.
The other Black Eagles team will face Reading – who are seeded fourth but may not still be at full strength if past Tour 3 squads are anything to go by – Mighty Hucks and Deep Space. Both teams have been nothing if not consistent so far, with Hucks finishing fifth twice and Deep Space kicking off their inaugural season with ninth and seventh place finishes. They’ve both got talented, deep teams and could well present a challenge to both high-seeded teams. This seems like a very even pool.
Prediction: SMOG v GBWS final, with Mighty Hucks and Black Blackbirds in the third-place game.
The rest of (roughly) the top half
The GB under-24 teams are all in the 9-16 bracket, along with JR, Cambridge, Birmingham and returning teams Devon and TBC. These teams all seem to be quite level, although it will be interesting to see how Birmingham perform given that they’ve (finally and deservedly) been shifted up a bracket after dominating lower down the Tour for a couple of seasons. The top of this bracket will cross up, while the bottom will cross down, so there could well be some movement. Look for Devon and JR to be closely matched in trying to earn that slightly easier cross up, while it’s difficult to see anyone in TBC’s pool challenging them if they have the same squad that came 11th at Tour 1. Two GB teams in pool C could really throw a spanner in the works there if either team gels quickly.
The next bracket is the wide 17-32 one, with the top team in each of four pools getting an opportunity to cross into the top 16. Pools E and F should be relatively straightforward going by results at previous events; Brighton and Thundering Herd should have too much for the other teams in their pools, although the other three teams in pool E all seem to be on a similar level and the St Albans v Sheffield match in pool F will be competitive too. Pools G and H may be slightly more interesting, particularly with the local derby in pool H between Manchester and Black Sheep. Throw in a Flyght Club squad with some talented players and a Thundering Herd 2 team with their biggest squad of the year and it could be a very interesting four-way battle. Cosmic Manatees will have to overcome Guildford in pool G, as well as Bristol on pretty much their home turf.
Prediction: Brighton, Cosmic Manatees and both Herd teams (yes I’m biased, deal with it) will cross up.
The final bracket
The other 19 teams are split into four brackets, where there are some interesting teams to look at. BAF destroyed their seed at MT1, finishing 39th after starting out 55th, and so it’ll be fun to see where they end up. They join a York team that finished 34thand 30th, as well as Curve who finished 40th at MT1 after a fairly tight game with BAF.
Reading 2 are currently 25th in the Tour standings and have a pool that they should be able to do well in, although ABH are still suffering the after-effects of being stuck with a vastly underseeded BAF team in Cardiff. They could be the main challengers in pool J.
All of the opponents for South Wales Storm are new to this Tour season so I have no idea how that pool will go. The Brown routed Brixton in Cardiff but they played a much closer game in Durham – 15-6 became 10-7. At that rate of improvement I predict a six-point Brixton victory against seed.
Prediction: BAF, South Wales, ABH and Brixton cross up.
There’s your lot. We’ll have some more coverage of Mixed coming along pre-Nationals, so stay tuned. GB under-24 have a fun fantasy Ultimate competition going to raise funds for their trip – do get involved if you can. These energetic and infuriatingly optimistic people are the future of the game in the UK, after all.
Enjoy Cheltenham and, more importantly, Eurovision everyone!
Feature photo by Sam Mouat for the ShowGame.