UKU Open Tour 2: A Tour plus B Tour south

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David “DP” Pryce brings you his outlook on the top two Mens’ divisions in Cardiff this coming weekend.

With Tour “this is why I don’t make predictions” 1, Windmill and a very exciting WCBU out of the way, we move back to the rest of the regular UK season. Next up is what has become a staple of the calendar: Cardiff.

The changes we discussed last time are now in effect and so I will cover the top 16 A Tour plus some mention of the next 16 in B Tour South.

Clapham are yet again splitting their squad, and their A team will face some stiff opposition come Saturday in the form of their recent vanquishers Reading, the ever-present Chevron Action Flash and young (but impressive) upstarts Ireland U24. Questions around them being taken down by Reading again can be kept at bay though, as even with a few hiccups at Windmill (some close games against ERIC and Freespeed in Swiss format) they brought home more silverware. They will have only learnt and gelled more from their outing in Nottingham. The split squad might hinder that cohesion but I have faith that they will come out firing, although none of their opponents are going to simply sit there and let them take the games. The aura of invincibility has been diminished slightly and all three teams will be aiming to tarnish it further.

 

In the next top eight pool, Clapham 1 have moved a few players around with their U24s returning and are set for a very tasty second game in their pool versus WindFarm finalists EMO. The midlanders will still be travelling to Cardiff with a spring in their step from Nottingham but maybe slightly dampened by a below-average Windmill performance. In all fairness I think this was down to numbers and too many close games in the Swiss format, so I hope they can see that as a small bump and show us what they’re really made of. Don’t discount Glasgow or Devon who will, as ever, bring athleticism and truly slick Ultimate and could easily snatch a scalp in this pool.

 

Pool C has quite a mixed bag. Brighton City have a lot of work to do to try and ensure they don’t actually go down to B Tour (kept up by Bad Skid’s departure) but their nearest competition, Flump, are not going to make it easy. You would argue that the top spots in the pool though would lie between GB U23 Darwin and Fire 1. Fire will hope to take the pool, improving on their pretty awful Tour 1 performance with a good showing at Windmill. They finished in the top eight in Amsterdam, defeating European powerhouses Heidees on the way. However with most of the ex-Portsmouth players missing due to a stag do, numbers might be the factor that once more holds back their regular season results. The GB U24 teams have caused upsets in the past, including in Nottingham, but having not seen them yet this year I can’t be sure whether their youthful exuberance will get the better of them or will help them muscle past Brighton, Flump and Fire and onto the top eight.

 

The final A Tour pool promises some gems. Manchester will want a strong hold at top of the pool but the GB U24 Brisbane team will make it hard. SMOG and KaPow! are two of the many teams who have clearly been affected by players focussing on Mixed this year, so I can’t see them challenging for top of the pool. This pool might be fairly transparent but I think it could also be the closest of the pools. Expect a three way tie or similar.

Reading taking down half of the Windmill Champions 2017 at WindFarm. Photo by Sam Mouat.

It can be a struggle to find contributors and with an extra “division” this task has suddenly become a lot harder. However, for Tour 3 we should have a North and South writer and hopefully a C Tour one too. For now I will give my brief outlook on the next four pools in B South.

 

E: Clash of GB and Irish Juniors will be a great watch and with the senior teams taking chunks out of each other in last few meetings (Ireland beat GB/Clapham at WCBU and Windmill 2016) this could get feisty. BAF and Devon 2 round out this pool and the battle for the South West will complement the national teams’ fight. For those who follow Devon on Facebook, I hope you have enjoyed their recent team-sheet releases. All I know is that there is potential for localised flooding, but will age conquer youth here? #ismerrickSTILLplaying?

 

F: The pool of B teams. Brighton Legends will make every game spicy but can Birmingham hang with this hammer happy bunch without Marius Hutcheson? Bristol 2 and Camden (I know it starts with a C, there’s always one) will probably fight out for third in this pool.

 

G: Totally biased, Fire 2 will smash it and win B Tour South, regardless of what JRX, Bristol 1 or Red Leicester have to say. But Bristol or JRX probably have the best chance of knocking off the true legends of this pool. Red Leicester may have a shot at upsetting JRX, who will be bringing another Mixed focussed team. But, Fire 2 though.

 

H: Purple Cobras stormed up the ranks last time round winning all their games and on the way taking down Helix (in their pool here) 15 – 4. Unless EMO 2 or Cloud City can get in the way of this team I think we have a pool winner and potential finalist for Fire 2 to beat. An upset isn’t off the cards though, since Cloud City took down Brighton Legends in their final WindFarm game. As the great Bryan Jones (Skyd/WFDF commentator, USA Beach Open and PoNY Coach) once said: expect the unexpected!

 

No predictions, because Sean’s Tour 1 ones went so badly. Good luck to everyone, and make sure you pack both brollies and sun cream. Trust me.

[Ed note: fine I’ll do some more – Clapham A, Clapham 1, Chevron, EMO, Glasgow, Reading, Fire, Manchester, Devon, Ireland U24. I think Fire 2 win B Tour, as much as it pains me to agree with DP.]

 Featured photo by Sam Mouat.

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