Glasgow, starting second bottom in group F began the day with a 15-8 win over second seeded Freakshow from Singapore. This made things exciting. Sesquidistus, from France and also in this pool showed their hand at Windmill, and were known to be beatable by the Scots. The french pushed the pool leaders Crash to 15-13 in the first round of play, which altogether rendered Glasgow’s upcoming matchup as surprisingly human despite both the high seeding maple leaf next to their name. Whilst all Canadian and North American teams undeniably arrive with inherited respect at WUCC – a hand up before the game has even started – the narratives of this pool were starting to look like things might not be so simple, and Glasgow would have a decent chance.
Josh Coxon Kelly completes the Women’s WUCC previews with a look at SYC.
How did they get here?
Formed in 2010, SYC began challenging at a high level from their inception. They narrowly missed out on WUCC 2014 by losing a positioning game, and therefore the final remaining UK bid, to Nice Bristols at EUCF 2013.
Josh Coxon Kelly continues our previews with Glasgow, competing in the mixed division at WUCC.
How did they get here?
Glasgow Ultimate weren’t visible in their current guise at the last WUCC, but this team has its genesis as far back as the previous cycle, 2010. Originally formed with the aim of being an umbrella for Glasgow based teams, Glasgow Ultimate has grown as a scene and in terms of results since its inception (for an excellent and detailed insight into their journey, see this series of articles on the subject). After crashing out of Mixed Nationals in the semis last year, and losing guaranteed qualification (as well as the first of any extra bids), the team found itself on the way to Cincinatti when UK landed its second additional mixed WUCC bid.
How has this season been?
One of their strongest so far, if not the best, notching wins against Reading, SMOG and Black Eagles across the season, with the latter coming in a thrilling early tournament match-up at Mixed Tour 3 which saw Glasgow come out on top (although Eagles returned the favour in the final). The strong performance of their second team, particularly at Mixed Tour 2, shows that there is a considerable amount of depth in the scene to draw from.
Windmill was a good showing with many close games, including a 10-8 loss to eventual finalists Salaspils. They finished above SMOG by a single place, placing 11th and very narrowly missing out on the quarters – all of which suggests we haven’t seen their best yet.
How do they play?
Not unlike their local rivals Black Eagles, Glasgow bring a combination of tight match defense and an aggressive, huck-happy offense – they’re unafraid to utilise their athleticism on both sides of the disc.
Often looking for isolation plays as a first move, they will also look to make use of aggressive handler plays leading to power position hucks.
Can you give me three players to watch?
Katie brings International experience from the GB under-24 campaign earlier this year, as well as plenty of GB undder-20 trips, and will bring an aggressive and athletic handling game to the team.
Phil has been a core offensive feature of Scottish Ultimate since the early days, and will be crucial to maintaining possession whilst also leading the team’s assists.
Rory provides additional firepower, and in Webb’s own words his throwing ‘has hit form’ ahead of Cincinatti. He’ll often be the one looking to hit the aggressive shots downfield.
How are they going to do?
Glasgow can peak as high as any UK team attending, but relative inexperience on this stage may cause issues later into the tournament. There are a fair few unknown quantities (to me, at least) in their pool, but they beat Sesquidistus at Windmill and a third place finish and progression into top 32 looks attainable. I predict they’ll comfortably beat their 38th seeding and finish somewhere close to 24th. That said, if a team looks the wrong way before then there’s every chance that they sneak higher.
Charlie Blair interviews a new joiner for this year’s Eurostars Tour
The first of my interviews with the new players joining Eurostars this year has been weeks in the making, with Yanni and I exchanging email after email trying to find a window to coordinate. It didn’t surprise me that this would be difficult, knowing how much preparation she must be doing for both Worlds and this summer’s tour. However, while rising for the 7:30am chat on a Wednesday morning made me realise that my own breakfast radio show is an infeasible reality, I was also left blushing in my PJs when Yanni told me she started her day at 5:15am!
Yanni was actually meant to be part of the Eurostars tour last year but sadly had to pull out at the last minute due to injury. To add irony to heartbreak, she recalls that “surgery was on the day my flight was meant to leave for America”. It was a devastating set back for the German national, now based in Bern. Having played for over a decade for both national teams and elite European clubs, Yanni had always dreamed of playing stateside.
“I’m so, so happy I got the chance to do it again because it was a dream come true. I always wanted to go to America and play there but could never do with studies and being self employed, I have no time to take out a few months. This was THE chance to go out there and play some of the best teams in the world.”
The significance of the Eurostars tour is not lost on Yanni at all, who notes the huge impact she has seen it have on both men and women after just its first year.
“I’m hearing lots of things,” she tells me. “Already I know people are excited to watch these games again. It’s always nice to go to tournaments and have people tell me how awesome this is. And the younger players really like to watch these games. On YouTube, you find so many really good men’s games, or US teams vs US teams, but not much of European players competing at this level. It’s great to have people coming up to you and being an idol, but I also hear men talking about it and appreciating women’s ultimate being pushed to grow and develop.”
With the women’s scene in Europe now more competitive than ever, we have been treated to some phenomenal games of late. Last weekend’s Windmill Windup was full of close games with only one or two points often making the difference. However, most significant for Yanni were last year’s beach finals, where Russia took a dramatic win over the USA: “It was the best final. Last year the men also said the women’s finals were better to watch. Even if the guys are more athletic and faster, if a game ends 15-7 it’s not as good as a game ending on universe point.”
So as we chat more about her desperately not wanting to let the Eurostars opportunity slip away, it becomes strikingly clear that Yanni is somebody who is absolutely defiant in the face of adversity and has utter faith in her determination and intelligence to overcome it. Having gone to the doctors with discomfort in her knee last year just before the tour was set to kick off, she learned that her meniscus had torn out of the bone completely and was told, “if you play now, you will never do sports again.” She was also advised to change her sport, now that she has had two major surgeries on the same knee in the last four years.
However, Yanni is an athlete through and through. She competed in high level gymnastics from an early age and was always utterly resistant to any other way of life. When back problems ended her gymnastics career at the tender age of thirteen, her doctor suggested she take up hobbies like music. Yanni jokingly recalls scoffing at even the idea. That was not her calling – it was sport. She’d already told her mum by first grade she would study sports. And from the age of sixteen she knew that frisbee was always more important that anything else.
Yanni has thus fiercely fought her way back to recovery. She says it’s fortunate that, being a sports scientist and personal trainer herself, she knows how to train. But I can appreciate how important (and astute) of her it was to recognise, at a young age, that she needed to empower herself to ensure she could always do the thing she loves. She can now directly use the knowledge and flexibility of her profession to facilitate her own personal goals as an athlete. Moreover, she has essentially rehabilitated herself in defiance of the doctor’s orders to come back from injury in order to participate in this years Eurostars.
“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, but now it’s been two months since fully back on the field and it’s feeling good.”
If Yanni’s determination off the field is anything to go by then she will undoubtedly be a huge asset to the Eurostars on the field.
There is a self-assuredness that comes across when I talk to Yanni about her game. And it’s well justified – she knows how much work she puts in. Having come from an individual sport she understands what a solid foundation this is for one’s mental game and has invested in strengthening her teammates on any team she is on.
A typical day would involve her coaching early morning, and mid-morning and afternoon trainings. The flexibility her job offers also allows her to fit in two of her own personal training sessions in a lunchtime and in the evening. Better still, she has cultivated a loving fanbase among her clients who are always willing to be flexible for her if ever she needs to go off to tournaments. So loving in fact, that not only do they sometimes come to watch her play, but some have taken up the sport themselves!
So when it comes to stepping on the field, Yanni knows she’s put in all the work that she possibly could have. She’s also got over a decade’s worth of high level play under her belt having hit the international scene way back in Vancouver 2008 with the German Mixed national team. Since then she has played every major international or European tournament for both club and country to date. This year, she is playing with and coaching the FAB squad heading for Cincinnati in the coming weeks.
She hopes that she will be able to flourish on the Eurostars squad just as much as she did with the German national team who took home the victory at Windmill in 2015. For Yanni, this was a team in which she could really hit her stride. “I could play what I play, and do what I could do best,” she recalls. This tournament showcased her prowess upfield, either as a deep receiver or coming back under to put up the hucks. For years, she has been a dominant force in the air on the European women’s scene and it is clear that Yanni’s confident reads of the disc are a result of her backing herself entirely: “I’m pretty motivated and I know how to fight, I will never give up on anything.”
So what more could you want from a fellow teammate? Oh yeah, maybe someone whose profession is to see that people can push way more than they ever think they can. An aerial boss and the ultimate sideline. Check. You’re gonna struggle to top Yanni’s expert hollering. Watch out ‘Murica.
With B Tour North taking some teams away, the middle section in Cardiff is severely diminished. C Tour is also only four pools, much smaller than usual, so this preview shouldn’t be too long at all.
Cloud City suffered two close losses to the villainous Gravity and the contemptible Leeds before heroically triumphing in the rest of their games at Tour 1. (No comment on who I’ll be playing with.) They top B Tour here, and their reward is a pool against Devon 2, who struggled in B Tour in Nottingham and fellow Devonians ExeTour, who won C Tour last time out, and Brighton Gritty Legends. Gritty faced Cloud twice at T1 and lost both times by a few, but the addition of the word ‘Legends’ gives me pause. Brighton Legends were an A Tour-level team for some time over the past few years and have the kind of throwing know-how and experience to trouble anyone. The pool at first blush looks straightforward at the top with some interesting battles lower down, but Brighton could delight in throwing a spanner in those works.
The other B Tour pool will see EMO 2 fight to maintain their position against Vision, Leamington Lemmings and Red. Red will be pleased to have a shot against their local rivals EMO but will need a lot to go their way to have a shot in that game. They could, however, have a very interesting game against Leamington since the teams finished next to each other at T1, Lemmings in 36th and Red in 37th. Vision had a tough time in Nottingham, finishing second to last in B Tour, but they should feel confident in finishing at least second in this pool.
These pools will all cross, the top two up and the bottom two down. Cloud and the second placed team in that pool will likely play Camden and Bristol respectively, while EMO 2 and Vision should probably play Reading 2 and Birmingham (according to my A Tour predictions, anyway, so make of that what you will). I feel good about Cloud’s chances there, and EMO 2 v Reading 2 would be fascinating in that situation.
B Tour is more of a seedings stage in this Tour, with the crossing meaning the Tour structure of years past has disappeared. The quality looks lower than it has in the past here too, but hopefully we see some interesting results and games regardless.
- Cloud City
- EMO 2
- Devon 2
- Leamington Lemmings
That leaves us with C Tour. Bristol 2 are the top seeds here but are coming off a winless Tour 1, so are not in the best of form. Cambridge, on the other hand, lost in sudden death to Flyght Club (who ended up in B Tour) but won every other game. Their final win was over Plymouth, who top another pool in C Tour, and both finished just ahead of Kent who are the top seed in the final pool. Brixton were a tip I made before the last Tour but they lost a crossover to YOpen and are now seeded below Plymouth despite topping them in the pool. The GB Juniors are in with Bristol 2 and will be intriguing to watch as they usually contain excellent talent but combined with relatively little experience so can find it tough against teams with veteran players who know how to grind out result. The Cambridge v Brixton and Bristol 2 v GB U20s are probably the games that matter here to see who gets to cross up against the B Tour teams, but I wouldn’t be confident that any of these teams would win those crossovers – the best chance probably comes in the 24v25 game, but I’d fancy Lemmings to beat GB U20s.
- GB U20s
- Bristol 2
- Cloud 2
- South Wales Storm
- Reading 3
- Sharbear! 1
- St. Albans
- Sharkbear! 2
- South Wales Storm 2
Cardiff will be the centre of the UK Ultimate universe for the second time this season over the weekend, with Open and Women’s teams from across the country making the trip to Wales. There are several missing teams though, and this time it’s not just because I forgot to mention them.
Let’s start, then, with the absentees. The Team Who Shall Not Be Named-ron are training this weekend ahead of Windmill in a week’s time, something they’re targeting as a key part of Worlds build up given the plethora of high-quality European teams they can pit themselves against. They played really well in Nottingham, suffering only one loss to Clapham’s D line in the 1v3 crossover on Saturday evening – and even that was in sudden death. They’ve integrated a couple of young players into vital roles over the last couple of years and now seem to be in a really good spot – Seb Allen made some crucial plays in the final, as did Dec Cartwright and others. They’ve moved a few people around too, with Rollo Sax Dixon moving over to add an additional deep threat on the O line and Cartwright offering some calm to the D line, and the addition of former EMO captain Joe Wynder to their O line handling group has given the team a new dimension – they attacked the deep space aggressively and made some big plays at crucial moments. Wynder and Ben Burak both played a D point in an important situation in the final, too, so there’s some versatility there if needed. They still have room to grow for sure but given that they’re starting from a pretty high point that’s a good place to be in.
The Irish teams are both staying away from Cardiff, with Ranelagh also going to Windmill. Both teams played well in Nottingham but the Dubliners were clearly a step ahead of their rivals, the Laghds winning 14-9 in the head-to-head quarter-final. Both teams are quality though – PELT lost only once, to Ranelagh, all weekend and Ranelagh only lost to the two Clapham teams and Chevron. Their absence weakens the field for sure.
Clapham have shrunk down to one team for this Tour so will not encounter their most difficult foe from Windfarm: relentless fatigue. Both teams suffered some niggling injuries and were reduced to 10 or 11 players for the business end of Tour 1, which severely restricted how much they could put in. With one team, and in this field, they should run riot.
So, then, about that field; it’s weak. Six of the teams that finished in A Tour last time out are missing (the four mentioned above, Glasgow for whom it’s a bit far, and Leeds who are in B Tour North) and more in B Tour are also absent. It leaves a field of only 39 teams, the lowest I can recall in some time, and a B Tour of only eight.
The 1-8 pools, at least, feature the kind of teams we’re accustomed to seeing in A Tour. Clapham will beat Devon, Manchester and Brighton on Saturday, and Devon should have enough to top the others but both Brighton and Manchester will be optimistic about their game against each other. Brighton were dealt a tremendously difficult hand at T1 and played pretty well considering that, whereas Manchester notched an unexpected (for me, anyway) win over Fire to send the Londoners tumbling. Manchester look very different this year to previous seasons but proved their battling qualities with a win over an EMO team that had looked good going against Clapham earlier in the weekend.
Reading top the other pool after finishing as the best non-Worlds Open team in Nottingham (admittedly, a lot of these men are going with the Mixed team but still). Their reward is a Ka-Pow! team who finished eighth after coming in second in the pool with Manchester and Fire but losing out on Sunday. They’ll be keen to show that they earned the place by being better than the teams below them rather than getting slightly lucky with the draw of Fire as a high seed in the pool. They have a really large squad and a lot of very good players so it’s a great chance for them as fourth seed. They’ll have to fend off SMOG and EMO, two teams with a lot of talent who will have been slightly disappointed with their finish at T1.
Camden are seeded 16th and start in A Tour but are coming in off the back of mixed success in Nottingham – they won against Devon 2 in sudden death and topped Bristol 2 comfortably in the pool but didn’t taste victory on Sunday. They’ll face Bristol, who had a decent Tour 1 but lost out in the A Tour crossover against another team in the pool, BAF, and Fire 1. Fire were probably the story of Tour 1 but certainly not in the way that they wanted. I was nine places out on my prediction for them, but I don’t think anyone could have foreseen them losing in the B Tour final to local rivals Flump. They were missing some important players and had a number of key injuries as well, but it was certainly an eye-opening result nonetheless. They’ll be incredibly hungry to show that this was a blip and will doubtless be fired up to play a number of teams they’ll fancy themselves against. BAF are the wildcard – their unpredictable roster makes it difficult to slot them, but I’m guessing they’ll have something similar to what they had at Windfarm so will do pretty well.
In the other 9-16 pool, Flump will be back in A Tour after earning another piece of silverware for the cabinet – their third in four years – and will face a tough group. Purple Cobras have been working their way up in both Open and Women’s and will be a difficult game for anyone, and Reading 2 showed in Nottingham that they’re no slouches. Birmingham had some issues with who was handling the disc in Nottingham but they’re a very athletic team with great chemistry, so they’re going to be tough to beat as well. It’s quite an even pool in my estimation and probably the hardest to pick. Flump have the most experience at this level and are used to grinding out results, while Reading 2 will probably have the greatest variance from top to bottom in terms of ability. Cobras against Birmingham will be intriguing though!
Overall, this is probably the weakest A Tour we’ve seen for some time. That means there are loads of opportunities for ‘upsets’ lower down the standings, and some of the B Tour teams will fancy their chances of breaking into the elite on Sunday. Predictions last time weren’t too bad, with only four teams three places or more away from their final spot (and two bang on – Ranelagh and Brighton) but definitely room to improve. By way of monitoring, I’ve decided that an exact prediction earns three points and a team within two spots of the prediction earns one point. This meant 15 points in Nottingham and I’m shooting for a score in the 20s this time around. It’s going to rain all weekend, allegedly, so see you in the mire.
1. Clapham (by a fair way)
12. Purple Cobras
15. Reading 2
Hannah Pendlebury sets the stage for Women’s Tour 2 in Cardiff
When I cast my eyes over the list of teams confirmed for Cardiff this year, I was dismayed. After an excellent showing during what turned out to be a rather hot and sunny weekend in Nottingham, I saw just 18 teams entered. Confused, I thought to myself “what on earth has happened to 10 teams worth of players?”
As my mind furiously whirred away to craft progressively outlandish conspiracy theories involving motorway accidents on the M1 and/or dinosaurs, my eyes read on. Whilst I noted a few teams consolidating to a single squad for the journey across the Severn bridge (notably SYC, Red and Discie Chicks), four clubs had been excluded by virtue of missing the payment deadline. Gutting.
Imagine then, my delight upon seeing a schedule of 21 teams! Clearly our benevolent overlords had granted a payment extension to those delinquent treasurers. Seriously though, thank you to UK Ultimate and the Cardiff TDs for being accommodating, you rock.
But of course, I celebrated too soon. With a last minute drop out from The Brown women my hopes for a lay-in evaporated and we are now down to a 20 team schedule… Still though, 20 teams is better than 18! And whilst it is surprising not to see Exe Ladies at the closest event to home, Cardiff is a bit of a trek for other notable northern absentees Swift and LLLeeds. Although rumour has it that some women of the North will be making guest appearances this weekend- so keep your eyes peeled…
I think that’s quite enough about the teams that aren’t attending Tour 2. Instead let’s see who will be hoping to achieve glory on the fields of Llanrumney!
Pool L – Iceni (1), Nice Bristols (3), Brighton Women (6), Purple Cobras (8)
With Iceni and Nice Bristols starting to crank up the gears on the final stretch before WUCC I expect they will take no prisoners in pool play, just like in Nottingham. These two will both advance into the top four bracket on Sunday, unless something drastic happens.
However, looking to fight it out for 6th seed (on the live stream no less) will be Brighton and Purple Cobras. Cobras sailed through Nottingham undefeated to win the plate, so it will be most exciting to see them flex their muscles against the upper echelons of Women’s Tour. Brighton have a larger squad of fresher, slightly less experienced faces this time out and are missing talismanic handler Megan Hurst. But with players like Fran Scarampi and Marah Neal alongside their capable regular set, they may yet hold onto their seed.
Pool M – Reading 1 (2), SYC (4), SMOG (5), HYDRA 1 (7)
Reading women were the talk of the tournament in Nottingham. Snagging the 3rd seed during pool play with a 13-8 win over SYC 1, they went on to surmount SMOGlobetrotters and Nice Bristols on their way to a formidable final performance against Iceni. However, with SYC coming back together for Tour 2 it is going to be one heck of a fight for the top spot in this pool. SYC Coach James Burbidge was characteristically tight-lipped about his expectations for the weekend- though he did tip his hat to the sheer quality of the field this season. He also informed me that some of SYC’s star players are sitting this one out to rest ahead of Cincinnati… I’m gutted it’s not on the livestream schedule but if you find yourself at a loose end in Cardiff at midday, hustle over to pitch 11 and watch this game!
On the other end of this pool we have SMOG and HYDRA 1. Like SYC, SMOG have some absentees resting up ahead of Windmill next weekend and have consolidated to a single team. However, whereas SYC are all top-flight picks, SMOG’s roster will be aiming to nurture some future stars and this could leave them vulnerable to the big name teams. After a frustrating Tour 1 experience plagued by unforced errors, HYDRA 1 will certainly be looking to exploit any weaknesses and advance a little higher up bracket play this time around. With the ruthlessly speedy Amina Malik as well as Lucy Cinnamond and Amy Van-Zyl on board this time out, I for one rate their chances.
Pool N – Red (9), Reading Red (15), HYDRA 2 (17)
Red women had a truly sensational Saturday in Nottingham, conceding just 2 points in pool play and then advancing to the plate final on Sunday afternoon. Another outfit condensing to a single team for the journey to Wales, they will look to build on this performance. Although Reading will be hungry to score more than one this time around, I expect Red will again sail through this pool and come out with buckets of energy for the 8v9 on Sunday morning to see if they can’t snag themselves a top eight finish.
Unlike the numerous teams who have dropped down to a single squad, both Hydra and Reading have maintained multiple squads for Tour 2. Most impressive is of course Reading who again are fielding three teams by casting their net towards the south coast, though this time they are going for a more loaded approach with a second and third team split. This should therefore make the battle between Reading Red and HYDRA 2 a corker for sure!
Pool P – Reading Black (10), Merseyside Women (16), Brixton (18)
Much like Reading 1, Reading Black also had an excellent time in Nottingham – climbing from 23rd to 12th seed. However, although Reading will have a slightly stronger squad in Cardiff as a true second team, Merseyside will be snapping at their heels after a wet and slippery defeat first game in Nottingham. Whilst sixth seeds may separate these teams, if fortune favours Merseyside anything could happen. Brixton will also be looking to throw their hat into the ring and build on the momentum they built at Tour 1 where they put up some solid scorelines against strong teams and an especially dominant performance against Red 2 in pool play.
Pool Q – Chaos (11), Vurve (13), Discie Chicks (19)
Chaos had a challenging Saturday in Nottingham. Although they had the valuable experience of testing themselves against top teams from the very start of tour, they struggled to put points on the board. They also had a gutting loss to Purple Cobras on Sunday morning which relegated them to the 13-16 bracket. This Tour the schedule is a little more familiar to their starts last year, which may work out a little better and allow them to gain some momentum before they head into placement games. This will likely be reliant on how effectively they can focus against what might prove to be less challenging defences, though Vurve will certainly look to obstruct this after their successes back in Nottingham. Discie are also back together after plenty of lessons during their first outing of the season and it will be exciting to see what Lindsay Bradley and Fowzia Mahmood can bring out of their squad as a dynamic duo out in force on the same squad.
Pool R – Uprising (12), GBU20s (14), South Wales Storm (20)
Uprising were really unfortunate to have been in a pool with the underseeded Reading Black at Tour 1. Their inability to finish at the top meant they were locked out of the top 16 for the rest of the weekend. They took 17th with style, but will no doubt be hungry to climb up the rankings in Cardiff. They will face off against some familiar opponents having bested GBU20s on Sunday in Nottingham, as well as hoping to replicate their previous result in what is looking likely to be their 12v13 match up of Vurve. What I don’t see is them surmounting the 5v12, but you never know… We do love an upset here at The ShowGame!
As for the other two teams in this pool, GBU20s feel like they could rise a few spots after some strong results in Nottingham – but the real excitement is South Wales Storm. By no means a new team to the Women’s Tour circuit they always end up being a bit of a wildcard and with the home advantage they could bring some real spice to the lower bracket! As always, we’ll have to wait and see.