Open Tour 3 preview: the midlands version of B Tour

Open, Previews

Jordan Brown finishes off his Tour previews with B Tour North in Birmingham.

While Tour 2 saw the northern B Tour teams duke it out alone in Salford, this time they’re lumped in with A Tour, C Tour and Women’s Tour in Birmingham. Despite there only being 12 teams in the division again, this time they’ll get the chance to cross over with A and C.

The seedings this time are a tad odd. Birmingham are seeded first despite having a tough season and finishing below BAF who ran out as winners of B Tour in Cardiff. They’re also ahead of Brighton City who will no doubt feel a little stung at missing out on A Tour after finishing 16th two weeks ago.

Further down the seedings, YOpen will be annoyed to be sat behind Fluid who they dispatched in the last game of the weekend.

So while the seedings are a tad messy, it won’t matter too much as the pools are bracketed appropriately, but it could mean some teams will have a bit more fire in their bellies if there’s a point to prove.

Looking at pool E, we have Birmingham 1 joined by JR and Fluid. Birmingham’s campaign has been one of the weakest in years, likely due in no small part to the departure of talismanic handler Marius Hutcheson. Still, Brum are always a force to be reckoned with and as long as they have the rest of their regulars, they should hold onto the top spot once the groups have played out. JR performed admirably having sent a Mixed squad to the last two events, managing to stay in B Tour at Tour 1 and win C Tour in the Welsh capital. Fluid did remarkably well in Salford, coming away with a top eight finish. The Bangor-based team aren’t going to roll over for either Birmingham or JR. This whole pool depends on the strength of JR – they’re Mixed again, so I’d expect Fluid could hop above them.

Pool F features a potentially smarting Brighton. They’ll no doubt be looking to vent some frustration having been bumped by the national squads’ inclusion, meaning that Vision and YOpen will have to batten down the hatches. Vision performed well at Tour 2, finishing fifth overall having come second in their pool. With this season being a bit of a homecoming for the Liverpool squad, they’re looking strong and backing each other up a lot. It may be enough to topple Brighton but they’ve also got YOpen to content with. In Salford YOpen came out of nowhere to beat Gravity and Vision and top the group, only to get knocked back on the Sunday. They’ll maybe begrudge Vision their seeding and, provided they’ve not lost their GB Junior contingent, they could very well do the job again.

Current B Tour (South) champs BAF top pool G which also includes longtime (friendly) rivals Gravity and EMO 2. BAF will undoubtedly be as strong as ever and utilise their blend of young cutters and experienced handlers to do damage. Gravity are well tuned to BAF’s offence and should be able to produce a tight game provided numbers don’t become a factor. EMO 2 sit at the bottom of the group and aren’t to be underestimated. They finished mid-B Tour a fortnight ago and are definitely up to the fight against both BAF and Gravity. With this being a fairly local tournament to them, I’d expect a fairly big squad that will punish fatigue from either of their competitors.

LLLeeds 1 are sitting pretty at the top of group H despite The Brown beating them 12-10 in the last game in Salford. While they’ve been looking strong, LLLeeds can expect a barrage from The Brown who were relentless in Salford when they took third place. Head to Pitch 16 at 12:30 on Saturday and you’ll no doubt see a an absolute humdinger of a match. Red complete this pool. Despite losing all three games two Sundays ago, they only lost narrowly and will come storming out of the blocks this weekend. Still, I’d be very surprised if they beat either Leeds or Newcastle.

Saturday’s quarters are anybody’s guess at this stage, but I think it’ll go to seed in that the top eight will end up in those spots. I can see the potential for upsets if seeds are held after the group stages, but I wouldn’t count on even that being the case. Similarly, for Sunday morning, the only potential for crossing into A Tour is likely to Brighton City if they top their group and beat SMOG or whoever else trails in group A. The only other possibility could be BAF catching a GB U24 team off-guard.

Looking ahead to the semis, I think the seeded top eight are the ones that’ll go through and from there, I’d back BAF, LLLeeds, Brighton and Birmingham.

Open Tour 3 preview: southern teams descend on B-denbridge

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Making his bow for the Show Game, Cloud City captain Andy Sluman previews the first-ever B Tour South tournament.

The town of Edenbridge has the pleasure of hosting the ‘other’ Tour this time around (and will be a test of the venue ahead of Southern Regionals in two weeks’ time). A fortnight ago, B Tour North received mixed reviews as an event. With just twelve teams and a large disparity in quality, many results were one-sided. In an effort to avoid a repeat of that, the scheduling gods have split this 20-team event into a top 12 and bottom eight. The winner of each of the top 12 pools go straight to quarters, while second and third go into a pre-quarter.

    Pool Predictions

Fire 2 had a good weekend in Cardiff, finishing second in B Tour, following on from their disappointing performance in Nottingham. They are the top seeds in Pool A and have been bolstered by four regular first-team players. Camden are without stalwart Tom Bannister-Fletcher after a nasty accident in Cardiff but with Dave Greenberg returning, they are likely to be of a similar strength to last time around. Reading 2 are always difficult to predict given the squad rotation between each Tour. Sources say they’ve rotated out Sam Gunbie but gained Mark Bignal and Dan Tanner, and should therefore be solid round the back with lots of young receivers downfield. Fire 2 should emerge from the pool as victors, but there’s certainly scope for an upset.

Pool B matches up Cloud City 1 with Helix and Plymouth. Cloud City have continued their climb up the rankings this year, and have the same “undeniably strong” squad that finished third in B Tour in Cardiff, along with the addition of Charlie Galloway. Despite high aspirations when merging established open teams ABH and Curve, Helix have underperformed so far, winning just two of their 13 games at Tours 1 and 2. Plymouth improved on their 51st place finish at Tour 1 with a 32nd place finish at Tour 2. Having beaten Helix 15-5 in the Pool stages at Tour 2, Cloud City will be confident of topping the pool.

Devon 2, Bristol 1 and Cambridge 1 make up Pool C. Devon 2 had a reasonably strong Tour 2, finishing 23rd. Their squad has been strengthened by a few of their regular first team dropping down for this Tour, but without their usual third team entering this time around, expect a broad range of skills and experience. Bristol 1 have had an interesting set of results this year. Having beaten Cloud City on Universe in their first game of Tour 1 and respectable showings against GB and Ireland, they then faded, finishing below their second team. They fared much better at Tour 2, finishing 21st, including Universe point wins against Purple Cobras and, interestingly, Devon 2. Cambridge have had a notable change in personnel this year, and were unfortunate to have been so highly seeded at Tour 1. They broadly held seed at Tour 2, finishing 38th. I see Cambridge finishing third in this pool, with a tight game between Devon and Bristol 1 to top the pool.

The final top 12 pool includes Purple Cobras, Brighton Legends and Bristol 2. Purple Cobras shot up the rankings at Tour 1, losing just one game (to Brighton Legends). They then had a solid Tour 2, finishing 22nd. Ryan Harris returns to the team but they will be missing the tallest 5’6” man in British Ultimate, Michele Gansah (ed note – this seems wrong). Brighton Legends are a stalwart of mid-B Tour, using their experience and unconventional tactics to bring consistent results. Bristol 2 have added some “extra height” for Tour 3, but if results in Cardiff are anything to go by, should have a difficult time making headway in this group. Expect this group to go according to seed.

Brixton feel a touch aggrieved to have fallen foul of the new methodology used this year to rank teams by their average performance. Despite finishing ahead of Helix, Bristol 2 and Cambridge at Tour 2, they have been seeded 13th and therefore unable to contest the top eight. I expect them to top Pool E while Kent should top Pool F.

Open Tour 3 preview: expect A Tour drama in Birmingham

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David ‘DP’ Pryce previews the final A Tour of the season.

The final Tour of the season always brings with it some drama. Even the eventual first draft of the schedule kicked up a fuss, but it appears that this has settled down. Clapham have cut down to one team (due to not enough players able to be fielded from their 40-man squad), and Ranelagh, Pelt and Rebel are included in place of their U24 brethren.

The schedule has reverted to a four-pools-of-four structure, as opposed to the top eight and bottom eight pools at Tour 2, where anyone in top 16 can potentially take the title.

In the first pool we have the 16-time National Champions, Clapham, whose combined team would be hard to pick against when choosing a favourite to take yet another Tour title. EMO are their main challengers going by the rest of the season.

It is more interesting to see who will take the seventh seed, and with such a strong showing from Ireland U24 in the last two events Limerick lads Pelt will be looking for this position. They can expect to be challenged strongly by Manchester, who lost to the U24s but took down SMOG (last seed in this pool), in Cardiff.

Having beaten Devon in their pool last time round, EMO will be looking to repeat the feat and get themselves back into a Tour semi-final (or even final) again. But two more Irish additions, Ranelagh and Rebel, will be looking to take down these two UK teams and there’s a good chance that one of them could claim EMO’s place in the top four and avoid a top eight crossover.

Chevron shouldn’t struggle in going through to the top half but again the next three (Ka-Pow!, GB U24 and Flump) could end up in any order. Flump will be looking to demonstrate they deserve their A Tour position after quite the topsy turvy week, finally being rightly left in the top flight. Ka-Pow! have gone from zero to hero (well 17th to eighth to now fifth) but have already lost to both U24 teams, one of which is the last team in the pool. Anything could happen between these three.

The last pool is one where results would suggest another hold for the top seed in the pool (Reading), however recent Scottish and London powerhouses Glasgow and Fire of London 1 will have something to say about that. Fire have had a rather slow start to the season but made up for some lost places by only losing one game (to Ireland U24) at Tour 2. They’ll be looking looking to get back into top eight contention. A short-lined Glasgow will hope to bring a couple more players to be able to truly demonstrate the strength of Scottish Ultimate. GB U24 Canberra will want to give all the teams in this pool a run for their money and will come out strong but I am unsure how they will cope whilst they are all still trialling and still split between two squads (with Mixed players in there too).

It promises to be another interesting weekend, with several of the fial Tour places still very much up for grabs. See everyone in the Midlands!

(Ed note – My probably-very-wrong-as-usual top 10: Clapham, EMO, Reading, Chevron, Pelt, Fire, Manchester, Ranelagh, Glasgow, Devon.)

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.

UKU Open Tour 2: B Tour North

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Jordan Brown once again does us proud with a quick preview of the slim line B Tour North.

With UKU mixing up their classic tour structure due to our weird sport becoming too popular to accommodate everyone, this weekend sees the biggest change in proceedings as half of B Tour will descend upon Salford for the Northern Division.
After teams at Tour 1 did their utmost to take a dump over all of my predictions, hopefully this 12 team event should yield a little more accuracy – especially as there are no crossovers between divisions here.

UKU Women’s Tour 2: A Title for the Taking.

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Hannah Pendlebury once again gives us a fantastic view into the Women’s division.

If looking at the results from Tour 1 should tell you anything, it is that Women’s Tour has officially been blown wide open. Despite my initial scepticism this year regarding the relative security of the top four (and continued scepticism from the schedule writers judging by the format), the top 12 is now a veritable hotbed of challenger teams. With so many games ending in sudden death on Sunday in Nottingham, I am certainly very pleased that my preview involves very few predictions of final standings… But mostly I am excited for what this means for the development of women’s Ultimate in the UK!

WCBU 2017 Preview

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Sean Colfer previews the World Championships of Beach Ultimate from the British and Irish perspective. Stay tuned on for our tSG coverage and for the live stream!

The first pull of the World Championships of Beach Ultimate in Royan, France, is now 2 days away. The latest bit of information to be released came in the form of the pools and first game of the tournament were revealed by the tournament organising committee in France.

While the first game will see Germany, reigning champions in the Mixed division, take on the host nation France, the key concern for most readers in the UK and Ireland is how our own pools shape up. So let’s take a look!