UKU Tour 2 Review

Brighton, Chevron, Clapham, Fire of London, Iceni, LMS, news, nottingham, Previews, PUNT, ROBOT, UKUT2, US Open

David Pryce, Edward Parker, Christopher Bell and Fiona Kwan bring the UKU Tour 2 review from all four divisions.

Full results and spirit here.

A Tour: Clapham O take the title after some tight pool games for both lines.

Clapham D vs Chevron Action Flash but unable to play a whole game against the champions. Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.


As mentioned above, although Clapham came in as obvious favourites to take another Tour title, Fire of London and Brighton City did not get the memo. Both teams took Clapham’s O and D lines, respectively, to sudden death but after that shock CU did not look back. It was again an O vs D final with O making it one all for this season. Sadly, on the way to victory the O line lost a player to a broken arm; we wish JJ all the best, get well soon! Clapham are currently making their way to Minnesota for this weekend’s US Open (watch their pool game on NGN) where they are hoping to take a few scalps after a promising Chesapeake tournament last year.

The other two WUCC teams from the open division came to head in the last game of the weekend, the 3v4. Chevron had been strong all weekend and, until this point, had only struggled against Clapham. However, they stumbled here with EMO taking the 17-15 win, leaving Chevron with 4th place.

Outside of the top four, Fire of London started off well but couldn’t make a mark on Chevron in their pool and the started the following day very slowly against Manchester. Eventually they fought back into the game and took the win by two, and from there took fifth with relative ease. Cambridge have been the rising stars of this season so far, managing to rise all the way into the top eight, while Zimmer topped the next eight ahead of some stalwart A tour teams.

Next Tour we will replace Birmingham, Glasgow and Leeds with promoted teams NEO and Flump, while the spot of the incredible of GB U20 will have to be filled, as sadly they will not be able to attend Tour 3 – good luck in Lecco boys!

What was your story from Nottingham? Did you forget to pack sun cream? What are you looking forward to in Cardiff? Comments welcome below!


B tour: NEO come out on top in Nottingham

If you are in the mood for intense sporting action in tropical conditions, it turns out that you needn’t travel as far as Brazil. In fact, tucked away between Derby and Newark-on-Trent there is a veritable haven of green fields, sunny skies and fragrant scents (provided you don’t stand too near the portaloos).

Last weekend, 16 teams showed up in Nottingham to play in B tour. Some players packed sun cream, some players didn’t. By the end of the weekend you could tell them apart. Here’s some other stuff that happened…

The run-away winners of the weekend were North East Open (aka NEO). With their blend of tiki-taka handler movements and an explosive long game, they were a team that didn’t give up the disc easily. After sweeping away their opponents throughout the tournament, including a 15–8 win against Flump in the final, NEO will be looking to continue their march up the rankings in A Tour next month.

Despite tripping up in the final, Flump certainly had plenty of positives to take from the weekend. Donning their eye-catching new kit that was variously described as “special” and “f***ing awful” (I actually quite like it, but then again, I was wearing it), Flump had certainly upped the tempo of their game following a weekend at Windmill Windup. After coming out on top of a feisty group decider against JR (fouls, violations, hat throwing… you name it, this game had it), Flump continued their run of good form on Sunday to secure the second promotion spot.

But arguably the biggest success story of the weekend belonged to GB U20s. Apparently the U20s hadn’t received the memo that it might considered impertinent to outcompete players many years their senior. GB showed great composure to top their group (including two games that went to universe point), and having lost narrowly to Flump in the semis, went on to secure their top three spot in style with a 15–10 win over JR. Let’s hope that they can keep up the momentum heading into the upcoming World Championships.
Elsewhere in proceedings, it was a good weekend for teams that had secured promotion from C Tour at London Calling: Sneeekys, Vision and Curve all consolidated their B Tour credentials, finishing in 6th, 11th and 12th, respectively. Meanwhile, JR and Fire 2 will be disappointed to have let their spots in A Tour slip. This is certainly something they will look to rectify in Cardiff. There were undoubtedly other highlights. Tell us about them in the comments!
Bristol Open vs Flump eventual A tour promotional team! Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.


C Tour: Brown dominate in sunny Nottingham.


The Brown proved they belong in B Tour with comfortable victories against all they encountered this weekend. With the inclusion in the squad of some Durham University players finally freed from the shackles of the library, their extra squad depth carried them through the tournament with consummate ease. They will be joined there by ABH who finished second, and Camden whose squad bolstered by some big names from the Thundering Herd squad of Open Tour 1. Along with Camden, St Albans managed to break into the top eight from an original seed of 17th to finish fourth – an impressive feat!
Questions were raised once again at the decision to include two peer pools at the top of C tour. With the crossovers into the top eight being won by just two points (except in the St Albans game, who won comfortably as they knocked The Saints from the top eight), why should those teams just outside the top eight be denied the opportunity to match up against the best of their division?

Take into account that one team that started in the top eight brought just one sub to Nottingham, and as a result, lost all but one game; and another team forfeited their final two games as they only had nine players and couldn’t face two more matches with such limited numbers, and you would be forgiven for thinking that perhaps teams that brought full squads to the tournament should be allowed to compete for those positions. Those teams winning all but one match and still dropping several seeds must feel frustrated that they are being punished by the schedule, with such limited chance for progression in what should be a Tour division aimed at development of Ultimate in the UK.

Special mentions should go to CUlt 2, whose smooth, flowing offence and tight D allowed them to top their group and beat Lemmings in their final game to finish 11th; Sharkbear did well to enter two teams – they ended up finishing only four seeds apart; and the GB u17s, who got some great tournament experience and a chance to try their offence against a variety of defensive regimes. They showed that athleticism and a well drilled offence can often be enough to beat more experienced teams. Best of luck on the international stage, boys!


Women’s: Expectations and surprises!

Punt make the final against Iceni for first time! Photo courtesy of Graham Bailey.


What we didn’t expect:
Beautiful weather, and the promise of indoor toilets!
I know it’s been said, and it’s getting a bit cliché, but Nottingham is famed for having turbulent weather – wind, rain, hail and everything in between. Anyone who was present at last year’s event knows what Nottingham is capable of. However, in spite of their misgivings, most players will begrudgingly acknowledge that rough weather can present extremely useful conditions to practice playing zone O and D, throwing and serve as an exercise in self-control when it comes to those more heart-pounding and cold sweat inducing throws (a special shout-out to Caitlin from LLLeeds here).

The hot, still weather meant match ups where athleticism played a huge factor in team success. More experienced teams were able to take advantage of the opportunity to throw some sharp breaks, accurate hucks and show off some slick handler movement. Punt and SYC have been particularly good at utilising their break throws and exploiting the around game, taking advantage of the opportunity to be creative.

These two teams played a close semi-final, a rematch from T1, but this time, Punt finished ahead, securing them a place in the final.  I only managed to catch the last couple of points of this game, but based on the final, I can say that they are a very strong team, who draw from all their players’ strengths. They play fast Ultimate, with strong O and D, using all of their players. Looking at their seeding and finishing place, compared to last year, this team has come a long way.

Kinga (The King) from SYC said, “T2 was important for us to find that team chemistry and allowed us to gel a lot more. We’ll keep working on our offense to match the quality of our D so we can be strong on both sides of the disc. The loss against Punt possibly made us even more determined I’d say.” We can hope for another great match up at T3, so place your bets now on who will win next.

Movement in and out of the top eight
Blink had a great weekend, coming from outside the top eight to finish sixth.  Strong handlers and experienced players helped this team climb up from 10th seed, and knock LLL and Phoenix down the rungs. Hopefully, this result is a sign of more good things to come from them, and another strong performance at T3.

Looking ahead to T3, LLL is looking to make it back into the top four. As pointed out by captain Caitlin, the pool of talent in the women’s division has really expanded to about six teams who always give consistently strong performances (Iceni, Bristol, SYC, Punt, ROBOT and LLL). A top four finish would be a huge confidence booster for this young squad in the run up to Nationals.
What we expected:
The UK and Irish teams headed to Lecco all look in good shape
LMS: This weekend Irish team Little Miss Sunshine sent a strong message to UK teams, winning their games handilyon Saturday 15-5, 15-1 and 15-4.  Despite winning all their games on Sunday as well, this Worlds bound team were only able to finish 5th.  It’s a shame they didn’t get a chance to play the likes of Iceni, or Robot in preparation for Lecco, or even teams like SYC and Punt. It would be great to see them at T3, starting with a higher seeding, and see what they can do. I’d bet they’d see a top four finish and be serious contenders for an appearance in the final. A fast and athletic team, they dominated their match ups against teams outside the top eight, and undoubtedly would have given top teams hard fought games, and closer scorelines.

Robot: This team of veterans definitely used their experience to their advantage, pulling out some great throws, and using poaches to effectively shut down pull plays, and stop those dangerous fast breaks and first passes. It will be great to see them again at T3 and Nationals, with experience playing together at T2 showing the young folk how it’s done.

Iceni: Iceni finished in Nottingham on top, with their best challenges coming from Punt and ROBOT on Sunday. With 14 members of the team headed to Twin Cities, Minneapolis for the US Open next week, T2 has given Iceni preparation for the opposition they will face there, as well as good mental practice for playing a tournament. Now for the shameless plug – NGN and ESPN will be broadcasting the Iceni vs. Riot game from the US Open. So, if you have time on the 4th of July, and fancy a break from celebrating US independence, be sure to tune in and watch at17:15 GMT.

It’s great to have more and more women competing at a higher level, and Tour 2 showed how successful women’s ultimate in the UK is becoming. Best of luck to those playing in Cardiff!

Make sure to follow Iceni and Clapham as they take on the US, Canadian and Colombian club teams at the US Open! Go get them! 



Open and Women’s Tour 2 Preview

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Introducing the second major club tournament of the season…

As the summer presses on we come to the second UK Tour of 2014, this time moving up to the notorious Nottingham venue at Grove Farm. Well known in the UK Ultimate community for mostly meteorological reasons, Si Hill provided a defence:

“I’m really pleased we are heading back to Grove Farm. The geographical spread of venues we use for UKU Tour events is quite good at the moment, and Nottingham’s location is key to that.  It is undeniably prone to being windy due to the local geography.  But I prefer to look at the positives: it can help us to improve our disc skills, pushes teams to expand their zone-based systems, and adds some extra uncertainty into the results as upwind/downwind games in particular can turn on smaller margins.  Certainly the GB teams playing Worlds 2012 in Japan benefitted from the extra practice when some crucial games were played in extremely strong winds just like we had enjoyed 3 weeks earlier in Nottingham.”


With much talk of closing the gap centring on the need for stronger skills as a nation of players, it is hard to argue against this positive aspect of playing at a ‘harder’ venue, even if (as Si also pointed out) the forecast is set for uncharacteristically calm scenes this weekend (…fingers crossed eh?!).


Open


With the filtering out of international competition, this weekend will act as the season’s first true comparison between domestic teams, many of whom did not meet in London. The Clapham machine sees benefit in continuing its split team entrance, and will be looking to repeat their lossless weekend up until the final. EMO find themselves in their highest ever seeding after a strong start to the year as predicted. Whether or not this team can justify their placement above Chevron who comfortably bettered them at major tour events last year is yet to be seen. In a straight to semis format, old friends Chevron and Fire 1 will both be battling for an upset victory against Clapham O, or failing this a place in the knockout stages which could well be decided by their 15:40 meeting on Saturday.

Can anyone stall Clapham on their road to Lecco? Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.

The one slight change in the schedule is that both semi-finals and the final will take place in the format of WUCC games. Speaking on this Si Hill explains:

The semis will be full WFDF length (like WUCC) this weekend because we have enough pitch space/time to do this for those teams. Some of those teams and players will be playing at WUCC and it seems reasonable to take that opportunity in the circumstances.  In particular a 10-minute half-time can feel quite different to our usual 2-minute turn-around.”


Acclimatisation for this year’s major tournament is clearly a focus, but it would be wrong to suggest that the top brackets are the only ones to provide a source of excitement. The second eight of the A tour has arguably flattened out somewhat, with almost all teams having recently enjoyed top 8 seedings in their recent history. The battle from teams such as Ka-Pow! and Devon to rejoin the top pools (and the all-too-valuable elite competition such seedings provide) will be hard pushed by newer outfits such as Glasgow, who at ninth will be poised to restore the recent lack of a Scottish presence in the top flight of UK ultimate.


The 16-32 B tour bracket continues to heat up as it is increasingly compressed between the top 16 and the ever-growing C tour (now at 28 teams). After emphatically topping the C tour in St. Albans, Curve (with a boost from ex GB open players Niall Wilkinson and Rob Anderson) have been awarded a high seed and will be hungry to make a mark in their first game match-up against Fire 2, who consistently competed in the A tour last year (famously leap-frogging their first team at last year’s event). Perennial club teams will also have to overcome the GB and Irish Under 20 Open squads, who are attending tour in preparation of their world championships, also to be played in Lecco this summer. These young teams will make up for any lack of experience with buckets of athleticism, and will gladly welcome still conditions to show off their runners. With the lure of international silverware these teams will be playing with nothing to lose at this stage, and could cause upsets for any team in the bracket.


Our C Tour report comes from Christopher Bell (Black Sheep Co-Captain/coach).


With the seedings having hopefully sorted themselves out somewhat, and the inclusion of some strong teams replacing those promoted, C tour is lining up to be an exciting affair this weekend.

With two power pools at the top, it’s going to be difficult for any team 9th and below to break into the top 8, and even harder to make any further headway. There are, however, some teams that will be trying to do just that. Black Sheep may see this tournament as an opportunity to atone for last year’s failure to beat seed at Nottingham, where they started 9th but were unable to top their group due to the inclusion of the under-seeded Irish u20s. Expect Lemmings and a strengthened Camden side to mount serious challenges too. 

Keep an eye too on the GB u17s, they will come into this tournament with nothing to lose and a lot to prove. Always an athletic team, well drilled and with a great mentality – expect them to fight for every point as they aim to climb their way up the seedings.

The game to watch on Saturday is most definitely the battle of the North East: The Brown (1) v The Saints (3). The Brown have a point to prove after being relegated from B Tour last time round, and The Saints, victors in Nottingham this time last year but absent from London’s Calling, will want to prove that they can do it again. Expect a high intensity game, with both teams working very hard to shut down their opposition, whom they know well.

Each of Sunday’s games in the top 8 are going to be gruelling affairs, with close match-ups across the board. It’s tough to call how it’s going to pan out, but here’s my prediction for the semi-final teams: The Saints, Pingu Jam, ABH and Guildford.


Women’s

Iceni are demonstrating a vice-like grip on the number one spot, and show no signs of faltering with another tournament win at the recent Windmill. Fiona Kwan gives an insight into the humble approach that is surely helping to sustain the team’s dominance:

“Even though Iceni finished London Calling as top dogs, we took away a couple of key things we needed to improve and adjust to come back stronger for the rest of the season. After T1, we knew we had to find discipline in our endzone, set a harder mark, and ramp up our sideline. Basics. After focusing on these elements of our game, we took our adjustments to a very sunny Windmill Windup in Amsterdam last weekend (Happy 10th birthday Herbie!). 

Playing such tough oppositions as U de Cologne, Woodchicas and ZUF at Windmill has been great preparation for what we can expect from European teams competing at Worlds. These teams brought out the best, and worst in us, and although we won the tournament, we have come back with things to improve. Set up quickly on O, no open unders, and an even bigger sideline. Basics again.”

Having yet to face Swift, Phoenix or SYC, Iceni may find some more challenges in some fresh competition this weekend, but will still expect to win. With Nice Bristols notably absent from this weekend as they travel to test their mettle against some of the World’s best at the Boston Invite, the final route is opened up more than ever. Roslyn Cameron of SYC gives a summary of her team’s approach:

“This year there is serious competition in the top half of women’s tour and I’d say below the top spot no one can really feel that their spot is safe. We face Iceni in pool play on Saturday – they are a formidable team, fresh off the back of a convincing win in Amsterdam and with WUCC firmly in their sights. Any chance to play such an accomplished team is an amazing opportunity and not one that we will shy away from. For us tour isn’t simply about winning games but about competing and using every opportunity to play the best ultimate we can. What better way is there than against the best in Europe?”

Punt have a chance at making the final, who else could make it in Nottingham? Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.

Punt are being touted as another team pushing hard for a final spot, with consistent strong showings built up over the course of the last few seasons. However, SYC will be competing hard to beat them to it:


“Should the results allow, a rematch against Punt will definitely be a game to watch. Over the last few seasons we have had some great match-ups and Tour 1 this year was no exception, with SYC edging a sudden death victory first thing on Saturday morning. They play a unique offence and have a lot of depth in their team, which brings a real challenge when playing them.”

Further down the table teams are eager to push up. Hayley Nicklin from Relentless discusses the draw of those top two groups:


“This season, Relentless aimed to grow and develop into a team that can compete in the top eight after an up and down debut season last year. London’s Calling was the first test of all of the work the squad put in as a whole over the off-season.

There is every chance we could climb into the top 10 at Tour 2; the 5-12 bracket looks like it could contain some upsets.  I can’t see anyone taking the top spot from Iceni, especially with Bristol not in Nottingham, and then it’s a tough call between Punt and SYC for second place. I think it’s time for Punt make to their first appearance in a Tour final given their improvement over the past few years so my money is on them to finally get there.”


It seems many can’t see anything other than a clean sweep at the top for the London powerhouses in both divisions, but there will be plenty of players travelling this weekend with their eyes on the prize of a giant killing across the team list. The high winds and rain generally favour upsets, but with the dry and calm forecast it is looking as though anyone matching up against a favourite this weekend is going to have no choice but to beat them one-on-one, at full speed. 

Good luck to all teams competing this weekend from tSG!

London Calling – Open Preview

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The club season is upon us! James Burbidge takes a look at the competition heading to the open division this weekend.

Returning to St Albans, Tour 1, this year’s London Calling sees over 70 teams entered into the open division with 10 coming from overseas.

At the top of the pack, four teams will hope to prove themselves the best of the best in Europe: Clapham, Chevron Action Flash, Bad Skid and Flying Angels Bern. London Calling will doubtless provide top competition for these teams as they prepare for the big one: the World Club Championships in August.

Reigning National and European champions Clapham have split their team into two like last year (an O-line and a D-line), and are using the competition as the final part of a long and heated selection process. Captain Marc ‘Britney’ Guilbert returns to lead a club firmly focused on a peak in Lecco and will be hoping that his teams can meet in the final this year, rather than the semi. With no major player movement out, and more top recruits coming in – notably Ollie Gordon from Chevron, Matt Parslow and James Baron from Fire – they may find that the toughest competition is also the most familiar.

Photo courtesy of Graham Bailey.

Bad Skid beat Clapham’s D-line last year at London Calling but lost to the O-line in the final. They met a full Clapham team in the semi-final of Euros and lost again. Since then the team has added a few younger players to the squad, as well as NexGen player Philip Haas, who won’t make it to London. Captain Holger Beuttenmüller admits that the team needs to be at their best on both sides of the disc to be in with a chance of beating Clapham, but places faith in the trust between his teammates who have largely been playing and competing together since they were as young as 14.

In the battle for bronze at Europeans 2013, Bad Skid beat out Flying Angels Bern; the Swiss powerhouse is also making the trip to London. Whilst FAB finished fourth in 2013 and 2012, in 2011 and 2010 they took home the gold. Captain Silvano admits that the team coming is far from a finished product, and with only 13 of a 25-man squad able to make it over they may struggle to compete on Sunday afternoon. That said, with their eyes on a finish high up the table at Worlds, the team will be competing hard in every game and with their reliable combination of huge throws and rapid athletes are more than capable of causing an upset.

Also coming over from Europe in preparation for Lecco are the Swedish Viksjöfors and Ragnarok from Denmark. Both teams have a long-standing history of high level ultimate and will be looking forward to challenging games early in the season. Looking further ahead, Austria and France are sending national teams to London in preparation for the 2015 European Championships. Whilst neither country has a club at the elite level, it will be interesting to see how high their national sides can push in this competition.

Chevron has had to reshuffle their club hierarchy this season after the loss of coach/captain Josh Coxon Kelly. They have also lost some experience to the Master’s division in Dave Sealy and Stu Mitchell, and the aforementioned blow of Ollie Gordon suiting up for their London rivals. As usual they have restocked with youth from the junior division, as well as tapping up Steve Dixon from Devon, a returning stalwart in Si Dathan and Jose-Luis Mendoza (call him ‘Pepe’) from the Mexican national squad. Chevron won their home tournament at the Fog Lane Cup, but not without stiff competition  in a sudden death semifinal against Fire. With top teams from Europe in London, they’ll find it far tougher than usual to make the final, but will push hard regardless and should stake a firm place in the top 8.

Emo will be hoping to force themselves into elite contention this year, and would love nothing more than to giant-kill their way to semis and even beyond. Drawing players from across the country with their well-earned Worlds qualification, competition for a place on the first team has been fierce. Returning players include Dan ‘Colonel’ Furnell, Rich Gale, Sion ‘Brummie’ Scone (all 3 of whom have at some point represented for GB at Open World Championships and World Games tournaments), Andy Tate, and offensive wildcard Ed ‘Freddie’ Walters. Chris ‘Aussie’ White (formerly Leeds, Chevron and Fire) has also been added to the roster. The team continues to put trust in youth, with Joe Wynder returning as playing coach and Rob Coddington as captain. Emo finished 2nd at Fog Lane after beating Jen in a friendly earlier this season, and are looking better than they ever have before. Whether this potential can be converted into the breakthrough year that they want so much will be one of the stories of the season.

Fire of London will be hoping to push back towards the top of UK Ultimate after some disappointing results during Tour last year. New captain James Dunn’s squad is bolstered by members of the folded Tooting Tiger and Burro Electrico teams, as well as a contingent of Bear Cavalry (mixed) players – including World Games star Dave Tyler. Ka-Pow also have a new captain and a refreshed squad – Richard ‘Pringle’ Taylor has invested in the future by inviting plenty of trialists to be part of a massive training squad comprising over 30 players. When they met in the final game at the Fog Lane Cup, Fire handily defeated Ka-Pow to take 3rd spot. Both teams will be aiming to make semis at some point this season but will have a fight on their hands for a top 10 spot at Tour 1.

Photo courtesy of Graham Bailey
Building on their recent trip to Europeans, Devon have promoted some strong second team players and reportedly picked up a “wonder-Columbian” to replace the players they are losing to GB Juniors for the Tour season. They’ll be as athletic and determined as ever – they came 6th at Fog Lane with just 9 players – but indicate that the Tour will be simply preparation for Nationals and (hopefully) another trip to Europe.

Ranelagh return to the club circuit once again, and, buoyed by their success last year (5th over the Tour season), are bringing a second team. We’ll see if familiarity with the UK teams (and vice-versa) after the committed attendance of tour over the last few season will affect their results. Brighton City are coming off the back of one of their most successful seasons (4th overall at Tour), and Tour 1 will be a good indicator as to whether they can replicate that level of performance. The loss of deep cutter Dan ‘Dyno’ Friedeberg (reportedly to Devon) will be something of a blow but they will almost certainly have reloaded with talent from the dominant Sussex University program.

Zimmer – who are preparing for Worlds in the Masters division – are also a bit of an unknown. A surprising 83% percent of this commitment-averse squad will be attending London Calling. If they bring their A-game they’ll be a force to be reckoned with; they only narrowly lost to Chevron in a friendly earlier in the season and are brimming with international experience and pedigree.

Further down, but looking to push up the table, Manchester and LeedsLeedsLeeds will be fighting for the title of ‘second best team in the north.’ Manchester took that plaudit last year, and return all but two of their squad. They’ve been training regularly with Chevron players but despite a successful run of winter leagues, had a disappointing weekend at Fog Lane, finishing 8th. Leeds played Fog Lane with only 9 players and finished 11th. Ben Bruin has left for Emo, and Rich Hims will be focusing on his run to Worlds with Cambridge (mixed) leaving behind a young squad with a significant battle on their hands to stay in A-tour.

North of the north, the battle to be Scotland’s best team has taken an interesting turn with the complete dissolution of Fusion. Glasgow Ultimate top the pile at the moment, and will be looking to solidify the A-tour spot they earned last year. Sneekys have added a large number of Fusion’s Edinburgh contingent to their roster, and yet only beat in sudden death new team NEO, who have recruited heavily from Aberdeen and Dundee universities. DED meanwhile, are refocusing on Open this year, and are one of the few club teams in the UK with a dedicated coach – Jonathan Saunders. The squad, captained by Sam Vile, has seen quite a large turnover and brought in plenty of young players, but promise has already been shown in preparation for the season with a trip to Rising POT, a tournament in Poland where DED finished 4th and won spirit.

There’s a lot of top quality competition coming to London – and Si Hill is to be congratulated for once again attracting overseas teams. Tour’s opening weekend is reliably one of the toughest tournaments in the calendar, and this year is no different. With a large but fairly static domestic scene, mainland-European competitors make for exciting matches, unfamiliar styles and the inevitable occasional shock result. With the battle for A-tour distorted by the influx of single-appearance teams, teams in the 12-24 area are going to scrapping for every single win. 

What are your thoughts? Have we missed a sleeper? Will we see an all mainland-Europe final? Let us know in the comments.  And remember to use #ukut1 for social media and smack talk. Finally, best of luck to all teams attending from tSG! 


A Look Ahead – The 2014 Open Season

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James Burbidge continues his open coverage looking towards 2014.

2014 – A Look Ahead


In case you weren’t aware, the big deal with 2014 is the World Ultimate Club Championships (or WUCC for short). It’s taking place in Lecco, Italy from the 2nd to the 9th of August (1 week after UK Regionals, 2 weeks before Nationals). The UK will be sending 3 teams: Clapham, Chevron Action Flash and EMO. And as Clapham captain Britney points out World Club years are different. They are different because they are the only time within the 4 year cycle of international competition that clubs can expect undivided attention and commitment from its players. For top clubs who feed various GB squads, this focus is rare and welcomed.” 


With the lessons learned from 2013, and new members currently joining the squads, now seemed like a good time to take a look at the three teams.

Clapham are running closed trials this year, having taken a fairly large contingent of new players on last year. They are on a 2-year plan for the competition, which began with trials immediately after Euros in 2012. Britney notes that Clapham in 2013 was working through new systems and new ways to play the game. We looked different and played different but [the strict framework of our plan] allowed all of us to push in the same direction. This alignment and synergy was probably our greatest accomplishment out of 2013…. [W]e can spend the remaining months between now and WUCC to perfect our systems instead explaining them. With our existing foundation, we can concentrate on looking forward instead of dissecting the past.” 

With confirmed appearances at the US Open (4th July weekend) and Windmill Windup (13-15th June), Clapham will be putting themselves up against the best competition they can to prepare. Just as it will be during Worlds, we will only have one chance to win every battle. This is our aim. Not to win a tournament, not to win a game, but to win a point, to win an individual battle. If you think is sounds too cliché, I invite you to try it. It’s harder than you think when you come up against the best in the world. The pressure is on and we will push each other up to these standards at every single training.


After gold in Europe and a successful trip to Chesapeake, Clapham will be confident they can hang with the best and have a good shot at making semis. But don’t ask Britney where they’ll finish, The duty of a captain is not to set a goal to his players but to give them all the tools to reach their apogee. I hate this question because setting your team an end goal only ever leads to disappointment. Either you fall short and underachieve this predetermined expectations or, worse yet, you underestimate your potential and lead your team past this arbitrary objective only to see them lose the drive that pushed them only to reach it. I will say this one final thing. Come Worlds, every CU player will fight with all his worth to win that point, to win every individual battle. If we achieve that, then who knows where we will finish.


Chevron Action Flash have set themselves the goal of making at least the quarter finals. Captains Penny and Josh Coxon Kelly say that Chevy have been preparing for this tournament since Prague in 2010 and plan on attending more tournaments than ever across Europe to get as much exposure as possible to different styles of the game. Chevron finished 13th at WUCC in 2010.

EMO finished 41st in Prague and are looking to place in the top 20 this year.  They acknowledge that they’ll be expecting a very strong team in the crossover, but EMO always enjoy big games and they’ll certainly be up for it. Worlds being an exciting opportunity, EMO have had a large influx of new players – something they’re well able to cope with as a 2-team squad. Apparently they have attracted some well-known players but I won’t be naming any names because I find the Chinese whispers of frisbee transfers strangely enjoyable,” says captain Coddy. He admits though, that the biggest challenge they face is squad cohesion as they integrate the new players with the core from last year.

EMO at UKU Tour 3, Cardiff 2013. Photo courtesy of EMO Ultimate.


One thing both EMO and Chevy captains commented on was the depth of competition this year – particularly in terms of teams who feel they should have a spot in the quarterfinals.  The Chevy captains said: You will always come up against the usual powerhouses of the US, Canadians, Japanese and the Australians at these tournaments but this year we can also add in a number of European teams who could easily look to make at least the quarter finals. From Europe alone you have strong teams from Germany and Switzerland attending who will look to do damage to all they come across, as well as the UK teams 

What else is moving and shaking on the UK Open scene? Well there’s the inevitable out with the old and in with the new, both in terms of players (fare-thee-well Mr Retter) and teams. A void for a mid-level team seems to be forming in London where both Tooting Tigers and Burro Electrico are slipping quietly into the night – that’s two full squads of solid players looking for a new home. With Ka-Pow reporting 70+ players registered for try-outs, Fire looking for fresh talent and Flump with a great 2013 season it’s going to be a competitive trial period in the capital.

Up North, Chevron are getting their fingers sticky in other teams’ pies (part of their talent tap-up system?) as Liam Kelly is coaching Vision, and Manchester Ultimate continue to keep the doors open to Chevvy players at their weekly trainings. Following a strong debut year (if you forget ManUp) Manchester are keen to stabilise in A-tour and even push into the top 8. DED may be able to tell them a thing or two about the difficult second season and they too have set their sights on a return to top 8 form following a year where Mixed seemed to be their focus.

And, let’s not forget – outside of Tour, this is the year that Jen starts to make its mark on the tournament scene.

All in all, 2014 should be fresh, fun and exciting.
If you are involved in the Open scene and would like to feature or be interviewed, please don’t hesitate to get in touch – burbidge{dot}james[at]gmail{dot}com

We are still looking for a mixed correspondent! Please contact showgameblog@gmail.com if you want to help us cover this huge year! 


A Quick Look in the Rear-view Mirror – Open Tour 2013

A Tour, Chesapeake Invite, Chevron, Clapham, EMO, Fire of London, Open, xEUCF
James Burbidge looks back at 2013 from the Open division perspective.


Another year another national championship for Clapham, followed up by another European title. With their sights firmly set on Worlds, and a two-year plan in place, Clapham were a dominant force, even by their own standards. Aside from their obvious additions to the trophy shelf, one of the highlights of the year must have been a strong performance at the Chesapeake Invite where they narrowly missed out on a spot in the final, facing up all weekend against some of the toughest US club teams. You can read more about that weekend here.

Clapham take the European title for the second year running. Photo courtesy of Get Horizontal.


Beyond the obvious however, Open ultimate in the UK was in a state of flux. With split Euro and World qualifications, Tour took on a significance perhaps greater than Nationals, and was made all the more complicated with the inclusion of the non-Tour-point-scoring GBu23s.


The result? Whilst Clapham and Chevy qualified for both Euros and Worlds, the remaining Worlds spot went to EMO – a team who failed to qualify for Euros behind Brighton, Devon, Fire and Ka-Pow. EMO’s strong performance at Tour (up 8 spots on 2012) comes despite internal fluctuation as their GB players (including captain Joe Wynder) rotated in and out of the squad. There is no doubt that a Worlds spot in the bank eased the sting of failing to qualify for Euros and that they’ve plenty to look forward to in 2014.

On the opposite side of the see-saw, Fire (1 at least) went through a difficult transition year, losing 9 experienced first team players, with new captains recruiting from far and wide. Whilst they finished a disappointing 7th at Tour, a Euro-qualifying 5th at Nationals and a strong performance at Euros (9th) will give them hope for the 2014 season. 

Elsewhere, it seems promising that strong bubbles of Ultimate are forming away from London (and telephone teams). Manchester Ultimate had a strong season, capped perhaps by taking the Regional title over Chevron. Devon finally broke through as they have been promising to do for years, and a Euros spot is only going to encourage them. Meanwhile, despite rebranding, Brighton have quietly continued to go about their business, consistently producing upper-level ultimate (and players to be snapped up).

Further down, the bottom half of A-tour was in a more normal state of flux, and received opinion is that the top half of B-tour has become significantly stronger with a roughly equal bracket of 8 stretching between the two divisions. Flump’s charge up the rankings from C to A-tour (and Nationals) provided some seeding headaches for the competitions committee and it will be interesting to see where their season goes next year. 

So whilst the top of the table remained stable, it seems that in 2013 anything beyond that was up for grabs – will this trend continue in 2014? Stay tuned, we’ll be taking a look shortly.

Watch out for James’ preview for 2014, here on theShowGame.

UKU Open Nationals 2013

Birmingham, Chevron, Clapham, Devon, Fire of London, Flump, Glasgow Ultimate, Open, Previews, Release, UKU Nationals

Josh Coxon Kelly previews the 2013 UK Open Nationals.

This weekend the 2013 UKU National Championships take place in Southampton and the tournament is more hyped than ever before. Even with the various controversies surrounding the Mixed and Women’s divisions, the culmination of a tumultuous domestic Open season is looking to be ripe for drama. The return of national players at this point in the season is a sure-fire way to add excitement to start. This year sees both World Games and u23 squad players bringing invaluable international experience to their clubs, who having grown in their absence will be further boosted by their superstar homecomings.


Reigning champions Clapham come into the tournament after a formidable performance against some of USA ultimate’s best at the Chesapeake Invite. With the World Club Championships around the corner the pressure to retain both National and European titles will be sky high, and central players from both World Games and u23 will need to keep their focus in a busy season to retain the title.


However with the rise of EMO and the fall of Fire 1 at open tour, and numerous unexpected results from the UKU regional series Nationals has truly been blown wide open compared to the relatively predictable tournaments of the past. Manchester will feel hard done by with their route after clinching a shocker upset against Chevron in the northern region, and will be looking to get a W against opening matchup Fire 2 to give themselves another shot at the Ron. With the wound of last season’s semi-final loss at the hands of Fire 1 still fresh, Chevron will be looking to show that they can rise all the way to the top amidst a fierce club scene.


Also lined up on this side of the draw is a potential quarter final matchup between midlands geoowerhouse EMO and Fire 1. Fire have historic experience at this level but despite having had a less than smooth season will still be favourites against a promising but still-fresh Glasgow team. Unless Release can snag a considerable giant killing, Fire will face a hungry young EMO squad that relishes in the strength of their (so-far!) ‘unknown’ players who have been making big plays on the complacent from any club all year. With some hot tempers on each side, and larger implications of European and Worlds qualifications overhanging victory this could be one of the games of the tournament.
Defending Champions Clapham at last years Nationals. Photo Courtesy of Andrew Moss.


In the top half of the draw Kapow! and Brighton are en-route to a quarter final clash, although it is difficult to see either team stand in the way of Clapham’s route to the final. However – the knockout structure of Nationals is perfect for upsets, and the clarity of the structure will favour the underdogs, as the ever-elusive ‘scalping’ suddenly has huge implications. The continued shift of importance onto Nationals over tour as a priority for UK Open clubs combines with the exposed structure to create a tournament brimming with excitement and competition. With streaming, live scores, an ever vibrant twitter presence and even a wonderfully simple fantasy competition Open nationals 2013 is set to be a stormer across the board.

The ShowGame got in touch with each of the team captains for a few of their own words approaching the tournament – maybe time for a few last changes to that fantasy 7?…

1. Clapham Ultimate Marc Guilbert:

Describe your team philosophy and playing style:  

Make Clapham practice the best game in Europe.

What finishing place are you aiming for?  
We aim to win nationals and retain the title.

Who makes the big plays on your team?  
Everyone contributes to our plays. We don’t try to build our club around superstars, we rather have depth and build victories together. That said, our captains Justin Foord and Richard Harris continue to be huge playmakers for us.



2. Manchester Dale Walker:
Describe your team philosophy and playing style:

Our philosophy is to enjoy playing. A few of us had come from teams where fun was neglected for performance, or performance was neglected for fun. We’ve struck a good balance between combining the competitive elements of our squad without losing the joy of something that is essentially a really expensive hobby.
Our playing style is quite loose. We have a few structures and set plays with some heavy Chevron influences (our squad trains closely with Chevron players and has a few Chevron alumni) but we also incorporate our own ideas from the experiences of some of our senior statesmen. You may see some EMO, Chevron & LLL ideas from years gone amalgamate into one.
What finishing place are you aiming for?
We set our goal this season of making top 8. We came ever so close in Tour with 2 sudden death losses at T3 to KaPow! & Ranelagh, and we have a great opportunity to do so at Nationals. We’d love to make xEUCF, but we’re not hung up on it – if we play well and stay in every game we’ll be happy with our weekend, if we make Europeans we’ll be ecstatic.


Who makes the big plays on your team?

We’ve got a great balance between playmakers and solid contributors. Expect to see big things from Santiago Zuluaga, Nick Smith & Adam Irving on offence, with Ewen Buckling & Ben Brierley keeping our D line in the mix. We’ve found all year that our lesser known guys are becoming our main bread winners – an unintended element of surprise but it’s worked to our favour.


3. EMOJoe Wynder:
Describe your team philosophy and playing style: 

Our playing style is aggressive and athletic! Team philosophy is believing in ourselves and working for your teammates.

Who makes the big plays on your team?
Offence play makers would likely be myself, Galey and Tom Fox.
Defence play makers would likely be Rollo Sax-Dixon (Birmingham University) and Liam Cockerill. Our D line works really well together as a unit. Pretty much everyone contributes and offers skills in different areas.


4. Brighton CityFelix Shardlow:
Describe your team philosophy and playing style: 
Brighton City play a newly developed offence which is fluid, balanced and organic, using the space on the field in a different and unique way compared to other offences. On defence we bring variety to the table, playing man-to-man and tight junk zone and anything and everything in between.

What finishing place are you aiming for?
We know we are capable of finishing in the top 3 this weekend, but there will be some tough battles along the way, in particular the quarter against KaPow! will be huge as that game means so much for both teams.

Who makes the big plays on your team?

Keep an eye out for running machine Roach making a return for the end of the season, Robbie Haines getting multiple crucial layout D’s, and Hayden Slaughter 3000 continuing to surprise everybody all over the field.



5. KaPow!David Pichler:
Describe your team philosophy and playing style: 

Philosophy is to strive to improve as players in everything we do and to push our boundaries at training. This creates quite a loose and free playing style. We’ve worked a lot on cleaning it up when we get bogged down.
What finishing place are you aiming for?
We don’t focus on results but on our performance. If we perform the way we want then the results will follow
Who makes the big plays on your team?
Fred Shone and Will Martin are playing very well on Offense. Defensively Jake Warren is capable of big plays, and our Portuguese connection of Pedro Vargas and David Pimenta is always fun to watch. Also, watch out for Simon Dathan on our D line. He can lock down the very best cutters and handlers any team has



6. Fire 1Alex Cragg:

Describe your team philosophy and playing style:
Going into Nationals it’s all about having no mercy and not giving the opposition a chance at the disc. It’s going to be all guns blazing on D, and considered and concise on O.

What are you aiming for in terms of finishing place?
A spot in the final.

Who makes the big plays on your team?
We try to encourage people not to feel like they need to make big plays. It’s more about the team scoring or getting a block than any individual brilliance. I’m sure the Fantasy Ultimate world wants to see Parslow rack up some stats though..



7. FlumpHam Roushanzamir:

Describe your team philosophy and playing style:

Flump is all about having fun and developing as an ultimate player. Each player is a big part of the club and everyone is always improving no matter what their experience. Unlike other clubs who focus on drills and running track to improve, we predominantly use board games to increase our team’s confidence and boost team strategy. You should see how much a player’s character builds after winning a game of Resistance. The lessons learnt are priceless.

What are you aiming for in terms of finishing place?
At Tour 1 we were seeded 42nd (middle of C Tour), we have risen all season and are entering Nationals seeded 7th.

If we continue at the current rate of improvement then it’s looking like we will finish 1st at Nationals.


Who makes the big plays on your team?
Joe Minns


8. DevonSamuel Luxa

Still awaiting answers… get in touch or comment below!



9. ReadingGraham Byford

Describe your team philosophy and playing style:
Our philosophy/style is to keep it simple and make the right decisions.

What are you aiming for in terms of finishing place?
We are aiming for top 12 – anything more than that would be a great success for us.


Who makes the big plays on your team?
I wouldn’t like to single out anyone as a big play maker, we have a number of players capable of big things!



10. ChevronJames Jackson:

Describe your team philosophy and playing style:

As I’m sure most people are aware, Chevron’s philosophy has always been to play at the top level with friends and like-minded people, rather than just cherry-picking based on ability. This translates into our playing style which is designed to allow creativity and freedom on offence – we try not to put strict patterns in place, but play by certain principles that allow us greater freedom. 
At times this does have drawbacks, when the team isn’t firing we can’t just fall back on basic, strict cutting patterns, but on the other hand when things click it is unstoppable and you see some amazing things coming out of it.

What are you aiming for in terms of finishing place?
In terms of finishing place, we are always aiming to win. In recent seasons this has been an objective target for the season, however we have found that focusing on the end result of a tournament can distract attention from playing the team that is in front of you earlier on. This year we made our main target just playing and training together as a team more. It is going well so far despite the result at Northern Regionals, and we hope the results will come naturally out of this, rather than the finishing position being the target itself.

Who makes the big plays on your team?

The team is full of players who make huge plays on a consistent basis. On offence, Richard Coward has become a huge asset, who has added great assisting throws to his deep game making him a danger in both directions. Sam Bowen has moved over to offence this year, he is capable of doing some amazing things and now just needs to prove his consistency. We’re also looking forward to Ollie Gordon coming back from his World Games preparations. On defence, Matt Beavan seems to have regressed (or progressed) back to his former teenage-self and has been getting huge fly-by blocks all season, and blasting pitch-length hucks from his own endzone. Our younger D players are a lot more experienced now than a couple of years ago, so guys like Tom Cartwright and Jake Aspin are becoming much more dangerous with the disc after getting the turns.
Though the team is full of individuals who can do some unbelievable things, the biggest strength is definitely in the team as a whole, our sideline will always have injured players on because they don’t want to stay at home.



11. GlasgowPhillip Webb:

Describe your team philosophy and playing style:
Offence possession, Defence aggression.

What are you aiming for in terms of finishing place?
We set out this year to establish another competitive team in Scotland and encourage participation at tour. Everything beyond that has been a bonus but we don’t see the point in stopping yet. xEUCF qualification is a step too far for now but outside of that we back ourselves against anyone on the day, we’ve surprised a few teams this year with our inability to know when we’re beaten.

Who makes the big plays on your team?
We’re a small squad so everyone know’s there are no passengers on the team and that’s the way we like to play. Everyone gives their all and we win or lose as a team.


12. EMO 2Joe Wynder:

Describe your team philosophy and playing style:
Playing style is Calm and Collected on offence, with battling and graft on Defence
Team Philosophy is working together and hard graft.

Who makes the big plays on your team?
Offence will be run by Veterans Ian Scotland and Matt Stead
Defence Phil Brunson and Nelson Chan both have the ability to make athletic plays.
Just like the first team all of them contribute and work hard for each other, especially as they have such a small squad size.



13.  BirminghamBen Kings:
Describe your team philosophy and playing style:

We are a relatively new club and this is our first season so I’m not sure if we have a team philosophy yet. We are just happy to get a chance to have a pop at the big guns.

We like to play quite a fast flowing game, and are happy to throw the disc around until we can get a big ol’huck off. 

Who makes the big plays on your team?
I think we will be pretty happy if we can get into the top 12, but satisfied if we can hold seed.


Who makes the big plays on your team?
Main plays are likely to come from Marius Hutcheson throwing to anyone of our cutters. Though you can expect Carl Bullingham to get on the score sheet often and some big layout D’s from Matt Seabrook.



14. ReleaseBrendan Thorne:
Describe your team philosophy and playing style:

Our philosophy this year has been to go out and enjoy each tour and develop our younger players, this lack of pressure has allowed us to improve as a team and culminated in a great result at Regionals to make it to Nationals. We are currently using a combination of the playing style the Release has used for the last few years and the tactics and experience many of us gained from Brummie whilst playing with Wessex last year. We’re a team that always looks to take long shots when they’re on (and often when they’re not).
What are you aiming for in terms of finishing place?
I think a realistic aim for us would be to win out in the round robin to take 13th, whilst playing hard to cause an upset and make to top 12 if the right opportunity presents itself. We are going in as the lowest ranked team based on the tour rankings so hopefully this lack of pressure combined with home advantage will make us a potentially awkward match-up.
Who makes the big plays on your team?
Our star cutter this year has been Peter ‘Special’ Wigfield who has made a great comeback from injury, his combination of speed and positioning makes him very dangerous up pitch. On the disc the main threats are the Wessex returnees Simon ‘Tugs’ Yorath, who is always chilly on the disc and very effective against zones, and Alex Lusby-Taylor, who is known for his flair throws and coming up with the unexpected.

15. Fire 2Tim Burton:
Describe your team philosophy and playing style:
Team philosophy is play hard, have fun. We maintain an individual style from our first team, but still work hard on being quick and aggressive on our man defence, and a calm, quick offence.

What are you aiming for in terms of finishing place?
We want to make the semi’s at the very least, we have the capability to get there. Top 4 is the aim.


Who makes the big plays on your team?
Stephan Lewis makes the big grabs in the end zone, Tom Summerbee holding the team together with his breaks, and David Pryce in the middle linking them all up.


16. Burro ElectricoJames Burbidge
Describe your team philosophy and playing style:
Burro plays from a fairly structured horizontal stack and likes to break the mark on offense. Defensively we rely on a solid man offense with a variety of zone looks thrown in to spice things up.
What are you aiming for in terms of finishing place?
Given our late and fortuitous entry to Nationals Burro has lost a few players to other activities (family, holidays etc) and those we have left haven’t been training. We’ve managed to reload the squad to a decent size, but expect a certain amount of gelling to have to take place over the weekend. We don’t have an eye on any particular finishing place, but we play our best ultimate when the pressure’s off. Whoever we’ve got first up should watch out.
Who makes the big plays on your team?
If it’s big players you’re looking for they don’t come much taller than ex-ABH mixed player Spoon (Matt Thomas) whose 6’7″ or something thereabouts. Gary Hall has deadly breaks and Dan Ryan combines height, speed, Black-Tide-aggression and a UK discgolf championship in one nasty package.

Time to see what you got! Comment, follow, share as usual! JCK @ tSG.

UKU Regionals Results

Chevron, Manchester, Tournament Reports, UKU Nationals, UKU Regionals

This weekend saw 16 teams from 6 regions earn their place at UKU Nationals 2013 and the first round match ups they gain.

Full results

South West

  1. Devon 1 (Q)
  2. Devon 2 (Q)
  3. Devon 3
South East
  1. Brighton City (Q)
  2. Reading Ultimate (Q)
  3. Release (Q)
  4. DED Open
  5. DED Mixed
  6. Guildford
  7. Brighton Echo
  8. Brighton Pier Pressure
  9. Team Shark


Greater London

  1. Clapham Ultimate (Q)
  2. KaPow (Q)
  3. Fire 1 (Q)
  4. Flump (Q)
  5. Fire 2 (Q)
  6. Burro Electrico
  7. Tooting Tigers
  8. Curve
  9. Jekyll and Hyde 1
  10. Brixton
  11. Jekyll and Hyde 2

Midlands

  1. EMO 1 (Q)
  2. EMO 2 (Q)
  3. Birmingham Ultimate (Q)
  4. Jest Ridisculous
  5. Flyght Club
  6. Cambridge
  7. Leamington Lemmings
  8. Sharkbear
North

  1. Manchester Ultimate (Q)
  2. Chevron Action Flash (Q)
  3. LeedsLeedsLeeds
  4. Vision
  5. Black Sheep 1
  6. Black Sheep 2
Scotland

  1. Glasgow (Q)
  2. Fusion
  3. Black Eagles
  4. Glue Factory
  5. Glasgow 2
  6. Sneeekys
The surprise being Manchester beating Chevron in sudden death to top the North and 6 of the qualifiers coming from outside the top 16 Tour teams. For a comparison on how our predictions did against Smatt’s blog, read his post! ED: We weren’t far off though.


We take the seedings from the UKU Nationals document which gives us the full 16 as:

  1. Clapham Ultimate
  2. Manchester Ultimate
  3. EMO 1
  4. Brighton City
  5. KaPow
  6. Fire 1
  7. Flump
  8. Devon 1
  9. Reading
  10. Chevron Action Flash
  11. Glasgow
  12. EMO 2
  13. Birmingham Ultimate
  14. Release
  15. Fire 2
  16. Devon 2
First round games will be in the knockout format: 1v16, 2v15 etc which will go up on the UKU Nationals website soon. 

This notably gives a possible second round (due to low impact criteria) regional rematch for Chevron and Manchester.

Cannot wait for Southampton now! DP @ tSG.