London Calling – Open Preview

#ukut1, Bad Skid, Brighton, Chevron, Clapham, club, DED, Devon, EMO, Fire of London, Flying Angels Bern, Glasgow Ultimate, Kapow, Leeds, London Calling, Manchester, Previews, Ranelagh, UK Ultimate, Zimmer
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! 


Your Guide to UK Hat Tournaments

DUF, DUFFA, Hat, Manchester, Sheffield, UK Ultimate

There’s something quite beautiful about hat tournaments. At a hat tournament, you sign up as a single player, rank yourself on some delightfully arbitrary scale, and then get sorted into a team of people who you’ve probably never met before. You then play together, party together, play some more together and then go back home; probably never to play with those team-mates again. You take nothing back with you except an odd coloured shirt, possibly a prize or two and a vague recollection of enjoying yourself over the weekend, though doing what you can’t quite remember.

So why are they so great? Hat tournaments help remind you how Ultimate is bigger than just your club or uni team. Open to GB players and beginners alike, they have a very wide audience, from the high level athlete looking to escape from the pressures of tour, to the complete amateur (probably dragged along by a friend) discovering Ultimate for the very first time. They tend to be very well run, are always entertaining, always have a great party, and tend to have a wide variety of prizes too.


There are four major hat tournaments to watch out for in the UK this Summer, each with their own characters and personalities. Your loyal reporter has spent some time sitting down with the TDs of each to find out the facts, figures and the fun of hat tournaments.


Phoenix Knights Present: The Durham HAT

Tournament Date: 14th/15th June 2014
Sign-Up: Active, and almost full! Contact asap to get a last spot/early on the waiting list.

Cost: £30
Capacity: 288 players
Tournament Directors:  
Craig Hawes, Sam Thompson, Elizabeth Hopker, Tash Myhill, Lauren Forsyth


So, what makes you unique then?
2014 sees the re-birth of the Durham HAT. As one of the oldest and biggest HAT tournaments in the UK the Durham HAT has a strong Frisbee pedigree.  After last year’s hiatus the Durham HAT 2014 will see all the best bits of previous tournaments all wrapped up in Phoenix Knights Style. More fun, more colour, more entertainments but all the same high quality Frisbee. Open to beginners and experienced players, we cater for all. 

We bring you 24 teams, games, a party that will be a Knight to remember, prizes galore and oh yeah, a bit of Ultimate on the side. Included in the price is your very own Lookfly performance HAT shirt, camping near the pitches with full facilities, Saturday dinner, pitch-side music, a Friday arrival party and naturally the massive Saturday themed fancy dress party as well (and much, much more – but we’re not going to tell you everything at this stage!)
This years theme is Myth, Mystery & Magic. Expect the unexpected – we’ll be featuring a full Quidditch pitch, a mystery challenge running through the weekend with equally mysterious prizes, a private themed costume party and much more besides: join our Facebook group to stay on top of all the surprises.

Flying, Circular Love,
Phoenix Knights & Durham Ultimate Frisbee

tSG Review:

After a year out for Durham, Phoenix Knights (combined with DUF) are aiming to put on a spectacular show, and looking to live up to their name by reviving the Durham hat back from the embers to retake it’s place as one of the highlights of the Summer in a blaze of glory (end of phoenix analogy). Even if you haven’t heard of the Knights before, be aware that Durham has plenty of alumni and college players, so they’re going to have all the help and advice they need to really make a mark on the Summer. However with a very early sign up (and a lot of keen interest already shown), make sure you sort yourself out fast to secure a place at what looks to be a fantastic tournament.


Sounds great, where can I go to find out more?
The Phoenix Knights, hoping to brighten up a Grey summer by reviving
Durham Hat from the Ashes

DUFFA Hat

Very Likely Tournament Date: 19/20th July 2014
Sign-Up Date: March (International players with flights to sort can email for early sign up)
Cost: TBA (Last Year: £33 + £8 for a disc)
Capacity: TBA (Last year 288, but looking to expand due to phenomenal demand!)
Tournament Directors: Rich Harrison, Alan Heckman

So, what makes you unique then?
I think the first year was so successful as it was mostly run by ultimate players who’d never been to a tournament before! They didn’t really know what was expected, so went all out and they blew the players’ expectations out of the water. As we’ve expanded year on year we’ve been able to build on previous years’ successes to go that extra mile every time. The word is definitely spreading – we thought a two and a half hour sell-out was great in 2012, but nothing could have prepared us for a four minute sell-out in 2013!

We’re lucky to have an army of willing volunteers who pour their heart and soul into providing the best tournament experience we can. Their only reward is seeing the players having a great time. We do it because we love it!

We try very hard to create a welcoming atmosphere for players of all abilities. Some of the players throw a Frisbee for the first time on the morning of the tournament, whilst some have played for years at a high Tour level, or even internationally. And of course, there’s a massive range of skills and experience in between those two extremes! See you in July!

All DUFFA photos courtesy of LOVEultimate from www.weloveultimate.co.uk


tSG Review:
DUFFA set a reputation last year for the biggest, loudest and most popular hat tournament in the UK. With countless extra activities to do between games (3 pint challenge table and disc accuracy competition shown above), a huge party in an outdoor marque and one of the strongest international scenes in any UK tournament, last year DUFFA is staked it’s claim as *the* hat tournament of the Summer. However, with an incredibly fast sell-out time last year and this year looking to be busy too, make sure you keep very up to date with any updates they give. Also, they give a wide variety of very good prizes. Just sayin’…


Sounds fantastic, where can I go to find out more?

Website: www.duffa.org 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/20991885689/
Email: hat@duffa.org


Manchester Hat

Very Likely Tournament Date: 9/10 August 2014
Sign-Up Date: late March/early April 2014
Cost: TBA (Last Year – £25)
Capacity: 120
Tournament Director: Elly White

So, what makes you unique then?:

Manchester hat is only in its second edition after a very successful début last year. It is a small, intimate hat tournament (120 people limit) which means everybody gets to know everyone and it creates a very friendly atmosphere. It also means everyone can fit into the combined bar and dance floor area of the Rugby Club, ensuring a really personal party experience with the entire tournament.

We have evening activities for you to bond with your team, last year this was a pub quiz and a school sports day (think egg and spoon races and three legged races!). This year there will be similar things!


Manchester Hat has great prizes, last year this included Manchester Hat trackies and boot-bags (and naturally prizes of alcohol for anyone who won a school sports day event – got to keep it realistic after all!).


This years theme is Fairytale, so Knights, Princesses and Dragons! Hope to see you all there.

Manchester Hat helped unlock the inner children in Ultimate last year. 
Top pictures from disposable cameras supplied free at tournament. 
Bottom picture of egg and spoon race courtesy of blockstack.tv 


tSG Review:

Manchester Hat was an oddity in the tournament scene last year, and we absolutely don’t mean that in a bad way. Due to the combined hat format, relatively small size and excellent organisation and extra activities, it really was the tournament that you bonded most with your team for. It felt the most like an entire tournament enjoying Ultimate together, and it did feel like a community for a weekend. It’s not what everyone looks for in a weekend of Ultimate, but for its first year it sure found its feet quickly. Expect big (well, small but well organised) things on its second outing.

Sounds fantastic, where can I go to find out more?:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/497009620408097/
Email: eleanor.white@hotmail.com


Sheffield Hat

Tournament Date: 6/7th September 2014
Sign-Up Date: Likely the end of June
Cost: £30-35 + £10 per tent camping charge. 
However, some of this does go to charity!
Capacity: 140 players
Tournament Director:
Si East (Mix & Mingle, ex-Indoors DOC, Competitions Committee member & more!)


So, what makes you unique then?
2014 will be the 5th Sheffield Hat, and the 3rd year at the current venue in Hillsborough. It is different to all the others because the venue is small so we use BULA (beach) sized pitches and play 5v5. That’s right: 5 a side on grass!

We also raise money for charity; previously Right To Play and Access Sport but this year we will be supporting someone local to the event. A small % of the player fee goes to charity and any other amounts we can raise over the weekend. We always have a show-game on Saturday evening and spectators have the chance to raise money and have fun through playing Fantasy
Ultimate (with a cash prize on offer too!).

We always incorporate other disc games too, in 2013 we had a DDC pitch and held an accuracy competition. We hope to have at least the same this year, hopefully some disc golf too.
Lookfly have been fantastic supporters of this event since the beginning and in 2013 they provided Spirit and show-game prizes.  Catch The Spirit were also very supportive in 2013.
The other way we’re different is that there isn’t a big party (shock!).  This is a pretty chilled out weekend to finish your season so we just relax in the bar with some pub games until they close, then potter to bed.  We are planning an alternative option this year as well, likely discounted entry into one of Sheffield’s top nightspots so don’t be put off if you only go for the parties!

Anything else?
I think Hat tournaments are great (the Melbourne Hat was one of my first tournaments) and it is good that there are some successful ones in the UK.  DUFFA goes from strength to strength and it’s certainly good to see Durham back this year.  They all offer something different, but are equally all a great way of meeting new people and practising those Frisbee skills!

Sheffield Hat 2013 managed to raise £347 for Access Sport last year

tSG review:
Sheffield Hat’s strength lies in the fact it’s at the end of a season. It’s the perfect way to wind down from an intense summer of Ultimate, play some great games and in fact just relax with all the people you’ve probably been playing against all season. Whilst it is normally at the same weekend as Glastonbury, it’s relatively accessible location and extra touches (naturally I’m a fan of the show game, and the related Fantasy Ultimate was a personal highlight) mean it’s certainly proving more and more popular each year, and deservedly so.

Sounds fantastic, where can I go to find out more?



In all, it’s been great to see that Hat culture grow in the UK over the part few years. I’ve personally been to everyone one of these, and loved every moment. Each tournament really does have it’s own culture and flavour, something which in no doubt thanks to the phenomenal effort placed into organising these things by the TDs, and of course the teams behind all of them. So there’s no way I’d rather end than by wishing them the best of luck in the future, and thanking them all for their effort they put in to making these things happen every Summer. Really, hats off to you all. Now see you on the pitch.



Did you go to any hat tournaments last year? Are there any we’ve missed out? Do you have any memories from previous tournaments you’d like to share? Please comment below, we’d love to hear from you.

Northern Uni Open Indoor Regionals

Chester, Durham, Hallam, Hull, Lancaster, Leeds, Leeds Met, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, North, Sheffield, UK Ultimate, UKU Regionals, University, York
Andrei Mandzuk from Bangor Ultimate takes us through the Northern Region.
The weekend marks the start of the Northern University indoors season, with teams from across the region converging on Leeds to battle it out for prestigious spots at Nationals. The north consistently proves itself to be a strong but very open region, with an array of teams feeling that they’re in with a shot of qualifying. After going through what many felt was a developmental period for the region last year, it is expected to return to full strength with many key players reaching their final years of study.
I shall begin by providing short previews of top teams in the region in order of their predicted seeds. All content below is based on predictions from team captains and information gathered from the UK Ultimate rumour mill.

One of the biggest regions and what a region! Image courtesy of UK Ultimate.


Manchester will undoubtedly be going into Regionals as top seed after consistently winning the region in recent years, and claiming a silver medal at Division 1 Indoor Nationals last season (ED: Second in 2012, 2011, 2009 and Bronze in 2010). Despite a high turnover from last year’s squad they have retained Chevron player Jake Aspin for another year running. Alongside this, their strength will be sustained by the maturation of GB u20 Simo Low and picking up GB u23 Mixed MVP Steve Dixon as an undergraduate. A 3rd place finish at Sheffield Experienced has shown them to be the region’s top team once again.

Sheffield are a team who’s strength lies in the A Tour experience at the top of their roster with Manchester Ultimate’s Dan Sumner and LeedsLeedsLeeds’s David Sparks. Along with this, their core is completed by the pickup of Will Jackson from Halcyon. They’re expected to run the same strict iso which proved so effective on the large pitches at Ponds Forge last year, and will keep the disc in the hands of their key players whilst challenging teams with athletic man-to-man defence. Although they gathered mixed results, Phat’eds are a team who managed to enter three warmup tournaments and this pitch time together may prove invaluable at the weekend.
Leeds almost caused the upset of the tournament last year, reaching the final and taking Halcyon to double game point. They will look to run a traditional offense, controlled by veteran Nick Moss, and captain Joseph Fisher, both of LeedsLeedsLeeds. They have tended to throw a mix of solid man defence, alongside a poachy zone which looks to prevent breakside throws. With disappointing results at warmup tournaments and losing varsity to local rivals Leeds Met, Regionals is their chance to prove themselves as a force in the North for another year running.
Newcastle are another team who qualified for Division 1 at last year’s Indoor Regionals but have been struck with a high player turnover from last season. This has given role players the chance to step up and it’s expected that Alex Mazzon will top the score sheet, with Ben Withers getting a lot of touches on the disc upfield. Despite getting incomplete rosters to warmup tournaments, and chalking up results at both ends of the spectrum, they’re a team who will be looking to show that their strength runs deeper than in previous years.
Durham are not a team who are known for strong indoors performances, instead using it as a chance to build their team for the outdoors season. Although they’ve suffered with large numbers of players graduating from the team that qualified for Division 1 at outdoors last season, they too will be looking to show a strength in depth that’s built on their impressive collegiate participation. A solid 6th place finish at Sheffield Experienced shows that they’re going to be hungry to push for indoors qualification this year.
Liverpool will be looking to avenge a poor showing at Indoor Regionals last season and show more similarities to their solid performance at Div 2 Outdoor Nationals. With last year’s handler core graduating, Sion Regan will be looking to experienced players Stuart Johnston and Andy Garner to control the disc upfield whilst he produces a downfield matchup to be feared. Despite being a team with their eyes on the bigger picture of outdoors, they’ve shown to be well organised and produced an impressive 4th place finish at Liverpool Experienced. It would be foolish to write them off again this season.
Leeds Met have fostered an impressively growing program in recent years, shown by qualifying for last year’s Division 2 Indoor Nationals after winning the game to go. Chevron player James Mead will look to make plays both on and off the disc, and Cambridge Mixed’s Dave Littler will control the disc upfield. Coming off the back of mixed results at warmup tournaments but a convincing victory over local rivals Leeds at their varsity, this is a team who are hungry to sustain last year’s success.
Bangor are a team who have graduated only one player from last year’s outdoors squad. Despite this, a run of poor luck on the injury front alongside personal issues has left them shorthanded for this year’s Regionals. Expect big plays on both sides of the disc from Daniel McLean and GB u23 Mixed’s Cameron Burgess as the team tries to gel after being forced to take a skeleton squad to Liverpool Experienced.
Lancaster are a team who are going through a rebuilding phase currently and are still reeling from losing all of their Nationals qualifying first team. Despite this, they reached the game to go last year against Leeds Met and will look to go into the tournament to cause upsets this year around. Captain Reece Stanton will aim to find Michael Sharkey downfield for large gains.
Sheffield Hallam are another team who, similar to Leeds Met, pick up a sport-minded group of beginners each year. This is shown by their success yet again in beginners tournaments and is always promising for future years. Hallam, led by GB u23 Mixed’s Alex Walsh will look to take advantage of this, as he tries to find athletic cutters downfield. Teams should expect a hard running defence and tough match-ups all across the pitch.
York are set to be the big story of this year’s Regionals. A team which has been built from the ground up is set to peak this season in spectacular fashion. They have had strong results at warmup tournaments, and been tipped by many captains to be the team to watch. This year’s York team looks to establish themselves as a force in the North. Cohesion gained from the core of the team playing on the successful ‘fun’ team SMOG, and 2 years of university pitch time together will serve them well as they look set for their most successful year in recent history. Joshua Briggs will be throwing the bulk of their assists to tall cutter Max Moseley, although any of their athletic core can be a force downfield.
Hull are an inexperienced team who will be looking to use Regionals to develop. Led by captain Nick Brownbill and tipped to be a team who keeps working until the buzzer, it’s not hard to see them scaring some of the less well organised ‘big’ teams.
Chester are another growing program in the North. Captained by GB u23 Mixed’s Ben Main they produced impressive results at Liverpool Experienced, making their way into the top 8. They are fielding an inexperienced, but enthusiastic team. Main will try to control the disc on offense and their offensive flow comes out of a traditional vertical stack. Going into Regionals with no expectations and everything to gain they can look forward to a productive weekend!
On the back of this all, I’ve based predictions on the surveys we had returned and pre-season results.
Predictions:
1.Manchester
2.York
3.Sheffield

4.Liverpool
5.Newcastle
6.Leeds Met
7.Leeds
As with previous years, Manchester are expected to top the region, albeit not without serious pressure from other contenders, and will hope to go on to replicate their impressive performance at Nationals last year. With impressive pre-season results, and mentions from many captains as being much stronger than previous years, it wouldn’t be surprising to see York secure themselves a second place finish this weekend. Rounding off the qualifiers for Division 1 are Sheffield. Selected by all captains to be up there, and with solid pre-season results, they should be able to secure the final spot.
Division 2 is far more open, with as many as six teams having a genuine shot at making it. Both Liverpool and Newcastle performed well at Liverpool Experienced (despite Newcastle’s depleted squad) and could take the 4 and 5 spots respectively. Rounding off the qualifications places, it’s hard to avoid the romance of a home town varsity rematch in the game to go, with Leeds Met facing off against Leeds Uni. It’s a tough one to call, but I’m tipping Met to win this one and repeat their varsity success.
Outside of the top 6, other contenders for qualification are Durham and Bangor. I suspect Durham’s pedigree for not quite clicking indoors will continue, whilst Bangor’s lack of pitch time together will be their unravelling.
With the Northern Region seeing one of the most open battles to date, I look forward to seeing all the drama and upsets that University ultimate can produce.
Good luck to all competing in Leeds this weekend, and I’ll see you Saturday!

That’s all for the uni indoor regional previews, sadly we were unable to hear from the Western region but good luck to everyone competing across the country! DP @ 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.

UKU Regionals Preview – the North

Chevron, LLL, Manchester, Previews, UKU Regionals, Vision
Dale Walker tells us how he thinks the Northern region will pan out this weekend. The North has 2 bids to Nationals and will be held this Saturday.


With the introduction of the Regionals/Nationals structure to UK Ultimate over the past few seasons, the UKU has taken a glance across the pond to find a structure that allows for a flagship event to be created whilst encouraging local teams to come out and see the best in their proximity battle for the privilege of representing their region at the National Championships.

Whilst thinking about how best to introduce the Northern region and to truly describe the dynamic we have, my mind glanced across the pond as well for inspiration. Whilst not the learned observer I have been in years gone by, I still keep an eye out on the blogosphere and ultimate outlets to see the latest trends – where the talent is heading, who are the top contenders in USAU etc. – and whilst thinking of a direct comparison my attention swung to 2011 NW Regionals.
David Sparks makes a bid for LeedsLeedsLeeds at T2. Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.

This particular tournament featured 4 of the best teams in the country at the time, battling for 2 spots to Nationals in a hugely under seeded region based on regional trends over the previous years. Revolver were at the peak of their powers – Kittredge, Cahill, Watson, Sherwood et al – and dominated the Regional and National scene. Sockeye had come off a very strong regular season, and were being heavily tipped to take the second berth to Nationals. Furious have been notoriously slow in the regular season and didn’t look tooled up to keep Rhino down, nevermind knock Sockeye out. Rhino (with the addition of Seth Wiggins, Chasing Sarasota era) had come off their best ever year and threatened to break the monopoly the afore mentioned trio had enjoyed.


Revolver took the Region. Furious knocked Sockeye out. Furious had beaten the bookies, and despite not coming close all year had taken them down when it really mattered.

First off, I am not drawing a direct comparison in terms of ability between the North of England and the North West of North America. The comparison lies in a region with 2 berths and 4 teams fighting – whilst one spot might be sown up, the latter is completely up for grabs and is 2012 taught me anything it’s that no-one is safe from the dark horse.

Chevron have been a powerhouse over the past few years in Northern ultimate. Their population is more diverse these days, featuring players from Manchester, Liverpool, London, Leicester, Leeds, Bristol, Exeter but the ethos remains the same – gritty, athletic ultimate with an explosive game based on dominant cutters. With some of the old guard moving on, Chevron have revamped in recent years and boast no fewer than 9 GB U23s in the Open team returning from Toronto. Lead by the Chevron veteran Matt Beavan and ably captained by 2010 U23 captains James Jackson, Mark Penny and Josh Coxon Kelly they will look to use Regionals as a tune up event having featured for the past 7 years in the top 4. Expect them to take the region comfortably.

Manchester Ultimate (the rebranded ManUp) have similarly rebooted their programme this year with an active focus on becoming the competitive arm of a hub of UK ultimate. Training weekly since October focusing on skills and fundamentals, Manchester were able to secure an 11th place finish Tour 3 having been promoted from B Tour earlier in the season. Losing in sudden death to KaPow and Ranelagh showed that this team can compete at the top and they are laying claim to be the dominant force in the North. Expect to see Adam Irving rip a few hucks to Nick “Bambi” Smith and Santiago Zuluaga make plays on both sides of the disc. Lead by captain Ewen Buckling bringing a humble intensity to the D line, with Sion Regan and Ben Brierley making explosive plays to keep the D line in with a shout against any team.


Having been part of the exodus from LLLeeds to Manchester between 2012 and 2013, this writer feared they may struggle to recover from the blow of losing 5 starters to Manchester. Leeds have done a superb job of starting from scratch and working with local talent to create a very strong team who have shown all year that youth can be a virtue. Bringing in talent from the local universities, Leeds managed to come up with Manchester at Tour 1 and have stayed in the top 16 so far. Rich Hims has been making plays all his career for LLL, and sets the tone for a young squad who don’t lack in legs (although rumour has it he may be playing Mixed therefore ineligible for Regionals). Ben Bruin keeps the offence ticking over with solid throws and good speed, whilst Chris Rodd and Sam Rayner keep picking the legs up to threaten any D. Having lost to Manchester 3 times this year, they will be determined to make sure they stop the rot and give themselves a chance.

Vision have bled their best talent to their competitors in the past few seasons (Liam Kelly, Sion Regan and Paddy Hart to Chevron, Manchester and EMO respectively) but have always been focused on bringing through local junior talent and giving youth it’s chance. They have always been a passionate team with a lot of fire, but have always struggled to retain depth to the squad and having lost the voice and wisdom of Mark Cooper and Mark Ansdell respectively this season they have relied on some newer faces to get the job done. Paddy Hart looks to control the offence with big throws and has willing runners in Pete Garnett and Dave Baxandall. Alex Walsh and Ben Smith Richards came through the GB Junior ranks together and possess pretty throws capable of hurting defences. Having secured a headturning sudden death victory over LLL in 2012 to secure a Nationals berth, don’t put anything past them in 2013.

Filling out the field is Black Sheep 1 & 2 who have spent the season growing as a team and splitting relatively evenly in Tour events (featuring in the C Tour). They will be approaching the tournament with a view to learning and growing further, with a set of games against the region’s top talent sure to boost them as a club in the future.
With the schedule just released, it appears the crunch game comes down to Manchester vs Leeds in the group stages. At this stage, it is unclear if both teams will elect to carry the result from the Group stage or potentially replay in the 2v3 (assuming Vision don’t cause another upset) but with a place at Nationals on the line for the victor, expect a dogfight. With the results this season in Manchester’s favour (15-10, 15-10 and 15-13 respectively all in crunch games) the smart money would be on Manchester joining Chevron in Southampton. 

I’m sure the smart money would have been on LLLeeds joining them last year.

What do you think? Tell us below, on FB, Tweet, email, ask away! DP @ tSG. 

Tour 2 Review – A Tour (ft. Alex Cragg)

A Tour, Chevron, Clapham, Devon, EMO, Fire of London, Kapow, Manchester, nottingham, Open Tour, Ranelagh, Tournament Reports, u23, UKUT2
Josh Coxon Kelly tells us the tale of A tour at Nottingham including the inside story from one of the Fire 1 captains Alex Cragg.

Players and teams came to Nottingham expecting stormy weather and were not disappointed. A stiff wind all weekend and rushes of rain ensured that Tour 2 was a test of throwing skill and team strategy where patience and discipline would pay dividends. Such conditions are also ripe for upset – particularly on pitches with clear up/down wind orientation – and in this category the A tour didn’t disappoint.


Pool A saw Clapham and GB u23 looking to hold onto the top two seeds in a straight to semis schedule. The meeting of these two teams was closer than at Tour 1, but despite an early lead due to an excellent start by GB, clapham showed their consistency and improved steadily throughout the game to come out victorious once again. Neither Ranelagh or KaPow managed to break into the top 2 of the pool, and a 10-9 loss in their match-up to Ranelagh saw the bottom two in the pool switch seeds.

Michael Speer (GB U23) bids on Matt Dathan (KaPow) in the pool stages. Photo courtesy of Graham Bailey.

In Pool B a reduced Chevron squad make light work of opposition including an opening grudge match against Fire (in recent seasons a frequent matchup, this was the first time the squads had met since Fire’s victory in the 2012 Nationals semi-final). Chevron came out strong and didn’t let up, winning 15-6 in a game that was to be ominous of Fire’s weekend to come. EMO held seed in a dramatic win against a stuttering Fire squad, confirming their place in the top 4 for a second tour running, a win that could turn out to have serious implications in terms of tour rankings for WUCC 2014…

Chevron stayed clinical despite the wind and repeated their tour 1 quarter final victory over the u23s on Sunday, this time for a place in the final to play Clapham. However Chevron’s high retention performances would not continue into the last game of the weekend. Clapham brought a smart game that capitalised early and played through the Chevron zone in both directions. Down early, Chevron were unable to recover and didn’t manage to adapt their more conservative playing style to the worsening conditions as well as their London rivals, who emerged comfortable winners.


Fire veteran Lewis Glover does just enough to beat David Ray (Leeds).
Photo Courtesy of Graham Bailey.

Movement from the second 8 was to create arguably the most dramatic storylines of this tour however, as a Devon squad bolstered by returning players (including Chevron D-line star Ben Hall) completed a dramatic victory over Fire 1 on Sunday morning in the crossover for top 8. Players arriving early at the food and physio tents were treated to a sudden death comeback victory for Devon featuring a completed world’s greatest and the most emphatic of celebrations as Fire’s weekend took a further turn for the worse.


Manchester converted their qualification, avoiding the relegation fate shared by BAF, Cambridge and Glasgow. The highest climber from the second 8 was Fire 2, who after beating KaPow found themselves in the top 8, eventually finishing one place above their first team. 
Fire 1 have long been a firm top 4 team, and have been no stranger to finals at Tour, Nationals and even European championships in the last 5 years. Dropping out of the top 8 is the first significant movement of one the top 3 teams of recent A-tour history – tSG spoke to captain Alex Cragg to gain some insight into the weekend’s events…


Quite a few of the results at tour 2 were obviously disappointing for you and your team. What do you think happened to cause the upsets?
We’d had a slightly lower finish than we’d hoped for at Tour 1, even given the international teams, but we knew we had the ability to play at the top; taking a strong Bad Skid to sudden death proved that.
Unfortunately, that confidence backfired and we presumed our games were foregone conclusions. We failed to take the Chevron game as enough of a sign that wasn’t going to be the case. People wanted to beat us more than we wanted to beat them; our heads weren’t in the right place and we lacked focus causing too many individual errors, which crippled any tactical adjustments.
Another problem was that we tried to play Ultimate… Some people might scoff at that, but we undervalued territory in those conditions. We know how to play through a zone, but it was only half way through the Devon game, 6 points down, that we started to play to our real strengths.
What actions did you take to turn around the team’s mentality after these losses?
We made sure that our pre-game preparation consisted of much more throwing, getting people’s self belief back. We needed to salvage something from the weekend, and putting the prospect of losing all our games into context helped bring back some desire to win.
We’d probably placed too much focus on the bigger picture of World’s qualification, so we brought things back to focus on one game at a time.


Unexpected losses are undeniably difficult to take, but they can give an opportunity to learn about your team – what lessons did you take from tour 2?
The main thing I think we learnt is that we probably haven’t been exploiting our individual strengths enough, instead focussing on a team ethos that has seen some people’s roles mutate.
Every single player was hugely disappointed with the weeked, and I think everyone’s taking a bit more personal responsibility since then. We all know we can do better. We’ll be a very different team at Tour 3 and Nationals.
The second team’s squad has been strong at all showings this year and performed very well to qualify for the top 8 in Nottingham – will this see much change in players between the teams for Tour 3?
Fire 2 have been brilliant this year. A lot of people wrote them off after last year, but they’ve proven that to have been a blip in a very strong history for a second team. They’re definitely on track for their season goal of taking one of the 6 Euro’s spots.
One of our ideas for the year was to allow each team to have its own identity, which has included playing and drilling in those teams at training sessions. This builds up the relationships players need to do well.
However, there has been a small amount of movement, with 2 players coming up from Fire 2. We’ve also moved a couple of Fire 1 players into the seconds to give them more experience playing against top 4 competition (with Fire 1 being locked out).
Outside of players will there be any significant shift in Fire’s approach to Tour 3 and the rest of the season?
Absolutely. After quite a few roster changes from last year, it’s taken some time for everyone to find their role and for us to play in the best way to exploit our strengths. I think our experience at Tour 2 has brought us together more, and our passion and desire to win has only grown. We’ve also restructured how we call lines, which has lead to much better performances in training.
What are your team goals for Nationals and Europeans?
Barring a huge upset at Tour 3, we’ve now missed out on our first shot at World’s qualification. There’s enough time before Nationals to put everything we’ve learnt about ourselves into practice, and, like last year, our target is to make the final of Nationals and win. After that we’ll have to see about Europeans. We’ve learnt to not look too far in the future!

Fire of London.

There is all to play for in the final tour of the season. Fire 1 will be looking to turn their season around in the lead up to Nationals. Clapham will be missing stars with the absence of World Games squad players, and Chevron, U23 and EMO will be looking to capitalise on this to hand them their first loss of the season. Ranelagh found the form they were looking for in Nottingham rising to 5th, but with the recent events at Tour 2 all A tour teams will be fighting hard for that giant killing that will send them up the rankings.

A Tour movers. Courtesy of Wayne Retter.


All ready for a heatwave in Cardiff? Don’t forget your suncream and hats! Like, share, contribute and tweet! DP @ tSG.

London’s Calling Review – B Tour

Fusion, LLL, London's Calling, Manchester, Open Tour, Tournament Reports, Zimmer
Dale Walker continues our London’s Calling review week with a look at B tour.

As UK Ultimate continues to grow and develop with the standard improving across the board, the stigma previously attached to being a B Tour squad looks less offensive in light of a competitive opening Tour of 2013. Perennial A Tour teams including LLLeeds, Burro and Fusionbattled with new kids on the block Manchester, Glasgow, and JR – not to forget yo-yo teams like The Brown and Cardiff, programmes from Vision (with their strong junior setup) and Bristol (one of the deepest Ultimate communities in the UK) and we had a truly wide field for the first time in years.

Manchester came into Tour the #1 seed having jostled with a few for an A Tour berth beforehand, but with strong credentials from a few (including a stacked Zimmer team featuring GB legends Dave Sealy, Si Hill & Matt “Bob” Hims) this was always going to be the scrap it proved to be.

Santiago Zuluaga (Manchester Ultimate) goes big for an offence point in the Saturday pool game against LLLeeds. Photo courtesy of David Sparks.

Bar Pool J, each pool featured one team who were knocked out of contention having started the weekend seeded in the Top 8 bracket – the unfortunate 3 being The Brown, Cardiff Storm and Fusion – demonstrating the difficult nature of seeding at the start of the season and the topsy-turvy nature of Tour. Rumours had been spreading across the field about the various strengths of some of the contenders – Zimmer had been beaten on Saturday by EMO2 which shocked a few. Ireland U23, who featured a number from the successful Irish university scene of 2012 & 2013 looked to sail into A Tour to get the best preparation for Toronto. JR had a successful 2012 building on a strong programme from the universities, finishing in A Tour in 2012 and fancying themselves another shot at the big time.


The Quarter Finals on Sunday morning saw Manchester take on Brighton 2, LLLeeds against Ireland U23, Glasgow battle with Reading and Zimmer hope JR ran less than them… the only upset here was perhaps LLLeeds dispensing of a hyped Irish team in their QF to earn a right to play Zimmer in the SF, the rest going to seed.

The Semi finals saw Manchesterand Glasgow – both new geo programmes in their respective cities – go head to head whilst LLLeeds and their young squad played a team at the opposite end of the spectrum in Zimmer. A sudden death nail biter between Mcr and Glasgow saw the Scots come through, whilst Zimmer dispatched the young upstarts at Leedsdemonstrating their wisdom and experience.

B tour movers. Courtesy of Wayne Retter.

The Final would see Zimmer take the B Tour crown in a close fought 15-13 win over Glasgow, who had demonstrated over the 2 days that they are an unassuming team who will only look to grow in coming years lead by the experienced Webb brothers and working closely with the local university talent. Similarly, Manchester and LLLeeds had revamped in 2013 with similar aspirations and development plans, but in their 3/4 game-to-go Manchesterdemonstrated their extra experience and quality to close out a 15-10 victory and take the final A Tour berth.

Thoughts on B Tour
  • In previous years, so-called yo-yo teams seemed to come up every Tour and head straight back down a Tour later without really putting up too much of a fight. The depth of the competition is a lot stronger in 2013 – consistent A Tour squads of the past few years are now struggling to come back up, teams are running large rosters reflecting their A Tour contemporaries and using tactics and ideas pioneered by the strongest clubs in the country.
  • Whilst the top half of the division featured some close games, the standard really dipped beyond a certain point and resulted in some really falling off the radar. The top 3 teams were spread by three points (11-10 to Glasgowover Manchester, 15-13 to Zimmer over Glasgow) but the level beyond that seemed to dim. Speaking from a personal perspective, Manchester convincingly put LLLeeds away twice by a 5 point margin and took Vision and Burro to the sword (15-5 and 15-8 repectively). Whilst B Tour has come a long way, it still feels as if some games for the more established squads would be more beneficial if Tour 1 allowed for crossovers into A Tour on Sunday.
  • The weekend saw some massive seeding swings, with Fusion nearly falling through the trapdoor and Glasgowrocketing to A Tour after being underseeded coming into the weekend. Reading showcased their growing programme with a strong showing resulting in a 6 place rise whilst Cardiff, JR and The Brown all have their work cut out after disappointing showings.
  • With Zimmer considering not entering Tour 2 and Rebel not entering due to its proximity to Windmill Windup, the teams promoted to A tour are yet to be revealed, but perhaps this year we will see some new faces upset the established order. With Devon, Cambridgeand Tooting all finishing in the historic relegation spots from previous years, the 9-20 bracket could see some real chopping and changing during the season – and those coveted Top 16 places look to be more fiercely contested than ever before.
Watch out for Dale and his team (Manchester Ultimate) along with the new promotions to the A tour in a couple weeks! More reviews tomorrow @ tSG.