The votes are in and the 2018 European Young Players of the Year are SMOG’s Rachel Turton and Clapham’s Conrad Wilson. The pair both represented Great Britain at the World Under-24 Championships in Perth earlier this year – Rachel in the Mixed division and Conrad in the Men’s division – and represented their clubs at the World Ultimate Club Championships in Cincinnati.
Sean Colfer has done a bumper preview on all three divisions. They’ll all be coming this evening as he gets (most of) his picks on record for everyone to criticise once they’re proved wrong. Here’s his view on the Mixed division.
Nationals is the culmination of the domestic season, the final act on a long slog that started in Cardiff what seems like a hundred years ago. After hosting the first iteration of the new format last season, Birmingham will again welcome the best 32 Open, Women’s and Mixed teams in the country to find out who’s best (even though we probably know) and who’s going to Poland to play Europe’s best.
Let’s get to the division-specific predictions.
Sean Colfer followed the only Mixed team from the UK to make the top 16, Black Eagles. Here’s the story of their day.
Black Eagles were facing the biggest day in their history. They’ve played in Nationals finals, they’ve played big games at European championships and they’ve played a WUCC before, but they had never been in this spot. Defeat the talented Japanese team IKU and the reward was a shot at the favourites for the title; the top seeded Seattle Mixtape team that took home USA Nationals gold last season.
The match between Kisumu and UCT Flying Tigers was significant. Sean Colfer explains why.
Two teams facing each other in a pool on day three of a tournament is usually nothing that would be considered too significant, given how much of the week is left. However, the match-up between UCT Flying Tigers and Kisumu Frisbee Club was not an ordinary match. It was the first time that two African teams had ever met each other in any Ultimate World Championships.
Sean Colfer spoke to six of the Neals to find out what it’s like being at a tournament with your family.
One of the best parts of covering any international tournament is seeing the joy relating to anything outside of the Ultimate. The new friendships that are forged, the unforgettable moments experienced between games and the pride of representing a club, team or country on such a stage are all indelible parts of any world championships. One aspect that’s always been a personal favourite of mine; watching parents enjoying their children’s games.
There are several kinds of Ultimate parents. There’s the parents that have played themselves; those are pretty rare. There’s the kind that have absolutely no idea what is going on but find the mix of athletic prowess, throwing skills and raucous team spirit intoxicating and enjoy it nonetheless. There’s usually quite a few of them. And then there’s an increasingly common kind – those who have seen so much Ultimate that they take on some knowledge by osmosis and begin to understand exactly what they’re watching. Two parents that fit very snugly into that bracket are Terry and Raymond Neal.
Sean Colfer watched the reigning UK Mixed champions Black Eagles match up against the strong Canadian team Banana Cutters.
Black Eagles and Banana Cutters entered this match with identical records – three wins and one loss, to Philadelphia AMP, meaning that this was for second place in the pool. The prize awaiting the winner was a round-of-32 match against IKU from Tokyo, while the loser would face Sydney’s Friskee.
Sean Colfer watched Reading and RusMixed face off in a crucial pool game.
Reading Ultimate have approached this tournament with a professionalism to be admired. They’ve been preparing a team for several years, they’ve practised together extensively and they scout their opponents in great detail. That has all come together nicely for them in Cincinnati as they sat with three wins in three ahead of their match with RusMixed, the Russia champions who beat Black Eagles at Talampaya. RusMixed lost to Wild Card, but otherwise had been in great form, topping GRUT 14-13 earlier in the pool. The winner of this match would have the inside track on second in the pool, though if Reading won they’d have a chance to top it against Wild Card.