UXIN Division 1 Preview 2018

Indoors, Mixed, University

Nic Edwards gives us the lowdown on Division 1 at UXIN (University Mixed Indoor Nationals).

University Mixed Indoor Nationals is down in Essex this year and is set to be an exciting event. A massive three quarters of the teams played Division 1 last year, with University College London, Kings College London, Surrey, Bangor and St Andrews breaking through to join the elite teams returning to the top level. With Glasgow taking the title on 3G last year, will this year’s hardcourt venue be the detriment of them and their 3G-loving Scottish cohort? Who will be the breakthrough stories, the wildcards, and the rags-to-riches stories at this year’s UXIN? Let’s take a quick look at what is different this year, and who you should watch out for.

Two regions have suffered the loss of a Division 1 space – Yorkshire & East Midlands, and West Midlands & Wales – which has only paved the way further for the Scots. Scotland dominated both Divisions 1 and 2 Nationals last year and so now, even though they only have eight universities in their region, they have the most Division 1 qualifying spots (5). Three of the four Scottish teams finished in the top four at Division 1 this time last year and St Andrew’s annihilated Division 2, so it was only fair. The question is, is it simply inherent Scottish dominance? The top teams qualifying for Nationals through the Scottish region all had relatively close games against each other, so in theory Nationals could go either way or… do they just play a higher standard of Ultimate? And therefore, will Nationals finish this year as it did last year – with Scottish dominance?

 

How did regionals go?

Above the border, Aberdeen gave an impressive performance, and having Eleanor Taylor (Black Eagles) and Dan McEldrey only boosted their confidence to seize the Scottish Regional title. Every game was fierce, their closest by far being the final, which they won on universe against last year’s National champions, Glasgow. Glasgow had some spicy performances – their nail-biting final against Aberdeen aside – and made a good case for their strength this year too with a two-point semi-final win over local rivals Strathclyde.

In the North, Manchester fell to Durham (who didn’t end up qualifying for Division 1 Nationals) in pool play, but when Sunday came around and with the addition of Chevron’s Steve Dixon, Manchester won every game convincingly. In the West, Bangor’s toughest game was against Birmingham in the final, which they won on universe and rumour has it, even with Natalie Knight and Dom Knight, Bangor wasn’t at full capacity at Regionals.

Yorks and East Mids saw Loughborough defeat Huddersfield in their Regional final by a substantial margin, but also lose to Sheffield in pool play. Huddersfield, on the other hand, won every game with ease up until the final and maybe only having three women, as strong as they may be, is what caused such a big loss. South-Western Bath seemed to win their region without any upsets, and South-Eastern Reading took a very scenic route to their Regional title, losing to a Brighton team in pool play that failed to get the results to join them in Essex this weekend. UCL look to have a strong team this year since it appeared to be UCL and then everyone else in the East and London region; they won every game by a significant margin.

Hayley Dalmon making sure at last years Women’s Nationals. Photo by Sam Mouat.

What does that mean?

Looking at Regional results and not believing in this myth that the Scottish are just better players, I reckon the national title is definitely up for grabs for any team. That being said, the Scots will still have a strong showing at UXIN and should never be underestimated, whether they are seeded first or eighteenth. Other things to take note of is where other Regional winners are seeded, for example Reading and UCL are seeded out of the top eight but I suspect they are going to cause some nasty upsets in pool play.

You don’t have to wait until the knockouts on Sunday to find things worth watching, though. Bangor v Glasgow will be a pool game worth a look; they play very differently but how that game plays out could shine a light on the way Nationals will finish. Other pool games that should be competitive match-ups and good fun to watch are Loughborough v Birmingham, Reading v Bath and UCL v Manchester. Birmingham have a big pick up this year in the name of GeeGee Morrison (Reading WUCC and GBU24 Mixed). If they have developed connections with her then some serious damage can be done against Regionals champs Loughborough. Reading have a lot of experienced players such as Charlotte Marriott and Sam Benians (both Reading) who bring reliable and proven skillsets to the table against a good bath team. UCL v Manchester should in theory be a tight game; Manchester are a fierce team, especially their women (Bella Tait, Black Eagles) and will be looking to capitalise on their third place finish last year but UCL have started the year playing very well and look set to feature pick-ups Axel Ahmala (GBU24 Open and Glasgow WUCC) and former AUDL player CJ Colicchio.

 

Predictions

  1. Glasgow
  2. Bangor
  3. Strathclyde
  4. Aberdeen
  5. Manchester
  6. Birmingham
  7. Huddersfield
  8. UCL

 

Potential Wildcards:

Bath, Loughborough, Oxford, St Andrews, Reading, Edinburgh

 

Group of Death:

Group C (Manchester, Huddersfield, UCL, St. Andrew’s, Oxford)

 

And that’s a wrap! Before you go to Nationals this weekend please take an extra moment to think about Ultimate and how we define ourselves:

“Spirit of the Game… highly competitive play is encouraged but never at the expense of mutual respect among competitors… or the basic joy of play.”

-USA Ultimate.

Spirit of the Game day has passed recently and it is imperative that all players representing their university at Nationals this weekend put an emphasis on spirit. It is what makes Ultimate so different to any other sport. Share constructive criticism, play hard and represent the sport well with mutual respect for all.

Thanks, and good luck!

Feature photo by Alberto Rossi

EYPOTY 2018 Results

EYPOTY, Mixed, Open, Womens

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.

UKU Nationals preview: Mixed division

Mixed, UKU Nationals

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.

Eagles experience highs and lows on huge day

Black Eagles, Mixed, WUCC2018

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.

All-African match highlights growth

African Ultimate, Features, Mixed, WUCC2018

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.

Neal family reunion is Marvellous

Features, Mixed, WUCC2018

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.

Black Eagles begin to soar

Black Eagles, Mixed, WUCC2018

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.