Sexy Fish Monsters

Devon, Open, WUCC 2018

Bad Skid and Devon faced up this as part of pool play. Going on past placings, Bad Skid would likely be given the upper hand in this match – the two are generally separated by a fair few seedings at EUCF. Black, Green and White are the colours that both clubs share, and more than that, both center around a strong core of junior development. St Peter’s school in Exeter is the home of Airbadgers, a team that you won’t see at WUCC yet is utterly dominant in their scene – UK junior championships. Keep an eye out for paw-print tattoos on the Devon sideline, as it is this mark that many of the Airbadger alumni carry. Devon’s Luke Ryan was a recent graduate of Airbadgers in 2008, when he competed as part of the GB Men’s Junior team at WUGC 2008 in Vancover against Germany for the bronze medal, and in that game (which Germany won), many of the victorious side would go on to form the Bad Skid roster Devon now faced. Florian Böhler (who won the ‘golden arm’ for most assists in Vancouver, including all senior divisions), and Holger Beuttenmüller who was responsible for the majority of Florian’s goals and continues to be a dominant force on the international stage. Based in Heilbronn, Bad Skid have such a high representative count in the German Men’s National team that they’re often described as such colloquially. Between the two sides, many more years of experience were at play than suggested by youthful exteriors.

Opening with a hammer score, Devon’s offence stated their intent immediately before falling down to early pressure from Bad Skid who scored successive breaks to take it to 4-2. It was Sam ‘Meaty’ Taylor’s birthday today, and he answered back with style, slicing a visionary cross field flick to a streaking Luke Ryan. The self proclaimed ‘sexy fish monsters’ have no problems with self congratulating, and the boys really liked that throw and made it known. However, Bad Skid’s four man cup was generally causing issues – a surprise for Devon who are usually known for toying with zones for fun. The hammers continued despite the struggles, allowing Devon’s defense to grind. Rather than zone they were going pure one-on-one, choosing careful match-ups that was starting to provide results. 8-4 down after half, Ben ‘Woody’ Hall stepped up the intensity, standing underneath Beuttenmüller. Woody’s aerial prowess is famous for those who have played with him in the UK scene, and taking the decision to tempt Bad Skid into the deep shot most teams do all they can to stop proved brave rather than crazy as Bad Skid under-threw their trusted receiver. Greg Mann put in a heroic bid to save Devon’s precious defensive possession, which was shortly converted to make it 8-5.

 

Sam Taylor gets a German backpack for his birthday. Photo by Kevin LeClaire for UltiPhotos

In the next point Devon earned the disc again thanks to Piers Ticknell, but this time they couldn’t convert their chance and the Germans pushed on. It was 11-7 before the next break, but it was Devon’s again with a pass bouncing off a Bad Skid receiver’s chest. Richard Coward wheeled to the endzone for a one-pass goal from Ed Hammond and a roar from the Fish Monsters. Unfazed, Bad Skid showed their class here as Nico Muller let out a pinpoint full field flick bomb to who else but Beuttenmüller. Hall was as tight as ever on his match-up, but even at a half step underneath this throw was un-defendable. Muller had an excellent game throughout, taking alternate passes at will, getting four goals on top of this assist and seeming impervious to the pressure that built around his teammates. His performance held together for the Heilbronn team, who may have had a tough time without him. After a scrappy six-turn point to get to 14-10, Devon’s late game fight was abruptly ended with a simple goal by Bad Skid to a standing receiver. Almost like the lights coming on at the end of the night, Bad Skid had harshly brought things back to reality and spoiled Devon’s party almost without celebration.

Devon came here to win, and knew they could have done better but still held onto a sense of perspective; this was a team they have never been in a position to expect to win against, and this unfortunately wouldn’t be changing. It also put more pressure on their 5pm match-up against Daione Kumay, where a win was needed to prevent them being dropped into the lower pools.

Devon knew this was a winnable game but it was clear from the opening points that nothing was going to come easy at WUCC. Striking early to take a 3-1 lead, the Chinese Taipei team immediately struck back with fierce athleticism to bring the game to to 5-5. A Kumay layout block (and a proper one at that) was ripped straight back by Devon next pass, with the Luke Ryan promptly streaking deep to receive a huck and flip a score to Mark Garbers. A cheeky tongue-out celebration from Ryan buoyed his team, and Devon were in a real, tight game.

Daione Kumay’s play was relentless, and seemed totally unaffected by the intense heat. Their offense played a deep stack, with each cutter going deep almost from in-line with the handlers, often before planting hard and making huge gainers underneath. It was simple, but it worked despite some fantastic performances from the Devon defensive line and Kumay took a commanding late-game lead with two more breaks to go up 11-9. Devon’s efforts were starting to come to fruition as well, though. Athletic through and through, their match D was generating more and more pressure, now regularly getting two and sometimes three mark-outs in a row. After a hold and a Devon timeout, Robin Ellis-Cockroft got the block his team had been waiting for, shortly afterwards catching the goal as well and paving the way for another break next point, with Jarrod Bradley finding Woody with a perfect huck to space to go 12-12, Devon now on-serve.

These final points of the game seemed heavily underseeded. Both teams were in flow and fully amped up, with little sign of the tired legs and heads that would be expected. Devon still seemed to have the smallest of edges, again thanks to their stingy upfield defense which regularly took Daione Kumay cutters out of play. Kumay were defiant though, and clearly enjoying this match-up too as they overcame pressure again and again. However a huck score to Jake Warren saw Devon 14-13 up, and the Fish Monsters finally sensed blood in the water. Sticking to plan A, they ran a stifling match defense and Kumay cracked at last, passing to Ben Hall in the short field. After a pick call on what looked to be the winner, Devon held composure and worked a few passes, before Ed Hammond found fellow ex-Airbadger, childhood friend and long-time teammate Jarrod Bradley in the front corner for the goal, and the win.

Credit has to be given to Daione Kumay for a storming performance throughout, which brought the level of the match to a height that the seeding of the matchup does not depict. Devon, known well for giant-killings back in the UK as well as their unique brand of humour and self adoration, are starting to display a maturity, discipline and grit that will only gain them consistently higher results as they go on. Their route upwards only gets harder from here, but they remain a team it would be silly to underestimate at WUCC.

 

Chevron fall to tough Doublewide

Chevron, Open, WUCC2018

Matching up against the US teams is the main hurdle for every other team at WUCC. Sean Colfer watched Chevron take on Austin superteam Doublewide.

Chevron had a good first day at WFDF 2018 WUCC, winning both of their games and setting themselves up for a huge game first thing against Doublewide. The Texans, second seed at this tournament, had a very similar day and entered the game unbeaten too.

Chevron came out on offence, and slotted it in pretty efficiently. Both teams did so until Chevron managed to get a turn at 3-2, Issa Dualeh finding Jake Aspin for the first break of the game. Chevron were pumped, and they were loud. They had been building for this game and this environment all year; they were desperate to test themselves against a team of Doublewide’s quality and show off their own.

WUCC 2018 previews – Devon

Devon, Open, WUCC Previews

Devon are our final team, with Sean Colfer analysing their potential at Worlds.

How did they get here?

Devon have been a top A Tour team for some time now, often finishing in the top eight and making a challenge against the best teams in the country. They have a really solid pipeline of young talent from local Junior powerhouses Air Badgers, and have done a very good job of retaining those players despite moves to universities across the country (and bringing them back after a few years away). They’ve qualified for Euros a few times, always surprisingly, and have maintained a strong core throughout the last five or six years.

WUCC 2018 previews – PELT Ultimate

Open, PELT, WUCC Previews

Aidan Kelly scouts the second Irish team at WUCC, Limerick lads PELT. How will this new look squad do in Cincinnati?

How did they get here?
In what began as essentially an extension of University of Limerick’s college team, PELT have come a long way in their six year existence.

Even since their fledgling days, the team has had Worlds ambitions, as they directly competed in qualifiers against Rebel and Ranelagh for Ireland’s spot in WUCC 2014, coming up short.

Tour 3 Open preview – while the cats are away

Open, Previews, Tour 3

Sean Colfer is in Cincinnati with the cream of the UK crop, but the Tour season continues regardless. This looks like the most wide-open Tour in years, so how might it go?

Tour 3 is going to be an odd situation for UK Ultimate. The best teams are all away in Cincinnati (we’ve been previewing it, maybe you’ve seen) and it leaves the field very open. No Clapham, Chevron and Devon means three of the top four teams from Tour 2 aren’t there, the Irish teams are both over in the USA, and then SMOG and Reading – who have been playing in the top 10 of Tour all season as Open teams – are both across the pond too. All told, it means that this is probably the best chance several teams will ever have of winning a Tour event.

Ka-Pow! come in as top seeds, a reward from their trip to become sacrificial lambs for Clapham’s unerring march to the Tour 2 title. They have a gigantic squad of very solid players with a few stand outs – they’ll be tough to beat because of sheer numbers but also because they have some players that can make things happen against anyone. They’ve beaten most of the teams in the UK already this year and will be feeling confident that they can repeat the feat from a few years ago and win Tour 3. They will be missing some people though, particularly Marius Hutcheson who is with Black Sheep, a Kiwi Mixed team, at WUCC.

Marius Hutcheson – playing for Ka-Pow! at Tour 1 here – won’t be at Tour 3. Photo by Andy Moss.

EMO are second seed. They split their squads at Tour 2 and may well do the same again this Tour, but it would be very interesting to see how they fare against Ka-Pow! with a full team. They are chock full of excellent athletes and if they can all get on the same page they’ll be tough to stop. They used a new line system at Tour 1 and could well go back to that. Ben Poole gives them a lot of room for error because he’s an outstanding athlete and all-around player, but their defensive line will be the difference maker. If they can get turns and breaks then they’ll be the favourite in my eyes.

Fire are granted a third seed they’ll be familiar with, a good spot to build on what has been a tough year. They’ll be missing a couple of players through either injury or picking up with other teams at WUCC, but the squad they have is still going to be pretty tough to beat at this tournament.

Bristol are the other top seed and have had a solid season, but Brighton could be a tough nut to crack for them. They were given a very tough pool at Tour 1 and are a good side – although they, too, are missing several players to WUCC since James Wotherspoon and Tom Mannings are both with Mooncatchers. EMO 2 and Reading 2 join them in their pool, and will be difficult to predict. I think they’ll be battling for third, though.

Birmingham have a lot of good players but have a relatively small number of handlers. Still, their level of overall athleticism will allow them to at least hang with the teams up at the top of the draw. They will play Cloud City (who feature a lot of Herd players so will be familiar with Brum) and Brighton Gritty Legends (who have played Cloud three times this year already) in what could be an exciting pool.

Ka-Pow! will face Flump, who have had a decent season so far despite their relegation at Tour 1, LLLeeds and Camden. Leeds were promoted at Flump’s expense in Nottingham and Camden have been around A Tour all season, so this group could be a really interesting one to watch. Flump and Leeds should both have too much for Camden, but the match between them will be fascinating.

Manchester, SMOG and BAF join EMO in a group with lots of capital letters. Manchester have been pretty good all season and so will fancy themselves to finish in the top two – particularly since SMOG will be missing many of their top players. It’ll be interesting to see how SMOG do against BAF, but I think that’ll be for third and fourth in the pool.

B Tour features some decent teams at the top – Vision, Gravity and Purple Cobras have all been pretty good all year, and Glasgow 2 will feature some good Glasgow players not at WUCC. Tribe and Rebel come over from Ireland so it’ll be interesting to see how they do (Dublin Gravity as well, although they’re in C Tour so are either dramatically underseeded or not quite the force they are in Mixed) and EDI return after some time away – though they’ll be losing some players to Black Eagles.

Outside of that, it’s tough to find many storylines to look for. LED have been pretty good in Mixed but are seeded quite low, and Fluid have been one of the stronger C Tour teams so far. Cambridge will be intriguing since it’s tough to know who they have, but generally I see C Tour sticking to seed.

So, who’s going to win this most open of Open tours? That is the big question. Here’s how I see the top 10 shaking out, but to be honest there’s about five teams who could win. It’ll be fun to see how the tournament ends up without Clapham there to ruin everyone’s fun by winning.

1. EMO
2. Ka-Pow!
3. Fire
4. Brighton
5. Manchester
6. Bristol
7. Flump
8. Birmingham
9. Leeds
10. Cloud City

WUCC 2018 previews – Clapham Ultimate

Clapham, Open, WUCC Previews

Clapham just lost out on a semi-final spot in 2014 so will be incredibly motivated to reach that stage this time around. Here’s how Sean Colfer thinks they’ll end up doing.

How did they get here?
I don’t think I really need to explain this one, but they got here by winning. A lot. Specifically, they’ve won 17 national titles in a row and six European titles in a row to go alongside four Windmill trophies and plenty of other prizes. Most of their roster has played for Great Britain at some point, and a lot of those that haven’t have played for either another national team or age-group Great Britain teams.

WUCC 2018 previews – Ranelagh

Open, Ranelagh, WUCC Previews

Did you think we were going to leave out the Irish? Never! Aidan Kelly gives us some insight on how his club-mates will do in his (cagey) preview for Ranelagh.

How did they get here?

Four time Irish Nationals champions, the Lagh recaptured their All-Ireland title after a two-year dry spell in 2017, beating rivals PELT in the final, which also saw them qualify for WUCC for the second time.