UKU Open B Tour 1 2015 Preview

#ukuowt1, B Tour, news, Open, Open Tour, Previews

Thomas Cliff and Jordan Brown preview Open Tour 1 from the B Tour perspective.

Featured image courtesy of Serena de Nahlik.

UKU Tour 1 kicks off tomorrow and, with a change in venue to previous years, we could be looking at an interesting set of results come Sunday should Nottingham’s trademark gusts cause some teams issues. Still, with the forecast looking a bit friendlier than it was in Cardiff for the Mixed Tour opener, it’s likely we’ll see things play out in a relatively orthodox manner.

At the top of proceedings, there should be some very smooth ultimate. Blue Arse Flies have already hopped over the channel to play at Tom’s Tourney, where they finished a respectable 8th in the second division. They have also competed at the Fog Lane Cup where they took a confidence-boosting win over fellow B Tour competitors Bristol Open.

UKU Open C Tour 1 2015 Preview

#ukuowt1, C Tour, news, Open Tour, Previews

Jordan Brown previews the C Tour.

The third division of Open Tour is likely to be a bit more interesting in terms of upsets. Judging by the many, many posts to Britdisc, Camden have done a lot of training and will be unlikely to cough up their spot at the top of C Tour easily. St. Albans did a fair amount of work last year to climb to the top of the division as well but their pool is looking strong. Devon 3 have a squad tough enough to rival Devon 2, so they’ll be difficult opposition. However, the team probably most mis-seeded is Gravity. Despite having not played in Open Tour since 2012, the team used to compete in the middle of B Tour. They now find themselves seeded 17th in C Tour and will be looking to head towards the top of the table.

Open and Women’s Tour 2 Preview

Black Sheep, Chevron, Clapham, Fire of London, Iceni, news, nottingham, Open Tour, Previews, PUNT, Women's Tour

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 Divison Review

London Calling, Open Tour
James Burbidge Summarises the start of the UK Open Club Season

Not that there was much doubt in anyone’s mind – but Clapham had no problem asserting their dominance over the rest of Europe at London Calling. Split O and D lines cruised through their pools and bracket play to meet in the final where the D-line beat the O 15-9.

Playing as a full squad almost proved their undoing – trading down against Bad Skid late in the show game on Saturday evening, a clean slate for the weekend looked far from certain. With a clinical finish however, they found another gear at 12-13 down to take the game away from the Germans 15-13.

It was surprising therefore, to see Bad Skid lose in the quarterfinal to one of the French national teams on Sunday morning. Perhaps this is simply explained by a gut-busting performance the night before causing a mental and physical hangover the next day. Likewise a shorthanded FAB finished 11th (dropping from their 3 seed) but gave Clapham their closest game of the weekend, losing to the D-line by just 2.

Ashley Yeo goes up to get the goal. Photo Courtesy of Andrew Moss



Both French teams made it to the quarterfinals, and it will be exciting to see what they can achieve at Euros with a bit more time together under their belts and when the wheat is separated from the chaff. Austria, on the other hand, had a solid weekend against top level competition, but failed to excite, finishing 14th.

Viksjofors and EMO will both be quietly pleased with their weekends, taking 4th and 6threspectively, and proving they can hang with the best in Europe. EMO quietly took the 2nd seed for Tour 2, displacing Chevron (and putting themselves on the same side of the bracket as Clapham). Likewise a Bear-heavy Fire will be happy with their 9th place finish, which should translate to 5that Tour 2.

Big movers up from the mid-table were Glasgow, who moved from 23rd to 16th after knocking Ka-Pow down in a crossover, and Zimmer who did the same for Brighton City (O-line) to move from 20th to 12th. Devon meanwhile, dropped from 13thto 19th, despite playing their elite pool extremely close on Saturday (a 2 point loss to Bad Skid, and a sudden death win over Fire).

With the seedings and schedule released in record time, we now know that the Tour 2 team list will be as follows:

1. Clapham D
2. Clapham O
3.  EMO
4.  Chevron
5.  Fire
6.  Zimmer
7. Ranelagh
8.  Brighton
9. Glasgow
10. Manchester
11. Devon
12. DED
13. Ka-Pow
14. Cult
15. LLLeeds
16. Birmingham


Another fantastic London Calling in the book (what pitches!), roll on Tour 2.

Tour 2 Previews and more are on the way, stay tuned!

A Look Ahead – The 2014 Open Season

Chevron, Clapham, EMO, Jen, Open, Open Tour
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! 


UKU Regionals Preview – Midlands

Birmingham, EMO, Midlands, Open Tour, Previews, UKU Regionals

EMO player Sean Colfer previews an unexpectedly open Midlands region, with the Mixed division at Nationals strongly affecting the tournament in Birmingham. Midlands has 3 bids to Nationals and will be held this Sunday.

Last season the Midlands region featured three teams with A Tour experience in the preceding Tour season. Cambridge led the way in the regular season, finishing seventh overall, trailed by EMO in eleventh and Jest Ridisculous in 17th. However, only two spots at Nationals were available – EMO edged out Cambridge in the final, leaving JR out in the cold.


This season, there are three places available from a Midlands region that is lacking the strength in depth of last year.


EMO have elevated their performance levels in 2013 and earned third overall, behind the ‘big two’ of Clapham and Chevron, at Tour. They have defeated Fire, Brighton (twice, both in sudden death) and Ranelagh, as well as trading to half with Chevron at Tour 2. So far though, the Leicester-based team have been unable to make inroads against the top two over a whole game. They will win the region, and it’s unlikely to be close.


EMO will be without World Games captain Rich Gale who will still be in Cali come the event. However, club president and previous World Games competitor Daniel ‘Colonel’ Furnell should be able to play after a spell on the sidelines this season through injury, as should captain and coach Joe Wynder, fresh from the U23 World Championships Open team in Canada. Christian ‘Bobby’ Zamore and Tom ‘Foxy’ Fox provide the speed on offence, while vice-captains James ‘Whippy’ Bauld and Nathan Trickey will lead a strong, tall and athletic D line.

EMO seen here after taking on CUSB at EUCF last year. 


The next tier of teams features three B Tour mainstays. Jest Ridisculous finished as the 20th, 17th and 12th best team across Tours 1, 2 and 3 this season respectively. Cambridge finished 11th and 14th in the first two Tour events but slumped to 26th in Cardiff while EMO 2 managed two finishes at 20th and one at 21st, showing excellent consistency at the top end of B tour.

These three teams should be reasonably well matched, depending on how EMO decide to stack their rosters. However, complicating the possible outcomes this season is the fact that Nationals will also act as a qualifier for Mixed at xEUCF in Bordeaux. Both JR and Cambridge are believed to have an eye on the Mixed division at Nationals with the aim to compete at a European level, meaning both teams will be without some top players.

JR usually rely heavily on a very effective huck game, led by captain George ‘Rondo’ Hudson, fellow handler Chris Peploe and star receiver Alex ‘Medic’ Charlton. However, they will be without several ‘first choice’ players this Sunday – including Medic – and seem likely to surround Hudson with more inexperienced players with a view to developing their squad for the future.

It’s impossible to say who Cambridge will bring considering their strong recent history and fluctuating results this season, to say nothing of the rumoured focus elsewhere. It’s safe to say that U23 Open handler Dom Dathan will feature and if they decide to bring back players like GB Mixed veteran Nick Wong they will stand a good chance. The likelihood of this, though, appears slim; a big hit to their qualification hopes.

EMO 2 captain Chris ‘Pudding’ Alderson will have to wait to see who is available for his team, but the experience of Ian ‘Scot’ Scotland and playmaking of Phil Brunson have been key to their consistent performances this season. They will justifiably feel very good about their chances of joining EMO 1 in Southampton for the first time having finished ahead of Cambridge at Tour 3 and gotten close to JR in games this season.


The underdog in this region is Birmingham Ultimate. This is their first season as a Tour team and they have taken to the competition admirably. They finished runners-up in C Tour at Tour 1 and they maintained respectable B Tour finishes in Nottingham and Cardiff, at 26th and 24th respectively. They will host the tournament and will look to push for the final qualifying spot, possibly making a Vision-like run at the teams ahead of them. Their only weakness could be their very short lines, with only nine players on the team at Tour 3. Birmingham have a well rounded team, with their key plays coming from captain Ben ‘Mesh’ Kings and lefty handler Marius Hutcheson.


Leamington Lemmings gave EMO a shock a few years ago but they have lost a number of key players and will do well to challenge any of the teams ahead of them. St. Albans are another team that may enter the slightly geographically-expanded regional tournament, but their consistent C Tour/low B Tour position indicates they shouldn’t be a threat either. Flyght Club fall into this bracket as well, after a consistent season at the top end of C Tour, as will similarly placed SharkBear, a Warwick University student team. These teams will likely battle between themselves for a shot at fifth place.


The one-day tournament should see some competitive Ultimate, especially at the level below EMO 1, but whether there is enough strength in the region for the third spot to be justified this season remains to be seen. There is the potential there for some strong teams but the focus on Mixed makes this a very difficult read. The main beneficiaries of the shifted focus should be EMO, who must be considered heavy favourites to have their whole squad in Southampton.


Prediction*:

1. EMO 1
2. EMO 2
3. Birmingham Ultimate
4. Cambridge
5. JR
6. St. Albans
7. SharkBear
8. Flyght Club
9. Leamington

*And, in the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I am a proud EMO squad member. I tried to stay impartial with this preview but it looks like it didn’t work out so well…


What do you think? Comments below! DP @ tSG.

The Grapevine – 19/07

Open Tour, SkyD, The Grapevine, u23, Understanding Ultimate., USA Ultimate, uTalkRaw, Women's Tour, world games

This weeks the Grapevine covers World Games, U23 and Ultimate Frisbee wars!!

The power of the ultimate frisbee community was proven this week with the ulti.tv campaign to make sure the World Games will be broadcasted online, for FREE. We all succeeded and listen out to hear how we can watch those games soon.

With last weeks scorcher at T3 in Cardiff, the regular season is over and full rundown and results will be released soon enough. For now enjoy some footage of Fire 2 vs DED

Benji discusses the combination of Spirit and economics together in Understanding Ultimate.

This weekend sees the start of the WFDF World U23 Ultimate Championships in Toronto follow results here and on twitter you can also follow each squad: Open, Mixed and Women’s. Open will be playing a warm up late tonight and the opening game on Sunday, get involved! Let’s GO GB!!

UTalkRaw talk to Steve Gigure in episode 28 about Lookfly and BlockstackTV including an interesting discussion on the sustainability of ultimate media. Can we last? 

Finally two pieces from the US about the warring factions of pro leagues and the USAU, a great read and analysis from the recent WFDF census with fascinating results on SkyD magazine.

WFDF World u23 Ultimate Championships, Toronto 2013.



Got a cool idea? Want to tell your story? Contribute, email in, comment! DP @ tSG