Mixed Tour 2015: from Cardiff to Salford

#ukumt2, Black Eagles, Bristol, GB, Glasgow, mixed tour, news, Previews, Reading Ultimate, Shiny Happy Meeples, Thundering Herd, u23

Martyn Brown brings us the second piece in his coverage of the 2015 Mixed Tour

 It’s safe to say that Cardiff will be a tournament most people won’t forget. Whilst Saturday was challenging, it was no more difficult than the conditions we experienced in Nottingham or Cheltenham for Mixed Tours 2 & 3 respectively last year. However, Sunday delivered some of the most difficult weather that we have had to play in for a number of years with wind, rain and mud in plentiful supply.

Despite the conditions the games got under way in earnest. Pool-play threw up few surprises with both GB teams topping their respective groups. The GB U23 teams also impressed, improving on seeding and giving themselves a chance to move up the order next tour. Ireland Mixed comfortably topped Pool C after a convincing victory over Thundering Herd 1. Pool D provided the most interesting results with Shiny Happy Meeple comfortably topping the group ahead of both Black Eagles and Brighton Breezy, with returning players helping to show that they are one of the strongest contenders at Tour this season.

Mixed Tour 2 Review

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Matthew “Smatt” Hodgson gives us his perspective of Mixed Tour 2.

From start to finish the wind the typical Nottingham wind meant every point at Mixed Tour 2 was hard fought against the elements as well as the opponents, with very few games making it to the hard cap even amongst the teams at the top of the standings

Dominating Bagel news was Flux, who left it until their 3rdgame to get on the scoreboard before taking a dominating win of their own; 10-3 against Sheffield Steal 2. ABH B also took a 9-0 win over Bournemouth Heat, but once the pool stage was over the rankings worked themselves out with all teams getting points on the board.

ABH vs Pier Pressure at Mixed Tour 2. Photo courtesy of Graham Bailey.




The three teams finishing on the podium were Bear Cavalry, Cambridge and Brighton who all started in Pool A. Bear Cavalry and Cambridge proved themselves as the top two teams on tour this year with the Bears winning against everyone in the group once, and then repeating their wins against Brighton Breezy in the Semi Final and then putting on another show in the final against Cambridge in which Cult would not score an upwind goal and would only put in 1 point after the half. The final finished 13-6 and the Bears ground out their win with tireless effort on defence and the ability to generate yardage against the wind with powerful hucks hitting well timed deep cuts in stride. The first point was Bear Cavalry starting on offence and it was scored in less than 5 passes in the same upwind conditions that consistently howled throughout the weekend.

In pool B on the other side of the top 8, we saw teams falling down the rankings. Second seed Thundering Herd 1 started strong again, winning their group for the second tour in a row before their quarter final against Meeple, who had been energised by some big pickups. Meeple were able to dispatch BAF to enter the top 8 for the first time this season before making plenty of big plays and letting everyone know about them during their quarter final in which they deflated the Herd and broke the Top 4 for the first time. BAM ended up doing really well in the group, taking down RGS and Bristol to secure top 8 before losing out the rest of the way to teams on the ascendancy; Brighton Breezy in the quarter (who climbed from 5th to 3rd), Black Eagles in the 5 v 8 (who climbed from 9th to 5th) and Peeps in the 7 v 8 (who climbed from 13th to 7th). Each of the teams beating BAM down the stretch are interesting propositions for MT3. Brighton Breezy, as mentioned earlier, battled out of a tough Pool A before securing a 3rd place finish with a very similar squad to the one they had at Tour 1, whilst Black Eagles and Peeps both added only one or two big playmakers and took down some big names in the crossovers to secure spots in the Top 8 (Bristol and RGS respectively). These teams should definitely feel good about their chances at the third and final event in Cheltenham.


Other big movers this weekend were ABH A and Pingu Jam. ABH A started slow, beating Deep Drillin’ and Brighton Early by only 2 points each in their group, before beating Brighton Pier Pressure to set up a semi against Pingu Jam. PJ’s offence at times seemed to be exclusively huck and hope/play defence based, but they managed to ride this strategy to a win over ABH A and ultimately an undefeated weekend and a climb from 19th to 13th. ABH A would finish the tour with another win, making it 5 from 6 and a climb from 23rd to 15th.


There was also a battle for second team supremacy in Nottingham. This has been a spot usually held by Thundering Herd 2, but at MT2 it was Brighton Pier Pressure (who I don’t think are technically a second team) who came out on top finishing 17th, followed up by Cambridge 2 in 18thand Herd 2 in 19th who managed to hold off th
e challenge of Jabba the Huck (making their 2014 Mixed tour debut) in the 19 v 20.

Across the entire standings, the average number of places a team moved was 4.5 showing just how difficult seeding a 51 team tournament can be, even with one tournament’s results already in the books.

Cambridge only lost to the Bears all weekend and in their other games they were able to handle their business fairly easily, with their closest win finishing with a 9-6 score line against 3rd place finishers Brighton Breezy in the pool stage. Brighton fought hard all weekend and were able to deal with the conditions better than most, in typical Brighton fashion, by sending up and consequently bringing down big hucks into and with the wind.

RGS had another tough weekend. Having only seen short parts of a limited sample of their games at the 2 tours so far, it’s difficult to say why they haven’t been challenging the top spots so far, and if I were to guess, I’d put it down to unfamiliarity with their teammates. Whilst they still have plenty of time before Worlds (4 months, MT3 and Golden Keg), they will be have been hoping the cohesion would have come quicker than this. Another problem appears to be giving up breaks to easily, with their offence not seeming able to get the disc back after a turn (based on my viewing a limited sample of points at MT1/2).

There was also plenty of movement in the lower brackets: The Saints rose 7 places culminating in a final game victory take down of Shakedown (who dropped 9 places), Glasgow “2” and Flux both dropping 11 places each and Black Sheep 2 earning a a win to take them up from 51st to 50th

Nice write up and hopefully more Smatt vs Matt next time round!

UKU Mixed Tour 1 Preview

Bear Cavalry, Black Eagles, Brighton, Cambridge, Dyn-O-Mixed, mixed tour, Previews, RGS, Shiny Happy Meeples, Thundering Herd, WUCC2014
Matthew “Smatt” Hodgson starts his tSG career off with a quick preview of #ukumt1.

With teams attempting to prepare for the World Club Championships this year, the Tour will feel simultaneously significant and insignificant. Whilst results won’t “matter”, the worlds teams will want to prepare as best they can and notch some wins against the other teams going, and the teams not going to worlds will be eager to cause some upsets. (Note: as far as I’ve seen, the qualification method for EUCF in Frankfurt hasn’t been announced).

Below is an analysis of the top 10 seeded teams for UKU Mixed Tour 1 this weekend in Cardiff. 

Teams going to WUCC
Bear Cavalry: The focus for Bears is worlds. They have retained almost the entire squad from the European Championship winning team, brought in D line contributors, and comfortably handled business at Winter League (not conceding more than 5 points in a game). The Bears are out to win the tour and continue their legacy as a mixed powerhouse on their route to WUCC.

Cambridge: have taken the interesting decision to split their worlds team between O and D lines for Mixed tour 1 (and possibly beyond?). Whilst this will undoubtedly provide plenty of exposure to the highest level of mixed ultimate across the roster, and get more game time and grow connections along the two lines, I see them losing some games on the decision as well. Having said that, with this long to go before WUCC, losses likely won’t provide as much of a sting if the progression is there.


Royal Goaltimate Society: did not enter Nationals or Euros last year due to their players prioritising open and women’s, despite winning tour. You can’t argue with the results of the respective open/women’s clubs results, but it means they have had to re-tool this offseason and therefore have not had as much time to gain team cohesion. The core of RGS this year appears to be Ka-Pow! guys and SYC girls, which are arguably two of the better teams in the Open/Women’s divisions to not be attending worlds, and therefore there will be pockets of team cohesion throughout the team, but it awaits to be seen as to whether they will be fully ready for Mixed Tour 1. Having said this, RGS will be using this as one of the first steps on their road to worlds, and have a strong squad so should come away with plenty of positive results this weekend.

Established mixed clubs
Thundering Herd: The cow print always play the top teams close, and are always training hard and putting in the time to develop as a specialist mixed club. The Herd have selected large squads (53 players between the two teams) which should help given there are some injury concerns, and they have remained committed to their rigorous pre-season training schedule. The herd have been bolstered by plenty of new faces and will be hoping to take more than a few wins this weekend and throughout the season.

Brighton: For the past few years, Brighton have not been able to re-capture the magic of their xEUCF winning team from 2009, whilst still hanging around at the top of the mixed tour. The renewed focus on Open and Women’s has put mixed on the back burner, but Brighton should not be overlooked as they always come with a strong squad, even when understaffed. It remains to be seen whether every Brighton club will be playing the Mexican offence that seems to have taken hold in the city, but regardless, expect Brighton to be unconventional on offence regardless of the formation, and play hard on defence.

Bristol: They have had the potential to really challenge on the mixed circuit for a couple of years now, which has only been helped by the continued development of the women’s club. With a renewed focus on the guys training to keep up with the girls and get back to UKU Nationals, Bristol could put in a serious contention for the top spots. I picked them as underdogs last year when they went into Mixed Tour 1 seeded 13th and by the end of Saturday they were the top seeds, but there won’t be many teams surprised by them this year.

Black Eagles:  After coming up short in their quest to reach Europe last year, falling at the last hurdle at nationals against a DED team they had beaten earlier at the tournament, the Black Eagles may be using the tour to redeem themselves and build towards nationals and Europeans again. If they retain enough of their players from the squad which finished 3rd overall across the tours last year, they can definitely be finals contenders.

Shiny Happy Meeple: This club established last year that they were prepared to play above their perceived potential, and managed to finish in the top 10 over the three tours (maxing out at 8th place at MT3). Whilst they may not be contenders for a top spot, and generally don’t focus on results, they can definitely put pressure on the top teams.

Unknown

Dyn-O-Mixed: Dyn-O-Mite has typically been a bit of a boys club, frequenting Glastonbury and indoors tournaments, and up until now they have fallen short of their potential at these events. Entering a mixed tour is a new realm for this team though and after drafting in some strong female players they start the mixed season with the 8th seed. If their squad is made up of the top level talent that has played with them before, and if their guys and girls have built up enough chemistry they could definitely make some noise.

Great start Smatt and we look forward to more from Smatt and his KaPow teammate Matt Dathan! Make sure to check out the liveBlog feed on the home page!