Alun Pinder makes his writing debut for the ShowGame, by taking us through what is traditionally considered one of the strongest regions – the Midlands
Last year, the Midlands region looked like anyone’s game. This year, the competition seems even closer, with two National Divisional champions, along with a pair of top ten Division 1 finishers all out for the top spot. They’re seeking to add to the five golds won by Midlands teams (from an available six) since the BUCS league was implemented. Let’s meet the teams.
Our new second leagues writer Tom Claxton gives a quick recap of last season, and a preview of who will be the big names fighting for promotion this year.
Welcome to the second leagues: full of grit and determination, where a team’s Nationals prospects can be made or undone in just a single game. And with the weekly league structure it is not just your prospects for this season, but for the following as well. Promotion into the top leagues guarantees a Division 1 or 2 Nationals place the following year. But this requires a team to be near undefeated for the entire year, which is made further challenging by having to play on average eight games a season with a lot of travelling and persuading players to make up numbers.
Oscar Nolan will be previewing Scotland’s university scene this year – here’s his introduction to the season, and our first preview of the year.
It’s that time of year, the university Ultimate season has rolled round once again. Club season is closing up shop for another year until the summer, Euros are over while the GB U24s are slowly getting their act together for their trip down under. Beginners have been recruited and engrained into the clubs at universities across Scotland. The graduates are deeply missing university Ultimate and thinking about masters, PhDs and the like. The opening game of the BUCS league is fast approaching and I couldn’t be more pumped to discuss this. Scotland is a region known for its excitement and a deep history of shock results. This year promises more twists and turns along the way so sit back, relax and let’s delve into the preview of the Scottish BUCS region.
Andrew Eck preview the next region for us – the West Midlands and Wales super-division.
With Bath’s surprise second place finish at Nationals, I expect increased interest in this region. They’ve proven that the teams here aren’t walkovers. So what’s new? There are two new teams who’ve gone through the trials of relegation and worked their way into the top league. UWE (University of West England) and Southampton will be chomping at the bit trying to land in the top four and avoid a slide into the lower league. The others will jockey between themselves for the three Division 1 slots, trying to avoid slides of their own. So much so standard, but every season’s a new game with the potential for surprise.
Another great collaborative effort from the UU team previewing the top two Men’s divisions in one!
Given how hard the teams have fought this year in the BUCS league, we figured it would be sad to just brush over the leagues entirely and go straight to a preview. Consequently, we’ve asked all our writers to give one final summary of how the season has gone so far, and use that to predict where they think their teams will finish. If you want to read a more traditionally formatted piece, feel free to head over to this piece on Reddit, after you’ve finished with ours, of course.
As a reminder, the teams were split into five regional leagues. The top three then got spots at Division 1 nationals (+ Strathclyde, who got the wildcard spot by being fourth in Scotland). The next three are all going to Division 2 (except Heriot-Watt and Winchester, who dropped out). The bottom two of each league are also demoted for next season.
Ali Thomas gives us the Women’s Outdoor Nationals story.
University Outdoor Nationals is fast approaching. Students from all over the country are having to balance intense preparation for the biggest university Ultimate event of the year with dissertations and revision for exams. On the final weekend of April, 16 Women’s teams will battle it out at Grove Farm in Nottingham (affectionately known as the Wind Farm). Unlike the Men’s teams, who have had two terms of BUCS League matches; the women qualified through regional tournament under the North, West, East and Scotland structures that have been in place for the last three years.
Harry Mason bring you the Division 3 preview with added BUCS League reviews.
Welcome to the true grit of UK Ultimate. The lower leagues. This is where you really earn your stripes in Ultimate. To truly prove yourself as a top team, you need to be near flawless all season. One loss in the cup? You don’t play nationals. One loss in the leagues? You’re unlikely to get promoted this year. And when one loss is so important, you’d better also remember how many games you’re playing. A typical team can play between around 8 games in a year, reaching up to 12 for some teams. That’s a lot of matchdays, a lot of travelling, a lot of pulling in favours, and a lot of haranguing players to come along to games.
There are four regions, each with two lower leagues. The top in each of the eight leagues gets promotion for the next year.
In addition, each region has a set of cup matches. The top two in each cup (those who get through to the ‘final’) get to go to Division 3 Nationals that year. Sure, it’s highly dependent on the draw. And sure, it seems weird that a team can get promoted and yet not go to nationals. That’s how it is.
NB: the final of a cup is not explicitly played, but those two teams that win their semi-finals get to go to nationals. Yes, it took me a couple of tries to understand it too.
Finally, those finishing 7th and 8th in the one Scottish league also go to Division 3 Nationals.
Right, with all that out of the way, here’s a summary of each league and cup. I’ll keep it brief, because we’ve got a lot to get through.