World Games Preview: Great Britain

GB, Great Britain, Mixed Ultimate, World Games Previews
James Burbidge, brings us the first in his World Games series: Great Britain.

 
Introduction

This series will take an informal look at the teams playing at the World Games in Cali, Colombia from the 28th to the 30th of July 2013.
 
The teams, in (probable) seeding order are:
– Canada
– USA
– Japan
– Australia
– Great Britain
– Colombia (host nation)
 
Teams qualified based on their performance across several divisions at the last WUGC (Japan, 2012) with the exception of the host nation who gets a spot more or less regardless.*
World Games in Cali – an IOC event

 
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The tournament is a round-robin followed by the last day of finals (1v2, 3v4). Teams are limited to just 13 players (to keep costs down for the organisers) with one reserve of each sex (who can’t play once the tournament has started). Obviously playing intense games in heat with a very limited amount of substitutes makes for a tough tournament, but it also makes for some exciting Ultimate.

There were two tiebreaks to decide those seedings (Canada/USA, GB/Australia), which shows the increasing level of parity at this sort of tournament. There’s not one team (with the exception, perhaps of Colombia) on that list who won’t be justifiably disappointed not to make finals.
 
You can watch some matches from the last Games here.
It is unknown yet whether anyone will be live-streaming or filming matches this year.
 
 

Team GB

 
The Lineup
 
Issi Burke
Sophie Edmondson
Bex Forth
Beccie Haigh
Jenna Thompson
Jackie Verralls
 
Tom Abrams (Mum)
Justin Foord
Rich Gale
Ollie Gordon
Rich Harris (Gash)
Matt Parslow
Dave Tyler
Team GB.

 

About the team
 
Whittled down from a training squad of 30, this is a young team nevertheless filled with well-known faces for those familiar with UK Ultimate. A squad of only 13 players means that the selected team has moved away from defined ‘handler/cutter’ and ‘offense/defense’ roles – on this team everyone can do everything. 


The plan from the outset was to train ‘like a club team’ with regular practices in London. That being the case, it’s no surprise to see a strong core of Clapham and Iceni players at the heart of this team.  Justin and Gash are known quantities: big in the air, big throws with the disc in hand; and whilst he might not have quite as much international exposure (neither the US Club Nationals experience of Justin nor a part of the Paganello winning UTI team like Gash), Mum has been a constant on GB and Clapham’s D-lines for a few years now – big pulls and bigger D’s are at the heart of his game (this was an early indicator).


Iceni too contribute 3 players to the team. Team Manager and Iceni Captain Bex Forth has a wealth of international experience with GB and Iceni, as well as US club experience with Showdown (where she won Ultiworld’s MVP). Club teammates Jackie and Becci bring pace and engines to the cutting lanes; neither are the tallest of players but that has never stopped them from dominating their match-ups in the past.

Jenna Thompson (GB Women’s captain at WUGC 2012) is the only returner on the team; her experience at this tournament will surely be of benefit to the team. The 2 remaining women’s spots are rounded out by Sophie Edmonson and Izzy Burke. Izzy has played for the last few years on Open team Devon (top 16 in the UK), seeking higher intensity ultimate; that should stand her in good stead for the pace that top Open players bring to Mixed.


Expect consistency, a cool head and a surprising turn of speed from Rich Gale who should be an anchor on offense. Ex-NexGen-er Ollie Gordon has been a staple of the O-line for GB and Chevy (here’s why) but this highlight reel shows his capabilities on the other side of the disc too. Matt Parslow brings some more inventive throws to the offense, as well as passion on defense. The final spot on the roster is filled out by Mixed superstar Dave Tyler who has a UK University title (Warwick), a UK Open title (Clapham) and 3 UK Mixed titles (Bear Cavalry) under his belt.

 
Coach and expected playing style
 
Coach Sion Scone (Brummie) played on the World Games team in 2009, and coached GB to their highest ever finish (2nd) at Worlds in 2012. Under his tutelage the team has developed a high paced and organic-looking offense – unafraid to take on the mark and put their players into one-on-one match-ups. This aggressive style might be risky, but could pay off big. A conservative style might win against the lower seeded teams, but GB will need to take the game to favourites USA and Canada if they want to cause an upset.
 
Expected finishing place
 
A tough one to call. I’d like to think we’ve got to the stage where the top 13 players in the UK can match-up against the top 13 from anywhere in the world. I think if everything clicks and goes their way, GB can win it all. That said, the pragmatic side of me thinks the consistency of top level competition players get in North America gives them the edge in games like this.
 
– 3rd

N.B. Down on the Open team’s finish at WUGC, but significantly up on the Women’s and Mixed division results (7th and 5th respectively), this predicts GB beating their seed by 2 places.

Support our World Games squad make it to Cali. Watch them play in a ShowGame this weekend too!

 

 
Notes
 
Team GB are looking for some support to help get staff and players over to the tournament. If you can help them out with a few pounds, you should – http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/take-gb-ultimate-frisbee-to-the-world-games
 
Official Website
 

*As long as they had a team in the Mixed division or teams in the Open and Women’s division at WUGC 2012.
 

Let’s go GB! Watch out for a different country next time. Like, share and more. London’s Calling Open preview coming up tomorrow on tSG.