WUCC 2014 Mixed Division Preview: Bear Cavalry

Bear Cavalry, Mixed, news, Previews, WUCC Previews, WUCC2014
Matt Dathan and Matthew Hodgson finish off our previews with Bear Cavalry.
Bear Cavalry took Gold at Windmill Windup this season. Photo courtesy of Martine Bootsma/Windmill Windup.

Squad

Adam Maxwell
Alex Wylie
Darbi Donaldson
David Tyler (C)
Gemma Wakeford
Hanna John
Helen Swan-Thompson
James Freeman
Joe Swan-Thompson
Josh Wakeford
Lauren Tyler
Lucy Hawkes
Matt Alders
Matt Hodgson
Pedro Vargas
Ronja Wöstheinrich
Rosie Musgrave
Theo Tizard

About Bear Cavalry

The World Club Championships in Lecco is what Bear Cavalry has existed for since the club of mainly Warwick alumni players was formed more than four years ago.


With a 95 per cent retention rate since that first full season together, there has been little need for adding extra players to a tight-knit group, many of whom have played together at university, in the 2011 GB mixed team and at clubs such as Fire of London and Ka-Pow.

But for their final path to World’s they have added two missing jigsaws of the puzzle in the form of two Ka-Pow players – Pedro Vargas, the Portuguese handler, and the versatile Matt Hodgson.

Both were hand-picked by the Bears captain, Dave Tyler, as individuals who would easily adjust to Bears’ particular style of offense and hard man defense.

Playing and Coaching Style

That style of play is built around a pivot-based offence, characterised by cynical opponents as a hierarchical offence because it is designed around Joe Thompson and Dave Tyler, the two pivots around which the rest of the offence runs.

“Calling it a hierarchical offence is disingenuous, because outside of the top two the hierarchy isn’t well defined,” Dave explains.

It is an approach targeted for mixed ultimate and designed to bring out the best of the teams’ star players. 

“It often looks like quite a naive V stack, but it’s a bit more complex than that – the stack is just somewhere to keep people out of the way until a pivot player gets the disc. It’s not an offence that would work for most teams – and definitely not in open – it’s evolved over time as the way to get the best out of our best players.”

When observing their style of play, you may come to the conclusion that Bear’s strategy has remained unchanged from their university days, but while the principles remain the same – man defence and a vertical stack offence – the adjustments made by the captaincy have filtered in over the years.

On first glance the offence style may look basic, but the adjustments made have highlighted the strengths of the squad and have been drilled in so thoroughly that the team has confidence in the strategy and in the reliability of the team to execute it. 

Bears are hitting World’s after a hugely successful domestic season, dominating all three mixed tours and remaining unbeaten until earlier this month, when they suffered a surprise loss to Cambridge in a friendly.

The defeat was brushed aside by Bears players, who pointed to the fact they were missing four of their key players. “We needed to experience what defeat tasted like so we know never to taste it again,” said a particularly defiant Bear. And it was on Cambridge’s hallowed home turf, of course, so no confidence has been lost from within the very close unit of players.

Domination has not been a new experience for Bears however, having won mixed tour in 2011 and 2012, winning nationals in 2012 and 2013 and the European Club Championships in Bordeaux last year.

They continued to impress on the international stage this season, winning the Golden Elephant trophy at Windmill Windup in Amsterdam. Winning on the domestic and European scene is one thing; world domination is another level altogether, and captain Dave is realistic when it comes to setting a goal in Lecco.

Predictions

He said it was difficult to predict how a club like Bears will fare against non-European teams, pointing to the example of Venezuela under-23s at last year’s World Championships to show how dangerous it is to guess the strength of teams from more unfamiliar countries.

As with the Open and Women’s divisions, the pinnacle of European mixed clubs come from the UK. But unlike Clapham and Iceni, who have both recently returned home from facing North America’s elite at the US Open, Bear Cavalry have never played a team that competes outside of Europe, so adjustments will have to be made based on filmed footage and adapting throughout the tournament. 

When pushed for a prediction – and Dave was the only one of the UK mixed teams’ captains who was brave enough to give a prediction, a reflection of his straightforward, honest approach to leadership – he told The ShowGame that a realistic goal for the team was a finishing position between seventh and 12th place.

“I’d say it’s a huge success in results if we come in the top eight,” he says. “I’d like us to come up against one of the top four teams and prove that our systems work. We won’t win, simply because we aren’t individually good enough, but I want to see whether what we’ve built as a club holds its own to the top of our abilities as individuals,” he adds.

Lecco is the last hurrah for Bear Cavalry. Like retiring footballers, it is always best to go out on top, leaving a positive legacy to remember the team by. Barring world domination, there is little left to achieve for the club, having risen from winning student nationals to European champions and what the team hopes will be a top eight finish at World’s.

The best crop of players in the team are likely to focus on GB for the next couple of years and while Bear Cavalry might make the odd reappearance at tournaments at home and abroad, it will no longer be a club with such a serious and focused set of objectives.

Whatever you make of their style of play and approach to the game, you cannot doubt the commitment of the players to a set program over such a length of time and the impressive journey they have made all the way from Freshers’ year at Warwick University.


And that is that. Keep you eyes open for the SkyD and tSG coverage of WUCC.


WUCC 2014 Mixed Division Preview: Cambridge Ultimate

Cambridge, Mixed, news, Previews, WUCC Previews, WUCC2014
Matthew Hodgson and Matt Dathan preview Cambridge Ultimate in the Mixed division of WUCC 2014.

Cambridge winning the Golden Keg final and last month. Photo courtesy of the Golden Keg crew.

Squad

Adrienne Tecza
Ania Koscia
Ben Bruin
Dom Dathan
Duncan Pocklington
Fran Dathan
Hannah Boddy
Hannah Williams
Howard Storey
James Threadgill
Joe Durst
Kelly Hogan
Lucy Barnes
Magali Matsumiya
Matt Metcalfe
Michele Ghansah
Nancy Rawlings
Niamh Delaney
Nick Wong
Rich Hims
Sam Turner
Sam Vile
Steve Kolthammer
Susanna Bidgood

About Cambridge

If it was a pub quiz, Cambridge would be firm favourites. Not only do they boast a host of current and alumni Cambridge students, they have been joined by a number of players from their arch-rivals, Oxford, to form a team that would not look out of place being tested by Jeremy Paxman. 


However it is not a pub quiz, it is the World Ultimate Club Championships, and the question on many people’s minds is, with more than seven doctorates among the team, will too many genii spoil the grand plan, masterminded by co-captains Nick Wong and Magali Matsumiya?

The team held limited try-outs for a small number of invited players to add external experience and talent to a team that has a very cohesive feel to it, due to a long tradition of weekly training sessions in Cambridge.

So whilst the likes of James Threadgill, Frances Dathan and Ben Bruin might water down the average IQ of the team, they will add vital graft and experience to the team.

The combination of a strong history of ultimate in Cambridge, the integration of its university team with the club, the rise of the women’s team Punt and the handful of additions to the squad has led to the rising force of the Cambridge mixed team.

Until last year, they were certainly not considered a powerhouse on the UK scene. Yes, they regularly made the quarter finals and the top 10 at mixed tours, but they were not a team that was feared.

Yet, after their most successful mixed tour season last year – securing second and third-placed finishes – they went into nationals brimming with confidence. They lost to Bear Cavalry in the final and finished in second place, enough to qualify for the European Club championships and their long-awaited prize of a spot at World’s.

At Europeans in Bordeaux their only defeats came against the Latvian team Salaspils FK and a narrow loss against UFO Utrecht in the quarter finals, before securing an impressive fifth-place finish.

With only a handful of new additions this season, they travel to Lecco as one of the most prepared teams. Their turnout at training is outstanding compared to other teams, they reached every almost final of the mixed tours this season and have performed very well at two international warm-up tournaments, finishing as runners-up at G-Spot in Ghent and winning the Golden Keg tournament in Dublin, beating RGS in the process.

Add to that their surprise 15-13 win over Bear Cavalry in a warm-up game earlier this month – the first UK team to beat Bears in over a year – Cambridge “look to be timing their peak perfectly for World’s,” as one rival team’s captain put it.

Playing and Coaching Style

At times, however, their preparation domestically has been frustrating, with the lack of competition in the UK a problem shared by Bear Cavalry.

“It’s been frustrating that a lot of our games haven’t been that close,” says Nick. “We’ve only had one or two games each tour to really develop and learn new things.”

Cambridge’s style of play is very much driven by a horizontal offence, with hints of split stack principles, aiming to make big isolations for their cutters, which will give opposition teams match-up nightmares across both genders.

“We’ve got some really good women on the team,” says Nick. “So we set up our offence to make sure we give them the space to do their thing.”

Some players have joked about the amount of time spent discussing the small minutiae of tactics, suggesting too many genii do indeed spoil the grand plan, but Nick does well to use and contain the billions of brain cells competing for talking time.

Nick dismisses the importance of the team’s superior IQ, however. “IQ smarts translates very poorly into frisbee smarts,” he explains. And co captain Mags says it sometimes has a detrimental effect at trainings.

“It leads to a vast amount of discussion of every possibility that could possibly ever happen, which is not ideal,” she says of certain players’ tendency to analyse their tactics to the nth degree.

As for their tactics off the pitch, the captains are taking a more Fabio Capello approach to team discipline than RGS have, with an alcohol ban in action throughout the tournament. Only time will tell which approach works better, but don’t expect Cambridge players to be hitting the bars of Lecco until at least Saturday evening.

Prediction

Nick refused to set a goal for Cambridge at World’s – or at least he chose to keep his cards close to his chest – preferring to determine success as “playing really well as a team and playing to our potential,” taking each game as it comes.

He stressed Cambridge’s team ethos was more important than any key individuals, and the team’s strength across the board, rather than certain stand-out players, is something that their UK rivals lack.

“There’s no kind of individual stars as such. What we’ve done well so far is try to work out how to get key contributions from everyone, so not to rely too much on stars, but to have a good spread from everyone.”

It is a point put rather more bluntly by a Bear Cavalry player, who predicted a top-16 finish for Cambridge.

“A very flat squad without any standout players but plenty of depth,” is how they described Cambridge. “Tactically they’re very sound but I suspect they’re simply not talented enough to break down a really good team.

“They’ve also got a really hard draw so would be very hard pressed to get out of their power pool let alone make top eight.  A finish in the 12-16 bracket in my opinion.”

Cambridge are not afraid of rewarding their star players on the day however, with American Steve Kolthammer winning male MVP at Golden Keg and the female award going to Magali Matsumiya, who has come a long way since playing in her first mixed tour in 2007, when, unaware of the term ‘gender across’, ended up marking a guy and leaving the free woman to score an easy point. 

Cambridge will be going into WUCC seeded 18th – the second-ranked British team behind Bears – but have all the pieces in place and preparation to compete with anyone and make a run at the top spots.

Almost there only one team left …

WUCC 2014 Mixed Division Preview: Royal Goaltimate Society

Mixed, news, Previews, RGS, WUCC Previews, WUCC2014
Matt Dathan and Matthew Hodgson take a look into Royal Goaltimate Society and their road to WUCC 2014 in the Mixed division.

Luke T of RGS brings down a wayward disc at Golden Keg last month. Photo courtesy of the Golden Keg crew.



Squad

Alizé Clough
Amie Channon
Cat Tobiasiewicz
Chris Whittle
Chrissy Birtwistle (C)
Colin Green
David Ford
Fred Shone
Iain McConachie
James Jagger
Jonny Clark (C)
Julia Jaensch
Katrina Ford
Philipa Sturt
Richard Macleod
Romanie Hannah
Ruby Rennison
Sam Green
Steph Gillick
Tim Sanders
Luke Tobiasiewicz
Will Smith
Willis Bruckermann
Zack Dorner

About R.G.S.
For much of the season R.G.S have resembled more of a dating agency than  an ultimate team, but finally they’re starting to hit it off on the pitch as well as off. The team was seen by some – perhaps unfairly – as the laughing stock of the UK teams going to Worlds due to dropping as low as 9th in the mixed division. But the facts fail to tell the full story.

Only a handful of the players going to Lecco this summer played for the R.G.S that qualified for World’s by winning mixed tour last year, which explains why the team struggled to gel in the opening months of the season. The wind and rain of Nottingham and Cheltenham at Mixed Tours 2 and 3 did not help a team trying to gel as a team and develop a new offence, but, as 
Jonny Clark one of the two captains said, it certainly created the all-important team spirit and graft that often takes time for a new team. 

“Those early tournaments were particularly frustrating, but we learned to fight as a team and rely on the weapons we have to grind out games,” he told The ShowGame. 


They are running offensive looks out of vertical, horizontal (listen out for their ‘hozzers for blozzers’ call) and split stacks as well as deploying multiple zones and man defensive plays. With a new squad and players based as far away as Canada and Dubai, all of these challenges contributed to the time that it took this team to come together. 

However the mixed season was only the beginning of their preparations and they have since gone on to impress in foreign tournaments. If their run of recent form is anything to go by then they should be on course to get some wins at Worlds. 


At Windmill Windup in Amsterdam, their only defeats came against the French national team, eventual winners Bear Cavalry and Heidees, the German mixed team, who they later beat in their final game of the tournament to secure an impressive fifth place finish, a position which certainly made those early critics of R.G.S look a bit silly. 
They also beat a host of other European mixed teams going to WUCC, including the Dutch team UFO and Bon Disc’Manche from France.

Last month they travelled to Golden Keg in Dublin, where they beat 
Grandmaster Flash from Poland and narrowly lost to the winners, Cambridge. 

Coaching and Playing Style

R.G.S – or the Royal Goaltimate Society to give their full name – were the only mixed team going to Worlds that held open trials, due to the exodus of Clapham and Iceni players who chose to play in the open and women’s division instead. 

With the help of coaching from Jaimie Cross, an experienced veteran of managing new teams, Jonny and fellow captain Chrissie Birtwistle ran try-outs over the winter that triallists said had a professional feel to them, held under the roof of the state-of-the-art Soccerdome centre in Greenwich. 


Players to Watch

Along with a handful of existing players from the previous year, they managed to secure some very talented players who were unattached to other WUCC squads, including Amie Channon and Ruby Rennison from SYC and Iain ‘Con’ McConachie, an ex-Clapham and Fusion player who has returned to Frisbee after a few years in the wilderness. 

Their star players so far this season have been Richard ‘Macca’ Macleod and Kate Ford. “Underestimate Macca at your peril,” was a warning shot one R.G.S aimed at their WUCC opponents.


Predictions

According to R.G.S players Tim Sanders and Kate Rae, the season changed when the team started going to the pub together after trainings and summer league, and the team’s best performance of the season came after their biggest night out as a team. It was the same night as four of the girls reportedly got lucky after wearing identical Get Horizontal t-shirts (from where the ‘hozzers for blozzers’ play was born), so it is unlikely that either a socialising or a drinking ban will be imposed on the players in Lecco. 

It’s a squad finally bearing the fruits of an intense, sometimes frustrating but hard-working build-up to WUCC. “We’re just going to take it a point and game at a time,” Jonny says, preferring not to set a firm target of where they hope to finish. 


“We’ve got a really great pool lined up with Fire of Anatolia, UKU! And Polar Bears so our first aim will be pushing for the top half of the draw. More than anything we’re looking forward to getting our whole squad together and seeing what we can bring to the first round of games.”


The last piece of the jigsaw will be Colin and Sam Green joining the team from Canada. Each have made cameo appearances throughout the season and Jonny hopes the excitement they bring to the team will give them the vital boost to push R.G.S up into the top echelons of the competition.


Their record on the international stage is far better than the domestic scene. As their performances at Windmill and Golden Keg showed, the hotter climates of Lecco and the absence of home media scrutiny will benefit their style of play and mental state and they are increasingly looking like a team that could impress and punch above the weight of a team seeded 27th at WUCC.

Photo courtesy of Ruby Rennison. 
That’s two down, two to go! But first some more discussion…

WUCC 2014 Mixed Division Preview: Black Eagles

Black Eagles, Mixed, news, Previews, WUCC Previews, WUCC2014
Matthew ‘Smatt’ Hodgson and Matt Dathan start off our Mixed Division WUCC 2014 previews with late additions Black Eagles.

Black Eagles at UKU Nationals 2013. Photo courtesy of Graham Bailey.



Squad
Ali Brown
Audrey Melançon-Fournier
Calum Easton
Carissa Tong
Catie Newton
Chris Knudsen
Dave Damby
Doug Olley
Gill Spy
Gordon Kerr
Graeme McDowell
Hannah Newton
Harry Glasspool
Helen Waring
James Glover (C)
Katie McLean
Nessa Forde
Niall Wilkinson
Pete Pharoah
Phil Webb
Rory Curran
Simone Whale


About Black Eagles

It may be the last year that Black Eagles have to compete alongside English teams to qualify for World’s if Scots vote for independence in September, and this year they got in by the skin of their teeth.

Rewind four weeks and Black Eagles’ players were planning a summer free of ultimate, but thanks to a late drop-out, the team accepted a late entry to fly to Lecco.

They narrowly missed out on a qualification spot last year, after an impressive start to the season in mixed tour where they fell just short. They will be missing two of their star players from previous year – Frances Dathan and Adrienne Tecza – who were both poached by Cambridge after Eagles failed to qualify.

Despite limited preparation , Black Eagles will be travelling to Lecco with largely the same roster that finished mixed tour this season with an overall fifth-placed finish, third in 2013.
They have only mustered one training session since being offered the spot a month ago, but that is one more session than they have managed together all season, so opposing teams would be wise not to underestimate the Eagles.

As with Bear Cavalry, the core players of the squad have been playing together since their university days. But the club itself was only formed in 2011 and has African football to thank for its formation.

“We were formed in a pub, after a conversation about African football teams, with the vision of playing quality mixed ultimate with our friends who are now distributed worldwide,” 

explains James Glover, the lightning quick Yorkshireman who moved to Edinburgh for university and has stayed ever since. James was one of the three founders – along with Gordon Kerr and Graeme McDowell and explains Black Eagles as “unlike most other ultimate teams”.

Playing and Coaching Style
Scottish ultimate has long been known for tight defense and the ability to play in all weather conditions and, although the weather in Lecco looks set to be a little hotter than the typical Scottish climate, tough man defence and player familiarity should outweigh a lot of the missed preparation time.

They like to deploy a no-nonsense, straightforward approach to ultimate, perhaps wise given their lack of preparation. “Our playing style is based on big shots – on the field and in the bar – and big takes,” he says.  

The Eagles have hovered towards the top of mixed tour for a number of years now, despite not holding organized training sessions and have been able to compete with and beat England’s elite, even if they have struggled to do it consistently over a whole season.

At a time when Scottish open and women’s clubs have taken a step back from the golden age – when Ro-Sham-Bo were the most feared name in university ultimate and Fusion were regularly making open tour semis and finals – Black Eagles have become the best performing club in any division from Scotland.

And they are not just representing Scotland. As the only team going to World’s who are a team based further north than the Midlands (Chevron divide their trainings between Bristol and Manchester) it shows how dominated UK ultimate is by southern, mostly London-based teams and how hard it is for players who are based in the north to reach the top echelons of the game. It would be refreshing to see a resurgence in northern ultimate and the opportunity presented by this tournament to gain elite experience is going to be invaluable.

Prediction
With little expectation, the team will be competing against the world’s best teams with nothing to lose. Although it will be frustrating competing at World’s lacking a full strength squad and not having had a full season of preparation, it is a fantastic opportunity for Eagles to gain invaluable experience in what could be their last international tournament representing Great Britain.

The goal Black Eagles have set themselves is a top half  finish and to “have fun while doing it”. Their motto – “go big or go home” – will be applied both on the pitch by day and off the pitch by night as they hit the bars lining the shores of Lake Como. 

Good luck to our only Scottish team at WUCC, more Smatt and Matt to come!

WUCC 2014 Open Masters Division Preview: Blue Arse Flies

BAF, news, Open Masters, Previews, WUCC Previews, WUCC2014
Sean Colfer previews the second UK Open Masters team going to WUCC next week: Blue Arsed Flies. 

BAF preparing for WUCC at Tom’s Tourney this year. Photo courtesy of Get Horizontal.



Squad

Adam Batchelor
Alex Livingstone
Axel Baier
Ben Wickerson
Chris Hughes
Gordon Kelman
James Ayrton
James Rodgers
Jason DeCicco
Jaume Martin Serentill
Joe Pietrzak
Karl Mann
Lee Noble
Luke Gomm
Merrick Cardew
Neil Webber
Oli Browne
Robert Cooper
Sebastien Beltramo
Simon Townsend


About the Team

Blue Arse Flies, a team based originally around Evesham and Cheltenham, have been around for a long, long time now. They are in fact older than some of the people who have played with them in the past, such is their longevity and commitment to bringing through young players. They have played at WUCC in three decades, at St. Andrews in 1999, Hawaii in 2002 and Prague in 2010, in the mixed division. This time around they are moving into masters play, where they finished fourth at xEUCF in 2013, going down in sudden death to Ultimate Vibration of France in the bronze medal game. 

They are bringing a fairly large squad of 20 which should give them enough legs to keep their key players fresh. GB Mixed player Merrick ‘Mez’ Cardew is the standout name, an excellent athlete who is more than capable of creating the play as well as striking long for hucks from the host of vastly experienced handlers such as Chris Hughes and Adam Batchelor. Luke ‘Zulu’ Gomm is another excellent athlete who will command a lot of attention on offence. They have a number of good defensive players who have represented GB – including some who played in 1990(!) – and have played at the top level in Europe before and will be well capable of matching up with most teams in their division. 

Coaching and Playing Style

Much like Zimmer, BAF have not trained a great deal specifically for WUCC. They have been playing Open Tour all season with several of the younger players on their roster and will only have their first day without them on August 3rd – the first day of play in Lecco. However that isn’t the limit of their similarities with their fellow British masters representatives; these players know each other as well as they possibly could, and so dedicated trainings aren’t as vital as they would be for a younger, less experienced team. 

On offence they will almost certainly look to use big throws to their most talented receivers to make up ground in a hurry. Their game on Tour with younger players involved was to isolate talented cutters downfield and, with cutters like Mez and Voodoo in the team, will be looking to do the same in Italy. On defence, they are more than capable of playing effective zones with their know how and nous, but certainly have the legs and athleticism to grind out turns using man if needed. However, this could be where they run into difficulties in Lecco – consistently generating turns at an elite level without a deep line of players capable of getting blocks out of nothing is a challenge. 

Expected Finishing Place

BAF are aiming to compete as well as they can and to enjoy their experience of playing against some of the best Masters teams on the planet. They have some outstanding talent on their team but the squad is more top-heavy than the deep Zimmer roster, which may present issues when top teams are able to match them up with their top defenders. Their pool is quite tough (including Surly of the USA, last WUCC’s silver medallists), but if they can hold seed they would go into a more favourable power pool and could be in with an outside shot at a quarterfinal place. A range of 7-16 seems like its a reasonable landing spot for them, but it’s very difficult to see them going beyond that. I’m sure they’ll do well at the parties though. 

Predicted finish: 11th



Thanks to Merrick Cardew for his help with this preview and good luck to BAF!

WUCC 2014 Women’s Masters Division Preview: R.O.B.O.T

news, Previews, ROBOT, Women's Master, WUCC Previews, WUCC2014
Lauren Bryant previews the only Women’s Masters team going to Lecco from UK: R.O.B.O.T.

ROBOT taking on LLLeeds during this years Tour season. Photo courtesy of Nick Moss.



Squad

Alejandra Ospina

Angela Caulfield
Carolyn Le Cocq
Claerwen Snell
Claire Mitchell
Clare Avenell
Elizabeth Searle
Felicity Perry
Gemma Youlten
Gemma Taylor
Helen Windle
Joelie Chalmer
Julia Murray
Kathrine Montagu-Smith
Kiley Brown
KJ Boardman-Hims
Kristina Cernusakova
Lianne Elsdon
Linda Gilmour
Linz Wilkinson
Magdalena Glanc
Nicole Cozens
Ruth Carelton
Sarah Douglas
Sophie Beavan
Stephanie Bolton

About ROBOT

Really Old Birds On Tour already win points for their name, and are an exciting prospect going into WUCC. Set up last year as the UK’s first women’s masters team, ROBOT bring not only experience to the field but an intimidating level of skills and athleticism.

The core of the team played together in 2013 as ROBOT on the UK circuit and as GB women’s masters at ECBU, where they took silver. The team made semi-finals at the second and third women’s tours in the UK, proving they can match up against the top tier of UK women’s ultimate.

Players to watch

#55 Gemma Taylor – Huge flicks hucks and gritty defence, GT will put her body on the line for the team.
#23 Sophie Beavan – Dominant cutter able to get free at will, quick and smart.
#1 Jools Murray – Big throws and big vision and a complete athlete. All three also captained GB women in 2011/2012.

Predictions

There is no seeding in the women’s masters division, with nine teams playing a round robin before play-offs. ROBOT have the ability to dispatch anyone in the division, knocking out other European teams and further-afield rivals from Colombia and Australia. But they may not be able to better North America’s Godiva (US) or Vintage (Canada), which have a long history of playing together as well as some of the best of elite North American Club players from recent years. A finals berth may be just out of reach, but the team should certainly have their sights on medals.


That’s the Women’s Masters UK team, easy! Take it to the world! 

WUCC 2014 Open Masters Division Preview: Zimmer

news, Open Masters, Previews, WUCC Previews, WUCC2014, Zimmer
Sean Colfer previews Zimmer in the Open Masters division at WUCC 2014.
UKU CEO Si Hill commanding Zimmer from the back at UKU Tour 3. Photo courtesy of Christine Rushworth.



Squad

Alan Harding
Ben Mitchell
Bob Himms
Dan Berry
Dave Barnard
Dave Sealy
David Moore
David Bixler
David Grayson
Elias Thaysen
Jim Hancox
Joe Bolton
Lars Patel
Lewis Glover
Matthew Ford
Paul Atkins
Rik Shipley
Rob McGowan
Rob Whitehouse
Si Weeks
Simon Hill
Sion Thaysen
Stu Mitchell
Tom Boreham

About the Team

Last time WUCC came around, Age Against the Machine were the representatives from GB. Age finished 14th in the division, winning three games over the course of the tournament. This time around, Zimmer are better equipped to make some noise in the upper end of the tournament, reflected in their top four seeding after winning the xEUCF Masters title at a canter.

Watching the Zimmer team is like watching an all-star team of UK Ultimate players from the early 2000s. There are representatives from every successful team in UK Ultimate history – Clapham, Chevron, Fire, Leeds and Brighton among them. This is a very talented, deep and (obviously) experienced team that has performed very well on Tour this season, including a 5th place finish at Tour 3 in Cardiff. Every member of the team has the fundamental skills needed to be a top level player and there are excellent athletes on show here, albeit slightly more wizened than in the Open teams from the UK.

The offence features a lot of what you would expect from a team with such experienced throwers. Their primary handlers are Ben Mitchell and Si Hill, latterly of Leeds and Clapham, with Rik Shipley, Lewis Glover and others able to play at the back as well. Their cutters on offence have a good mixture of size and speed and are all able to rotate as needed, giving the team good balance and a plethora of options.

The defence is similarly varied, with a number of players capable of playing tight man defence or applying effective zones. The ex-Chevron contingent, veterans such as Dave Sealy, Dave Barnard and Dave Grayson, feature alongside other ex-GB players to form a strong, deep defensive unit.

Coaching and Playing Style

On offence Zimmer are capable of mixing it up, as you would expect from a team that has seen everything that the game can throw at them. They have some very athletic cutters who take the top off the defence and allow players like the handlers mentioned above time and space to reset the disc and look for favourable match ups down-field. They didn’t see much zone during the Tour season, predictably so as it’s likely they would have gone through it with some ease in any conditions.

Their defence is strong as a man unit, with height and speed that is enough to generate blocks on any team in the UK. They have a zone that they like to break out as well that is big at the front and at the back with some nippy flexibility in the middle, making clever use of their personnel and causing a lot of problems around the handlers. The experience of all of these players at the very top level is evident, with everyone making smart plays to limit their opponents as much as possible.

Zimmer have not trained together a great deal but that shouldn’t hold them back. There are players who have played with each other for years – the chemistry that another team would want to work on in training is already there for Zimmer. 

Expected Finishing Place

Zimmer are the best team in Europe, but USAU National champions Surly, of Blaine, Minnesota, and runners-up Boneyard, from North Carolina, will be predictably strong; those from Canada and Australia will be tough opponents as well. That said, Zimmer should have the strength in depth to get to the quarter finals. Last time around, Helsinki Ultimate managed to make semis and lost to an Eastern Greys team inspired and led by Australian World Games star Tom Rogacki. That strong performance by a European team shows that the top four isn’t as out of reach as it appears to be in the Open division. I think Zimmer will reach the quarters, and I’m looking forward to seeing if they can push it even further.

Predicted finish: 5th


BAF to come in the Masters division but ROBOT first. Best of luck to both teams from tSG!