Dear C Tour: Why Trialling Might Be Worth A Shot

A Tour, C Tour, DED, Kapow, Trial Season, xEUCF
Harry Mason sends a message to all trialling hopefuls in 2014…



Trials season is approaching. For many hopeful players, they’ll be turned away, having gained experience from the trials but that’s it for the year. Some players, having worked their way up the tours (or been on the training squad last year) might have their eyes on finally breaking the squad. And, just occasionally, there’ll be an amateur who dares to dream big.

Last year, I was one such hopeful. In 2012, I played just one open tour. C tour. We battled well and were proud of how we’d done, and I enjoyed playing with them. I wasn’t the best player, I wasn’t able to single-handedly swing games, and at times I was a liability. Yet still I dreamed.


In C tour, I don’t think it’s unfair to say that sometimes you have to avoid putting certain team-mates in certain situations, I personally wasn’t trusted with the disc as much for any assists, and in the wind everything went to chaos. At A-Tour and Euros, there isn’t that luxury. You have to trust every team-mate. And I did. I can’t identify anyone whom I would be uncomfortable giving the disc to and in return really didn’t want to be the one player they couldn’t trust. After those games I finally realised I could be trusted. That it wasn’t beyond me.

Harry Mason skying for DED Mixed at MT3 in 2013. Photo courtesy of Graham Bailey.

So, swallowing my fears and with a scared lump in my throat I applied for DED open. I remember my heartbreak when injury knocked me out of the second trial. Then elation when, during the 3rd trial, Luke Tobiasiewicz came up, clipboard in hand, and said I was being strongly considered. Taking his advice I gave it my all.


A short while later, I received the email every C tour player would layout into a wall to receive. I had narrowly made the cut. Courtesy of a follow up email from Graham Bailey about how to improve (still flagged in my inbox) it was clear I was being taken on for my potential, not my current skill. This is the first difference I noticed: I was expected to have a much greater understanding of the mechanics of the game, I’d have to work harder, and be able to identify weakness in myself like I hadn’t before.

I also trialled for DED mixed, and was told in no uncertain terms that, while they liked me and all that, I hadn’t made the team. I was distraught, but looking at the squad I couldn’t argue. However, thanks to international duties, they now needed an extra guy. I was brought in, permanently aware I was very much the final choice. That’s how I started the season after 2 tough trials – a player taken for potential, and there to prove a point.

I’m not going to go through DED’s season – it was brilliant and painful in equal measure – but there are a few things to highlight. Mainly, everyone at top level is tough. There’s no easy match ups. Small things (like being pumped up, or an extra half hour of drills beforehand) give big advantages in these situations. It was a lot more professional, a lot more marginal and there was never a game where I was allowed to come away thinking “they were the better team, there was no way we could have won”. I wasn’t taught to beat myself up, but in nearly every game I now knew there was always a chance, on a different day, that it could have been ours.

My very first A tour level game was vs Kapow! on a huge 3G indoor astro and I was scared. People at the top may not understand this, but there is still an aura and mythology surrounding A tour and it’s players. They’re supposed to be giants, faster than Grove Farm wind and, if not able to fly, then at least give gliding a dang good shot. A Kapow! player layout D-ing through me on my very first point didn’t help. But it wasn’t just the layout, it was the fact that it apparently meant nothing. It was expected, rather than anything spectacular, and that blindsided me at least as much as the actual play.

Ka-Pow’s trials started last weekend, but who will make it from these young hopefuls? Photo courtesy of KaPow Ultimate. 

Distraught, I went to the experienced players for advice. Then, the impossible occurred. I started to get the disc, and pass it without being blocked. I got free occasionally! This wasn’t supposed to happen. Not supposed to happen at all. The game was faster than I was used to – much faster – but it was still the game I knew. It wasn’t much, yet to me it was the world. We lost that game, but it still meant a lot as the biggest jump I have ever, and probably will ever get in Ultimate.

The other huge moment came when playing for DED mixed at tour 3. Our first game was against GB World Games. Always fun. This was at Cheltenham, the same venue and (I’m fairly sure) the same pitch I’d played my first ever game at Tour back in 2010. Now, 3 years later, I was playing the best in the country.

Again, we lost that game. Badly. The margin that those players had over me was, to say the least, humbling. (At most, soul crushing, but let’s ignore that). Yet, even playing against the royalty of Ultimate, you started to realise they were just players. Very, very good ones – clinical and dominant in equal measures – but players nonetheless. I actually managed to score (twice!), though mainly due to the throwing ability of my team mates (and being too insignificant to notice sneaking deep in a zone).

These games probably meant very little to most others involved. They were both games I lost, and very little was at stake for the result, so why should they mean anything to me? This season I played my first ever Club Nationals, and then my first ever Euros with DED Mixed. These tournaments were much more competitive, way more enjoyable and helped my physical skill improve far more than I can possibly measure. But it was those two games that let me break the mental barrier and say to myself that, yes, I had earned my place in high level Ultimate.

So, to all aspiring players let me tell you: it’s possible. I wasn’t the strongest player. I had to work harder than I’ve ever worked. I had to face the fact that, hey, Uni life was fun but, until exam time, it came second. But in one season I made the jump. It requires a lot of trust from the people picking. You’ll have to face the fact the odds are against you, that it may not be your year. Well, it may not be, but it might be.

At the very least, like most times in Ultimate, it’s worth a bid.

Good luck to all players trialling over next few weeks!

A Quick Look in the Rear-view Mirror – Open Tour 2013

A Tour, Chesapeake Invite, Chevron, Clapham, EMO, Fire of London, Open, xEUCF
James Burbidge looks back at 2013 from the Open division perspective.


Another year another national championship for Clapham, followed up by another European title. With their sights firmly set on Worlds, and a two-year plan in place, Clapham were a dominant force, even by their own standards. Aside from their obvious additions to the trophy shelf, one of the highlights of the year must have been a strong performance at the Chesapeake Invite where they narrowly missed out on a spot in the final, facing up all weekend against some of the toughest US club teams. You can read more about that weekend here.

Clapham take the European title for the second year running. Photo courtesy of Get Horizontal.


Beyond the obvious however, Open ultimate in the UK was in a state of flux. With split Euro and World qualifications, Tour took on a significance perhaps greater than Nationals, and was made all the more complicated with the inclusion of the non-Tour-point-scoring GBu23s.


The result? Whilst Clapham and Chevy qualified for both Euros and Worlds, the remaining Worlds spot went to EMO – a team who failed to qualify for Euros behind Brighton, Devon, Fire and Ka-Pow. EMO’s strong performance at Tour (up 8 spots on 2012) comes despite internal fluctuation as their GB players (including captain Joe Wynder) rotated in and out of the squad. There is no doubt that a Worlds spot in the bank eased the sting of failing to qualify for Euros and that they’ve plenty to look forward to in 2014.

On the opposite side of the see-saw, Fire (1 at least) went through a difficult transition year, losing 9 experienced first team players, with new captains recruiting from far and wide. Whilst they finished a disappointing 7th at Tour, a Euro-qualifying 5th at Nationals and a strong performance at Euros (9th) will give them hope for the 2014 season. 

Elsewhere, it seems promising that strong bubbles of Ultimate are forming away from London (and telephone teams). Manchester Ultimate had a strong season, capped perhaps by taking the Regional title over Chevron. Devon finally broke through as they have been promising to do for years, and a Euros spot is only going to encourage them. Meanwhile, despite rebranding, Brighton have quietly continued to go about their business, consistently producing upper-level ultimate (and players to be snapped up).

Further down, the bottom half of A-tour was in a more normal state of flux, and received opinion is that the top half of B-tour has become significantly stronger with a roughly equal bracket of 8 stretching between the two divisions. Flump’s charge up the rankings from C to A-tour (and Nationals) provided some seeding headaches for the competitions committee and it will be interesting to see where their season goes next year. 

So whilst the top of the table remained stable, it seems that in 2013 anything beyond that was up for grabs – will this trend continue in 2014? Stay tuned, we’ll be taking a look shortly.

Watch out for James’ preview for 2014, here on theShowGame.

Development Versus Winning: The Importance of Pitch Time

Discussion, Iceni, Leeds, womens, xEUCF
Sophie Edmondson starts off the new Discussion section with a look at squad sizing and its implication for player development…


Looking back over last season, something that’s puzzling me is something I’ve not given much thought before now. Perhaps it’s because 2013 was my first time at the helm of a club team. This is the first time I’ve realised just how important squad size is. On the surface the topic of squad size sounds pretty dull but it has lots of layers to it. No doubt there are lots of teams and individuals out there that have different experiences and opinions on what works best.


I write from the viewpoint of the women’s division on the UK domestic tour and at xEUCF 2013. I haven’t done a ton of homework collecting stats from each team about who played when and where, nor have I acted upon the knowledge that Iceni significantly shortened their lines in the final at Europeans last year. I’m sure had I done this a few home truths would be revealed both statistically and anecdotally but that’s still up for discussion.

At the LLLeeds Ladies AGM last year it was clear that 2013 was going to be a fresh start and the drive for new players was a priority. Turns out there’s a lot of female frisbee talent in the north and luckily trials were packed out. In summary: we settled with a squad of 22 which quickly went down to a tour team of 17 through unfortunate injuries and drop-outs.
Leeds Women at London’s Calling 2013. Photo courtesy of David Sparks.


We finished 4th at Tour and at Nationals and came 15th (last) at Euros. We went to xEUCF with 12 players. In Bordeaux we didn’t play a team with fewer players than us and we didn’t finish in the same bracket as any of the other UK teams. In fact we didn’t actually win a game (story of my 2013 life) but I’m confident in saying this was one of the best tournaments I’ve played in from the perspective of being a “team” and in terms of players’ development.


We lost in part due to the lack of playing experience and in part due to legs. With a bigger team I think we could have won a game or two. At the start of last season, xEUCF wasn’t even on our radar so we had no expectations about taking titles; LLL were in that well-talked about “development season”.

What baffles me though is that Tour, Nationals and European Champions Iceni were arguably in a development year too. They held weekly winter sessions open to all, then took a squad big enough to field two teams at tours 1 and 2, giving a large number of London based players regular quality weeknight practices with coaching and game play.

So is the question really about development versus winning? Yes.

At xEUCF Iceni’s large squad had 27 rostered players and they went on to win. I’m not going to dispute how good winning feels but I get the impression there is some contempt among some Iceni players who went to France but didn’t get a proper jab at the final.

Would it have been better for Iceni to focus on using the whole team, as evenly as was feasible, and let everyone have a shot playing in a European final? I’d argue that the only way we can develop women’s ultimate is to do precisely that. A team works hard together to get to the final and then all players contribute on pitch in the big game.

Easier said than done; if we want women’s ultimate in the UK to improve in line with the rest of the world we need to empower the new talent we’ve just spent a season nurturing. That means even amounts of pitch time in the biggest games of the season. Possibly for Iceni that can be achieved by moving towards a more possession rather than their current yardage based style of play and potentially by taking a slightly smaller team to xEUCF.

Their opposition in the 2013 final was U de Cologne, a relatively fresh team on the circuit who were joined by the formidable force of former European champions Sara Wickstrom and Susanne Theimer. They rocked up with 17 players and came second. If it was all down to legs then surely Iceni should have panned them, right? Perhaps I’m underestimating both the powerhouse that is Cologne and the combined experience within Iceni last year but I’m definitely not underestimating the power of pitch time for player development.

Perhaps my initial assumption that Iceni were in a “development season” this year is wrong.  If so, that may explain why despite already qualifying for 2014 World Clubs they still shortened their lines in the final of xEUCF. I don’t know the ins and outs of who got more/less pitch time and the reasoning behind it but it would be interesting for someone to shed some light on the topic.

There’s a risk that some people may interpret this article as an excuse for some Iceni-bashing, ignoring the themes at its heart. But I’ve noticed, since moving to London earlier in 2013, it’s obvious that there’s a real buzz about women’s ultimate here at the moment and it’s something to be harnessed.

I strongly believe the capital has space for two strong geo women’s teams.

I wonder what would happen if Iceni took a smaller squad at the beginning of a season and if this would add fuel to the development of the women’s scene in London. Many cite Iceni’s established geo-ethos as a reason to trial as it enables regular well-attended practices. Surely that’s what almost every team is striving for but can’t always deliver.

With a more even distribution of geo players across – still distinctly separate – London teams and a combined closed London women’s practice, could we achieve the best of both worlds: quality practices and more of the ‘tough game’ pitch time? Other benefits would include: pushing the skills of more players already near the top of their game, creating better contact between clubs and potentially forging connections in preparation for future GB teams.

Development isn’t just about coaching and improving, it’s about tournament experience and knowing what it takes to be a cog in a bigger machine. More pitch time means more contribution to your team’s efforts and more experience playing different opposition. Some hold the viewpoint that if you’re fully engaged in your team you can be just as engrossed in a win when supporting from the sideline as you would through playing on pitch. In my opinion sideline can never be a substitute for feet on pitch and hands on disc. The UK’s performance at the top for both club and country will only continue to improve if we seek to give our players the chance to match up, train with and compete against the toughest opposition possible.

What do you think? Feel free to comment below, or even better submit a response to theshowgame@gmail.com.

End of Year Review – Women’s Tour 2013

Devon, Leeds, Nice Bristols, PUNT, SYC, UK Ultimate, Women's Tour, WUCC2014, xEUCF
Charlie Blair looks back at the 2013 season and ahead at what’s to come in 2014.

With 2014 just around the corner, the Women’s Tour is about to embark on its tenth year. It is only fitting then that this year was one of landmark achievements, with our domestic battles being heightened by the two qualification spots at WUCC up for grabs.  Moreover, this qualification process instigated pioneering changes to the organisation of the divisions this year; ones that appear to be forcing many women’s clubs to reassess their form and direction.  As tSG reflects on some of the triumphs and challenges of the season, what can we expect from the season ahead? 

The UK Women’s Tour proudly concluded this year’s campaign triumphant in Bordeaux, with representation from four British clubs at xEUCF; a reflection of the depth within women’s ultimate in this country that remains unmatched by any other European nation. As such our clubs were arguably responsible for some of the most spectacular games of the tournament, notably those of the final and the ‘game to go’.

For Bristol, the remaining qualification spot boiled down to yet another match up with their British counterparts, SYC. However, with onlookers commenting that it’s the best they’ve seen either play in years, perhaps no other opposition could have brought out such defining performances from both teams. According to Bristol veteran, Jen Hart: 

‘We were playing for everything. We went three or four points behind and then we had a game changing layout from Bridget Brown and that was the turning point- from then on we were ruthless, we had layout blocks and clinical scores.’


For SYC, such a game took its toll on a 13 woman squad that had lost several players throughout the season to injuries, babies and the Middle East! They too applaud each other for inspirational play but credit the strength of Bristol’s handler movement, unrelenting upon their fatigue. It was a ‘devastating’ loss after having been in the lead, and unfortunately one which seems to reflect the positive start to the season they had, that faded as Bristol began their ascendency and usurped SYC’s place in the Tour 3 and Nationals finals. 

In contrast, this victory cemented a landmark year for Bristol who not only qualified for worlds for the first time in their club’s history but also took home their first ever Tour victory in Cardiff, against Iceni. Not to mention taking home the Spirit prize from Euros for a second year in a row. 

Unsurprisingly then, Iceni are having to respond to the challenges they faced from both Bristol and their European counterparts this season. In the xEUCF final, Iceni, keen to send a strong message to the world having already qualified for WUCC, were pushed harder than ever to defend their title in what was visibly their toughest mental and physical game of their whole season. A victory required some super human efforts from the likes of Fran Scarampi who injected the momentum into her team to see out the game.
Francesca Scarampi making ‘that huge grab’ in the xEUCF final. Picture courtesy of Ingeborg Kuijlaars of Get Horizontal.
For Iceni, 2013 was the beginning of a two year season that culminated at WUCC. Therefore, they took the opportunity to choose a very big squad and train regularly this year. But as Ange Wilkinson admits, this became a ‘bit of a balancing act’ having such a large number of talented and hard-working athletes to manage. Particularly with so many other international commitments demanded from a substantial portion of the team. Consequently, chinks in the Iceni armour did indeed show this year and so looking forward to 2014 they seek ‘a renewed commitment from all our players to really push their own, and the team’s boundaries’. 

Indeed, women’s Nationals this year really brought this issue of commitment to the forefront amidst concerns about how the poor turnout reflected the state of women’s ultimate in the UK. Jen Hart suggests that if there had been more movement at the top of the Women’s Tour than it might have encouraged teams to stick out and push for Euros. As such, the wider significance of their example at Tour 3 is not lost on Bristol themselves, who maintain: 
‘People tend to talk about themselves and their team, but it’s not just about us winning- it was about changing the norm, beating the historical powerhouse that is Iceni; showing the other women’s teams that it doesn’t always have to be the same, showing that with enough hard work and belief you CAN win a Tour final.’
And it is such success that their peers delight in sharing in, and for many of whom, Bristol have been the most impressive team on the Women’s Tour this season. 

Their confidence, communication and strong fundamentals have impressed the leadership of both Punt and Iceni, whilst Megan Hurst of Seven Sisters considers them ‘a real role model for the women’s scene in general’. She sees them as a great example of a geo club who don’t share the graduate pulling power and transport links of London. 

I agree that it is exactly this kind of inspiration that the Women’s Tour desperately needs. Now that Bristol have gone some way to dispelling the predictability of Women’s Tour, it’s not just Iceni who have been encouraged to reorganise their aims and structure after this season. Seven Sisters can only speculate how they will look next year, having decided to focus much more exclusively on home grown and local players rather than being a satellite outfit. Whilst SYC are looking to hold more frequent London trainings and take a bigger squad. As such, this trial period, captain Cesca Tyler is keen to see ‘the SYC Saturday sessions attended by as many London based or close to London women as possible, whatever team played for’. 

Moreover, the success of Leeds Leeds Leeds is testament to the need for strong local foundations. It was these that allowed them to surpass even their own expectations, with captain Hannah Boddy admitting, ‘Euros wasn’t even on my radar in January!’. But despite much of their team never having ever played tour before, they were elated to maintain a consistent fourth place position. Boddy accredits this to the unity formed amongst her players who frequently trained with local geo teams, outside of tournaments and Leeds weekend trainings. In her eyes, the ability to build a successful team from scratch had much to do with a proactive attitude to skills days and local university team success, which has fostered the ‘ambition, talent and dedication of the ladies in the north’.

Nevertheless, the adjustments that some of these clubs intend to make to their organisation can also be seen as a natural response to the simultaneous hosting of Women’s and Mixed nationals this year. It is no surprise that Women’s clubs are now demanding greater commitment (to varying degrees!) from their players, more or less forcing them to make the choice between the two divisions in alignment with the changes to the tournament calendar.  Certainly, Iceni has made that abundantly clear, having organised all training weekends over the mixed tour dates. 

However, this choice will inevitably serve to weaken some other women’s clubs. It was a great shame that the only other team to have somewhat dispelled the status quo of the top four, PUNT, didn’t attend Nationals because the majority of their players committed to mixed instead. Yet captain Magili Matsumiya quite rightly points out, that if we intend to be showcasing in each division at the same event (which is the case in all international tournaments) we need both committed mixed and women’s teams domestically if we want to perform well:
‘I think you could equally say that having mixed nationals alongside women’s resulted in a low show for mixed, in terms of really top teams anyway (eg RGS and Magic Toast were consistently top four at Mixed Tour but all their players are on Iceni/Clapham/SYC/Chevron). What is certainly true is that there currently isn’t a sufficient player base of female players to have high quality mixed and women’s at the same event’.  
Whilst some may lament what appears to be a withdrawal of playing opportunity for women and damaging to the women’s game, in fact this separation is creating more opportunity for women, and of much higher quality. In my opinion, it has simultaneously highlighted the great dearth of female participation in Ultimate and provided the capacity to absorb and develop new talent to resolve that. A greater commitment to either women’s or mixed clubs will also allow them to create a greater legacy that is not totally reliant on a certain generation of players to sustain it. 

So whilst we may not see PUNT return to full force and picking up from where they left off from 3rd place at Tour, we can look forward to what new local outfits have to offer us in 2014, as well as those not distracted by international ambitions. Swift will be looking to develop strength again in the wake of losing players to mixed this season. In addition, there is excitement surrounding the inception of a Manchester based women’s team who have started to train under the leadership of experienced players such as Jools Murray. Equally, World Games star and A Tour regular, Izzy Burke, has already started training up a Devon women’s team as early as this September in preparation for the 2014 season! And if the training shirts and fresh faces in the pictures of their first training session is anything to go by, it appears to be a much needed vehicle for talented juniors to have the opportunity to not simply be exposed to Tour, but train for it. 

Devon Women have their first training. Photo courtesy of Devon Ultimate.
So this year Women’s Tour was a landmark year in terms of long term orientation, with a wakeup call from upsets on pitch, and some artificial cajoling from the UKU’s scheduling off pitch. tSG wishes Iceni and Bristol the best of luck in their preparations for WUCC and will be following them all the way! And here’s hoping that this inspiring commitment from so many clubs and individuals to develop women’s Ultimate will produce the best attended Tour season with the highest quality games to date. Nothing less than what its tenth anniversary deserves!

Awesome! So much going on here at tSG HQ, are you ready for it?
DP @ tSG

The Grapevine – 04/10

Bordeaux, Kapow, Strength and Conditioning, The Grapevine, Tim Morrill, Understanding Ultimate., xEUCF

The Grapevine – ultimate links and news from around the globe.

The UKU have released the known major outdoor dates ahead of next season  – fill your calendar’s now!

In exciting news for Ultimate fitness freaks, Kapow Ultimate have released details of their one-off London based fitness sessions with Boston Brute Squad and Ironside trainer – Tim Morrill.

Understanding Ultimate takes a look at disc reading in the latest of many insightful posts.

Get Horizontal have released a recap of xEUCF, which amongst other things sends out a strong message regarding SOTG of this year’s open division. 

Over the pond USA ultimate has been receiving recognition from mainstream media publications – check out these articles in TIME magazine and The Economist.


Well done to all British teams who entered xEUCF – keep an eye out for Bordeaux reviews and more on The ShowGame! – JCK @tSG

The Grapevine xEUCF 2013 Special

Bordeaux, The Grapevine, xEUCF

The Grapevine this week is all European after one day of play at xEUCF we bring you all the links and info you might need to follow from Blighty. 

As you might have already seen Playo.tv are streaming from the main pitch and there remain a couple free games, quarters onwards include a small fee.


Schedule was changed a couple days ago and the UltiOrganizer is being used for results.


UK team results are as follows:

Thursday
Open – Elite
Clapham: Heidees 15-6; W, FAB 15-10; W
Chevron Action Flash: Otso 15-12; W, Uprising 15-11; W.
Brighton City: Bad Skid 7-15; L, Freespeed 6-15; L
Devon: Ragnarok 8-15; L, CUSB 11-15; L

Open – Challenger

Fire: Jetset 15-12; W, Lucky Grass 15-6; W.
Kapow!: Mooncatchers 10-15; L, Prague Devils 11-15; L.

Women’s

Iceni: JinX 15-5; W, Yaka 15-8 ; W.
Nice Bristols: Copenhagen Hucks 12-15; L, Cosmic Girls 10-15; L, LayD’s 15-14; W.
SYC: Lotus 1-15; L, Hot Beaches 15-8; W, Lemon Grass 13-15; L.
Leeds: Prague Devils 8-15; L, CUSB Shout 11-15; L, U de Cologne 6-15; L.

Mixed

Bear Cavalry: Vassa Saints 15-11; W, Friselis 14-9; W, Corocotta 15-11; W.
Cambridge: Sun 15-7; W, Disc-o-fever 15-9; W, Wunderteam 15-9; W.
DED: Croccali 14-15; LAh Ouh PUC 15-8WUFO Utrecht 11-15 L.
Thundering Herd: Salaspils FK 13-15; LFrau Rauscher & the Bembelboys 14-15; L, Spirit on Lemon 15-14; W.

Masters

Zimmer:  Ultimate Vibrations; 15-7 W,  BAF 15-7; W.
BAF: Ultimate Vibration; 13-15; L, UFO Tampere 15-14; W, Zimmer 7-15; L.

Friday
Open: In the top power pool Clapham continue to dominate only conceding 24 and remain first seed going directly into quarter. Whilst Chevron have a bad day at the office with 3 losses they go into a crossover against Prague Devils in the morning.
Devon and Fire clash once again to decide who goes up with a chance at top 8 glory, Fire come out on top and make it evens for the season against the boys from the south west. Brighton also lose out in the middle pool and go into the 13-20 pre-quarters along with Kapow! who got their first win today against FUJ. 

Women’s: Iceni were only challenged in their power pool by Lotus; who took half 8-6 but allowed Iceni to go on a 6 point run and finally take it 14-11. Lower down Nice Bristols took a hold of their tourney by the neck and grabbed three wins today against LayD’s, Leeds and Prague devils giving them a 5-12 pre-quarter and still giving them hope of higher things. SYC also got themselves into this bracket by taking down YAKA and Hot Beaches in their lower pool. Sadly Nice Bristols aided Leeds towards the 9-16 playoffs, go take ninth ladies!

Mixed: Both Bears and Cambridge conceded their first losses (to Crocalli and Salaspills FK, respectively) but did enough to continue into quarter finals. After a convincing win over Ah Ouh Puc, DED couldn’t keep up the tempo and lost twice, pushing them down into the bottom 8. They will join Thundering Herd who are currently 1-5. 

Masters: As expected the mighty Zimmer continue to top the table, being pushed by OUF to their worst win of 15-10. BAF actually need a favour from their UK friends; if Zimmer beat UFO Tampere and BAF take down Ultimate Vibration then we would have an all UK final tomorrow evening.

All teams move into XO’S tomorrow before QF/SF and Finals Sunday.


Stay in touch at Fan Central and with the hashtag #xeucf2013. DP @ tSG.

xEUCF 2013 – Open Division

Bordeaux, European Ultimate, Nationals, Previews, xEUCF
UKU Open Nationals 2013 saw London’s Clapham Ultimate secure their thirteenth consecutive win in a clean sweep. Chevron Action Flash achieved revenge in a repeat of 2012’s semi final against Fire of London, but were unable to dislodge the perennial UK Champions. 


Brighton Ultimate improved by one to gain their highest ever placing of third, and guaranteeing themselves a spot in the upper ‘Elite’ bracket. They will be joined by the Cinderella story of the weekend, Devon ultimate – who have threatened an international breakout before (Nationals 2010 saw them miss out by a minor margin), but are now consolidated as surely the UK’s favourite underdogs as they rise above Fire 1, EMO, and Kapow! to place 4th, after completing a late-game-comeback-sudden-death-victory over none other than Fire, a result foreboded by the epic Tour 2 Matchup.


Fire nevertheless secured the all important qualification, and Kapow! overcame a rollercoaster season to get the crucial win against EMO for the final spot, a result that jars with the two team’s respective tour performances. On to Bordeaux…



In 2006 the top European open teams met in the first EUCF, a yearly event installed to replicate the high level competition of the 4-yearly European Ultimate Club Championships. A clear expression of the need for European teams to test each other in order to compete on the world stage, the two tournaments combine on their overlapping years to create the extended European Ultimate Championship Finals, or xEUCF.

British Open teams have a proud history at these elite meet-ups, with Clapham winning gold and Spirit in the last EUCC (Rostock 2005), and a British team competing in the final every year since 2006 other than 2010, winning in 2007 (EUCF – Clapham), 2009 (xEUCF – Chevron) and most recently 2012 (EUCF – Clapham). Last year’s event also saw an all british final for the first time, and the first European final with both teams from the same country.

British teams will be approaching the event with hopes not only of high finishing placements, but also to make use of the undeniably crucial development opportunity that this high level tournament provides. The large capacity of this year’s ‘extended’ format allows more British teams to share in this high quality tournament, with 6 top club teams being given the chance to test their squads against a deeper field than the domestic Tour and Nationals. 


Clapham
The 1st seeds, undefeated this year in Europe will be looking to complete the elusive back to back repeat that only FAB (winners in 2010, 2011) have so far managed, the second of these victories coming after a gutting and thrilling defeat of Clapham in Brugge.


Chevron
Chevron perform well in Europe, placing 2nd and 3rd in the previous two tournaments, and winning the previous xEUCF in London (2009). After failing to best Clapham so far, the Ron will be looking to reclaim gold on the highest stage.


Brighton
Showing consistent form to rise above the otherwise turbulent nationals mid-table, Brighton will be hoping to do what they haven’t yet and make a serious impression on the European open scene. Mysterious roster additions of US stars Elijah Kerns and Aaron Honn seem could, if they prove true to add a decent punch of firepower to an already impressive and hungry squad.

Devon
Whilst on their maiden voyage, this squad will nevertheless be hungry for victory. Feeding off a fierce competitivity built upon a simple love for playing together, the West Country collective will be relishing the opportunity to diversify their scalp collection.


Fire 1
Other than a finals berth in 2008, Fire have struggled to make an imprint abroad to match their domestic placings. A rocky domestic season will not have helped, but an unpredictability in form may equally work to their favour in Bordeaux.

Kapow
Euros has been their goal all season, and it will not be taken likely by this young and improving team. Led by Dave Pichler and bolstered by returners Will Caldwell, Kapow will be hoping to upset some unwitting European opposition with their uniquely creative playing style.

The championships began this morning – good luck to all British teams attending! JCK @ tSG