UKU Regionals Preview – Scotland

Ben Heywood of Understanding Ultimate fame and Glasgow Ultimate player tells us how he thinks Scottish regionals will go down. Scotland has 1 bid to Nationals and will be held this Sunday.

A real match?

For the first time ever, Scottish Regionals might just see a contest.

In the past, everyone has always known that Fusion would qualify, and the whole thing has just been a chance to get a few games of Ultimate. Fusion would enter two teams, split evenly so that they’d get at least one reasonable game when they played each other.

Last year, Abstract came very close to an upset against one of the Fusion teams, but no-one had any serious expectations of beating both of them and taking the Nationals spot. This year, it all looks very different.

Glasgow Ultimate have emerged as an A Tour squad, winning promotion from an incredibly competitive B Tour 1 and (just) holding on for the rest of the season despite never quite having the full squad out there. They even gave me my first taste of A tour in 9 years, which shows how short they must have been…

Glasgow at T2 in Nottingham. Photo courtesy of David Sparks.

And Fusion? Well, I don’t think they can complain if I say they’ve had a ‘mare. A little unlucky with the opponents they drew at Tour 1, they just barely avoided relegation to the C tour; and then, doubtless on the back of that result, failed to get a team together for the rest of the season. They’ve had a couple of guys away with U23s, and a lot of old hands have retired or focussed on Mixed with Black Eagles.

But Fusion are back… A team has emerged for regionals, and doubtless they want some revenge. It’ll be a very interesting match up. Fusion has no obvious weaknesses – they’re all young and quick, and they can all throw. But they perhaps lack the experienced general, the one truly top-class player that will bring them together. When they disagree, who has the authority to really take charge?

Whereas Glasgow probably have the top 3 or 4 players in the tournament, better than anything Fusion have on the preliminary roster I’ve seen, and a good crowd of skilled and drilled athletes to back them up – but also a few who wouldn’t have matched Fusion on an athletic level until Phil Webb’s weekly boot camp. It’ll be fun finding out how much that fitness has paid off….

I suspect the game will be decided on the Glasgow leadership’s superior tactical experience – they’ll know how to use which players in which situations, whereas Fusion’s even roster will mean everyone is trying to win the game themselves rather than sometimes defer to a stronger team-mate. I predict Glasgow by 4. But I suspect Fusion may have something to say about that…

Or maybe there’ll be a shock? Sneeeky’s have impressed me this season with some solid results and some very solid performances, though they’ll probably lack firepower against the top 2 teams’ strongest lines. And there’s talk of Black Eagles entering – which frankly means anything at all could happen. Some of their guys are top class – the kind of players who used to see Fusion into the A Tour top 4 – and their best girls (if they bring some?) can compete against anybody. Who knows? Maybe even Abstract will get a team together for the first time this year.

But here’s my prediction (even though I don’t yet know which of these teams will turn up!):
1 Glasgow 1
2 Fusion
3 Black Eagles
4 Sneeeky’s
5 Glasgow 2

Read more of Ben’s work on Understanding Ultimate! DP @ tSG.