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…
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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