Thomas Cliff and Jordan Brown preview Open Tour 1 from the B Tour perspective.
Featured image courtesy of Serena de Nahlik.
UKU Tour 1 kicks off tomorrow and, with a change in venue to previous years, we could be looking at an interesting set of results come Sunday should Nottingham’s trademark gusts cause some teams issues. Still, with the forecast looking a bit friendlier than it was in Cardiff for the Mixed Tour opener, it’s likely we’ll see things play out in a relatively orthodox manner.
At the top of proceedings, there should be some very smooth ultimate. Blue Arse Flies have already hopped over the channel to play at Tom’s Tourney, where they finished a respectable 8th in the second division. They have also competed at the Fog Lane Cup where they took a confidence-boosting win over fellow B Tour competitors Bristol Open.
Team JR 1 are seeded first and absolutely likely to make the final. At last year’s Open Tour 3, they lost to Devon 1 in the B Tour final after slowly and steadily climbing the ladder. Finishing the 2014 Open season in a strong position, they have performed incredibly over the course of the 2015 Mixed season. They may feel the loss of Rob White (who has moved on to Chevron Action Flash) but will be hoping to ride George Hudson’s throws to some easy wins, because when Team JR gets going, they are more than a handful to stop – especially if Hudson is supported by such athletes as Jonathan ‘JJ’ Foan and Adam Morgan. All the same, they’ve got their work cut out for them in Pool E thanks to the intimidating prospect of having to play Brighton Legends who may have been under-seeded. The rest of the pool won’t be easy either with Irish Juniors looking to beat their seed and Vision continuing to prove that they are still more than capable of holding their own in B Tour after a fairly hefty exodus of players to Manchester a few seasons ago.
London Ultimate teams have a historically strong presence in the A Tour, which Fire of London 2 and Flump will both want to continue this season. Flump are a team with a lot of experienced heads that will provide nightmare match-ups for anyone lining up against them. The likes of Ham Roushanzamir and John ‘Riise’ Harkup have done a lot of heavy lifting in past years and will continue to be tough assignments. Flump are sitting pretty at the top after storming the table last season, and will be looking to continue that momentum into the final for promotion into A Tour at Tour 2.
Despite the amount of preseason tournaments attended, Fire 2 are going to be relatively untested in Nottingham. Fire of London have used evenly split squads so far this year, and although they have recorded wins over Chevron, EMO, and Friselis in this manner they are yet to compete as a complete unit. Tour 1 will see their second team as a young and eager squad headed by GB Masters’ Stu Greer as they scrap for a promotion spot. EMO 2 are in a similar position. As their first team has spent the last two seasons pushing to become an Elite squad, their dynamic is more than likely to filter down to their second team – meaning that Fire 2, ABH and Rhubarb have their work cut out. ABH will continue to be a strong constant team in the middle of B Tour. While providing tough opposition for anyone that crosses their path, I’d expect them to hold seed throughout the groups. As for Rhubarb, they had a great season last year and, like Sneeekys, will be looking to continue their rise up the rankings.
Sneeekys 1 claimed to be on the rise last season and they showed it with a healthy climb into B Tour. They’ve capitalised on their training efforts over the course of the mixed season already and are likely to be finishing strongly by the end of the season. Finally, Pool F features Pingu Jam. Obviously we’ve all come to expect athleticism and incredible handling skills from the former GB Juniors but with many of their roster fighting for other teams at the top of A Tour, it’ll be interesting to see exactly what flavour of Pingu Jam we’ll get.
The last pool in B Tour is topped by the ever strong Blue Arsed Flies. Despite losing a few of their roster, they’ll continue to work as a team rather than rely on one or two big players. Expect some efficient handling and a lot of running from their younger players as they fight to hold seed and top their group. The rest of the group shouldn’t take BAF’s spot at the top but if any team can do it, it will be Curve. They also had a solid season last year and finished only four points behind them. As the Clissold Park based team has developed their roster and trained hard, their match-up with BAF at 10:40 is going to be strongly contested. The Brown’s roster may have taken a hit this year and with ‘local’ rivals NEO’s formation last year they will still offer tough competition in the middle of B Tour. While they are unlikely to be able to take down Curve or BAF, their match against Guildford should be a hard fought affair – especially as Guildford ride the momentum of their mixed season successes.
In Guildford’s pool are Bristol 1 who will have benefited heavily from their training with players from Chevron and Devon 1. With the team having undergone plenty of preparation, this season is likely to see a few surprises as they approach each game with confidence. Bristol Open are set to have a good weekend. Although they struggled at Fog Lane they did take down a B Tour top seed in Team JR. Expect a lot of pressure defence and big blocks coming from the likes of Tom Summerbee this weekend.
In the bracket stages, EMO 2 should win a likely crossover against BAF. Fire 2 could challenge Flump in their semi-final but other than that, things are looking likely to follow seed. The Brown and Sneeekys 1 should also have a good chance of an upset, but at the bottom of the table, there doesn’t look to be a whole lot of potential for movement. Please feel free to prove this prediction wrong!
1. JR 1
2. Fire 2
4. EMO 2
6. Brighton Legends
7. Curve 1
8. Bristol 1