Thomas Cliff previews the B Tour for this weekend.
So the dust has settled in Nottingham (this is clearly not true, the wind hasn’t let anything settle in at least three years), and Brighton Legends proved to be a step above the conditions and competition at Tour 1. Although they suffered a pool play loss to Vision, Brighton had a sharp zone which they practiced all weekend, and it showed when it came to the games which mattered on Sunday. Paired with experienced throwers like Tom White, and the out-and-out athlete Harry Slinger-Thompson, they handled the wind much better than anyone else involved, and well deserved their promotion to A Tour.
With the international teams incoming for Tour 2 there were questions marks over the amount of promotions headed up to A Tour, but it seems Sneeekys and ABH 1 have also earned themselves spots in the top flight. ABH used sensible strategy in the wind, playing percentages and position to win vital upwind breaks against Fire of London 2 in the game-to-go; the loss providing a tough lesson for a Fire squad which thrives on confidence.
Elsewhere I was heartily proven wrong with my reservations about any of the bottom four seeds. Pingu Jam topped their pool with photogenic plays that have come to be expected, and they only fell to the eventual B Tour winners in the quarters. Vision also showed a healthy rise up the rankings; obviously having Paddy Hart and ex-Chevron Liam Kelly orchestrating things from the back will always help on this front. Team JR and Flump both plummeted, however I can see JR coming back to make a return to form.
Going forwards it seems Cambridge will be throwing their hat into the ring as the only team relegated from Nottingham, and they will be looking to quickly reinstate themselves in the top division. Although they finished dead last in Nottingham, they have some quality players with World Clubs experience (including Michele Ghansah from Cambridge Mixed, and Ben Wickerson from the Masters division), and plenty of players from Cambridge’s 2014 BUCS championship run – expect them to do well. GB U20 have also been generously seeded at the top of their pool, and beyond watching them at Fog Lane Cup where they did hang with some serious A Tour squads, I don’t know an awful lot about them; I’m sure the seeding committee are hoping they live up to their prediction. Fantastic Mr Fox and Dublin Gravity (not to be confused with regular Gravity) are both unknown entities as well, having been seeded directly in to B Tour.
Coming up from C Tour are Gravity (who after the C Tour preview for Tour One need little introduction), as well as Camden 1, and Leamington Lemmings. Camden have the look of Burro Electrico from previous years, with plenty of Thundering Herd players taking a share of the heavy lifting for them. It is impressive that Camden have managed to put together two teams in such a short period of time, and I have no doubt it will pay dividends in the coming years. Leamington, the last piece of the puzzle, have been in and around B Tour for years, and with the young but (relatively) experienced Nathan Sanders at the helm could make a decent fist of staying there, all going well.
All in all for Tour 2, I see a really open battle for the coveted A Tour spots, with anyone in the top eight having a good shot. Obviously Fire 2 will have a chip on their shoulder after a fourth place finish, and plenty of teams feel they should have finished higher than they did. I know Curve were disappointed with their quarter-final exit, and I certainly imagine Blue Arse Flies were as well, after their initial seeding. For some very loose predictions, I would say Fire 2, Vision, and Cambridge take the top three spots, with Camden, Lemmings, and The Brown falling. Although having said that, this tour is as stacked as I’ve ever seen B Tour, and it is a tough call.
Best of luck to everyone involved!
[ED: A quick note from UKU – please, absolutely no parking on the driveway and bring your own bottles for taps on site since there is not water at every field. Good luck to all competing!]