Ravi Vasudevan continues his Men’s coverage by looking at what happened on a rainy day in London.
Only four teams remain in the Men’s division of WUGC after four games of intense Ultimate today in London.
USA vs Colombia: 15-2
This quarter-final was a blowout. The Colombians just didn’t have the athleticism or skills to keep up with the favourite in this tournament. Sadly the only real event of note in this game was a Colombian player leaving the field with a broken leg on some unfortunate contact during the game. USA make their way into semi-finals tomorrow.
Canada vs Germany: 15-12
This game was extremely tight though Canada was fairly comfortable the whole way. Holger Beuttenmüller had a great game for the Germans, being involved in six of the German goals and key in many more of their points. Rainer Beha and Christoph Köble were highlighting the defensive side of Germany and got quite a few Ds, but only managed one break at 7-6 for Canada. In the second half, the two teams just traded points out until the eventual 15-12 win for Canada.
Canada used amazing pulls and great zone defence to put a lot of pressure on, but Germany usually comfortably swung around until they could find Beutenmüller for a huge huck to get out of it. Canada’s Morgan Hibbert did his best to contain the German star but Holger was able to get open pretty much whenever he wanted. However, Beutenmüller also had three throwaways which is just too much for this level of play. Though Canada won this quarter-final, it was a much better performance than WUGC 2012 where Germany lost by a much bigger margin against Canada in quarters. The gap between North America and Europe is closing up and it will be great to see if they can continue and make an even bigger push at WUGC 2020. On the Canadian side it was a big team effort but there were some particularly big offensive contributions from Cam Harris.
Japan vs Belgium: 15-10
This was a great performance from the Belgians. They can hold their heads up high knowing that they held their own against a top class team like Japan. Great coaching by Yves Mans to game plan for this matchup. The Japanese are definitely faster than the Belgians but the Belgians have height by a long shot. They started off by shooting a disc up to one of their huge receivers, Pieterjan De Meulenar, but the disc floated a little too long, allowing the Japanese to get a block which they scored fairly easily to take the first break. However, this did not dissuade the Belgians and they kept to that game plan of hucking it to their big guys. De Meulenare, Benoit Spapens, Jelle van Collie and Arnaud Massart all used their height to take down some big hucks for Belgium. They also managed to get some turnovers on the amazingly efficient Japanese offence. Dajo Aertssen got a huge layout block early and some teamwork defence by Lode Jans and Merlin Wollast generated another turn.
Japan played fantastic offence as usual; Masahiro Matsuno and Yohei Kichikawa both having a fantastic contribution to the offensive stats board. On defence it is hard to pick out standout players as Japan’s defence is completely based on a team mentality but Yuta Inmate was particularly impressive generating at least one great block on a heads up play. Japan showed why they are always in the conversation for one of the top teams in the world and will surely go into the semi-finals confident.
Australia vs Great Britain: 15-11
After the Japan vs Belgium quarter-final the Brits were seen warming up but the Aussies were nowhere near the fields. With games were delayed because of rain, Australia had not heard that they were to play and so GB had to wait for them to arrive. As the Aussies started warming up a thunderstorm passed overhead so all players had to go inside to wait out the storm before finally starting play around 7:15pm.
A lot of people thought that GB would have the upper hand in this match. After Australia got beaten pretty badly by USA in power pools and had a tough match against Ireland in pre quarters it simply looked like GB were the stronger team. However, Australia came out firing and won this game on defence. GB tried to play a split stack to isolate space in the middle, but Australia responded with flat marks and a lot of under blocking in the field, generating at least two blocks with poach looks in this fashion. Offensively, Australia were also super strong. There is no doubt about it, the Australian offensive game is completely driven by Michael Neild. This guy had the throws, the runs and the ups that GB simply didn’t have an answer for, and was complemented by the addition of some absolute huge throws from Mark Evans, and fantastic defence from #26, Peter Eley. Coach Daniel Rule told me, “We were very impressed with the GB. We watched the tape of Euros last year and Windmill this year and we have been filming them throughout the week. We knew all of the roles of their offensive players and assigned proper roles. Most importantly our boys had the right head space and got it done on the day.”
GB didn’t give up this game without a fight though. On offence, Ashley Yeo went up absolutely huge in a few points and the combination of Ollie Gordon and Sam Bowen was able to generate a few breaks for the hometown favourites. However, their offence was under way more pressure from Australia’s stellar defensive play and they were simply outplayed here. They are surely disappointed from this loss but they absolutely have to get past it and win big for their country tomorrow if they want a shot at World Games. Look for an article on World Games qualification later this week here on the ShowGame.
This gives us two semi-final matches tomorrow. USA vs Canada and Australia vs Japan. USA vs Canada is a repeat of the semi-final from WUGC 2012 in Sakai as well as the final of Torneo Eterna Primavera in Medellin, Colombia earlier this year. Both of these games went to universe point and both of these games went to USA. Though USA may be the stronger team in terms of raw Ultimate talent, Canada knows the players well and have the athletes to give the USA a good game. Expect fireworks from this North American matchup and expect it to be close.
Australia vs Japan is the battle of the Pacific. These are two completely different teams with the Japanese being a clinical and rapidly fast team while the Aussies love to put up big bombs to their big receivers. In fact, the Australian style is fairly similar to that of the Belgians, albeit with more experience and athleticism behind it. Since the Belgians were able to give a good game to Japan, I expect this one to actually be a fairly close one. These two teams met earlier this season in a friendly match where Australia won the game 15-13 but coach Daniel Rule assured me that that was too early in the season to be predictive of much for this matchup tomorrow. He said the most important thing is that the Australians get in the proper headspace for the game so they can bring their A game, but they absolutely feel that they can win this one.