Sean Colfer previews the final B Tour of the season, where some teams will be looking to make substantial movements with the traditional crossover structure.
The final Tour of the season will feature crossovers between the top four of B Tour and the bottom four of A Tour, as well as the bottom four of B and the top four of C. There could be some considerable movement with the prospect of teams preparing for Regionals next weekend and varying focuses on Mixed and Open.
At the top of the Tour, Cambridge and Fire 2 both drop down from A Tour. Fire have been here before and performed well, winning promotion at Tour 1 in London. They will be a strong opponent for any team in Cardiff, particularly with veterans Stuart Greer and Lewis Glover back in the fold. They struggled with offensive cohesion in Nottingham in the face of the wind and some roster losses to the first team, but they will be stronger and determined to go back up this time around. Cambridge did well at Tour 1, finishing 12th, but suffered in Nottingham. Both teams will be aiming to win their crossovers – if they hold seed, they’ll be playing the bottom ranked teams in the A Tour pools so will fancy their chances.
Bristol are seeded third in B Tour. They’ve been desperately unlucky so far this season, losing to the eventual B Tour winners in the semi-finals twice and falling in both third-place games. They will be fired up to make the gains that have been just beyond their grasp so far this season at their home(ish) Tour, and certainly have the quality to do it.
The middle section of B Tour is a collection of teams of a similar level, all of whom are capable of winning crossovers with A Tour teams. Gravity finished in fifth and sixth in the first two Tours, Curve finished eighth and tenth and BAF finished ninth and sixth. Their pools are finished off with Leeds, who played in A Tour at London and have some seasoned veterans in their squad who have played at the highest level – Sam Rayner returned in Nottingham from a stint with Great Britain Mixed. Brighton Legends are the definition of seasoned veterans, but will have something of a changed squad in Cardiff with some of their pickups not making the trip west. One person they will have is Dan Friedman, ex-Chevron and Brighton Mixed player, who will definitely be making plays downfield. They lost two games by a combined three points in Nottingham so have the quality to upset the pool standings, but whether they have the cohesion to do so remains to be seen.
The bottom half of B Tour is no less intriguing. Great Britain U20s have not entered this Tour but the youth quotient will be filled by their Irish counterparts. The boys from Gonzaga will be on their last go around with this team, who played in Tour 3 last year and made some waves with huge throws and a number of spectacularly athletic plays. They’ll be a tough team to beat in this bracket.
Thunder Pressure and Cloud City did well to consolidate in B Tour after their promotions in London, finishing tenth and twelfth respectively. They’re both teams with experienced players but have short lines so may struggle later on in the weekend. Camden and ABH both went down in Nottingham but, with some drop outs, have been granted a reprieve at Tour 3. ABH, in particular, have the ability to make some huge plays down the field. The wind may have stymied that game plan in Nottingham but with a sunnier forecast in Cardiff they may be able to cause some seeding upsets. Reading 2 were promoted after some of their better players were demoted to the second team in preparation for Nationals, where the Open players will not have the benefit of some of the strong men who intend to play Mixed. That was enough for them to go up – whether the split will be kept up will determine how well Reading 2 do here.
The two most interesting teams here are Flyght Club and Cardiff Storm. Flyght have lost one game so far this season, in sudden-death to Thunder Pressure at Tour 1. They are a strong, deep and experienced team with enough athleticism to cause any of the other teams in their pool real problems. They were unlucky in London, ran the table at home in Nottingham and could be a good bet to continue their rise in Cardiff.
Meanwhile, the home team are something of a mystery having not entered either of the first two Tours. What they do have is former Great Britain World Games player Dave Tyler, who on his own will make them a formidable opponent. If they can capture any of the athleticism and aggression that the old Cardiff Storm teams used to play with when they made Nationals a few years ago along with DT’s experience and ability, they might just have a winning formula on their hands.
This Tour will assuredly see some upsets and some unexpected final placings – it’s inevitable that a team beginning the weekend in A Tour will find themselves down in B, while a team in C Tour will probably score a big win and finish up in the middle division. It’s probably best that anyone else does the predicting since I’m clearly terrible at it. However, I did get three of the bottom four right (sorry for doubting you, Cloud City) and JR messed up my top four (sorry for doubting you, JR) last time, so I will soldier on.
Looking at the teams in the A and C brackets, if I had to bet I wouldn’t predict any crossovers. I’m sure I’ll be wrong, though, so I’ll give you some teams to watch – Gravity and Bristol are both more than capable of reaching the level needed to break into the top 16 given their good results so far this season. I’d say Bristol are the best bet here. On the other side, Reading 2 and Camden are the two I would say will have the toughest job in staying in the B Tour places, particularly if Devon or Glasgow’s second teams hit a good run of form.
Enjoy the final Tour of 2016 everyone!
- Fire 2
- Ireland U20
- Thunder Pressure
- Flyght Club
- Cloud City
- Cardiff Storm
- Reading 2
Featured image by Serena de Nahlik