UKU Nationals 2016 – Open Division

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Sean Colfer and DP discuss the UKU Nationals Open division

Schedule and seedings can be found here.

First Round

SC: Alright then. The first game on the schedule is Clapham against Flyght Club.

DP: It’ll be very one sided, I think.

SC: Yeah, I think so. Clapham are going to win easily there.

 

SC: Ka-Pow vs. Glasgow is going to be an interesting one, though. Ka-Pow have had a very up and down season, I gather they weren’t that impressive at Regionals with a very narrow win over Fire 2.

DP: Aaaannd they have lost some players to Clapham.

SC: They have. Losing Dom Norton and Will Martin, two of their key offensive players, will be a big blow. I’m not sure they’ll stand a chance against Glasgow, who’ve had another good season.

DP: It depends who Glasgow bring with a few players going to Mixed. And they didn’t have to play Regionals, so we don’t really know how they might look. This could be an interesting match up.

SC: Despite that, I would pick Glasgow by four or five.

 

SC: BAF vs. EMO is next, and this raises an interesting question about Regionals.

DP: Well it’s a replay of the Midlands final and the UKU have told us that this rematch was deemed low impact. So, I imagine if you reseed one of these teams you cause a clash in a later round or just end up with similar regional match up regardless of what you do.

SC: At the end of the day, you have to beat the teams ahead of you to get to Euros, so you can’t complain too much whatever happens. Still, BAF have done a really good job and beaten EMO, who didn’t send some of their best players, at Regionals. Now EMO know they can send some big names to make up for that and that Regionals didn’t really matter. They are adding Michele Ghansah from Flyght Club (and Cambridge Mixed 2014) and Ben Poole is back.

DP: They do rely on Poole a lot, but I would call EMO on this one.

SC: They may well do, but relying on a good player isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I think EMO will be quite comfortable and BAF can feel very aggrieved being in this situation.

DP: Especially as they are going in as fifth seed against 12th seed.

SC: You can argue where EMO belong – I don’t know if they’re a top five team this year, though they’re probably top eight – but they are not a 12th seed.

 

SC: Errr Reading vs. Fire.

DP: I shouldn’t say anything.

SC: No! You’re not allowed to comment on this.

DP: ….

SC: Reading have stacked their Mixed team, though they still have some good players on this team. Without some of their top guys they still finished Tour well, so they’re going to be pretty good. But they are going to lose this game. I think it’s probably going to be by five or six at least. It’s not going to be the most suspenseful game of the tournament. [ED: another classic Colfer prediction]

 

DP: Then we have Brighton City against Flump, so now you can’t speak?

SC: Ha, wellll [ED: hypocrisy coming up]

DP: You weren’t there at Regionals. It was a very close finish for that final spot, losing to Fire 2 in the first game…

SC: [interrupting] We played Fire 2 five times this season: we won four, lost one. But all the games we had with them were tight.

DP: But against Brighton City…

SC: [still talking] We played against them at Tour 3 where they have Callum Ayers and Hayden Slaughter back from GB Men and they beat us 14 – 10, I think.

DP: With those players I have my money on them.

SC: It’s going to be tough to stop them, they have a lot of guys who are good athletes who compliment their bigger players. To stop all that athleticism when you’re focusing on one or two guys is difficult. Listen [like I wasn’t already], I think we can give them a scare but if I am honest I think they’re probably favourites by a few points.

DP: Definitely.

 

SC: Devon vs Leeds. I’m sorry to say it but I think this game is going to be very one sided. I can’t see Leeds posing Devon any problems at all.

DP: Devon have got that.

 

DP: Brighton Legends against Chevron.

SC: Again very one sided, though Legends have a pretty good squad that could be interesting to watch.

DP: Yeah Chev have had a very solid season. I’d take them too.

 

SC: And finally Manchester vs. Bristol. I think it will be closer than people will think, Bristol are a good team, but Manchester are going to win that game fairly easily.

DP: Yeah another team with a good season so far.

 

SC: The top half of this draw looks a lot closer than the bottom.

DP: Well let’s take some of those [mostly SC’s] assumed predictions into the next round.

Todd toeing the line against Leeds at Nationals 2015 for Manchester. Photo by Andrew Moss.

David Todd toeing the line against Leeds at Nationals 2015 for Manchester. Photo by Andrew Moss.

Second Round

DP: Again, Clapham with a relatively easy game against Glasgow

SC: Yep another fairly comfortable win. To be fair, most games are fairly easy for Clapham, or at least seem to be when you look at the final score.

 

DP: EMO up against Fire could be tough but on record we should go with Fire.

SC: Yeah I think so. It’s going to be closer that you want to admit I reckon but I would pick Fire as well.

 

DP: Brighton City vs Devon could be a good game. It’s probably game to watch in the second round, unless you would attribute that to the classic Regionals rematch of Manchester vs Chevron.

SC: But with a full squad I would take Chev in that match, they were missing a few at Regionals. I think this game is the one to watch, you’re right.

DP: Ok so the City vs Devon game will probably be tighter.

SC: And the way Devon have played all season, I back them.

DP: I haven’t seen much of them actually.

SC: They have played like Devon typically play. They play very vertically, get the disc down the field early and often, and make big plays with Rich Coward still pulling the strings. I back Devon narrowly.

 

DP: So, moving onto semi-finals

 

Semis and Finals

SC: We have Chevron against Devon

DP: So it’s a repeat of last year with Fire and Clapham in the other.

SC: It’s a Clapham vs Chevron final then.

DP: Well I am not going to agree with that.

SC: *laughs*

DP: We scrimmaged last weekend and it wasn’t that uneven. Overall they probably scored more but we got breaks and turns.

SC: It’s not going to be like Clapham against Flyght Club, for example. It’s not going to be an absolute rinsing. But Clapham will win this tournament, so I’d say it’s a pretty safe prediction.

DP: *mumbles something about Tour 3*

 

SC: I think Chev will come second in another pretty standard result. And then in a third-place game between Fire and Devon I would take Fire by a few.

DP: Probably, but we haven’t played them all season. They had an awful Tour 1 but so did we.

 

The rest

SC: Fourth place though could be anyone who can climb their way to have a go at Devon.

DP: Yeah maybe Brighton City, they always come out for Nationals.

SC: I think the problem for them is they are split between Legends and Breezy in Mixed. They haven’t got Felix Shardlow, James Wotherspoon or Tom Mannings, who are with Breezy, and the Thaysens and Thomas Roach are with Legends. Those players have played for Brighton in the past and without them it’s a different story. They might be a rung below last years results but they will still be a good team, I just can’t seem them in the top five or six.

DP: They always surprise me at Nationals and everyone under-seeds them.

SC: So for Euros, I think the top 3 are set: Clapham, Chevron, Fire. In that order.

DP: The last qualifier is fifth.

SC: Interesting. In that case it looks to me like it could be Fire against Manchester and Glasgow and Devon. Tasty.

DP: So the losers of those games will have to play in the decider?

SC: I think so. That latter match could go to Glasgow, it’ll probably super tight but if Glasgow bring the squad they have had all year they will have that game. That means it will be between the loser of Fire and Manchester against Devon to decide who goes to Euros.

DP: *huffs* I think Devon will lose out there. Meaning it would be Fire, Glasgow and Manchester.

SC: Those three teams have all been very close all season and in the final standings, so that makes sense.

 

SC: There is going to be a team who played B Tour most of the season finishing in the top twelve, due to the way it’s structured. Personally, I think it will be Bristol. They’ve got some good experience in that team.

 

Streaming

DP: We should talk about the new livestream. Liam Grant will be main commentator along with Felix and myself plus some guests.

SC: It will be great to get as many games streamed as possible. The more the better in order to help keep the sport growing.

DP: It will be four on Saturday and three on Sunday essentially any game on the show pitch. The filming will be from the sideline, rather than behind the endzone, and it’ll be many of the same filming team from WUGC. There’ll be multi-angle shots and cool new graphics, so it’ll be much better to watch over the internet.

SC: Should be fun!

DP: Yeah should be good.

 

Conclusions

SC: I think the Open division this year, other than the qualification spot where there is a bit of intrigue, is quite dull. I don’t know if this is Regionals coming back the other way. By that I mean with Scotland not really turning up…

DP: Which is disappointing.

SC: …and other regions seeing fewer teams, it’s not really encouraging participation. The Mixed division is the strongest it’s been since we moved to this format [three divisions at same event] and that has cannibalised players from both divisions.

DP: I mean this is meant to be the elite event for this country and it doesn’t feel like that throughout. Maybe in the top half but the bottom half is a bit of a mess.

SC: Is that because of the structure of this tournament and the preceding ones, or a lack of depth at the very top? It seems like the middle section is as strong as it’s been in a long, long time but there’s perhaps not as much quality right at the top.

DP: I don’t know the answer to that and I’m not sure anyone does.

 

Weather

DP: Well, it doesn’t look good.

SC: No. Looks like zone weather to me, particularly the Saturday. Windy and wet, everyone’s favourite.

DP: I like zone.

SC: Of course you do.

Feature photo by Andrew Moss.

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